Tag Archives: science fiction

18 Signs You’re Obsessed With the “Alien” Franchise

Today is Alien Day! The “holiday” was introduced last year to commemorate the second film’s 30th anniversary. Since the asteroid the xenomorph eggs were found on was called LV426, it made sense to use the date 4/26 to celebrate everyone’s favorite horror-sci-fi franchise (take that 4/20 potheads!) much in the same way we celebrate May the Fourth. To take part in this celebration, I’m going to read your mind and reveal to you how you express your “love” for the Alien movies. Let’s begin shall we?

  • Whenever you send your naughty child to the corner of the house you put a life-size replica of the xenomorph complete with a second mouth that moves in and out in front of him/her.

Image result for ripley and alien gif

                    Go sit in the corner and think about what you did! (Source: Imgur)

  • You took up pole-dancing just so you can perform in a xenomorph costume.

       Then you perform your routine in front of your orange tabby, who just hisses.

  • You buy more than one cart of xenomorph eggs so that one day you can cook them and serve them to your husband for breakfast just so he can know what it’s like to give birth.

Image result for xenomorph toy eggs

                                                     Expires June 3, 2122.

  • You name your daughters Newt, Annalee and Amanda and your sons Kane, Brett, Parker, Ash and Dallas.
  • You sleep in a cryo chamber.
  • You’re license plate is either LV-426 or N0STRM0.
  • You’re answering machine is Ripley’s final report: “This is (your name here), last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off. Please leave a message.”
  • Instead of saying goodbye your parting remark is “Game over, man! Game over!”
  • You bought your in-laws facehuggers for Christmas (in space no one can hear you nag).
  • You sang “You Are My Lucky Star” to your kids as babies – which always ended with a scream.
  • Your biology thesis was on the xenomorph life cycle.
  • When you received news about John Hurt’s death you wore a black chestburster.
  • You wore a jumpsuit to school (with a Weyland-Yutani patch on both shoulders) everyday as a teenager.
  • You keep a flamethrower in the trunk of your car (you just never know).
  • Your ringtone is “Get away from her you bitch!”
  • If any one of your family members is sick you put them on quarantine for 24 hours – in a tent outside the house. We can’t take any risks you know.
  • You’re still sending death threats to the Academy Awards for not giving Sigourney Weaver the 1987 Oscar for Aliens.
  • You’re still sending marriage proposals to Sigourney Weaver – even though she’s been married to the same man for 32 years.

So that’s all I came up with. Could I have listed more? What other ways are you obsessed with the Alien franchise? Any and all suggestions, curses or threats is accepted in the comments section. Happy Alien Day!

 

 

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Planet X Puts Simon Pegg On Trial For Crimes Against The SF Community

(Note: This is a work of fiction. However, real people with real quotes have been inserted into this work of fiction. This is also an inaccurate example of a trial. I’ve tried my best to be as close to real life as possible, but this is a mock trial on another planet. And you know what they say: “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. If your reading this and your an expert on the criminal justice system, any and all corrections are welcome.)

All rise. The Court of Planet X is now in session. Judge John W. Campbell presiding. Please be seated. Calling the case of the people of Planet X versus self-proclaimed geek, Simon John Beckingham Pegg.

Me: Your Honor. Geeks and nerds of the jury. The defendant has been charged with the crimes of haughtiness, rudeness to his peers and disrespect to his elders regarding beloved sci-fi franchises. Four incidents of this disreputable behavior will be used as evidence.

Exhibit A: A Constant Nagging Criticism of George Lucas and the Star Wars Prequels.

The defendant has always let it be known that he has a boiling disdain for George Lucas’ 1999-2005 trilogy. He has spewed bile about it in interviews over and over again. Take this quote for instance:

And I think if anyone can pull Star Wars out of the mire its J.J. He’ll bring the fun back. Lucas seemed to misread what made the first ones great, and concentrate on things that people didn’t really care about, or willfully ignore the things that people cared about. Whereas J.J. embraced them all. We’re going to see the Millennium Falcon again. We’re going to see those characters again. All the things we see about the first three, we will see again.

Or there’s this one:

They’re a monumental misunderstanding of what the first three films are about. It’s an exercise in utter infanticide, like George Lucas killing his kid.

Yet many fans disagree with Pegg’s views. And his response leads to…

Exhibit B: Bully Those That Like The Star Wars Prequels.

