TV Review: Love, Death + Robots 3/3

Love, Death + Robots is an anthology series from David Fincher and Tim Miller that is available on Netflix.

Lucky 13

Directed by Jerome Chen

Animation Studio: Sony Pictures Imageworks

Based on the Short Story by Marko Kloos

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Lucky 13 is about a military transport that is considered jinxed and given to a rookie pilot who quickly bonds with the vehicle.

This is another favourite of mine. Again, fantastic visuals here. The character’s are all but photo realistic. I quickly recognised the main character by voice as well as looks. It was like watching Samira Wiley on screen! That’s how good the animation is in this episode. I’d be interested to see if they used motion capture on her face as it is that good. But that’s not just why I like this episode. The story is told at a solid pace and has some fantastic action keep the episode really interesting. I got invested in the bond the protagonist, ‘Cutter’ Colby has with Lucky 13 pretty quickly. You feel the emotion of this episode pretty heavily as it comes to its conclusion.

Definitely one of the strongest episodes for me.

Zima Blue

Directed by Robert Valley

Animation Studio: Passion Animation Studios

Based on the Short Story by Alistair Reynolds

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Zima Blue is the story of an experimental artist. It is also the one in the entire anthology that doesn’t really do anything for me. It’s beautifully animated, although the character designs weren’t my cup of tea. The story was way but never grabbed my attention. I did like the overall message of the story, but as a whole it didn’t do a lot for me.

Blindspot

Written and Directed by Vitaliy Shushko

Animation Producer: Elena Volk

This one is a super fun heist movie with robots. What more do you need to know folks?!? It is a fast paced, action filled thrill ride with ups and downs, entertaining characters and like the rest of this series, beautiful animation. It’s a really nice change of pace and just good fun!

Ice Age

Directed by Tim Miller

Animation by: Digic Pictures, Blur Studio, and Atomic Fiction

Based on the short story by Michael Swanwick

Script Adapted by Phillip Gelatt

This is the only episode which isn’t fully animated. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Topher Grace as a young couple who move into a new apartment which has a very old fridge in it. They soon discover there’s a civilisation living in the ice box.

It’s a fun story that has a good pace and Grace and Winstead are good on screen. The animation is good and the story zips by at a decent pace.

It’s an interesting episode, but doesn’t stand out a lot. The change of visual styles, like having actual humans in it, does change it up a little from the rest of the anthology.

Alternate Histories

Directed by Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres

Animation Studio: Sun Creature Studio

Based on the Short Story by John Scalzi

This one is a series of examples of what would have happened to the world if Adolf Hitler had died earlier in life than he did.

This one was okay, albeit a little long. Like all of these episodes, the animation is great and the design suits the story well.

The Secret War

Directed by István Zorkóczy

Animation Studio: Digic Pictures,

Based on the Short Story by David W. Amendola

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

The Secret War is a World War 2 era story that is set in a Soviet wilderness. Soviet soldiers are fighting an enemy that is revealed as the story goes on. It’s a very sombre piece that has some fantastic action and an animation style and design that fits the era it’s et in as well as the tone of the film.

The big bad in this story I really liked. The design they had really got my imagination going. The final confrontation is epic. It gave me what I wanted from the and finishes the anthology off on a high note.

 

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TV Review:Love, Death + Robots 2/3

Love, Death + Robots is an anthology series from David Fincher and Tim Miller that is available on Netflix.

Beyond The Aquila Rift

Directed by Léon Brélle, Dominique Boidin, Rémi Kozyra, and Maxime Luère

Animation Studio: Unit Image

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Beyond The Aquila Rift is the story of a space freighter that goes off course and ends up a long way from where it’s meant to at a remote space station.

Each one of these episodes has really good animation, but with this one they hit the nail on the head throughout the episode. There are a few moments where it is extremely stunning. There are a few moments in it where it’s almost like watching live action.

But it’s not just a short film that looks good. The story is first rate. You feel for the characters who’ve found themselves at the far end of the galaxy and as the story progresses you really get pulled into what they’re going through. Cinematically I think this is one of the standouts of the series.

Good Hunting

Directed by Oliver Thomas

Animation Studio: Red Dog Culture House

Based on the short Story by Ken Liu

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

This story takes place mainly in Hong Kong around the time when it was being colonised, but with a steampunk taste to it that grows as the story progresses. Stories from this region of the world rarely grab me, but this one did. The first few minutes felt a little slow at first, but that pace served the story well and it never feels rushed. As the story moves into Hong Kong I really got pulled in.

The animation style fits the story and adds to the humble feel of the story. By the end of the story I was invested in these characters and it didn’t escape me the message of the story.

The Dump

Directed by Javier Recio Gracia

Animation Studio: Abel & Baker

Based on the Short Story by Joe R. Lansdale

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

This is the star of an old man who doesn’t want to leave his home, despite a city inspector  telling him he has to.

