Monday, 7 July 2014

Doctor Who - New series, new species part 44

A look at the species that appeared in the 50th Anniversary and Christmas Specials of Doctor Who, marking the end of Matt Smith's time as the Doctor.


The Moment










I thought the 'moment' was a great idea, not least because it gave a way to bring Billie Piper back into the show that worked without being overly sentimental. Especially with her interactions with John Hurt she played a great role as the sentient weapon. The special was one of the best if not the best episode of current era Doctor Who, a fitting episode for such a momentous occasion.

The Moment was a Galifreyan weapon created in ancient times with the power to wreak incredible destruction across space and time. So elegant was the design that the weapin developed sentience, becoming a being in it's own right. It was locked away by the Time Lords who feared to use a weapon with a conscience, but was stolen by the War Doctor. It interacted with him and was able to alter time to save Galifrey for the future.

Wooden Cybermen
















I thought these cybermen, along with the whole episode was a bit of a let-down after the sheer brilliance that was the anniversary special. Nothing was particularly bad about it, it just didn't have the same magic, which you would expect for Matt Smith's end.

In an effort to penetrate the Doctor's defenses, the Cybermen created a soldier made of organic material, but this model too was bested by the Time Lord.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

It was inevitable, I guess but...






...the Expanded Universe (EU) is now officially unoffical.

To EU fans this isn't exacly news, but it's certainly worth noting. The EU comprises a ton of video games, comic books and novels (so many in fact I've got a big fat 'Essential Guide' just of novel summaries!!) that are set anywhere ranging from 25,000 years before to around 140 years after the original trilogy - but all that is over with an official announcement from Lucasfilm.

Why? Simple and in a lot of ways, logical. The big question was always when is the movie going to be set and how will it tie in to the novels - well in the official report it is stated.

"In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe."

Which is fair enough and actually quite exciting, but a little part of me can't help but feel a little bitter. 

I mean this is my childhood, the novels I geeked out over, collected, borrowed from friends or read in bookshops before putting back on the shelf and planning on buying one day. All gone.

Well not entirely.

"While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s."

Hmmm. OK cool so some favourite characters of spaceships might turn up - but the fact that new writers have the freedom to steal and re-write elements from our beloved stories and turn them into something else isn't that much of a consolation.

So what does this mean now? - basically the movies and the Clone Wars TV series are the only official Star Wars media as of present. Next out will be Rebels another series from the same producers but set in between the movie trilogies.

At some point Marvel will let us know what they are going to do with Star Wars in comics, but for now we have four novels that comprise the entire off-screen retinue of 'canon' Star Wars.

A New Dawn











A Rebels tie-in was almost inevitable and it's certainly a safe place to start for the new continuity. But I do have to wonder about how an adult fiction novel prequelling a kids TV show will work. Having said that all the authors are accomplished writers (I'm a big fan of JJM's Knight Errant strip) and I'm sure they will write them well - but my criticisms are based on the impact of the Star Wars  universe.

Heir to the Jedi











A story written from Luke's perspective seems pretty cool, but it strikes me as, given that the post-Death Star storyline has been very much filled in in the EU, this is an opportunity for the Lucasfilm team to re-write some history in the build-up to the new movies.

Tarkin
 










This story is going to give Tarkin the Plagueis treatment according to the blurb. How does that work now that Plagueis is non-canon?? Ok, ok fine I get it, it's all new, but I do again have to see this as re-writing history a little bit. I mean, will he be as involved in the creation of the Death Star, what about Daala, is she no longer in the picture. I know he's had his fair amount of appearances in the Clone Wars so it's likely to pick up on that - and Luceno's output that I've read has been great so we'll see how this turns out.

Lords of the Sith











Hmm, another filler novel re-writing history and...ok, I seriously can't complain because this one looks like K'kruhk's hat. Darth Vader and Darth Sidious trapped and having to rely on each other to survive on a planet against an army of opposition, wow! This one has really peaked my interest - I mean just look at the cover for goodness sake!

So anyway, we'll see what comes for future Star Wars lore. Having a co-ordinated story from the get go sounds like a really good idea and I do hope for a bright future for Star Wars despite my grumbling.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Blogga's Wall - 2013 roundup



Here's a summary of what went up on my wall in the latter part of 2013.

1) The World Set Free












One of a collection of Wells' novels donated to me by a friend. I've found a lot of his work to be quite tedious and self-important (Star-begotten being enough to put me off him altogether were it not for having read the masterpiece that is War of the Worlds). This book starts off in the same vein with a lengthy monologue about man's grasp for power, however the books progress into elaborate political alliances collapsing into a global war devastating countries with nuclear weapons and resulting in a global government is an uncannily accurate vision of what became and what could have been which can't be denied.

2) Under the Dome












The series from Stephen Spielberg and Stephen King adapting King's own novel was exciting to watch, with a town suddenly and dramatically (they kept reminding us with the image of a cow split in half by the dome's mighty power at the recap of each episode) cutting them off from the outside world and changing the face of the town. The series was well paced with engaging characters, but I'm waiting to see if the sliffhanger at series 1's end is going to be resolved well in the next installment.

