It’s all about the collision between man and machine this week. Seriously, it’s rare that any installment of This Week in Science Fiction is able to find some overarching theme for the week’s science fiction notables, but this week it’s like some higher (robotic) power is lining things up perfectly. What does it all mean? Beats me, but it’s kind of awesome.
Friday we’ve got Iron Man 3 ringing in the summer movie season. We could debate about whether that fancy chest implant qualifies Tony Stark as a cyborg or not, but I’d rather use that brainpower to erase the memories of most of Iron Man 2. On the home video front, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s remastered third season arrives on Blu-ray, bringing you the second half of the iconic, unforgettable “A Best of Both Worlds” two-parter featuring everybody’s favorite cyborged Starfleet officer, Locutus of Borg.
But wait, there’s more! In a development that may well send our own Brent McKnight into some sort of diabetic glee coma, the hilariously awful-looking (or awfully hilarious-looking) Manborg arrives on DVD Tuesday. We’ve pretty well got your cyborg needs covered on both the big screen and small, but we’re not done yet! For the gamers among us, especially those who liked last fall’s Far Cry 3, that game is releasing Blood Dragon, a standalone expansion so batshit-crazy that it would make a perfect cross-media double-feature with Manborg. Honestly, it’s all too much for us. I’ve got to go lay down…
Defiance (Syfy, 9/8c) — “The Devil in the Dark”
Alright, Defiance, I really liked your second episode, but it’s a little early to be stealing titles from classic Star Trek episodes, don’t you think? Horta or GTFO, baby!
Revolution (Syfy, 10:01/9:01c) — “Home”
My interest in this show just ramped up significantly with the word that Farscape’s Rockne O’Bannon is coming aboard for the second season. Let’s hope a dose of Rockne can do the usually mediocre series a narrative shot in the arm. Tonight, Monroe and Miles go toe-to-toe in their hometown.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 10/9c) — “The Living and the Dead”
Even though I’d given up on both shows a while back, it just seems wrong to have Warehouse 13 not paired with Eureka. In tonight’s season premiere, the team works to stop a deadly pandemic. Also worth noting, apparently James Marsters (Caprica/Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will be turning up at some point this season.
“Five Autobiographies and a Fiction” by Lucius Shepard
Summary via Amazon:
Five Autobiographies and a Fiction, the long-awaited new collection from master storyteller Lucius Shepard, is a significant publishing event, a volume equal in every way to such earlier Shepard classics as The Jaguar Hunter and The Dragon Griaule. Its six long stories offer narrative pleasures as diverse and profound as anything to be found in modern imaginative fiction.
‘Ditch Witch,’ set in rural Oregon, concerns a young man on the run in a stolen car, a hitchhiker who may or may not have witch-like powers, and the bizarre inhabitants of the seemingly innocuous Elfland Motel. ‘The Flock’ is a tale of high school football and small town malaise set against an impossible intrusion from the natural world. A washed-up actor and a Malaysian ‘woman of power’ stand at the center of ‘Vacancy,’ the account of a man forced to confront the very real demons of his past. ‘Dog-eared Paperback of My Life’ follows a writer (Thomas Cradle) on his erotically charged journey down the Mekong River, a journey enveloped in a maze of multiple, interpenetrating realities. ‘Halloween Town’ tells the story of a small, extremely strange town and one of its denizens, Clyde Ormoloo, a man who sees too deeply into the ‘terrible incoherence’ of human affairs. The final story, ‘Rose Street Attractors,’ takes us into 19th century London and the heart of the steampunk era in the richly atmospheric tale of a most unusual haunting. Rounding out this generous volume is an Introduction in which Shepard offers a startlingly frank assessment of his own troubled adolescence, identifying the ‘alternate versions’ of himself that appear in these pages and illuminating those points at which fiction and ‘near-autobiography’ converge.
Lyrical, brutal, and always powerfully composed, Five Autobiographies and a Fiction is something special. Each of these six novellas speaks in its own distinctive voice. Each one takes us into the heart of a thoroughly imagined world. Only Lucius Shepard could have created those worlds. Only Lucius Shepard could have given us this book.
“Necessary Evil” by Ian Tregillis
12 May 1940. Westminster, London, England: the early days of World War II.
Raybould Marsh, one of “our” Britain’s best spies, has travelled to another Earth in a desperate attempt to save at least one timeline from the Cthulhu-like monsters who have been observing our species from space and have already destroyed Marsh’s timeline. In order to accomplish this, he must remove all traces of the supermen that were created by the Nazi war machine and caused the specters from outer space to notice our planet in the first place.
His biggest challenge is the mad seer Gretel, one of the most powerful of the Nazi creations, who has sent a version of herself to this timeline to thwart Marsh. Why would she stand in his way? Because she has seen that in all the timelines she dies and she is determined to stop that from happening, even if it means destroying most of humanity in the process. And Marsh is the only man who can stop her.
Necessary Evil is the stunning conclusion to Ian Tregillis’s Milkweed series.
