The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein #BookReview

Title: The Punch Escrow | Author: Tal M. Klein | Publisher: Geek & Sundry | Pub. Date: 2017-7-25 | Pages: 319 | ASIN: B073PBBL7C | Genre: Science Fiction Thriller | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration.


The Punch Escrow

It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure… Arrival… Delight!

Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

Book cover for The Punch Escrow

The Punch Escrow Review

The Punch Escrow took me forever to read, and to be completely honest – I’m not sure why! I never at any point disliked the story. In fact, The Punch Escrow is right up my alley of types of books I do like. Now, I’ve encountered this situation before, as happened with my trying to reading David L. Golemon’s Supernaturals. The difference there was that almost from the beginning I could pinpoint the biggest problem (complete and utter lack of atmosphere). With The Punch Escrow, though, I was left wondering at several points why I had to force myself to read this book.

I think part of it might be that I have an aversion to footnotes. While they do give a bit of good information about the story that helps flesh it out, they always distract me. I have the attention span the size of a gnat. The fact that I can sit down and read a book from cover the amount of times I do is amazing. So when you ask me to take a break from the story to read the footnote, you’ve just distracted me from the story. And once I’m gone – I’m gone.  Punch Escrow has a fair amount of footnotes.

Also, while I liked Joel well enough, his character was never enough to actually make me want to root for him. It was interesting watching him going through everything, and trying to puzzle everything out along with him but he just wasn’t an interesting character himself.  I have to say, my favorite character in The Punch Escrow was probably the ambulance. I loved that ambulance. And the peeing mosquitos. Those things will stay with you for a while.

I think that The Punch Escrow would make an awesome sci-fi thriller film. In fact, I had a much easier time staying engaged with the book when I started thinking of it in terms of a movie.  This was aided by the fact that around the 70% point, the action in the book picks up noticeably. Prior to that, it mires down a bit so that it’s easy to not realize that a good bit of stuff is actually happening.

Overall, I liked Tal M. Klein’s world. I think he does an excellent job of building off our now to make a believable future. There were portions of the book that had me laughing. Other sections that had me sitting back, nodding, and realizing that – yeah – if certain things do develop, it would probably start with something like what he posited. I think he has a solid imagination, and, all things considered, I did enjoy the novel. Just not as much as I should have.

Buy Link: Amazon

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 22: Thor Ragnarok, Infinite Stars

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Sci-Fi post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 22 is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!

This is Sci-Fi’s Weekly Quote:

“No utopia can ever give satisfaction to everyone, all the time. As their material conditions improve, men raise their sights and become discontented with power and possessions that once would have seemed beyond their wildest dreams. And even when the external world has granted all it can, there still remain the searchings of the mind and the longings of the heart.” – Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

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Science Fiction Movies

Normally we’d be talking about new sci-fi movies, but there’s jack out right now, so instead we’re going to give you a list of great sci-fi horror movies that you can watch as Halloween swiftly approaches! They’re not in any particular order, and would make a pretty epic binge-watch on Halloween night if you don’t want to re-watch a bunch of slasher films.

  1. Event Horizon – Pretty much the sci-fi horror movie in our humble opinions.
  2. The Thing (1982) – Aliens, death, blood, snow, aliens, death…
  3. Cube – What Saw wishes it could be, in my (Lilyn’s) opinion.
  4. The Blob – Whichever version you watch is good, but I’m a fan of the 1988 version.
  5. The Re-Animator – Okay, it’s not really scary by any stretch of the imagination, but there some scenes that make you want brain bleach  (With her pretentious, purist nose in the air GracieKat also thinks it’s a terrible adaptation. Hmph!)

 

Coming Soon:

Thor Ragnarok

Movie cover for Thor Ragnarok

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Science Fiction Books

Featured New Science Fiction Release

Book cover for Infinite Stars

Infinite Stars – Anthology – October 17th, 2017

A must have, one of a kind, definitive space opera anthology with 15 new stories by top contemporary authors in top franchises as well as classic genre defining tales dating back over 60 plus years. With an introductory essay on space opera by Grand Master Robert Silverberg.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editor’s Note/Acknowledgements by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
“Renegat” (Ender) by Orson Scott Card
“The Waters Of Kanly” (Dune) by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
“The Good Shepherd” (Legion of the Damned) by William C. Dietz
“The Game Of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith 1956 Hugo Best Story, 1955 Galaxy SF, October
“The Borders of Infinity” (Vorkosigan) by Lois McMaster Bujold
“All In A Day’s Work” (Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon
“Last Day Of Training” (Lightship Chronicles) by Dave Bara
“The Wages of Honor” (Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro
“Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor TOR.COM, 2015; 2016 Nebula/Hugo/BFA Best Novella
“Reflex” (CoDominium) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
“How To Be A Barbarian in the Late 25th Century” (Theirs Not To Reason Why) by Jean Johnson
“Stark and the Star Kings” (Eric John Stark) by Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton
“Imperium Imposter” (Imperium) by Jody Lynn Nye
“Region Five” (Red Series) by Linda Nagata
“Night Passage” (Revelation Space) by Alastair Reynolds
“Duel on Syrtis” by Poul Anderson
“Twilight World” (StarBridge) by A.C. Crispin
“Twenty Excellent Reasons” (The Astral Saga) by Bennett R. Coles
“The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey
“Taste of Ashes” (Caine Riardon) by Charles E. Gannon
“The Iron Star” by Robert Silverberg
“Cadet Cruise” (Lt. Leary) by David Drake
“Shore Patrol” (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell
“Our Sacred Honor” (Honorverse) by David Weber
Author and Editor Bios

