Thursday, 28 January 2010

I, Robot Should Be Remade From Ellison's Script

As is rather obvious, I am a big fan of the late Isaac Asimov's work. This is the reason I took particular issue with the movie adaptation of I, Robot. That film, while it did have some of the elements of the story and Asimov's robot concepts, it was far from ideal. I, Robot is one of the defining moments in the development of science fiction, and that film cast a very negative light over the classics.

It was fun, and the scenes with the robot Sonny are regularly quite close to the source material (at least in tone), but it just felt too Hollywood. Alex Proyas did a fine job with the direction, but throughout the movie there is evidence of studio intervention and changes to suit a blockbuster audience.

Will Smith may not have been the ideal choice for lead, but he did give it his all. The casting choice that reallty grated for me was the choice of Bridget Moynahan as Susan Calvin. She played the part well, but was about twenty years too young for the character.

A remake of I, Robot could be just the thing to continue the good work of things like District 9 and Moon and further strengthen the current wave of science fiction films with something classic. It doesn't have to be a feature film, though. It could work well as a TV miniseries if a film wasn't possible.

But why remake it? I'd like to see this remade using the famous script Harlan Ellison completed back in 1978, which incorporated material from five of the stories from the I,Robot collection and was much closer to Asimov's original vision. Having one of his peers write the script was a stroke of genius, and it left a script that would have made a wonderful film. How about giving that script another chance, and bringing us a genuine SF film that can be taken seriously?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Review: Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This is one of those comics titles that's been on the edge of my radar for years. The sort of thing you hear mentioned when people talk about titles that are Really Damn Good, and that You Really Should Read. Sadly, that's also the kinda thing that a lot of us never get round to. Thankfully, I bought this huge 600 page tome of independent comics joy after Christmas with some vouchers for my local indie comics emporium, and I must tell you that this book more than justifies the high(ish) price tag. It is a genuine thing of beauty.

Originally published as a series of mini comics, Box Office Poison drew increased popularity through simply being really, really good. No huge advertising campaigns, no 'speculator' foil stamped covers, nothing but good content. The story follows a group of very normal people doing very normal things, but that's usually what makes for extraordinary lives in many cases. Reading Box Office Poison, it's impossible not to love the characters. Where in many comics, characters are only characterized by which way the speech bubble tail is pointing, here you have characters that have good days and bad days, personal problems and very real neuroses.

A chunk of the action takes place in the comic book industry itself, which is something not all that many people will be able to relate to, but it is handled in a very human way that pulls you in due to the effects it has on the characters involved. My personal favourite aspect of the Box Office Poison universe is the troubled relationship between Sherman and Dorothy, which shows off Robinson's skill at creating characters with well defined personalities.

Something that is evident when reading the full book is how Robinson's art style developed over the course of the comic's run. You can see he had some refining to do at the start, but the rough edges are quickly smoothed over and his figures and layouts quickly become really strong. It's a cliche, but I honestly could not put this book down. There's a collection of short pieces too, More Box Office Poison, which is also superb. This main collection is essential though- it's a big, thick book that pulls you in and makes you long for more once you reach the end. Bliss.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Phoenix Williams

I get added by tons of bands and musicians on Myspace all the time, which is kind of expected, but now and again an artist adds me that catches me by surprise.

Phoenix Williams added me a while back, and while the music she makes isn't the usual sort of thing I'm into (me being more of a rock/metal/industrial fan), her sombre brand of acoustic, folky rock is rather special.

The songs are well crafted and deliciously timeless, which is what keeps me going back and listening again.

Some of her vocal melodies and guitar lines remind me a little of an acoustic Alice in Chains, and her voice is rather lovely. You can find out more about her on her Myspace page, or by checking out the live video below. Good stuff.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Bangalore Choir and Babylon AD

I'm very much in an old school hard rock mood right now. Here's a couple of unsung classics from the cock rock era.

The Bangalore Choir tune was the opener from the 'On Target' album, and my copy was one of the casualties of an Ebay clearout I had when I needed to eat (a problem when cash is not easy to come by). Man I need that album again.

The other track, by Babylon AD, ain't quite as strong, but it's a fun piece of daft rock, and was taken from the soundtrack to Robocop 2, and was pretty much the best thing about that flick. There are times when you just need some big, dumb rock music, and these are just the ticket.

Hey, I am extremely proud to say I love this stuff. Personally I couldn't give a crap about fashion (as is evident when you read my stuff in the mag)- good music is good music. Then again, as with the Babylon AD video, bad music is good music too sometimes ;)

Friday, 8 January 2010

New Kick Ass Trailer Kicks My Ass

This is awesome. Lionsgate have released the latest trailer for comic book adaptation KICK ASS, which certainly lives up to its name. Hit Girl's foul language has been completely eliminated for this trailer, but you four-colour-fanboys like me know just how blue the air is around her. Kick Ass looks set to be another film like Iron Man, which perfectly captures the spirit of the source material. Check it our below:

With this, Iron Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, it looks like 2010 will be another cool year for comics films.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Beware of Mind Control, not Science Fiction

Things like this make me very angry indeed. I was directed to this link, a page stating BEWARE OF SCIENCE FICTION, which has a good old rant about books. Now, I like a rant about books now and again, but this made my blood boil.

