Scifi and fantasy features from 2010.

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Russell T Davies talks Torchwood rebooted
01/08/2011. Russell T Davies talks Miracle Day, starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles, which starts in the UK on Thursday 14th July on BBC One. The new series created by Russell T Davies welcomes Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman and Alexa Havins, plus recurring guest stars Arlene Tur and Lauren Ambrose.

Monsters (Mark's take)
01/12/2010. As a sort of a road film, the movie 'Monsters' tells the story of two young Americans making their way across a war-ravaged Mexico - where the war is against giant creatures of alien origin. The story is told with a naturalistic style and with the actors improvising with non-actor locals. In the end the film is really about people and not special effects.

What is science fiction?
1/12/2010. A purely personal viewpoint by David A. Hardy. I’ve been reading SF and occasionally fantasy since at least 1950, so I thought I knew what kind of story falls into each category. So this sounds a hoary old question and indeed most of us who are involved in the genre tend to dismiss it, because after all we know the answer, don’t we?

A prison called Smith
1/12/2010. Short fiction by by GF Willmetts. A world held to ransom and a little matter of an auction with nuclear warheads. Enter your bids now.

Finance the future
1/12/2010. The editorial. If there’s one thing that rarely comes up in Science Fiction, other than in film or TV production, is money and budget. Then again, it rarely comes up in other genres neither come to that.

The SFC Guide to getting on with Windows 7
1/12/2010. Tips from GF Willmetts. Next to the death of a member of the family or friend, probably the death of your computer is probably next in line for stress and even less time for bereavement.

Live Bait
01/11/2010. When you’re marooned on an alien planet, make sure you choose the right bait. A short story by: GF Willmetts. We dubbed the planet Macklan after the name of our captain. Without him we’d never have survived the crash-landing on this planet. He got us down but in a quirk of fate, he lost his own life doing so. Tough break!

I am formidable not inaccessible.
01/11/2010. Let’s think about a really broad issue these days: Is writing really worth it or do you prefer to rely on chat groups, etc to have your say about things these days? As you might guess, I’m talking about the desire to write stories or articles than just chit-chat to ‘friends’.

30/10/2010. A news report by: GF Willmetts. On Thursday 7th October at 10pm, the new series ‘Haven’ is coming to the SyFy Channel in the UK and SFCrowsnest was sent a copy of the two opening episodes so we can have an advance preview and tell you people what it’s all about.

An interview with Brian Lumley
1/10/2010. Brian Lumley is an English writer of horror fiction. His first stories were published in 1971 by Arkham House, at the time still being managed by August Derleth. Although Lumley's early work was strongly influenced by H P Lovercaft, he is best known today as the author of the popular 'Necroscope' series of books concerning Harry Keogh and vampire-like aliens known as Wamphyri.

Escaping Brigadoon
1/10/2010. Just how would you escape the village that only lives a day each century and would you want to leave let alone how without dooming everyone? Uncle Geoff's article has some answers...

Science fiction: it is all in the detail
1/10/2010. One thing you can never say about Science Fiction fans is that we don’t pay attention to detail and most of us are actually nit-pickers. Not that I have nits but the more familiar you become with a subject, the more you know when something is wrong and aren’t afraid to point it out and discuss with others.

The End
1/10/2010. Don’t think you’ll escape my clutches. As a trilogy, here comes the true finale. A lot of thought was given to make this the shortest story ever.

The Pain of Sarah Jane
1/10/2010. Elisabeth Sladen is back as Sarah Jane Smith in your kids' favourite Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, battling aliens, robots and other terrors. In this interview she talks to SFcrowsnest about her new series and how, when the Doctor is declared dead, old companions Sarah Jane and Jo Grant must meet for the first time, joining forces to discover the truth about an interstellar conspiracy in UNIT HQ.

Pirahna 3D
1/09/2010. Killer fish chasing near-naked women. I miss the good old horror films of the 1970s. This film tries to be one of them and falls on its face. Insultingly the filmmakers thought that modern audiences want lots of nudity and lots of gore, but would not appreciate decent writing or interesting characters.

David Suchet on Going Postal
01/09/2010. David Suchet, who plays Reacher Gilt in the new film adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel, Going Postal, chats to SFCrowsnest about why his character is the ultimate in cruelty and theft, meeting the legion of Pratchett fans, and why his first thought about Discworld was, How big is this turtle? There's also a competition to win the DVD.

