Movie Review: LIFE [2017]

LIFE is a dark movie about death. Violent and inevitable death.

Oh, the joys of living on The International Space Station (ISS) with people on earth trying to micromanage your every move but, at the same time, couldn’t help you find your toothbrush.  These scientists are delighted to be living on the ISS answering the questions of elementary school children about where they shit.

Spoilers below. Continue reading “Movie Review: LIFE [2017]”

Book review: Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach

heaven's queenTitle: Heaven’s Queen
Author: Rachel Bach
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: SF

Available now

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive. 
Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running. 
It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

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Book review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

the mirror empire coverThe Mirror Empire
Author: Kameron Hurley
Series: Worldbreaker Saga (book 1)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 2, 2014 (North America); September 4, 2014 (UK)
Note: This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

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I feel like mentioning that this review has spoilers is the right thing to do, but really Oblivion spoils itself in the first five minutes and this review turned into more of a recap.
I don’t think good movies tend to start with five minutes of exposition explaining the setup and back story and what the main character’s job is and who that lady in his bed is and oh let’s not forget “the mandatory memory wipe five years ago.” For fuck’s sake. So now I know you’re not who you think you are.
Apparently aliens invade Earth because they’re greedy. To kick things off they blow up the moon which makes everything on the planet go haywire. After that, the aliens dropped troops and fucked shit up. Then the aliens got fought off but left the planet in ruins. The Humans built a thing called The Tet and are going to use it to travel to Titan (the moon by Saturn). Before that though, they want to harvest all of Earth’s water because it’s theirs and they want it. Unfortunately, there are still aliens kicking around the planet like… say, a resistance. Weird, they totally lost the war, why won’t they just go home? Tom Cruise works as a repair man charged with keeping the water things online. And the Scavs (left over scavenger aliens still fighting for some strange reason… If only he still had his memory).
Note: This all happened in voice over. The movie hasn’t really started yet. Just lots of sweeping imagery of really pretty devastation and oddly alien looking structures…
We got Oblivion in the mail from Netflix and kept if for at least a month before watching it. Maybe that was the first sign. There was just something repelling us before we even opened the package.
Eventually, Tom Cruise shuts the fuck up and the movie starts. He hops in his plane and does his round to check the water things and make sure the drones are online and whatever. This movie already sucks.
Tom Cruise plays Jack and some redhead plays Victoria, a team. She mans the comms and stuff from their loft and he does the rounds in a futuristic plane, making sure the water things and drones are online.
Jack keeps having these dreams or this pretty brunette. I wonder if that has anything to do with his mandatory memory wipe. Oh well let’s ignore it for now. Down on the surface he repairs a drone with some gum and gumption.
[This was so hard to watch from the jump but it’s even harder to write about.]
The drone is in a football stadium and Jack takes this opportunity to tell an elaborate recap for a game that neither Victoria nor the audience wants to hear. The drone comes online and starts acting sketchy like it doesn’t recognize him or actually sees the Scavs behind him.
Onward he goes, fixing drones and staying out of the “radiation zones.” Jack follows a drone signal to this busted up library and finds a book he falls in love with and SURPRISE the drone is a trap. It’s just a trick under a tarp. There are Scavs watching him and trying to catch him. Hopefully they eat people aliens clones whatever he is.
He’s Tom Cruise so he gets away.
