Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 9, 2010

Science Fiction is not always Spaceships

Hello everyone. I will get back to blogging about local politics soon enough. I just wanted to take a moment and talk about Science Fiction because it seems that America has finally developed a bit of taste for it. Avatar and District Nine both scooped up Oscar nods (with good reason) and it seems, finally, that a great deal of people have realized that science fiction doesn’t necessarily involved spaceships. So if I might, I would like to recommend a few things.

I am a Science Fiction fan. Have been for as long as I have been reading. Now there is lots of high-flying stuff out there that is good, but you have all heard of it by now. Isaac Asimov, the Dune Series, Firefly, etc. I want to highlight some wonderful bits of science fiction that might slip past you that are absolutely worth looking into.

Books:

The Riverworld Series by Phillip Jose Farmer. You wake up on the banks of a great river. You remember dying a natural death and yet here you are, young healthy and surrounded by the scattered bodies of everyone else in history, randomly shuffled over miles and miles of riverbank. Welcome to the start of Riverworld. It features a cast of historical figures as they try to build a paddleboat and find out the secrets of Riverworld. Smart, creative, a solid read.

Nine Princes of Amber by Roger Zelazney. A man wakes up in a hospital unable to remember his name. He quickly discovers he is a prisoner there and escapes to his sister’s house. Before long he is walking in-between dimensions, trading sword blows with his relatives, talking to enemies through a pack of Tarot Cards and walking a burning labyrinth. Lively, quick-paced, this series of books gives you all the action of a blockbuster, while keeping the smart paranoia of the science fiction genre.

Comics:

Powers by Brian Michael Bendis. Hate superheroes? No problem. Let me recommend perhaps the best cop comic ever. Here, two normal human detectives handle all the cases involving superheroes. Interviewing witnesses that are invisible, defusing exploding men, the whole gamut. The series bases its stories after famous musicians and celebrities who had their lives meltdown. See the Beatles breaking apart as superheroes. Its an incredible series with dialogue that keeps you laughing.

Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan. In a single moment, all the males of every species die. All except one young amateur stage magician living in a crappy apartment and his pet monkey. Together, under the watchful eye of a secret service agent and a talented geneticist, they travel the country trying to find a cause and cure for the Gendercide. You get to see a world without men, and the fallout from that. Survivors guilt, new societies being formed, the whole bit. Very good and with very little political rants. A good balance idea about what would happen.

Film and Television:

The Lost Room: A Syfy Mini-Series . Okay, you saw Sy-fy mini series and you skipped this paragraph didn’t you? Trust me, this is worth it. A man stumbles across a hotel key that allows you to open any door into an average hotel room. When you try to leave, you can leave by any door in the world. Our everyman soon discovers that people will kill for this and the other objects in the room. Great mystery, good suspense and fantastic execution.

Dark City: Before there was The Matrix, there was Dark City. A whole town living in perpetual darkness that rearranges every night. A giant social experiment by otherworldly creatures? A never-ending nightmare for the one character who can figure out what’s going on? Worth watching.

Dollhouse: Skip the first five episodes, they are crap. Skip right to episode six of the first season and watch this brilliant show by Joss Whedon. The premise is simple, there is a place where you can rent a person filled with whatever skills and memories you like. These “Dolls” have a handler that keeps track of their “engagements” and then are returned and wiped of their memories. This show does a great job of tackling human trafficking, prostitution and on a meta-level Hollywood. The whole show serves as a metaphor for Hollywood, with abused actors, maniacal directors and strange clients. Unfortunately, the actual evil producers screwed up the shows first five episodes, trying to make it into a lousy CSI knockoff. Skip those, and move right into what makes this show great.

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