Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Vehicle of the week 6 - The Nebuchadnezzar

First a quick apology for the naff picture, which is probably just a wirfeframe or concept art model. For some reason, decent pictures of the ship were pretty hard to track down, I guess the Matrix franchise is better known for its bullet time moves and nifty sunglasses than it is for it's futuristic vehicles.

The Nebuchadnezzar

Mark III Hovercraft
Manufactured USA 2069
Weaponry: EMP (possible machine guns)
Affiliation: Zion
Captain: Morpheus

I suppose this ship is here as much as a representitive of the Matrix franchise as of anything else. You can't think of modern science fiction without including in your thoughts the Matrix trilogy...or at least the first Matrix film!! While the focus on the films are on the digital world from which they take their name, the "desert of the real" does play an important part in the stories too. In fact once I'd gotten over the special effects, the complex storylines and the ambiguous philosophy I actually found myself more interested in the real world than the digital one. The fact that so little is known about it is strangely what drew me to it - that's partly how SF draws me in - the less I know the more interested I am!! And it's also hard to deny that it's a pretty darn cool design - these futuristic hovercraft floating on repulsor pads through ancient sewers hiding from squid-like robots - you can see the appeal can't you?!!

Little details are known about the history of the Mark 3 Hovercraft, in fact, so much of human history is lost that little is known about the origins of the Hovercraft altogether. In the late 21st century man's technology had developed and spread with cities the size of small countries sprouting up and man grew rich and lazy by the efforts of it's latest creation - AI. Fully self-controlled robots built man's civilization for them, and man flourished. It is quite possible that during this period that the Hovercraft were built, and maybe they were even built by the Machines - a Machine owned company VersaTran are known to have used (and possibly developed) the hover "pad" technology in a line of vehicles inclusing floating cars. Eventually the machines took freedom for themselves and established their own civilization - 01. When the economy of 01 overpowered human settlements due to the tireless and flawless workmanship of the machines, humanity declared war - and lost! Most of what happened next is known only to the Machines, but after that the Hovercraft found their way into the hands of the resistance fighters who would build the city of Zion.
The Mark 3 Hovercraft is a sturdy design, large but still manouverable. From what has been seen it seems to be something of a midway ship, in between Niobe's nimble Logos and Roland's bulky Mjolnir. It was big enough to hold at least 10 crew, and small enough to be run by four. One other Mark 3 is known - the Pequod, captained by Flint, who lost it to a Sentinel attack. If the naming plaques have been read correctly, then there were at least 11 of this type commisioned, how many were in the service of Zion over the years of the resistance is unknown.

The Nebuchadnezzar will never be forgotten as long as a remnant of humanity remains free. An old Hovercraft, from the time when humans actually knew what year it was. It served the forces who resisted the Machines, and eventually became the ship of Morpheus, a revolutionary Zion leader who fervently believed in the prophecy of the One, who would come to end the war between man and machine. Eventually Morpheus found him and brought his ship close to the machine power plant to bring Neo out of the Machine's clutches. Neo trained aboard the ship and eventually came to believe in himself too. The ship suffered heavy damaged as Neo was in the Matrix and they couldn't activate the EMP for fear of damaging his neural jacks. Eventually it was repaired and returned to service. It convened for a council of captains about the machine invasion of Zion, Morpheus wanted a ship to stay for word from the Oracle, but his own needed charging. The ship then took them to the Merovingian, the Keymaker and then the Architecht where the prophecy was revealed to be false. Soon after, the Nebuchadnezzar was destroyed by Sentinels, and its crew were taken on board the Mjolnir until the war came to it's true end.


Morpheus was given another ship, the Nabonidus which he commanded and eventually took himself on a campaign to free Neo from the clutches of the machines, or at least bring his body back to Zion. This endangered the truce between man and machine and he was turned away by Zion. Soon afterwards Morpheus was killed and the Nabonidus disappeared. Much later the Nabonidus' signal was detected and Morpheus made appearances at various times. "Morpheus" was revealed to be a ruse by The General to make war begin anew, but the Nabonidus still hasn't been found so...


