Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Archaeology in Science Fiction

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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.

Simply put, archaeology is one of the most amazing fields of study and career paths ever. And I am not at all biased here. Okay – well maybe a little bit. I am so happy that I made the decision to study it alongside ancient history, because I know that I’m definitely on the right track to the career that I want. Every time I read a book or watch a film that features archaeologists, I do a little cheer in my head for my fellow lovers of the ancient.

I love you, Doctor, but I do not appreciate your tone.

I love you, Doctor, but I do not appreciate your tone.

One thing I have noticed is that archaeology seems to crop up a lot in science fiction. Whether it is used as a form of exposition to explain the history of a planet or civilisation, or forms a major plot point such as the uncovering of an ancient terror, I love to read about it. Sometimes it makes me cringe and want to throw the book/TV/whatever across the room because UGH SO INCORRECT (one time I saw a series where they wanted to do dendrochronology on a bone, it’s used for TREE RINGS), and other times I wish I had access to all that crazy future archaeological technology. Within science fiction it is often referred to as ‘xenoarchaeology’.

So, where have I spotted archaeology in science fiction?

Archaeology in books

Revelation Space Rendezvous with Rama

Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space opens with the excavation of a 900,000 year old civilisation on the planet Resurgam. The evidence discovered reveals a lot more than was previously known, and the archaeologist directing the excavation soon becomes involved in a rather complicated and dangerous plot. I haven’t read this particular Reynolds book so cannot comment on the archaeology, but since I loved House of Suns so much, it’s definitely on my radar.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke is another prominent example of archaeology in science fiction. Set in 2130s, it follows a group of explorers who must intercept a spaceship (nicknamed ‘Rama’) hurtling through the solar system towards Earth. I actually managed to pick up a copy of this one at an archaeological book sale a few weeks ago.

Archaeology in film

Prometheus

Prometheus is one of my favourite films, despite being rather silly, because SPACE ARCHAEOLOGY AND AWESOME TECHNOLOGY (and Michael Fassbender doesn’t hurt either…). It follows two archaeologists who are following a pattern they have discovered: the same images, of what they believe to be extraterrestrial life, reoccurring in many ancient cultures, thousands of years and miles apart. Together with their crew, they follow the ‘star map’ and discover a planet – with obvious signs of civilisation.

Archaeology in Prometheus is mostly just used to get the plot rolling, and give the crew a reason to start their mission. Their treatment of artefacts is questionable (shoving extra-terrestrial remains into a bag without any care) and techniques lacking (no apparent planning), but the technology is pretty amazing. A tool that allows you to instantly date something, without having to wait an age for carbon 14 results to come back? Yes please.

Archaeology on TV

river song gif

UGH RIVER I LOVE YOU. I think the most obvious example of an archaeologist in a science fiction TV show is River Song from Doctor Who. We never get to see her showing off her Professor of Archaeology skills, but she got into archaeology so she could track the Doctor through time and studied at Luna University. Unfortunately, the Doctor doesn’t care much for archaeologists, which makes me sad. I just love that she is such a badass: smart, witty, quick on her feet and also a pretty damn good shot. I’m going to put that all down to her being an archaeologist, and having nothing to do with her being a child of the TARDIS. Definitely.

Archaeology in video games

Liara gif

Oh would you look at that, my favourite video game series ever also features archaeology. Mass Effect centres around the discovery of ancient Prothean civilisation and artefacts, and Liara T’Soni is an Asari archaeologist with expert knowledge on the subject. She joins your crew in the first game, where you can speak to her in her super high tech laboratory aboard the Normandy. There is also a mission set on an archaeological excavation. AND THE GAME ADDRESSES THIS SUPER ANNOYING COMMON OCCURRENCE:

Garrus: So Liara, ever dug up – what do humans call it – a dinosaur?
Liara: No. Dinosaurs and other fossils would be paleontology. I’m an archaeologist. I study artifacts left by sapient species. The two fields are completely different. And… you were joking…?
Garrus: A bit. But at least you’re catching on these days.

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Archaeology appears in so many more areas of science fiction, but I just wanted to discuss a few. Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes the author/writer obviously has no idea how archaeology even BEGINS to work, and occasionally you find a future fictional archaeological development that you hope will become fact one day. It’s a field that can lend a lot to science fiction, allowing the history of past alien cultures to be set out easily.

What do I like most about archaeology in science fiction? The fact that it is still a thriving area of research and work in these future civilisations. There will always be more history for us to dig up, especially if we are able to do it on other planets – and that’s an exciting thought.

Have you ever encountered archaeology in science fiction? What did you think of how it was presented – did it seem plausible to you?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #26: Horror October Special Edition

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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. This is a special Horror October edition of the feature, with lots more recommendations under a general theme. Obviously, the theme is horror (surprise, surprise!), but I’ve separated the books out by the main element of the story and suggested a film for each one. Each cover leads to the Goodreads page for the book.

Haunted houses e.g. Poltergeist

The Haunting of Hill House Amityville Horror The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

Experimentation e.g. Splice

The Madman's Daughter Broken The Heavens Rise

Ghosts e.g. Paranormal Activity

Anna Dressed In Blood The Turn Of The Screw The Graveyard Book

Werewolves e.g. The Howling

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy Shiver Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

Terrifying beasts e.g. Trollhunter

The Terror The Ruins Snowblind

Vampires e.g. Nosferatu

Carmilla Interview with the Vampire The Historian

Do you have any recommendations to add? What are some of your favourite elements or tropes of the horror genre?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #25: Alien

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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 film this week is: Alien.

Alien

The commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them.

Since I’m putting this feature on hold for Sci-Fi Month next month, I thought I’d do a special science fiction edition now – and the next one will be a special horror edition! I’ve chosen Alien because it’s an absolutely fantastic film. It’s tense and keeps you on the edge of your seat, it’s claustrophobic and scary. It pretty much set up the whole ‘survival horror’ genre.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

So I may have recommended Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey previously, but it definitely works for fans of Alien. It has that same sort of claustrophobic feeling, not to mention some terrifying extra-terrestrials.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds is one of my favourite books, and it definitely needs to be read if you enjoyed Alien! When you think of books featuring aliens, I’m sure this is one of the first ones that comes to mind – and for good reason. Like Alien itself, it was pretty ground-breaking at the time.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is another classic science fiction novel. It’s not quite as claustrophobic as Alien, but it definitely has that constant feeling of danger. I also really enjoyed this one, it’s definitely my preferred work of Wyndham’s.

Are you a fan of Alien? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #24: The Day After Tomorrow

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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 film this week is: The Day After Tomorrow.

The Day After Tomorrow

Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.

Oh Roland Emmerich, you bringer of doom. I’ve lost count of how many disaster/end of the world movies Mr. Emmerich has made, but it’s definitely a lot. Does he have an obsession with global warming or the elimination of the human race? Is he trying to send us a message? Or does he just like making huge scale mediocre movies full of doom and gloom and attractive young actors in dire peril? We shall never know. The Day After Tomorrow is a fun movie, silly, but fun. Plus I guess it’s not about the end of the world as such, as just a rather inconvenient and extreme ice storm that hits the majority of the world and kills off a large percentage of the population. Nothing too major. Anyway I knew I had to pick this one for this feature one day, because think of many end of the world novels there are! Apparently we, as the human race, could go out in a variety of different ways. Let’s take a rather depressing look at them!

