Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Time Travel

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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.

As an archaeologist, time travel is an exciting thought. Being able to go back in time and see if your theories are right? Being able to experience those past cultures and civilisations that you’ve studied and obsessed over for years? Yes please. This is one of the main reasons why I love science fiction that features time travel. However, the thought of heading to the future is just as thrilling. I’m always eyeing up the technology on screen in sci-fi films and shows – how cool would it be to get a chance to use some of it?

But the thought of travelling through time is also terrifying.

What if you get stuck in the past or future, unable to return to your own time? What if you change something in the past, however unknowingly or however small, and it has huge consequences on the future? Or even if they are not consequences that affect you, they could drastically alter the life of someone else. What if the people of the past or future see you as a threat or an enemy?

To enjoy time travel in science fiction, you often have to forget about these questions, and just accept it as it is presented. It is such a fantastic element, and I’ve read so many wonderful books featuring time travel:

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Of course that’s not all of them – it would take forever to list them all! Those are just recent reads or particular favourites. And there are several titles involving time travel that I really want to get my hands on:

Loop The Time Machine 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Of course, I don’t just love time travel in my books.

One of my favourite television shows, Doctor Who, is based around the concept of time travel. I discussed my love for the show in the first Sci-Fi Month, and also wrote a short guide to the series for new fans. However my interest has waned a little with the Twelfth Doctor, and that’s something I’ll be discussing this month.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won't be taking your reading advice.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won’t be taking your reading advice.

And not forgetting films!

One of my most recent favourites that used time travel was Looper. It was clever in that it didn’t feel too high tech for most of the film, with the majority of it set in an isolated farm house surrounded by cornfields. Now I feel like that is something I should rewatch this month…

I’m having slightly more trouble thinking up video games that feature time travel though. Most science fiction video games that I’ve played involve space travel, rather than time travel. Can anyone help me out here?

If time travel was possible, there’s a chance that my career would become irrelevant. What would be the point in researching history and archaeology, digging up evidence or hunting through ancient documents if you could just travel back to a certain period in time and see what actually happened? So maybe it’s for the best that time travel is fiction. ūüėČ

Do you enjoy science fiction with the element of time travel? What are some of your favourite titles?

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Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: My Favourite Sci-Fi Films

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I touched briefly on my favourite sci-fi films in my introduction post, but I’d like to go into a little more detail this time. To start with, I have to admit that apart from the occasional film, most of my science fiction film viewing has been of more recent releases. I’m more than happy to take recommendations of any classics I may have missed. You’re more than welcome to join in and I’ve added an InLinkz widget at the bottom of the post, where you can share your own favourites!¬†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.
 
And now, in no particular order, my top ten sci-fi films, plus some honourable mentions – because I’m rubbish at deciding…

“The space vessel Nostromo and its crew receive a distress call from an alien planet. After searching for survivors, they head back home only to realize that a deadly alien life form has joined them.”

1. Alien – I would be completely amazed if any of you have never heard of this one! It’s a science fiction classic and inspired the ‘survival film’ genre. The entire film is set on the Nostromo, making the viewer feel very claustrophobic at times – especially when the alien is loose on the ship. With a whole bevy of shocks, including the infamous chest-burster scene, this is one film never to be forgotten.

“A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”

2. Prometheus – the divisive prequel to the Alien movies, released last year, I absolutely loved this one despite its cheesiness and rather stupid characters (RUN TO THE SIDE YOU SILLY WOMAN!). The presentation of the film is brilliant – dark and mysterious, with flashes of blue and silver finishing up the colour scheme, and the original score by Marc Streitenfeld is perfect. Not to mention that Michael Fassbender does a fantastic job as David. I read in this month’s Empire magazine that there will be a Prometheus 2, so I’m pretty pumped for that!

“A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.”

3. Avatar – if you haven’t heard of James Cameron’s Avatar, then you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of years. When it was released there was a lot of fuss over it, as it was shot through motion capture for the majority, came out in 3D (first 3D film I saw in the cinema) and used many new cinematic advances. When I first saw it I completely fell in love with Pandora – anyone want to move there with me? Whilst the story is a bit hit and miss in places, I don’t care because whilst watching it I just sit there soaking in the beautiful sights and sounds (thank you Mr. James Horner for the soundtrack).

“As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.”

4. War of the Worlds – yes, I actually like the 2005 adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic! I love the book, and think this puts quite a nice modern spin on it, transporting the action from London to the US (I forget where it starts but I know it ends in Boston). The utter helplessness of the human race against the tripods is both terrifying and fascinating, and the sounds that the tripods make in this film could haunt my nightmares!

“In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.”

5. Looper – two words: time travel. The explanation for time travel in this film is passed over, to make way for the consequences of altering the past, and how even small decisions can change the path you take, and somehow the explanation doesn’t really seem necessary. I thought this film was really clever, and it’s not particularly a ‘big scale’ science fiction film – as in the only futuristic technology we really see is the aspect of time travel, although telekinesis does come into it. It’s very gritty and delves more into character development than you might expect.

“A team of astronauts are sent to re-ignite the dying sun 50 years into the future.”

6. Sunshine – a highly underrated film that I absolutely love. Maybe there’s something wrong with me that I enjoy all these ‘survival’ type films so much: anywhere where small groups of people trapped in an enclosed are threatened by some sort of alien/mysterious force. There’s also a Doctor Who episode that really reminds me of this film – 42. So if you enjoyed that episode, give this wonderful film a shot!

“During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.”

7. Jurassic Park – I’m trying to work out when I first saw this film: it was released when I was three, and I think I must have been six or seven when I saw it. And ever since then, it has remained one of my favourites (one of my big ‘childhood three’ which also includes Jumanji and Mrs Doubtfire). I was one of those kids who loved dinosaurs and I collected gemstones and fossils, I even wanted to be a paleontologist for a while. I think this is what ¬†lead me onto a love for history, and eventually archaeology, even though archaeology and paleontology are very different fields – don’t ever ask an archaeologist what dinosaurs we’ve dug up recently. Ever. There have been three films in the series so far, and they’re currently working on number four, for release in 2015. And if you haven’t read the book by Michael Crichton – do it.

“A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a “harvestable being”, and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a utopian facility.”

8. The Island – okay, so it wasn’t received to great critical acclaim, and it’s a Michael Bay movie which means that anything that can explode explodes. And anything that can’t. Actually everything explodes. But still, I really enjoy this film and think it’s good fun, especially with Sean Bean playing the villain (of course). I first saw it in year 10 biology class, where we were studying cloning! It may not be a masterpiece but I have a soft spot for this film.

“In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start World War III.”

9. X-Men: First Class – firstly, I am sorry for covering your lovely face, Mr McAvoy. This is my favourite of the X-Men films, and as I discussed yesterday I’m really excited for the sequel next year. This one focuses a lot on the relationship between Erik and Charles, so ends up being a lot more centered on character development than the previous films. It also has a pretty great 1960s themed soundtrack, and plays cleverly on real events.

 
“Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.”
 
10. The Hunger Games – I sped my way through all three books in this series, was so excited for the film when it came out and was not disappointed. The source material is quite violent, and I think they did really well at portraying that without making it an 18/R-rated film. I’m excited for the second film, Catching Fire, which looks to be even darker and greatly build upon the world of Panem.
 
What do you mean I haven’t included Star Wars?? Well, I wanted to but I think I will nominate that as my favourite science fiction film series. I love them all, minus Attack of the Clones which was just boring. Yes, even The Phantom Menace – that was the first one I saw in the cinema and it brings back warm, fuzzy memories. I remember my dad borrowing the original films on VHS from one of our neighbours, then sitting me and my sisters down to watch them all when I was about seven or eight years old.¬†
 
Honourable mentions also go to TRON: Legacy – although I think it’s a visually stunning film with a brilliant soundtrack it does tend to drag a bit, and Blade Runner – great film, but I actually preferred the book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
 

What are your favourite science fiction films? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Common Concepts in Science Fiction

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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.
 
