Aliens, Apocalypse And Robots: All The Fall 2011 Science Fiction You Can’t Miss

By Josh Tyler | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

Summer’s over which means it’s time to look forward to what’s coming this fall. Here’s just a few of the things we’re most excited about arriving in font of our eyeballs this fall, and if you’re even half the science fiction fans we are, you should probably keep an eye out for them too.

Read on for Giant Freakin Robot’s fall science fiction preview. Warp speed ahead, fellow nerds.

Doctor Who
While just about every other long-running science fiction series on television has either finished its run or ended up cancelled (thanks to SyFy’s obsession with ghosts and wrestling), The Doctor remains. The second half of Doctor Who’s current season begins on August 27 at 9/8c on BBC America, and hot on the heels of that cliffhanger which revealed the true origins of River Song… it’s not to be missed. With mysteries to be uncovered using science and romance, the show hasn’t lost a step, and Matt Smith has turned into a pretty great Doctor. I’ll always miss David Tennant but this Doctor is not to be missed. It’s one of the best shows on television. Be there to find out what’s up with that astronaut in the lake.

Here’s the trailer for the fall 2011 return of Doctor Who.

The deadly disease scenario has, by now, been done to death. There wouldn’t be any reason at all to be interested in this film, if it weren’t directed by Steven Soderbergh and populated with an all-star cast. So even though the plot seems generic, it’s about a team of scientists and doctors trying to stop an outbreak, the fact that the guy who made movies like Ocean’s 11, Erin Brockovich, and the better than it gets credit for American version of Solaris is behind it; plus a cast containing the likes of Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslett, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, and Gwyneth Paltrow, demands your attention. Maybe they’ll find something new in this science causes a deadly disease genre. Contagion spreads through theaters on September 9th.

Here’s the full trailer for Soderbergh’s Contagion:

Alright this is going to be the year I stop jumping around and get really locked in to Fringe. After a shaky start a few years ago the Fox series has really hit its stride, developing a loyal following and an enduring place on Fox. That fact that it’s survived while other solid sci-fi shows, like Dollhouse or Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have gotten the axe, is a testament to what they’re doing here. Fringe keeps right on going, investigating the mysteries of the strangest of strange fringe science. Fringe returns to television September 23 at 10/9c on Fox.

Here’s a look at what Fringe has in store for Season 4:

Terra Nova
Dinosaurs haven’t had a regular place on television since they showed up in a hilarious, Muppet-driven comedy called Dinosaurs in the 90s. Steven Spielberg’s new series Terra Nova is less likely to be funny but perhaps equally entertaining. The show stars Avatar’s Stephen Lang, among others, in the story of an ordinary family sent back in time to prehistoric Earth. It’s all part of a desperate, daring experiment to save the human race. They’re sent back from the year 2149 where the world is overdeveloped, overpopulated, and dying. Their plan is to resettle humanity in Earth’s past, which sounds like a good recipe for a pretty massive temporal paradox to me, but could also end up as brilliant television. Terra Nova steps through time September 26th at 8/7c on Fox.

Here’s the trailer for Terra Nova:

Real Steel
These days it seems like Hollywood only uses robots when it wants something to brutally beat up on screen without getting an R-rating. And while Real Steel, as a robot boxing movie, is sure to have plenty of robot beat downs… there may be something more there. My hope is that we’re in for something more in the mold of Short Circuit than Transformers. No one’s come right out and said it, but there have been hints that somehow Hugh Jackman’s remote-controlled robot boxing buddy may at some point in the film become self-aware. That this could be a movie about the relationship between man and machine. Or it might just be a movie about hunks of metal punching each other. If it’s the former, I’m interested. If it’s the latter… well I guess there’s nothing wrong with a good game of Rock em’ Sock em’ Robots. Real Steel punches its way into theaters October 7th.

Here’s the robot boxing trailer for Real Steel:

The Children of the Sky
Written by the brilliant and far too often overlooked sci-fi author Vernor Vinge, The Children of the Sky is a direct sequel to his now twenty-year-old, Hugo award winning novel A Fire Upon the Deep. If you haven’t read Fire (and you should), it involves children stranded on an alien planet with intelligent, wolf-like creatures called Tines and the growth of an unfriendly super intelligence threatening to destroy the universe. The sequel, Children, takes place ten years later and follows up with the humans living amongst Tines on their far off planet. Peace reigns for a time, but malcontents threaten to upset the balance they’ve established on the planet. Vinge’s The Children of the Sky will be available for purchase on October 11th.

Here’s what Vinge’s Children of the Sky cover will look like:

The Thing
Not a remake but more of a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror classic, The Thing takes us to Antarctica where an alien is unearthed by a group of scientists. The creature has the ability to perfectly replicate any living being, and it doesn’t have the best of intentions. Early buzz on the movie has been good, though the lack of promotion for a potential blockbuster only two months away may be worrisome. The fact that they’ve avoided doing a flat out remake though, means you don’t have to get all up in arms about Hollywood ruining another classic. Sure it’s a technicality, I mean the plot sounds almost identical to Carpenter’s film, but in a world where almost every movie’s a remake of something better I’ll take it as a good excuse to watch. The Thing sneaks into theaters on October 14th.

Here’s the full trailer for this 2011 version of The Thing:

Micro is the new book from Michael Crichton who at his best has been one of the masters of the sci-fi genre, giving us such gems as Jurassic Park which is, believe it or not, even better as a book than it is as a movie (and the movie is of course really good). At his worst… he writes books no serious science fiction lover would ever touch. Which one will Micro be is anyone’s guess but the story is another one of those Crichton forays into speculating what would happen if we developed some wacky new technology or science. In this case the world make a huge advancement in micro robotics, leading to a murder and an all new industry in bio-prospecting. What happens when man can harness the full power of nature? It’s a Crichton book, so probably nothing good. Micro arrives on bookstore shelves (assuming there are any actual bookstores left in your area) November 22nd.

Here’s what you can expect the cover of Micro to look like, when it shows up on shelves:

The Darkest Hour
The Darkest Hour is yet another alien invasion movie and if you’ve been paying attention this week, you know how I feel about those. Still it’s produced by Timur Bekmambetov, the genius behind Wanted, and the trailer does a good job of showing off some truly eye-popping visual effects. The movie has a slightly different twist on the usual alien invasion premise… these aliens are invisible. And apparently, also unstoppable. They have a way of disintegrating anything they touch in rather fantastical fashion, I guess that’s the film’s way of saying “we didn’t make them invisible just to save money on special effects.” Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby star. Look for The Darkest Hour in theaters December 25th.

Here’s the full trailer for The Darkest Hour: