terminator-feature-06272015These nothing more saddening and bewildering when a science-fiction movie franchise is butchered and killed then brought to life again, re-butchered and murdered once again. Sad, because I really love this time-bending, robot monster, chase story. The potential, even without branching away from the hunter and the hunted plot device, is endless. Bewildered? With all this goodwill and talent, and money involved, how the hell could they get it so wrong? This is a major iconic brand. “The Terminator” is embedded in the brains of at least two or three generations of consumers. There is no shortage of creative talent nor money that prevent this story from working its magic, yet the IP owners have achieved nothing else but toss stools of shit at audiences across the globe. Sure, the movie industry wins, people got jobs, and the marketing machine scored, but tossing shit at audience’s faces was still the end result.

skynetNow the next time Skynet returns to threaten our future chances are audiences will be a little suspect before handing over money, or even waste time and bandwidth to illegally download it. Skynet will hopefully learn from past mistakes and deliver the killer blow they’ve been trying to throw since it first hatched up the plan to go back in time and kill John Conner.

How hard can it be? Well Skynet will need to understand the three basic ingredients for a killer movie.

Killer Story.

Killer Cast.

Killer Soundtrack.

Then by looking back at each of its outings, Skynet will need to take all the elements that made it work and formulate a strategy to exploit the fears hiding within each of us, and deliver the thrills we all hang for each time Skynet enters our timeline.

The Terminatort1-t-800

James Cameron gave us his nightmare. Plus a simple, gem of a story, iconic cast and thumping Brad Fiedel music didn’t impede this from becoming a timeless piece ofterminator-1984 entertainment. Even the dated special effects, or the time-travel science, (what, clothing can’t travel back in time?) are easily forgivable.

Nothing really to fault here, moving along.

Terminator 2: Judgement Dayterminator2-arnie600

With the effects department catching up with the universe of the story, but still slightly lacking in the science, (what, you can’t replicate inanimate objects?) this movie blew everyone’s mind back in 1991. The story was utterly inspiring, what with future John Conner sending back a hacked Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 to proterminator-2-judgment-day-best-cgi-movies-compressedtect the present John Conner. The cast returns, each dwelling in the opposite sphere of their respective character arcs. Teenage Conner may have seemed a little annoying at the time, but Edward Furlong’s performance didn’t hurt the film. And the soundtrack ripped.

Again nothing to fault here.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machinesterminator_3_rise_of_the_machines_2003_french_multi_1080p_hdtv_openmatte_mpeg2-qwertz_mkv_snapshot_00_33_28_2015_01_22_00_40_01

First up, the story is still a chase story. Another T-800 sent back to help JC. No one’s messing with the formula. Sure there are a few twists, and the ending takes a sharp turn away from the previous two endings, but that’s a good thing. A brave, brilliant move in my opinion. Arnold is back, with the addition of Kristanna Loken.

t3-rotm-loken-1

Kristianna Loken as the robot T-X in Terminator 3  Rise of the Machines

Kristianna Loken as the robot T-X in Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines

Okay put the brakes on. There is no Edward Furlong. Why? Nick Stahl did a good job but why not use the same talent for the sake of continuity. Why put the audience into the harrowing position of readjusting to a new John Conner? But I guess this was out of the producers scope to influence. Furlong’s life at the time was spiraling out of control, so Skynet was forced to deal with this as best it could. It goes to show how a simple tampering with the cast can have the wind sucked out of a project, even if Arnold is the star of this show. His T-850 aging is explained at this stage but this didn’t help. At least Marco Beltrami didn’t try t3_2-1something off the wall with the soundtrack.

Nevertheless, I don’t agree with the negative reviewers on this one, I found it entertaining, a little pedestrian, but a joy to watch. The carnage was awesome, full stop.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicleslena-headey-as-sarah-conn

Josh Friedman pitch to develop this franchise into TV series was a genius move, in a sense that the story could move away from the chase formula and explore this universe. The cast let it down a little; It took me a while to buy into Lena Headey as Sarah for some reason. Thomas Dekker was acceptable enough and Summer Glau carried the show pretty much the same way Arnie carried the movie franchise. Bear McCreary’s score although departs mostly from the films, is worthy of any soundtrack playlist. This is a TV series and a good, entertaining one at that.