This is what Mr. Pegg had to say about those fans. First is this little gem from his show Spaced:

Note: He plays character named Tim and he’s shouting at a little boy for liking “The Phantom Menace”

“You are so blind! You so do not understand! You weren’t there at the beginning. You don’t know how good it was! How important! This is it for you! People like you make me sick!…take your pocket money AND GET OUT!

[little boy runs out crying]

“What a prick.”

He didn’t stop there, he said nasty things about prequel fans out of character too:

I don’t really have any respect for anyone who thinks those films are good. They’re not.

Now that we’ve seen evidence related to Star Warriors let’s move on to the other fans Pegg has offended – the Trekkies.

Exhibit C: Outright Rudeness Toward Star Trek Fans.

Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek reboot was released in 2013. It has an 86% at Rotten Tomatoes and made 467.4 million at the box office. But looks can deceive. At a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, Into Darkness was voted worst the worst Star Trek movie of all time. Pegg did not take kindly to the news. Here’s his kind, thoughtful response:

You know what…it absolutely isn’t the worst Star Trek movie. It’s asinine, you know. It’s ridiculous. And frustrating as well, because a lot of hard work and love went into that movie, and all JJ wanted to do was make a film that people enjoyed. So to be subject to that level of sort of, like, crass, fucking ire, I just say, fuck you.

But then his criticism of Star Trek fans shifted to sci-fi fans in general.

Exhibit D: Accusing SF of Dumbing Us Down

Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes…Adults are watching this stuff and taking it seriously!

And, not surprisingly, geeks did not take kindly to his words because he blamed everyone but himself.

Judge: The prosecution may call its first witness.

The People call the first witness, Israel Sanchez.

Clerk: Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

Sanchez: I do.

Clerk: You may be seated.

Me: Where do you work, Dr. Sanchez?

Sanchez: I work at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.

Me: And what is your occupation, Dr. Sanchez?

Sanchez: I am a biologist.

Me: Can you tell us about the fossilized remains of this animal you discovered, Xenokeryx amidalae?

Sanchez: In central Spain, we discovered an amazingly preserved giraffe relative that lived between 23 million and 5 million years ago. Its physical characteristics included a short neck, two ossicones and a cranial, T-shaped appendage.

Me: And why did you name it, Xenokeryx amidalae?

Sanchez: If you remember the Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace film, when Padme Amidala is queen of her home planet Naboo, she shows off several complicated dresses and hairstyles. Well, one of the hairstyles from a scene in Coruscant is strikingly similar to the occipital appendage of Xenokeryx. Yes, I am a fan of Star Wars.

Me: And how does it make you feel to know that actor Simon Pegg has no respect for you?

Sanchez: I think it’s unfortunate, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him.

Me: Members of the court. I’d like to take this moment to name other famous fans of the Star Wars prequels: Robert Kirkman, comic book writer and creator of The Walking Dead. Joey Fatone, singer, dancer and former member of *Nsync. Actress Jaime King. Even more important are scientists like Nate Lo, who discovered bacteria in mitochondria and named it Midichloria mitochondrii. And last, but not least, astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui and Mikhail Kornienko, who posed as jedi for their Expedition 45 portrait and watched Revenge of the Sith in space. These are the true geeks who, inspired by science fiction, the very genre Pegg says is “infantilizing us”, spend their lives studying the world around us and using their findings to help society better understand our world. And because their tastes are different from Pegg, he has no respect for them. Thank you, Dr. Sanchez.

Judge: The witness is excused. The prosecution may call the next witness.

The People call George Takei.

Clerk: Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Takei: I do.

Clerk: You may be seated.

Me: Mr. Takei, tell us your occupation and work history.

Takei: I am a 61-year veteran actor and activist. I played Enterprise helmsman Sulu on Star Trek.

Me: Mr. Takei, can you tell us about the week of July 4, 2015?

Takei: I was informed by John Cho, the actor who plays a younger version of my Star Trek character – that it would be revealed that Sulu would have a husband and a young daughter – as a form of inclusion and as a nod to me as a gay man. This decision was made by Simon, who wrote the screenplay and Justin Lin, the director.

Me: And what was your reaction to the news, Mr. Takei?

Takei:

I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.

Me: So what did you suggest to them?

Takei: I told them to…

Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly revealed as being closeted.

This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision…carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character.

Me: And did they respect your wishes?

Takei: I thought so at first. But they didn’t.

Me: What was Mr. Pegg’s response?

Takei: He said that he respectfully disagrees with me and that if he created a new gay character, it would be tokenism because audiences would just see that character as “the gay character”.

Me: And what did he say about Mr. Gene Roddenberry?

