RRR 18 Nerdy Media I Missed

By Roy Mathur, on 2013-12-02, at 14:20:00--15:40:57 GMT, for Roy's Rocket Radio, Listen

I'm Back

I'm pleased to be back with this rather irregularly produced show after such a gap.

Star Adventurer Magazine Gone

As you may have noticed, Star Adventurer Magazine is gone. The reason for this is that I was spending more time promoting, canvassing, editing and all the other things that go with trying to get a magazine off the ground, when my primary focus should be writing.

I also had a very limited number of contributors and writers (including myself) and the net benefits of the magazine were dwindling. Instead of letting it limp on indefinitely, I made the decision to cut my losses.

Sorry about that, but at least now I'll have more time to write!

Re-Writing

I have been re-writing every piece of fiction I have ever attempted over the last umpteen years (and believe me most of it needs rewriting); mostly this is a aimed at the Kindle Singles market.

I am also finishing up a mystery novel together with a screenplay adaptation for a pilot. The writing is also the reason that the blog and all my social media activity has been reduced to a dribble.

Nerdy Media I Missed

This week I'm going to try and cover every bit of nerdy media that I might have missed in other previous shows, so this one might be a bit longer than my usual solo podcasts.

If I have mentioned something already in a previous podcast, my apologies, if not enjoy the show, so, without further ado, let's get started!

Beautiful Creatures (2013)

I saw this one quite a while back and was supposed to talk about it in a podcast, but completely forgot all about it which should tell you something! I did write a blog post though, and this is mostly taken verbatim from that.

Lena is a teenager who will soon undergo a transformation that will determine whether she becomes a good or evil witch. The stress of this impending metamorphosis is is complicated by a friendship/romance with a local Ethan. Both seek to escape: Lena from her fate and literary Ethan from the drudgery of his surroundings. Itís not hard to sympathise with Ethan and Lena who live in a horrible little, repressed, bible-bashing town.

On the other hand it is nigh on impossible to respect Emma Thompsonís and Jeremy Irons' badly hammed up attempt at playing characters from the deep south.

Another problem I had was that some of the CGI, SFX and make-up made some scenes resemble pantomime for younger children rather than youth horror.

Worth a watch? Yes, because the main characters are so well acted, especially by Alden Ehrenreich who plays Ethan. Think of it as a B-grade Footloose with spells.

Dredd 3D (2010)

Now, I've probably mentioned this several times in previous podcasts and on the blog, but as I can find no record of me talking about this, I thought I would just chat briefly about it here.

I was initially perturbed by another Dredd reboot and never warmed to the trailers of Dredd 3D. However, a couple of months ago, having nothing better to do, I finally watched it.

I can now say that this works well as a good sci-fi action movie and, in that respect, it IS enjoyable. But Dredd it is not. Not campy, not futuristic, and I'm afraid Karl Urban, good as he is, simply isn't shouty enough, nor has the presence to be Judge Dredd.

And where the Hell is Walter? Eh?

Elysium (2013)

Factory worker with terminal radiation poisoning from and industrial accident must undertake a mission to an orbital station full of rich people for a cure in this coffin-life device. (Autodoc: thanks Larry Niven).

Good: heart in right place with themes of social inequality, neo-imperialism and immigration issues, CGI mostly good except for one very gorey and highly unrealistic bit, the blue-collar future is lovingly realised, humanoid killer robots taps zeitgeist of today (Noel Sharkey, the US's autonomous drone program) and Matt Damon is great.

Bad: So many plot holes covered by pace, completely illogical sequence of events, a poor fairytale rather than sci-fi- the robots, space ships and space stations could have been easily replaced with golems, horses and castles and Jodie Foster (who I almost always rate) can't act her way out of a paper bag in this. Her acting is, in fact, dreadful. Maybe she was just picking up a pay cheque.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)

Simon Pegg is a neurotic writer, so wrapped up in his current book about Victorian murderers that he thinks that may soon be murdered himself.

They were going for an urban Young Frankenstein atmosphere I think, but apart from Pegg's, admittedly artful prat-falls, it seemed a bit flat to me.

