Tag Archives: scifi

Review: The Prodigal Son

Introduction
Prodigal Son is the first book in Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series. The basic premise is that Victor Frankenstein, now going by the alias Victor Helios, has set up shop in New Orleans, and has begun replacing prominent figures with those his own creations, called The New Race.

image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu
image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu

Victor loathes the human race and fancies himself as a god and seeks to overthrown the old race with his machines of bone and blood. Forget the Victor of old who was forced to scavenge body parts from graveyards, over the two centuries he’s been alive Victor has moved on from such crude methods.

His creations are grown in tanks and educated with direct to brain downloads so they have an encyclopedic knowledge of the world even though they are only weeks old. They are also programmed to be more durable than the old race, as they have Two hearts and other redundant systems, including a skull that is so thick one the highest caliber ammunition will penetrate it.

Moreover every member of the New Race is programmed so they can’t murder anyone unless they are instructed by Victor, and they can’t kill themselves or Victor for that matter.

Things are going smoothly for Victor until one of his creations begins killing people, drawing the attention of the media and police. Enter detective Carson O’Connor and her partner Michael Madison who in the course of investigating the killings stumble upon Deucalion, Victor’s first creation, who has vowed to destroy him and agrees to help Carson and Michael take on Victor.

The Good
Overall I found the book to be an engrossing good read. I especially liked the characters of Randal Six And Deucalion and also the thought that went into the technology Victor used to create those of the New Race. Loved how Koontz drew you in from the first page and didn’t let up the action a bit.

The Bad
My only complaint would ave to be the short chapters and the head hoping. Often times just a one story line was heating the chapter would switch another plot line. This left my head spinning and pulled me out of the story when it would happen. A lot of times after a decent sized chapter there would be ones of only a few pages that didn’t advance the plot all that much and could have been omitted.

The Verdict

If you like sci-fi and horror then do yourself a favor and pick up this book.

 

A Love Letter to Sci-Fi&Fantasy

image by wemedge via sxc.hu
image by wemedge via sxc.hu

The “Star” Wars

So tell me which do you prefer and why? Stark Trek or Star Wars? Having watched both the original trilogy and the sequels I was not impressed with Lucas’s work. While enjoyable if you grew up on a steady diet of kung fu movies, and anime where the characters can wipe out entire galaxies with one attack, Jedis are weak sauce.

Moreover all Lucas did was rip off Asian mysticism and the larger culture. The Jedi are just Samurais, the Sith are ninjas, and the Force is a rehash of the concept of chi/ki. Love Yoda while I do, dude is a straight rip off of every wizen kung fu master ever.

And the conflict with the evil empire is nothing but Feudal Japan set in space. I do give Lucas credit where it’s due for creating a fun and engaging universe, but I don’t get what others find so special about it.

I always found Star Trek to be the superior franchise, save the original series which I couldn’t stomach because of its campiness and Shatner’s hammy acting, but I respect what Roddenberry was able to do with the series re: diversity and civil rights.

Prophets of Sci-Fi
One of the things I love about science fiction is the exploration it allows for. Thanks to authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Sir Cannon Doyle, Asimov, Heinlein and others much of the technology we have today exists because they dreamed it up. The internet wouldn’t exist if Clarke hadn’t proposed and then help design geostationary satellites. It was Orwell that dreamed up CCTV and the concept of the modern surveillance state in 1948.

While we still don’t have hover cars or light sabers, the leaps seen in technology in my life time alone are staggering. We’ve went from commodore 64s to tablet PCs, from the Atari 2600 to the PS4, from cell phones the size of a bread box to those that fit in the palm of your hand, all in less than thirty years.

Not bad all things considered. though it’d be sweet to zip around in a TARDIS. Who knows maybe one day a fan will build one like the physicist who designed a theoretical warp drive.

Deeper Questions
While enjoyable, when done well science fiction asks us to explore questions like what does it mean to be alive? What is the nature of reality? How do we live together without wiping each other out? Yeah the technology is cool but it is the exploration of these philosophical questions that keeps me engaged and coming back for more.

The other thing I love about sci-fi is it provides a construct upon which to question social norms and values. Growing up in the 90s the X-men was one of my favorite cartoons, however it wasn’t until I was older I got the subtext of the series. The Mutants were proxies for marginalized groups in our society. While the conflict between Professor X and Magneto represented to two approaches to gaining civil rights: Integration/pacifism and segregation/militarism.
Girl Power
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was another favorite from my childhood. The way Whedon took the metaphor of high school as hell and made it literal, while being witty and irreverent, made my geeky heart swoon.

Buffy, and to larger extent Faith, are exactly the type of girls I love. Strong, independent without being a bitch about it, intelligent, and sexy. And I would be remiss if didn’t mention the fabulous Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenburg.

Excuse me for fan-boying but her character arc was one of the best of all times. Second only to Prince Vegeta’s, in terms of depth and enjoyment. The moment she becomes Dark Willow still takes my breath away to this day.

While the season ended with her being defeated with the power of “wuv,” Whedon gets a pass for his otherwise flawless execution.

Charmed was another guilty pleasure of mine, granted they used the monster of the week formula perfected by Buffy, the thing that differentiated from other shows in the genre was the research that went into the world building while Constance M. Berg was with the show runner.

As someone who studied magic and the larger occult, before settling on being an agnostic atheism, it was nice to see they paid attention to the little things. Like the difference between a hex and a curse, or that spells had to be recited at the proper time to have optimum effect. However Shannen Doherty’s departure started the long decline of the show and by the end it had gone from so bad it’s funny to plain bad.

The show closest in tone and theme since it went off the air is Supernatural. The thing best about the show is the chemistry between the siblings which drives the show. However much like Charmed when Eric Kripke left the show at the end of the fifth season it nose dived into recycling the same plots and villains.

I mean you can only slay so many demons before it gets boring, and if the Winchester boys died one more time only to be brought back I was going to lose it.

One of the best series to this day was First Wave. Sure alien invasion stories had been done before but not set to Nostradamus’ quatrains complimented with the conspiracy theories of protagonist Cade Foster’s side kick “Crazy”Eddie Nabulous.

And of course I can’t forget The X-Files. Beside Star Trek:TNG it was one of the few shows my dad and I watched together. Like the other shows listed in its hey day The-X Files was a joy to watch, when I wasn’t wetting myself in terror.

Conclusions
Though I’ve grown up and work replaces the time spent enjoying shows I haven’t lost my love for science fiction and Fantasy. It just takes more to catch and keep my attention. Like everyone else my attention span has shortened, so memo to the other writers out there: get to the point and make it interesting.

This doesn’t mean you have to create something new. Put a new spin on an old trope and you’re in business. But first and foremost don’t pander to us.

We’re smart enough to know an orc or vampire when see one and for the love of the flying spaghetti monster stop with this paranormal romance crap already.

So what things about Sci-Fi /Fantasy do you love/hate?