3) Marvel's Agents of SHIELD













I've already posted on this and expect a post in the near future so I won't say anything except it's good!

4) Thor: The Dark World












With a somewhat ambiguous title I wasn't sure about this film but it totally delivered. The Marvel studios blend of engaging action and humour worked again with the relationship between Thor and Loki making for some great moments. The cinematic battle on Asgard as well as the wider conflicts were well realised and Chris Eccleston's Malekith was a believable and menacing villain.

5) Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor












Again a review of this is long overdue so I won't say much other than that this totally delivered too!!

6) The Food of the Gods












Another Wells novel, this time dealing with a discovered substance that produces incredible growth in this who ingest it. As the produce spreads to local wildlife as well as a few humans grown to gigantic proportions the impact on human society is enormous.

7) Chronicle












A very powerful take on the superhuman power story with three friends discovering an alien artifact the gives them tghe ability to move objects with their minds and move themselves through the sky. What begins as an opporunity to have fun soons turns dark as they start to see the full extent of what they can do if no one can stop them.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Star Wars Legacy: Prisoner of the Floating World


So Legacy's back!! The era, set 100 years after the books continues with a new protagonist, Ania Solo, descendant of - well I don't need to tell you that! With Darth Krayt defeated the Sith have gone into hiding, but when Ania comes across a lightsaber hidden among a junkpile she uncovers a new plot to threaten the galaxy.

New Characters - Ania and friends

Ania Solo
Species: Human
Sex: Female
Occupation: Junkyard owner









Ania has carved out a life for herself on the outer rim, far from the famous and central characters of her ancestry. While running her own business and not getting involved in larger galactic life she still has the same Solo spirit, loyasl to her friends with that same knack for winding up in trouble.

Sauk
Species: Mon Calamari
Sex: Male
Occupation: Ice Miner, engineer









A talented engineer, Sauk was made a refugee when Darth Krayt's Sith Empire targeted Mon Calamari and killed all life on the planet. With few options he became an ice miner on Carreras Minor, using his talents to value items from Ania's junkyard when she came to visit

SD
Species: Droid (unidentified type)
Sex: Neutral programming
Occupation: Enforcer








Part of Ania's crew SD was a towering security droid that took care of unruly dealers and protected the junkyard from threats. SD fell foul of the Sith who pursued Ania after she found a lightsaber.

AG-37
Species: Droid (IG-series descendant)
Sex: Male programming
Occupation: Freighter captain








An assassin droid with free will, AG acquired his own ship and, generally, makes his living as a law abiding citizen, transporting goods around the outer rim. He has a strongly developed sense of loyalty to Ania and his friends.


New Imperial Knights

Yalta Val
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Occupation: Imperial Knight








Yalta Val was a senior Imperial Knight sent to the Carreras system to oversee the installation of the new galactic communications network hub in the system, linking the outer rim to the core. Unfortunately he fell foul of a Sith trap and was captured.

Jao Assam
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Occupation: Imperial Knight








A junior Imperial Knight sent to oversee part of the new communications array. When Master Val did not check in he realised something was wrong and went in pursuit of him, battling Darth Wredd with the help of Ania Solo, who helped free Master Val and defeat the Sith, though Jao was seriously injured in the process

New Sith

Unidentified Sith
Species: Unknown
Sex: Male
Occupation: Sith Master








The orchestrator of the plot on Carreras, after defeating Master Val in combat he was betrayed and killed by his apprentice, who continued the plot for his own ends.

Darth Wredd
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Occupation: Sith Apprentice







After suffering under his master's apprenticeship, forced to wear a helmet at all times. Darth Wredd broke free of his master, assassinating him and taking over the plot to sabotage the plans of the Galactic Alliance. He impersonated master Val and overrode the communications array before revealing himself to the galaxy and revealing his plan, to be the only remaining Sith and rule all.

New Vehicles

Nune-class Shuttle variant
 








A smaller, more agile version of the standard Imperial shuttle. It could carry a standard crew and a small contingent of Stormtroopers to a location with speed.

Carreras System Starfighter










A standard snubfighter used by the local government to enforce the law and patrol the system.

Ania Solo's starship










A small, unarmed cargo craft used by Ania to transport herself and any valuable goods around the Outer Rim systems. Capable of flight on planet as well as in space, Ania could pilopt her nimble vessel to avoid the law, ultimately sacrificing her ship to escape Sith pursuit.

IG's freighter











A spacious cargo ship used by AG to transport goods around the system and could comfortable hols smaller ships such as Ania's in its hold. The ship was used extensively in the confilct on Carreras, demonstrating it's droid owner's loyalty to his friends.

Triumvirate starfighter









A new model of starfighter used by members of the Galactic Alliance/Empire/Jedi Triumvirate. One of these models was the personal craft of Imperial Knight Jao Assam.

Carreras Patrol Ship







A powerful mid-size capital ship used by the Shifala government on Carreras to run down and capture enemy ships. This ship tractored and brought aboard AG's freighter.

Darth Wredd's Ship









This sleek craft was used by Darth Wredd to escape the destruction he had caused in the Carreras system.

