Wednesday, 21 July 2010

SF at the Movies - July '10

This is more like it with a number of big-hitters out this month and among them some great Sci-Fi flicks that are worth seeing.

Kicking off with...

Released 8/7/10

Well worth seeing if you're a fan of the original, this film revealed more about the predator species, with a larger variant to the species that even hunts other predators and we got to see a few other aliens along the way. However this film didn't lose it's head, it was still what the original two were, and action-horror featuring trained killers trying to survive a seemingly impossible alien threat.

Released 16/7/10

The best film of the year I would say and with several months still to go I'm confident it will remain worthy of the title. Inception creates the world - a world where skilled thieves can create dream worlds take a mark into them and then extract their secrets from it. Dom Cobb, who is haunted and hunted by his past, is determined to take one last job as it has the promise of putting his life back together only this job involves planting an idea, a much more difficult operation. Flawlessly executed this film bends heads, but is extremely satisfying.


Another Sci-Fi horror starring Adrien Brody, though as a wimpy-eyed scientist instead of a gruff-voiced Mercenary. In 'Splice' two leading geneticists successfully combine human DNA with that of a whole host of creatures to create a new being. At first they are overjoyed, but things turn nasty as their superpowered creation starts to explore the world and the company that made her try to end her life.

And that's it no the Sci-Fi front, but there's also the return of Toy Story, the A-Team and the new Karate Kid

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Doctor Who: New series, new species part 29

This is actually the last post for series 5 as we haven't had much on the new aliens front at all and the final episodes only feature returning classic foes in a well-paced and scripted finale. While it was nice to see Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon and a host of other used in a meaningful 'bigger than ever' way it doesn't give us much to go on till Christmas.


Krafaysis, now that's an alien name! Weird unusual and with a familiar hint of Sci-Fi to it unlike the Waspyforms and Fire-o-viles we're normally stuck with. This was classic monster, big, strange and dangerous and to make it more fun invisible on top. The dynamic of only one team member seeing it added to the suspense and while some of the invisible fights left a little to be desired on the whole it was carried off, and the plot line of it being invisible and therefore blind worked well to make it just a creature not another race prepped for world takeover.

Krafaysis is a large species of predators capable of traveling between the stars. As an aid to hunt they were invisible to the naked eye, this also rendered them blind, though they could rely on their excellent hearing and other sense to hunt in co-ordinated packs. Occasionally one would be left behind, as happened when Vincent Van Gogh, who was able to perceive them due to his incredible eye for nature, met one, lone rampaging as it desperately tried to survive killing all who were unfortunate enough to get in it's way.

That's all folks - more Who at Christmas

Friday, 16 July 2010

Stuff: Star Wars - Dark Times

Dark Times, a Dark Horse comic series, is named after a quote from Ben Kenobi referring to the rise of the Empire. The story has it's genesis in the final issues of Dark Horse's Republic line, which took place immediately after Order 66. The story continues in the weeks and months after that, following the Jedi Dass Jennir as he struggles to find his place after the decimation of the Jedi order.

Jennir was initially tasked with fighting Separatists on New Plympto. After Order 66 he is forced to ally with his former enemies the Nosaurians, who he discovers were forced to join the CIS because the Republic was damaging their economy. He joins the resistance movement on the planet, which hold off the Empire, but ultimately fails. Through chance Dass and his friend Bomo escape and join with a smuggler crew to try and save Bomo's family, which leads them across the Galaxy and leads Dass to murder and defy the Jedi code in order to do the right thing. The trip ended in tragedy and Dass separated from his friend.

The next story arcs followed Bomo and the smuggler crew as things went from bad to worse as they try to smuggle good in the new Empire, we also got to see Jedi master K'kruhk struggle with his Jedi ways as he protected a group of refugee padawans from bounty hunters.

The most recent story, Blue Harvest sees Jennir find his feet as he takes on a job his conscience can allow, infiltrating and destroying a slaver gang on the planet Telerath. When he gets there he finds things aren't as they seem as his employer didn't tell him about the rival spice runner gang in the town, nor did she tell him about the women she keep at her 'Inn'. Using guile Jennir decides to outwit both gangs and sets the whole town to war as the gangs try to eliminate each other, then stepping in to do what he was meant to do - a Jedi's work.

As he finishes his duty, Bomo is contacted by a former associates of Jennir, which promises to change the game in the next story, due out early next year.