There are some factors that just make a science fiction book. That’s not to say that all sci-fi novels have to contain all, or even any, of these points, but they’re often found within works of the genre. In the style of my very first Fantasy Friday post, I’m going to do a similar post with science fiction and talk about common concepts in the genre. You’re more than welcome to join in, if you make your own post there is an InLinks widget at the bottom where you can share your post URL.
 

 
Time travel is something that has always fascinated humankind. I know some people do not get along with it in books, but personally I love it. There are series like Doctor Who where it is one of the main elements, or books like All Our Yesterdays. It opens up so many possibilities: parts of history can appear in a futuristic novel, historical figures can be brought to life – or civilisations even further ahead in time can be imagined. There are so many elements of time travel – alternate timelines, the grandfather paradox, many elements that would take a great deal more space to discuss!

See also: Doctor Who, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, The Time Machine by H.G Wells, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Looper, Back to the Future, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

 
Space travel is another big factor, often hand-in-hand with time travel. What makes it so exciting is that it’s something we can already do – albeit on a smaller scale than appears in most science fiction – so events in many books could be ones we have yet to look forward to! In some cases spaceships are able to travel in hyperspace and reach destinations very quickly, but some works of science fiction show space travel in a different way. For example, in the Mass Effect game universe, the player can find objects called mass relays (shown above), which form an enormous network allowing interstellar travel. In the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, there is a price to pay for space travel. Certain characters are able to travel through space at such a speed that it kills them – but they are resurrected on the other side. It’s every bit as painful as it sounds, much to the dismay of one particular character who has to make several journeys in a short period of time!
 
See also: the Mass Effect video game series, the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, House of Suns by Alistair Reynolds, Firefly, Sunshine, Star Trek, Star Wars Рin fact there are so many different books, TV series, films and games I could mention!

 
Aliens appear in so many works of science fiction, in all shapes and sizes. Occasionally they are friendly and help the human race, but most of the time… well you really don’t want to cross them. The Alien franchise (well, some of it) is a fantastic example of hostile alien races terrorising humans. I think they’re so popular because, admit it, we love the idea of there being some other form of intelligent life out there. There have been so many UFO spottings, abduction reports and other alien eyewitnesses that just prove we are obsessed. I for one am both really excited and kind of absolutely terrified by the idea of extra-terrestrial life. On one hand, they could be like the turians from Mass Effect (I’m a big Garrus fan), but on the other hand they might just be something like the creatures from Alien. And I don’t fancy meeting a facehugger, thank you very much.

See also: the Alien film series,¬†the¬†Mass Effect¬†video game series, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Doctor Who, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

 
This is one thing that makes me kind of sad when I read or watch sci-fi. I can’t remember ever seeing physical copies of books represented: characters always use ebooks or tablets to read or study. In fact it’s often some sort of multi-use device, for reading, communicating, studying and looking up information. I really hope that this is not our future; as much as I see the uses of an e-reader I would hate to live in a world without paperbacks.
 
See also: Acid by Emma Pass, the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Star Trek

 
It’s not just extraterrestrial life that fascinates us, but also artificial life. And like extraterrestrial life, it can be scary. In many examples, life created by humankind gets its own back on its creators – but in some cases, androids or cyborgs are seen as lesser citizens. One such example is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, also adapted into the film Blade Runner, where a bounty hunter has to dispose of several androids who have defied orders. As for YA fiction, there is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, where the eponymous character would be shunned from society were she to reveal her true status. In many cases, androids and cyborgs are indistinguishable from humans, which can be all the more dangerous.¬†**Alien spoilers ahead**¬†Think how shocked the crew of the Nostromo were when they discovered Ash was an android all along.¬†**end spoilers** So maybe you should think about thanking that ATM next time it spits your cash out. Because one day, the machines might rebel against us!
 