The article talks about the negative 'anti religious' aspects of some of the finest works of speculative fiction that have ever been produced. It talks about Isaac Asimov being an atheist and how this is a bad thing, yet they don't take into consideration his Jewish upbringing. He was not ignorant of religion in any way, shape or form. In fact, Asimov wrote a Guide To The Bible once upon a time.

He was a learned, massively intelligent man who was not confrontational about his atheism- he simply didn't believe. I would love to have seen a response from the late Dr Asimov, the author of 470+ books that took in fiction, science, mathematics and all manner of other subjects, to this ill-conceived article.

The piece goes on to point out that people like Robert Heinlein, Gene Rodenberry, Carl Sagan and so on were all promoting atheism. They were not so much promoting it as stating a personal opinion, much like I'm doing here.

My personal opinion is that the use of the phrase 'evolution IS the pre-eminent science fiction' at the end of the article is extremely patronizing. I do not have a problem with religion. I have a problem with religious people trying to convince us that whatever doctrine they have been forced to learn parrot-fashion is in fact the One Truth, or whatever. I have a problem with articles like this, belittling the work of geniuses and peddling nonsense in the face of bare, honest fact.

It is articles such as these that continue to cast religion in a negative light. There are millions of intelligent, rational and faithful religious people all over the world that do not share the views of oddball evangelists, and it is those people that ultimately suffer from this sort of thing. Religion is not wrong, it is simply not to some peoples' taste.

Beware science fiction? No. Beware being brainwashed. Science fiction opens minds- it doesn't point them in a negative direction. Science fiction, in particular the work of the classic writers mentioned in that article, created works of imagination, fiction that took a look at the present world and put contemporary (at the time) situations into a fantastical setting, in order for the reader to take a fresh look at a current malaise or way of thinking, and how to build a better society for everyone. Hello? Sound familiar?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

JC Hutchins' 7th Son: Descent - The Way Of The Future?

I've blogged a fair bit about this book in my capacity as keyboard annihilator for various geek sites, but I can't help adding some more thoughts on it here. There's something about the way in which the book came together that I find incredibly compelling. Yes, the story is superb and the writing tight, but there's more to it than just that.

The book, as many people are aware of, started out as a series of podcast episodes and PDFs that were circulated for free by writer JC Hutchins. Thousands of listeners began to follow the story as it unfolded, and as that audience grew, so did the tale's notoriety thanks to the tireless work Hutchins himself put in to get it into peoples' consciousness.

I've already talked about how the new media/social media approach to getting your work published is a good thing, so I'll turn my attention to how the fact that the book was already much loved and freely available has made the print release of the novel even better.

Having that feedback from fans and listeners, as well as being able to look at the story in a different light, must have given Hutchins everything he needed in order to improve on that original version.

Some elements were changed, some stuff was added, and the whole manuscript was revised to a certain extent. Taking in how the book was received as a podcast and so on, Hutchins was able to craft an even better novel.

Reading it now as a print book from St Martin's Press, this revised version of the novel hits harder and grips the reader more. That's not to say it didn't before- it's just more finely tuned now.

This is a very positive thing for publishing and genre fiction as it helps writers improve their craft and readers get hold of better product. While the full-on revolution in the way publishing works is still a way off, it's people like JC and books like 7th Son: Descent that are paving the way for all of us to enjoy more and write better. One day soon I hope I'm able to offer some fiction as powerful as this.

News on JC Hutchins' new project, 'the 33'

New Year's Resolutions: For Once They Have Lasted Beyond The 1st of January

Happy new year, everyone. Feeling optimistic about this year. I'm working as hard as I can to get somewhere close to happy. There's a long way to go, and I'm ready for the challenge.

Well, this is something new. Breaking from tradition in grand style, my New Year's Resolutions seem to be working out quite well. 2010 seems to be a new start for a lot of people, probably down to it being the start of a new decade and all. Many of my friends have been looking back at how their lives have changed since 2000, something I've been doing myself. The last ten years have not been easy, in all honesty. However, while my life has been a rollercoaster of huge ups and downs, I am grateful that it has been far from dull.

New fitness routines (both mental and physical) are underway, new projects are underway, and my stockpile of already-underway ideas is slowly shrinking thanks to the resolution to get as many of the countless projects I want to do actually DONE and out there.

One of the list of things I'm endeavouring to do is bring you more content here. In particular I want to bring you some stuff on music, as that's what I'm best known for thanks to writing for Powerplay :) expect things that rock, and things that stomp.

So anyway. Happy 2010 everybody. Here goes.

A song that is most fitting my current mood:

Sonata Arctica - 'Paid In Full'