Takei: He said…

The viewing audience weren’t open-minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have.

Me: Your Honor. Members of the jury. I did not use Mr. Takei’s predicament as Exhibit E, because I felt it was better to hear the victim tell his story in his own words. And it’s this recent incident that convinces me that Mr. Pegg should be found guilty.

Here he is, once again, declaring that he knows the franchises he claims to love better than the creators that spent, hours, days, months and years imagining, writing, outlining and fighting for their work to be released to the public. Franchises that he had nothing to do with in the first place. He was a consultant on The Force Awakens, despite the irrefutable fact that he was only 7 years old when A New Hope was released and had no involvement whatsoever with the making of the original trilogy. They already hired Lawrence Kasdan, the co-screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back to write the script. Because of this, The Force Awakens lacked creativity and originality. It was nothing more than big budget fan fiction with no heart and no soul. And now Pegg is using his delusions of grandeur against not only against Mr. Takei, a legend and icon among many, but the late Mr. Gene Roddenberry, by assuming he knows Roddenberry – a man he has never met – better than Takei, a man whose worked closely with Roddenberry for 23 years. And Pegg is now in charge of the screenplay for the 13th Trek film, Star Trek Beyond. Why? This man wasn’t even conceived when the very first Star Trek series premiered on September 8, 1966. Now, with him at the helm, so to speak, his decision to turn an established straight character, gay, is not only lazy, it’s inconsistent with Trek mythology. Since these contemporary films are prequels, it would be awkward to show Sulu with a family, and then watch the Original Series and wonder why he never brings them up in casual conversation. For gay fans of Star Trek, it would look as if Sulu went back into the closet. It would make Kirk’s aside about not knowing that Sulu had time to start a family in Star Trek Generations, all the more perplexing. I will close my arguments by pointing out that making Sulu gay as a tribute to Mr. Takei is undermining Mr. Takei’s work as an actor, a job that requires you pretend you’re something other than yourself for the sake of suspending audiences’ beliefs for an hour or two. That his sexuality is the only thing that defines him despite the fact that the roles he took as a Japanese American man broke barriers.

Judge: Will the jury foreperson please stand? Has the jury reached a unanimous verdict?

Foreperson: Yes. The jury finds the defendant…guilty.

Judge: Thank you jury. Ladies and Gentlemen. Due to the amounting evidence against Mr. Pegg, I think we can’t afford to wait another day to give the defendant his punishment.

From this day, forward, Mr. Pegg, you will be stripped of any film making duties, be it screenplays, producing, directing, editing and creative consultant. You will be restricted to acting and acting in other’s films only. However, you will be suspended for one year from film roles to spend the next two years, with worker’s compensation, reading and studying the works and history of science fiction. You will be given all the major classics of SF, from Asimov to Zelazny, to complete while wearing a different Star Wars prequel t-shirt everyday.

Court dismissed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts On The “Rogue One” Teaser Trailer

 

Ok, it’s time to talk about Star Wars again.

Not because The Force Awakens, was released on Blu-Ray and DVD this week, but because Lucasfilm released the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I’ve just finished watching it and I must confess, my feelings are mixed. Visually it looks better than The Force Awakens because it takes place before A New Hope. The sets have more detail and scope as opposed to TFA’s sparseness. It cast Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma, which is perfect because she played Mothma in Revenge of the Sith and she looks the part. But it’s also merits the old chestnut: “I have a bad feeling about this”…

Here’s my “bad feelings”:

  • Felicity Jones’ character is Disney’s second SW female lead. She’s been “on her own from the age of fifteen”. Excuse me, but wasn’t Rey also an orphan who’s had to fend for herself from youth, and develop fighting skills in the process? Why is Disney making all their SW heroines orphans with no one to raise, teach and protect them? Can’t they come from loving families who’re very well aware of the evil threatening them? Luke had Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Anakin had Shmi. They weren’t left to fend for themselves. On the surface, it seems progressive but when you look deep down, it’s kinda troubling.
  • How much did they pull from the Expanded Universe? Clone Corridor has already pointed out the similarities between the two.
  • What’s with the “martial arts-type” fighting? Luke, Han and Leia never had to fight like that.
  • Did they consult George Lucas? I’m guessing that’s a no.
  • What lessons will be taught in this story? Does Jyn come away a better person or will the objective be only to steal the death star plans?
  • Will they introduce new planets with new environments? New aliens? Never before seen vehicles? I’m guessing that’s a no.
  • It’s an OT era story following in the footsteps of an OT era ripoff. We will see more x-wings, tie fighters, stormtroopers and imperial leaders, which is kinda sad.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until they release the official trailer to have our questions answered.

