Brokenwood S3E4

Case 12 – A Merry Bloody Christmas

With December approaching Brokenwood is alive and well with Christmas spirit. That is until a gruesome sight confronts Mike and his team; Santa Claus with his throat slit. Or as Mike insists – ‘not Santa, but a man dressed in a Santa suit’.


Director: Murray Keane
Producer: Sally Campbell

Cast:
Mike NEILL REA
Kristin FERN SUTHERLAND
D.C Breen NIC SAMPSON
Jared PANA HEMA-TAYLOR
Hayley SHARA CONNOLLY
Evan ROSS MCKELLAR
Gina CRISTINA IONDA
Hughes COLIN MOY
Mrs Marlowe ELIZABETH MCRAE
Jed ROB KIPA WILLIAMS
Pete PETER HAYDEN
Maureen DENISE SNOAD
Wally EDWARD NEWBORN
Victoria MADELEINE LYNCH
Ray JASON HOYTE
Neil Bloom PHIL PELETON
Tina Morehu NICOLA KAWANA
Dennis SHANE CORTESE
Dr Carlton ASCIA MAYBURY
First aired: Sunday 20th of November 2016

Falling Angels

Fallen Angel
Uriah Heep (1978)

I have a clear recollection of going into a very large music shop in the early 1980s looking for this LP. The shop was on Colombo St, Christchurch. It must have been 30m deep with long shelves and a big central rack.

It obviously helped that Chris Achilleos illustrated the cover art. Although a single LP, it was a fold-out cover.

 

Rollback

Rollback
by Robert J. Sawyer (2007)

This is the first Robert J Sawyer book I read. Having now read all of his books, this is one of his best and recommended for anyone entering the science fiction genre and wanting a near-future and realistic scenario.


Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens. Thirty-eight years later, a second message is received and Sarah, now 87, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too… if she lives long enough.

A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback—a hugely expensive experimental rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.

While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah struggles to do again what she’d done once before: figure out what a signal from the stars contains.

Reincarnate

Reincarnate
by Lester Del Rey
originally published in Astounding, April 1940

A novelette about a scientist who suffers injury during an experiment and is ‘reincarnated’ with electronic and mechanical technology. Surprisingly scientifically accurate, despite a rather mellow-dramatic ending.

Instinct

Instinct
(Chess Team Adventure #2)
by Jeremy Robinson (2010)

A genetic disease known as Brugada Syndrome kills its victims without warning, without symptom. When the President of the United States falls victim to a weaponized and contagious strain of the disease, the Chess Team—King, Queen, Rook, Knight and Bishop—are assigned to protect Sara Fogg, a CDC detective, as she journeys to the source of the new strain: the Annamite Mountains in Vietnam. Surrounded by Vietnam War era landmines, harsh terrain and more than one military force not happy about the return of American boots to the Ho Chi Minh trail, the fight for survival becomes a grueling battle in the humid jungle.


Another non-stop action thriller. The story is structurally simple. All they have to do is go to Vietnam and get a cure. But everything is against them and it a continuous sequence of  getting into a trap and escaping. Another relentless read.

 

WWW Trilogy

WWW: Wake (#1)
by Robert J Sawyer (2009)

 

WWW: Watch (#2)
by Robert J Sawyer (2010)

 

WWW: Wonder (#3)
by Robert J Sawyer (2011)

In this trilogy, Robert J Sawyer takes on the internet, and what could happen if it gained sentience. It’s thought provoking and engaging from the start. Unfortunately Sawyer has a tendency here to lay in on with too much moralizing. Maybe he’s turned American ! 

 

Brokenwood S3E3

Case 11 – The Killing Machine

The annual Riverstone Beach Hop is a colorful festival that brings classic car enthusiasts together from far and wide to celebrate everything petrol powered and chrome plated. But on the morning of the event Charlie Baxter, the Chairman of the Classic Car Restoration Society, is found dead next to his beloved El Dorado with a lungful of gasoline. Was this a petrol siphoning accident or something more deliberate? And does it have anything to do with the unidentified dead body found in Charlie’s garage the day before?


It’s car culture gone mad. Ford vs GM. Jared vs the old girlfriend and the local PC being flat footed by an up-start with attitude. But we know he didn’t do it (too obvious).

What was obvious that some illegal importing was going on. This was one of the main drawbacks of this story. The police should have guessed the primary cause before the audience.

Still, a good episode and you have to wonder where they found all those classic cars for a TV show at the top-end of New Zealand.


Director: Mike Smith
Producer: Sally Campbell

Cast:
Mike NEILL REA
Kristin FERN SUTHERLAND
D.C Breen NIC SAMPSON
Jared PANA HEMA-TAYLOR
Greg McQueen IDO DRENT
Charlie Baxter CHRIS HOBBS
Keith Balance JOHN LANDRETH
Olson Siola DAVID FANE
Gina CRISTINA IONDA
Mrs Marlowe ELIZABETH MCRAE
Edward Alderston KEN BLACKBURN
Frankie (Frodo) Oades KARL WILLETS
Carly McQueen AMBER-ROSE HENSHALL
Val Baxter JANINE BURCHETT
Tai Smith LUCIANE BUCHANAN
Miranda Temple LAURA HILL
Kimberley ZARA CORMACK
Dr Carlton ASCIA MAYBURY
First aired: Sunday 13th of November 2016

Waveries

The Waveries
by Fredric Brown
From Astounding Science Fiction January 1945

This novelette was nominated for a Hugo award.
It was written in 1945 and takes place in 1957. The basic premise is that an alien species, in the form of radio waves, invades the Earth and its atmosphere. The result is a complete interference with any radio waves. They also consume all forms of electricity (AC, DC, sparks from a car’s ignition), a phenomenon first discovered by the absence of lightning. The aliens are given names such as vaders (short for invaders) and waveries. In essence, the world must go back to the time before the telegraph.


Interesting premise and well thought through story. Recommended for fans of early science fiction. There is an interesting article about the story here.

 

 

 

 

Arrival

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction drama film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma.


This is a slow burn of a movie. There are no big CGI space battles, monsters of villains. It’s all about one character (Adams) and her relationship with time. It’s not until some time after seeing the movie and you start thinking about it that you realize just how well the story was written.  Recommended for fans of REAL science fiction.

Futuristic Suits

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits
by David Wong (2015)

Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements.
An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move.
Mysterious, smooth-talking power players who lurk behind the scenes.
A young woman from the trailer park.
And her very smelly cat.
Together, they will decide the future of mankind.

This is the world in which Zoey Ashe finds herself, navigating a futuristic city in which one can find elements of the fantastic, nightmarish and ridiculous on any street corner. Her only trusted advisor is the aforementioned cat, but even in the future, cats cannot give advice. At least not any that you’d want to follow.


This was an enjoyable book of over the top comic violence and some sharp writing. The problem is, it’s like chocolate. I like chocolate, but it’s best in small quantities, eat too much and you stomach ache. This book is just too long. At times the plot seems to lose its way before getting back on track. What I really liked was that the plot was so unexpected. Just when I thought the premise and resolution was worked out, it took a different direction. So recommended, but consume in small quantities.