We’ll be celebrating Independence Day here in the States this weekend, and for most of us that means some combination of backyard barbecues, fireworks, parades, and liver-pickling alcohol abuse. But what of the antisocial, the bedridden, the buried-beneath-a-toppled-pile-of-comic-book-longboxes? Fear not, for as long as you can reach the remote, there will be plenty to keep you distracted from the fact that you’ve started drinking your own pee while you wait for rescue. We’re talking Fourth of July TV marathons!
AMC will be shotgunning a ton of Walking Dead episodes beginning at 1PM/12c on Thursday, July 4. Season one will air twice on Thursday: once as originally aired and once in their snazzy black-and-white versions, a stylish tip of the hat to the show’s comic-book origins. Season two will unspool on Friday, and then season 3 will air twice, once on Saturday and once on Sunday. Even better, the entire marathon will be hosted by Kevin Smith, and will include a preview of the upcoming fourth season.
If the black-and-white look appeals to you, you might instead want to cruise over to Syfy, where they’ll be blocking out one of their semi-regular Twilight Zone marathons. It will begin at 8/7c on Thursday with “Walking Distance,” a nostalgic, Rod Serling-scripted tale of a man longing to return to his youth.” The Twilight Zone block will continue all day and into the night, finally wrapping up at 5:30 am/4:30c Friday morning. The marathon will include classic eps such as “Time Enough at Last,” “To Serve Man,” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
If you’re craving some (slightly) newer science fiction, BBC America will be airing back-to-back episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation beginning on Thursday at 8/7c. It looks like it’s all third-season episodes, which is nice, because there’s a lot of the first two seasons that you can easily skip without missing much.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
Defiance (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Past Is Prologue”
“Nolan’s involvement in an accident on the eve of the election has the town questioning his role as lawman and Amanda’s credentials as potential mayor.”
“The End of the Dream” by Philip Wylie
Summary via Amazon:
In The End of the Dream, venerated science-fiction author Philip Wylie trains his sights on the ultimate catastrophe—the destruction of the world through human beings’ unheeding and willful poisoning of the atmosphere, the land, the seas and rivers, and finally of the human race itself. The End of the Dream describes a horrific future when toxic chemicals, mutated creatures, and noxious gases all contribute to the eventual death of the human race and of the earth itself through a choking, painful, and pitiless exposure to foul air, disease, and the eruptions of outraged nature.
Shortly before his death in 1971, Wylie wrote this warning on the dangers of pollution in the hope that constructive action against environmental disasters might yet be possible. Although many positive changes have taken place in the intervening forty years, Wylie’s haunting tale still points out many unaddressed abuses—abuses that still have the potential to cause enormous damage to the ecosystem and humanity. The End of the Dream is still relevant today—its dire tableau highlights now as earlier the problems and choices we continue to face.
Siberia (NBC, 10/9c) — “Pilot”
You may have seen commercials for this and not known what to make of it. It looks like it’s a fake “reality” series that sees contestants hanging out near the site of the 1908 Tunguska incident. Then the Bad Things start happening.
In 1908, a meteor hit deep into the remote Siberian territory of Tunguska. Now, more than 100 years later, 16 contestants descend on Tunguska unknowing of the land’s mysterious past. When a contestant is badly injured and no help arrives, the contestants are met with the chilling realization that the strange occurrences are not part of the show. With their safety threatened, competing contestants must band together in an effort to survive.
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “The Fire”
I haven’t read King’s novel, but last week’s pilot has me onboard. Given the ratings, I’m not the only one. “People panic when a house catches fire in Chester’s Mill and the firefighters are unable to respond because they are outside of the dome.”
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 10/9c) — “All the Time in the World”
“The clock is ticking to track down an evil alchemist who has bronzed Claudia and stolen the only artifact that can reverse the condition, which seems to be affecting Mrs. Frederic and the Warehouse, too.” Fun footnote: the “evil alchemist” is played by Buffy’s Anthony Head.
“The Arrivals” by Melissa Marr
The Arrivals is the second novel for adults by internationally bestselling author Melissa Marr.
