You wouldn’t expect it as August closes out, but there’s actually a lot going on across the science fiction landscape this week. Syfy’s Continuum, which has gotten surprisingly good, wraps up its second season this Friday, but fear not! Continuum has already been renewed for a third season by its Canadian home network, Showcase, so expect it to make its way down to the States sometime next year. GFR boss Josh Tyler has been raving about the show as of late, so we’re tentatively marking a vaguely summer-ish bit of our calendar in excitement.
Saturday night Doctor Who fans can tune in to yet another Doctors Revisited special on BBC America, this time looking at the Doctor who never really got his due…at least not on TV. The latest special will reminisce about the Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann in a single Fox TV movie that attempted to get American audiences hooked on the British classic, but which seemed to have arrived too early by, oh, ten years or so. Still, given the early buzz about what we’ll learn in the upcoming Who 50th anniversary special, now may be the perfect time to brush up on Eighth Doctor history…
Meanwhile there’s a ton of intriguing sci-fi books hitting shelves this week, Lost Planet 3 invites you to strap on some long underwear and shoot space monsters, and Syfy tries to put their spin on Jurassic Park, which I imagine will work out about as well as you might expect.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
Rewind (Syfy, 9/8c)
Saturday night has traditionally been Syfy’s launching point for their cornball grade-Z monster movies, but they’ve recently shifted to Thursday nights to premiere such classic cinema as Sharknado. What, then, are we to make of a Syfy original arriving on a Monday night? While it’s entirely possible Rewind — which could serve as a backdoor pilot if it does well — will be terrible, there are a few reasons it might be worth your attention. David Cronenberg is in it, for one thing. Yes, that David Cronenberg. It’s directed by Jack Bender, a veteran of shows such as Lost, Alphas, and Under the Dome is in the director’s seat. And the script was written by hotshot screenwriter Justin Marks, who has been attached to projects including the Dead Space movie and Andrew Kevin Walker’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea adaptation. Of course, Marks was also the sole credited screenwriter on Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li…
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “Let the Games Begin”
“Julia uncovers the truth about her husband’s disappearance and unravels some of Chester’s Mill’s darkest secrets. Meanwhile, Maxine lays out her plan to take over the town.” Better to reign under a dome than serve in Heav’n, I suppose…
“Crux” by Ramez Naam
Summary via Amazon:
Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place. In the United States, the terrorists – or freedom fighters – of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies. In Washington DC, a government scientist, secretly addicted to Nexus, uncovers more than he wants to know about the forces behind the assassinations, and finds himself in a maze with no way out.
In Thailand, Samantha Cataranes has found peace and contentment with a group of children born with Nexus in their brains. But when forces threaten to tear her new family apart, Sam will stop at absolutely nothing to protect the ones she holds dear.
In Vietnam, Kade and Feng are on the run from bounty hunters seeking the price on Kade’s head, from the CIA, and from forces that want to use the back door Kade has built into Nexus 5. Kade knows he must stop the terrorists misusing Nexus before they ignite a global war between human and posthuman. But to do so, he’ll need to stay alive and ahead of his pursuers.
And in Shanghai, a posthuman child named Ling Shu will go to dangerous and explosive lengths to free her uploaded mother from the grip of Chinese authorities.
The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck. The world will never be the same.
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Getting Goosed”
“The artists face a double elimination when they are tasked with taking classic Mother Goose characters and putting a modern spin on them. But first, they take part in a demon-inspired challenge featuring James Wan and Lin Shayne of the movie Insidious.”
“Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and Gris Grimly
Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein is a twisted, fresh, and utterly original full-length, full-color graphic-novel adaptation of Mary Shelley’s original text, brought to life by acclaimed illustrator Gris Grimly.
This is the first fully illustrated version to use the original 1818 text and is destined to capture the imagination of those new to the story as well as those who know it well.
New York Times bestselling illustrator Gris Grimly has long considered Frankenstein to be one of his chief inspirations. From the bones and flesh of the original, he has cut and stitched Mary Shelley’s text to his own artwork, creating something entirely new: a stunningly original remix, both classic and contemporary, sinister and seductive, heart-stopping and heartbreaking.
Perfect for fans of Edgar Allan Poe and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.
Lost Planet 3 (Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)
Talk about arriving with little fanfare. I haven’t heard a peep about this latest sequel to the chilly Lost Planet franchise. This go-round is taking a page from Dead Space and trying to serve up some scares in a prequel set before the events of the first game.
“Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe,” edited by Bill Fawcett and J.E. Mooney
Perhaps no living author of imaginative fiction has earned the awards, accolades, respect, and literary reputation of Gene Wolfe. His prose has been called subtle and brilliant, inspiring not just lovers of fantasy and science fiction, but readers of every stripe, transcending genre and defying preconceptions.
