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scifiheavenbirthday

Sixteenth Birthday

Sci-Fi Heaven celebrates its 16th Birthday this month.

The site first went online in 1997, before moving to its current domain thirteen years ago in 2000.

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To celebrate, we have a few nice updates coming before the end of the year.

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Best Cosplays of Sci-Fi TV

There’s a lot of great sci-fi shows out there, kids. Seeing as I limit myself to about seven pictures, I could only pick what I thought to be some of the most creative and interesting cosplays. If I went all out, I’d be spamming you with fifty images, all of people dressed up as the Eleventh Doctor – and there are very few who’d want to look at that!

Those fancy Southern hair-dos from A Game of Thrones must be pretty hard to replicate at home, but this Sansa pulls it off admirably. She also made both these fantastic costumes. It also proves that no matter what form he takes, Joffrey always looks insufferably smug.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better version of Zoidberg. To be fair, I haven’t actually seen anyone cosplay as Dr. Zoidberg before, but I don’t think anyone could really top this!

It is the details that make a truly excellent cosplay, and this is one of the best Zoe’s I have ever seen. Every little detail is perfect, from her distinctive leather necklace to the mud on her boots. Very well done.

Oh, you do know how I love a group shot… It represents a lot of effort, time and devotion to get a group of people together, to make the costumes and to really display the essence of a character. This is a group of Merlin cosplayers, representing those with magic powers in the show.  The costumes are incredibly accurate and they really channel part of these beloved characters. And devotion, as this photo was shot in below freezing weather!

Another picture showing how cosplay is more than just dressing up – it’s about feeling and being a character you love for a day.  Sometimes it’s not about having the most elaborate outfits, but expressing what makes a character relatable – why do you like this character, and how can you show it? That’s why I think this simple and sweet cosplay of Riker and Troi is so effective.

I love group shots and it’s really showing this week.  What can I say? These Battlestar Galactica pilots look like they’re having great fun together!

Remember, the image of an angel is an angel…

Next week, I’ll be featuring cosplays from the world of Sci-Fi movies. That is, if I can escape the angels…

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Cuarón & Abrams To Craft New Sci-Fi

Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and the man attached to every imaginable project – J.J. Abrams – have had a pilot for a new television project given a pilot production commitment by NBC.

Cuarón will direct, co-writing with Mark Friedman (Home of the Brave), with Abrams and Bryan Burk joining them to executively produce.

The untitled show will tell the story of:

[quote]A girl in possession of a great gift/powers — which will come into their own in seven years — and the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down.[/quote]

The show will be a Warner Brothers TV and Bad Robot co-production.

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3 Sci-Fi Sites You Must Follow

Everyone knows all about IGN, Gizmodo etc.

But there are other sites out there that post great content every day, and are well worth your time following.

1. Geekologie

If you like your sci-fi to amuse you, take a look at Geekologie.  They get some great reader tip-offs, and some of their content is the first place on the web you’ll find it.

2. Den of Geek

Okay, so these guys are pretty popular already.

But their content is interest, well-written, bang up to date and their website’s theme is one of the nicest around.  It makes for a great overall reading experience.

3. Geeks of Doom

Another site I”m a real fan of, although it’s probably not quite as nice as Den of Geek.

They have some great content, and it’s very easy to access it.  A great way to stay bang up to date with all things geek.

And of course there’s us.  But you already knew that.

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The Gift

It seems that sci-fi shorts are all the rage these days.  Here’s another especially impressive one, The Gift, set in Russia with some very strong Half Life 2-vibes.

Set in Russia, the Gift features a great chase sequence and is beautifully filmed with some cracking CGI.

Watch it below (warning: it contains some gore):

The Gift from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.

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Best Sci-Fi Tattoos

In honour of Andi’s decision to brand himself with a Tardis, we’ve decided to take a look at the best sci-fi tattoos out there.

In ascending order…

5. The Tardis/Dalek

It would be a little harsh to list the best tattoos without this, given Andi’s decision, but these really are a nice set of inks – especially with the corresponding Dalek to match!

4. Spiderman

This would have taken a lot of time and a lot of pain, but what better way to express your devotion to Spiderman!?