Terminator Salvationterminatorsalvation2009-0108

Okay, here we go. We have one big star, Christian Bale, for no other reason but because he’s a big star. An up and coming star who would end up coming and going as fast as he arrived, Sam Worthington. You have SIX writers. An over the top director. You have Danny Elfman doing the music. A $200 million budget. You have two whole minutes of CGI Arnold Schwarzenegger. And all they succeeded in doing was fling a giant turd at the audience.

Why? Because the story was a mess. No, it was a made for television, Matrix Revolutions, post-apocalyptic soap opera kinda mess.terminator_salvation_15

We start off with Conner, a low rank resistance commander who leads his team into a Skynet facility. Things go to shit and JC is the only survivor in a post nuclear holocaust landscape. Awesome so far, right. But instead of John embarking on a treacherous journey back to base, with knowledge of Skynet’s dastardly plans, and encountering Marcus, who may or not be a new type of Terminator, and running away from one ‘special’ Terminator, which hunts down John and company, which may include Reese, across a post apocalypse United States, leading eventually to the heart of Skynet. terminator-salvation-t-600-1In other words an epic chase story with a definable nightmare stalking the protagonist. Instead, we get this melodrama which would have played barely better in a TV series than on a big screen. Christian Bale couldn’t save this turkey no matter how loud he yelled into the comms.

The writers couldn’t define what story they were telling. McG nor Danny Elfman could get us to care about anything, let alone any of the characters. And CGI Arnie didn’t sweeten the deal either, especially when they burned off his face two minutes into an uninspiring fight scene. Maybe they did this to save money on CGI rendering.arnold-schwarzenegger-2-terminator-salvation

Best way to watch this mess is without any sound, played in the background, with TV ads.

Terminator Genisysterminator-5-genisys-why-john-connor-is-not-the-big-spoiler-john-connor-the-nanobot-in-389764

This time we have big (approaching his End of Days) star Arnold Schwarzenegger on board. A more than capable director in Alan Taylor. And two more than capable writers. A more than capable composer. A more than ample budget. You’d think studio executives and producers would learn from past mistakes, right.

Wrong.

They ended up serving a bigger turd than its predecessor. It was like they were trying very hard to destroy the franchise’s reputation before it reverted back to James Cameron, like they were doing this on purpose. On the face of it it should have worked. On paper the story was sort of impressive and clever.tg-kyle-film-t1000-ally

Timelines.

Let’s go back to 1984 and go on a different tangent. Cool right. I agree, that was a cool idea. The mechanics of this paracosm allows such things. I risked going to the cinemas on this concept alone. I believed they actually had this done right. Holy shit I was wrong.

First up. If you’re going back in time to 1984 with Kyle Reese, at least have an actor that kinda looks and behaves like Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese.t1-reeset2-jd If your gonna have someone play Sarah Connor, here’s an idea, hire an actor that kinda looks and behaves like Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. You’re going back to 1984. This is The Terminator. Lorne Balfe should have been hitting the 80’s synthwave, at least for this part of the film. The first Terminator had a few science issues it had to deal with but managed to get away with it. This Genisys is hamstrung by the simple paradox;  if and when Reese has sex with Connors. John Connor will be a different personality because sperm and eggs are …. Biologically the future person who is to become John Connor will depend on the moment of ovulation and conception. So focusing on this for so long gives the plot a lameness not matched by the other films.

Two. If not reflecting Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese was detrimental enough, Jai Courtney’s portrayal of a block of wood sank the film even deeper. Plot wise you can expect Sarah to be a different person because she grew up different, but Reese just came out of time displacement the same guy as the 1984 guy. It’s the same guy. t5-5A CGI Michael Biehn would have worked better, but they couldn’t even sustain a CGI Arnold. Within two minutes into the fight scene, CGI Arnold’s face is blown off. I guess this sort of thing is expensive.terminator-genisys-arnold-schwarzenegger-bill-paxton

Three. Pregnant talky scenes. The opening features the dullest talk-fest in Terminator alternate history, a time-waster that did nothing to strengthen the relationship between JC and Reese. Unnecessary and boring.

Four. Sarah and Pops had prepared to take on the T-1o00. How did they know it was coming? How did they know to destroy it in the acid trap?

Five. The helicopter chase scene looked dodgy as hell, like really bad, unless they were trying to emulate 90’s CGI. Here’s a tip, use real helicopters or scrap this scene.

Six. Pop’s could never had built a Time Displacer in 1984. It’s like building a Hadron Collider with spare part from an 80’s electronics store. Even if the t-800 had the schematics implanted it’s its head, it would need a trillion dollars, the resources of a government to build such a thing.arnold-smile

Seven. Mimetic poly alloy. Why couldn’t old Arnold return as CGI Arnold?

