November 19, 2017

2009: The Year in Science Fiction and the Look Ahead.

2009 was an interesting year in the realm of science fiction. Sure, we had our predictable, (and sometimes regrettable) run of video games and toys turned into a two hour special effects gags, but some indie and foreign flicks made minor inroads into our sci-fi consciousness. The SyFy channel shortened its name for greater texting ease, while hip publishers like Pyr and podcasts like Escape Pod and the Drabblecast continued to gain ground in terms of exponential coolness. What follows are the good, the bad, and the alien ugly in 2009 as well as a sneak peak at what’s drifted through our transom for 2010;

- Star Trek: Of course, the big draw this summer was a reset of the Star Trek franchise. Gene Roddenberry’s 1960’s brain child just keeps on a’ goin’ like a fanged-Romulan energizer bunny, and the new look is retro-sleek. We actually liked the new direction, destruction of Vulcan not-withstanding…

- Angels & Demons: We saw this one as a two-fer on opening day with Star Trek, and Dan Brown fans were not to be disappointed. We loved the opening CERN shots; unfortunately, Santa didn’t put a particle accelerator under the Astroguyz tree this year. Any plans afoot for a follow up with the Lost Symbol?

- Quiet War: This epic by Paul Mcauley gets our kudos as the best book of the year. The backdrop is a futuristic genetic war, and the feel is a solar system-wide drama that would make the late Arthur C. Clarke proud. The show down on Saturn’s moon, Dione, is not to be missed! We’re eager to dive into our advanced copy of the awaited sequel, Gardens of the Sun.

- Moon: This lunar drama gets our pick as best film of the year. We’re glad we got to see this on the big screen; do try to dig it up on Netflix or your favorite legal download/rental method as you won’t be disappointed. The forlorn look and feel harkens back to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and heck, indie sci-fi is just a rare breed in of itself!  

- Knowing: This one actually turned out better than we anticipated. Nicholas Cage stars as a dad whose kid starts receiving creepy premonitions from a time capsule-placed message. What starts as a horror flick ends in sci-fi land. A decent watch that, if nothing else, will keep you guessing right up until the end.

- Worst: 2112, which actually beat out the BBC Doctor Who turned soap opera Fires of Io, and yet another terrible SyFy induced made for TV meteor disaster flick. That’s a tall order, but 2112 delivers on the badness. Few films have such a blatant make a fast buck take; it’s almost like every bad airplane/earthquake/disaster flick ever made, rolled into one. And there weren’t even any zombies in it! C’mon guys; are you running out of toys-turned-video games to exploit? How bout’ at least the Micronauts? (Editor’s note: Don’t laugh: this is a real unverified honest to goodness rumor!)

- Flashback: Amid all the badly cast remakes and retakes, one 70′s sci-fi series begs re-envisioning; Space:1999. Sure, the premise was a bit shaky science wise, and the title would need the clock wound ahead by a century or so, but the sets and designs were very 2001…and hey, they bothered to have zero g in space! The series occupied that desperate niche between Star Trek and Star Wars in the early 70′s, when not much sci-fi was to be had. Dig it up via Netflix if you have the chance; we’d love to see Space: 2199 take off!

- Battlestar Caprica & the series wrap-up. Regrettably, the re-imagined Battlestar: Galactica series wrapped up earlier this year; by now, everyone knows that we’ve all got a little Cylon in us. Several other ideas have already spun off of what will probably take its place as one of the true sci-fi greats in terms of franchises in years to come, not the least of which is the new series Caprica. The pilot opened to a lukewarm reception; it’s to be seen if fans warm to it or not.  The first new episode of Caprica airs on SyFy on January 22, 2010. Also, BSG: The Plan miniseries aired in early 2009, although it has yet to hit our Netflix inbox.

- Sleep Dealer: What’s rarer than indie sci-fi? Foreign indie sci-fi, and a good one at that! Sleep Dealer is set in a near future Mexico, were virtual immigrants provide workers for a remote America. The feel is very Logan’s Run, in what could be an all too easily imagined tomorrow… another one that’s well worth digging up!

- Big Bang Season 3: CBS’s flagship science nerd sitcom just keeps getting better… the intro to the third season sees the boys returning from the North Pole. But what we really think is bizarre is that this comedy about computer geeks is yet to be had in its entirety on-line! Oh, the irony… just when you thought it was safe to finally chuck those digitally converted rabbit ears! Oh, and after the comedy, be sure to check out the science behind the mad-cap routines on the show writers own blog!

- The Watchmen: This superhero saga was a curious mix. At times, it seemed a bit brooding and tended to drag plot-wise a bit. However, the characters were at least original, and like the Mystery Men, we’ll always encourage that!

The original, complete with buxom’ed damsel! (Credit: 20th Century Fox).

- The Day the Earth Stood Still: Gort was back in this not half-bad remake of the sci-fi classic. The message, however, was updated for our climate periled times. And hey, some real science advice actually got incorporated into the film!

The buzz for 2010: Rumors persist of a retro Galactica feature film based on the original series! It’s to be seen who will be cast as Muffet, the robo-dog… In the fiction world, 2010 sees the end of Mike Resnick’s Starship series, with Starship: Flagship, and a continuation of the Quiet War saga, with Paul McCauley’s Gardens of the Sun. Also from Pyr Books, book four of the Entire and the Rose series, Prince of Storms by Kay Kenyon, wraps up the saga of Titus Quinn… The new series Caprica will be the one to watch on SyFy… and in the we-can’t-believe-they’re-resurrecting-that department, word of a Clash of the Titans remake (gasp!) is to be released this summer. Avatar is out and playing to record breaking crowds…it’s to be seen if it lives up to the hype as “the next Star Wars…” that oft tossed about tag line always makes us here at Astroguyz skeptical. Iron Man 2 comes out in May, and a possible sleeper sci-fi hit this summer might be the interestingly titled The How-to-Guide for Saving the World.

Attack of the Remakes: Ahhh… it wouldn’t be a sci-fi summer without the usual batch of remakes. Why make something new and original when there’s a vast repository of bad material to mine? Besides, the Twitter generation won’t remember the originals, anyway; notable remakes this year include Total Recall, Tron (Legacy), and Flash (cue Queen music) Gordon

…And beyond? Rumors still fly about an eventual Justice League of America film, DC superhero Green Lantern finally getting his due, a third Dune remake of the original, and of course, the aforementioned retro remake of Galactica… stay tuned as we’ll post reviews of these future epics and the science (or lack thereof) within!

 

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