More flash backs. Jack goes to a secret hide away he has filled with Earth stuff like books and a record player. Oooo, why’s he so obsessed with stuff? Why can’t he just follow the rules and be content like Victoria?
The Scavs send a signal and it ends up being a message off planet. Something falls out of the sky. HQ tells Jack not to check it out but he does. It’s pod filled it sleeping astronauts. Oh snap, on is the chick from his dreams. A drone comes along and scans the bodies and starts shooting. Jack is all, “WTF, they’re humans!” So he stands in front of the drone to protect the lady from and shouts his name and it shrugs as best as a drone can and goes back to making rounds.
He brings her home and his wife is not pleased. The lady is like, “They must have woken you and Victoria up first.”
Astronaut (I think her name is Julia) wants her flight recorder. Obvi the right thing for Jack to do is go AWOL and take her. Scavs come and bob them and drag them off.
Back at the Scav base, which seems to be the stadium, Morgan Freeman sits across from Tom Cruise and says a ton of cryptic shit that doesn’t matter. He turns on the lights to reveal ZOMigawd they’re all HUMANZ! Eventually, after a bit of snarling and posturing, the humans let Jack and What’s-Her-Face go. In parting, Morgan Freeman is like, “If you want the truth, check out the radiation zone”
HQ wants Julia…. Some shit happens and Victoria gets Jealous and gets HQ to try to kill Jack and her (clever). Victoria dies and Jack gets away with the girl. They run around a lot. Sometime in all this Jack shows Julia his lair and Julia reveals she’s his wife and she’s been asleep for 63 years.
The drones are sent to kill Jack and he runs away and eventually goes into the “Radiation Zone” and discovers it’s just the territory covered by THE OTHER JACK CLONE. The Jacks fight and Julia gets shot and I feel no surprise.
So much sigh.
He takes the other Jack’s plane to the other Jack’s house and kisses the other Jack’s Victoria. He steals a first aid kit and takes it to Julia and then takes Julia to Morgan Freeman’s rebels.
They use drone parts to make a bomb that only Jack can make because he’s the repair man that the drone know and love. Then, because he’s a wanted felon, the drones descend on the base and kill most of the people and break the bomb.
Jack decided he should deliver the bomb himself and Julia is like yay! we can die together and I’m like yay! they’ll be dead and it’ll be over.  So they box up Julia and he flies to HQ because, “You wanted me to bring you the survivor.”
On the way there he decided to listen to the flight recorder. Um, that’s a vital piece of human history you’re taking on a kamikaze run. That could come in handy when rebuilding and explaining to the Jacks and Victorias what happened.
He gets in there and there’s a bunch of incubating Jacks and Victorias and the HQ lady is still acting like there’s nothing weird about that. but when he says he’s excited to meet her she says he’s lying. “I just want my people and Julia to survive.” Oh now poignant and cryptic and totally not a lie.
Die already, please!
So HQ isn’t suspicious at all and the drones hanging around don’t feel they should even gear up. they just hover while Tom cruise open up the body case and “This isn’t the survivor you were supposed to bring us (it’s Morgan Freeman because he was mortally wounded and wanted to take part in the kill).” He says something corny and blows up The Tet.
They tricked her into going into the body box and then shipped her to the lair.
Three Years Later… Julia is at the lair with a little girl that apparently they had time to conceive.  Some of the people from the Morgan Freeman team and the Jack that (semi)original Jack beat up and stole from arrive at Julia’s door and she’s geeked because she has “him” back…. Um isn’t half the planet’s current population Jack and Victoria clones? Any Jack will do since they all seem to be drawn to her? Is she like a Queen Bee now?
Apparently Jack has been searching for her ever since he shot her because love at first sight and nostalgia and reasons
God Oblivion was an awful movie.

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Book review: The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius

Editor: John Joseph Adams
Genre: Science Fiction Anthology
Publisher: Tor
Note: This review is being published simultaneously on Char’s blog, Apocalypse Mama, and here on In Case of Survival.