The Swarm by Frank Schätzing

The Swarm by Frank Schaetzing

Okay, so it’s not a huge ice storm that’s the big threat in this, but mankind is still under fire from nature. Apparently The Swarm has been on bestseller lists in Germany since release, which is impressive. It sounds like it would really appeal to fans of The Day After Tomorrow because the peril that humanity has brought upon itself, due to the mistreatment of ecology.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

If you’re looking for something that’s more post-apocalypse, rather than set during the apocalypse itself, then Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a great pick. It’s stark, it’s bleak, it’s depressing – and highly moving. Although the reader never finds out the names of the protagonists, who are referred to only as ‘The Man’ and ‘The Boy’, they’ll be rooting for them. It’s a tough terrifying world that shows how easily people can turn on each other.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Throwing a Young Adult choice into the mix, Breathe by Sarah Crossan focuses, like The Day After Tomorrow on environmental factors. The oxygen levels on Earth have plummeted, and millions have died as a result. Now the population must pay for oxygen, which is no problem for the rich, but what about those who are less wealthy?

Are you a fan of The Day After Tomorrow? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Recap

London Film & Comic Con and YALC Recap, Part 2

YALC

Time for Part 2 of my recap! I posted Part 1 last week – on 12th July 2014, I went to London Film & Comic Con and YALC, where I met up with various book bloggers and saw lots of exciting people!

I think the combination of the crowds, which made it really difficult to get ANYWHERE, plus the ridiculous heat just made me, well, less interested in looking at stuff. Honestly, we spent the large majority of the day queueing. I spent an hour in the queue to get my book signed by Malorie Blackman, who was absolutely lovely. She made a comment about how well thumbed my copy of Noughts and Crosses was, and how she liked to see that – so I explained I’d had it since I was about ten, and that both me and my sister had read it multiple times.

Malorie Blackman
Malorie was lovely!

After this was another queue to see Kristian Nairn. The photo shoot started about half an hour late, so we were queueing for about an hour total. It was all very quick, although that of course made the system very efficient and meant that lots of people could have their photos taken, but it was kind of annoying after queuing for so long. When Kristian saw that both me and Kerry were having our picture taken together, he just held out both his arms which was really cute!

After meeting Kristian, we were going to head over to the other building which held the games and comic book areas, but after seeing yet ANOTHER hour long queue… we gave up. Which is a shame, because after walking through a crowd that took twenty minutes to pass, then realising we’d have to queue to get back into the building we’d just left, I didn’t really have the time (or the patience…) to go and say bye to everyone. I did see Amber and Tatum again before I went, in the queue (UGH) for Rainbow Rowell, which I wanted to join but… queues. We managed a quick chat but I’m sad that I didn’t get to talk to Amber as much as I’d hoped to! And also before leaving we bumped into Claire again, along with Hanna.

Hodor
Hodor

Whilst I enjoyed my day, there were a few problems. The air-con was apparently broken, and on one of the hottest days of the year, in a hall with thousands of people it was NOT ideal. It was absolutely boiling in there, everyone was sweating and I was constantly thirsty. Of course I drank the water I’d brought with me in no time, and there was naturally ANOTHER queue for any of the cafes – and then everything was over-priced. I got so sick of queueing, fed up with all the crowds and people constantly bashing into me and bashing into other people and I was starting to feel a little anxious.

BUT I got to meet some of my awesome blogger friends. Although I didn’t get to spend us much time with any of them as I wanted (I hung out with Claire the most), it was nice to finally meet people, however briefly. YALC definitely needs its own space next year, I think they would sell enough tickets to make it worth it. I also feel that YALC on its own would be a much calmer atmosphere.

We did also spot quite a few celebrities apart from the ones mentioned above: Paul McGann (my 4th Doctor Who cast member!), George A. Romero, Isaac Hempstead-Wright (who towered over us, embarrassing), David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Anthony Head, Adjoa Andoh (my 5th Doctor Who cast member!) and Summer Glau. I was a bit sad that I didn’t get to really see Lena Headey or David Wenham – or Stan Lee, but there was definitely no chance of that! And my gosh, if Michael Fassbender was there then I’d buy tickets in a heartbeat. There was also some SERIOUSLY amazing cosplay there, from such a wide variety of fandoms!