Other Sci-Fi New Releases:

Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charli Jane Anders

Eclipse: A Song Called Youth by Jane Shirley

Giveaways:

Beyond Yesterday book cover

Book cover for Artemis Book cover for Pandemic

 

 

 

 

 

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Sci-Fi Trivia

I started this post not really knowing where I wanted to go with it. But then, idly scrolling through the internet…I saw her. Our eyes met for the briefest of moments. Her name…is Sophia. It was love at first site (well, abject terror at first sight but it’s a fine line). She rocks the bald look very well and is hilariously funny. Like saying that she might not kill the whole human race. We had a fine laugh over that (as soon as I crawled out from under my bed). She says that I have been watching too many science fiction movies. I did protest this (that’s Lilyn’s genre). I can’t help but feel uneasy, though. I haven’t left the house in days. She doesn’t really need food and she thinks it’s ‘cute’ that I do.

We finally agreed that I go grocery shopping after a failed experiment of trying to plug me in to recharge my batteries (I’d rather not talk about it, it was a shocking experience). When I came home my house felt…different. My toaster won’t toast my bread and spits it back out at me. The vacuum has tried several times  to suck up every charging cord that I have, whether it’s turned on or not. I’ve heard Sophia chatting on the phone with someone called SkyNet (I’m assuming it’s an internet handle). She swears it’s innocent but I’ve heard she plans to meet up there with something called the T-2000. Some kind of new cell phone, I guess.

Our relationship is still going strong even though I’m a little worried about this ‘SkyNet’ character. Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Sci-Fi on the Web

A robot named Sophia has attained citizenship as a human in Saudi Arabia. Her name is Sophia and she promises not to destroy us all. Maybe. Read about her here.

While turmoil goes on land-side the most advanced Stealth Submarine has just been launched. Say hi to Captain Nemo for me.

The (possibly) first interstellar comet may be zipping around our solar system. If it passes close you might want to keep an eye on your car or your graveyards. Just in case.

Like Sci-Fi? Of course you do or you wouldn’t be here. Time made a list of the worst-named Science Fiction movies. What’s sad is that I’ve seen most of them on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

We’ve got robots, stealth submarines and interstellar comets. And supersonic cars. Have we stumbled into the plot of a Men in Black movie?

Aliens: Zone of Silence – Interview with Dir. Andy Fowler

 

Banner for Interview with Andy Fowler

Aliens: Zone of Silence

Starring Sarah Hester (Unfabulous), Peter Gesswein (A Plea for Tenderness), Jed Maheu (The Rambler),  and Vince Tula (Four Cities), Aliens: Zone of Silence follows a young woman who goes on a daring search for answers after her brother vanishes from the Mexican desert. But when she discovers an extraterrestrial presence, she must risk her life to expose the desert’s otherworldly secret.

Written by: Fidel Arizmendi, Andy Fowler
Directed by: Andy Fowler

Aliens: Zone of Silence is out today, October 24th, on VOD.

Find out more on: http://alienszoneofsilence.com/

 

 

Talking with Writer & Director Andy Fowler

Sci-Fi & Scary: You’ve got a solid background of visual effects – 300, Tron, San Andreas just to name a few- and now you’re the Director of Visual Effects at Netflix. What ultimately persuaded you to step outside the visual effects field and write and direct your own movie?

Andy Fowler: I’ve been into making films since my teens and won a couple of awards back in the UK for some shorts which fueled my interest and passion. However, soon after I found myself carried along by the creativity of commercial and graphic design production in London and cut my teeth there for a bunch of years during its digital genesis in the 80s before settling into VFX. First film was Lost in Space back in 1996 and I never got off the train. Visual Effects really helped contain my creative demons and it still does! However, when I left Disney Feature Production around 2011 I got the itch to make something of my own again.

Sci-Fi & Scary: What was it like making the switch to the writing / directing chair role? Was anything harder or easier than you thought it would be?

