The First Formic War is a trilogy (Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, Earth Awakens) set in the Enderverse leading up to the first Formic invasion.
I was both excited and afraid when I found out there would a prequel trilogy about the initial Bugger (Formic) invasion. I was excited because I love Ender’s Game. I didn’t get too much into the Shadow series, but I’ve read all of the novels directly involving Ender repeatedly. I was afraid because I hate prequels. It seems to me that every prequel in existence tramples on existing canon. I don’t know if it is because authors are incapable of reading their own source material, or too blinded by the dollar signs, but they can’t keep their stories straight.
The First Contact
Ender’s Game spells out the first contact story pretty well. Eros (the Asteroid) suddenly blacks out, a team is sent to investigate, and they are subsequently murdered by Buggers. I really expected this story to play out in the first book. Therefore I was quite surprised when it never did. In Earth Unaware, first contact takes place in the Kuiper Belt. It makes sense that it would probably be further out, particularly with the current interest in space mining and expansion in general, but still.
At some point Orson Scott Card decided not to use the slang term Bugger and instead always use Formic. The term Bugger does not exist in these books, nor in the Ender’s Game movie. I feel that is very strange. It is in our nature to label our enemies with derogatory or otherwise slang names. And yet other than the novel Ender’s Game and Speaker For the Dead, people are very careful to always use the technical term.
My number one issue with the books is their introduction of what eventually will be called the Little Doctor (or MD Device). It is clearly started in Ender’s Game that the Little Doctor came after the second invasion. This is further backed up in Ender In Exile when Ender discovers the Little Doctor is actually a result of an uncontained faster-than-light drive, which humans got from the Buggers. It is stated by Ender and Mazer that up until the start of the third war, they were using nuclear missiles as their primary space-based weapon. So it is frustrating to read about the Little Doctor being developed before the Buggers arrive.
In contrast, the introduction of what becomes ultimately becomes the Battle Room gear is a nice touch. It shows that humans were developing these devices for the military already, and they just adapted it later for Battle School.
The problem with prequels is that if you are going to include a character who shows up later (such as Mazer Rackman) you know that character is going to make it. There are several times throughout the books where he is in trouble, and to me, these are wasted pages. You can’t kill a character who is going to show up later, so there is no suspense. Mazer has a love interest that he has to leave because of his duty to the military. Is this a heart breaking moment? No, because we know from Ender’s Game that when Mazer left in hyperspace to jump forward in time, he left behind a wife and family. It is hard to get anxious about events that you know are going to work out.
The new characters were all more interesting to me. Because there isn’t anything keeping them alive. An interesting character in a bad situation will peak my interest. An essentially invincible character (from a future story point of view) on the other hand is less interesting (I’m looking at you, Superman). The tension comes because sometimes interesting characters die (unless your name is George R. R. Martin, in which all of them die).
These books are okay. The cover credits Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston as the writers. Based on the writing, you get the impression it is more of the latter than the former. Everything about the book just doesn’t feel like Card, and I feel like he was more of a consultant than anything else. At no point did I ever stop reading because of the writing (such as with Eragon). They are good stories in there and interesting ideas but they are not great.
I feel like the things which were just briefly mentioned (such as China’s decimation, or the Battle of the Belt) were done well. The more specific the details, the more the prequels seem to feel the need to run them over.
The 100 is a new CW television network series set in a post-apocalyptic(as if there was any other kind) future.
Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet. (imdb)
Human apparently survived the nuclear fallout by combining all their space stations into one large one. Because of limited resources extreme population control is enforced. Any crime, no matter how small, results in the criminal being ejected into the vacuum of space. If you commit a crime before you are eighteen, you aren’t killed, but are locked up until you come of age. But even in this totalitarian society, resources are becoming scarce, and the station only has a few viable months left.
Faced with the destruction of the human race, the leaders decide to send 100 juvenile convicts to Earth on a song and a prayer that they will find 97+ year old resources that will save them all. Fortunately a few of the convicts are the children of the leaders, and so appear to have inherited both leadership skills and education. Unfortunately, the other 95 odd teenagers sent down have only read Lord of the Flies and believe that society is a model of success. Up above in the space station, the adults try to monitor the kids’ progress and fight their own political battles.
A few things I noticed about the space station.
- It has rotating sections for producing artificial gravity.
- It apparently has the resources to produce new clothing (including leather jackets).
- It has the resources to build a landing ship capable of holding 100 passengers and with fuel and parachutes to land.
- It has enough fuel to stay in orbit.
Granted only the pilot episode has aired, but for a station that is running out of resources, it sure seems to have a lot.
