(In Theaters Friday)
You know the story: an average schmuck decides to visit Rekall and have a “virtual vacation” uploaded into his brain, giving him all the memories as if he really did go on the trip. But during the implantation something goes wrong. Suddenly Quaid (Colin Farrell) is on the run and learning that the life he remembers may be a lie.
The original Total Recall is still one of my favorite semi-guilty pleasures, and the world didn’t really need a remake. That being said, I’m trying to judge the new version judging it solely on its own terms. From the look of things, they’re taking a more serious approach and stripping out a lot of the cheese. That cheese is part of what made the original so much fun, but it also went along with the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. The idea of Arnold in his prime trying to pass as an average joe was always ridiculous; he was an action hero, and the rest of the movie adjusted itself into the pre-existing template of an Arnold movie, with all the silliness and one-liners that entailed.
The casting of Farrell, on the other hand, will make the scene where Quaid reflexively takes down an entire room full of soldiers a lot more effective. When Arnold did it, you were like, “Well, yeah, of course; he’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Farrell may be a handsome SOB, but he’s nowhere near as physically imposing as 1990 Arnold, and I think that factor provides the potential to improve on the original in some ways. Assuming they don’t fumble the ball, that is. Either way, I’m going to open my miiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnd and give the new Total Recall a shot, and that’s why it’s our Science Fiction Pick of the Week.
Alphas (Syfy, 10/9c) — “The Quick and the Dead”
The team has to take down a speedster. Which, in TV terms, means a guy who can run slightly faster than everybody else. I realize it’s a way of getting around the fact that a person with super-speed could win pretty much any fight before it’s even really started, but still. Also, I’m detracting major points for making me remember that Sharon Stone movie.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 9/8c) – “An Evil Within”
Crowds are randomly suffering group hallucinations and turning into angry, violent mobs. Do you think it’s related to an artifact? I bet it’s related to an artifact.
“Chimera (Subterrene War Series #3)” by T.C. McCarthy
I’m not familiar with McCarthy at all, but Wired described his Subterenne War series as “gritty” and “harsh,” so he’s okay in my book. Granted, my book is just a random collection of names, but it’s still an honor to be arbitrarily included.
Escaped Germline soldiers need to be cleaned up, and Stan Resnick is the best man for the job. A job that takes him to every dark spot and every rat hole he can find.
Operatives from China and Unified Korea are gathering escaped or stolen Russian and American genetics, and there are reports of new biological nightmares: half-human things, bred to live their entire lives encased in powered armor suits.
Stan fights to keep himself alive and out of prison while he attempts to capture a genetic, one who will be able to tell them everything they need to know about this new threat, the one called “Project Sunshine.”
Chimera is the third and final volume of The Subterrene War Trilogy which tells the story of a single war from the perspective of three different combatants. The first two volumes GERMLINE and EXOGENE are available now.
“Coup d’Etat (War That Came Early Series #4)” by Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove really stretches his writing muscles by providing us with a novel of alternate history.
In 1941, a treaty between England and Germany unravels—and so does a different World War II.
In Harry Turtledove’s mesmerizing alternate history of World War II, the choices of men and fate have changed history. Now it is the winter of 1941. As the Germans, with England and France on their side, slam deep into Russia, Stalin’s terrible machine fights for its life. But the agreements of world leaders do not touch the hearts of soldiers. The war between Germany and Russia is rocked by men with the courage to aim their guns in a new direction.
England is the first to be shaken. Following the suspicious death of Winston Churchill, with his staunch anti-Nazi views, a small cabal begins to imagine the unthinkable in a nation long famous for respecting the rule of law. With civil liberties hanging by a thread, a conspiracy forms against the powers that be. What will this daring plan mean for the European war as a whole?
Destination Truth (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Spirits of Tikal/Creature from the Black Lagoon”
Josh and company head to the ancient Mayan city of Tikal to investigate paranormal claims and return home with matching “I Went to Tikal and All I Got Was This Outfit” t-shirts. Also, there is some sea-serpent hunting in Fiji.
“Ghost Ship” by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
The latest book in the “Liaden Universe” series, which spans centuries and even multiple universes. You may need a flowchart.
New novel in the Liaden Universe® series. Over a quarter million copies sold in this series to-date! Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and family saga – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers alike.