Gravity (2013)

Sandra bullock is the rookie astronaut and George Clooney the vet fiddling around with some techie stuff on the shuttle when an accident leaves her stranded in space.

A few stupid bits. For example the Indian guy, the new red-shirt now that Hollywood has stopped killing black guys, dies first. Then we have sound in space. The one other thing that really annoyed me was Clooney's hokey, space-cowboy character.

Despite these problems, which seem to be down to laziness, not a bad movie, with great effects and okay acting.

This is the third film I have watched on budget Tuesdays at my local, the second being Thor: The Dark World which I'll be reviewing in a minute and Man of Steel. I only mention this, because if you are a film nut, look out for these deals in your local area.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Can't believe I haven't talked about this in a podcast yet! Saw this a while ago.

In this one Tony goes back to basics when a terrorist called the Mandarin blows his house up. Yeah the big house by the beach.

The bit I liked was the relationship between Tony and this kid proving that, even without a shred of fatherly skills, Iron Man is still pretty cool.

Okay-ish, but a bit samey now. Perhaps there just may be a glut of superhero movies now and we (or me) as an audience are getting a little jaded. Too much of a good thing?

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)

In this sequel to The Lightning Thief Percy is off on a quest for the Golden fleece no less.

Good acting, effects and okay dialogue, as sequels go, but not a patch on the first movie. What a pity.

Actually this is the first of three disappointing sequels that we will talk about today.

Red 2 (2013)

Nothing wrong with the acting, the dialogue, the effects, but it still sucked because the story was all over the place. So much so, that only a couple of days after I watched it, I've already forgotten the plot.

Riddick (2013)

Richard B. Riddick is back in this throwback to the first movie, when his necromongers strand him on this planet swarming with monsters and bounty-hunters.

If you have seen the other two movies, you'll like this, but if you are like me you'll have wanted to see more of the expanded universe of the second movie. After the scale of the second movie, this seemed like a step backwards. I was really looking forward to seeing Riddick return home to Furya.

Man of Steel (2013)

This is the new Superman movie that me and my mum went to see a few months ago.

I think the last film we saw together was The Host last year. We enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed it more than my mother. The reverse was true for The Host.

In this one, we see Clark coming up against Zod and we also see a lot of Krypton.

The trouble is, that it was very simple story and brought nothing new to the table. Not a bad film, but I wonder whether this will signal the beginning of a new Zack Snyder franchise because it didn't feel that way. It felt like a standalone movie. Guess we'll just have to see.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Big battle with the wicked dark elves and Thor is forced to enlist the help of his criminal brother Loki, locked up in an Asgard dungeon, to defend the universe.

Fantastic fun, spoiled only by Stan Lee's cameo. Give it up Lee! I guess Mr Lee won't be signing my comics or taking me out for gelato.

Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy (2011)

I reviewed this some time ago, with only the distant memory of the 1979 TV series with Alec Guinness and found it wanting. However, both have been shown on the TV lately, and being able to compare both on recent viewings, I mostly hold with my original view, but some exceptions.

I would now say that the original was a bit too long-winded and the new overly compressed. Give the filmmakers their due though, le Carre novels aren't easy to film.

The Wolverine (2013)

Oh dear, much like Red 2, only more so.

Brilliant everything, except what is most fundamental: the story.

I did entirely miss Stan Lee's cameo, so I think I must have nodded off at some point.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

I think Jennifer Lawrence in terrific, brilliant, fantastic (and a lot of other superlatives too), but I just wish she'd hold the damn bow right.

Looking forward to this!

Poirot: Curtain (2013)

This is the final episode of David Suchet's Poirot shown a few weeks ago.

Without giving too much away, I found this rather disturbing, in the lengths Poirot is prepared to do to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Aside: Agatha Christie actually penned the novel in the 1940s, even though it was not published until 1975, after a whole raft of other stories. I suppose it shows us how early on Christie may have became fed-up with Poirot (who she described as a "creep").

Goodbye Poirot!