1/09/2010. Flash fiction (really flash this time). You thought you were on his execution list last month, here’s how to escape but don’t try this at home.

Science Fiction is a disaster waiting to happen
1/09/2010. You must have had one of those magic moments of realisation and wonder why it never occurred to you before and then realise an inner truth had been revealed that you’d never considered before. Imaginary light bulbs should now be pinging on over all your heads. Well, at least if you’ve ever had such times. Here’s one of mine. It should work for you.

Despicable Me: Mark's take
01/08/2010. Gru, a super-villain of the James Bond film type, goes into competition with another super-villain, Vector. Gru needs three little girls from a local foundling home to penetrate Vector's stronghold. But Gru does not count on the power of three cute little girls to transform his life. Pixar raised the bar even higher for digital animation films with Toy Story 3 and it is well out of reach for Illumination Entertainment, the producers of Despicable Me.

Inception: Mark's take
01/08/2010. There comes a point when enough is too much. Writer and director Christopher Nolan makes an intelligent thought-piece that is at the same time an explosive action thriller. There is little time to absorb the ideas. Still, where else are you going to get so intelligent a film in mid-summer?

The Stone Tape: Mark's take
01/08/2010. Nigel Kneale combines science fiction and the supernatural again in his 1972 story of cutting-edge electronics research laboratory haunted by a ghost. At one time Kneale was a font of new ideas, but this play is mostly a reworking of some of the ideas from the much superior Quatermass And The Pit. Still the narrative is tense and at times unnerving. Spoiler: The review will be followed by a spoiler discussing Nigel Kneale's idea.

Dead End
01/08/2010. a short story by: GF Willmetts.

Emotional Content. Tell me when it hurts.
01/08/2010. Something we’re aware of this time of the year is that many of you people are off on you holidays or even taking in the sun instead of the computer screen and only occasionally looking in on us, let alone my editorials.

Splice: Mark's take
01/07/2010. Two biologists, each with psychological problems, specialising in DNA splicing, finds Mark, become de facto parents to the partially human creature they create in their laboratory. Vincenzo Natali directs and co-authors, but the film sadly lacks the fresh originality of his previous films. The science is more hysteria than believable.

Cypher: Mark's take
01/07/2010. Vincenzo Natali's follow-up to the 1996 Cube is in nearly all ways a science fiction outing superior to his previous film. Brian King's screenplay make this a fast paced science fiction adventure very much of the style of Philip K. Dick. Jeremy Northam is a total nebbish who gets to lead a double (and then triple) life in the shady world of industrial espionage.

Nothing: Mark's take
01/07/2010. A morality tale with a word of warning about getting everything you desire. Vincenzo Natali, best known for Cube and the current Splice tell the story of two boys who are the constant victims of all ages who suddenly find they have the ability to make their wishes come true. Director Natali wrote the story with the two actors who star.

Toy Story 3: Mark's take
01/07/2010. Some of the most serious films being made today are the comedies from Pixar Animation Studios that the whole family can enjoy. Pixar has another hit returning to the "Toy Story" franchise. In Toy Story 3 young Andy who always loved his toys is going to college and his toys are going into storage. As a last-minute reprieve they go instead to a day-care center where they can play until they break. Unfortunately that fate may not be as far away as they had hoped. The writing quality is what makes this film work as a comedy, an adventure, and a film with some serious affecting human drama.

Must be a geek thing
1/07/2010. This is going to seem like an odd editorial to release at the end of the month although I actually started writing this editorial at the start of the month when all that world sports fuss on television was about to begin. The question I’m going to ask is what have you been doing this month to while away the boring sport on television?

Doctor Who out there
1/07/2010. A look at the first Matt Smith tenure by GF Willmetts. As a look at the latest ‘Doctor Who’ season, I’m going to be careful about giving too many story details. If you’ve been following my comments in the SFC forum, I’ve been doing that and being careful for the past thirteen weeks anyway.

The War Of The Worlds war machine
1/07/2010. Wiring for lights by: GF Willmetts. With all model-making, there’s a level of preparation, so let’s start off with what you need. If you’re just reading first, don’t feel intimidated by what’s needed as things like equipment would be used in other model-making and can be bought relatively cheaply. If anything, its the model kit that is the major expense.

Frank Frazetta: a remembrance (1928-2010)
01/06/2010. Frank Frazetta’s long career, says Uncle Geoff, is marked in science fiction, horror and fantasy, and in many ways, and it would be hard for anyone to say they didn’t have some of his paintings in their collections.