Theo Waitley is an ace starship pilot – and pure maverick. Her mom is a renowned Terran scholar and her birth father is an interstellar aristocrat in hiding. She still feels like a socially challenged misfit. But after being selected to train with the best-of-the-best at the pilot academy, she figures she can leave behind those gawky, misfit days of teenage angst that made life so complicated before! But for Theo, life is about to get even MORE complicated – and deadlier still. For even though she’s survived the Academy and become one of the best pilots in the galaxy, the past is about to blast her with gale-force winds. Theo can run, but she can’t hide. Her destiny as master pilot and leader of a powerful Liaden clan calls, and there are lots of enemies who will try to make sure she’s quite dead before she has the chance to make an answer.
“How Firm a Foundation (Safehold Series #5)” by David Weber
I initially read that as “Safeword Series #5” and assumed Weber had branched out to appeal to a very different audience…
The Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don’t know even now, however, is how much more it’s fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than their own deaths and the destruction of all they know and love.
For five years, Charis has survived all the Church of God Awaiting and the corrupt men who control it have thrown at the island empire. The price has been high and paid in blood. Despite its chain of hard-fought naval victories, Charis is still on the defensive. It can hold its own at sea, but if it is to survive, it must defeat the Church upon its own ground. Yet how does it invade the mainland and take the war to a foe whose population outnumbers its own fifteen to one? How does it prevent that massive opponent from rebuilding its fleets and attacking yet again?
Charis has no answer to those questions, but needs to find one…quickly. The Inquisition’s brutal torture and hideous executions are claiming more and more innocent lives. Its agents are fomenting rebellion against the only mainland realms sympathetic to Charis. Religious terrorists have been dispatched to wreak havoc against the Empire’s subjects. Assassins stalk the Emperor and Empress, their allies and advisers, and an innocent young boy, not yet eleven years old, whose father has already been murdered. And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting’s city of Zion.
The men and women fighting for human freedom and tolerance have built a foundation for their struggle in the Empire of Charis with their own blood, but will that foundation be firm enough to survive?
Misfits: Season One (DVD)
This excellent British import, described as “Heroes with Buffy-esque snark,” is currently airing season one on Logo here in the States. If you’ve already sampled the show and liked it, or if you just want the ability to burn through the season back-to-back, you can pick the DVD set up today.
“An Officer’s Duty (Theirs Is Not to Reason Why)” by Jean Johnson”
Not to be confused with An Officer in a Gentleman. This book is 100% Richard Gere-free, which I know will be a real letdown to any remaining Richard Gere fans.
Jean Johnson—the national bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny novels—returns to the world she introduced in A Soldier’s Duty with a terrible vision of the future…
Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy—once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy’s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee…
“The Omen Machine” by Terry Goodkind
Is it science fiction? Is it fantasy? I have no idea, because the book description is maddening vague as to genre!
An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. The omens turn out to be astonishingly accurate, and ever more ominous. As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahlan, foretelling an impending event beyond anyone’s ability to stop.
As catastrophe approaches, the machine then reveals that it is within its power to withdraw the omen…in exchange for an impossible demand.
“Star Trek: Titan: The Fallen Gods” by Michael A. Martin
Hey, Riker finally got his own ship, the Titan! Isn’t that cute? I wonder if Picard finally had to throw him out an airlock to get rid of him. Cut the cord already, Will, you’re a grown-ass man!
Though the United Federation of Planets still reels from Andor’s political decision that will forever affect the coalition, Captain William T. Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan are carrying out Starfleet’s renewed commitment to deep space exploration. While continuing to search the Beta Quadrant’s unknown expanses for an ancient civilization’s long-lost quick-terraforming technology— a potential boon to many Borg-ravaged worlds across the Federation and beyond—Titan’s science specialists encounter the planet Ta’ith, home to the remnant of a once-great society that may hold the very secrets they seek. But this quest also takes Titan perilously close to the deadly Vela Pulsar, the galaxy’s most prolific source of lethal radiation, potentially jeopardizing both the ship and what remains of the Ta’ithan civilization. Meanwhile, Will Riker finds himself on a collision course with the Federation Council and the Andorian government, both of which intend to deprive Titan of its Andorian crew members. And one of those Andorians—Lieutenant Pava Ek’Noor sh’Aqaba—has just uncovered a terrible danger, which has been hiding in plain sight for more than two centuries…
“Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye” by Paul Tremblay
First off, nice job with the title. I am about intrigued and faintly nauseous. And I really can’t say anything about this book that can top the official description, so take it away, anonymous book-jacket synopsis writer!