Afterlife (2005)

Produced by Clerkenwell Films for the BBC (responsible for Misfits). Stars Andrew Lincoln Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead and Teachers (which I only mention in passing so that I can pruriently remind you about the very, very STRICT Nina Sosanya, ahem).

Lesley Sharp of loads of things co-stars. You might have seen her in Doctor Who and Sherlock. In this she is a real and very reluctant medium who comes into contact with Andrew Lincoln's sceptic academic.

Entertaining enough and well-acted. No spoilers, but the series ends unconventionally.

The Blacklist (2013)

James Spader is a US traitor with lots of secrets that he wants to give up for the good of the mother-country. Or so we think.

You know, this isn't a bad series, but just doesn't make the cut for me because it's too run-of-the-mill.

Borealis (2013)

We're in Canada again, and not just by accident with this unpicked up pilot that aired as a TV movie.

Near future Canada and the Superpowers are squabbling (often with lethal consequences) about who gets drilling rights in the last place on Earth that still has fossil fuels.

Ty Olsson plays a tough ex-cage-fighter running a bar and a skimming Canadian Customs officer (wonder what Customs Canada thinks of that), while also attempting to keep the peace.

Not bad, but ends abruptly, so too bad if you want to know what happens next.

Continuum (2012--?)

Sci-fi about a future political conflict between anti-corporate guerillas Liber8 and a world where democracy no longer exists that is run by large corporations. Some of the fighters escape into the past along with a cop.

Echoes of Time Cop, Terminator etc., but weirdly topical. Also this is one of the few genre dramas not only filmed in Vancouver, but actually set there too. Again! Not sure if this was coincidence, but Vancouver did host the G8 University Summit in 2012 amidst some protests.

Intriguing.

Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor (2013)

Not too bad and I'm glad that Gallifrey hasn't blown up. I also like the strongly pacifistic nature of the storyline which is Doctor Who at its purest.

My only issues are with John Hurt's godawful beard and my mistake of peeking behind the curtain the night before.

You see, I saw Tennant and Smith on the Graham Norton show, with Graham performing his tired, old, "hahaha, let's laugh at nerds" spiel. That's was getting really old about a decade ago Graham, get some new material.

Oh, and I hope you caught the brief parody by Davison, McCoy and Baker called The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot shown afterwards.

And the brief, but excellent An Adventure in Space And Time; a behind-the-scenes a dramatisation of birth of Doctor Who at the BBC, shown a few days before.

I'm sure everything is still available on BBC iPlayer. All hail Sidney Newman!

BBC Natural World Giant Squid: Filming the Impossible (2013)

Saw this a while back and recommended.

It's final, undeniable proof of the existence of giant sea monsters!

Odyssey 5 (2002)

If you are looking for some weird, interesting SF that isn't too much of an investment in time, you might want to check one season drama about a shuttle crew how are sent back in time in order to prevent a global apocalypse.

A nice look at a time travel paradoxes.

Paradox (2009)

And talking about time travel paradoxes, here's another Clerkenwell Films production (Afterlife and Misfits) for the BBC called... Paradox!

This is a nice, short series about mysterious photographic transmissions from space that depict future crime/disasters, and the cops assigned to prevent them.

Stars Tamzin Outhwaite (East Enders).

Sleepy Hollow (2013)

Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman awake today and fight out their continuing battle.

I thought it would just be a riff on Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, but it really isn't.

Quite good, but one thing worried me when Crane discovers that his quest will last 7 years. Seriously, 7 years? I don't see this lasting for more than a season.

The Walking Dead Season 4 (2013)

This is the latest, but not the last (groan) season.

While, I'm enjoying the ride, I'm just getting a little exhausted from all the human relationship stuff. I get that this imparts a reality to what is essentially completely unbelievable, but boy does it drag.

Still, one of the few TV programmes that I am following on a regular basic.

Creed (1990)

Re-reeding this James Herbert's novel about a pap who photographs something unnatural.

My advice, if you want to read some decent James Herbert, is to read Rats and Lair, The Fog, The Survivor, The Spear, and Fluke. After that... well, his output is a little less grrreat.

Not sure if I've complained about this before, but he spent an infuriating amount of time describing what people wear in agonising detail.

