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We all love alliteration don’t we? Well get used to it as this month the Geekstalkers are all about Sci-fi September! Instead of giving you their favourite film, actor, book etc have a look through the recommendations below, all falling in the surprisingly huge category of Sci-fi. It’s a good bet that everyone has a love of something Sci-fi (some more than others). You are guaranteed to find something new to check out and be sure to let us know if any of these recommendations lead you onto something you love! Let’s have a look and see what the Geekstalkers have for us!
Dave from Jack and the Geekstalk – @Crutchy, @JackGeekstalk
Anyone who knows me, or anyone who I’ve ever spoken to for that matter, is aware that I love Star Wars, probably to unhealthy level. When this month’s topic was selected I thought “Great! Another excuse for me to ramble on about the fantastic universe spawned from the mind of George Lucas”. Then I had a bit of a think and decided that recommending ‘Star Wars’ is far too broad as there are literally thousands facets to the universe that I love. Films, TV Shows, Books, Comics, Video Games, Board Games, Toys, Food…..I could go on (and I’m sure I will at some point). Instead for Sci-fi September I have chosen a book that I have only recently finished reading after wanting it for while. If you love anything remotely nerdy or geeky then you are sure to like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
If this sounds vaguely familiar that’s because it is currently being adapted to the big screen by Steven Spielberg. The first trailer dropped a couple of months ago with the film being released next year. I’m going to try and stay as spoiler free as possible here because it’s an awesome story. It has jumped right to the top of my ‘Non-Star Wars ‘ Favourite book list.
Set in the near future, the story follows a teenager called Wade. He is poor and essentially lives in a trailer park called the Stacks (because the caravans and trailers are stacked into towers instead of spread out over the ground). He’s a normal teen, that is until he enters the OASIS. This is a huge online virtual world where almost the entire population of the world spends their time. You go to school there, socialise, play games, shop, fall in love (and everything that comes with it!) Think of it as every virtual reality game world merged with the entire internet and you’ll get an approximation of what it’s like. In the game Wade is a low level character who is so poor he can only go to school and has a few basic items that he has found, for example a standard set of armour and a sword. His real and virtual life are both uneventful until he obtains the Copper Key! Doesn’t sound like much right? Well this key is one of three that unlock gates allowing the person who passes through to obtain the ultimate Easter Egg. Going back a bit, the OASIS was created by a man named James Halliday, upon his death, his video will stated that whoever finds the egg will be the sole heir to the OASIS empire, at that time roughly $250 billion dollars as well as a controlling share in the company and all kinds of perks regarding the OASIS itself.
That’s when Wade’s life changes for ever as he starts out on a quest to find the rest of the keys. Telling you any more will ruin the story but you are in store for fun, adventure, romance, rivalry, betrayal, action and tonnes upon tonnes of 80s pop culture references! Barely a page goes by without a reference to things like the old Atari 2600 game system or the band Rush or the Back to the Future franchise. If you are fond of any film, TV show or game (video, table top or board) from the 80s it’s a good bet it will get mentioned in some way. Adding to that the role playing aspect of things like Dungeons & Dragons and more recently World of Warcraft, you have a fantastic story with relatable characters and plenty of surprises!
At times we all imagine being someone else and the OASIS is a place where you can literally be anyone or anything and do virtually anything the human mind can imagine! When I finished reading Ready Player One I wanted to immediately pick it up and start again! I have never wanted to do that with a book before! The fact that a live action adaptation is on it’s way is both exciting and scary! Already from the trailer you can see they have changed parts of the story but there is so much in there that I’m excited about! I urge you to read this, even if you don’t plan to see the film, references aside it is a heartfelt adventure story and one that I know I will be revisiting several times in the future!
Nate from nerdschatting Podcast @nerdschatting
When I tried to think of my favourite Sci-Fi I really struggled. Sci-Fi is in my core, it’s part of who I am. It’s the reason I am a nerd and the reason I want to be one. It’s also so far and wide spread that pin pointing just one thing is almost impossible. Do I go for something highbrow and conceptually difficult or something a bit more popular, easy watching? Then I had to question myself, should I even be talking about Movies?! So, I didn’t decide. I chose a few and you’re just going to have to deal with that ok!?
Book – If you’re going to read Sci-fi start with Isaac Asimov. Asimov is responsible for the way we think about the moralistic and psychological impact of robotics (he invented the three laws of robotics) but his stories span far more than the simplistic (yet brilliant) series of shorts in I, Robot. He wrote detective novels , epic mythological stories spanning centuries and small scale, heart-warming yet terrifying tales of robotic love and loss. So yeah, go read some Isaac Asimov. I recommend you start with the Elijah Baley novel Caves of Steel and then if you like that, why not try Foundation.
TV – Star Trek. All of Star Trek.
Movies – This is a tough one, but I have three to suggest.
Firstly, Blade Runner (not least of which because the sequel is just around the corner or already out depending on when you’re reading this!). It’s a masterpeice of aesthetic design, social and moral commentary but more than that, it’s a story about robots who don’t want to die. How much more heart wrenching can a sci fi story be? Blade Runner is great for thought provoking moments that inspire discussion and stunning visuals that have been emulated to the nth degree. It’s a classic, its smart but remember this when going in for the first time, its slow and requires your attention.
The antithesis of Blade Runner (in Sci-Fi terms) is Tron Legacy. Forget the original Tron (its great but dated) and dive straight into the highly underappreciated sequel. Tron Legacy is an adventure story set inside a computer world. Its beautiful, has breath taking action scenes, over the top emotional drama and most importantly one of the best original soundtracks of all time. Genuinely, I play the Tron Legacy soundtrack at work when I need to ‘get my game face on’. The film is ultra-cool but also quite obviously, a Disney movie. Popcorn Sci-fi perfection.
