Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Sunday, 25 July 2010
"Suncatcher II" Tom Ormond
For me, one of the most powerful aspects of science fiction is the sense of scale: authors such as Larry Niven, Stephen Baxter and Iain M. Banks write tales of engineering on city, country, planet, solar system or even galaxy-wide scales; while often in films we are presented with objects that defy scaling - how big is the Starship Enterprise for instance? Tom Ormond's canvasses play with scale and engineering while remaining abstract and perplexing: his geodesic hemisphere ("Suncatcher II") could be a house, a city or a hollow planet; his floating sphere ("Hardtack Moon") could also be a machine planet or star of some kind - but if so, what is it hovering above? Haunting colour schemes depict sunset and starlight respectively.
"Hardtack Moon" Tom Ormond
Ormond's work was the highlight for me of an extremely creative exhibition that also included Stewart Gough's sculptures from plumbing materials, Gordon Cheung's fractal dragon, Richard Ducker's abstract creations that play with shapes, angles and textures, and Sheena Macrae's video installation "Odyssey" in which iconic scenes from Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" are broken into horizontal bars and combined to mesmerizing effect.
"Fallen Warrior" Stewart Gough
"To Boldly Go" Juan Bolivar
Regretfully this exhibition is now closed but you can see other works by Gordon Cheung at the Zero 10 gallery, and by Richard Ducker at the Oblong Gallery and Elastic Residence. I should add that this is the second exhibition I've seen at the Aubin Gallery and both times I've been impressed by the creativity and ingenuity they've been able to bring together - the future is bright.
"Dragon Dance" Gordon Cheung
All pictures are copyright to their respective creators and are reproduced here with the kind permission of the Aubin Gallery.
Monday, 19 July 2010
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Tron Legacy: a no-brainer. Even if this film had no dialogue, no characters, no plot and was just a two hour fly-through of the virtual city I would still watch it twice.
Titanic 2: A hundred years after the fateful voyage of the Titanic, a replica ship is retracing the original route when a freak storm throws a giant iceberg into it's path. You can add your own jokes about going down in history, sinking without trace, cold reception etc. here as much as you like, I still want to see this Asylum classic.
Predators: open. I wasn't a fan of the original Predator which was well made but kind of a one-trick pony. However this film, set on the Predator homeworld, looks like a different kettle of fish. Also, has anyone noticed that when hamsters yawn they look like Predators?
Inception: opening now. Leonardo DiCaprio narrowly missed out on the lead role for Titanic 2, instead opting to appear in this potentially mind-blowing film made by the director of The Prestige.
Splice: Looks like a brilliant tale of genetic engineering. Sadly I missed this one at Sci-Fi London but hope to catch it on release.
Mega Python vs Gatoroid: just entering production now so a little further into the future, this is the film that will re-unite 80s singers and monster slayers Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Charles de Lint is an award winning author who likes to interweave fantastic and urban concepts, often drawing out the most sinister aspects of both. In this case, the high school menace is by no means the last of Imogene’s worries: the school is inhabited by a tribe of house fairies who have lost their moral compass (a consequence of being forgotten by humans) and the ghost of a suicidal schoolboy who develops a crush on her, while mysterious and far more dangerous entities wait in the shadows.
There was a point about a third of the way through where the story suddenly took hold and became compulsive reading: when lovesick ghost Adrian realises that the only way he can save Imogene from the shadow-dwelling creatures that are closing in on her is for someone else to die, he doesn’t hesitate in the slightest. Nor does he put himself forward nobly – straightaway he identifies one of the bullies to take her place, imagining an impossible, happy future with Imogene as a result. This rescue fantasy is exactly what crushes are all about!
There is a lot to enjoy in this book, and it is also extremely sinister in places – the idea of fairies granting wishes in unexpected and dangerous ways is handled well. Imogene and Adrian feel like very real characters and their respective pasts have a strong bearing upon how they approach their situation. The book is also well written, making good, clear use of multiple narrators. However this is very much a teenage read, and sometimes felt a little too lightweight for me. Given the compelling twist above the ending felt like a cop-out – I expected a little more. I can’t help comparing it to China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, a young adult novel which I thought had much more bite, and much more to enjoy for the adult as well as the younger reader. Giraffes, not fairies, are still the new zombies.
Friday, 9 July 2010
[Edit 13.7.10 This post has generated unexpected levels of traffic - if you're new to The Sci-Fi Gene then welcome! Thanks for dropping by - stay for a cup of tea and a comment? In other news Paul the Psychic Octopus has been an inspiration all over the blogosphere, including a thread of limericks on The L Blog. Enjoy your retirement, Paul! ]
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Saturday, 3 July 2010
While The Years Of Rice And Salt is often about the movers and shakers of the world, this novel is about the under-dogs and middle-men, the Americans under occupation, scraping by and trying to make an honest or dishonest buck. Fakes and fake fakes abound: the Americans are forging historical Americana for the Japanese collectors. The I Ching features heavily again – and yes, I, the author and the cast of the novel are all aware this is not a Japanese philosophy! It’s been introduced to America by the Japanese and is there for a reason. Meanwhile a sudden German leadership contest forces the Japanese colonists and diplomats to choose between supporting different flavours of inhumanity.
The central mystery within the novel is another alternative history novel, banned on the German side of the line, which seems to depict a world in which the Germans and Japanese have lost the war. In the final chapter, a meeting with the author of the novel leads to a subtle, existential twist in the tail, foreshadowed by an earlier scene where a minor character briefly finds himself in our reality. It’s the perfectly executed prestige at the end of a great conjuror’s illusion.