No one seems to know much about Earth. I don’t know if this means all the weather and down-looking satellites are gone, or were scrapped for the space station, or what, but they are really going in blind. The primary kid leader takes a small team to look for resources, and makes a comment about there being no animals. Two seconds later they come upon a large buck, only to then see that all isn’t quite right on this nuclear Earth. When night falls some of the foliage glows, which would be a warning sign for any child of the atomic age (or probably a society after a massive nuclear war) but these kids don’t seem to care. In the evening it also starts to rain. The adults monitoring on the station are awestruck at this news. That seems odd to me, since there are orbiting the Earth. Try looking down now and then, people.
Unfortunately I feel like this show is really just a version of LOST set in the future. I became frustrated with the show LOST after 5-6 episodes because the characters weren’t intelligent enough to realize that working together was going to be a lot better than not. This appears to be how things are going to be starting for The 100. Already in the pilot episode we see the 100 breaking into cliques, and the Lord of the Flies taking over. I’m not going to put a nail in the coffin on a single episode, but already I’m leery about what course this series might be taking.
Have you ever been in the middle of asking a question but your love of time traveling robots distracts you? So your question starts off with something like “How many times on Red Dwarf does the spaceship break down?” but ends up with “While I’m on that subject, if you could you please provide a list of all movies that deal with robots traveling through time I would be very appreciative.” It can happen to anyone, but it specifically happens to one person.
Here we present a comprehensive list of movies that involve time-traveling robots. What is the criteria? The robot / cyborg / android / super intelligent A.I. must travel through time, not just be a character in a movie where other things (humans) travel through time.
A cyborg from the future comes to the past to try and woo its one true love, Sarah Connor. Unfortunately some meatbag named Kyle Reese swoops in and impregnates her when she is most vulnerable. The cyborg’s heart is both figuratively and literally crushed by a hydraulic press because of this betrayal.
Terminator 2 : Judgment Day
This time two robots come from the future, both seeking the affections of one woman, the same Sarah Connor. The heart broken cyborg from the first movie tries to reconcile their differences and become the father young John Connor never had, while the other robot takes a much more aggressive stance. Both robots perish as their love burns hot enough to melt steel, which was deadly to their cold mechanical hearts.
Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines
Our love struck cyborg is back again. Sarah Connor is long dead, but the cyborg feels it is important that now adult John Connor receive his inheritance. In this case it ends up being a coffin full of guns. Another cyborg comes back hoping to win John Connor’s heart, but much like the first movie, is thwarted by a meatbag who takes advantage of the situation when both her and John are trapped alone together in a nuclear bunker.
Lost in Space
A robot tries to save the humans from their own stupidity, constantly warning them of dangers to which they turn a deaf ear. Eventually this robot gives up and lets the humans crash land on a planet and die.
Star Trek: First Contact
Android Commander Data has been in the same job on the same ship for 9 years, but with his positronic brain, it might as well be forever. His programming wants him to become more human, which sounds pretty racist in a universe with hundreds of varied sentient species. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he travels to the past, joins a radical anti-free thinking group, and tries to destroy the race he always tried to emulate.
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
Bill and Ted travel through heaven, hell, and time in order to build very poor robot versions of themselves to fight very evil robot versions of themselves. It is kind of like a bodacious exodus.
Flight of the Navigator
A robot space ship is just trying to do its job, when a routine stop causes a traffic accident with some electrical lines and lose its navigation charts. Conveniently the child who was being dropped off has all the necessary charts in his head, Jonny Mnemonic style. Follow that with an hour of evading the government shenanigans, and a trip back to 1978, and you’ve got yourself a time traveling robot.
Bender’s Big Score
Bender is just a robot trying to make ends meet. So when he travels to the past over and over again to steal Earth’s historic treasures, what could go wrong? Apparently everything. Paradoxes ensue.
Cyborg travels to the past to try and fix dystopian future. This is almost more detail than is provided on the Wikipedia page.
Meet the Robinsons
Like most good robot time-traveling stories this one is a tragic love story. Hatty the Bowler Hat just wanted to be appreciated by its maker. When that doesn’t work, it travels to the past to make sure everyone will always love bowler hats. There may also be a couple of kids in this movie.
Unidentified Flying Oddball
Hermes the Android and his lookalike human companion Tom travel to King Arthur’s court to stop Merlin, who apparently is a bad guy now. Hermes has the advantage here, because he is the only one who doesn’t fear death and is a robot.
Attack Robots are sent back in time to work a union job, destroying a virus that causes a paradox and ruins the future. Unfortunately yet another human is on duty to get in the way and steal all the credit. Meatbag extraordinaire Sinclair decides to do things “his way” and fix the future behind the killer robot’s backs. The nerve of some people.