In this volume, a select group of Wolfe’s fellow authors pay tribute to the award-winning creator of The Book of the New Sun, The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Soldier of the Mist, The Wizard Knight and many others, with entirely new stories written specifically to honor the writer hailed by The Washington Post as “one of America’s finest.”
Shadows of the New Sun features contributions by Neil Gaiman, David Brin, David Drake, Nancy Kress, and many others, plus two new short stories by Gene Wolfe himself.
“Star Wars: Kenobi” by John Jackson Miller
Tatooine — a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.
Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.
Ben — Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope — can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.
Stranded (Blu-Ray, DVD & Digital)
Christian Slater aims to remind us that he’s still alive in this straight-to-video sci-fi thriller following the crew of a moonbase facing bad-nasties after a meteor storm drops alien spores all up in their business. And because we love you and want you to be happy, we’ll point out that you can watch it for “free” on Netflix, just in case you were contemplating a Blu-ray purchase…
“A Thousand Perfect Things” by Kay Kenyon
In this epic new work, the award-winning Kenyon creates an alternate 19th century with two warring continents on an alternate earth: the scientific Anglica (England) and magical Bharata (India). Emboldened by her grandfather’s final whispered secret of a magical lotus, Tori Harding, a young Victorian woman and aspiring botanist, must journey to Bharata, with its magics, intrigues and ghosts, to claim her fate. There she will face a choice between two suitors and two irreconcilable realms.
In a magic-infused world of silver tigers, demon birds and enduring gods, as a great native mutiny sweeps up the continent, Tori will find the thing she most desires, less perfect than she had hoped and stranger than she could have dreamed.
Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on a pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship’s passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be.
Like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the starship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she’s someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley’s personal quest, or make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.
James Gunn’s Transcendental is a space adventure filled with excitement and intrigue that explores the nature of what unifies all beings.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season (Blu-Ray, DVD & Digital)
If you missed it last fall, catch up on the occasionally awesome, frequently frustrating third season of AMC’s hit zombie-drama. With the introduction of Woodbury, the prison, the Governor, and Michonne, It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in DVD marathon form, as opposed to stretched out over months. And hey, if you’ve got the cash, you can take home a creepy limited edition decorated with severed heads!
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #8 (IDW Publishing)
The Doctors Revisited special on Saturday isn’t the only place the Eighth Doctor is getting some love this week. This issue of IDW’s year-long tribute to each of the Doctors picks up after the events of the 1996 Fox Doctor Who TV movie starring Paul McGann, with the Doctor inviting Grace Holloway to sign on for a TARDIS cruise.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “Stench and Stenchability”
“Dr. Zoidberg falls in love with a woman who has no sense of smell; Bender takes part in a dangerous tap-dancing competition.”
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers (Marvel Comics)
With Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy gaining Comic-Con buzz and assembling a ridiculously eclectic cast, the project seems to be set to prove all the initial doubters wrong — us included. If you want to get a feel for the cut of the Guardians’ jib, this volume collects the first few issues of the latest Guardians of the Galaxy comic.
There’s a new rule in the galaxy: No one touches Earth! No one! But why has Earth suddenly become the most important planet in the galaxy? That’s what the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to find out! Join Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and — wait for it — the invincible Iron Man, as they embark upon one of the most explosive and eye-opening chapters of Marvel NOW! These galactic Avengers are going to discover secrets that will rattle Marvel readers for years to come! But while London deals with a brutal invasion by the Badoon, the fate of the Guardians may have already been decided millions of miles away! Why wait for the movie? It all starts here!
Joe Rogan Questions Everything (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Psychic Spies”
Having already tackled such heady concepts as Bigfoot, weather control, and UFOs, now full-time UFC fanboy and part-time skeptic Joe Rogan investigates whether the government is secretly trying to make their very own Charles Xavier.
Age of Dinosaurs (Syfy, 10/9c)
I’m not saying Syfy is foolish for trying to beat Steven Spielberg at his own game with a fraction of the budget, I’m just saying Treat Williams is no Sam Neill/Jeff Goldblum.
Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Second Time”
“Kiera rushes to save Alec from himself while trying not to lose her chance to get home. Meanwhile, Alec must make a choice between helping Kiera and himself.”
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited — The Eighth Doctor (BBC America, 8/7c)
If this special has you craving more of Paul McGann’s take on the Time Lord, he’s voicing the character again in The Light at the End, a new Doctor Who audio drama due out this November. He’ll be joining other former Doctors Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy.