Andromedas Fall: A Legion of the Damned novel by William C. Dietz

I think it was last year that I brought this novel as an audiobook and although I enjoyed it the first couple of times I listened to it I wasn’t blown away by it but I’ve re-listened to it over the last two days and I think I’ve got it now. I’m seeing some of the layers Dietz has put into it and as its a prequel he’s known what the endgame is so I’m keen to get the rest of the books now (I’m really hoping they’re on audio) and discover the rest of the stories involving these characters and this universe.

In this book Dietz takes a socialite and strips everything away from her: family, friends, her wealth, her identity and even her looks. She then has to rebuild herself in the modern day equivalent of the French Foreign Legion and at the same time staying away from synthetics who are hunting for her, oh and fight a war as well.

On this listen I picked up on a lot of world building Dietz did as well as the little threads he’s laid for future novels. The dilemma I have now is do I go and listen to the next prequel novel, or go back and listen to them all from the beginning? Thankfully I’ll wait till payday before buying the next one so I have a little time to decide šŸ™‚

 

http://www.williamcdietz.com

Movie Monday: RoboCop

We all know what the general synopsis of RoboCop is, but if you don’t it’s about a police office who, after he receives wounds which have left him all but dead, gets made into a cyborg and goes on to try to rediscover his humanity and who he was before he became RoboCop.

I’ve said in other posts about how anxious I was about this when it was announced they were rebooting one of my favourite movies, and that fear was firmly installed in me until I saw the first trailer. That first trailer blew my mind away, one line that RoboCop says actually made me jump out of my seat! So going into this remake my expectations had gone from all but nothing to incredibly high, and the movie pretty much fulfilled those high expectations.

Joel Kinnerman was pretty good as Alex Murphy/RoboCop. He did have a good charm and looked conflicted as he’s trying to come to terms with what has been done to him.
The new suit looks good, although I think the black and silver of the original is better, in this movie RoboCop is silver and black to start off with but the big boss man (Michael Keaton) feels black would be better, more tactical.
Speaking of Mr.Keaton, he is very good here. I’ve been a fan of Michael Keaton since I saw Batman, Batman returns and then Beetlejuice. I think he holds the viewers attention well and here he plays the role of CEO of Omnicorp very well, he looked natural.
Gary Oldman was really good in the role of Dr. Dennett Norton who creates the technology behind RoboCop and later goes on to be the main human point of contact once RoboCop is awakened.
Abbie Cornish is sweet and lovable as Clara Murphy and I think she really sells the distress of having her husband on deaths door then made into this cyborg.

The storyline is, in my opinion, better then the original movie. It addresses the strain it puts on Alex Murphy and his family as well as solving the crime of who tried to kill Murphy, as well as dealing with the corporate side to the storyline.

Something that is not in this movie from the original is a stand out villain. In the original Kurtwood Smith gives us such a nasty piece of work character, Clarence Boddicker,Ā that is the polar opposite of Murphy/RoboCop and almost steals the show with his performance.
What I did not miss was the over the top violence, there is still a high body count but we don’t see all the blood and gore of the original. I’veĀ read various articles that have saidĀ thatĀ Paul VerhoevenĀ  wanted to make a comment about American cinema but I’m glad it wasn’t brought into the remake

The satire is in the remake as it was in the original, mainly from Samuel L. Jackson’sĀ Pat Novak who hosts a current events show and isn’t afraid to show who he’s rooting for. It looked like Jackson had a lot of fun with this character.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie and I’d like to see where it goes if a sequel is made. Is it better then the original? That’s not a fair question I don’t think as the original was a great representation of its time andĀ I think this remake stays loyal to that. I will just add that if Hollywood continues on this course of remaking these iconic movies then this is an excellent example of how it should be done. With RoboCop they haven’t tried to copy the film scene for scene, they’ve made a movie thatĀ  is respectful of the original whilst making this movie its creature.