Well that's the story, there's not much to add besides the

New Jedi

Dass Jennir
Species: human
Sex: male
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Jedi Master

Dass was a powerful Jedi Master by the time of the Clone Wars, skilled in attacking large numbers of foes with his lightsaber. Since the end of the war he has struggled to find his place, only finding peace when he can aid the weak by fighting the strong.

Beyghor Sahdett
Species: Verpine
Sex: Male
Homeworld: Roche
Position: Jedi Knight

Beyghor survived Order 66 by defeating all who were tasked with killing him, he is extremely skilled with his small lightsaber and wiped out an entire Imperial task force who were sent to intercept Bomo's crew. He is a former associate of Jennir and was looking for him.

New Ships


I love this ship, it's so big and bulgy, and I love the dangling blaster turret for defense. This is the ship of the smuggler crew that Bomo joined and took him on their journey of rescue and revenge. It is first and foremost a cargo ship with a large area for transporting cargo and clearly not a nimble bird for atmo flight, but it still has an elegance to it in it's unusual shape and it is a believable home for the crew.

Dezono Qua's Ship

Stolen from a slaver he killed, Jennir took this ship after parting from Bomo Greenbark. This ship is now his home taking him from place to place, looking for jobs he needs to survive, but it is also a reminder of how far he strayed from the path.



H2 is also the former property of Dezono Qua, and while he chose to accompany Dass Jennir he constantly reminds him on the act, addressing him as 'man-who-killed-my-master'. Despite this he does respect Dass and aided him in his war against the slavers.


Yes, I'm doing another map, I'm just doing one of the planets featured in the Blue Harvest arc as there are a number of 'unknown worlds' in previous stories, which would over complicate things.

And that I think does it, the trade paperbacks for earlier Dark Times series are out and well worth a look into, and the series continues in monthly issues early next year.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Halo Wars: Stuff, part 2

I promise to make this the final part, though it may get very long! I felt it was important to go over the cast of the story, but equally exciting are the new vehicles and threats introduced in this version of Halo and a great way to see the larger scale of the war.

UNSC Vehicles


A variant of the classic 'Scorpion' tank featured in the Halo trilogy. This modification, designed by Sergeant Forge himself, features a double barreled turret for increased fire and a much improved armour design.


The Gremlin is a combat support unit that aids UNSC forces by using a focused EMP to disable enemy vehicles and defenses, allowing the humans time to take them out or evade them. Vulnerable against infantry, they could modify their beam to provide a weak, close range defense.


A long range artillery unit, the UNSC were field-testing these units to try out different weapon methods. Essentially a larger version of the Scorpion with a larger turret that could 'lock down' for longer range fire, a number of these units were modified to use plasma-based weaponry like Covenant units. Some of these prototypes were on board the Pillar of Autumn when it was tasked to Arcadia and they were used to disable a large Covenant shield by the Spirit of Fire crew.


An anti-air unit employed by the UNSC, featuring large laser-tracking missile launchers to defend bases and ground units from air attack, capable of taking down Covenant Banshees in seconds. It has only light armour do to the need to track air units, but it can adapt it's missile launchers to take out ground units if under attack.


A slow, but powerful anti-vehicle unit the Cobra uses two powerful rail guns to decimate enemy forces. They need to be protected by other units due to their slow rate of fire, but the power of their weapon is able to decimate even the strongest opposition, especially when they lock down.


An offshoot of the project that produced Mjolnir powered armour, Cyclopes were modified to provide support instead of being combat units. Used to maintain and repair structures and vehicles, they repaired Spirit of Fire's generator during a Covenant attack. They could also use their abilities to take buildings apart is needed and could deal devastating blows to any infantry who got close.

Covenant Vehicles


Similar to the Scarab in it's power and mode of transport, the Locust is much smaller, tough it still stands tall over a Scorpion tank. It has one weapon, a long range focused plasma beam, which earns it the title 'building killer'. It is a slow firing weapon, which makes it vulnerable to fast moving targets such as air units. However the Locust has strong shields and is incredibly maneuverable, able to scale cliff faces with it's strong legs.

The Covenant were also building a 'Super Scarab' on Arcadia, much larger than even the gigantic vehicle feared by many. The UNSC forces destroyed this vehicle before it could be finished.

UNSC Aerial


A cousin to the UNSC's space fighter the 'Longsword' this smaller fighter is designed for tactical strikes on ground unit, initiating lightning-fast bombing runs from orbit. Able to precisely drop explosive ordnance, or special weapons such as cryo bombs, Shortswords provide welcome support to ground units.