This is one of my favourite stories in this season of Love, Death, and Robots. I love the vibe it has. The story is pretty straight forward but quite infectious. It drew me in really quickly. The animation is so perfectly fitted to the story that when you add the voice talent, especially Nolan North‘s Ugly Dave, it just works so beautifully.

This was my first real experience of Joe R. Lansdale’s work, and I really loved it. I’ve heard Brian Keene talking about Lansdale on his podcast (The Horror Show with Brian Keene), and after watching The Dump I am definitely checking out more of Lansdale’s work.

I will just mention that I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about the first season of Love, Death and Robots as a whole and they were not very complimentary about this episode. I won’t name the podcast, because they were just sharing their opinions, but it struck me that because this episode has this type of characters, and the tone of it they dismissed it. I just got this sense of it wasn’t worth their time, which is a shame because it is a super fun story. For me its up there with Suits as a favourite episode of this debut season.

Shape-Shifters

Directed by Gabriele Pennacchioli

Animation Studio: Blur Studios

Based on the Short Story by Marko Kloos

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

The short synopsis of this one is the U.S. marines are using werewolves in conflict zones.

Again, animation is stunning here, especially in the final fight. There was a great point of view short at one stage. The story itself it good, has a likeable protagonist and lots of underlying depth. It is a little predictable, but I’m a strong believer that the journey in more often than not more important than the ending.

There is a transformation moment that is stunning, I hope the person who did that got at least a pat on the back!

A good story that I likes, and added a different taste to the season.

Helping Hand

Directed by Jon Yeo

Animation Studio: Axis Studios

Based on the Shorty Story by Claudine Griggs

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

This one is about a woman who is working on a satellite and gets knocked into space by flying debris. Her air and propulsion are both damaged and she’s drifting away from both the satellite and the small spacecraft she’s used to get to the satellite. She goes to an extreme length to save herself.

Now, I do like this one. It’s a good atmospheric piece that really plays the tension card well. One part of it really made me flinch! I like the fact the story makes this woman job of fixing the satellite routine and a one person job despite the risks.

I do have a question or two about some of the physics and medical elements of the story, but they weren’t enough to stop me from enjoying the story. There is one safety precaution that would have solved all of the problems she has, but again, I can live with it.

Again, another episode with fantastic visuals.

Fish Night

Directed by Damian Nenow

Animation Studio: Platige Image Studio

Based on the Short Story by Joe R. Lansdale

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Fish Night is about two travelling salesmen whose car breaks down on a road in the middle of an American desert. As night rolls in the ghosts of the fish and so on come alive as that area would have been an ocean once upon a time.

This story has a heart to it that gets shattered by the end of the story. You feel the elation and devastation in this story. The relationship between the older and younger men, how they handle being stranded differently and how they react to the ghosts coming out to play when the sun goes down builds a beautiful narrative. This is only strengthened by the strikingly beautiful animation.

This is another Joe R. Lansdale story and I’ve got to admit, it’s a totally different tone to The Dump, but still as good as it. Just on a very different level.

Check in tomorrow for part 3/3

TV Review: Love, Death + Robots 1/3

Love, Death + Robots is an anthology series from David Fincher and Tim Miller that is available on Netflix.

Sonnie’s Edge

Directed by Dave Wilson

Animation Studio: Blur Studio

Based on the short story by Peter F. Hamilton

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Sonnie’s Edge tells the story of a woman who operates a pit fighting monster and is undefeated.

I liked Sonnie’s Edge. It kicked the anthology off well with some fantastic action in A pit in A grimy underground Fight Club. This sequence is really brutal and raw and pulls you in as it raises the tension as the fight progresses.

I really liked the design of this one. From the setting to the monsters to the characters.

If there was a video game of the fight pit from this game, I’d be first in line to buy it.

Three Robots

Directed by Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres

Animation Studio: Blur Studio

Based on the short story by John Scalzi

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Three Robots is about three robots who are touring a human city after some apocalyptic event. I’ve got to admit, I do like a good post-apocalyptic story and this one didn’t disappoint. The fact it has a nod to the Terminator films didn’t hurt.

This story has some good humour, I should have guessed it was adapted from a John Scalzi story before it popped up in the credits. A favourite joke is when Xbot 4000 looks up a reference!

This is one of those stories that has a lot going on that is under the surface of the story of these three sight-seeing robots, and the conclusion of the story was fantastic and has a truth that humanity really needs to start thinking about.

The Witness

Written and Directed by Alberto Mielgo

Animation Studio: Pinkman.TV

The Witness is about a woman who witnesses a murder and is then pursued by the murderer.

Like all of these shorts the animation is beautifully done, with a couple of moments where it was very beautiful, but the style wasn’t my favourite. That’s not a criticism, it just wasn’t my favourite. It’s a little jarring how it’s ‘shot’ at times, but it’s so well done it helps set a chaotic vibe to the story.