3. The DHD inside a Stargate

If you like Stargate chevrons and symbols, well you’re probably the person who got this.  It is beautifully drawn together, but I think it would be best as a larger sleeve or tattoo work rather than on its own.  Still, this is impressive. Oh, and it’s on the back of a turtle.  Maybe this guy’s a Discworld aficionado to boot…

2. Firefly

Okay, I have a soft spot for anything Firefly related, but this simple, small and meaningful tattoo is really nicely drawn and inked, and it’s one of those things you probably wouldn’t end up regretting.  Unlike, perhaps, flying turtle’s Stargate metropolis above.

1. Predator

Not what I’d choose to get tattooed, but this is a very, very well drawn and inked tattoo.   If you want to scare people in any situation where you have to change clothes for the rest of your life, this is the tattoo for you!

Doctor Who - A Town Called Mercy - Poster

Review: Doctor Who – A Town Called Mercy

Doctor Who - A Town Called Mercy - Poster

A Town Called Mercy

In Brief:

The Doctor. A Doctor. Two sides. One coin.

In Depth:

The latest Who offering promised a Wild West adventure… and we most certainly got it!

It’s probably best to say that, whilst A Town Called Mercy isn’t quite the beautifully dark Asylum of the Daleks romp, or the madcap hi-jinks of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, it does manage to place itself rather squarely between them – and even finds a few moments for quiet contemplation that the first two speedy entries to Series 7 could not!

Mercy begins quite simply compared to the others as well; rather than a reasonably long teaser before the opening credits, we get a brisk scene setter that both sets the piece as a legend of the Old West, and introduces us to the enemy of the piece, the Gunslinger – a beautifully created cyborg assassin. I give much praise to the costume, props and make up departments of nuWho, and to acting of Andrew Brooke, who brought this menacing figure to life.

We are then back with Eleven and the Ponds (there is no scene of him picking them up in amusing circumstances) as he has popped back into their lives; he’s supposed to be taking them to the Mexican Festival of the Dead, but fate being fickle, they’ve somehow landed on the outskirts of the town of ‘Mercy’, which is surrounded by a ‘barrier’ of wood and stones and Keep Out signs.

“Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?!”

So naturally they head into town…

It really sells the piece that the production team went all the way to Spain and the filming site known as Fort Bravo, to film this adventure; the set is a classic example of an authentic Western town, right down to the Grand Central Bank! It probably helps to no end that various films over the years have been made at this site and has firmly cemented in viewers mind that this is what the Wild West would have looked like. But even then no CGI can compare to the real dust blowing across the ground, and the vast vistas of barren land.

The writer, Toby Whithouse, has crafted a marvellous story that weaves the best of the Western tropes (showdowns at noon, gunfights, mysterious strangers, gunmen) and included a few sci fi tropes for good measure; combined with the direction of Saul Metzstein, a real physical world that exists within the Whoniverse is very much present, and crucially, alive.

The guest stars this week are Adrian Scarborough (as Kahler Jex) and, deep breath now, Ben Browder (as Marshall Issac). Jex is the other alien of the adventure (separate to the Gunslinger), presented as another alien doctor who has dedicated his life to healing the sick; the townsfolk are very protective of the man, especially Issac, who believes that America is a land of second chances…

Adrian gives a very nice turn as Jex with a curious tilt to his accent that steps just the other side of English; determined, fearful and enigmatic. Unfortunately, for this reviewer, his role is somewhat sidestepped by the entrance of Issac, a character who sweeps in and takes control of a volatile situation, but without stealing the whole show from the main cast; but given that this role is played by Ben Browder of Farscape (possibly the most creative science fiction television I have had the pleasure of watching) and Stargate SG1 fame, it’s particularly thrilling to see him involved in nuWho. It’s a very selfless performance, where Browder gives much more to the characters and actors around him than the role probably calls for (until the moment where everything relies on what Issac does and the rest of the episode must inevitably follow!)

It turns out the Gunslinger is hunting down this Doctor Jex, and when the purpose why is revealed, it’s somewhat of a surprise how the story twists in the light. It turns out that Jex is responsible for creating the cyborg, through heavily implied disturbing experiments, all in the name of stopping a war on his home planet – he is regretful and seeking his own redemption for what he did in the name of war – but also firm in his choice.