A powerful air-support vehicle, based on the design of the Hornet, this unit was faster and featured a mounted 'Spartan Laser' in addition to it's powerful chain gun to deliver devastating firepower. In large numbers these units were nearly unstoppable, however repair problems caused them to be discontinued, meaning the UNSC relied on the Hornet for air support for most of the war.


One of the most powerful units the UNSC has at it's disposal, the Vulture is reserved for the heaviest conflicts. Fitted with front mounted auto-cannons and multiple missile launchers the Vulture can unleash a barrage of fire, unleashing heavy damage over a wide area.

The Spirit of Fire is also equipped with 'Pods' which can ferry prefabricated Firebases onto an area from orbit.

Covenant Aerial


An aerial unit with heavy firepower, the Vampire is used primarily as an anti-air unit due to it's powerful stasis beam which can cause aircraft to either be frozen in place or lose power and crash. It attacks with a heavy needler which has a high rate of fire suitable for tracking and taking down aircraft.

Forerunner Aerial

Super Sentinel

Simply a larger, more powerful of the sentinels encountered in the trilogy, these Sentinels were activated when the Flood reached the centre of the Shield world.

Flood Aerial

Swarm Form

Another animalistic flood form on the Shield World, these flying creatures use powerful barbs to attack targets from the air, swarming them in large numbers, wheeling around them to evade attacks.

I don't have a decent picture, but there are also Bomber Forms that fly and drop infection forms into infantry to convert them into Flood soldiers.

Nearly there - but I think we do have to refer to...


Spirit of Fire

This Phoenix class ship was originally designed to transport supplies for new colonies, able to drop large structures and supplies from orbit and oversee operations. With the outbreak of war it was refitted to serve as a warship and as a ground support, now dropping in bases and heavy ordnance. If needed the Spirit could give heavy damage to other ships or structures with it's MAC cannon.

Unidentified Forerunner Ship

Sitting at the heart of this Covenant plot, this powerful array of starship were hidden in the Forerunner shield world and would be used by the Covenant to annihilate humanity were it not for the Spirit of Fire crew's brave actions. As seen in Halo Legends these ships had firepower beyond even the best Covenant ship and would have been an unstoppable threat to humanity.

And that's it - Halo Wars was a great experience and I hope maybe some of these vehicles turn up in future projects such as Reach.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

World Names: Firefly

I apologise in advance as this post will likley just turn into a long list of names - but I've been watching firefly and playing Halo recently and I'm quite interested in the direction creators take for naming their worlds, all the worlds in Firefly fit, from classy Alliance worlds with mythological names, to remote border moons with simple descriptive titles.

We'll start off with the Core Worlds - these are often named after ancient Gods or famous people, perhaps reflecting the scientific community's penchant for naming heavenly bodies after such things today. I guess it also reflects the civilization of the Alliance, wanting to name their w0rlds after majestic and great things to reflect the new civilizations they build.

Ariel- perhaps not named after the mermaid it is still a fanciful title. As opposed to the Wild Frontier of most worlds featured this world features a large, clean cityscape. The Serenity crew pull off a heist at a hospital here.

Beaumonde - French for 'the fashionable world'. Again, directly named to reflect the civilization of the world. It features a larger city and an industrial district, where the crew meet their contacts at the start of Serenity.

Bellerophon - Named for the Greek hero, this is a playground world for the uber-wealthy and uber-classified who live on secure, floating villas over the sea with servants aplenty and robotic drones to remove their trash. The crew break into one of the estates to steal a priceless artifact.

Miranda - Not necessarily named after a character, maybe just it's discoverer. SPOILERS - this is has spacious cities in a lush green world, but it was the site of an Alliance experiment to release a compound to calm the population, which killed most and turned the rest into horrific Reavers. Central to the plot of Serenity.

Osiris - Named after an Egyptian God, this is where Simon Tam worked as a Surgeon before becoming a fugitive to rescue his sister. Likely also the world where they grew up.

Persephone - Named after the Greek Goddess, this world has a mix of elegant culture with fancy balls and gentleman quarrels solved by sword duels, and shady urban areas run by smuggler kingpins like Badger. The crew pick up their passengers on this world and return there for business.

Boros - not sure why the name, but an Alliance world where Serenity was headed at the start of her adventure.

Pelorum - Again not sure on the name, possibly more in the 'sound futuristic' phase, in one comic the crew take a holiday on this world after a successful heist.

Sihnon - Named with a more Chinese name, to reflect the strong Chinese influence of the colonies. This is the homeworld of the Companions and their training houses.

Greenleaf - An Alliance world with a more pragmatic title this time, more akin to the border planets.