George A. Romero - I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger queue for him?
George A. Romero – I’m surprised there wasn’t a bigger queue for him?

In conclusion: a good day but hampered by the heat, the QUEUES and the lack of time with blogger friends!

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #19: My Favourite Fantasy Characters

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite fantasy characters.

My Favourite Fantasy Characters

1. Tyrion Lannister (from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire)

I pretty much loved Tyrion from the moment I first read about him in A Game of Thrones, and that grew with every chapter, every book of the series. It’s a series without any clear-cut good characters or bad characters; everyone is pretty much in the ‘grey area’ (with perhaps the exception of the Boltons…). You might think someone is evil, but you can guarantee that a later chapter will reveal WHY they acted as they did. Tyrion seems like the lesser evil of the Lannisters, despite his own family’s attempts to portray him otherwise. He may make some questionable choices later on in the series, but ultimately he’s just doing what he needs to in order to survive. His wit and intelligence are a shield blocking out the constant insults and prejudice he’s had to put up with for his entire life – and these are the sorts of characters I like. Ones that don’t have it easy, but they push on through and make the most of a situation.

2. Frodo Baggins (from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings)

I’ve previously discussed in this feature why I have so much love for The Lord of the Rings, but I never really went into much depth about the characters. I don’t like it when people say Frodo whined the whole time, and that he wasn’t the hero of the story. Samwise may have carried him up Mount Doom in the end, but Frodo volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor – he didn’t have to. He completely turned his life on its head, going from a comfortable life of leisure to one of perilous adventure. And then, after everything he went through to get to Rivendell, he was still prepared to carry the Ring further, even knowing that the path would be much more treacherous. A wimp? No, I don’t think so. More like a completely selfless hero.

3. Luna Lovegood (from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series)

There are a LOT of lovable characters in the Harry Potter series, but Luna has got to be my favourite. She’s adorable, funny and she really doesn’t care what other people think of her. She’s totally herself, even if that means a lot of her peers find her strange, and that is something I really admire. I wish I could be more like Luna, and just not care when I think people are judging me (I think that a lot…). She’s not only honest to herself, but also her friends, and one of the loyalest people you could ever hope to know.

4. Alistair Theirin (from Dragon Age: Origins)

Ahh sweet sweet Alistair… apart from being completely gorgeous and lovable, as well as complete klutz in social situations, Alistair is someone who isn’t afraid to accept their own destiny, even if it’s not what they really want. For the good of the people, Alistair will make so many sacrifices. But actually, the main reason he’s one of my favourites is because of the romance you can pursue with him on Dragon Age: Origins… it gives me the warm fuzzies. You sort of forget he’s a video game character, because so much thought has been put into how he reacts to everything your character does. Like Luna, he’s loyal to the extreme.

5. Morrigan (from Dragon Age: Origins)

Morrigan is a bit of a dark horse. She reluctantly joins your party near the beginning of Dragon Age: Origins, and responds to most of your questions with a dry wit. She’s not exactly easy to warm to and she certainly tries to distance herself, but like Alistair, she is prepared to make some big sacrifices if it means saving thousands of lives. She’s also an incredibly skilled mage (watch her in action in the Dragon Age: Origins cinematic trailer) and is just generally awesome in every way. Earning her respect is tough, but worth it.

Who are your favourite fantasy characters?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #23: The Avengers/Avengers Assemble

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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 film this week is: The Avengers/Avengers Assemble.

Avengers

Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who’s who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster. (via IMDB)

The Avengers, also released as Avengers Assemble in the UK, is one of the highest grossing films of all time. But what did you expect when it brings together various beloved superheroes, with their own franchises, as well as a handful of new characters? I absolutely LOVE this film and am pretty much in awe of everything in it: the costumes, the technology, the sets, the special effects, the music and the perfect cast. Like my X-Men version of this feature, I won’t be recommending novels but different Marvel comic books, since there are so many different storylines and line-ups to explore.

