Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: It’s The End of the World As We Know It

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

A common trope of science fiction is to show the Earth greatly transformed, or even completely destroyed, in some way. Our poor planet has been used and abused throughout the history of the genre. Here’s a brief guide to the (post-)apocalypse, or dystopian future, covering books, TV, films and video games.

Aliens

Mass Effect The 5th Wave Defiance The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds Independence Day The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham 826847

In these titles, Earth is either destroyed or invaded by aliens. In the latter, it is altered to a state where it is unrecognisable: either through the collapse of society and government, or destruction of large portions of the planet. Sometimes the extra-terrestrials are aggressive, sometimes they are just inquisitive, and other times we’re not even aware of them until it is too late.

Mass Effect, The 5th Wave, Defiance, The War of the Worlds (plus the 2005 film version), Independence Day, The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos.

Illness/Disease

The Passage by Justin Cronin Blindness Oryx and Crake Partials by Dan Wells Parasite I Am Legend by Richard Matheson The Stand Children of Men The Strain

These titles show an Earth ravaged by illness, disease or plague, including technological viruses and biological warfare. In many of them, the illness transforms humankind into something else, often zombie or vampire-like creatures.

Humankind

The Hunger Games Divergent The 100 The Years of Rice and Salt Unwind The Man in the High Castle How I Live Now A Canticle for Leibowitz

Science fiction frequently shows how humankind causes its own downfall, often through war or revolt. This is a particularly popular theme in current Young Adult dystopian fiction, although it’s not exactly a new trend in the genre. This is one of the more frightening sides of sci-fi: how we become our very own worst enemies. Occasionally, it shows a glimpse into an alternate future or past.

Natural Disaster

2012 The Day After Tomorrow The Maze Runner by James Dashner Deep Impact Armageddon The Drowned World

This could also technically come under ‘Humankind’, because most of the time the natural disasters are caused by people, namely through global warming and climate change. This category includes these as well as other things such as asteroids/meteors, tsunamis, earthquakes etc.

2012, The Day After Tomorrow, The Maze Runner, Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Drowned World.

Brainwashing/Government

1984 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Fahrenheit 451 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand V for Vendetta

Another terrifying thing about science fiction is how government is often portrayed. Often it is shown as being a totalitarian or ‘Big Brother’ society, a term coined from George Orwell’s 1984. Citizens often have very little freedom, or even free will, having been brainwashed into behaving in certain ways.

Machines/Artificial Intelligence

I Robot Robopocalypse Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick Love In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Prey Neuromancer

Okay, maybe there’s a lot of scary things about science fiction – another one being the very thought of the Earth being overrun or overtaken by machines or artificial intelligence. Many a sci-fi tale tells of the invention of some fantastic new technology, only for it to become sentient and rise up against mankind.

Can you think of any other titles that would fit in these categories, or any categories that I have missed?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #31: How I Live Now – Film vs. Book

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Whilst I was at home over Christmas, one of the things I tried to do was watch the stuff available on UK Netflix that I really wanted to see, and wouldn’t be able to watch once I came back to the Netherlands. One of the first films to catch my eye was How I Live Now, based on the book of the same title by Meg Rosoff, and which I never got round to seeing in the cinema.

How I Live Now

One of my first thoughts was how stunning the cinematography of the film was. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous – the film is shot in Wales, despite being set in the south-west of England (Devon I believe). I pretty much fell in love with the farmhouse, and apparently you can actually stay on the land but not the house itself. The wonderful shots of idyllic countryside are a big contrast to the wartorn landscapes that come later in the film.

how i live now gif

Daisy is soooo much more of a bitch in the film. She doesn’t seem too bad in the book, but in the film she is just plain mean. However, there seem to be several elements to her character that weren’t in the book – hints of an eating disorder, mental health issues – which could explain her very defensive behaviour. She seems to be afraid of people making fun of her or ignoring her, so she doesn’t give them the chance. She shuts people off, but in terms of the film it really gave the character of Daisy room to grow and develop, as she gets closer to her cousins and starts to enjoy her new life – at least, for a little while. In fact, apart from Piper, all of the characters were quite different, and the oldest brother Osbert has been left out completely – or rather replaced by Edmond, who becomes the oldest brother instead of Isaac’s twin.

The scene with the aftermath of the first bomb was AMAZINGLY done. Everything is wonderful, it is a beautiful sunny afternoon, Daisy and the cousins are enjoying a picnic after a day of swimming and lazing in the sunshine. A perfect day is suddenly interrupted – by silence. Then suddenly a gust of wind, the skies darken, there is an ominous rumbling, and the ash begins to fall like snow.

Source: magic-spelldust

I’m glad that they made the decision to age Daisy and Edmond by a few years in the film, although it still makes me feel awkward that they’re cousins, and I’m surprised that wasn’t changed for the film. Like with the book, I don’t really understand their relationship. It felt more like a few impassioned glances and then suddenly that was it – they were together.

Overall, I actually enjoyed the film a lot more than I thought I would. In my opinion it was a really great adaptation of the source material, with some fantastic casting, gorgeous scenery and cinematography and a wonderful choice of music (John Martyn!). Highly emotional at times and surprisingly dark, anyone who thinks they have no need to watch this because it’s based on a Young Adult book should think again.

Have you seen the film of How I Live Now? Have you read the book? How did you think the two compared?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

January 2015

Last month I read a total of eleven books: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson, Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks by Justin Richards, Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez, The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1.5 by Jonathan Stroud, Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson, Pawn of Prophecy/a> (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings, Asylum by Madeline Roux, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Breathe (Breathe #1) by Sarah Crossan, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie.