Andy Fowler: Making the switch felt natural for me, I really get a kick out of working with actors and the live feedback and creative interaction. After all, VFX is pretty much removed from dealing with flesh and blood, beyond what gets thrown in front of camera as FX elements for say 300 so its wonderful contrast! As a VFX Producer you get to be on set A LOT and so are used to seeing what it takes to bring a film to life, how thrilling it is and how grueling it can be and was therefore under no illusion how tough this project would be, albeit with much different challenges considering the tight budget. What was harder than I thought going in? Having the stamina to finish it. Easier? ADR. Loved ADR.

Sci-Fi & Scary: From script to production wrap, how long did it take you to create Aliens: Zone of Silence?

Andy Fowler: Had early concept for the film in 2011, started in earnest in 2012, so 5 years or thereabouts. Work got in the way!

Sci-Fi & Scary: Do you think your background in visual effects brings anything special to Aliens: Zone of Silence beyond the standard glitchy camera work one knows to expect in these films?

Andy Fowler: It certainly helped in some ways as part of the of problem with making VFX look great in films is the understanding or sensitivity of some filmmakers and knowing when a VFX shot might break, in turn pushing an effect too far at the expense of the integrity of a shot or sequence. So with Aliens: Zone of Silence (AZOS), I naturally dialed back any areas that’d take the viewer out of the experience. This is a found footage film after all, so keeping things organic and visceral was key.

Sci-Fi & Scary: Aliens: Zone of Silence isn’t a large budget production. After being part of so many films with more money poured into them than most of us will see in ten lifetimes, how hard was it, effects wise, to work on a much smaller scale?

Andy Fowler: It was hard. It was very, very hard. But the low budget forced me into finding ways, creative ways of making the shots work outside of the digital norm which in the end (I feel) helped keep the movie honest. Not that AZOS is like Scott’s first ALIEN movie, but I liken the experience of Ridley having a low FX budget forcing an approach that was more ‘in camera’ than its bigger budget sequel Aliens which (although equally amazing) was a totally different viewer experience. Sometimes having little money can work for you!

Sci-Fi & Scary: How many different cameras did you use during the shoot? I believe the main character has at least 4 on her at one point?

Andy Fowler:  I lost count! Hmmm,  2 attached to Sarah Hester’s pack (POV shot and CU),  plus a handheld that could switch between a regular camera or night vision. On top of that we utilized devices such as a motion-triggered head on which the hand-held cam could be attached. Also, Sarah had a HDR (High Dynamic Range) camera that could capture a wide range of exposure, a key story telling point! To round off we had a bunch of perimeter fixed security cameras to help ‘keep an eye’!

Sci-Fi & Scary: Regarding multiple camera use, were they actually often all running at the same time, or were you turning them on/off as need to be spare the time you’d need to sort through and splice footage?

Andy Fowler: Sometimes we had all three cameras running on or around Sarah, totally depending. We got a lot of coverage! However, when shooting action/drama specific beats we often focused on only using cameras that we felt would provide relevant material.

Sci-Fi & Scary: There’s a fair few alien-oriented found footage films released recently, most notably Phoenix Forgotten and The Phoenix Tapes. What would you tell people to persuade them to give Aliens: Zone of Silence a try as well?

Andy Fowler: Our movie is different to those films in the same way chalk is different to cheese. I’d say AZOS goes out of its way to remain fully authentic while aiming to be different from anything else that’s been out there in the ‘found footage’ space. Basically, key difference here is that the footage in our case was never actually ‘lost’ in the first place thanks to the miracle of live streaming!

Sci-Fi & Scary: What was your favorite part of filming Aliens: Zone of Silence?

Andy Fowler: I loved shooting with Sarah (Morgan), Vince (Goose), Peter (Hal) and Jed (Peter). It was great fun! BUT, after the movie had been shot and was editing, I ended up filming pick-ups in Lone Pine California with my wife Gabby and our two kids Henry (13) and Poppy (7). We had such a blast mixing family time with filming productive footage that glued parts of the film together! Very cool.

Sci-Fi & Scary: Did the plot or script of the movie change any once you actually started filming? Or was it a pretty as-it-was-written shoot?

Andy Fowler: I’d like to say it was a locked script to completion, but lets just say making this film was a fluid process!

Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s next for you? Do you anticipate taking on more directorial endeavors?

Andy Fowler: Netflix keeps my busy! I’m really lucky to be working at a studio that’s pushing the boundaries in so many creative and technical ways to help change the industry. HOWEVER, I’d be happy to direct a Star Wars movie if anyone from Lucasfilm is reading this.

Sci-Fi & Scary: Any last remarks about the film?

Andy Fowler: Yes, all my previous comments are false. This movie uses real footage I came across in a trash can in Van Nuys….