The Avengers Volume 2, by Brian Michael Bendis

The Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis

The Avengers Volume 2 by Brian Michael Bendis features some familiar faces to fans of the film: Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Captain America, but also some new like Red Hulk, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X and the Sub-mariner. Including the Avengers, the New Avengers and the Secret Avengers, it’s a force not to be messed with! The Infinity Gems, which if in the wrong hands could be used to destroy Earth, are under the protection of various superheroes – but the villainous Hood has eluded them, and is gathering the gems one by one. It’s up to the Avengers to stop him and save the world.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 by Brian Michael Bendis is one of the few Marvel comics I own, rather than one I’ve borrowed and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. The film came out on 31st July, and hopefully by the time this post is up I will have already watched it. The Guardians are a misfit band of criminals who are trying to do some good. There’s Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill, a half human prince who has defied his father; Gamora, a deadly green-skinned assassin; Drax, a ferocious warrior; Rocket, the result of a genetic experiment, and Groot, Rocket’s bodyguard/friend/transport. If you’re looking for a truly funny series to follow, this is definitely the one. Oh, and this particular story arc is fairly new and only has three volumes so far, plus an X-Men crossover, so it should be easy to catch up. Iron Man also features in this volume!

Ms. Marvel Volume 8: War of the Marvels

Ms Marvel

I’ve read a couple of Ms. Marvel volumes now, but I think Ms. Marvel Volume 8 by Brian Reed is my favourite so far. Karla Sofen (aka Moonstone) has taken over as Ms. Marvel after Carol Danvers’ death, whilst the story also follows a young lady called Catherine who shares many similarities with the aforementioned Carol (original Ms. Marvel). It’s a story of confused identities and split personalities, and whilst it suffers from the unfortunate typical trait of ‘fanservice’ (lots of skintight clothing and panty shots) that come with female superheroes, there are some really fun action sequences.

Are you a fan of The Avengers/Avengers Assemble? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #18: My Top Fantasy Films

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my top fantasy films.

For some reason, this one was kind of hard. Looking through my DVD collection, I definitely own a LOT more science fiction films – and most of the fantasy I watch seems to be TV rather than film. Unless I’m just being incredibly forgetful… Some of these were instant answers, others took a little thinking. Also a lot of them are from my childhood…

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

The Lord of the Rings

Come on, are you really surprised?? The film adaptation of my favourite book ever, and it is BRILLIANTLY done. From the sets, to the costumes, from the cast to the locations – and THAT SOUNDTRACK. THAT SOUNDTRACK. Howard Shore’s music is one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever heard, and it gives me chills. Plus some serious nostalgia. I already spoke about why I love The Lord of the Rings so much, and all those reasons are still valid here. I’ve copied a lot of my DVDs onto an external HDD to take to university, but this was the most important one. I’ve just completely lost count of how many times I’ve watched it. I’m counting them all together on here because I can’t really single them out – plus Tolkien intended the books to be one long book, so I like to see the films that way too. This is my perfect ‘feeling down or sick’ film – and I may have memorised bits of the script…

Why? Hobbits and elves and wizards, oh my! [icon name=”fa-heart”]

The Harry Potter series

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Another unsurprising entry, I’m sure! I grew up with this series: although book Harry was always perhaps four years older than me, film Harry & co were always my age. The first film came out when I was 11 and although at the time I wasn’t massively impressed, I gradually grew to love the first few films after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out, and in my opinion they greatly improve from Goblet of Fire onwards. I have to say that my favourites are Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, because I love the whole idea of Dumbledore’s Army plus loads of new characters appear (or more minor ones become more important) and just the entire atmosphere of the film, as well as Deathly Hallows Part 2. The trio all grown up and making Big Important Decisions! *wipes away tear*

Why? Have you SEEN Hogwarts?! [icon name=”fa-heart”]

