Why should you be excited for Pacific Rim? Why wouldn’t you be? It’s directed by Guillermo del Toro for one, a genre heavy-hitter who has so far done damn near no wrong. It’s got a badass premise that finds a desperate humanity constructing massive battle mechs — Jaegers — to combat enormous monsters — Kaiju — emerging from a dimensional rift on the bottom of the Pacific. It’s got a cast that includes Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba as the awesomely named Stacker Pentecost, and del Toro regular Ron Perlman as a dealer in Kaiju organs, with creature design by the legendary Wayne Barlowe. It’s also written by up-and-comer Travis Beacham, the dude who wrote the in-freaking-credible — but still unproduced — spec script A Killing on Carnival Row.
But that’s all just potential. Even the most promising-looking projects can still go off the rails during the translation from conception to finished product. Early buzz from journalists and celebs was insanely positive, but over the past few days a veritable explosion of praise has come from folks like author Neil Gaiman (“a perfect monsters v robots film”), Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima (“The emotional rush I had inside me was the same kind I had when I felt the outer space via 2001: A Space Odyssey”) , Harry Potter’s Emma Watson (“Wish I could fight like Mako”), MythBusters’ Grant Imahara (“Both ‘adult’ Grant and my nine-year-old Grant loved it!”), Robot Chicken’s Seth Green (“SO. FREAKING. AWESOME.”), and Kanye West (“This is not another ‘Robot’ movie. Guillermo del Toro is a master.”)
Amanda is locked in a bitter power struggle with Datak as the citizens of Defiance cast their votes for mayor. At the same time, Nolan is violently confronted by his past; and Irisa must decide whether or not to accept her destiny.
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “Manhunt”
So far I’ve been quite digging this summer series. A lot of its punch will rely on how the Dome itself is eventually explained, and while I haven’t read the Stephen King novel that inspired the series, I’ve heard the book’s explanation is a bit underwhelming…
Big Jim recruits Barbie to join the manhunt when a former deputy goes rogue. Meanwhile, Junior tries to escape the dome by going underground.
The team must capture Paracelsus before he achieves immortality, or worse. At the same time, Myka seems to be losing her battle against cancer; and Steve learns that Artie has been keeping life-changing information under wraps.
“The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories” by Connie Willis
Summary via Amazon:
Few authors have had careers as successful as that of Connie Willis. Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Willis is still going strong. Her smart, heartfelt fiction runs the gamut from screwball comedy to profound tragedy, combining dazzling plot twists, cutting-edge science, and unforgettable characters.
From a near future mourning the extinction of dogs to an alternate history in which invading aliens were defeated by none other than Emily Dickinson; from a madcap convention of bumbling quantum physicists in Hollywood to a London whose Underground has become a storehouse of intangible memories both foul and fair—here are the greatest stories of one of the greatest writers working in any genre today.
All ten of the stories gathered here are Hugo or Nebula award winners—some even have the distinction of winning both. With a new Introduction by the author and personal afterwords to each story—plus a special look at three of Willis’s unique public speeches—this is unquestionably the collection of the season, a book that every Connie Willis fan will treasure, and, to those unfamiliar with her work, the perfect introduction to one of the most accomplished and best-loved writers of our time.
“Fiend” by Peter Stenson
When Chase Daniels first sees the little girl in umbrella socks tearing open the Rottweiler, he’s not too concerned. As a longtime meth addict, he’s no stranger to horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations.
But as he and his fellow junkies soon discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived.
The funny thing is, Chase’s life was over long before the apocalypse got here, his existence already reduced to a stinking basement apartment and a filthy mattress and an endless grind of buying and selling and using. He’s lied and cheated and stolen and broken his parents’ hearts a thousand times. And he threw away his only shot at sobriety a long time ago, when he chose the embrace of the drug over the woman he still loves.
And if your life’s already shattered beyond any normal hopes of redemption…well, maybe the end of the world is an opportunity. Maybe it’s a last chance for Chase to hit restart and become the man he once dreamed of being. Soon he’s fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among civilization’s ruins.
But is salvation just another pipe dream?
Propelled by a blistering first-person voice and featuring a powerfully compelling antihero, Fiend is at once a riveting portrait of addiction, a pitch-black love story, and a meditation on hope, redemption, and delusion—not to mention one hell of a zombie novel.
Gattaca (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Andrew Niccol’s underrated sci-fi flick Gattaca is one of my favorites of the genre, a moving look at a world where being born without genetically enhanced qualities leaves you a subpar citizen, and a naturally born janitor who dreams of going to outer space — something his very nature disqualifies him for.
The Host (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Speaking of Niccol, he directed this year’s latest cinematic offering from the mind of Twilight’s Stephenie Meyer. Thankfully free of sparkly vampires, The Host instead wraps its goo-goo-eyed teen romance in a world where invaders have been possessing human forms, wiping out the mind’s of the original inhabitants. One girl manages to come through unscathed, so she and her new occupant set out to track down some dude she’s crushing on. Aww…
Trek Nation (DVD)
This documentary follows Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene Rod Roddenberry, as he crosses the country exploring his father’s legacy. Expect appearances by many of the actors and crew who helped bring his vision to life, as well as the fans devoted to the iconic science fiction franchise that changed the landscape of pop culture.
Warehouse 13: Season Four (DVD)
If Monday’s finale leaves you craving more, you can at least rewatch season four the very next day.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “The Inhuman Torch”
Bender becomes a well-known firefighter, but his crew suspect he’s an arsonist. Meanwhile, the Professor’s invention aides the mining of helium on the sun.
Star Wars #7 (Dark Horse Comics)
Princess Leia takes the Rebels’ secret mission to the next level! Playing it safe has gotten them nowhere, and they are running out of resources and time. What’s the fastest way to get inside info on the Empire? Have your top pilots get themselves captured!
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “Are Robots the Future of Human Evolution?”
Certainly, because in the future after they murder or enslave us all. Or possibly mass convert us into fertilizer. Robots like flowers: fact.
Wonders of Life (Science, 9/8c) — “What Is Life?”
Baby don’t hurt me.
Sharknado (Syfy, 9/8c)
I don’t need to sell you on the obvious appeal of the Sharknado concept. Its a tornado, son Except with sharks in it.
Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Second Truths”
“Kiera’s knowledge of the future helps her pursue a serial killer, but it also makes Carlos suspicious of how she’s coming to her hunches.” It seems like since he’s a cop Carlos might have had that suspicion sooner than he did. Maybe he’s just not a very good cop.
Cult (The CW, 8/7c) — “1987 / Executive Producer Steven Rae”
The involvement of Farscape’s Rockne O’Bannon has me sad that this show is blowing off its final two episodes in a death slot in the middle of the summer, but given what a mess the show was, it’s lucky it lasted even that long. Thankfully, Rockne’s got Defiance and Revolution to keep him busy next season.
Stuart tasks Nate with deciphering Kellian’s manuscript. Meanwhile, Jeff and Skye remain in hiding from the True Believers.
Jeff makes a promise to Skye in the series finale. Later, Billy tries to persuade Kelly to kill Henry.
Primeval: New World (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Clean Up on Aisle Three”
Evan, Dylan and Mac try to outwit a pack of small but smart dinosaurs that have decided to make a home store their new abode.
Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “The Pickett Line”
A road-trip mission turns dangerous for the Masons when a family of outlaws intercepts them. Meanwhile, the construction of an alien weapon comes with doubts and conflicts; and an investigation to catch a killer is jeopardized.