Eight. Sarah Connor’s childhood. This two minute flashback could have easily been the basis for the entire film.terminator-genisys-sarah-connor-origin-flashback-scene

Prognosys

So if they went about casting this correctly, beginning it with the T800 going back to the 70’s to protect nine years old Sarah, spent the money on CGI Arnold for at least the first act of the film, then  jump to 1984 and encounter the Lee Byung-hun T-1000 before Reese’s arrival, culminating to the non-Courtney Reese time-displacement. Battle the T-800 and T-1000 in 1984, (why not stay there a little longer?) The Golden Gate Bus Flip could work in 1984. And use a real bus. When the T-1000 is finally destroyed in an improvised acid bath, The couple are captured by cops/government. JC arrives from the future but is shot by Pops, revealing bad John Connors. JC takes out cops/government, in a violent 80’s style showdown. Helicopter chase with real helicopters. Pops self sacrifices. Chase ending up at an airport, Reese and Sarah commandeer a Boeing that taxis onto a highway smashing through an urban city while JC tries to kill them. They crash plane into corporate building, housing Genisys, which plans to eliminate every timeline that has been breached by the resistance. Reese and Connor enter a time displacer being built by Genisys since the fifties, they escape to the fifties while abandoning the 1984 timeline, in which civilisation is destroyed by Genisys sooner than anticipated. Just like in Rick And Morty (Rick Potion #9)

That would have been a worthy sequel/reboot/prequel or whatever they were trying to achieve. Why pollute a time travel chase story with convoluted complexity?

It’s really not a hard gig to get right. Yet they failed twice at it.Hopefully they don’t make another attempt before the man who originated the idea gets a chance to save the franchise. tumblr_oc08l7dptu1s2wio8o1_500

terminator-vision

diamonds are forever with lazenby

Diamonds are Forever if George said yes instead of no.

As we enter a new chapter in the James Bond movie franchise, staunch fans like myself are apprehensive or intensely curious about what direction the franchise will take, and about who will be chosen to play the next 007? The naming of the actor to play the MI6 spy appears to have turned into a cultural festival that runs every decade or so, much like the naming of who will host the next Olympic Games. It’s a media tradition ever since George Lazenby famously turned his back to the franchise.

Read the rest of this entry »

With Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series inching closer to television screens, a question resurfaces, a question I’ve been asking ever since first reading these two works of classic science fiction, both of whom have been fighting an eternal battle for the number one spot on my favorites list.

(This is the first of three posts.)

Hyperion-movie

What makes these stories so great?

For me it’s the scope of these novels. It’s how the authors infuse a multitude of scientific disciplines and morph them into the plot. This little project is intended as a study guide for me to use and others if they choose, and aims to list as many topics and fields of study as possible. It’ll be an ongoing process as I probably will miss a few academic disciplines along the way. Read the rest of this entry »

lossless-page1-800px-European_Federalist_Flag.tifIt is sad to watch a great nation bludgeon another weaker nation, a supposed ally and friend, into submission and humiliation, especially when both sides are at fault over a debt situation that has spiraled out of control. Yes, Greek voters did take the easy path since the 1970’s. I myself remember arguing against further integration back in the summer of 1991, when I visited the place. Older folk and younger kids, die-hard communists and fascists alike were all for it. I nearly got stabbed when I stated, “One day German tanks will be rolling down the streets of Athens once more…”tanks

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It’s not every night you stumble across something on the internet that is as bizarre as being officially acknowledged for helping to find an exoplanet. I enrolled with Planet Hunter years ago (around 2011), and dabbled for fun picking out images that may indicate the presence of a planet orbiting a star. Easy stuff really.KIC10905746

Looks like we found two exoplanets, detected by amateur astronomers using the Planet Hunters’ Zooniverse project.

The first planetary system, KIC 10905746 hosts at least one planet. KIC 10905746 b is a Super-earth planet 2.5 times larger than earth, orbiting the 13th magnitude M-type star, which is located in Cygnus constellation 500 light years away.

The second is KIC 6185331 b, an extrasolar planet, 7.9 times larger than the Earth, orbiting 15th magnitude star KIC 6185331, which is located in Lyra constellation 4784 light years.