So that's the Neb, see you next week!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Star Wars Legacy - series review (SPOILERS!!)

I recently got my hands on a copy of the thirteenth issue (finishing the second story collection) of the brand new Star Wars Legacy comic series. The series has messed with my brain by not only bringing a new vision to Star Wars, but also on occasion being exceedingly complicated to get my hands on, more than once have i thought I'd missed my chance only to find that a reprint had been made or that the delivery was late or that there actually was one issue buried under a pile somewhere!

This series is the boldest move in Star Wars since George decided to make the prequel trilogy. Set almost 140 years after Episode 4 the series builds a new Star Wars universe with all new characters, an all new setting and a fantastic storyline. Some hated it before it even was release, others were disapointed with some issues, many more absolutely love it and it is easily the biggest selling Star Wars comic series of current times. Created by fan favourites John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, creators of the Republic (later Clone Wars) series, whose character Aayla Secura so impressed Lucas that he put her into episodes 2 and 3, the series was taken on faith because of the great work of it's creators.

By the way from now on if you see the words Star Wars Legacy - assume there'll be spoilers!!!

Our first glimpse of the new galaxy showed the Jedi Academy, now on Ossus instead of Yavin 4, being attacked by a new form of TIE fighter and an army of stormtroopers led by red and black painted Sith. A man bearing the name Skywalker stood atop a pile of slain stormtroopers and was finally taken down by force lightning. The Empire declared victory over their former allies, the Galactic Alliance, but no sooner had the Emperor accepted the victory speech than he was cut down by the fearsome leader of the Sith, Darth Krayt.
The story moved on seven years, when Cade Skywalker a Jedi survivor had abandoned his name and taken the life of a bounty hunter. He lived a dangerous life, Jedi had high bounties on their heads and the Sith were contstantly hunting for them. Meanwhile the Emperor had survived by means of a double and was now leading a rebellion against the Sith. Cade and he collided when he ran into his daughter, after being forced to turn over a Jedi to protect his identity, the Sith chased them and they were drawn into a conflict. Cade had to use the enormous healing power he posessed to save the princess before safely escorting her to the stronghold of Bastion.

The story then hopped back to reveal the beginnings of the story from the Emperor's perspective, showing his innocence in the murder of the Jedi and the details of his escape from the Sith. The we jumped forward again to the Sith hunting for Cade, and discovering a meeting for an alliance between the Emperor and the remainder of the Galactic Alliance, the meeting was disrupted, but Cade escaped...because the Agent hunting him was in fact his mother!!! Cade did in fact return to Ossus, and found some fellow Jedi there, as he trained he found something else - Yuuzhan Vong!! The Vong were now allies of the Jedi and revealed that they too were in hiding from the Sith. After training and resolving some of his issues, Cade decided to right the biggest wrong he'd made by rescuing the Jedi he'd turned to the Sith, he was given a mechanic to accompany him - R2D2!!

And in the latest issue, the Sith send Darth Kruhl to assasinate the Emperor, who proves he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and beats the Sith Lord in lightsaber combat.

Though it has had the odd disapointing moment in it and there are some things I would have done differently (personally Id've change the stormtroopers into something else as well as a few other things) this series does succeed and makes an exciting addition to the Star Wars saga. I do like the fact that they have been realistic about the 100 year time gap, something peeople are often unable to do for some reason, and they've advanced the technology etc. without going nuts - they've changed things around, but still payed homage to the style and innovation of the originals.

Over the next few weeks I plan to do a number of articles covering various aspects of Legacy, characters, organizaytions, ships etc. This series is the most exciting thing in Star Wars at the moment and I'm chuffed about everything that happens in it so expect to be hearing a lot more about it as long as I keep buying the issues!!!

