Category: science fiction

A must see for the fans, good enough for sci-fi buffs and fine if you like an action movie.

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is “I don’t mind watching Star Trek”, 5 is “I try to catch every episode” and 10 is “I dress up and go to conventions” then I am somewhere round 4 1/2. (A similar figure applies for the Star Wars series.) I have seen all the movies but I couldn’t say if I have seen every episode – I missed several of the early Deep Space 9 episodes and have no idea whether I caught all of the Next Generation, for instance. Some of the movies didn’t really work.

However, this reboot on a parallel timeline seems to be working OK. I could have done with a little more character development but this is an action film after all. Treading the fine line between remake and rehash is not easy but I think they have pulled it off: the storyline so far has been familiar but not the same as the original series. I don’t want to give anything away but suffice to say the Uhura-Spock interaction is an interesting development. Captain Pike gets injured but not as in the original series. And as for the adversary in “Into Darkness” we have ‘Khan meets Moriarty’, you might say.

As ever, I wish I had a volume control for some of the action scenes which were pretty much set-piece. There were enough plot twists to keep us interested although the solution to the captain’s lethal situation was obvious to anyone paying attention. I liked the nod to Star Trek II in the latter half of the film. Overall, I enjoyed this film – even the closing credits (especially the music) made me smile.

If it makes it to our TV screens I will watch it again.

4 stars, 8/10

“Forever Autumn …”

…’cause you’re not here”.

The cassette tapes are beginning to stretch and convenient, portable players are hard to come by, so I saved up my pennies and bought the CD set of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of “The War of the Worlds”. It sounded different – the sound was less ’rounded’ at the edges. To put it another way, with the CD it sounded sharper – ‘crisper’ if you want to be more complimentary about it. I’m not sure I liked the ‘better’ quality but I’m sure it’s as much a matter of taste as technical standards.

Having not heard this for a long time, I put the CDs on and listened all the way through (even through one mealtime which is against our normal rule but at least everyone was able to hear it – loudspeakers, not headphones). It got a more favourable reception than I had expected.

Once you accept that this is a version of H G Wells’ classic and original science fiction you needn’t fret about how faithful it is. In both this and film versions I lament that there is no mention of where I grew up, whereas the book does make a fleeting mention of it.

This is not the genre of music I would usually subscribe to (think Vaughn Williams, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Katelby and, perhaps, The Wombles) and was first released at the end of the 1970s as two LPs (vinyl). I think it would have been classified as ‘pop’ music. It was the decade when the first of the “Star Wars” films were seen.

One of the most popular tracks is probably “Forever Autumn” (I think it may have also been released as a single) which is a wistful song coming in the part of the story when the narrator is missing his sweetheart.

“Through autumn’s golden glow we used to kick our way, you always loved this time of year.”

He is also coming to realise that the world he was familiar with was changing deeply and dramatically – nothing would ever be the same again. So he concludes that “my life will be Forever Autumn ’cause you’re not here”.

I think “forever Autumn” describes a feeling, a sadness, a nostalgia, that many people would recognise and that song connects with that feeling in its melody and lyrics effectively. It is true to that moment, you could say.

I am also bound to say, that even when Autumn arrives early, or leaves late, staying longer than we’d normally expect; nevertheless, it is not forever Autumn in the end.

Let me explain. By way of recreation I have been re-reading an Isaac Asimov science fiction novel called “The Naked Sun” featuring said Plainsclothesman Elijah Bayley. He is a detective from a future earth sent to another planet to investigate a crime. The book is one Asimov’s robot novels.

Anyway, to get to the point, the future earth envisaged by Asimov and home to Mr Bailey, is one where humans have completely covered the surface with their buildings – no one goes onto the surface if they can help it if ever. That means artificial lighting and standard time is the order of the day: day and night have nothing to do with where the sun is in the sky. It comes as a new idea for Asimov’s character that the time of day might be different according to where people live on the planet. It is something he has to get used to on Solaria. Then there’s a twenty-eight hour day but the author does not explain how his character manages to synchronise with a different length of day – perhaps he doesn’t. Imagine the jet lag where not only the time is different but the day is longer too. Do you get an extra four hours’ sleep or more daytime or what? We are not told whether there are seasons to complicate matters. There are other strange factors to get used to such as robots outnumbering humans tens of thousands to one and the entire planet being occupied by merely 20,000 human beings.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for the daylight simulating bulbs we’ve installed. The Winter daylight is too short for comfort so they are a great help in keeping one cheerful – less SAD. Having said that, I would not want to be completely out of touch with the sun, the sky, day, night and the seasons. It would be a shame if we lost our sense of being connected with the world we live on. That is one future envisaged by the esteemed Asimov: thankfully, it is not inevitable.

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