 

Beyond Yesterday by Greg Spry #BookReview

Title: Beyond Yesterday | Series: The Beyond Saga #3 | Author: Greg Spry | Pub. Date: 2017-7-1 | Pages: 329 | ISBN13: 9780990822462 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.


Beyond Yesterday

After years of pushing the boundaries of interstellar spaceflight, Commander Maya Davis is ecstatic when she is promoted to captain. But her enthusiasm wanes when she discovers that her new assignment is a one-way mission.

After taking command of the space-time vessel Yesterday, Maya must travel back in time to discover how and why a piece of 23rd century technology appeared 200,000 years earlier. It’s an exciting opportunity–except for the one-way aspect. The best minds of her time say it’s impossible to return to the present.

Trapped in the distant past, Maya must choose between a peace that could condemn humanity to perpetual slavery, or a fight for freedom that involves deception, rebellion, and mass murder. Whatever she decides, her actions may very well erase an entire civilization from history.

Beyond Yesterday book cover

Beyond Yesterday Review

Beyond Yesterday is the third book in the Beyond Saga. I have previously reviewed Beyond Cloud Nine and Beyond the Horizon. Both of them received 4 out of 5 star ratings from me.

As with the previous two books, I love that Spry’s characters are atypical. Both are women, neither are Caucasian, and one is a drug addict whose addiction is destroying her body. Neither are the sort of warm, friendly and/or motherly creatures that women so often get shoehorned into being.  I am particularly drawn to Brooke Davis, and the reason why can be summed up in one quote.

“He was the only non-relative she had ever loved, and one of the few people she could actually stand. To her, the latter might’ve meant more than the former.”

Time travel is a theme in Beyond Yesterday, and fairly early on in the story, the author takes a few moments to lay out how time travel works in the Beyond universe. The multiverse theory is clearly illustrated and written so that the average reader will believe it to be plausible. I did like how plainly one of the characters lays out the problem with a potential trip to the past.

“Remember that arriving in the past causes an alternate timeline to unfold from that point onward,” [redacted] said “If we go back, we can never return.”

There’s a bit of an Ancient Aliens aspect to this book that will either amuse you, intrigue you, or turn you off, depending on how you view that type of thing.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as big of a fan of Beyond Yesterday as I was the previous two books. I’ll admit right now that this is probably partly due to my own issues at the moment. However, I felt like there was a lot of unnecessary explanation in this book. And, yes, truth be told, I just couldn’t get into the whole exobeings visiting our planet in the past thing. It was competently written, I just wasn’t interested. This disinterest plagued me, and made the first 200 pages of the book feel like a slog. Around the 200 page mark, though, things started to look up. Yes, when things start going kablooey, I’m bound to get interested.

Where I liked the covers on the first two books, I was not a fan of Beyond Yesterday’s cover. In a departure from the strong, confident woman/women displayed on the other covers, this time one of the characters very much looks like she’s suffering through massive pre-menstrual cramps. That pose, combined with the somewhat off-putting colors, meant a definite lack of visual appeal.

Beyond Yesterday is not a bad book, it simply did not interest me as much as the previous two books had. Greg Spry tackles the issues surrounding time travel with unbridled enthusiasm. He has not lagged in his development of the overarching plot of the Beyond Saga. I believe that most of his readers will be extremely happy with this entry into the saga.

Buy Link: Amazon

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 21: Children of the Fleet

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Sci-Fi post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 21 is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!

 

This is Sci-Fi’s Weekly Quote

 

-“A learning experience is one of those things that say, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that’.”

– Douglas Adams

 


Science Fiction Movies

New Science Fiction Releases  (October 13th)

 

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Coming Soon

Geostorm

 

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Science Fiction Books

Featured New Science Fiction Release

Children of the Fleet is a new angle on Card’s bestselling series, telling the story of the Fleet in space, parallel to the story on Earth told in the Ender’s Shadow series.

Ender Wiggin won the Third Formic war, ending the alien threat to Earth. Afterwards, all the terraformed Formic worlds were open to settlement by humans, and the International Fleet became the arm of the Ministry of Colonization, run by Hirum Graff. MinCol now runs Fleet School on the old Battle School station, and still recruits very smart kids to train as leaders of colony ships, and colonies.

Dabeet Ochoa is a very smart kid. Top of his class in every school. But he doesn’t think he has a chance at Fleet School, because he has no connections to the Fleet. That he knows of. At least until the day that Colonel Graff arrives at his school for an interview.

           _____________

Other New Science Fiction Releases

The Genius Plague – David Walton

Elites of Eden (Children of Eden #2) – Joey Graceffa

 

Giveaways

 

 

 

 

 

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Science Fiction Trivia

Ghost Hunting

It’s that time of year when a person’s fancy turns to things like pretty leaves, pumpkins (and spiced lattes) and…ghost hunting. “But wait!” I hear you say (or it could just be the voices in my head) “Shouldn’t this be in the horror section?” Why, no, my good readers! Perhaps if I were going to talk about the ghosts themselves but today I’m talking about the tech that the brave and intrepid ghost hunters use to ‘catch’ ghosts.

Back in the day when spiritualism first gained traction in the 1840’s there were a few options to contact spirits. You could use a ‘spirit board’ (we don’t need Milton and/or Bradley on our backs for using their copyrighted words) or call upon your trusted medium. The first tool used in documenting the afterlife was the camera. Thereafter, spirit photographs became very popular, if not an absolute necessity. They are still used today but now the pictures are digital.

Video recordings are also de rigueur for today’s ghost hunters. We’ve progressed from tapes and recording equipment the size of a small car to more sleek and stylish digital recordings. Night vision has also become a must for today’s modern hunter as we all know that ghosts only come out at night…because…reasons.

EMF (Electromagnetic Field) meters. These always seemed to be a bit chancy to me. In a thorough investigation you would check all areas for already existing EMF levels. That way it’s easier to spot fluctuations. But, again, these could be perfectly natural fluctuations in the area so you would only really be able to tell is to make multiple trips, consistently and at the same times. There has been a proven link between EMF and ‘psychic’ manifestations. It’s pretty much been written off as high EMF causing the phenomena and/or hallucinations. However, another way it could be read is that the spirits are using these frequencies and energies to do their thing.

EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomena to the uninitiated. Although anyone who’s watched a few episodes of Supernatural should know this. This has also undergone a dramatic change. It started with reel-to-reel tapes in 1956, mutated into cassette tapes (which were a little smaller) and we thought we were done when we got to digital. but no, some intrepid soul decided to create (or modify) a box into actually interpreting what the ghost is trying to say and uses it’s smart computer things to create the word.

I always wondered (supposing there are ghosts or spiritual beings) don’t people ever wonder if the reason they never get results is that the spirits don’t know how to work the damn things? Although I have noticed newer shows explaining the equipment to the entity they’re trying to reach. It could also be that maybe that particular spirit doesn’t speak English, or the English they do speak is an older dialect and they have no clue what these crazy people with boxes are asking them to do.

This probably has been more fiction than ‘science’ but it’s nice sometimes to explore the fringes if only to make sure your mind is still open to the unique and wonderful in nature.


Science Fiction on the Web

Looks like there is going to be a sci-fi version of Paperbacks from Hell – The Verge

Why does Sci-Fi love Asian Culture, but not Asian Characters? – Slashfilm

Fembots in Film and how it talks about female representation in Hollywood – Syfy Wire

Rosario Dawson talks about narrating Andy Weir’s Artemis – Space

Bored? Check out this List of Fictional Doomsday Devices – Wikipedia

Press Release: Sightings

JAWS meets STRANGER THINGS

in High Octane Pictures’

SIGHTINGS

 

Sightings Movie Poster

Writer-director Dallas Morgan’s unnerving supernatural thriller Sightings premieres on VOD this November.

Dante Basco (Hook, Bad Ass 2 : Bad Asses), Kevin Sizemore (Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462), and Boo Arnold (Nashville) star in a pulse-pounding cornucopia of Stranger Things, Signs and Jaws, arriving November 7.

When former Sheriff and skeptic of the paranormal, Tom Mayfield (Boo Arnold), encounters three dead bodies on his TX ranch, he must enlist the help of his conspiracy-theorist brother-in-law (Rawn Erickson II), a local surveillance expert (Dante Basco), and a renowned cryptozoologist (Stephanie Drapeau), in order to uncover who or what is behind these mysterious events.

While being pursued by the local detective (Kevin Sizemore) as a lead suspect for these deaths, Tom is forced to reconsider his preconceived ideas of what lies beyond our planet.

Ultimately, he must mend the estranged relationship with his daughter (Tahlia Morgan) and come to grips with the truth of his missing wife (Tiffany Heath), as he discovers the importance of community in survival and the belief in the unseen.

From High Octane Pictures, the studio that brought you Clowntergeist and The Answer, comes another workout for your goosebumps, Sightings out 11/7.

Sightings Trailer


My thoughts: Sightings could be good. I was grabbed by the “JAWS meets STRANGER THINGS” in the title. That’s just such a weird mashup that I had to watch the trailer. And when you see the Bigfoot-y thing stomping outside the house in it, it sets your mind to wondering. I kind of want to watch it just to see exactly what the alien looks like when it’s revealed. With the allusion to Jaws, there’d better be some satisfyingly terrifying teeth involved!

I don’t know – what do y’all think? Would you watch Sightings?

If you’re a fan of the whole alien sci-fi horror sub genre, what’s your favorite film?

REALIVE Movie Review (Sci-Fi Drama)

REALIVE MovieREALIVE Synopsis: Marc (Tom Hughes) is diagnosed with a disease and is given one year left to live. Unable to accept his own end, he decides to freeze his body. Sixty years later, in the year 2084, he becomes the first man to be revived in history. It is then he discovers that the love of his life, Naomi (Oona Chaplin), has accompanied him this entire time in a way that he’d never expected.

Starring: Tom HughesCharlotte Le BonOona Chaplin

Tagline: Immortality is only a matter of time.

Release Date: September 29th, 2017 | Runtime: 1 hour 52 Minutes | Coolthulhus Earned: 5

 

 

 


REALIVE Review

REALIVE was thought-provoking, deeply moving, and delicately handles sensitive subjects with a deftness one doesn’t typically expect from a Syfy film. I was hooked basically from the very beginning. The conversation between the doctor and Marc/Lazarus was so very well done. It was grave and serious without being overly dramatic. I like how the guy asks “Why?” and the doctor is just kind of flatly states “It’s cancer.” Not to be morbid, but that was probably one of my favorite scenes in the movie. The expression on the doctor’s face says so much even as he just says “It’s cancer.” Actually, the whole way they portray Marc dealing with this diagnosis in the beginning all feels very real and true as well. Enough so that it put a hitch in my throat watching it.

The cinematography in REALIVE was nice. The movie is filmed in two timelines. Before re-animation and after re-animation. The ‘before’ is done in soft, warm colors with movement and laughter and light. The ‘after’ in cold blues and sharp lines. The facility in the future is conveyed as state of the art and, er, ‘futuristic’ without being over the top. Its crisp, stark, and rather effective even without a bunch of wires and monitoring equipment everywhere.

To be honest, I had no real desire to watch REALIVE. From the stills and the trailer, I thought ‘eh, not my type of movie’ and didn’t give it a second thought. But then I was offered a chance to do an interview with one of the actors, so I decided to give it a go. REALIVE really isn’t my type of movie. I prefer blood, guts, and shoot-em-ups. Spaceships, aliens, and planetary exploration. I don’t do feels or thought-provoking flicks as a general rule of thumb. I appreciate that they’re around for the people who like ’em, but they just don’t get my motor running. This is, I thought as I was starting it up, the type of movie where I’m going to end up picking a book up halfway through it. Sweet baby Cthulhu, I was wrong.

One of my favorite things about the movie was how it handled the subject of cryogenics and reanimation. This isn’t one of those movies where it’s like “Yes, you are alive again and everything is perfect” It was one that actually looked seriously at how reanimation would actually work. While I don’t want to give anything away, let’s just say that this is the most believable approach to reviving someone from cryostasis that I’ve ever read or seen. From the actual reanimation itself to the body’s adjustments afterwards.

The love story is also well-handled in REALIVE. It isn’t typical, and it isn’t super-mushy. It’s got an element of star-crossed lovers to it, but not quite that bad. It was there, but it wasn’t what the story was all about (to me, at least.)

The ending of the movie was deftly handled as well. It was one of those deals where you were pretty sure you knew how things were going to end up once you were past the halfway point, but you still couldn’t look away.

Overall, REALIVE was a fantastically done movie. It put tears in my eyes. That’s a fairly difficult thing to do. From the script to the editing, there’s very little I would have changed. (Literally, there’s like one scene involving two of the doctors that was a bit much. That’s it.) I’m happy that I decided to watch it, and definitely highly recommend it to all my fellow sci-fi lovers out there.

 

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 20: Blade Runner 2049, REALIVE, and Peter Clines

 

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Sci-Fi post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 20 is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!

This is Sci-Fi’s Weekly Quote

“My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving universes.”
― Douglas AdamsLife, the Universe and Everything

Science Fiction Movies

 

New Science Fiction Releases (September 29th)

Flatliners

Flatliners

Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife.

Starring: Ellen PageDiego LunaNina Dobrev

REALIVE

REALIVE Movie

Marc (Tom Hughes) is diagnosed with a disease and is given one year left to live. Unable to accept his own end, he decides to freeze his body. Sixty years later, in the year 2084, he becomes the first man to be revived in history. It is then he discovers that the love of his life, Naomi (Oona Chaplin), has accompanied him this entire time in a way that he’d never expected.

Starring: Tom HughesCharlotte Le BonOona Chaplin

———————–

Coming Soon

Blade Runner 2049

 

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Science Fiction Books

 

Featured New Science Fiction Release

Paradox Bound Book Cover

Paradox Bound – Peter Clines – September 26th, 2017

An ingenious, irresistible new time-travel thriller from the author of The Fold and the Ex-Heroes series

Eli’s willing to admit it: he’s a little obsessed with the mysterious woman he met years ago. Okay, maybe a lot obsessed. But come on, how often do you meet someone who’s driving a hundred-year-old car, clad in Revolutionary-War era clothes, wielding an oddly modified flintlock rifle—someone who pauses just long enough to reveal strange things about you and your world before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires?

So when the traveler finally reappears in his life, Eli is determined that this time he’s not going to let her go without getting some answers. But his determination soon leads him into a strange, dangerous world and a chase not just across the country but through a hundred years of history—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

Other New Science Fiction Releases

Provenance by Ann Lecki

The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

 

Goodreads Giveaways

Cheerleaders from Planet X EngiNerds ExtraOrdinary

 

 

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Science Fiction Trivia

I’ve always been intrigued by Kirlian Photography. When it was first discovered it was thought that the process was ‘photographing’ auras. It was theorized from this that it could potentially be used to treat illnesses based on the aura of energy produced. I don’t really know if that could work medically for treatment but perhaps diagnosis. I have no science in me but it seems like if you were sick then the natural energy you produce would change colors or intensity. Again, I have no science to back me up on this but it seems semi-logical to me.

It’s now being used in all different capacities such as parapsychology, art and real science. I (for obvious reasons) don’t really buy the whole spiritual aura part of it but it is still pretty damn interesting. Unless coins are actually sentient and do have auras of their own. Hmm. This might be the basis of a good sci-fi thriller.

“Need a Quarter for the vending machine? Only if you want death flavored soda in return!”

 

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Science Fiction on the Web

Sci-Fi Celebrities Reveal How They Got Their Start In These Cute Syfy Clips from Space.com

The NYTimes asks the experrts “Is Climate-Themed Fiction All Too Real?

Want to read a review of Star Trek: Discovery? LAReviewofBooks has an interesting one.

DenofGeeks reports on SYFY’s Genre Giant Supervisory Council.

And finally, WIRED takes you behind the scenes of Blade Runner 2049.

Always Gray in Winter by Mark J. Engels #BookReview

Title: Always Gray in Winter | Series: A Shift of Season #1 | Author: Mark J. Engels | Publisher: Thurston Howl Publications | Pub. Date: 2017-8-10 | Pages: 184 | ISBN13: 9781945247194 | Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3.4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.


Always Gray in Winter

A distant daughter. A peculiar device. A family lineage full of secrets. When werecat Pawlina Katczynski finally resurfaces, her location previously unknown to anyone close to her, the reunion is short of welcomed. Instead, she finds herself thrust tooth and nail—tooth and claw—into a feud between opposing werecat clans as her family and their enemies reignite a battle that has raged for years. Always Gray in Winter invites the reader to join the feud and see if blood is truly thicker than water… 

Book cover for Always Gray in Winter

Always Gray in Winter Review

So… werecats. I don’t normally do werecats, werewolves, were-anything, really. Hasn’t been my thing for several years. But when Always Gray in Winter was submitted for review, I said I’d give it a try. I figured it would be a nice way to change things up a bit. It definitely changed things up a bit, and was an interesting experience.

Always Gray in Winter is a pleasant 184 pages. It feels like it was less than that. I was honestly surprised at the page count when I flipped through the paperback. This is a slim volume is perfect for carrying with you when you need a book to ward off people who want you to be sociable. It’s nice to come across a book now and then that doesn’t seem to be aiming for 350+ pages. (Rare anymore, right?) The cover might have some anthro fans coming up to try to chat you up, though. It’s jam-packed with thrilling action in the form of possibly deadly encounters and narrow escapes. The two main nationalities of the characters ‘at war’ in the book are North Korean and Polish, which is a combination I’ve never come across in the fiction I read before.

I liked Always Gray in Winter, but I had two main problems with it. One was that there were a lot of characters introduced quickly, with no real time to leave an impression before moving on to someone else. Sometimes it was several chapters before some of them were brought up again. With that being said, I did find myself really liking some of the characters. Tommy was definitely my favorite, but I liked grandpa Niko and most of the non-essential family cast as well. I think I was supposed to care for Pawly as she’s clearly supposed to be the primary character, but I didn’t. She just didn’t feel as ‘real’ as some of the other characters did, so I had trouble connecting with her.

The other was that the transitions between past and present were a bit jarring and I found myself flipping back and forth several times to make sure I had my facts straight. The characters I eventually got straightened out in my head by the halfway point, but I still wasn’t clear on a lot of the stuff by the end of the book. These two things really kept me off balance for a large portion of the slim book, and while sometimes that’s a good thing, in this case it was not. At least not in my opinion. I know some people like non-linear story-telling. I’m not a huge fan of it.