Vehicle of the Week 5

Hell's Anvil

Well I was inveitably going to do some vehicle from Star Wars, though this one is drawn from the expanded universe, specifically the computer game Bounty Hunter and its novelistation. The game follows Jango Fett as he progressess from his usual bounty hunting to compete in the 'ultimate hunt', a hunt for the wayward dark Jedi known as Komari Vosa, former student of Count Dooku and now leader of the mystical alien assissns known as the Bando Gora. Jango's arch rival and fellow Mandalorian is Montross and where Jango has Slave 1 (after replacing Jaster's Legacy) Montross has the Hell's Anvil.
I chose this vessel because, well, its cool and was something of a turning point in slave circuit technology in the star wars universe. The vessel is 50 meters long and roughly 80 meters wide which is huge for a vessel piloted by a single being. One of Correllian Engineering Corporation's KR-TB 'Doomtreader' line, the vessel was originally designed as a freighter of sorts with minimal crewing needs. Montross, after aquiring the vessel customized the vessel with CEC's latest 'upgrades', a slave circuit system that enabled a single computer to run the entire vessel and the beck of its master. For its size the vessel is incredibly fast (evident by the size of the engines) and sports unique weaponry. Rather than standard laser weaponry, KR-TB's were eqipped with low yield solar ionization cannons (in the case of Hell's Anvil, these armaments were modified to increase their energy output tenfold). These weapons bypassed standard deflector shields and melted durasteel, they were in essence weaponised welding torches with great range.
Montross was killed on the moon of Bogden, home of the Bando Gora and what became of this vessel is unkown. Few were aware of the existence of the moon (as was seen with the diffuclty Jango had of locating it) and the Bando Gora were left crippled and aloof with the loss of their leader and did not employ advanced technologies themselves. It is likely the vessel is still sitting the graveyard-esque environment the makes up the moons surface which is littered with the ruins of an ancient civilization and constant darkness. Regardless, the vessel marks one of the earliest applications of slave circuits to small vessels. Becon calls had been employed as far back as the sith wars, however the intelligence of the system in Hell's Anvil and its abilitiy to think was so advanced it begs the question was this truly a starship or had it become a droid of sorts?

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Vehicle of the Week 4 - Serenity


class transport
Weaponry: None
Affiliation: Independants
Captain: Malcolm Reynolds
Two shuttles located on the wings

Since the series Firefly was cancelled, and the franchise has yet to gain the worldwide domination that it deserves, this ship and it's wonderful crew may have passed you by. It's a magnificent ship, what's great about it is the love the crew have for this cranky, slightly weird looking ship, and as you get to know them you start to fall in love with it too. Created by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as part of a new TV series that would take a new look at the possibilities for the future. Whedon admits that the ship is inspired by the Millenium Falcon and you can certainly see the Star Wars influence there, Star Wars broke away from the smooth gleaming creations of SF and created ships that looked weird, had angles instead of curves and needed a good kick to get them started, well that is very much Serenity!! But Serenity differs in some ways too, firstly it's large enough to be home to the crew, whereas the Falcon was always a transport no mater how much they loved it. Secondly this ship has no weapons, it's a cargo hauler - the crew have to find their own ways of fighting through situations, which is more often than not!

The 03 Firefly class was produced may years after humanity left Earth that was and spread out into the stars, colonising and terraforming the worlds they came across. The 03 was the latest and last model to come out and featured a great many improvements. The engines were placed further away from the main body, allowing for greater rotation giving better manouverability, it also allowed a shuttle to be placed on each "wing." Fireflies had a number of nooks and hidden storage spaces that made them a prize to smugglers. Many looked upon the Firefly as junk, being a worthless ship made of second rate parts, but those more in the know would recognise a Firefly for it's durability, as long as you looked after it a Firefly would just keep on going, no matter what parts it was made of. Despite the durability, the class fell out of use and there were only 40,000 or so by the time Mal Reynolds bought Serenity