There is a moment where the woman is on the run and where she goes and what she does there is a little out of place for me. I don’t have a problem with where she’s gone, it’s more that I’m not sure she’d do what she does there. Maybe if they showed a scene where she was pushed into it then it’ll feel more like it belonged. What makes up for it is the ending of the story which made me wonder what was really going on here.

Suits

Directed by Franck Balson

Animation Studio: Blur Studio

Based on the short story by Steven Lewis

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Steven Lewis may not know this, but he wrote this story for me! No one else, just me! Thank you Steven Lewis for writing this short story. Thank you Franck Balson for directing it. Thank you Philip Gelatt for adapting the screenplay. Blur Studios, thank you! It looked amazing! And thank you David Fincher, Tim Miller and everyone else who put this story together!

If you haven’t guessed this story is so far up my street it’s in my living room!

Suits is basically about a group of farmers that have to defends their livestock, their lands, homes and loved ones from creatures who appear out of portals. In mechs. Yeah I’m grinning like a kid just thinking about this story. It is a straight forward story that has action, humour, and heart to it. I’ve got to mention the chickens and the cows. Having grown up as a farmers son, the cows and chickens are kinda spot on!

My only complaint is there’s a moment where there’s a power cut, but there’s not real follow through or explanation. But that’s a super minor note that I’ve added so I’m not gushing about it too much.

Sucker Of Souls

Directed by Owen Sullivan

Animation Studio: Studio La Cachette

Based on the short story by Kristen Cross

Adapted script by Philip Gelatt

This is the typical archeologists awakening something that shouldn’t be woken up. I like it though. Although the animation style wasn’t my favourite, again very good just not my cuppa tea, it fit the story well and was a nice change of style from the previous stories. I really dug the colour palette in this one. It was another element that added to the tone of the story which made the story stronger.

I did prefer the big bad’s initial look when it was first uncovered as opposed to its later appearance. I found it more intimidating.

There are some damn funny one liners in this one as well!

Wrapping up this one, I wasn’t completely sold on the ending but it wasn’t a bad ending. Definitely a fun one.

When The Yogurt Took Over

Directed by Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres

Animated by Blow Studio

Based on the short story by John Scalzi

Adapted script by Janis Robertson

When The Yogurt Took Over is a documentary about how yogurt took over.

As I was watching this I remember thinking, ‘yeah, I bet this is a John Scalzi story’. I don’t really know what to say about this one. The story is fantastic, the animation design fits the story perfectly, as does the score and the narration. (note: I hope whoever thought of casting Maurice LaMarche as the narrator for this story got a good bonus. If you know cartoons you’ll know why, if not. Google it).

Despite the light, goofy tone of the story there is a dark undertone here that has a message but like all good speculative fiction, it doesn’t smash you over the head and lets you enjoy the story for what it is.

Check in tomorrow for part 2/3

New Release: Under The Weather

Under the Weather from Burdizzo Books and Back Road Books is now out in ebook  and paperback.

In this weather-themed anthology we have stories from C.H. Baum, David Court, Paul M. Feeney, Paul Hiscock, Kitty Kane, Dave Jeffery, James Jobling, Lex H. Jones, Christoper Law, Adam Millard, Dale Robertson, Nathan Robinson, Phil Sloman, Mark Woods, and myself.

It’s compiled and edited by Matthew Cash, Em Dehaney, James Jobling, and Jeremy Peterson.

When I saw the call for this anthology it really ignited my imagination. I think I had a good half a dozen decent story ideas which after brainstorming I got it down to one that really hooked me and I had a lot of fun with. (I’ve since written another short story from elements of one of those ideas).

This is a charity anthology, so all the proceeds go to Resources For Autism.

So, Please check this anthology out. I’ve put UK and USA Amazon Links at the bottom of this post so please check this one out.

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Under The Weather UK

Under The Weather USA

 

Sparks Anthology

On Monday Burdizzo Books announced their next charity Anthology ‘Sparks’. Which includes my story ‘The Last Charge’,  my first published story. This anthology focuses on stories of horror, sci-fi, fantasy and bizarro with the theme of electricity.

Obviously I am over the moon at finally being published, but even more so that it’s in an anthology that is raising money for a good cause, in this case Resources for Autism, and the awesome people involved in the anthology. From Editors Matthew Cash and Em Dehaney through to the other writers in the collection. There are some really cool people involved and I can’t wait to see what they’ve all written.

Sparks is coming soon, please like their Facebook page and Instagram for updates, I will obviously be posting here when the book is out, but please feel free to follow me on social media, the links are on the right hand side of the screen.

