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Time Loops, Martians, And Groot: Here’s The Sci-Fi We’re Most Thankful For in 2014

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Here in the States most of us are winding down a day spent eating too much, drinking too much, and likely experiencing more than a little family-related drama. Far be it from us here at GFR to play humbugs, so, as we’ve done in previous years, we sat down to ponder what science fiction developments we were most thankful for this year. So before you collapse back into a turkey-induced coma, take a moment to look back at the things that put the biggest smiles on our faces in 2014. And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

EdgeEverything About Edge of Tomorrow
How is it that a movie involving an alien invasion and a weird form of time travel joined forces with polarizing megastar Tom Cruise and became one of the year’s most guiltlessly enjoyable movies? Whether the credit for the sci-fi magic goes to director Doug Liman, screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth and Christopher McQuarrie, or even Cruise and co-star Emily Blunt, the film’s sense of sheer fun and darkly comedic whimsy are undeniable.

Based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow could have easily crumbled beneath the weight of its time-looping narrative, but manages to steer clear of weary repetition. By sticking Cruise back into a learning recruit role instead of having him start the film as the almighty hero, Edge of Tomorrow gives its lead one of the weirdest character arcs in all of fiction, which can’t be derailed by the likes of co-stars Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. By far the airiest, funniest, and most exciting blockbuster of the year, Edge of Tomorrow is arguably the only must-see tentpole film of the year for sci-fi fans. (That’s right, Godzilla and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I said it.) – Nick

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Syfy’s Childhood’s End Casts This Under The Dome Star In The Lead

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Mike VogelSyfy is trying their level best to distance themselves from the schlock factory image they’ve had over the past few years. To list all of the ambitious titles they have in the works would take all day, but the network is developing a ton of projects that we’re totally psyched to see, and one of those that we’re most excited about is their adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. Casting wise, they have a couple of pieces in place, but they just added a key player as Mike Vogel has been tapped to take the lead role.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the Under the Dome star has been cast to front the six-hour event miniseries based on Clarke’s classic 1953 novel about aliens coming to Earth. He joins Game of Thrones star Charles Dance on the call sheet, as well as Ashley Zuckerman of Manhattan and Osy Ikhile (Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea).

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Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End Adaptation Adds This Game Of Thrones Star

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Charles DanceIt’s a good time to be an actor on Game of Thrones, or, as the case often is given the frequency with which HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga kills people off, a former Game of Thrones star. The cast of the sprawling epic is popping up everywhere. Peter Dinklage is in Pixels, Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys, Nathalie Emmanuel just joined The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, Gwendoline Christie has a significant role in Star Wars: Episode VII, and Sean Bean dies in tons of movies, and the list could go on and on. Another guy who gets a lot of work is Charles Dance, who played Tywin Lanister, and he’s been cast in Syfy’s upcoming adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, something we’re very interested in around these parts.

Envisioned as a six-hour miniseries event, Clarke’s 1953 novel tells the story of a different kind of alien invasion than you’re used to. It’s not a violent incursion, but a race of creatures from space, called Overlords, show up, take charge in an indirect way, and end all war and conflict, creating a global utopia. While that may not sound so bad on the surface, it comes at the cost of individual identity and culture and the very things that make us human, so there’s that.

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Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End Gets The Greenlight From Syfy

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childhood's endIf science fiction’s most popular writers were still alive today, they’d be pulling in truckloads of money at this point. (Not that some of them weren’t already wealthy, but still.) Syfy is getting into the Arthur C. Clarke business with an official order for the miniseries Childhood’s End, first announced a couple of weeks ago. Is anybody else besides me just waiting for Syfy to announce that of all their recent pickups have been a joke and they’re actually just going to air Scare Tactics and wrestling for 24 hours a day?

Childhood’s End will be presented as a six-part miniseries executive produced by Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and mega-producer Mike De Luca (Dracula Untold). To direct the project, the team nabbed British filmmaker Nick Hurran, arguably most notable around these parts for directing The Day of the Doctor, as well as a few other Doctor Who episodes. He was also recently recognized with an Emmy nomination for his work on Sherlock: The Last Vow. Taking on screenwriting duties is Life on Mars co-creator Matthew Graham.

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SyFy To Adapt Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End As A Miniseries

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Childhood's EndArthur C. Clarke resides in the pantheon of science fiction gods. That might seem like a melodramatic thing to say, but it’s absolutely true. The guy was utterly amazing. Not only did he give us 2001: A Space Odyssey(among a slew of other books), he dreamed up the GPS system and discovered ruins of an underwater temple—and that’s just for starters. While 2001 is his most famous work, my favorite has always been Childhood’s End, which I’ve both read and taught a number of times. So I’m both excited and nervous to hear that SyFy has picked up the book as a miniseries. I sure hope it’s better than Helix.

Childhood’s End was published in 1953, before humans went to space or even sent satellites beyond our atmosphere. The book opens with an arresting premise: Earth is suddenly visited by alien ships who take residence over the planet’s major metropolises. The mysterious aliens, Overlords, keep their agenda a secret, but they start influencing humanity, largely in positive ways. They eradicate cruelty to animals with a high-pitched scream in the ears of would-be abusers, and they generally introduce a utopian age without poverty and crime. But of course, they can’t be entirely benevolent, or else the story would be pretty dull. When the humans figure out what the Overlords are after, there’s not a whole lot they can do. Clarke sets up a David vs. Goliath theme, but twists it in unexpected ways. I have long discussions in class about the ending—not only does it support multiple interpretations, but it strikes some people as unbearably sad and others as gloriously uplifting.

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Scientists Reveal Their Favorite Works Of Science Fiction

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Here at GFR we cover anything that fits under the umbrella of our twin loves: science and science fiction. And just as the bleeding edge of our scientific understanding is forever pushing the boundaries of our science fiction, SF is itself inspiring fans to take transform their love of starships, robots, and the like into careers in real scientific fields. So what are some of the science fiction movies, shows, and books that real-life scientists love best? The Huffington Post recently asked a handful of scientists precisely that.

PermutationCityDr. Max Tegmark is a cosmologist and physics professor at MIT, and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which provides grants to “catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology.” Tegmark cites Greg Egan’s 1994 science fiction novel Permutation City as his favorite, explaining that Egan’s “explorations of the ultimate nature of reality blew my mind and inspired my own research.”

Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of books including The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here. He lists another semi-obscure work you might want to add to your Kindle: Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Carroll says, “It’s a story about life on the surface of a neutron star, which would ordinarily be considered completely outlandish. A good reminder that ‘life’ might take on very different forms than we ordinarily imagine. Here’s the Dragon’s Egg synopsis from Amazon:

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