Nova: Earth From Space (Blu-Ray & DVD)
The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know. It’s Earth. As seen from space. Quite frankly, that’s enough to get our attention, especially in high definition.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds (Blu-Ray)
Take home arguably one of the best cliffhangers/two-parters in science fiction television history. I cannot, however explain why any true Next Gen fan would buy this standalone release when instead you could purchase the next item below…
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season Three (Blu-Ray)
Sure, to get the first part of “The Best of Both Worlds” you’ll have to purchase the second-season Blu-ray set, but I imagine quite a few of you already did that. Plus, the seasonal sets net you all manner of behind-the-scenes goodies, in addition to the shiny, remastered episodes themselves.
“The Ward” by Jordana Frankel
Jordana Frankel’s thrilling and imaginative YA dystopian novel The Ward is set in a near-future New York City. A catastrophic flood has washed out Manhattan, leaving the rivers polluted, and entire neighborhoods underwater. Some areas are quarantined because of an outbreak of a deadly disease.
The illness, known as the Blight, is killing sixteen-year-old Ren’s sister. Desperate to save her sister’s life, Ren agrees to lead a secret mission from the government to search for a cure. But her quest leads to a confounding mystery beneath the water and an unlikely friendship with a passionate scientist.
Weird or What? (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Alien Encounters / Life After Death”
William Shatner serves as your dramatically enunciating guide through the world of the strange and allegedly paranormal.
Big Brain Theory (Discovery, 10/9c) — “The Next Great Innovator”
Hosted by Harold and Kumar’s Kal Penn — insert your own jokes as you see fit — Big Brain Theory challenges competitors design and implement solutions to various engineering problems, with the eventual winner taking home fifty grand and a yearlong contract to work for WET, “the industry leader behind some of the world’s most innovative water-based designed environments and experiences including the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas.”
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #5 (IDW Publishing)
Each issue of this series spotlights a different incarnation of the Doctor, celebrating the show’s long history as part of the 50th anniversary. This time, it’s the Fifth Doctor, played on the show by Peter Davison.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows)
This trippy standalone expansion for last fall’s excellent Far Cry 3 throws sanity to the winds and casts players as cyborg protagonist Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt. He’ll roam an open-world island environment that was ripped from the covers of ‘80s VHS action/sci-fi movies, attempting to defeat an evil cyborg army. It sounds batshit crazy, but in the very best way.
Journey to Planet X (Epix, 8/7c)
Part of the Epix network’s continued question to remind people that there’s a network called Epix, Journey to Planet X is a documentary about two friends who are “scientists by day and amateur filmmakers by night.” But while Troy thinks their latest project — the titular Planet X — could launch his Hollywood career, his buddy Eric just thinks their collaborations are a fun hobby. Do they ultimately wind up choking each other to death, Londo and G’Kar style? I have absolutely no idea, but I feel safe predicting, “Yes, absolutely.” Now if I could just figure out where the hell Epix is on my cable box…
MythBusters: Blast From the Past (Discovery, 8/7c)
Before you tune in for the new season premiere, check out this retrospective special, likely containing many, many explosions.
MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c) — “JATO Rocket Car: Mission Accomplished?”
For the show’s 10th anniversary, they revisit one of their earliest and most popular experiments: strapping a JATO rocket to the top of a car and shifting to ludicrous speed.
Nova: Australia’s First 4 Billion Years (PBS, 9/8c) — “Strange Creatures”
Nova’s in-depth examination of Down Under’s ancient history wraps up with this episode, which explores the creatures that arose in the aftermath of the asteroid impact believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs.
Star Wars #5 (Dark Horse Comics)
This series is set in the aftermath of A New Hope, with the events of Empire Strikes Back still on the horizon.
When Princess Leia is caught between two squadrons of TIE fighters, her undercover scouting may be at an end. But Luke Skywalker is doing his best to disobey Leia’s own orders, and to once again save the princess. Time is short and the Empire is closing in!
Deadliest Space Weather: Tornadoes Special (Weather Channel, 9/8c)
What’s worse than tornadoes? Tornadoes in space! “A study of “space tornadoes” that race across the sun and on newly born stars.”
Person of Interest (CBS, 9:01/8:01c) — “Zero Day”
Reese and Finch Angel/Dollhouse’s Amy Acker guest stars!
The Machine is affected by a virus that causes it to put out erratic numbers. Meanwhile, the team look for an elusive tech millionaire; and Det. Carter works to bring down Cal Beecher’s killer, but her mission has unintended consequences.
Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 9/8c) — “The Magician”
Leonardo shows off a new weapon as Rome and Florence continue their pissing match. Also, Da Vinci is arrested and charged with sodomy. So this is clearly the ideal dream world of some currently sitting American politicians…
Iron Man 3 (In theaters)
There’s not one single thing I can say that could make you want to see this more, nor should there be. Bring on the Downey Jr. awesomeness!
Doctor Who (BBC America, 8/7c) — “The Crimson Horror”
The Doctor and Clara pop back to Victorian times and find strange things afoot involving dead bodies with waxy, glowing red skin. Don’t pick at it, that will only make it worse.
The Nerdist (BBC America, 10/9c)
Host Chris Hardwick welcomes Geek fantasy girl Eliza Dushku and 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer.
Orphan Black (BBC America, 9/8c) — “Variations Under Domestication”
This show has been one of the best surprises of the year thus far. Tonight, “Sarah’s search for the truth is put aside when she has to take a trip to the suburbs. Meanwhile, Alison’s paranoia causes trouble for all the Orphans.”