Chloe walks into a bar and blows five years of sobriety. When she wakes, she finds herself in an unfamiliar world, The Wasteland. She discovers people from all times and places have also arrived there: Kitty and Jack, a brother and sister from the Wild West; Edgar, a prohibition bootlegger; Francis, a one-time hippie; Melody, a mentally unbalanced 1950s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist.
None know why they arrived there — or if there is way out of a world populated by monsters and filled with corruption.
Just as she did in Graveminder, Marr has created a vivid fantasy world that will enthrall. Melissa Marr’s The Arrivals is a thoroughly original and wildly imagined tale about making choices in a life where death is unpredictable and often temporary.
“Beginnings: Worlds of Honor #6” by David Weber
The hottest military science fiction series of all time continues with a collection of tales by New York Times bestselling authors Timothy Zahn, Charles E. Gannon, David Weber and more. Set in Weber’s Honor Harrington Series.
The hottest military science fiction series of all time continues. The mission: to boldly explore David Weber’s Honorverse; to deliver all the action, courage, derring-do, and pulse-pounding excitement of space naval adventure with tales set in a world touched by the greatness of one epic heroine: Honor Harrington. This sixth volume in the popular Worlds of Honor series includes stories by 1635: Papal Stakes coauthor and best seller Charles E. Gannon, New York Times bestseller and Star Wars phenomenon, Timothy Zahn and Joelle Presby. It’s rounded out with an all-new David-Weber-authored novella featuring a young Manticoran Royal Navy commander who goes by the name Harrington.
“The Humans” by Matt Haig
‘I know that some of you reading this are convinced humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don’t know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.’
The bestselling, award-winning author of The Radleys is back with what may be his best, funniest, and most devastating dark comedy yet. When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his first impressions of the human species are less than positive. Taking the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, the visitor is eager to complete the gruesome task assigned him and hurry back home to the utopian world of his own planet, where everyone enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge.
He is disgusted by the way humans look, what they eat, their capacity for murder and war, and is equally baffled by the concepts of love and family. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this weird species than he has been led to believe. Disguised as Martin, he drinks wine, reads poetry, develops an ear for rock music and a taste for peanut butter. Slowly, unexpectedly, he forges bonds with Martin’s family, and in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, he begins to see hope and beauty in the humans’ imperfections and begins to question the mission that brought him there.
Praised by the New York Times as a ‘novelist of great seriousness and talent,’ author Matt Haig delivers an unlikely story about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on Earth. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable tale that playfully and movingly explores the ultimate subject—ourselves.
“Neptune’s Brood” by Charles Stross
The year is AD 7000. The human species is extinct—for the fourth time—due to its fragile nature.
Krina Alizond-114 is metahuman, descended from the robots that once served humanity. She’s on a journey to the water-world of Shin-Tethys to find her sister Ana. But her trip is interrupted when pirates capture her ship. Their leader, the enigmatic Count Rudi, suspects that there’s more to Krina’s search than meets the eye.
He’s correct: Krina and Ana each possess half of the fabled Atlantis Carnet, a lost financial instrument of unbelievable value—capable of bringing down entire civilizations. Krina doesn’t know that Count Rudi suspects her motives, so she accepts his offer to get her to Shin-Tethys in exchange for an introduction to Ana.
And what neither of them suspects is that a ruthless body-double assassin has stalked Krina across the galaxy, ready to take the Carnet once it is whole—and leave no witnesses alive to tell the tale…
“On the Razor’s Edge” by Michael Flynn
The secret war among the Shadows of the Name is escalating, and there are hints that it is not so secret as the Shadows had thought. The scarred man, Donovan buigh, half honored guest and half prisoner, is carried deeper into the Confederation, all the way to Holy Terra herself, to help plan the rebel assault on the Secret City. If he does not soon remember the key information locked inside his fractured mind, his rebel friends may resort to torture to pull it from his subconscious.
Meanwhile, Bridget ban has organized a posse—a pack of Hounds—to go in pursuit of her kidnapped daughter, despite knowing that Ravn Olafsdottr kidnapped the harper precisely to lure Bridget ban in her wake. The Hound, the harper, and the scarred man wind deeper into a web of deceit and treachery certain of only one thing: nothing, absolutely nothing, is what it seems to be.