A movie about love, hate, beauty, tragedy, and ultimately redemption, Future War (set in the present day) sees the caring Cyborg Master travel to the past to find his lost puppy of a slave “Runaway”. Unfortunately Cyborg Master suffers a fate worse than death, which is appearing in this movie, and then finally is given sweet release when his slave kills him, setting him free from the agony of this picture.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
They call Marvin “the paranoid android,” behind his back, because kids can be so cruel. Is it paranoid to have hyper suspicion, anxiety, and fear? Marvin probably wouldn’t be so depressed if he didn’t have to aimlessly wander the galaxy with people approximately 50,000 times stupider than himself. After meandering around for 100 minutes or so with these half wits, he needs a break, and decides to travel to the end of time and matter and dine at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
It seems like it is a good time for fans of the supernatural. There are plenty of current TV offerings. Here is what some of the regulars of SciFi.SE Chat room have to say about them, presented in no particular order.
Supernatural – Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.
Keen – Two brothers traveling the US, fighting monsters. Essentially a weekly horror TV series, with a monster of the week. Layered on top is a season-long arc, which is referenced almost weekly, with arc-centric episodes every 3-4 episodes.
Grimm – A homicide detective discovers he is a descendant of hunters who fight supernatural forces.
BESW – I like it. It’s cleverly self-mocking without being self-indulgent, its premise is similar to many other shows and books on the market but they’ve managed to freshen it up, the characters are interesting, and even when there’s a bad episode Monroe makes it worth my time.
True Blood – Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.
Keen – Trashy vampire romance novels turned into a supernatural soap opera. A guilty pleasure.
Jack B. Nimble – I saw a comment for True Blood that says it is a show about sex which just happens to have vampires.
Once Upon A Time – A woman with a troubled past is drawn to a New England town where fairy tales are to be believed.
Jack B. Nimble – A lot of twists on the classic fairy tales. Who would have thought everyone was so connected? Originally StoryBrook felt like a very small town. As the story (and fairy tales) progress the population seems to be growing exponentially.
Keen – This one is harder to describe at a high level. It has a weird premise and structure. I’d say it’s a fantasy series that mashes up Disney films with some public domain fairy tales and stories, then dumps the lot of them into the real world.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – In Victorian England, the young and beautiful Alice tells a tale of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole.
Izkata – Skip out on the tie to Once Upon a Time, since there’s no overlap (yet).
Warehouse 13 – After saving the life of the President in Washington D.C., a pair of U.S Secret Service agents are whisked away to a covert location in South Dakota that houses supernatural objects that the Regents, an Authority above and outside any government, have collected over the centuries. Their new assignment: retrieve any lost objects and investigate reports of new ones.
BESW – Seems to be back on track after some time exploring various styles and themes that weren’t working for it. The reveal that one of the characters has a real-life terminal disease seemed a bit over-dramatic but it’s being handled well.
Donald McLean – I’ve been watching Warehouse 13 since the beginning and I like it quite a lot.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – The missions of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
Jack B Nimble – It would be hilarious to find out that Tahiti is a sponsor of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Sleepy Hollow – Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers.
Keen – A cop/fantasy procedural with monsters of the week. The show’s fast pace and clever writing keeps it entertaining as it piles insanity upon insanity. Highly recommended.
Haven – A shrewd FBI agent with a lost past who arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine, to solve the murder of a local ex-con only to discover that the curious enclave is a longtime refuge for people with supernatural powers that holds a lot of secrets, including to her own past.
BESW – Haven has always been interesting to me (surprising since I don’t like Stephen King) but for a couple seasons that was mostly because I was fascinated by how much they could promise to reveal and then backtrack on at the last minute. However, they’ve started answering so many solid series-long questions that I’m wondering if they’re powering up for a series-ending finale. I’m somewhat concerned they’ll get renewed anyway and have to invent new plots to keep going.
There are other shows on TV dealing with the supernatural, but these are the ones that members of the SciFi.SE community chose to comment on.
- All show descriptions were pulled from the plot summary listed on their respective IMDB pages – http://imdb.com.
Frozen is a page from the Disney of yesteryear. While I’m consciously aware that there are songs in Tangled, I don’t feel like it was a musical in the classical Disney sense. Frozen reminds me of the great animated musicals such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. When I walked out of the theater the people (both children and adults) around me were still singing the song “Let it go.”
The movie revolves around two sister princesses. The older one is born with a power to create snow and ice, though is unable to control it. Her powers are subsequently kept a secret to everyone, even her sister. The other sister is born with the capacity to be optimistic in all circumstances. When things turn bad for the older sister, it is the younger sister who sets out to try and repair the damage.
