On this day in 1984 – American singer Prince releases his most successful studio album, Purple Rain.
Born on this day in 1952 – Tim Finn, New Zealand singer-songwriter.
Love, Death & Robots is an American adult animated anthology web television series on Netflix. The series is produced by Joshua Donen, David Fincher, Jennifer Miller, and Tim Miller. Each episode was animated by different crews from a range of countries.
The series is a re-imagining of Fincher and Miller’s long in-development reboot of the 1981 animated science fiction film Heavy Metal.
Sonnie’s Edge (Peter F. Hamilton)
In dystopian London, a young woman named Sonnie with teammates Wes and Ivrina participate in underground “Beastie” fights: Remotely controlled bio-engineered gladiator beast battles.
This sets the style, with nudity, violence, an awesome beastly battle and a nice twist at the end.
Three Robots (John Scalzi)
Long after the fall of humanity, three robots wander through a post-apocalyptic city, trying to understand how humans lived based on their limited knowledge of them and the things they left behind.
Amusing little tale about the who real furry survivors of humanity will be.
A woman witnesses a murder in the apartment across from her hotel. The murderer realizes he has been caught, but notices the similarity between his victim and the witness, and he proceeds to chase her.
Very strange and stylized. With a bit of a head-scratcher at the end that could be interpreted several ways,
A small community of farmers pilot mech suits to defend their land from an invading swarm of insectoid aliens dubbed “DeeBees”.
Fairly standard alien invasion story with a reversal at the end.
Sucker of Souls
Flynn, a hired mercenary, and Dr. Wehunt, an archaeologist, escape through an underground tunnel, fleeing an unknown assailant.
Another monster story. Rather gory despite the crude cell animation.
When the Yogurt Took Over (John Scalzi)
A group of scientists mutate yogurt by fermenting bacteria. Although initial tests fail, a researcher takes the mutated bacteria home for her homemade yogurt, unaware that it has become sentient.
Very funny and satirical story of how yoghurt evolves past humanity.
Beyond the Aquila Rift (Alastair Reynolds)
Blue Goose’s crew members Thom, Suzy, and Ray, are on a mission to reach beyond the Aquila Rift, but an error in the routing plot causes unexpected events to happen. Thom is greeted by Greta, an old flame, and is told he is hundreds of thousands of light years from Earth centuries later.
Amazing photo-realistic animation and detailed sets, with an end that initially is just confusing.
Good Hunting (Ken Liu)
In early 20th century China, Liang accompanies his father hunting a shape-shifting Huli jing named Tsiao-Jung, but stumbles when entranced by her.
Beautifully drawn combination of eastern style and steampunk. A story of retribution
The Dump (Joe Lansdale)
A city inspector tries to convince Ugly Dave Dvorchek to move out of his house which is located in a dump.
Fun story of an old man with an unusual pet.
Shape-Shifters (Marko Kloos)
In a world where werewolves are common knowledge, but discriminated against, two close werewolf friends who serve in the US Marines, Lt. Decker and Sgt. Sobieski, are taken by surprise when
escorting a convoy.
Military story with werewolves – what next ?
Alexandria Stephens attends to a faulty satellite in Earth orbit. While in mid-operation her old model EVA suit is randomly hit by a stray screw from orbital debris, damaging her oxygen tanks,
disabling the mobility unit and casting her hopelessly adrift in open space.
The one story I didn’t like. Just too gory.
Fish Night (Joe Lansdale)
Two salesmen get stuck in the desert after their Plymouth breaks down due to a broken radiator. Spending what remained of their day around the car, the older man informs the younger man that the desert was once a sea floor, and they soon discover that the desert is not what it seems at night.
More fantasy than science fiction, kind of mystical with an unexpected ending.
Lucky 13 (Karko Kloos)
After two crews on the Dropship Lucky 13 are lost, other Marines become superstitious and give the unlucky ship to rookie Lt. “Cutter” Colby.
Good story by an author on my reading list. Somewhat predictable, but enjoyable.
Zima Blue (Alastair Reynolds)
Journalist Claire Markham is invited to interview reclusive artist Zima Blue, who wishes to tell his story before unveiling his final work. Zima, who began in portraiture, moved on to abstract
murals with the main focus on abstract shapes in a single shade of blue. He continued making larger murals until they were incorporated into celestial bodies, asteroids, and even Nebulas.
One of my favorites, due to it’s stylized drawing and science fiction theme of the difference between humans and the machines we make.
A cyborg crew- Hawk, Kali, Sui and Rookie- attempt to rob a convoy for a heavily guarded microchip as it is in motion to a tunnel. As they plant explosives on the back car, Sui drops one of his when swerving to avoid a desert rat, alerting the guards.
All action and not much logic. This feels more like an extract from a teenage TV show.
Ice Age (Michael Swanwick)
Gail and Rob move into the apartment finding an antique refrigerator. Opening it to get ice, they find a preserved Mammoth the size of a sand grain, and returning to the freezer they find a fast-
moving time-dilated civilization developing.
This stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Topher Grace (That 70’s Show). At first the characters appear to be animations, but I later found that they were shot live-action. A fascinating story of
a civilization evolving in the space of a few days.
Alternate Histories (John Scalzi)
Multiversity, an alternative history research simulation app, shows a user six different timelines involving the death of Adolf Hitler.
Fun little animation with progressively wild and strangely specific circumstances leading to the death of Hitler.
The Secret War
A platoon of Red Army soldiers hunt demons in the Siberian forests. Sgt. Sergei Pavlovich and his Lieutenant raise concerns the men are too dispersed, but the Major dismisses their worries. As the
Germans lay siege to Stalingrad, the Red Army Platoon continue without support into the forest.
Another bloody war story of an army vs creatures from the depth. While the animation is very realistic, the story is basic.
Series 3 has been taken over by Netflix. And it’s a short 10 episode series. Gone is the attempt at humour in the second series. Now it’s more ‘West Wing’ or ‘Madam Secretary’.
An it’s a lot more topical, seeming to exist in a parallel world to the current Trump administration. Unfortunately there are far too many plot elements. The bio-terrorism threat seems tagged on to keep a few actors employed. The gay romance story was just unnecessary and the bed-hoping among major characters detracted from the politicking that was far more interesting.
Then in the final episode it did seem that the president was talking about our world and not his. So an OK series, but certainly not as good as the first series.
by Jeremy Robinson (2019)
For Owen McCoy, a typical day on the job as head of security for Synergy, a research company conducting mysterious experiments, is boring at best. And that’s the way he likes it. Patrolling the Appalachian mountainside, where his now deceased father taught him how to hunt, is relaxing and connects him to the past.
But today is not a typical day on the job. It begins with asking a thief to join him for breakfast. Seeking to set the young man on a better path, Owen invites him to walk the perimeter with him and consider a more honest living. Before their patrol can begin, they discover evidence that the facility has been breached. When Owen’s truck explodes, he’s confused, but ready for whatever might come his way.
At least, he thinks he is.
Angles of Attack
by Marko Kloos (2015)
The first in the series was good, the second not as good but the third tanks. While I could put up with the slower pacing in the second, this third novel just takes it’s time a bit too much. Too much ‘hurry up and wait’.
And the plot seems to lose focus, just what it this about; fighting the aliens or internal conflict among the forces ?
Then I started reading earlier chapters. There is something seriously screwed up with the formatting of this book. About a third of the way through the preface turns up ??
On this day in 1877 Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. ‘And dials the first wrong number!!’
Lines of Departure
by Marko Kloos (2014)
Humanity is on the ropes, and after years of fighting a two-front war with losing odds, so is Commonwealth Defense Corps officer Andrew Grayson. He dreams of dropping out of the service one day.
In the second book, it’s a war against the unknown aliens. But also internal strife in the Military. Not as good as the first book, but still a good story and setup for the books to follow.
Today in History
In 1815 – Napoleonic Wars: The Battle of Waterloo results in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher forcing him to abdicate the throne of France for the second and last time.
This is a science fiction thriller film directed by Grant Sputore, from a screenplay by Michael Lloyd Green. It stars Clara Rugaard (Daughter) , Rose Byrne (Mother) , and Hilary Swank as ‘Woman’.
Set after the human civilization has almost been eliminated. This is the story of Daughter, a young woman grown from an embryo and the start of the Human re-population of the earth.
The film takes on themes of Artificial Intelligence, genetics and philosophy. Hilary Swanks character enters half way through to upset the balance between the girl and her benevolent carer. It soon becomes clear things are not what they seem.
While the ending is somewhat ambiguous and not all plot threads are resolved (many questions left unanswered) it still is one of the best science fiction films I have seen for some time.
It’s notable for for Weta Workshop’s involvement in making and operating the robot. Adam Savage Interviews the robot.