I’m so glad I finally got to read The Blade Itself, it was well overdue and I loved it. I also finally read Pawn of Prophecy which was a birthday present from and highly recommended by two friends. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, and the one that follows it! Steelheart pretty much blew everything out of the water though, and The Well of Ascension was a fantastic sequel. BRANDON SANDERSON IS A WRITING GOD.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read nine books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge. I managed to defeat the Joker, mwhaha!
  • I have currently read eleven books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

How was January for you?

Recap

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2013: Patrick Ness & Meg Rosoff

Yes, yesterday I was lucky enough to meet both Patrick Ness and Meg Rosoff at the Cheltenham Literature Festival! I live about twenty miles from Cheltenham, and worked at the festival last year, so it’s just wonderful to have such an amazing event only a bus journey away. Today I met Sarah J. Maas, Maureen Johnson and David Levithan, but I’ll do a post about that event tomorrow.
 
Patrick and Meg were there to talk about their new books, More Than This and Picture Me Gone respectively. I originally wasn’t planning on picking up More Than This straight away – I tend to wait for the paperback – but when Patrick read the first chapter I just knew I had to get myself a copy! 
 
When I saw this photo on my phone, I was convinced I could see myself. High res on my computer showed otherwise… if Patrick had turned the camera just a tiny bit to the left then I’d have been on his Twitter!

Both authors briefly introduced their new books before reading the first chapter. This was then followed by a discussion session lead by a lady who works for the Guardian newspaper (I completely missed her name). They are both very witty people, capable of turning an anecdote into something very entertaining, and it was so nice to be able witness that – there was a real sense that they were there for their audience and fans, to talk to us about what we wanted to know, rather than just there to promote their next book.
 
Meg told the story of how her new book came into creation – she said she’d lied to her editor for months and months about having a story, and even came up with a name for the main character: Mila. Then one day, whilst walking in the park, a Bedlington terrier came bounding up to her and when she checked the nametag, it was called Mila. And so the story started from there, the character even tells the reader at the beginning of the book that she was named after a dog!
 
The book is actually a mystery, with Mila tracking down her best friend’s missing father, and Meg cited Sherlock (both Conan Doyle’s original, and the more recent BBC adaptation) as inspiration, and also mentioned that she loves adventure stories about nineteenth/early twentieth century explorers.
 
Meeting Meg! The only photo where we’re both looking at the camera too…
 
Patrick revealed that More Than This is the story he has been waiting to write since he was nine or ten years old. He’s had the idea for a long time, and said Seth is probably the closest character to himself that he has ever written. 
 
He’s now trying his hand at script writing, including scripts for Fox and Warner Brothers, and a film of the Chaos Walking trilogy is in the works, with a script written by Charlie Kaufman. He was hoping to give us some more updates on the film, but at the time of the event he wasn’t allowed to reveal too much, so I guess it’s just a case of keeping an ear out for as and when! What he could reveal, however, is that A Monster Calls is being adapted for the stage.
 
Me and Mr. Ness!
 
What followed was a mish-mash of discussion topics. One that we stayed on for a while was the topic of privacy and technology. So many people publish their every move online, and whilst I’m not a fan of posting about everything (I don’t post on my personal Facebook much), I share a lot of information when it comes to book-related topics – even now, I’m sharing images of myself for all to see. Meg said that she was working with a young man recently, and she Googled him – and couldn’t find a thing. She said it was a shock to realise that she actually found his lack of online presence very cool, the fact that he had no small space on the internet for himself was something rare and unique. One fan teased Patrick about his frequent selfies, and he shared his disdain for Snapchat.
 
Meg also raised an interesting point: people lament the death of the written letter, saying that children in this decade never hand-write letters. But back in the nineteenth century, people would have sent out short letters with the past day’s news: now we do it a different way, through text and email, through Twitter and Facebook.
 
As well as discussion on the potential films of the Chaos Walking trilogy, which sadly Patrick couldn’t tell us too much about, Meg discussed the new film adaptation of her novel How I Live Now. I first read this book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and I remember really enjoying it – it was quite a harrowing read at a time when I hadn’t read any sort of dystopian fiction before. Apparently the film process has been going on for a while, and Kristen Stewart was originally lined up to play Daisy, the protagonist. But then she went off to film the Twilight movies and they lost their lead. Kristen Stewart, then an unknown, was perfect for Daisy in Meg’s eyes. She admitted that Saoirse Ronan (who plays Daisy in the final version of the film) is not as she imagined Daisy, but that she has done a great job. She also said that the film isn’t quite as she imagined it – but that if she had done her own version, it probably would have been in black and white, with subtitles and had a total audience of six people! 
 
Both authors agreed that, whilst film adaptations of their novels are wonderful, it’s good that it is never quite as they would have done it – because that specific work is theirs, whereas the film is someone else’s vision.
 

After the event came a signing session, and I managed to get fairly close to the front of the queue so the wait wasn’t too long. I grabbed photos with both authors and chatted to them briefly. I told Patrick that the Chaos Walking trilogy made me cry at the end, and he told me that was good – it’s always fantastic when a book makes you feel so strongly about the characters and events. Meg asked me if I was going to see the film of How I Live Now, to which I replied that I wanted to but I wasn’t sure when – she misheard me and thought I said I didn’t want to, so of course I had to hastily correct her!
 

Overall a fantastic event, with some brilliant authors and lively chatter! Both were more than happy to engage with and chat back to the audience, and it felt like a really close gathering.