 

 

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5 Thoughts:”The Man In The High Castle”

 

hcEven though I’ve made some complaints about the book in the past, after buying a copy at the library – for 50¢! – and rereading it the second time, I gotta admit this is a really good book.  Tied with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, it’s one of Dick’s best novels and it’s arguably the best alternate history novel of all time (eat your heart out Harry Turtledove).

Watch out – spoilers about!

You know the story: because America did not get involved in the war effort, the Allied powers lost World War 2. To add insult to injury, the Nazis and Imperial Japanese took over the US and split it in two. The story shows us what American life is like under German/Japanese rule in 1962.

That being said, 5 things went through my mind as I read The Man In the High Castle. 

1. The Parallel World May Not Be So Different From Our World After All

Since most of the story takes place in the Japanese-owned Pacific States of America, it shouldn’t surprise us that there is a racial pecking order: the Japanese are the ruling class, white Americans are second class citizens, other people of color are described as faceless entities – the only time we see any Chinese Americans in the book, they’re pedecab drivers. Another time we see one black person, he’s a slave who has to abide by a curfew because slavery is legal again. One of the characters, Robert Childan, a man who sells old American artifacts to rich Japanese customers, tells us that illicit relationships between Japanese men and white women are commonplace, but it’s never the other way around. Another character, Nobosuke Tagomi, a trade official, walks into a diner, sees a group of white men at a counter and expects them to move from their stools when he tells them to. Sound familiar?

Whether this was Dick’s intention or not, the racism of the alternate timeline is not so different from the racism of our timeline. Just a reversal of skin colors. Even the Nazis’ “ethnic cleansing” of Africa in the book reminds me of Rwanda and Darfur.

2. Juliana Frink is Dick’s Most Interesting Heroine

Well she’s not exactly a “heroine” considering some of the choices she makes in the book. But many of Dick’s later books depict female characters as nothing more than sexual partners – or objects of desire – for the male protagonists. Juliana has affairs with many men but it’s by her choice and from her perspective. She is the only character who sets off on a journey to find the titular character and it’s her alone who finds out the “truth” about Germany and Japan’s “victory” during World War 2. Plus she’s a judo instructor who can take care of herself and who saves the life of Hawthorne Abendsen, the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.

3. It’s Not “Trippy”

Or as The Verge‘s Adi Robertson puts it, “one of Dick’s less mind-bending books”. Many a complaint has been made from filmmakers that his novels are hard to film – don’t expect a film adaptation of Ubik anytime soon – while those that have been successful, had to take a few liberties with the source material. But The Man In the High Castle is an easy read. It’s so clear and concise in its writing and worldbuilding, it’s hard to believe that it came from the same mind as A Scanner Darkly. However, the only “mind-bending” parts are Mr. Tagomi’s “vision” of a victorious US and the confusing ending… yet the story still fascinates and intrigues.

4. Why The Grasshopper Lies Heavy?

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is the title of a best-selling (but banned) book-within-a book that describes in detail what the world would be like if the Allied Powers won World War 2. Except the outcome is very different from our timeline. In the world of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, there’s Cold War tensions between Britain and the US, not Russia. Another book that’s popular among characters in TMITHC is the I-Ching, which is used for advice on everyday decisions. But what made The Grasshopper Lies Heavy stand out to me is that the title is taken from a passage in the Bible – Ecclesiastes 12: 5 which reads: “the grasshopper shall be a burden”. We have no other evidence if the Bible is still read or even tolerated in the victorious Axis Powers timeline. What’s more peculiar is that the I-Ching “wrote” The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Does this mean that the Bible is the go-to book for advice in that other timeline?

But back to the choice of title. When one reads all of Ecclesiastes chapter 12, the author is talking about, in poetic terms, the physical burdens of old age. Some other Bible translations say “the grasshopper drags itself along”, “a white-haired, withered old man, dragging himself along” and “the grasshopper is heavy with food”. So why did Dick choose this scripture as a title for a book about a Cold War between Britain and the US? Do the superpowers “drag themselves” to destruction? Which brings me to my last thought.

5. What Could’ve Been

Philip K. Dick died in 1982. He expressed a desire to write a sequel to The Man In The High Castle but never got around to it because he couldn’t face doing anymore research on the Holocaust. But he didn’t have to. The sequel hook is right there in the novel. Juliana tells Hawthorne that his book showed “a way out”. What if the sequel was about her finding a way out of her timeline and into the timeline described in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy? Dick could show us an America where, because of cold war tensions, there was never a “British Invasion” in music and rock n roll is very different. Or maybe the US never got involved in the Vietnam War, therefore no anti-war movement or counterculture. The possibilities are endless.

