December 15, 2016
2016 In Science Fiction
It's been a pretty good year for science fiction. There were several great new tv shows and movies. And I read a couple of great books that all though were written before this year, were new to me this year and as such I'm mentioning them here.
Tomorrow might be the most anticipated day of the year for science fiction fans with the release of the next Star Wars film, Rogue One – the first in the Anthology spin-off series of Star Wars films. I would probably see it even if there were no connection to the Star Wars universe. But it has an interesting connection: it's the story of how the rebel forces acquired the plans of the Death Star, the events that led up to the original Star Wars film, A New Hope. There is more freedom with these Anthology Star Wars films than the main series. So filmmakers have more room explore other interesting possibilities. The next Anthology film will focus on how Han Solo and Chewbacca met, and has
Arrival: It's nice to see a science fiction film with a strong female lead. The films takes a familiar sci-fi trope of aliens invading our world, to introduce an interesting idea about the way humans communicate and how that affects our experience of our world. It's also been a good year for Forest Witaker in science fictions films, having supporting roles in Arrival and Rogue One.
Midnight Special: Midnight Special features some great acting and an unusual and intriguing story – it reminded me of classics from my childhood such as Firestarter, DARYL and Cloak and Dagger: all stories where a kid with special powers is sought after by the government and/or other groups with malicious agendas. The storytelling/cinematography is great, right from the opening scene with the father and son, and the father's loyal friend fleeing into the night. Midnight Special was the most interesting of the science fiction films I saw this year.
10 Cloverfield Lane: This was a really surprise for fans of the original who probably wrote off the idea of a Cloverfield sequel ever coming to life. Although to be fair this is not truly a sequel, but rather another story set in that same world. The Cloverfield brand is meant to be an anthology series. That said, I think this was actually a much more interesting story than the original Cloverfield, and a lot more scary, in a psychological sense.
Ex Machina is another great film that I saw this year. It came out last year but I missed it in theaters so I had to wait until it made it's way to streaming on Amazon Prime. If you're coming down from Westworld and in need of another instersting story about AI, then definitly give Ex Machina a chance.
2016 TV Shows
Westworld: I would recommend Westworld to anyone who likes sci-fi, especially if you enjoy the sub-genres of western-science-fiction or weird-west, and especially if you like the complex riddles often found in the projects of JJ Abrams (ie LOST).
Stranger Things: Of all the shows and films I watched this year, Stranger Things was my favorite, and really special. It tapped into the same sort of magic that Super 8 was going for (another great creation) and it really felt like being transported to the world of my childhood, with all that same excitement and adventure. I truly loved the show and can't wait for season 2.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
If you're a sci-fi fan then you have likely heard of Ready Player One. It's very enjoyable especially if you have nostalgia for the great works of science fiction from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It has references from everything War Games to Voltron to Blade Runner. And not just references; virtual reality plays a central role in the events of the story, and as such those classic sci-fi works before integral elements of the story. It's almost a remake of every great sci-fi all crammed into one story. with this book and the reading by Will Wheaton is perfect. Stephen Spielberg is working on bringing this to the big screen. I hope he takes advantage of the emerging world of Virtual Reality since that is such an important part of the story.
Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey
Leviathan Wakes is your classic hard boiled film noire combined with an epic space opera. It's very well written and the narrative style bouncing back and forth between the two primary characters makes it hard to put the story down.