Both exoplanets have tight fast orbits around their stars (orbits are 9.88 and 49.8 days respectively) so they’re pretty inhospitable. Hopefully more data would reveal more planets with longer and wider orbits in these systems, because now I have to include these two in a space opera if I get to writing one.

Planet Hunters


We are very, very happy to announce that the first Planet Hunters paper has been submitted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, or MNRAS.*

The title page of the paper shows:

If you take a close look at the affiliations, you will see that #16 is called “Planet Hunter.” That’s because this paper reports the discovery of two planet candidates discovered by our volunteers – and naturally, we included those those who were the first people to identify possible transits in the the 9 stars discussed in the paper.  We also include a link to the full list of all Planet Hunters; you can find it here.

So what does the paper actually say? As it’s the first (of hopefully many) papers, we give a brief overview of the Kepler data and the Planet Hunters interface. How did we display the data? What questions did…

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Dell_AI_parody_8447Scientists are anxious these days about the advent of artificial intelligence. They all seem to infer that as soon as one such cyber entity awakens, it’ll deem humanity evolutionary and intellectually inferior and will plot to exterminate its creator.

JudgementdayIt’s baffling to me why science and the media paint these entities as inherently evil. Maybe it’s the unknown factor that easily frightens humans. Not that fear of the unknown has ever stopped humans from venturing into uncharted territory. Look at how science is warning civilisation about the ramifications of terra-forming our planet by dumping so much carbon into the atmosphere. No one seems to give a shit. Humanity would rather cling on to its polluting easy lifestyle and chance it with nature than heed the warnings. Sacrifice our way of life in order to curb climate change? Hell no. So it’s kind of retarded when science and media warn that AI technology will be somehow dangerous to humans. Dangerous or not people don’t care. As long as life gets easier they are prepared to chance it.

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The debate over climate change is one of those strange human things. In a logical or analytic sense, there really shouldn’t be such an argument. If you see danger up ahead, you would naturally take action to avoid it, right?morlock

Not so simple when dealing with humans.

Let’s take humanity out of equation. Once you do that it doesn’t matter which way the temperature goes on the Earth, or on any other planet. Planets don’t care either way. If you talk to the sun, it’s just pissed off it didn’t achieve black hole status and that it now has to wait another ten or so billion Earth years before it gets another crack at it. Read the rest of this entry »

DNA-atomic-energy-300x300Why are punters so afraid of nuclear technology? Is it the technology? Is it the nuclear? This is as puzzling to me as modern politics and economics.

It makes no sense. This fear.

We exist in a universe that is constantly creating and destroying. Life is spawned from out of all this violence, and threatened by it. Life has to combat disease, superstorms, earthquakes, meteor impacts, supernovas, gamma ray bursts and that is just the natural world. The human world is even deadlier. Read the rest of this entry »

Image

It’s really hard not to facepalm when confronted by headlines stating that 100,000 have signed up for a one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch, non-profit (yes, that’s right, non-profit) company called Mars One is collecting human specimens, and raising six billion dollars, to send these people some 225 million kilometres, one way, to the planet Mars.

They call it colonization. They market it as a “stepping stone in human galactic expansion.”

Yes, that’s right, Galactic.

Even reading interviews with some of the applicants really drives home what insanity dwells in modern people’s minds. Some even suggesting that this is how the discovery of America come about, others considering birthing and raising children on the surface of this new frontier.

Unbelievable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Writing science fiction gives an author the opportunity to have a go at predicting the future. For me, the best tool I always find useful is this; in order to build a world in which to set the novel, you start by going back into history. ‘To see the future one must look into the past’ and follow the trends. In the case of ‘A Hostile Takeover’ I began by asking ‘What is a nation? A state? A country?’ and then went on to research different types of sovereignties throughout history. I followed the trends and discovered the future of the world’s political landscape is obvious and surprising. The one prediction that seems most definite among all the others is that the nation states we live in today are not static, rigid institutions, but evolving, changing political creatures.

Supernations ImageOne obvious development is the trend towards nation progressing into supernationhood. Historically, growing and successful communities constantly expanded to accommodate the increasing power of the citizens of these states. A town grows into a city-state; a city-state turns to empire. Up until last century ’empire’ was a natural progression for any nation blessed with the position of economic power. However, empires that refused to evolve by the time the twentieth century came along struggled to survive. The spread of democracy made sure of this. Ever since the city-state of Athens experimented with mixing democracy and empire, large dominions struggled or faltered once injected with representative government. Read the rest of this entry »

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