Still, the books I mentioned before are certainly worthy of a writer's life's work. Oh, and The Survivor was rather excellently adapted into a film starring Robert Powell.

The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF (2010)

Read just two stories from this anthology of big-name SF writers, both by authors I really like: Cory Doctorow and Alistair Reynold.

Both were very well written, but incredibly depressing! But what did I expect with a title like that?

Reynold's Sleepover is clever and an unexpected end to everything.

Doctorow's nerd-pleasing When SysAdmins Ruled the Earth is more of a conventional, though ghastly prediction of doom involving nukes, viruses, and a cascade of failures by governments leading to almost total annihilation of humanity and a possible future where techies end up in charge. Hmmm. I AM one of those guys and... I'm not so sure that this would happen.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2008)

This is the trade of the first 6 issue of The Umbrella Academy written by My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way and drawn by Brazilian comic book artist Gabriel Ba (Casanova).

It's an alternate reality superhero caper about a team of orphans with super powers raised by an eccentric millionaire.

We get a brief glimpse into their childhood and then we a launched without much explanation straight into adulthood. It's a rough transition for the reader because nothing is really explained. For example, one hero is called Kraken, who has tentacles as a child, but in later adulthood the tentacles are either gone or hidden and make no appearance whatsoever for the rest of the story. Likewise the partly gorilla appearance of Space Boy is not explained. Whatever, there seems to be some serious screw-up with the origin story. Also one of the first battles the team has as adults (with robots) is terribly boring, though the rest of the book isn't as bad.

Positive points? A good deal of weirdness wrapped up in Gabriel Ba's excellent art.

Raspberry Pi: Owner's Workshop Manual (2013)

Here we have the good old Haynes Manual. I have had quite a few of these over the years, of varying quality, but this one is pretty good and I can recommend it.

It is easy to read, has a few fun projects, some of which I found helpful, even without owning a Pi board. For example, there is a nice tutorial about making your own screen scraper script for extracting web data using cURL.

Elite Dangerous (2014)

What can I say, I've been banging on about this for months, but it's going to be well into 2014 before we see anything happening.

It is the forthcoming space-trading sci-fi MMORPG sequel to the Elite game for the BBC Micro developed by David Braben and Ian Bell in the early 1980s.

Watch this space.

Obduction (2014)

Currently in the Kickstarter phase, this new game from Randy and Robin Miller's Cyan Worlds (Myst, Riven, Uru).

Interesting that there is planned support for Oculus Rift virtual 3D goggles, which I'd like to try simply because it would make me look like the X-Men's Cyclops (Scott Summers).

Seriously though, it's nice to have a new adventure game, with such a rich heritage, that exercises the, "little grey cells", rather than the trigger finger.

Accordion

I have bought myself a small, 8-bass, toy piano accordion!

I have always been interesting in the accordion, though somewhat put off by having to play both sides at the same time. But seeing all the notes laid out right in front of you is a big advantage over most other instruments.

I also like the whole accordion/dark cabaret revival that's been going on for a few years now.

I have a couple of piano/keyboard books to keep me going, so we'll just have to see how it all pans out, given my lack of musical ability.

Lego

I have found a local Lego store that let's you build your own mini-figs.

It was way too crowded with the Christmas hoards on Saturday, but I am planning my own visit this week. I am disgustingly excited at the prospect of buying some Lego!

Time to Do Other Things

Over the last week, I have watched so much more TV than usual, mainly because of the sheer tidal wave of BBC Doctor Who programming for the 50th anniversary of the show.

The blowback (apart from square-eyes) is that today I only watched a couple of hours in the evening.

That's actually a good thing because it's suddenly made me a whole lot more selective about the TV I do watch and, more importantly, has given me more time to do other things like writing. In fact, I have also cut down drastically on other forms of nerdly media consumption too in order to concentrate on my writing.

And, on the subject of writing, you can expect a whole episode devoted to just that sometime in the future because I know that most genre fans (me included, obviously) also have that creative spark within them. Although, I'm far from an expert, I'd to share the road to I'm walking, whether or not it actually leads to publication.