And as for the title of this sequel? It’s staring us right in the face.

Those are my 5 thoughts on The Man In The High Castle. What’re yours?

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World War 1 Fantastic – Film

Unless you’ve been hiding out on some island hidden in the Bermuda Triangle, you may have heard the news that DC/Warner Brothers hotly anticipated Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot will take place during World War 1 instead of the era where she was first introduced. DC must’ve read my mind because I’ve always imagined what Diana’s story would be like in the 1910s instead of the 1940s. This shows creativity on DC’s part because if they stuck with tradition, the film would be compared to Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger endlessly. It’ll also introduce a new generation of girls and women not just to a feminist icon but to a bygone era that changed the world a hundred years ago.

But I’m not here to speculate on a movie that won’t be out until next year (FACT: 2017 will be the centennial of America’s entry into the first world war). Today I’m here write another post about The War to End All Wars as seen through the lens of speculative fiction. My first post in the series looked at novels. My second one was about television. My last post listed video games. If you’ve guessed by now that today’s article is about film – you’re right!

Impossible! You say. There aren’t any fantastical films about World War 1! Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong! They do exist, you just have to find them.

Biggles: Adventures In Time: (1986. Released in the UK as simply Biggles). A film with arguably one of the most laughable taglines in movie history:

Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War 1.

Think for awhile why that that sounds so absurd. No, it’s not “double-life” part.

James “Biggles” Bigglesworth was a character from a series of book by W.E. Johns about an ace pilot and his adventures during and after the Great War. The first story, “The White Fokker” was published in 1932. The series grew in popularity to the point where they continued after Johns’ death. So it was only appropriate to make a full-length feature film about the character right.

Yes, except the original script was going to be closer in tone to the books and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then Back to the Future was released…The success of that film made executives want to cash in on its popularity and the script was altered to include a modern day character named Jim Ferguson who “stumbles” into 1917 and befriends the titular hero. Jim later learns (from Peter Cushing, in his final film role) that he and Biggles are “time twins” two men who travel through time when one or the other is in mortal danger. OK if Jim just learned he had this ability in 1917 why didn’t he travel to the first three years of the war when Biggles’ life was threatened repeatedly? You know what, never mind. It’s too confusing. In case your wondering, yes, the film was a flop. Enjoy the trailer:

Deathwatch: (2002) A horror movie directed by Michael J. Bassett about a group of British soldiers who are suddenly surrounded by a mysterious “mist” and find themselves on the enemy side of the trenches where terrified German soldiers cower in fear about “something else further down the trenches”. Ignoring their warnings, the soldiers investigate and find rotting bodies, bloodied mud and an inhuman growl in the distance. Needless to say it all goes downhill from there and the British soldiers learn the true meaning of “No Man’s Land”. The question is, is the horror the result of supernatural forces or is it all in the soldiers’ heads? The cast includes a non-CGI Andy Serkis.

Here’s the trailer:

Sucker Punch: (2011) This film is not about World War 1. It’s about a girl living in 1959 who wants to escape from a mental asylum with her friends before she gets lobotomized. Or something like that. This film is very divisive among femgeeks: some call it a sexist masturbatory fantasy, others say it’s a critique about the sexualization of women in popular culture. One scene everyone remembers best, though, is Baby Doll’s (Emily Browning) fantasy sequence where she and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Rocket (Jena Malone) navigate through the trenches of World War 1 to retrieve a map. But they must fight off steam powered zombie enemy soldiers because all the allied soldiers are too shell-shocked to fight. The only available clip on YouTube is shown in three parts and is erroneously titled “Nazi Zombies”:

War of the Worlds: Goliath: (2012) This Malaysian animated film is a loose sequel to H.G. Wells’ seminal classic. It’s 1914, 15 years after the first Martian invasion. The world, as you know, is mobilizing itself for the Great War. Except this time the weapons used are engineered from Martian technology that was scrapped after the invaders died from disease. Just as war begins – how convenient! – the Martians return. With bigger, badder weapons! And stronger immune systems! As a wise man once said: “there’s always a bigger fish”.

Here’s the trailer:

So what do you think? Have you seen these films? Do you know of any other sf/fantasy/horror films that take place during The War to End All Wars? Let me know in the comments.

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