Peter O'Donnell: a remembrance (1920-2010)
01/06/2010. As you might have noticed over the past few years, I’ve been reviewing the Titan Books release of Peter O’Donnell’s ‘Modesty Blaise’ newspaper strip stories as something we Science Fiction fans turn to when we need a break from our own genre. Now, in his ninetieth year, writer Peter O’Donnell has died.

An interview with Ian Redman: editor of Jupiter Magazine
01/06/2010. Ian Redman is the creator and editor of ‘Jupiter’ magazine. The editions are named after Jupiter's satellites. Most of us will be familiar with the large satellites Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto but there are lots more, over 60 at the last count. Jupiter has been reviewed for some time in SFCrowsnest so we thought a short interview with the editor would be interesting and appropriate.

An interview with Immersion Press publisher Carmelo Rafala
1/6/2010. Immersion Press is a brand new UK-based genre imprint whose first title ‘Fun With Rainbows’ was launched recently. They plan to publish single-author anthologies, as well as original multi-author anthologies such as the forthcoming ‘Immersion Book Of Science Fiction’ and short novels. I met up with Carmelo Rafala at Eastercon in April where he proved to be an enthusiastic advocate of the small press market.

The Prisoner (2010): an appraisal by: GF Willmetts
01/06/2010. There’s been talk of a new ‘Prisoner’ series in past few decades since the original Patrick McGoohan 1966 series. However it was done, the series was likely to be on a hiding for nothing when faced against the original classic.

Ashes To Ashes: an appraisal by: GF Willmetts
01/06/2010. For those of you who don’t live in the UK or haven’t read a newspaper and don’t want any disclosures about the second season of ‘Ashes To Ashes’ revealed before watching the series, then read this appraisal another time.

Hyphens are more than dashes across the page
01/06/2010. Do you, asks Uncle Geoff, ever find yourself being subverted by your word processor spell-checker? Do you ever think sometimes it suggests something that isn’t what you were taught or giving you a choice of two options is actually suggesting that it doesn’t matter which one is right? Do you really want the decision process taken out of your hands or just use the spell-checker as a guide to problem areas?

How to Train Your Dragon - Mark's take
01/05/2010. A young Viking is anxious to win glory by killing a few of the dragons who ravage his village. When he actually gets to meet a real dragon close up he discovers that dragons are not at all what he thought. Those who enjoyed flying on dragons in 3D in AVATAR can do it again. The plot is overly familiar but still effective. This review includes the new HD trailer for the film.

Numbers count
01/05/2010. There are two things that can galvanise reaction from people: religion and politics. For this editorial and because we’re have a national election in the UK, I think we’ll stick with politics.

No-Win Situation
01/05/2010. A piece of flash fiction by: GF Willmetts. Do you play the lottery? Don't worry, Geoff has got your number.

The Human Centipede - Mark's take
01/05/2010. In The Human Centipede, relatively standard mad scientist horror film elements combine with a truly twisted premise. Dutch filmmaker Tom Six writes and directs a horror film with a really tasteless gross-out concept. The film has good production values, but is still disturbing in ways that perhaps no film before it has ever been. This is a film experience for a narrow select audience.

SFCrowsnest strikes back! Sort of.
01/04/2010. This editorial isn’t so much about why online mischief makers are continually attacking, but about the Internet itself and the preservation of identity and why Uncle Geoff thinks there can only be one of each of you.

I wish to complain about...
01/04/2010. A piece of flash fiction by GF Willmetts. Hey, even time travellers have recourse to the holiday complaints line, right?

There Is No Business...
01/04/2010. A quick story by: GF Willmetts. There's two sides to every balance sheet, even in a credit crunch.

Mutants (Mark's take)
01/04/2010. This 2009 zombie film from France does everything it does well but little that is original. Fans of the zombie sub-genre will get very much what they are expecting whether that is what they really want or not. Two lovers fight to survive in a world over-run but microbe-transformed zombies. Most of the photography is shot though a blue-gray filter to give a downbeat sensibility and a great deal of not-quite-believable stage blood gets dripped, sloshed, spattered, and sneezed.

Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (Mark's take)
01/04/2010. The vines go after the people and the zombies go after the wine In Attack Of The Vegan Zombies! Writer/director/star Jim Townsend has a feel for older horror films and fresher ideas for a zombie movie. The action scenes do not work really well, but Townsend knows not to let this degenerate into too much of spoof too soon.