Communications Array







Part of an effort to provide better connection between the Outer Rim and the core and unite the galaxy under a new government

New Planets

Mala










A rogue planet, buried within the veil of the Surd Nebula and off any official charts. This planet was the base of operations for Darth Wredd and his master.

Carreras System

 
 






A small system, consisting of at least two planets, Carreras Major, a habitable planet- home to the Shifala species, and Carreras Minor a ringed giant with ice mining facilities stationed on it's rings. A remote system it was selected for the new communications array programme.

New Droids

Imperial Communications Droid
  










A mobile communications platform, these droids were able to broadcast across the vast reaches of space. These models were versatile and able to act independently. The droid assigned to Yalta Val retrieved his lightsaber when attacked and assisted Jao Assam and Ania Solo to rescue his master, even saving Jao's life.

Swarm Droid (?)
 






My name for a nifty piece of technology used by the Carrerras military, when boarding a captured vessel dozens of these small droids woulld converge on the entrance, overwhelming the crew and flushing them out to where they could be captured easily.

New Species

Shifala
 










The native species of the Carreras system, these simian humanoids dominated the government and military of the system, ruled by a Governor, Biala (pictured).

Story

No map, due to Carreras being a new system. In the wake of the destruction caused by Darth Krayt's Sith Empire the new government, the Triumvirate, seeks to re-establish order in the galaxy. One effort, led by Empress Marasiah Fel is a new communications array to improve communications between remote systems and the Core. En route to the Carreras relay Imperial Knight Yalta Val is captured by a Sith who impersonates him and assumes command of the relay. Master Val's communications droid is damaged and winds up in the possession of Ania Solo, who takes it to Sauk her friend. When repairing the droid they discover a lightsaber, which draws the attention of the Sith. Fleeing the military under his command they run into Jao Assam and run a rogue operation to stop the Sith plot. They hunt down and confront Darth Wredd in time to save Yalta Val and expose the plot, but not in time to save the array, which crashed into the planet Mala, hidden in the Surd Nebula. 

Wow that was a long post!! Always a lot of new stuff but I wanted to get ahead as I don't think I ever caught up on posting new content in the first volume of Legacy. We'll see what the future holds for the series with the announcement of Marvel re-aquiring the rights to Star Wars comics in 2015 - read more here

Monday, 2 December 2013

SF at the Movies - November '13

2 days late but here nonetheless


Gravity


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor



More next mon...err, this month!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Star Wars: In the shadow of Yavin


Lagging behind as ever, this is one of the latest series from Dark Horse, set pretty soon after the destruction of the Death Star, with the Rebels hunting for a new base and our familiar characters struggling with their place in the galaxy, Luke has lost everything he ever knew, Leia had her homeworld destroyed before her very eyes and Han can't quite figure out what he's doing among all these foolhardy rebels.

New Characters

Bircher
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Occupation: Imperial Colonel, lead pilot








Bircher is an exceptionally gifted Imperial, a talented pilot, leading squadrons of the new TIE Interceptors in his distinctive red flightsuit and also experienced in commanding a Star Destroyer. Due to his success in hounding the Alliance, he was given command of the Devastator, formerly Vader's flagship.

Birra Seah
Species: Human
Sex: Female
Occupation: Systems designer, Kuat Drive Yards / Temporary Moff 








A designer for Kuat Drive Yards, Vader sensed potential in her (and the force) and place her in command of the Second Death Star project as his emmisary.

Prithi
Species: Human
Sex: Female
Occupation: Pilot








One of the new 'stealth squadron' formed by Leia and Mon Mothma to operate off the books in the search for a new base of operations and to find the spy leaking information to the Empire. There are several pilots in the squadron, but Prithi is the only one who stands out in this arc, she has a strong attachment to Luke, which causes tension between her and Leia.


Map

 

I've added a map as per usual, but a lot of the action takes place in deep space so I haven't done my usual spaghetti of lines across the map.

Story

The Rebel Alliance have scored their greatest victory over the Empire with the destruction of the Death Star, but also their greatest loss, with the location of their base revealed they must yet again retreat to space. Scouts are sent out to search for new worlds, with Leia, Luke and Wedge heading up the search, but with every planet they visit , they find the Empire right behind them. Aware that a mole may be within their ranks Mon Mothma establishes a squadron to work off the books to find a new world and root out the mole, but still the Empire dogs all their footsteps, causing a showdown between the squadron and an Imperial Star Destroyer that they barely survive! Meanwhile Han Solo head to Coruscant for a deal on behalf of the Rebellion that goes downhill, with Imperials and Boba Fett on his tail and Vader, overseeing the construction of a new Death Star is troubled by a name he has not heard for a long time...

This is an ongoing story, which takes time to deal with the reactions of the characters to the events of A New Hope as well as providing plenty of action and adventure.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

SF at the Movies - October '13

Diving in at the last minute, but with one big hitter not yet released I think I'm ok for once!!

Here's what's on screen this month

Ender's Game


Thor: The Dark World


Can't wait for Thor, I haven't read the novel so Ender might have to wait but especially with the new Cap trailer released it's a great time to see an Avenger in action.

More next month!