Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Science Flixtion #1

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Science Flixtion is my new mini feature for Sci-Fi Month, where I try out science fiction shows available on Netflix, and then share my thoughts. Everyone is more than welcome to join in with this, and please feel free to use the header above!

The 100

The 100

Okay so I didn’t actually watch The 100 on Netflix, it started airing on E4 in the UK in July. But I wanted to discuss this one because UGHHH IT FRUSTRATED ME SO MUCH. First of all, the logic behind so many of the decisions was just non-existent. There was basically no real explanation for anything, and pretty much every character annoyed me except one, who was quickly killed off. It was predictable and the kids were JUST SO STUPID. The adults weren’t much better. I mean, if these are delinquent teenagers who were locked up for various crimes, why on earth do they expect them to follow orders once they’re on Earth (assuming they don’t immediately die from radiation)? Throw in an obvious and boring love interest and nope nope nope.

Will I continue? [icon name=”fa-thumbs-o-down”] Nope. Dropped after three episodes.

Jericho

Jericho

I’d had my eye on this series for a while – who doesn’t love a good apocalyptic drama? Plus, in comparison to a lot of the other series I’m considering, Jericho doesn’t have a crazy amount of episodes at only 29 over two seasons. I was expecting a more dramatic disaster and was disappointed (in that morbid way of human nature) at how slowly the disaster seemed to affect the town. However, this does mean it seemed a lot more realistic than many apocalyptic shows/movies (here’s looking at you, Roland Emmerich…), and the relationships were well-built. People turn on each other in desperate times, even on family and friends, and the show recognised that. It was a creepy ending to the end of the first episode which left me wanting more!

Will I continue? [icon name=”fa-thumbs-o-up”] Yes, although it won’t be my highest priority.

Orphan Black

Orphan Black

I actually started watching Orphan Black on BBC iPlayer, but I only got as far as the third episode before I fell behind and then was unable to catch up. So I was delighted when it appeared on Netflix – and OH MY GOSH THIS SHOW IS AMAZING. It’s clever, witty, funny but also emotional. Tatian Maslany is amazing, playing so many different characters at once – and they really are different. Each clone has a distinct personality and style, and she switches between characters with ease. I’ve just finished season one and I can’t wait to watch another one. It’s one of those shows that leaves you hanging at the end of every episode, screaming at the screen because you NEED to know what’s about to happen, or you need an explanation. I HIGHLY recommend this show to anyone and everyone.

Will I continue? [icon name=”fa-thumbs-o-up”] OF COURSE. Well I technically already did…

Have you watched any of these shows or are you thinking about it? What are your thoughts on them?

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Past Features

Turning Off The TV #8: BBC’s Merlin

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes. Today’s post comes a little late, thanks to some website errors that had me tearing my hair out, and also may have had me in tears at one point (even though everything is backed up, I’m kind of terrified of one and a half years of work just going down the drain). But now it seems to be okay… I really hope I haven’t spoken too soon.

The TV series this week is: BBC’s Merlin.

Merlin is a reimagining of the legend in which the future King Arthur and Merlin are young contemporaries, however Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon has banned magic in Camelot on pain of death. It shows the growth of King Arthur from a young, self-absorbed boy to the mighty king in the legends as well as Merlin’s colossal role in the creating the powerful Camelot.

This may not be a series I’ve watched myself (I’ve only occasionally caught bits of episodes, mostly when it first started), but I love Arthurian legend. Which kind of leads me to question just why I haven’t watched this…

The Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Arthur: The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland Arthur: At the Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland Arthur: King of the Middle March by Kevin Crossley-Holland

I first read these books when I was about ten or eleven, and have read them many times since. I still have my original copies. They’re not a straight retelling of the Arthurian legend, and in fact don’t follow King Arthur himself but a young boy called Arthur, whose life is strangely linked with the monarch. Merlin is a prominent figure in the books, as the friend of his father, and who gives Arthur a piece of obsidian that seems to set off the course of events. It’s a picture of twelfth century life, as well as a look into the myths and legends of King Arthur and his court. And now I want to re-read the trilogy thanks to writing this… Just another re-read to add to the list!

The Pendragon Cycle series by Stephen R. Lawhead

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I spent the large majority of my time in sixth form (optional school years at the ages of seventeen and eighteen) in the school library, which is probably not much of a shock. I was always drawn to this series – but they NEVER had the first book. Always book three onwards, occasionally book two, which was really frustrating because I really wanted to read it. It is a six book series, using Arthurian legend and other myths like that of Atlantis, to create the story.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

A classic series of epic fantasy and legend, the first book being The Sword and the Stone, this is a massive retelling of the traditional story. A young boy named ‘Wart’ is tutored by Merlyn – and goes on to be crowned Arthur, King of the Britons. This is in fact the book that the Disney film of the same name was based on.

Are you a fan of Merlin? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #7: Doctor Who

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Doctor Who.

Doctor Who

The adventures of The Doctor, an alien time traveler – a Time Lord – from Gallifrey. Together with his companions they travel through time and space in the TARDIS, battling evil where they find it.

What, you thought I wasn’t going to do a Doctor Who version of this feature eventually?? It’s hard to pick just a few books that would appeal to fans of the show, as there are so many different events and places – so this will cover the time travel/science fiction aspect of it. I may do further installments of this feature focusing on specific episodes, as I’ve done with Supernatural.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

My review for All Our Yesterdays is full of Doctor Who GIFs, so I guess this was an obvious one. It focuses on time travel, young love and is just pretty damn amazing. Plus there’s a character called The Doctor. I kept seeing this one all over various blogs just before release, and thought it would just be ‘another YA novel’. Boy, was I wrong.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

I was kindly sent this at the end of last year by the publisher, Faber & Faber, although I have yet to read it. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells follows the story of a young woman who, after several hardships in her life, follows the advice of her doctor (yes, another one!) and takes part in a rather unusual procedure. She travels back in time: to 1918, 1941 and 1985, and witnesses how her life would have played out were she alive then. It sounds like a really interesting look at time travel and alternate worlds/lives, and would be great for fans of Doctor Who who don’t often read science fiction.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Okay maybe I recommend this book to everybody. But the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons is a truly epic science fiction series that any fan of sci-fi should try. I think it will appeal to Doctor Who fans because I could definitely see the Shrike in an episode of the show: a terrifying creature that is actually just very misunderstood. Plus there are lots of different stories set on lots of different planets, and all the technology! The Doctor would have a field day.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Review

Review: Doctor Who – The Death Pit (Time Trips #1) by A.L. Kennedy

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Just like Doctor Who: Into the Nowhere, this is part of the ‘Time Trips’ series, a sequence of short Doctor Who novellas by different authors and covering different Doctors. This one in particular follows the Fourth Doctor – one I’ve not actually watched in action, but probably the most familiar of the ‘Classic’ Doctors. It has the brilliant Doctor Who trait of combining both funny and scary situations in a unique blend, whilst still being pretty horrifying in parts – and this one really is.

Unlike other Doctor Who books I’ve read so far, there is no companion alongside the Doctor when he lands, meaning we get to experience that initial excitement of someone meeting the Doctor for the first time. Bryony, the someone in question, is a wonderful character in that she surprises even the Doctor. She is ambitious but somehow just got stuck working at the golf club, and her adventures with the Doctor help her to realise that if she wants to achieve her dreams, she needs to go out and do something about them. For such a short story the characters were quite detailed, which really added to my enjoyment of the novella.

As well as being well written and developed, there were plenty of fun and humorous moments to keep the reader amused. The Doctor was his manic self, as Tom Baker’s Doctor was, and it was pretty funny imagining him in a shower cap (especially with all that hair!). Overall, a wonderful short adventure for fans of the show, particularly those who would love some more stories involving Four.

 

Review

Review: Doctor Who – Into the Nowhere (Time Trips #2) by Jenny T. Colgan

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

From the very first paragraph of this book, I immediately knew it was more skillfully written than previous Doctor Who reads – at least in terms of the description. The story wasn’t quite as fun as some of the books aimed at younger audiences. Jenny T. Colgan captures the personalities and mannerisms of the Eleventh Doctor and Clara really well, and I could easily picture each scene in my head with Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman acting them out – Clara with her no-nonsense ways, and Eleven acting like a child and showing off occasionally (or more than occasionally…).

The setting was a ‘typical’ Doctor Who planet – mysterious, a little bit creepy and naturally very intriguing to the Doctor. The forest that the two travel through felt like the one from Disney’s version of Snow White, with trees seemingly coming to life and reaching out for our protagonists. The Doctor Who books can get away with some more grisly images and moments than the TV series, and this one certainly does.

There were, however, a couple of things that bugged me. I know that Doctor Who as a TV show contains pop culture references, for example the Doctor has referenced the Harry Potter series before, but for such a short book (forty-nine pages) this contained a few too many pop culture references. The villain of the story, a nerdy computer geek, felt like a major cliche – and also completely ruined the scary image of the planet.

Overall, despite a few clunky and overlong sentences and a couple of other points, this was a fun read. I mean, it is Doctor Who after all…

And I just want to share this status update I posted to Goodreads…

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #6: BBC’s Robin Hood

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: BBC’s Robin Hood.

BBC's Robin Hood

After 5 years of fighting in the crusades, Robin returns to England and leads a band of outlaws to outwit the Sheriff of Nottingham.

I’ve not watched this one properly (my sister loved it when it came out and she has the DVDs), but I’m planning to! It’s part of my very long Netflix queue… The actor who plays the Sheriff of Nottingham (Keith Allen, father of Lily and Alfie Allen) lives nearby, and literally everyone in my family has met him… except for me. My dad has even played golf with him!

Hodd by Adam Thorpe

Hodd by Adam Thorpe

Hodd by Adam Thorpe is a dark version of the more traditional tale of Robin Hood, and is written by a monk who was part of Hodd’s band as a young boy. Don’t go into this one expecting anything like the legend, and especially any similarities to the Disney version…

Scarlet & Lady Thief (Scarlet #1 & #2) by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet Lady Thief

The Scarlet series by A.C. Gaughen is a retelling with a twist. The story focuses not on Robin Hood himself, but around a young woman called Scarlet, who is part of Hood’s band. Disguised as a boy, she helps the people of Nottingham and protects them from the evil Sheriff – but it’s not only her real identity that she’s hiding. I requested the second book from Netgalley last month, but was rejected as it was US only, boo hoo! Although looking at my ratio, that’s most likely a good thing…

The Forest Wife Trilogy by Theresa Tomlinson

The Forest Wife Trilogy by Theresa Tomlinson

A brilliant retelling of the classic story from Marian’s point of view, The Forest Wife Trilogy by Theresa Tomlinson is an action-packed novel that portrays Marian as more than just a damsel in distress. I read this one when I was about 14 and really loved it.

Are you a fan of BBC’s Robin Hood? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: A Guide to Doctor Who

 

A lot of the Sci-Fi Month participants are big fans of Doctor Who. But what about those of you that aren’t? As today is the fiftieth anniversary of the show I’ve put together a guide to the show (as best as I can…) for people who don’t know much about it and would like to know more, or any new fans!  Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

 

What is Doctor Who? It’s a British TV series that started in 1963, about a Timelord known as ‘the Doctor’ who travels through space and time in his TARDIS. Aided by a variety of trusty companions, he saves people, civilisations, worlds – even the universe.

Or, if you’d like the more long-winded Wikipedia synopsis:

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.

Timelord? TARDIS?? Timelords are time-travelling humanoid aliens from the planet Gallifrey. They are able to see all of time, as it was, as it is and as it will be – hence their name. They prevent time from being altered or re-written. Timelords also have two hearts and are capable of regenerating, meaning they change their appearance and essentially are reborn, instead of dying (each different appearance is known as a ‘regeneration’). A Timelord can be killed though, if they use up all their regenerations or are killed whilst regenerating. The number of maximum regenerations was stated as thirteen, but the shows producers and writers have recently hinted that more regenerations are available.

And as for the TARDIS… well you must have seen this at least once before:

Vrrrrroom… vrrrrrooom!

The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the preferred method of transport for a Timelord. It is a spaceship, and the Doctor’s takes the appearance of a police telephone box. Doesn’t look very roomy does it? Well… it’s bigger on the inside.

 
The TARDIS interior often changes with each regeneration, and this particular TARDIS interior belongs to the Eleventh Doctor. We’re often told (but don’t get to see) about the various rooms in the TARDIS, including a swimming pool and a library (or occasionally a swimming pool in the library).
 
Regenerations? Do explain… Time for a handy infographic!
 

 
These are the many faces of the Doctor. He has currently changed his face eleven times, and as Matt Smith is leaving this year, will regenerate for a twelfth time soon. Each regeneration is like a different person, with his own personality and traits. For example, Eleven is rather childish, and has an obsession with bow ties. In comparison, Nine was much more serious (and Northern). Four was unpredictable, with a quirky sense of humour but could also be rather somber. However the Doctor retains all memories from previous regenerations.
 
You mentioned the Doctor has ‘companions’? Yep, throughout the show the Doctor has always had at least one other person travelling with him (apart from the occasional special episode). It would take a long time to talk about all the previous companions, so I’m going to introduce you to the companions from New Who (the rebooted version of the show from 2005). You can read about the others here though (may contain spoilers). 
 



What about all the evil that the Doctor fights? The Doctor never really fights, a lot of his battles involve outwitting the enemy. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the villains of Doctor Who, as part of the fun is seeing what they can actually do, so instead I’ve put together a collage of various monsters and villains! If you want to read more about the creatures that the Doctor and his companions encounter, the BBC website has some great monster profiles.
 
 
1. Weeping Angels  2. Cybermen  3. Vashda Nerada  4. Daleks  5. Judoon  6. Vampires/Sisters of the Water  7. Sontarans  8. Silurians/Homo Reptilia  9. Smilers  10. The Silence  11. Peg Dolls  12. Gangers   13. The Ood
 
So… where does the Doctor actually go? To the past AND the future! He’s been back in time to Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, visited good ol’ Will Shakespeare, met Queen Victoria (and protected her from werewolves)… and as for the future, there’s just so much that he and his companions have seen – you should watch it for yourself.
 

I hope this has encouraged you to give the series a shot, or been a fun read if you’re already a fan!