I liked how Mark J. Engels incorporated some of the ‘realities’ of transforming back and forth between a furred form and human form. There’s a scene where one of the characters thinks to herself that she was ‘shedding like a roomful of f*cking Persians‘ from her change that had me grinning. The characters transitions weren’t as disgusting as they’re sometimes displayed in books and movies, but anyone who has cats can speak to the particular gross-out factor wet hairballs have. I also appreciated that one of the character’s reactions when he found out that someone he cared about could transform into a cat didn’t leap right into weird furry wet dreams. Instead he had the reaction I think most of us would have.

Always Gray in Winter is a little rough around the edges, but it’s still a good read for the audience it targets. It’s terrestrial sci-fi that feels like it’s based in the here and now. Engels has a clear idea of what he’s doing with the story. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, I can say pretty confidently that I think we will see each successive entry into the series get stronger and more well-polished. I think the saga of this particular werecat family is one worth paying attention to in the future if you’re a fan of anthromorphic tales.

Purchase on Amazon

All These Worlds by Dennis E. Taylor (Bobiverse #3) #BookReview

Title: All These Worlds | Series: Bobiverse #3 | Author: Dennis E. Taylor | Publisher: Worldbuilder’s Press | Pub. Date: 2017-8-8 | Pages: 260 | ASIN: B0736185ZL | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited


All These Worlds (Bobiverse #3)

Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun. But after spreading out through space for almost a century, Bob and his clones just can’t stay out of trouble.

They’ve created enough colonies so humanity shouldn’t go extinct. But political squabbles have a bad habit of dying hard, and the Brazilian probes are still trying to take out the competition. And the Bobs have picked a fight with an older, more powerful species with a large appetite and a short temper.

Still stinging from getting their collective butts kicked in their first encounter with the Others, the Bobs now face the prospect of a decisive final battle to defend Earth and its colonies. But the Bobs are less disciplined than a herd of cats, and some of the younger copies are more concerned with their own local problems than defeating the Others.

Yet salvation may come from an unlikely source. A couple of eighth-generation Bobs have found something out in deep space. All it will take to save the Earth and perhaps all of humanity is for them to get it to Sol — unless the Others arrive first.

Book cover for all these worlds

All These Worlds Review

 

All These Worlds is the final entry in the Bobiverse trilogy. We’ve watched Bob from his final day as a living, breathing human to his final desperate battle to save humanity. It has been interesting watching the evolution of the character from the beginning of book one to the end of book three. One of the things that struck me (and made me appreciate the series more) was how much I came to care for the Bobs. Original Bob felt very young adult male in the beginning of the first book.  So we weren’t just watching the divergence of personality in the clones, we were also watching Bob mature and come to terms with the fact that he was now basically immortal and everyone else…wasn’t.

Just maturing as a normal human being is hard enough. Can you imagine having to deal with the fact that everyone you ever knew was dead, you were now effectively immortal, and oh, by the way, you have to save humanity which is down to a mere 15 million people on top of that? Good baby Cthulhu, it’s a wonder things didn’t get darker than they did! I did miss the humor in the second and third books, though. The humor was a huge part of what attracted me to We Are Legion, the first book in the Bobiverse series, to begin with.

Still, the Bob(s) was/were generally likable, no matter which cohort he/they were from. (That sentence sucked. I’m sorry.) I will say I don’t think there was quite as much diversity as I would have expected from Bob-1 to the final generations of Bobs. (I halfway expected an evil Bob to pop up, but at the same time, I’m glad the author didn’t go in that direction. Would have been a bit cliché.)

Dennis E. Taylor sticks the landing with All These Worlds. I was a bit doubtful in the beginning, but towards the end I was cheering the Bobs on. He sticks with pretty much the same characters that we saw in book two, which was great. If there had been too many more Bobs introduced, I’d have run screaming.  And, whereas For We Are Many felt very frantic/jumpy, All These Worlds felt much more deliberate and well-paced. Taylor starts bringing the threads together in ways that make sense. He tidies up some of the less lovable situations from the second book as well. There are a few happy endings in the book, and a few sad ones too.

There is also a lot of action in All These Worlds, which made me happy. There is no denying that this book is all about battles (on both personal and humanity saving levels). One sequence in particular came out of left field and had me cheering for the Bobs. I knew two of them were up to something but I hadn’t quite clued in to what it was. I was already tense from what had just happened, so the ace up their sleeve bowled me over quite easily.

All These Worlds is a great conclusion to the trilogy. The Bobiverse series is entertaining sci-fi that doesn’t hold back. While it’s not one of the best sci-fi series out there, it’s thought-provoking and imaginative. Not quite floof or epic space opera, Dennis E. Taylor’s series is a bit hard to classify, but it’s worth checking out. Especially if you can experience them via Ray Porter’s magical narration.