X-Men: Apocalypse spoiler-free review

There is a short scene in X-Men: Apocalypse that sees several of the new characters discussing the quality of the films in the original Star Wars trilogy, all of them agreeing that the third film is always the worst. It’s an obvious piece of meta-commentary on the original X-Men trilogy that takes a shot at X-Men: The Last Stand while praising director Bryan Singer’s original two films, which is gaudy enough on its own – but those paying attention will remember that X-Men: Apocalypse itself is the third film in this new timeline. Is this just a staggering lack of self-awareness, or a direct acknowledgement from the film-makers that they’ve badly messed up? It really doesn’t matter. X-Men: Apocalypse is a bad film all the same.

The story this time sees the various characters we’ve been following over the last couple of X-Men films reunite in order to try to stop an ancient mutant named Apocalypse and his four horsemen from taking over the world. It’s a simple tale of good vs bad basically, far removed from the more soap-operatic, character driven drama of the previous films in the franchise, and unfortunately X-Men: Apocalypse suffers for it.

Read more

On The Death of a Science Fiction Icon: A Celebration of David Bowie’s Life and Legacy

One of the greats is gone: David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. He left behind a legacy of brilliant music, groundbreaking films, and enormous contributions to the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

From his breakout hit “A Space Oddity” to his iconic concept album and persona Ziggy Stardust, and on to his Orwell-inspired masterpiece “Diamond Dogs” and beyond, his musical career, spanning nearly 50 years, defined science fiction rock and roll.

His acting performances – in “Labyrinth”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “The Hunger”, “The Image”, and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (to name but a few) – mirrored the ethereal nature of his cosmic rock.

And the field of science fiction and fantasy returned the favor: as Smithsonian Magazine explains, Bowie inspired a number of characters in the genre we love so well.

In the Sandman comic book series, writer Neil Gaiman specifically based the character of Lucifer on the singer, while Batman scribe Grant Morrison later admitted to basing his version of the Joker on Bowie’s ’80s persona… Recently, the television series The Venture Brothers cast the leader of a massive super organization of super villains as a shapeshifter so inspired by Bowie that he took on the singer’s appearance.

Read more

The Solarian War Saga

I recently signed up for a trial membership of Kindle Unlimited to find new reading material. Like so many others, I discovered their “100,000s” of books were most ones no one had ever heard of. They have a few stand out series, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, but the vast majority of their unlimited selection is comprised of titles and authors few have heard of.

On a whim I decided to choose a science fiction series titled The Solarian War Saga by Felix R. Savage.

The first book, The Galapagos Incident introduces us to a future where humankind has spread out throughout the Solar System. The main protagonist is Elfrida Goto, a half Japanese woman who is working on the United Nations Venus Remediation Project. This is an effort to make Venus habitable. They acquire asteroids, load them with some kind of organisms that can survive the 600 degree weather, and crash them into Venus. Elfrida uses remote viewing (think Surrogates 2009) to attempt to acquire asteroids and relocate any settlers who may be already there. Things turn dicey when her remote body’s machine intelligence appears to have its own agenda and goes rogue.

The series tries to imagine a future where technology has taken us to the point of remote sensory, bionic implants, and highly advanced artificial intelligence. These intelligences are so advanced that the United Nations (the supreme authority on everything in this future) has placed bans on just how smart machines can be. This was a direct response to some incident on Mars that resulted in all colonies being lost there and the planet going dark.

The writing might lack a little at times, and the science doesn’t hold up to a lot of scrutiny, but I enjoyed the series none the less. After reading the The Galapagos Incident I continued on to The Vesta Conspiracy, The Mercury Rebellion, and finished with the short story prequel Crapkiller (an ill advised title in my mind). People who enjoy a good space opera might enjoy visiting the future of Felix R. Savage for a few books.

The first book is available for free on Amazon, and the series is available via an Amazon Unlimited subscription (or trial).