Mad scientists have never had it so tough. In super-hero comics, graphic novels, films, TV series, video games and even works of what may be fiction, they are besieged by those who stand against them, devoid of sympathy for their irrational, megalomaniacal impulses to rule, destroy or otherwise dominate the world as we know it.
Dr. Frankenstein was the first truly mad scientist of the modern era. And where did it get him? Destroyed by his own creation. And Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, a man ahead of his time as well as out of his head, what did he do to deserve persecution?
Even Lex Luthor, by all counts a genius, has been hindered not once, not twice, but so many times that it has taken hundreds of comic books, a few films and no fewer than ten full seasons of a television series to keep him properly thwarted.
It’s just not fair. So those of us who are so twisted and sick that we love mad scientists have created this guide. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you’ll recognize them. But it doesn’t matter. This guide is not for you. It’s for them, the underhanded, over-brained, paranoiacs who so desperately need our help.
What lies behind those unfocused, restless eyes and drooling, wicked grins? Why–and how–do they concoct their nefarious plots? Why are they so set on taking over the world? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: Because we are exposing their secrets, aiding and abetting their evil. It all awaits, within.
Watch out, world!

Continue reading “Book review: The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination”

PAX 2012 | 3 Reasons FIREFALL is best consumed outside of the game

At PAX Prime 2012 I was able to spend time and have a great conversation with David, a Lead Desiginer at Red 5 Studios. Please understand, nothing bad has ever come from the level of enthusiasm, sincerity and thoughtfulness David showed. Firefall is a game created by people who love games and quality and science fiction and stories and badassary.
I watched the trailer and was slack-jawed in awe of this amazing story and design. These characters were compelling and this story was engaging. I saw designs that surpassed my science fiction, dystopian dreams. I read comics with narrative and dialogue that had me smiling to myself in public because that shit was AMAZING!
Unfortunately, I can’t say all of those loved and amazing things make it into the Firefall game. Firefall the universe and idea are expansive, exciting and brilliant while Firefall the game promises something far different.

At PAX Prime 2012 I was able to spend time and have a great conversation with David, a Lead Desiginer at Red 5 Studios. Please understand, nothing bad has ever come from the level of enthusiasm, sincerity and thoughtfulness David showed. Firefall is a game created by people who love games and quality and science fiction and stories and badassary.
I watched the trailer and was slack-jawed in awe of this amazing story and design. These characters were compelling and this story was engaging. I saw designs that surpassed my science fiction, dystopian dreams. I read comics with narrative and dialogue that had me smiling to myself in public because that shit was AMAZING!
Unfortunately, I can’t say all of those loved and amazing things make it into the Firefall game. Firefall the universe and idea are expansive, exciting and brilliant while Firefall the game promises something far different.

1. Firefall tells us stories in previews and theatrical trailers but we don’t get to experience those stories in the game.

This is not at all to say Firefall does not have a story. This is kind of hard to explain. Firefall as a universe has a great story, an exiting story. But, Firefall as a game… not so much. You don’t play as the people from the ship or even acknowledge them. Eh, you probably curse their names while you spend your days harvesting Crystite to push back The Medling (the poison cloud engulfing the Earth since they crashed their ship).
All this build up is like using The Old Testament to set up The Sims. So there was God and a great flood and serpents and… now we walk around and eat sandwiches.
Please read this set up story for Firefall, maybe if enough people are interested they’ll not only make a manga but also a novels or cartoons or a movie or a campaign mode…

The Arclight was going to be the greatest single leap in the history of technology – a starship that could fold space and turn the eight-year voyage to Alpha Prime colony into a stroll around the block.
Instead, in a vast and tragic dazzle of light, the Arclight broke in half and fell to Earth near Fortaleza, Brazil.
How the anti-technology commentators gloried in that fall! On and on they spoke of Prometheus, of Lucifer, of the Tower of Babel, of the hubris at the heart of Greek tragedy.
The most famous words came from a Brazilian newsman at the scene: “Construímos uma lâmpada de esperança, mas ela é morta, a luz apagada, a esperança quebrada.” (“We created a lamp of hope, but it has died; the light is out, the hope is broken.”)
But we are the people who had already endured the devastation of the Crystite meteor swarm. Three-fourths of humanity was destroyed – but we took the Crystite and turned it into a nearly miraculous source of energy. It was Crystite that took us to the stars in the first place – Crystite, which came from the stars and nearly destroyed us.
The Arclight broke, the Arclight fell, but we are not broken, we will not fall or fail. We will learn why spacetime, instead of folding, tore open; we will revise our plans and build again, and better next time; and we will stay alive long enough to do all this.
The real danger is not the strange and terrible thing that came through that rip in spacetime. The danger is that we might despair and cease to strive. For in that day we would cease to be human, and turn into another batch of dinosaurs, who failed to adapt and so became extinct.