“Storm Surge (Destroyermen)” by Taylor Anderson
In Taylor Anderson’s acclaimed Destroyermen series, a parallel universe adds an extraordinary layer to the drama of World War II, as Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of USS Walker, cast into that alternate earth, continue to fight the war that rages across the globe.
In the Pacific, as USS Walker is repaired and updated after a previous battle and Reddy is healing from his wounds, planning begins for a bold raid on the very heart of the Grik Empire.
But time is running out for the Alliance army in Indiaa, and the Allied forces in the west must gather in an unprecedented land, air, and sea campaign to destroy the mighty Grik battle fleet and break through to their relief. All other plans go on hold when the attempt proves more difficult—and more heartbreakingly costly—than anyone imagined.
Meanwhile, the struggle continues on other fronts near and far: in the jungles of Borno in distant Southern Africa and in the Americas, where the allies are finally learning the terrible truth about the twisted Dominion.
The Alliance is on the offensive everywhere, but their enemies have a few surprises, including new weaponry and new tactics…and a stunning geographic advantage that Reddy never suspected.
“SYLO” by D.J. MacHale
THEY CAME FROM THE SKY
parachuting out of military helicopters to invade Tucker Pierce’s idyllic hometown on Pemberwick Island, Maine.
They call themselves SYLO and they are a secret branch of the U.S. Navy. SYLO’s commander, Captain Granger, informs Pemberwick residents that the island has been hit by a lethal virus and must be quarantined. Now Pemberwick is cut off from the outside world.
Tucker believes there’s more to SYLO’s story. He was on the sidelines when the high school running back dropped dead with no warning. He saw the bizarre midnight explosion over the ocean, and the mysterious singing aircraft that travel like shadows through the night sky. He tasted the Ruby—and experienced the powers it gave him—for himself.
What all this means, SYLO isn’t saying. Only Tucker holds the clues that can solve this deadly mystery.
LOOK TO THE SKY
because Pemberwick is only the first stop.
“The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2013 Edition,” edited by Rich Horton
This fifth volume of the year’s best science fiction and fantasy features thirty-three stories by some of the genre’s greatest authors, including Elizabeth Bear, Aliette de Bodard, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jay Lake, Kelly Link, Robert Reed, Lavie Tidhar, Catherynne M. Valente, Genevieve Valentine, and many others. Selecting the best fiction from Analog, Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Strange Horizons, and other top venues, The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy is your guide to magical realms and worlds beyond tomorrow.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “Forty Percent Leadbelly”
“Bender meets his idol, a famous folksinger who’s been in jail dozens of times, and tries to make a copy of his guitar.”
Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “Can Our Minds Be Hacked?”
“Looking into the possibility of whether the human brain can be hacked like a computer.”
Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Second Opinion”
“Kiera suffers an emotional breakdown, triggering a psychiatric program embedded in her CMR; and the VPD names a new chief of police.”
Cult (The CW, 8/7c) — “The Prophecy of St. Clare / Flip the Script”
The CW continues burning off the remainder of the failed Cult, once again airing two eps back-to-back.
‘The Prophecy of St. Clare’: Skye consoles an actress on the “Cult” TV show. Meanwhile, Billy nears his breaking point.
‘Flip the Script’: A mysterious surveillance room is uncovered. Meanwhile, Kelly accompanies Meadow to therapy.”
Waking the Baby Mammoth (National Geographic, 8/7c)
She is the most perfectly preserved woolly mammoth ever discovered. She’s called Lyuba, a 1-month-old baby that walked the tundra about 40,000 years ago and then died mysteriously. And she has mesmerized the scientific world with her arrival — creating headlines across the globe. How did she die? What can she tell us about life during the ice age and the Earth’s changing climate?
Primeval: New World (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Undone”
“The team must keep a student population safe after an anomaly brings a Lycaenops to their university campus.”
Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “Be Silent and Come Out”
“Hal at last casts light on his internal struggle. Elsewhere, Lourdes works on a potentially dangerous new medical procedure; and a group departs on a search-and-rescue mission, leading to a change in leadership.”