The Wolfman (Mark's take)
01/03/2010. Joe Johnston directs an expansion and sophistication of the 1941 The Wolfman. In story and in style this is a cold, dark film. The script has some very nice touches but goes over the top in the final act. In many ways it is much more a work of art than the original film, but the original will be remembered when this film is forgotten.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Mark's take)
01/03/2010. This film with the cumbersome title is a young adult movie from a young adult novel that reminds us of precursors Like Jason And The Argonauts And Clash Of The Titans, but is set in a contemporary setting. A high school boy finds out that the root of his problems is that he is a demigod in the sense of Greek mythology. In this world that mythology was not only true, the battles of the Greek gods continue today. Percy Jackson is suspect number one in the theft of Zeus's lightning bolt so goes from being an underachiever to battling the great monsters and gods of the Greek myths. This is a surprisingly satisfying fantasy adventure.

Give it everything you got! Fire all weapons!
01/03/2010. How many times have you seen the above two phrases used in SF films and TV series? How incredible that it gives unlimited speed and a massive arsenal as if the technology has been holding back until now to zap the opposition out of existence.

Some Hope
01/03/2010. A new work of short(ish) science fiction by our editor GF Willmetts. Alien tourism in the future is just as tricky as today.

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (Mark's take)
01/02/2010. Terry Gilliam's new film is a lot like his previous imaginative films, only perhaps more so. A small tacky traveling show in a caravan hides real magic. It has a gateway to a subjective land created by the visitor's own imagination. The show's owner is also genuinely immortal do to a pact he has made with Satan himself. The actual story is muddled, but the imagination of the visual imagery is very good. And Gilliam deserves admiration for having brought this film to fruition in spite of nearly impossible circumstances.

The beginning of the universe
01/02/2010. Radical unorthodox thoughts to ponder by: GF Willmetts. Having watched the UK BBC ‘Horizon’ programme about the problems of quantum gravity back in November 2009 explaining how black holes and the universe works stumping theoretical physicists with a desire for radical thinking for a new way to approach the subject got me thinking.

Third Option
01/02/2010. A story by GF Willmetts. You know how it is. You ponder on a problem for years and then over night you come up with a solution.

There's no business like snow business
01/02/2010. Just in case anyone was missing it in the UK, we’ve recently had some heavy snows in January which our media has been comparing to the snowfalls of 1963 and 1981. In celebration, Geoff looks at scifi movies that rely on snow.

A Doctor In Passing: some thoughts
1/01/2010. The one thing you can’t say about Time Lords is that they are never truly dead. They just regenerate into a different version that carries the embodiment of what they are. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are immortal, just long-lived under normal circumstances. SPOILER WARNING for Dr Who The End of Time.

2001: A Space Upset: an examination report
1/01/2010. Before I say anything else I should say ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is one of my favourite films and which made me take space science and Science Fiction seriously after seeing it three times the same day when I saw it back in 1972. I’ve also seen it many times since, although as I’ve gotten older and more analytical, you might have noticed that, its time I examined its ‘futuristic’ technology as anticipated by Arthur C. Clarke and his patron and film director, Stanley Kubrick.

Numbers are for life - or is it some circadian myth?
1/01/2010. Welcome to 2010 and a new decade. Same world. Same century. Just a different number. Things don’t change that radically in the space of a couple days. It’s amazing how we put so much credence on the date. Granted it has its uses. Sailors would be lost without it and date accuracy also governs how those who drive using sat-nav devices even if some lose judgement calls in selecting particular routes.

Avatar (Mark's take)
1/1/2010. Avatar is very much a Dances with Wolves set on an alien world. It brings to the screen some great imaginative sequences and some great lapses in imagination. It is about great evils in our past, but becomes a simplistic and self-righteous polemic. Like James Cameron's previous film, Titanic, there are enough good bits to make a really great film and enough bad bits to make a real stinker. Spoiler warning: There are some spoilers in this review.

9 (Mark's take)
1/1/2010. In the short film of the same title, a world ravaged by the vicious robots built by a fascist dictator, several small mute homunculi, each numbered, battle to survive. The Oscar-nominated ten-minute film is stretched to feature length. There are lots of fights and the story a little bit extended with more plot. Also voices of good actors are added to the formerly mute homunculi. But what worked in the shorter form is not as impressive as a 79-minute film.

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