Showing posts from September, 2017

They're already here! [Podcast Round-Up]

To celebrate the eventual take-over of the world by the pod people, two science-fiction commentary podcasts to listen to while you wait for your murderous clone to emerge...

Electric Dreams is Channel 4's anthology of Philip K. Dick short stories adapted for TV. I've blogged about the first two episodes, The Hood Maker and The Impossible Planet, here and here. The Electric Dreams Pod is an unofficial fan podcast hosted by Wayne Henderson and Steve Salyer. The first podcast, naturally enough, is a review of The Hood Maker. The hosts set a laid-back pace and this is a friendly, approachable 'cast not trying to prove anything or score any points. What they have to say though is interesting - without deconstructing the episode, they've given it a lot of thought. In particular their comments about the backstory really made me think about the episode again. If this is the future, why is everyone relying on typewriters and internal combustion? There are actually clues to the b…

Star Tours [Review: The Impossible Planet]

The second of Channel 4's Electric Dreams TV dramas is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's short story The Impossible Planet. In a distant, space opera future two cynical intergalactic tour guides, Brian Norton and Ed Andrews, take parties of human tourists on cruises to see the most beautiful sights in the Universe - secretly editing the sights and sounds to make them more dramatic. When an elderly woman knocks on their office door accompanied by her personal robot and a suitcase full of cash, asking for a private tour of Earth, Norton and Andrews know that they can't really do this - after all, Earth was vaporized centuries earlier. But she is persistent, and able to pay cash. Perhaps there's a way they can grant her wish after all...

The Impossible Planet is slightly reminiscent in places of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide or a good episode of Doctor Who. It's just as inventive and darkly funny. However that's as far as it goes in terms of comparison. Amazingly, th…

What should Channel 4 do next? [Twitter poll]

After #ElectricDreams which sci-fi author should @Channel4 adapt next? — Sci-Fi Gene (@scifigene) September 18, 2017

Boyz n The Hood [Review: The Hood Maker]

Electric Dreams, Channel 4's season of Philip K. Dick dramas, begins with The Hood Maker. This drama is set in an alternate history where tension is rising between "teeps" (telepaths) and "normals". Honor (Holliday Grainger) is a teep recruited by police agent Ross (Richard Madden) to help in the search for anti-teep activists, but when she participates in an interrogation they uncover a trail leading to a group of militants with a secret.
The Hood Maker is a good start. Shot in atmospheric yellows and greens, it's a dystopia of slums and riots on the one hand, and a rising police dictatorship on the other. Grainger, fresh from her fresh-faced performance as Cormorant Strike's assistant Robin, acts her heart out as telepath Honor in a challenging role throwing her from innocence to powerful psychic to traumatised victim. Madden has no such range in his role but achieves something else - a decent portrayal of the everyman hero at the heart of so many PKD …

Abyss Seeing You [Review: The Abyss Beyond Dreams]

Nigel Sheldon, the long-lived engineer responsible for the technology of the interstellar Commonwealth, is dispatched on a mission to the Void, a giant black hole-like artefact that is expanding and may threaten the galaxy. With the help of the alien Raiel he enters the void seeking the planet Querencia, but instead finds himself on a different planet Bienvenido where the descendants of a starship previously drawn into the Void have fought for thousands of years against the sinister Fallers.

As you can see it's hard to describe The Abyss Beyond Dreams in short sentences. This is a Peter F. Hamilton novel and as such it's of epic proportions - I can barely lift my Kindle. A novel of this length is a challenge to write or to read - it cannot be indulgent. There must be depth and complexity that justify the length, but it must maintain quality and the relationship with the reader throughout.

The Abyss rises to this challenge through the story of Bienvenido which is told through sev…

One Million Years Before Skaro

Mount Teide is a volcano in central Tenerife, the highest of at least 400 volcanoes on the island (the exact number is unknown). The last eruption from this peak was in 1909 and it is currently dormant. The peak is 3,718m above sea level. Ascent is by cable car and then a short walk up to the rim, although a permit is required for this final stage. Teide is situated on one side of this large secondary crater. The area inside the crater is a barren landscape very different from the more fertile ground elsewhere on Tenerife - and this bleakness has made it a popular destination for film and TV shoots, fashion shoots and car adverts. The location doubled as the Dalek homeplanet of Skaro in "The Witch's Familiar", an episode of Doctor Who broadcast in 2015.
Teide was also the location for the 1966 epic One Million Years B.C. and the iconic slopes can be seen throughout the film, often overrun with stop-motion dinosaurs.