Tag Archives: science fiction

Altered Carbon

Has anyone else been watching and has now finished Altered Carbon on Netflix? If not, you really should make a start.

No spoilers from me, but a brief summary. At the start I was watching it with the subtitles switched on as it was all new to me having not read the books, they mumbled a fair bit to begin with, and there were lots of new terms to try and understand. As you might  expect given some the barriers mentioned, I was mildly interested but wanted to give it a few episodes as I knew the book was very highly regarded as is the author, Richard Morgan.

By the time I was a few episodes in I had changed from thinking it was ok to the place where  I was looking at the time and thinking just one more episode, just one more and then bed.

I’ve now burned through the whole series, all 10 episodes, in less than a week.

Some highlights. The look of the show is amazing. Shiny and futuristic but also grimy and seedy down below where all the poor people live while the rich live in the clouds and nothing is beyond them.

Aesthetics aside, it was a fascinating show about family, what constitutes a family and how to build a new one, religion and faith. Given the premise there is obviously a huge focus on what it means to be human.  There’s also a lot about gender, death, redemption and revenge. Power and money are strong themes as well. The future echoes the present in many ways where the rich can do and say whatever they want and the poor suffer the most. It was definitely a story about imbalance in society, rebellion, justice and also love.

The cast was incredibly diverse too with both strong, layered and interesting roles for men and women. It’s not a spoiler to mention the basic premise of sleeving, moving your consciousness into other bodies, so as you can imagine this led to some fascinating scenes and really interesting challenges for the actors. Men in women’s bodies and vice versa. People of different faiths and ethnicity finding themselves in sleeves that are so different to their own skin. One actor, whose name I will have to dig out from IMDB, must have come in for one bit part but by the end of two episodes his role had been transformed into a rollercoaster of a ride. It was a gift of an acting job. I can’t say more without spoilers but I would loved to have seen the casting sheet for that particular role as it required some unique skills!

If you have the time it is well worth the effort of persisting past the first couple of episodes where I wasn’t sure what was going on really.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

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Star Trek is just a silly Science Fiction show

That’s what some people say. It’s just people in tight, uncomfortable, brightly coloured shirts, running around on a space ship. It doesn’t mean anything.

Those people, are very wrong indeed.

Netflix in the UK have just dropped a metric tonne of new Star Trek content  by adding every Star Trek episode ever, from every incarnation. Also, Netflix (outside the USA and Canada) have done a deal so that the new Star Trek show, Star Trek Discovery, will be shown on Netflix in 180 countries shortly after it airs on CBS in the USA.

I’ve been tempted many times over the years to buy the Next Generation DVDs and the rest, but the price has always been a bit steep. Now I’m getting my daily dose of Star Trek and I don’t have to find storage space for some more DVD box sets.

So, back to my original statement. For some people, mostly those who have never actually watched the show, and only know a little about it, they think it’s just another TV show. In some respects they’re right. It is a show that is designed to entertain. However, its creator, Gene Roddenberry, always wanted the show to do more. The original series with Kirk and Spock broke new ground several times, including the first on screen kiss between a white man and a black woman on American network television. You might say so what in 2016, but this was unheard of. And this was in 1968. That’s just five years after the Civil Rights march in Washington which led to Martin Luthor King’s famous speech. The show was also about so much more than that. It was about intolerance, hatred, racism, sexism, and so many other things, all wrapped up in a brightly coloured science fiction TV show.

Looking at it from another perspective, there are countless scientists, engineers and indeed astronauts that were inspired by the show. They went on to explore the universe, down to its smallest components and also into outer space. They believed in the underlying principle of Star Trek, where human beings are at peace with each other and their goal is to better themselves and explore the universe. A planet Earth where there was no more war or famine, disease was all but eradicated and we were united as a species.

Coincidentally, just as I was writing this post, SciFiNow asked fans to explain why they love Star Trek. I’ve added in my response below and one other from Ms Krystal which sums it up very well.

The shows are also full of unbelievable technology, which at the time seemed ridiculous. Some of this technology has become a reality. We don’t have transporters, but how about a system that plays music on demand. Something that is voice controlled that can store music digitally on a computer file and recall it instantly. This was on Star Trek: The Next Generation decades before iTunes and digital music.

How about a small, hand-held communication device that allows you to speak to someone very far away? This was the Star Trek communicator device, that goes back to the 1960s.

How about a very small, body mounted camera, that could beam its signal back to someone else, so they could see what you were doing, without being there in person. Much like today’s body cameras worn by front line police officers, or head mounted cameras for the armed forces. This was seen in Stak Trek: The Next Generation, where Geordie beams what his visor is showing back to the bridge so they can see what he can see on a mission.

How about data pads? Tiny computers that sit on a desk? These became tablets and laptop computers. I’ve barely scratched the surface but I’m sure you get the idea.

Star Trek means a lot to some people because it’s just an entertaining show. It means so much to others because it drives them to be better, to go further, to do more, to strive for the impossible. For others it inspires them to create and for others, to turn their gaze towards the heavens and the majesty of outer space. Underneath all of it, the show rests on the core principle that human beings are united and right now, with so much chaos and despair in the world, a little bit of hope is very welcome.

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February’s Podcasts

As mentioned last month, the Podcasting network I am involved with has had a face lift and a kick in the pants, and now we are back on track with a regular schedule and more new content.

Pete Rogers, my co-host on Bags of Action had some very nice things to say about then new website and new logo. You should be following his posts anyway so take a look at his website. This month’s episodes are:-

CBO – Episode 170 – In honour of our first guest on the new Crash Landing, our main feature is about our favourite detectives from film and television, plus all of the latest news from geek culture.

Bags of Action – Episode 17 – Big Trouble in Little China – the classic John Carpenter, Kurt Russell film about weird things going bump in Chinatown. It’s a film full of weird magic, karate kicking, cheesy one liners, weird CGI things, flying men, swords, guns, lots of punching and even the odd romantic moment!

Crash Landing – Episode 1 – The first of a new monthly podcast. Every episode we maroon a guest on our crashing spaceship. They have one hour to salvage humanity’s most important cultural artefacts before they crash land on the planet of their choice.

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