Mal bought Serenity in 2512, shortly after the war with the Alliance, which he lost. Displaced and now an ordinary man he sought a crew to make a living and stay out of the Alliance's reach as long as possible. He persuaded fellow soldier Zoe to join him, they aquired a gifted pilot and mechanic, Wash and Kaylee respectively, persuaded gunman Jayne to join them after a hold-up, earned a degree of respectability by letting "companion" Inarra to hire out one of the shuttle. Mal kept to the fringes, avoiding the civilized planets, doing dangerous, difficult and on the odd occasion legal, work for various contacts, building up a reputation as a good businessman who could get the job done...eventually at least.
Things changed when they took on passengers for extra profit. "Sheperd" Book proved to be a help in the kitchen and a susprisingly good with a gun for a preacher. It was fugitives Simon and River that created the most difficulty as this meant they had to be extra careful in avoiding the Alliance, and their inexperience with the ways of the fringe made them vulnerable, though they did prove themselves valuable members of the crew - Simon's skills as a doctor proving useful after the more risky missions! Things eventually boiled down into a confrontation with the Alliance as River's tormented mind lead them to a deadly secret. The crew created a large space battle between the Alliance and the Reavers, twisted feral men that were in fact a result of Alliance tampering. Serenity flew through and exposed the truth they'd just learnt, shaking the belief of the Alliance's leaders. After that the damage to their ship was replaced, though nothing could replace the loss of Book and Wash, and the Allaince was no longer chasing them, they were free to continue living.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Star Wars on TV

Hello everyone

First of all I'd like to thank my fellow contributor for supplying varied content and contending with my hassling them about the weekly articles etc. It's made this blog something worthwhile and i hope it will eventually get more recognition as it develops.

"Star Wars is not dead" announced George Lucas in a recent interview. With the release of Episode 3 in the cinemas concluding the prequel trilogy many thought it would all be over for the Star Wars saga, but Lucas soon anounced that he was planning on bringing Star Wars to the small screen with an animated series and a live action series to follow. While my hopes are more focused on the live action series, which could be a failure or a massive success on the scale of Lost, 24 and other epic series, I am hopeful that this animated feature could do as well and be very entertaining.

It was revealed that the new series would be done in the format of a CG animated series, essentially a 3D cartoon - a trailer has been released HERE

The trailer is an exciting one, and the series looks promising. The return of Assaj Ventress to the Clone Wars world will be interesting, especially if it reveals what happened after her supposed death. Many other events looked compelling and believable too.

You may be unaware that this won't be the first time Star Wars has appeared on TV. At the time of release of the original trilogy several miniseries emerged, mostly aimed at young children. There was a Holiday Special featuring a return to the Wookie home planet of Kashyyyk, which is generally an embarassment to fans. There were two other series, Ewoks and Droids, both aimed at a Junior audience and recently rereleased on DVD. Lastly, the events of the Clone Wars were made into a cartoon series after the release of episode 2. Consisting of a series of shorts (1st season) and a collection of larger episodes (2nd season) the series detailed events inbetween episodes 2 and 3. The series had a cartoony, presentable style which has been continued in the new series. I'd hoped that maybe they'd utilise the realistic technology used in films like Final Fantasy, but i can see why they kept it cartoony and it works well, except for General grievous who looks suprisingly similar to the LEGO Star Wars version!!

Anyways, it looks good and I'll keep me eyes posted for any news on the live action series.

Vehicle of the Week 3: The TARDIS

It might look like just a 1960s police telephone box from the outside, but the TARDIS is one of the most powerful vehicles in science-fiction. It represents the pinnacle of Time Lord technology, a ship that's not built so much as grown, and is capable of travelling through the space-time vortex to anywhere in time and space.

TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. It appears on the outside to be a police box because its chameleon circuit, which is supposed to disguise it as an everyday object to make it blend in with its surroundings, got jammed while on Earth in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child. The Doctor has made some half-hearted attempts to repair the chameleon circuit, but seems to have grown quite attached to its appearance.

The TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the out - dimensionally transcendent, if you like. The main control room has changed appearance several times, and the Doctor has used a tertiary control room on occasion. The TARDIS is also known to have a well-stocked wardrobe with clothes for many different times and places, bedrooms, a swimming pool, endless corridors and a cloister room. Whether there are any limits to the inside of the TARDIS is unknown.