 

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Movie Monday: Elysium

Set in the year 2154 Elysium is a space station where the rich live in as close to a perfect world as its possible. they live in harmony and have a medical system in each home that cures all known illnesses. The poor have to tolerate a hopeless life on earth where there are no jobs, no money and no healthcare. Those on earth have to also put up with bureaucratic robots who run everything.

Earth is where our protagonist max, played superbly by Matt Damon, Is trying to keep himself on the straight and narrow and away from his previous life of crime. Max has a bit of a quick mouth and is searched by two robot police officers who break his arm. At hospital he meets his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga). She has a sick daughter that comes into play later.

At work Max gets a nasty dose of radiation and has five days to live, and this is when he decides he needs to force his way onto Elysium to use the medical systems they have that will cure him.

 

I really enjoyed this movie. It gives a look at what a future earth could very possibly come true and it does not feel too much of a push for the rich to isolate themselves further then they already are. There is the odd issue I have with it, I’d imagine this medical system they have would be on earth as well, maybe not as prevalent but I do believe there would be a few of these machines on earth. Law enforcement is done by robots, that look awesome by the way. The people have to deal with automated systems that are not anywhere near understanding or even co-operative.

Los Angeles looks like a slum from any number of third world countries. Buildings look like they are on the verge of collapsing despite being inhabited. The vehicles look rusted and the whole world just looks like its decaying.

 

The acting is amazing. We all know Jodie Foster, she pulls in a very dark performance as Elysium’s Secretary Of Defence. Matt Damon pulls out a breathtakingly performance here. I like Matt Damon, I think he is a very gifted actor and this is one of my favourite performances from him. We know about Damon and Foster though, its the other main actors here that impressed me a lot. Sharlto Copely as the vicious Kruger is amazing. I’ve seen him play a bungling bureaucrat in District 9, a fruit loop in The A-Team and now a seriously sinister killer who does not care about anybody or thing except himself. Alice Braga as Frey also impressed me, she made me believe she was devoted mother who is struggling to make life as good as possible for her severely ill daughter. I’ve seen Braga in a few films now and her range is impressing me. Diego Luna as Julio, Max’s best friend caught my eye also. I’m not really aware of this actor but after this I’ll be keeping an eye out for him. Wagner Moura as Spider and the awesomeness that is William Fichtner both give solid performances as well.

 

What I’ve taken away mostly from this movie is its look at humanity. This is an incredibly good movie, but as a look at what may become of us, as a species it is one of the best movies I have seen. The desolation the director Neill Bloomkamp envisages for our future feels eerily real. He has dismantled society and taken the rich and powerful out of it, which leaves the rest of us to try and survive. This is what life is today.

 

On a personal note, not only do I love this movie I love the inspiration aspect of it. As a science fiction writer it is full of great visuals and gives the mind a lot to play with.

 

I just also want to mention briefly the shaky camera footage in this one. I don’t mind a bit of this method of filming but here it was too much and if I’m honest I actually want to see the action and not always feel like I’m in the middle of it.

 

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Playing With My Method

As I’ve said recently I am going back to writing by hand which is what I’m doing for writing the end of this first draft of Project Apollo. This is how I wrote mine and Owen’s first (and only completed) novel. I wrote it by hand and then typed it up. When I do it this way I edit it as I type it up and I’m hoping this means that the later the editing passes will not be as brutal.
One thing I’ve been wondering tonight as I’m writing is whether writing this way is affecting me as a writer. I think how I’m putting words together is slightly different to how I write when it’s straight from my head to a computer. I cannot really explain it any clearer then that I’m afraid.
So,etching else that has occurred to me is maybe as I’m writing slower that may be affecting what I’m writing. It’s a slower process which maybe is allowing me to think things through better as I’m writing.
Or maybe its all rubbish and I’m just writing the same as I normally do.

And I know I’m tired because I’m rambling so I’m logging out now and I’m going to see if I can finish watching the third Matrix film before tiredness overtakes me.

