Doctor Who Returns With A New Companion: This Week In Science Fiction

By David Wharton | 8 years ago


Doctor Who – “The Bells of St. John”
BBC America, Saturday 8/7c

After a long hiatus, Doctor Who returns this Saturday night, anchoring a new block of geek-friendly BBC America programming including the new clone thriller Orphan Black and the second season of the Nerdist TV series. We’ve seen many hints at what is to come, including the return of the Cybermen and the Ice Warriors, and a compelling new mystery in the form of new companion Clara Oswin Oswald, a girl at the center of a very strange phenomenon. I’m actually pretty enthusiastic to see what the show has for us in the second part of the season, in spite of my being largely underwhelmed by the first few episodes last year. I actually enjoyed Amy and Rory, but It all felt like too much time spent spinning wheels until their departure in “The Angels Take Manhattan.” Hopefully the new episodes will find provide more forward momentum.

One thing that I did really like was the Christmas special showing the Doctor wallowing in self-imposed exile after the loss of the Ponds, only to be lured out by the mystery of Clara. In spite of his many centuries of life, there are two things that rarely fail to catch the Time Lord’s attention: the peculiar, flawed, messy lives of us mortal human beings, and a question he doesn’t know the answer to. He gets both of those in the form of Clara, who he calls in the recent trailers “the only mystery worth solving.” Aside from that ongoing arc, the upcoming episodes look to provide plenty of the time-jaunting madness we’ve come to expect from Doctor Who, with episodes ranging from a modern-day battle against “sentient Twitter,” to far-flung alien worlds, to a second episode penned by geek icon Neil Gaiman. It all kicks off Saturday night with “The Bells of St. John.”

Revolution (NBC, 10:01/9:01c) — “The Stand”
The show, which last aired an episode in friggin’ November, finally returns from hiatus. Will it rally and overcome the problems that hobbled it in the first season, or will it achieve more than mediocrity? Time will tell.

BioShock Infinite (2K Games)
The much-anticipated follow-up to one of the best video games in history, BioShock serves as a sort of spiritual sequel to the original BioShock in the same way BioShock tipped its hat to System Shock. You’ve got a city in the sky, crazy super powers to unleash on people, a mysterious damsel-in-distress, and at least one seriously nerdy inside joke. This one should already be pre-ordered by now.

Continuum: Season One (Blu-Ray & DVD)
This time-travel procedural just wrapped its run on Syfy, with a second season about to air in its native Canada, so now’s the perfect time for a sit-down marathon if you haven’t seen it yet. Rachel Nichols stars as a cop from a corporate-run, dystopian future who travels back in time after a group of rebels/terrorists. Trapped in our time, she poses as a modern-day cop in Vancouver while she tries to catch the fugitives and find a way back home.

The Definitive Guide to Aliens (Science, 10/9c) — “How to Prepare”
Science’s multi-part series examines the prospect of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life, and whether we’d come through it as anything other than pets or possible some variety of appetizer platter.

Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Living the Dream”
The final episode of the season has the competitors tasked with creating waterproof makeup designs for the show Le Reve: The Dream. It will all wind up with a new Face Off champion.

FrozenCoverFrozen Solid” by James Tabor
Summary via Amazon:

The South Pole’s Amundsen Scott Research Station is like an outpost on Mars. Winter temperatures average 100 degrees below zero; week-long hurricane-force storms rage; for eight months at a time the station is shrouded in darkness. Under the stress, bodies suffer and minds twist. Panic, paranoia, and hostility prevail.

When a South Pole scientist dies mysteriously, CDC microbiologist Hallie Leland arrives to complete crucial research. Before she can begin, three more women inexplicably die. As failing communications and plunging temperatures cut the station off from the outside world, terror rises and tensions soar. Amidst it all, Hallie must crack the mystery of her predecessor’s death.

In Washington, D.C., government agency director Don Barnard and enigmatic operative Wil Bowman detect troubling signs of shadowy behavior at the South Pole and realize that Hallie is at the heart of it. Unless Barnard and Bowman can track down the mastermind, a horrifying act of global terror, launched from the station, will change the planet forever—and Hallie herself will be the unwitting instrument of destruction.

As the Antarctic winter sweeps in, severing contact with the outside world, Hallie must trust no one, fear everyone, and fight to keep the frigid prison from becoming her frozen grave.

