Archive for March, 2013

Concrete Island

So there I was floating around aimlessly, wondering what would coalesce into the next post on Drozbot, when I finally ran aground on the shores of coincidence. Maybe it was Lemuel Gulliver leaving Laputa in my reading of the third of his voyages? Perhaps it was J B Ballard’s Concrete Island – a current companion book to Swift’s excellent satire and, interestingly, in movie production with Brad Anderson and Christian Bale at the helm (see above)? Or maybe it was battling sea monsters in Ni No Kuni that brought all these things together for an eventual landfall here.

It seems that must have been thinking along the same lines, if this latest post on their site is anything to go by. While the list seems comically brief, it does highlight a few engaging elements despite some obvious omissions. Meanwhile, over on SciFi Now, there’s an uncomplimentary DVD review of Oblivion Island that finds something lacking in the film’s execution despite its remarkable theme.

Islands then, and the tempestuous influence they have on creators of the fantastic. Now if only I could crowbar in a reference to the atolls of the Pacific, I might just be able to get away with a closing image of a giant robot on a tropical beach.

A cluster of intriguing science fiction games have recently come to the fore. Not the big, brash, blockbusters that resemble action movies in all but setting. Rather something more focused and more, well, knockabout in their presentation. The only table-top game in the collection is Space Cadets but, in a moment of timely synchronicity, its premise is weirdly reflected in that of Spaceteam for the iPad. Both deal with individual players taking charge of different stations on the bridge of a star ship, and both present a craft that can only be piloted successfully if everyone works together as a team. Space Station 13 is also a multiplayer, albeit one that substitutes the command of a single vessel for the much more expansive operations of an entire space station. Finally, sporting a red shirt and bringing up the rear guard, is Star Command (trailer above). More solo-player sim than collaboration, it still targets the fictional interpersonal skills of some very Star Trek-styled space travelers.

Rogue Moon

While listening to Open Book on BBC Radio 4, I stumbled upon mention of Life After Life – a novel by author Kate Atkinson. The premise within this is a central character who gets to repeat existence over and over again in an attempt to reach some kind of understanding. Nothing new for science fiction fans accustomed to films like The Butterfly Effect or Ground Hog Day and TV shows like Battlestar Galactica. At best Life After Life is simply a re-visitation of an old, well established, trope that – in my opinion – had its strongest outings to date with Algis Budrys’ Rogue Moon (1960) and Ken Grimwood’s Replay (1987). That said, perhaps Atkinson’s new book can oust one of these two from my personal pantheon – despite courting the kind of mainstream attention that genre author’s rarely have access to. However, with the upcoming collection of Burdry’s critical writings, published via Ansible Editions, I already know what I’m probably going to spend more of my precious time reading. Now if only I had access to a resurrection ship…