Eleven is somewhat, understandably, horrified; this was a man who he saw some semblance of himself in. In one of the more shocking moments of the episode, but completely forecast by previous moments, Eleven, prompted by Jex to see similarities in their behaviour, forces Jex to cross over the Keep Out line to where the Gunslinger can get to him, and to make sure he can’t back across, he steals a gun and holds it point blank at Jex. Only a short regeneration ago, this is the man who never would…

“Today I honour the victims first! His, the Masters, the Daleks! All the people who died because of MY mercy!”

It’s here, now, that Amelia Pond steps up to the plate; acting as the voice of reason, and the audience, telling Eleven why he can’t do this, why he has to be better than this. It’s a great moment, between Karen Gillan and Matt Smith, where she has to out-Doctor him.

When reason, or better judgement returns, a quiet moment in the cells between the two Doctors is quite telling; Eleven sees too much of himself in the man. Jex has dedicated himself to healing the sick for his atonement, as has Eleven, in his own way, for all his sins.

“We all carry our prisons with us.”

Matt Smith is given a plethora of emotions to work with this week; elated at the mystery, horrified at the discovery, thrilled at finding someone like him, terrified by finding someone like him… You can see why Eleven still has so much more to explore as he keeps changing and growing as a character; in the darkness there is much good to be found.

It’s a shame really that Amy and Rory are not given as much to work with; but maybe that’s the point. They are just stopping in the Doctors’ life now; he has no one with him to ground him, to keep him seeing everything through fresh eyes – more than ever, this episode is more about how the Doctor sees things than the companions – perhaps that why there is no sequence showing Eleven picking up the Ponds.

The episode isn’t all doom, gloom and grit; there are plenty of laughs and humour found too. I’m torn between the Doctor proudly swaggering into a saloon and ordering a drink (“Tea. The strong stuff. Leave the bag in…”) and his latest ability to be revealed: “I speak horse…”

I’ve been a bit of the fence about how much is Eleven being silly and mysterious, and how much is truth, but given that he maintains a conversation with the horse (…[Her name is] Susan… and she wants you to respect her lifestyle choice…”) after he has ridden out into the desert and there is no one else around… I’m more inclined to believe it.

By episode’s end, events have taken an optimistic tone; wrongs are righted by those who committed them, and a new legend in history of the Old West has been born. We are left as viewers not really knowing who to condemn; as a wise man said, America is the land of the second chances… this episode of Doctor Who reaffirms that who we have been and the things we have done, do not have to define us for the rest of our lives… and sometimes they do…

“You’re both good men… you just forget sometimes.”

This episode isn’t quite as complicated thematically as Whithouse’s last episode from Season 6, The God Complex, (which I enjoyed very much by the way) and I’m inclined to say I’d like to give these episode 3.5 horses racing across the desert out of 5, but that just seems unfair given that there was more of an emotional story at the heart of this offering than last weeks Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, but they are two very different beasts… I’m going to have to settle on a very strong 3 and a half!

Next week: the slowest invasion of Earth ever… and the Doctor comes to stay. In your spare room. Bring on The Power of Three

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Looper – Here We Go Again

Get your chalk boards ready, it looks like we have another wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey problem on our hands. Looper is a film due to be released 28th September (IMDB) in which time travel has been invented and the mob send those they want dead back into the past, to be disposed of. Our protagonist is the one who does the killing and it’s all hunky dory until one day he finds that the person he has to kill is himself.

I am a bit of an overthinker however and before we all go away and talk about how awesome it is (and it is awesome) let us ponder several things:

  • Why would the mob do this? Surely it’s a really inefficient way of killing people. Yeah, their bodies are gone, but I think the mob is pretty good at disposing bodies
  • Are there not better ways the mob could use time travel? As a physicist it’s pretty demoralising that criminal masterminds are only going to use it as a bad way of killing people
  • Why on earth would you ever kill yourself? That has got to always be a bad idea. Even the most short-sighted criminal lowlife would realise that that would be him in 30 years time
  • Do the loopers not worry that the mob will try and kill them? (They do happen to know quite a lot after all)
  • How will this film deal with all the general paradoxy time problems/butterfly effects?
  • What have they done to Gorden-Levitt’s face? They seem to have Bruce Willis-afied him.

So come at me. Let’s have a ridiculous ill informed, over-theorised discussion of the sort that our friends decry (usually with a silly line like “yeah, but people can’t travel in time anyway”). After all, if any of this does happen, this ought to be good preparation.

Other than the telekinetic rubbish. I can’t help with that. Watch Star Wars.