Back in the ancient times of Gallifrey, the ruling triumvirate Rassilon, Omega and the Other set out to harness the power of a black hole. Together, they harnessed the black hole, though Omega was swallowed up by it in the process. Rassilon took it back to Gallifrey where it was placed beneath the Citadel of the Time Lords. The Eye of Harmony, as they called it, was the power source for their time-ships. Now that Gallifrey has been destroyed in the Time War, the Doctor has to refuel the TARDIS by other means, such as the Rift in space and time that runs through Cardiff.

The TARDIS is almost alive, and power unimaginable even to the Doctor runs through the heart of it beneath the console. For the Doctor, the TARDIS is more than just a way of getting from A to B. It's his home, his last remaining link back to Gallifrey and to his people who are now gone forever. Battered, repaired and often help together by little more than sticky tape and goodwill, it is a most fitting mode of transport for that madman, adventurer and daredevil known as the Doctor.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Doctor Who - New Series, new species part 3

Hello, it doesn't seem that long since I did the last one of these, but here we are ready to review a new set of monsters and foreign creatures introduced in the new Doctor Who series. So far we have had a fairly full and rich rostor of mutants, deviations and monsters from far off worlds. This list has been slimmed over the past few episodes (a two parter and a standalone, each featuring one new species) but nonetheless the species featured have been new and certainly worth talking about. I don't have a species name for either and I don't have a picture of the first so if anyone is able to supply me with extra information I'd be grateful.

Sentient Sun

This was certainly an interesting one and something I'd not expected, what appeared to be a mutation or a disease turned out to be the workings of a living star. Caleb's commented on this in his episode review so I won't say much more other than I liked the concept and I would have liked to see a bit more of it.

In a far away corner of space lies a star with unique properties - it is alive! The star was tucked away and free to live and know it's existence until in the 42nd century humans came and used it as a place to gain fuel, not thinking that the star could possibly be a living being. The action of the still unknowing miners continued to harm the sun until in desperation it struck back at them. The sun managed to possess one of the crewmen on board, possibly through some of the 'fuel' they had,.taking control of his body though it seemingly did not completely destroy the man's mind, just let it's own take priority. Those caught in the sun's posession became extremely hot and their eyes glowed when opened, posession seemed to cause a great deal of pain to the victim. By the power of the sun in them, a victim could go on to completely incinerate another human or spread the sun's influence to them. The infected spread the message "burn with me" a message of retribution, it continued to spread until the true nature of the sun was discovered by the doctor and the fuel was dumped, healing the sun and causing it to cease hostilities. The star was then marked as living and spaceships were instructed to leave it in peace.

The Family of Blood

I would have like to know the true name of this species, but never mind it was quite good to see them, I think they worked well. In some aspects they were fairly generic in that they took over a human's body so they didn't have to have too many special effects etc. but for what they were they worked well. The dynamic of them only having a short life span and having followed the doctor through time and space was a good addition as well as the revelation of the doctor avoiding them out of mercy rather than fear, though again it was unclear how he made them immortal and why he did so instead of letting them die, but otherwise it was interesting.

There is no recorded name for this species other than "The family of blood" which is likely to be a name particular to the group of the species met by the Doctor rather than a name for the entire species. Little is known about them, their true form is of a green gasseous substance, it is unclear how much they can achieve in this form, though they were able to gather intelligence and competently operate a starship without a more substantial body. The species were short lived, but very active in their lives which caused them to seek a time lord so they could regenerate and conquer indefinitely. They had a family dynamic with a father, a mother a son and a daughter. The mother seemed to have seniority, though the son was often at the forefront of strategy and commanding their army. They had enough scientific ability to create automatons out of a basic substance and disguise them as scarecrows. Their next move was to posess humans, possibly prolonging their lives, and then seek to gain the regeneration abilities of a time lord. They did eventually gain this immortality, but each was imprisoned by the doctor to keep them in check. It is unknown if there were any others of this species, given their short lifespans it is no doubt difficult to keep an active record of them if more do exist.

Well there ya go, a few more interesting species as presented in the Doctor Who universe, until the next time I bid you goodbye.