See also: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Artificial Intelligence

What concepts do you often see cropping up in science fiction? I can think of plenty more but have chosen only to cover a few. Which are your favourites?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: It Finally Begins!

After months of planning (I came up with the idea in August), Sci-Fi Month has finally begun! If you’ve missed my chatter about the event, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a month long event, spread over many, many blogs, to celebrate the wonderful genre that is science fiction! During this event, all my regular features will be suspended.

Today, all participants will be posting an intro post. Leave a comment if you link up, and I’ll be sure to visit your post and comment back.¬†Don’t forget to¬†check out the schedule¬†for the list of posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag¬†#RRSciFiMonth.

Let Sci-Fi Month officially begin!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.


I’m 22, from the UK and currently working as a medical receptionist. I’m working to save for my Masters degree, so I can go on and become a museum curator – however I really enjoy my current job too, which is a bonus! I studied ancient history and archaeology for my undergraduate degree, and graduated last summer.

Apart from reading (and sci-fi based things) I also love discovering all sorts of things about ancient cultures and archaeology, listening to music 24/7 (you can sample my tastes here), playing video games/talking out loud to video game characters/obsessing over Alistair with Paola, wasting far too much time on the internet and catching up with a million and one TV shows I still need to finish (here’s looking at you, Supernatural). I also volunteer at a local museum, where I record finds (I love finds!) on the database, and create handouts for the exhibits.

2. How long have you been a fan of sci-fi?

Eh, I’m not really sure. Probably since before I was really aware it was a genre… ever since I could read I’ve loved fantastical stories that took me to new worlds. I’ve always been a massive science fiction and fantasy fan (the two tend to go hand in hand). My dad loves sci-fi so I’ve often asked him for recommendations – or more recently recommended things to him! He totally wanted me to get Dan Simmons to join in this event – but I couldn’t find any way to contact him…

3. Why do you like sci-fi, and what is your favourite thing about it?

I guess I can sort of answer this in one sentence: because of all the amazing worlds and possibilities it opens up. It’s really cool to think that one day (not in every case of science fiction, but in many) something like that could happen. It’s not really a feeling you get with fantasy books. So in one word: the possibilities. My favourite aspects are time travel and space exploration.

4. Favourite books/games/films/TV shows in the genre?
  • Books: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds,¬†Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Ughhh there’s so many more but I can’t list them all! I shall go into more detail later on in the month.
  • Games: the¬†Mass Effect trilogy¬†– it breaks my heart in so many places, and stamps on it – but I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Bioware make amazing games with compelling stories and fascinating characters and… well… who knew aliens could be sexy? But you know, I mainly play for the plot. Yes. Plus Borderlands 2 (Borderlands co-op is just the best thing). I have Deus Ex: Human Revolution waiting to be played, and I’m excited for it – I just need to complete several other games first…
  • Films:¬†Alien, Prometheus¬†(even though it’s kind of cheesy and full of plot holes I just love how it looks and the music is amazing) and¬†Avatar (can I live on Pandora please?). I also really love the Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds (I just generally love that story) and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (I know, I know – hardcore Star Wars fans probably hate me now. But this one brings back good memories of seeing it in the cinema as a kid and wanting my own podracer!). Looper was also pretty awesome.
  • TV shows:¬†Doctor Who (I bet you never guessed!),¬†Firefly (why was it cancelled??) and Torchwood.

5. What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?

I will be posting every day, because I’m slightly insane. Here are just some of the things I have in store for you wonderful people: the top five sci-fi objects I wish were real, a publisher profile on Hodderscape plus a giveaway, an interview and giveaway with science fiction author Jaine Fenn, a guest post by Katherine Roberts about whether dragons are science or fantasy, and a tribute post to Mass Effect.

Of course, you can always view the schedule to see what I’m posting everyday, as well as view what other bloggers are posting!