2. Our main characters have disappeared and been replaced with simple class characters with no history or motivation.

As mentioned above, Pilgrim Entwhistle, the star of the manga, Captain Whoever who was piloting the Arclight and chose to crash the ship on Fortaleza even though it’s where his family lives (these are the details you get when people are truly geeked about their game), or this badass chick from the trailer.
You have the ability to build and customize your character but they’re still more tools for you you use than characters for you to play.
There’s a heavy emphasis around eSports but no indication as to who or why you’re fighting. If you’re all trying to rebuild earth and no conflict has been laid out except for the allusion to something that followed the Arclight to Earth. So, what the fuck?
Firefall is not an RPG so this aspect is completely reasonable, your character shouldn’t be a fully fleshed out character. But with writing and world-building like this, I really wish it was and RPG.

3. You farm forever and fight other players in an eSports way but it’s not clear why, given the setting and back story.

Your long-term and short-term goal in this game is to harvest Crystite and build up the Arclight/FTL so you can push back The Melding until Earth is free of it.
SPOILER: This will take forever and there’s pretty much no intention of it being accomplishable… You’re a Forever Farmer and Earth is one giant community garden.
I don’t like longterm goals much less fake one that will only pay off when my grandchildren are on their death beads. Maybe, in real life I’m okay with that as a reason to recycle but in a game? No. I want to know I killed a faction of enemies or held the base until Noble Six could escape.
So you can wander about killing giant spiders on the beach or fighting your friends to the death for sport or harvesting because that’s what you do.

*. I Strongly Recommend Watching Firefall for out-of-game content

The have a manga that is BEAUTIFFULLY illustrated (I want it framed in poster size on my walls) and written by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card.
The Cinematic trailer shows an ability to tell a silent story the way they should be told. It and Blizzard’s Mists of Pandaria trailer were the only two cinematic trailers that truly left an impression with me from PAX.
I’m excited for Firefall because I think people into this style of game will be pleased with what the game has to offer. The Firefall team was passionate proud to show where the game had evolved based on player input and what might just be disruptive innovations in the eSports arena.
I’ve tried the beta and have a few keys to give away if some of our readers are interested in the Firefall closed beta.

Leave a comment with your thoughts about Firefall (more than a single word or two, please) to be eligible for a beta key gift.

What I've learned from watching science fiction shows

I watch a lot of science fiction. I read alot of science fiction, too, but I grew up watching Star Trek and Stargate.
Yes, I’m a geek. (It’s okay, you can say it. It’s not like it’s a secret or anything.)
I realized recently that I’ve learned a few things from my steady diet of space battles. (One of them is that regardless of space being a giant vacuum, explosions will always sound…well, like big explosions. Always.) Hopefully those things will even help me post-apocalypse, but only time–and the apocalypse–will tell.
I’m concentrating on TV shows here, otherwise this post will turn into a novel. Or at least a thesis paper. (Hmm…might not be a bad thesis topic.)
Anyway. So, what have I learned from watching science fiction? Well, it depends on the show.
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Post-apocalyptic baddies: The possibilities

We here at In Case of Survival talk a lot about the baddies you’ll potentially run into post apocalypse. I have no doubt that there’ll be bad guys aplenty after the world ends; after all, everyone will be fighting for survival. The possibility of death usually doesn’t bring out the best in people.
What kinds of baddies will there be? I really have no way of knowing—I don’t think anyone will, until we’re actually in the post apocalypse. But I’ve compiled a list of possibilities for you, along with what I think is the likelihood of that particular bad guy’s existence.
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