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Showing posts from July, 2015

Reach For The Stars

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An unusual star system containing five stars has been found by the WASP astronomy project, as reported on the BBC News website here. Multiple star systems occur in two classic science-fiction works. Isaac Asimov's novella Nightfall is set on a world with six suns - as a result night falls only once every few thousand years. Liu Cixin's novel The Three Body Problem, translated from the original Chinese, features a virtual world with three suns in irregular and unpredictable orbits.

Both stories explore the impact of these star systems on the civilizations below - in Nightfall, the inhabitants cannot detect stars beyond their system so cannot grasp the size or nature of the Universe, and they have a deep-rooted fear of the dark. The aliens on Liu Cixin's world also struggle to make sense of the Universe, and are striving to find a way to predict their suns' movements so they can prepare for the deadly hot or cold spells that occur when the suns get too close or too far aw…

She's Always A Woman [Review: Ex Machina]

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Programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins the opportunity to spend a week with his company's mega-rich and secretive boss, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). On arrival at the remote and ridiculously expensive location, inhabited only by Nathan and his housemaid Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), Caleb discovers his real purpose - to Turing-test Nathan's secret pet project, an artificial intelligence in a humanoid robot called Ava (played by Alicia Vikander).

Alicia Vikander as Ava

I love it when this happens: a film is promoted as if it is an effects-laden, action-heavy Hollywood blockbuster, posters on buses and everything, but when you get to see it, it turns out to be a low-key, four-handed character-driven stage play. Brilliant! There's plenty of darkness, drama, threat and revelations for all four characters, but not a single fireball.
Alex Garland's involvement probably boosted the promotional budget, but rightly or wrongly, it's probably the iconic look of Ava's transparent robot b…