Along the way they pick up a few more characters. An ice miner, a prince, and a snowman. I usually hate comic relief characters, but Olaf the Snowman is delightfully funny and his usage is clever. His naivete and the fact that he is a snowman make for a lot of great comical moments. There is also another snowman, who is quite different. I was watching the movie with a couple of 3-year-old nieces and at one point she became very frightened by the other snowman. People with smaller children should probably wait to see it at home (this is actually true of anyone who thinks it is a good idea to take little children to the theater).
Frozen has a lot of things going for it, good characters, songs, jokes, animation, and fun. Maybe it is the start of another run of great Disney films.
Thor: The Dark World is decent film. In this movie an ancient enemy called the Dark Elves is attempting to revert the universe back to a time when there was no light. Apparently the ideal time to do this is every 5000 years when the 9 realms are in alignment. The last time this happened, a great war was fought and the Dark Elves were annihilated. This makes me wonder if there was a war every 5000 years with the Dark Elves after light began or if the universe is less than 10,000 years old, making the first war the only war.
The subtitle the Dark World refers to the world of the Dark Elves, which has subsequently fallen into ruin. As an inhabitable planet it is pretty forgotten. Why haven’t the Asgardians (or other realms / races) moved to colonize the now abandoned Dark Planet? It should be noted that the Dark Planet is dark in name only. There appears to adequate light available.
The Dark Elves had a secret weapon (the Aether) they hoped to use during the convergence, but that weapon was captured by the Asgardians and locked away. As it happens, the convergence is happening again. This becomes the major plot point of the movie, as Jane Foster comes in contact with the weapon, which kind of/sort of possesses her. There are also dark forces trying to acquire the weapon in time to use it during the convergence.
Thus we see Jane Foster brought to Asgard in an effort to cure her of the Aether. There is the obvious question of the rational of Thor being in love with Jane Foster. She is from another world and will not live the standard 5,000 years of an Asgardian. There is also the obvious looks from Sif, who is probably the logical choice for Thor. But really, unless Jane were somehow given the same lifespan as Thor, Sif just has to bid her time before she can marry the heir apparent to Asgard. At most it is going to be 60-70 years. What is that amount of time considering the lifespan of Asgardians? Also Sif has been around for a long time, apparently not making her move, she can hardly blame Jane for that. The dark forces subsequently come to Asgard to acquire the Aether, and there is much conflict. Thor is eventually forced to seek the help of Loki, his imprisoned brother.
Before the movie came out I asked my wife if she was interested in seeing it. She said “I don’t know, from the trailer it isn’t clear to me that Thor will take off his shirt.” I said “is that all Thor is to you, just something to ogle?” she replied “that is all Thor is to anybody.” For the female audience that loves Thor for his muscles and not his origin story, I will say that what you seek is in the second movie, if only briefly.
I felt the movie was a worthy sequel to original movie. It was certainly better than Iron-Man 2. At least these characters get sequels, the same cannot be said for poor Hulk, who doesn’t even have his own movie yet (with the current actor).
For all the questions I raised in this review, there are only 7 tagged as thor-the-dark-world on the Scifi.SE site at the time of writing. Over half of them are related to the end credits scenes.
Warning, potential spoilers ahead (for those who didn’t read the book).
The internet is extremely polarized, maybe it is because of all the 1’s and 0’s, but there is only enough room on it for love or hate. If you walk out of Ender’s Game unsure which extreme position to take, here are some things that might help you.
Something to love: After 28 years of screwing around, they finally made it into a film
Something to hate: The beloved children’s book The Hobbit gets 3 – 3 hour movies while we get a 2 hour film that could have easily been 2.5 hours and refined a few points
Something to hate: “The enemy’s gate is down” is now Bean’s idea
Something to love: Bean still says it as the end of the movie to try and relax everyone
Something to love: The Battle Room is pretty cool and larger than you imagined
Something to hate: The Battle Room now has an incredibly distracting view of the Earth
Something to hate: All of the kids appear to be the exact same age and Bonzo is inexplicably a foot shorter than everyone else
Something to love: Almost all of the important characters are represented
Something to love: Rather than just shooting light, the guns now shoot balls of energy
Something to hate: The Battle Room is reduced to paintball in zero gravity
Something to hate: Ender’s fight with Bonzo is short and ends more in an accident than intent to win
Something to love: Ender still drinks the blood of his fallen enemies
Something to love: Many of the special effects look amazing
Something to hate: The mind game looks like a modern day video game
Something to hate: The film portrays Ender as having been in only one army and only one battle before being promoted to commander
Something to love: We don’t have to see Ender cry himself to sleep every night because no one loves him
Something to love: Peter and Valentine take a major back page to the story
Something to hate: If Peter and Valentine were your favorite parts of the book, then you hated the book as well
Something to hate: The Formics are never called Buggers
Something to love: Ender still gets to destroy that filthy Bugger race
Continuing from our first live chat, some of the originals from the chat room also watched Star Trek TOS “Space Seed.”
Netflix incorrectly classifies Star Trek TOS “Space Seed” as a prequel to the Wrath of Khan. That is like saying Batman Begins is a prequel to The Dark Knight. It isn’t a prequel if it was made first.
All images pulled from TrekCore
Turbo is a film that doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. Is it the type of story where the character isn’t satisfied with their existence and hopes for something more from life (such as A Bug’s Life)? Is it a racing movie where the lead character needs to grow up a little (such as Cars)? Is it a super hero origin movie (such as Spider-Man)? Unfortunately this movie is all three, and it doesn’t do a good job with any of them.
Theo / Turbo is a garden snail who happens to live next to the current Indy 500 champion. As such he obsesses and dreams of being a professional racer. After nearly killing himself a few times, trying to prove he is faster than he is, he sets out on a rainy night to get away from his sad slow existence. Eventually he accidently finds himself involved in an illegal drag race. When the driver hits his nitrous oxide Theo / Turbo undergoes a Spider-Man type transformation that turns him into some kind car / snail hybrid. Rather than just making him fast, it also gives him headlights, taillights, a radio, and a backup beeper. From there a series of even more improbable events leads him to have an opportunity to fulfill this dreams.
It is somewhat distracting to me that all of the snails can understand English being spoken by humans. From our perspective the snails also speak English, but of course none of the humans can hear or understand them. It is also distracting that once the nature of this special snail is revealed to the public (and the world at large) that the scientific community doesn’t appear to be at all interested in it.
Overall this movie was not very good. I remember only thinking a couple of things were funny or clever. I saw this movie at a drive-in theater with a number of children. In general those kids were bored and were more interested in snacks than laughing at the movie. I don’t remember really hearing any laughter at all through the film. So even as a movie just for kids I don’t think it delivers well. It reminds me of Bee Movie, which also felt flat.
So in the end this is a movie that is trying to be A Bug’s Life without the diverse bug characters, Cars without the growing up, Spider-Man without the character development, and Bee Movie will all its so called comedy. Maybe there is a demographic who is looking for that kind of movie, but it isn’t adults or children.
Warning – This review may contain spoilers or information not immediately obvious from the trailers.
Like many people when I read the book I was caught up by the all the stories of before, during, and after the zombie apocalypse. The individual stories, the psychological, political, and societal reactions from the characters brought a feeling of how real and terrible the breakdown of society would be.
When I saw the movie I immediately recognized that a lot of that had been taken out in order to create a fast paced action movie. It reminded me of the movie 2012. In that movie you follow a family as they race from one disaster to another trying to escape the destruction of the Earth. World War Z felt very similar. Instead of seeing many accounts across the entire world we follow one man, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), and his family while he goes from one disaster to another looking for a solution to the zombie problem.
In the book there isn’t a cure (although there are stories around people claiming to have them). Subsequently the book is about survival. When the book ends societies and the Earth as a whole are forever changed because of the apocalypse. In the movie things are obviously going to be different, but I get the feeling not in the same way.
Everyone everywhere has been talking about how the movie has nothing in common with the book except for the title. Here are some of the things that are in fact the same.
- Both have zombies.
- Israel abandons some disputed territories and builds a wall around their protected zones.
- The initial outbreak area is in East Asia.
- Major cities fall with people trying to flee to the sea.
Here are some things I think the movie does a poor job of explaining or takes too far.
- From infection to becoming zombified is super fast sometimes and really slow or non-existent other times. Once that stuff is in your blood it shouldn’t take long for it to latch onto your soul.
- The portrayal of how bad the teeth are in England (it is too horrifying).
- The zombies working together to overcome barriers.
- Zombies are attracted to some sounds, but not other sounds (like sounds made by other Zombies). These zombies are apparently smart enough to distinguish sounds by their origin (even when it is a pop can knocked over by a human that ultimately bursts open).
Overall I felt it was a decent enough zombie action movie. The one question both the book and the movie fail to answer is: If these zombies have unlimited energy why doesn’t anyone think to trap them in giant mount wheel that turns a turbine and get unlimited energy forever? You’d just need a guy or two standing behind a secure window to entice the zombies to move towards you. Think people! Think!