Join Farm today! It’s only six years of your life! Farm is the mega-conglomerate food supplier for City, populated with rabidly bureaucratic superiors, antagonistic and sexually deviant tour guides dressed in chicken and duck suits, and farm animals illegally engineered for silence. City is sprawling, technocratic, and rests hundreds of feet above the coastline on the creaking shoulders of a giant wooden pier. When the narrator’s single mother, whom he left behind in City, falls out of contact, he fears the worst: his mother is homeless and subsequently to be deported under City to the Pier. On his desperate search to find his mother, he encounters ecoterrorists wearing plush animal suits, an election that hangs in the balance as the City’s all-powerful Mayor is infatuated with magic refrigerators and outlaw campaigns, and a wise-cracking, over-sexed priest who may or may not have ESP, but who is most certainly his deadbeat dad.Whether rebelling against the regimented and ridiculous nature of Farm life, exploring the all-too-familiar and consumer-obsessed world of City, experiencing the all-too-real suffering of the homeless in Pier, or confronting the secrets of his own childhood, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye’s narrator is a hilarious, neurotic, and rage-filled Quixote searching for his mother, his own dignity, and the meaning of humanity.
Total Recall: Mind-Bending Edition (Blu-Ray)
If you’re shunning Total Remake but are still craving mutants, mayhem, and Martian mystery machines, this Blu-ray features a new high-def transfer of the film, a new interview with director Paul Verhoeven, and the various bonus features from the earlier releases. Get your ass to Mars, man.
“vN: The First Machine Dynasty” by Madeline Ashby
We featured this one a while back in it released in hardback, but it’s finally hitting paperback today if you’ve been waiting to save a couple of bucks.
Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot known as a VonNeumann.For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.
Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that she alone can kill humans without failsafing…
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2 (DC Comics)
Not particularly science fiction-y, but it is being written by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “Fun on a Bun”
“A sausage-making accident claims Fry as a victim during the crew’s visit to Oktoberfest.” That’s what they get for ignoring the old adage that “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” Also, for some reason Fry has a chicken on his head.
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) – “Will Eternity End?”
Seems to me it would be a pretty half-assed eternity if it did. Doesn’t anybody over at the Science channel have access to a dictionary? Check out the clip below and figure out what the hell this topic has to do with the “sport” of curling.
Misfits (Logo, 10/9c) — “Episode Three”
“Alisha enjoys using her new powers but the one thing she really wants she doesn’t seem to be able to get. Simon’s online dating is going well. Some builders are digging a hole in the same spot that the gang buried the bodies.” If you’re a superhero and you can’t dispose of a few measly corpses, you are doing it wrong. Clearly none of them has the mutant ability to locate the nearest pig farm. Now let’s watch this out-of-context clip of a guy throwing up.
The Chrysalids (9 PM GMT, BBC Radio 4)
I don’t know about you, but I loves me some radio drama. While the format is decades past being a part of everyday life as it was before the television, I’m still fascinated by the way you can spin a tale when all you have to work with is sound and language. So I will most definitely be checking out the BBC’s radio adaptation of John Wyndham’s post-apocalyptic classic. And you can listen to it as well by clicking the link above.
Set in the distant future, the story follows David Strorm, whose rare ability to communicate telepathically with others conflicts with the message preached by his evangelical father. When his secret is revealed, David must journey south to save his friends from the reckoning of the Norms.
Dark Matters: Twisted but True (Science, 10/9c) — “Amnesiac, Party Poopers, Risky Radiation”
“A mishap with an atomic bomb is detailed. Also: Brain surgery that produced an amnesiac is discussed.” I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that anything involving an atomic bomb is a few steps too extreme for the word “mishap.” The only reason you would use the word “mishap” when describing an atomic-bomb situation is if you had amnesia and didn’t remember what an atomic bomb was (boom, full circle!).
The Nerdist: Tribute to Science (BBC America, 10/9c)
Chris Hardwick and company assemble to celebrate capital-S Science! Sadly, with our culture the way it is these days, Science needs all the help it can get.
The Science of Doctor Who (BBC America, 9/8c)
Hopefully they’ll delve into the Sonic Screwdriver’s ability to do whatever the script calls for at that particular moment.
Falling Skies (TNT, 9/8c) — “Death March”
Well, that title is certainly ominous. The unit marches onward to Charleston, S.C., as some in the group continue to grieve recent losses. Meanwhile, information surfaces about Tector’s past; and Matt connects with a recently discovered harnessed girl.” I wonder, if you’re harnessed can you use the harness to scratch those spots on your back that you can never quite reach? Because if so I would totally be up for a harness.
Leverage (TNT, 8/7c) — “The First Contact Job”
TNT’s not-SF series nonetheless has two notable SF qualities tonight: It’s being directed by Will Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes, and it finds the team faking an alien encounter for a gullible mark who stole his partner’s scientific research.