Ok, onto the border planets and moons, these tend to have more descriptive names, showing what the world looks like and certainly not harping back to some ancient mysticism when there's work to be done just to stay alive.

Haven - Named because it is a safe place, beyond Alliance control generally. The world is a place where the Serenity crew go between heists. The world was hit by the Alliance in an attempt to get to the crew.

Higgin's Moon - Named after the owner who uses indentured workers to make big business making ceramics. After a botched heist where he he had to ditch his cargo to get away Jayne Cobb became a folk hero.

Jiyangin - Again reflecting the Chinese influence this planet has a small settlement where the crew offload cargo, there are also hill folk who live primitive lives.

Lilac - Named for how it looks from space the crew pull off a heist here when the world is attacked by Reavers.

Regina - A mining colony, advanced enough to feature Mag-Lev trains, but not enough to get medicine to cure a disease caused by work in the mines.

Santo - named 'Saint', this is a primitive world. The crew get into on of their many barfights here.

St. Albans - named after the Scottish town, this snowy world is home to a former associate of Mal's

Triumph - an optimistic title given by settlers, this world features primitive traditions which meant that Mal got inadvertently married.

Whitefall - Again a descriptive tile - the crew pull off a job here, with the usual accompaniment of violence.

Constance - Named by the puritan values held by many settlers, the crea pull of a heist on this world.

Madcap - named for it's wildly changing weather conditions, this world is a hot-spot for extreme-adventure junkies. Wash made a delivery here before joining Serenity.

New Melbourne - named after the Australian city, this is an ocean world famous for it's fishing.

Shadow - likely a dark world, this is where Mal was raised.

Three Hills - likely named after the original settlement, this was mentioned as a possibility of work for the crew.

I've gone on a bit, but I think World Names are a fascinating insight into the creative team's vision for what humanity will be like in the future, what we name an entire planet after surely indicates something of our nature.

It makes me wonder what I'd name a planet after, would I name it after me, would i trawl through my books for the most fanciful name I could find, or look at it to see what it evoked. What about you? What would you call your world?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Star Wars Legacy: The Imperial Mission

Well the penultimate issue of the series just hit comic book stores across the land, and I'm determined to squeeze some more comic content in before the series meets it's end. I'd imagine the momentum for Legacy posts may die down after #50 hits the shelves, so I may not get to tell you about the spaceships, planets and creatures featured in it, but I'm going to at least finish off telling you about some of the Characters in the series.

I may not get round to all of them, but I'll finish off the characters of the Sith Empire with one final group - The Imperial Mission. Set up in the founding days of the Fel dynasty, the Mission aims to expand the Empire through offering aid to planets and species that need it, gaining planets and materials through willing volunteers rather than conquest. After the Sith took the throne the missionaries decided to carry on the work, making the Empire a better place.

The mission house on Tatooine

Imperial Missionaries

We've already met the head of the order, Konrad Rus, as he is on the Moff Council, as are the heads of other departments. So we'll crack on and meet some of the people on the ground.

Astraal Vao
Species: Twi'lek
Sex: Female
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Missionary, Socorro
First Appearance: Legacy#2 (Broken, part 2)

Astraal is the sister of Jedi Knight Shado Vao. At an early age, Astraal and Shado crashed on the planet Vendaxa, a crash that took the lives of their parents. They were rescued and raised by Imperial Missionaries. Her brother was taken for Jedi training, but she stayed, feeling her place was with the order. She worked with the Fel Empire and continued in her role under the Sith regime. She had contact with the Fel Empire and gave refuge to Sia Fel at her mission house on Socorro. She stayed with the princess after Darth Talon attacked, helping her escape and arranging to meet up with her brother on Vendaxa. However she trusted Konrad Rus, who betrayed their location to Darth Krayt. They took a transport with Cade Skywalker and were there to see Cade reunited with his old master. After the battle she went with the princess to Bastion and stayed there.

Ethan Adare
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Missionary, Tatooine
First Appearance:Legacy#38 (Tatooine, part 2)

Ethan Adara was a senior member of the Mission House, a converted Hutt palace, near Mos Eiseley. When Deliah Blue posed as a missionary to scam engine parts off the Empire he took her in, knowing she was a fake, to show her the good work of the Mission. When she revealed her plan he simply helped her, believing that there was more worth in her than she believed. He had a background in mechanics before the mission and helped her get the Mynock going again.

And that's it! With Darth Wyyrlok's takeover however things have changed - the Missionaries are now tasked with spreading Sith beliefs among the Empire so that all with follow the way. What will become of them?