Book Review: Redshirts By John Scalzi

This first sentence of this post I am writing as I am on page 260 out of 317 of the novel Redshirts by John Scalzi and I’m fighting hard on not uploading this post now as I have not finished reading the book yet but I wanted to just write these few words down quickly as it is fresh in my head. John Scalzi, you Sir are a bloody genius!

Now lets see if the last part of the book keeps me this impressed with how Scalzi has wrote this book.
(Date wrote: 13/7/13)

Last night(19/7/13) I finished reading this book and its kept me as impressed as when I wrote the first few sentences of this post.

Redshirts is about a crew on a Starship called The Intrepid and on this starship there are a number of odd occurrences when one of the senior crew always gets hurts and junior crew members have a very short life expectancy. One crewman in particular starts to investigate this and his and his friends investigations go in odd and unbelievable directions.

This book needs to be read not only by every science fiction fan on the planet but by every book lover and writer breathing. The entire last third of the novel is like a guide to writing hidden in the words of the story. Which I’ve never seen done before. Scalzi takes the final third of the book in a direction that I really wasn’t expecting it to and it’s something that I found that as I read more I enjoyed it more. This book as gone straight into the top of my favourite books list, Scalzi has shot straight to the top of writers who have influenced me and had an effect on me as a person and no doubt on how I write as well. The book and him are both fighting it out in the top five of favourite books and authors.

Please consider checking out this book. John Scalzi is an amazing writer whose work has great humour, action, depth and quality. It’s worth a few minutes of your time to check it out I think.

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Battlestar Galactica, The Ending

I’ve never watched the original Battlestar Galactica but I really fell in love with the new series. The pilot hooked me, and the first episode of the first series, 33, is an excellent example of a tense, well paced episode. The character dynamics are fascinating, in particular the relationship between Commander Bill Adama and his son Captain Lee Adama. The way the producers got the series structured to build up to an epic conclusion is well done. Although some of the secondary characters that were killed off annoyed me but mainly because I liked the characters. I can see why they were killed off though. Of all the good episodes I feel the final episode was a let down.

It started out really well with The Galactica going on the attack to rescue a child that was in Cylon hands. Then it all went wrong. They took each of the surviving characters and wrapped their individual stories up. Some were good to see, some were heart breaking. Others were just plan bloody annoying, Starbuck’s in particular.

I liked the idea of what the producers were trying to do with the final episode, going from the heroic final battle scene to winding up all of the characters stories, but the bit that got me the most was the final scene. I don’t see why that was needed.

Movie Monday: Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation

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A groupĀ of soldiersĀ get stranded on a planet infested by an arachnidĀ aliens speciesĀ that will not rest until all are the humans are dead, or so it seems. There is an inept lieutenant, a kick arse sergeant and a disgraced captain. Bugs that are going to kill humanity with a new, secret weapon.

That is a simplistic plotĀ summationĀ but this one has quite a simple plot, which is not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.

This movie, I felt was a bit of a let down. There was no carry over from the first movie and no real spirit from the book was brought into the movie. The acting is not the best, but it’s not too bad although I feel some of the actors looked out-of-placeĀ here. A couple were definitelyĀ miss cast. I would have liked to have seen something from the first movie being carried over, apparentlyĀ one of the characters was meant to be in this one but had a scheduling conflict. No characters were pulled from the book and put into this second film. I think this would have made the film a lot more appealing to the fans. THeres a thing that Hollywood seems to do with movies that are based on a book or a comic, or a video game which is to make it something different from the source material. We saw this in Last Weeks Movie Monday Post; Judge Dredd. I think only now people are beginningĀ to realise that this alienates the fans and this film is no different.

I read the bookĀ a good five years ago but I am about to read it once more so I’ll haveĀ a better idea of the feel that the novel gave. From what I remember of it though, none of it I see in this movie.

I am someone who will excuse a movie with a poor budget, poor acting or a weak story, or weak direction but this one lacks a spirit which the first movie had which I think is a shame, because this could have been a decent movie.