Finally, I cannot talk about Sci-fi without mentioning one of my favourite films of all time (and its very recent!), Arrival. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (who is fast becoming my favourite director of the 21st century), Arrival arrived in 2016 and it caught me completely off guard. The trailers were limited, the hype train almost non existent and it was starring two of the ‘blandest superstars’ in Hollywood (that seems very unfair to say after having seen the film). The reviews came in and all the critics were praising it so I thought ‘ok, lets give it a go’. Well. What a film. Beautiful, haunting, smart yet knowingly a pop culture article. It takes its time to explain things, gets a move on when it needs to and then ramps up tension until the final reveal, coming full circle in a way that feels fresh yet steeped in sci-fi tropes. I loved it, can you tell? If you’ve seen it, or if you see it and you love it too, I recommend checking out the short story that Arrival is based on ‘Story of your life‘ by Ted Chaing.
Oh and also check out The Man from Earth. Ok, I’m actually done now….
Lou from Jack and the Geekstalk, @Lola_Flump, @JackGeekstalk
I struggled with this one, but only because I struggled with ‘what is sci-fi’? We came to the conclusion that science fiction covers a huge expanse of different things!
Initially I started writing about The Day After Tomorrow, but when my rambling proclamations of love for watching tornadoes felt rather familiar, I realised I had already written about that film for the guilty pleasures article. So instead I’ve decided to go for the thing that came into my head straight away when the Sci-Fi September topic was chosen – Battlestar Galactica (remake TV series circa 2004-9). I started watching the series shortly after Dave and I started going out, and it became an early staple of our relationship. We binged on the first few series, and then watched the final series as it was released. I can remember the shock of discovering some of the ‘final five’ Cylon members, the frustration at Thrace and Apollo’s thwarted romance, and to this day I still frequently say ‘frack’.
I wouldn’t say that I am a particularly hard core sci-fi fan, but this show I really fell in love with. I liked the somewhat dystopian nature of the human race having to pack up shop, I liked the cleverly woven story of the Cylons and human interactions, and I really liked how it became as much about human nature as it did about flying through space evading robots. We actually even watched the Caprica spin-off show, although I understand why that didn’t get continued for long. Plus Anders and Apollo both still have a special place in my affections!
Ken Major – @KenMajor83
Markus – @TheMarckoguy
So we’ve covered a whole bunch of different themes in these Geekstalkers posts, and most of the time it has been difficult for me to choose what to specifically write about in each themed post. But this time when the theme was chosen I immediately knew what I wanted to write about.
So my sci-fi recommendation is The Expanse, a science fiction show created by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, based on a series of books by James S.A. Corey (which is the pseudonym for Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck).
In the future, humans have colonized various parts of space, and we’ve been out there for so long that people have been born in other places than Earth. And we follow a whole bunch of different people in the show, including the crew of a spaceship who go to investigate a distress signal. We also follow a deputy secretary for the United Nations as she tries to keep the tense relationship between Earth and Mars from snapping into a full-on war. And finally we follow a detective as he’s investigating the case of a missing
woman. And all of these plots somehow relate back to each other. I will however not say more as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it since it’s an absolutely fantastic plot that should be experienced. It’s tense, dramatic, exciting, and featuring some really interesting twists.
The cast is also pretty great. The show stars Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Thomas Jane, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, and Shohreh Aghdashlo. And there’s plenty of other great actors featured in supporting roles including (but not limited to) Chad L. Coleman, Jared Harris, Shawn Doyle, Elias Toufexis, Jay Hernandez, and Florence Faivre. Really, the cast is full of talented people.
And as far the more technical aspects of the show (music/sets/CGI/costumes/etc.), it is all amazing, especially for a TV show. It all helps sell the space/sci-fi setting. Helps immerse the viewer in it all. Really, I just love The Expanse. It’s one of my favorite shows, and only two seasons have aired so far, with season 3 set to air in the first quarter of 2018. Go watch it if you haven’t, because it’s amazing. I adore this show.
Ben Fenlon from SuperNerds UK – @HailLeviathan
Seb Reeves – @TheRealMrSeb
series: ‘Doctor Who’. I have watched it since I was a child when the role was held by Tom Baker, an actor whom for many defined the role, although I grew more of an affinity for his replacement Peter Davison.
regeneration of the lead character ‘itself’. Whenever the current doctor is mortally wounded, often in some climatic faceoff with the ‘Daleks’ or ‘Cyber men’, they undergo a kind of re- birth, and become a completely different character. This first happened when William Hartnell had become too ill to continue in the role, and was replaced by Patrick Trouton, an actor who could not be more different in appearance or temperament. This kind of change gives writers a freedom to explore different aspects of essentially the same character, at various stages of his life.
during the decades that the ‘Time Lord’ has been present, they have featured on film, stage radio, comic books and even in spinoff shows such as ‘K9’, ‘Torchwood’, and the ‘Sarah Jane Chronicles’.
the role as the first female ‘Dr Who’. This has caused some controversy, but in the main I
believe that true fans of the show have been supportive and are looking forward to whatever lies ahead. Current doctor Peter Capaldi bids us farewell in the Christmas special ‘Twice Upon a Time’, after that who knows where the show will take us, there are exciting times ahead, and I whole heartedly recommend you take the time to watch them.
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