Sparks Cover
Cover by Matt Hill
The authors in the collection are: Ash Hartwell, Calum Chalmers, Em Dehaney, Betty Breen, Peter Germany, Lex Jones, Christopher Law, Dani Brown, Matthew Cash, Mark Cassell, Samantha Hill, CH Baum, Pippa Bailey, GH Finn and David Court.

2015 Writing Review

I came into 2015 with a very solid idea of what I wanted to write, but that went out of the window by the end of January. My plan was to re-write Earth, After Liberation so it tied into its sequel, Oppression, better. Then I’d write the third book in the series during NaNoWriMo 2015 and then edit them altogether once the third book was finished. None of this worked out at all. I think I was trying to over complicate the Earth, After Liberation re-write too much and it was beginning to loose its soul.

I’ve yet to go back to them as I don’t want to spend another three months working on something which wasn’t going anywhere. I think there’s something there worth saving but I’d like to get some new fiction done and finished. So for the foreseeable future I think they’re just going to have to wait.

The next major project I wanted to get done in 2015 was Project Apollo, which crashed and burned as well. Owen and I have been trying to make this story work for nearly a decade now and I’ve got to the point where I think it’s never going to work, but a lot of good has come from this failure.  We’ve got the potential to write at least a half a dozen stories directly from Apollo, probably more. We’re basically going to cannibalise it and take the individual stories and characters and build from there. I think what made Apollo such a hard story to write is that we have at least a half dozen Point Of View characters, as many A-level plot lines and equally as many B-level plot lines. Eventually I realised that we were trying to write a story with a huge amount of depth and complexities without building up to it with smaller, more straight forward stories.

I think Owen and I are a few years, and a number of finished books away from being able to pull off a story like that. As I said though its not been a total loss; we’ve got a lot of great stuff to pull from Apollo and we’re going to explore those for the moment.

Now onto my vampire collections. When I started on these again I managed to knock out about 15,000 words of story really quickly and with only a little trouble. I went back to this universe because I thought it would be a good way to rebuild my confidence after two major project for the year had failed, and it was going really well. Then I stopped for NaNoWriMo and lost my momentum for the vampire collection with it. When I resumed it in December I’d found that I was having trouble building a story, writing in 1st person, and keeping the characters true to how they are written in the first book and the first few stories of book two.

I took a break and wrote a short story about a mermaid, which I’m really happy with, but I haven’t been able to get back in the mindset of these vampire stories. I’ve got a few ideas on how to get back into the rhythm with them but that’s something for 2016.

I’m not going to say much about the mermaid story, aside from its written in 1st person and I may edit it to 3rd person as I like a lot of the content and think I could write more in that setting.

I won NaNoWriMo only after a serious kick up the butt from Chrystalyn. For NaNo this year I only had an idea which could be summed up in one sentence, and I will never write another long form piece of fiction based on that again. I got a good start but soon I was struggling and began to jump around a lot and write scenes with huge gaps between them and I soon realised that the story would need an absolutely huge edit-rewrite once NaNo was over.

As I said, NaNo cost me my vampire book momentum but Ive got a lot of good content to play with and I learnt to write more from my dark side and not worry about what people may think of some of what I write that may not be what people would expect.

At about three weeks in I was beginning to loose momentum. I think I’d gotten it in my head that as I’d need to do a lot of work on the story it wasn’t worth adding more to it until I’d read through and done some proper preparation on it. After a few days of me saying to Chrystalyn that I didn’t think I’d hit the 50k she basically told me to shut up and get writing. By this time I was needing 2000 words a day to finish on target. I think I rolled over the 50k with a day to spare, and I realised that I needed to hit that milestone as it showed me when the chips are down I can hit a deadline.

The Residents hasn’t moved forward much but we have done some work on it. It’s still a project I’m really excited about and looking forward to when both Chrystalyn and I are ready to commit the time needed to write it.

I have also written two outlines for Apollo universe stories.

Something I worked on towards the end of the year was creating a universe bible for all of the Apollo universe stories. I’ve written down a lot and just need to start typing it up.

I also wrote a ‘off the hip’ story for the Apollo universe at the end of the year. This is technically the first completed 1st draft that’s been written in this universe that doesn’t need extensive work to get it right. As of writing this Owen has read it and is very happy with it, but wants to add some details to it which we’ll be discussing soon.

I may not have completed many stories in 2015 but I learnt a lot. If a story doesn’t work it doesn’t mean its a failure because I took a lot of lessons from those failures. I hadn’t thought of it like that until Chrystalyn said it.

I’ve also learnt that I can hit a deadline, and can work on outlines without actually writing the story out. I’ve learnt a lot about world building and character development and growth. There’s a lot of other things that I’ve learnt this year as well, but they’re more subconscious and I haven’t realised I’ve learnt them until it occurs to me that I’m not making the same mistakes and so on.

I think I’ll look back at 2015 as a year where I didn’t finish much but learnt a lot more.