Jumanji

Jumanji

Pretty much ever since I can remember, Robin Williams has been one of my favourite actors. Jumanji is one of my favourite childhood films along with Mrs Doubtfire (I was SO excited when I found them both on DVD for £3), and that’s partly to do with Williams’ talent and wit. Jumanji isn’t a fantasy in the tradition of the two films above, there are no elves or magic schools – but there is a magic board game that comes to life and, on occasion, pulls its players in… It’s thrilling, funny, fast-paced and just… again, makes me so nostalgic! Even now I can’t imagine Robin Williams as anyone else but this lovable buffoon – even in films like One Hour Photo where he plays a lonely middle-aged man who becomes fixated on this ‘perfect’ family. The scene in Jumanji where Alan realises that he’s been trapped in the game for years and that his parents are dead is just heart-breaking.

Why? Because I always wanted to play Jumanji… [icon name=”fa-heart”]

How To Train Your Dragon

how to train your dragon

I have to say I’ve only actually seen How To Train Your Dragon the once, and it was a couple of years ago, but I really loved it. It’s incredible how they took a book with only minor elements that they could use, and created something completely new, whilst still retaining the main themes of the book. I love how the dragons aren’t all ‘typical’ fantasy dragons, and they’re all unique. Plus it’s amazing how much one character can get across without actually speaking… Not to mention the fact that it’s about DRAGONS and VIKINGS. Can you get much cooler? No? No. The second film came out in cinemas recently, and it’s had some great reviews – one of the positives that people seem to focus on is how well the relationships are portrayed, and how natural they seem. A great achievement when you consider that all the characters are CG rendered. I can’t wait to see it!

Why? DRAGONS AND VIKINGS?? TOGETHER?? Yes.[icon name=”fa-heart”]

Willow

willow

I’ll be so happy if any of my readers have ever watched (and enjoyed!) Willow. I can’t remember how old I was when I first saw this – perhaps 7 or 8? – but I remember we borrowed it from the video shop, loved it, and then probably borrowed it once every couple of months for a year or two until we finally bought our own copy. I haven’t watched it for years (but I think we have the DVD somewhere…), I just remember at the time it felt like this HUGE epic film, set in a sprawling fantasy land. All I can remember about the plot is that there is a baby (the princess??) who an evil sorceress wants to kill, and somehow the baby ends up with Willow’s family, so he has to go an Epic Quest to return her. Or something like that. It has stop-motion dragons, dogs dressed as giant rats and a character that I like to refer to as a ‘poor man’s Aragorn’. I hope you’re sold.

Why? It’s so wonderfully 80’s. [icon name=”fa-heart”]

What are your favourite fantasy films? Have you seen any of these? I feel like I’m forgetting something…

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #20: Trainspotting

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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 film this week is: Trainspotting.

Trainspotting

Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

I’m aware that this was in fact based on the book Trainspotting (Mark Renton #2) by Irvine Welsh, but the film has such a cult following that I thought it would be a good one to cover.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

Whilst it’s set in New York, rather than Glasgow, Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. similarly follows the stories and lives of several people – a drug addict, a transvestite, a criminal and more. It is a very honest description that doesn’t hide anything, and was apparently banned in the UK in the 1960s! Which has to make it worth reading, right?

Junk by Melvin Burgess

Junk by Melvin Burgess

I read several Melvin Burgess books as a teenager, and I was always struck by the sheer brutal rawness of his writing. Junk by Melvin Burgess is the story of two teens who fall in love with each other – and heroin. Maybe it’s a shocking idea for a book for teenagers – but it’s not like this sort of thing never happens, and literature aimed at young adults should tackle topics like sex and drugs.

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick is a typical PKD book – weird, a bit trippy and very clever. It is about an undercover narcotics agent called Bob Arctor, who has to indulge in the very drugs he is trying to bust, in order to fit in. However, he is soon informed of a new lead within the drug ring – a man by the name of Bob Arctor. It’s a pretty harrowing portrayal of what drugs can do to the mind, and definitely worth a read.