Futureworld (Blu-Ray)
Crichton’s Westworld hit earlier this month, and now you can add the 1976 sequel to your Blu-ray collection. It follows a pair of reporters who are contacted about something bad going down at the high-tech amusement park Futureworld. Let the robotic carnage commence!

HellholeHellhole Awakening” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Via Amazon:

In this exhiliarting sequel to Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Hellhole, the stakes on planet Hallholme have been raised to new heights.

After declaring his independence from the corrupt Constellation, rebel General Adolphus knows the crackdown is coming. Now he needs to pull together the struggling Hellhole colony, the ever-expanding shadow-Xayan settlement, and his connections with the other Deep Zone worlds. Even then, he doubts his desperate measures will be enough.

Diadem Michella Duchenet has collected a huge space fleet led by Commodore Escobar Hallholme, son of the hero who originally defeated Adolphus. They expect resistance from the General’s rebels, but who could possibly stand up to such a mighty fleet?

Adolphus knows he’s running out of time, but he still has some hope—the shadow-Xayans have banded together to defend their sacred planet with “telemancy,” but can they discover new powers to protect all the stored alien lives on the already devastated world? And when all hope seems lost, the awakened Xayans reveal information hidden even from their own followers—the existence of a bigger threat that makes even the Constellation fleet seem insignificant.

Disaster has come for General Adolphus and Hellhole…and this time there is no escape.

Jurassic Park / The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Blu-Ray)
The first two Jurassic Park flicks have been on Blu-ray for a while now, but they’re getting a new re-relase as we approach the Jurassic Park 3D release on April 5th.

Robot Combat League (Syfy, 10/9c) — “The Next Level of Carnage”
Robots punching other robots. You already know whether or not this is your cup of tea by now.

Star Trek: Enterprise – Season One (Blu-Ray)
The Next Generation is still being parceled out season by season on Blu-ray, but Trekkers who enjoyed the latest Trek spinoff don’t have to wait for Paramount to get all the way through TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager before they can dive into Enterprise.

Star Wars Lego: The Empire Strikes Out (DVD)

Your favorite characters are back to save the galaxy in LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out. The heroes of the Rebel Alliance including heroic Luke Skywalker, swaggering Han Solo and steadfast Princess Leia have no time to celebrate their victory over the Empire as a new Imperial threat arises. But as Jedi-in-training Luke embarks on this next mission, he discovers that his celebrity status as a “Death-Star-Blower-Upper” can be a double-edged lightsaber when he’s constantly mobbed by crazed fans. So much for secret missions! Meanwhile, Darth Vader and Darth Maul are locked in a hilarious ‘Sith-ling’ rivalry as they compete for the Emperor’s approval. It’s an action-packed comic adventure that’s out of this world!

Blade Runner: The Untold Story (TLC, 10/9c)
Before you get too excited, this has nothing to do with the movie. Instead it’s about that double-amputee Olympic athlete who murdered his girlfriends. Apparently it didn’t occur to a single person involved that that title might be misleading.

Doctor Who #7 (IDW Publishing)
“Separated into three worlds, the Doctor battles dinosaurs on a flying carpet, Rory pulls the sword in the stone to fight Wild West gunfighters, and Amy joins the French Resistance to fight the Sontarans.” Just another average day inside the TARDIS.

Star Trek #19 (IDW Publishing)
Leading up to the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, the ongoing comic series is looking at the early years of the Enterprise crew. This time around we explore the origins of Montgomery Scott, engineer extraordinaire.

SolarisSolaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction” edited by Whates Ian
Via Amazon:

Following the exceptionally well received first collection, Solaris Rising 2 brings even more best-selling and cutting edge SF authors together for another extraodrinary volume of ground-breaking stories.

Having re-affirmed Solaris’s proud reputation for producing high quality science fiction antologies in the first volume, Solaris Rising 2 is the next collection in this exciting series. Featuring stories by Allan Steele, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kim Lakin-Smith, Paul Cornell, Eugie Foster, Nick Harkaway, Nancy Kress, Kay Kenyon, James Lovegrove, Robert Reed, Mercurio D. Rivera, Norman Spinrad, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Liz Williams, Vandana Singh, Martin Sketchley, and more. These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and maintain our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exciting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 2, we’ll be taking that much, much further.

Cult (The CW, 9/8c) — “The Good Fight”
“Jeff races to find a drug after Skye falls seriously ill.” While Jeff’s busy chasing antidotes, Skye bounces around a trippy series of hallucinations. Perhaps one of them will be of a better show.

The Host (In theaters)
Will this adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s science fiction romance fare as well at the box office as the Twilight movies? Either way, at least it’s not more Twilight movies.

The Nerdist (BBC America, 10/9c)
The TV spin-off of the long-running and rather excellent Nerdist Podcast, this episode kicks off the second season with host Chris Hardwick talking to Lost‘s Dominic Monaghan, Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany, and comedian Matt Kirshen.

Orphan Black (BBC America, 9/8c) — “Episode One”
The new sci-fi thriller series kicks off with prime real estate right after Doctor Who. Tatiana Maslany stars as a young woman who witnesses a woman commit suicide…a woman who looks exactly like her. She takes on the woman’s identity but soon learns that she’s got more than one doppelganger out there…

HaldemanThe Best of Joe Haldeman” by Joe Haldeman, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Via Amazon:

Joe Haldeman has been one of the world’s most universally admired and beloved science fiction writers for more than four decades. He has earned the respect of both lifelong science fiction fans and mainstream literary writers, both for the originality of his concepts and for the unsurpassed clarity of his prose, and his characters are among the most memorable in all of science fiction.

This first career retrospective of Haldeman’s finest work ranges from early tales such as ‘Hero’–which instantly earned his reputation and provided the basis for his classic novel The Forever War–to mid-career masterpieces like ‘Seasons’ and ‘The Hemingway Hoax,’ his major tribute to a favorite literary godfather, to very recent stories such as ‘Sleeping Dogs’ and ‘Complete Sentence.’ Haldeman has provided original story introductions for this new landmark collection.

What emerges from The Best of Joe Haldeman is a stunning portrait of a writer who may be more complex and varied than even his most devoted fans suspect. He can build a touching far-future romance from a Shakespeare sonnet (‘For White Hill’), depict with ruthless intensity the horrors of war (‘Graves’), and ask classic science fictional ‘what if’ questions worthy of Robert A. Heinlein, to whom Haldeman has often been compared as a worthy successor.

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited (BBC America, 8/7c) — “The Third Doctor”
BBC America is revisiting each of the eleven Doctors as we wind closer to the 50th anniversary special. Tonight it’s a look at Third Doctor Jon Pertwee, who played the time lord from 1970 – 1974.

Game of Thrones (HBO, 9/8c) — “Valar Dohaeris”
This show isn’t technically in our wheelhouse, but I’d be pissed if I missed the season premiere. Set your DVRs, people!

VanceMagic Highways: The Early Jack Vance, Volume 3” by Jack Vance, edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan
Via Amazon:

The Ultimate Grandeur

Fantasy and Science Fiction Grandmaster Jack Vance is very much a writer of the Space Age. His time ‘traveling’ the magic highways of his imagination spans the period bracketed by the final years of World War 2 and the Cassini Huygens probe reaching Saturn space in late 2004, the year he brought his magnificent career to a close.

In those first thrilling, dangerous, heady days, science did seem to promise all the answers, and it was in a ‘double’ universe of the familiar workaday world and the utterly unlimited one of the imagination that the ever-practical yet romantic, diligently physics-savvy yet as often wildly improvisational Jack Vance worked.

Even as he wrote tales set in the far future of his acclaimed Dying Earth, even as he produced mysteries and suspense stories of a much less fanciful kind, Jack s determined quest to become a ‘million words a year’ man saw him ranging a universe criss-crossed with busy interstellar highways: a network of flourishing trade and tourist routes leading to new frontiers, far-flung colonies, alien worlds, with ample room for exotic races, travelers, traders and scoundrels, even space pirates, ample opportunity for grand schemes of every kind.

Magic Highways gathers sixteen of those early space adventures from that exciting first decade, spanning the years 1946 to 1956. In these frequently inventive, often surprising space operas, Jack takes us to vivid destinations along the vast interstellar highways of a future where anything is possible.

The Walking Dead (AMC/ 9/8c) — “Welcome to the Tombs”
It’s all come down to this. Let’s hope this season goes out on a high note.