Junky by William S. Burroughs

Junky by William S. Burroughs

A dark account of a drug addict in 1953 New York, New Orleans and Mexico City, Junky was William S. Burroughs first novel. It was a risky move during a period of anti-drug hysteria, but it paid off – the book is now considered a modern classic.

Are you a fan of Trainspotting? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #11: Fantasy Final Exam!

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to mix things up a bit, and set a quiz for my readers!

I’ve come up with a bunch of questions from various fantasy books – you’ll find the answer for each one under the spoiler link, as well as the title of the book it’s about (if that’s not already the answer 😉 )! Let me know how you did in the comments. If you’re unsure about some of the answers, or unfamiliar with a series, it may be worth looking at previous Fantasy Fridays. All these books have been featured in the past…

1. Who is Adarlan’s Assassin?

[spoiler]Celaena Sardothien. (from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, books include Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight)[/spoiler]

2. Which form of magic does the Abhorsen/Old Kingdom series centre around?

[spoiler]Necromancy. (the books in the series include Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix. Apparently there will be a fourth book, entitled Clariel!)[/spoiler]

3. What are the four colours of the Istari?

[spoiler]Blue, Brown, Grey and White. Saruman also becomes the ‘Many Coloured’. (from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)[/spoiler]

4. What physical feature gives away a Graceling?

[spoiler]Different coloured eyes. (from the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore, books include Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue)[/spoiler]

5. Tywin Lannister is related to Joffrey Baratheon in what way?

[spoiler]Tywin is Joffrey’s grandfather. (from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin)[/spoiler]

No, of course I didn’t just want an excuse to use this GIF again…

6. What is the magic system in The Kingkiller Chronicles known as?

[spoiler]Sympathy. (books in the series include The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss)[/spoiler]

7. Death makes an appearance in many books of which well-renowned fantasy book series?

[spoiler]The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. AND DEATH TALKS LIKE THIS. WHICH MEANS I ALWAYS IMAGINE HIM AS SPEAKING VERY LOUDLY, NOT QUITE SHOUTING, LIKE HE’S A LITTLE BIT DEAF. WHICH IS FOR SOME REASON VERY FUNNY.[/spoiler]

8. Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy series, which opens with Shadow and Bone, features a world based on which country?

[spoiler]Russia. (from The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo, books include Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm)[/spoiler]

9. Who finished writing The Wheel of Time series, after the death of Robert Jordan?

[spoiler]Brandon Sanderson. (The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.)[/spoiler]

10. How old would Harry Potter be today?

[spoiler]He was born on 31st July 1980, meaning that he would be 33 as of 11th April 2014. (from The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)[/spoiler]

I’VE BEEN HERE!!

11. What is the name of the female elf featured in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but does NOT feature in the original book – and who plays her?

[spoiler]Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. (film [mostly!] based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien)[/spoiler]

12. In the book The Magicians, where is the gate that leads Quentin to Brakebills?

[spoiler]New York. (from The Magicians by Lev Grossman.)[/spoiler]

13. What is steel used for in allomancy?

[spoiler]Pushing. An Allomancer who can burn steel can use it to push off of things, or push it towards enemies. A Mistborn, who can also burn iron (which pulls), can combine the two to push and pull themselves around areas, allowing them to cover long distances in a short period of time. (from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, books include The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages and The Alloy of Law.)[/spoiler]

14. Who wrote The Broken Empire series?

[spoiler]Mark Lawrence. (books include Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns)[/spoiler]

15. Percy Jackson is the son of which Olympian god?

[spoiler]Poseidon, god of the sea, earthquakes and horses. (from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.)[/spoiler]

How did you do? I’m excited to see the results! If you didn’t do well, I hope this dwarvicise GIF will placate you.