On Blu-ray Tuesday
A good two decades before audiences were dazzled by Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Crichton was spinning a very similar tale about a high-tech theme park gone wrong. In the case of Westworld, the threat that sends terrified tourists sprinting isn’t hungry velociraptors, but rather Yul Brenner. Specifically, Yul Brenner playing an android gunslinger who goes on the fritz and decides it’s time to kill all humans (nobody saw that coming).
James Brolin and Richard Benjamin star as friends John and Peter, vacationing buddies who visit Delos, a high-tech, grown-up theme park where lifelike robots help you live out whatever fantasy you can imagine. Presumably that means the park is full of overweight businessmen being walked on by stiletto-wearing robot dominatrixes, but John and Peter decide to keep things a little more PG-rated and visit the park’s Westworld section. Suffice to say, there’s a malfunction and suddenly all the mechanical day players, especially Brenner’s black-hatted gunslinger, begin stalking the men with murderous intent. Will John and Peter be the quick or the dead?
Westworld is a slightly cheesy science fiction classic, and if you’ve never checked it out before, this new Blu-ray is the perfect excuse. It’s not exactly packed with bonus features, but it does include an eight-page booklet about the making of the movie.
Continuum (Syfy, 8/7c) — “Playtime”
“Two murder-suicides happen on the same day. Kiera and Carlos investigate the only link between the two: a video game company that is doing more than just developing video games.” I’m always leery when TV shows decide to involve video games as part of their narrative, primarily because they almost always rely on cliches, inaccuracies, or easy punchlines. Hopefully Continuum won’t fall into those pitfalls.
Alien Encounters (Science, 10/9c) — “The Invasion”
What would happen if aliens did indeed to invade our little blue marble? Hopefully Jeff Goldblum will be on hand with a laptop to save the day.
“The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Seven,” edited by Jonathan Strahan
Synopsis via Amazon:
In print and on-line, science fiction and fantasy is thriving as never before. A multitude of astonishingly creative and gifted writers are boldly exploring the mythic past, the paranormal present, and the promises and perils of myriad alternate worlds and futures. There are almost too many new and intriguing stories published every year for any reader to be able to experience them all. So how to make sure you haven’t missed any future classics?
Award-winning editor and anthologist Jonathan Strahan has surveyed the expanding universes of modern sf and fantasy to find the brightest stars in today’s dazzling literary firmament. From the latest masterworks by the acknowledged titans of the field to fresh visions from exciting new talents, this outstanding collection is a comprehensive showcase for the current state of the art in both science fiction and fantasy. Anyone who wants to know where the future of imaginative short fiction is going, and treat themselves to dozens of unforgettable stories, will find this year’s edition of Best Science Fiction and Fantasy to be just what they’re looking for!
“The Children of Kings: A Darkover Novel” by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross
Synopsis via Amazon:
Although the Terran Federation has departed Darkover due to a nasty interstellar civil war, the planet’s location in the galactic arm makes it a prime hideout for smugglers, rebels, and other refugees. When smugglers start arming the warlike Dry Towners with forbidden weapons, Gareth Elhalyn, grandson of Regis Hastur and heir to the throne, takes off on a secret mission to stop them…
“Doughnut” by Tom Holt
Synopsis via Amazon:
The doughnut is a thing of beauty.
A circle of fried doughy perfection.
A source of comfort in trying times, perhaps.
For Theo Bernstein, however, it is far, far more.
Things have been going pretty badly for Theo Bernstein. An unfortunate accident at work has lost him his job (and his work involved a Very Very Large Hadron Collider, so he’s unlikely to get it back). His wife has left him. And he doesn’t have any money.
Before Theo has time to fully appreciate the pointlessness of his own miserable existence, news arrives that his good friend Professor Pieter van Goyen, renowned physicist and Nobel laureate, has died.
By leaving the apparently worthless contents of his safety deposit to Theo, however, the professor has set him on a quest of epic proportions. A journey that will rewrite the laws of physics. A battle to save humanity itself.
This is the tale of a man who had nothing and gave it all up to find his destiny — and a doughnut.
“Empty Space” by M. John Harrison
Synopsis via Amazon:
One of science fiction’s premiere stylists, M. John Harrison has received abundant praise and awards for his wildly imaginative ideas and transcendent prose. Now he returns to the richly complex universe of Light and Nova Swing with a stunning new novel that braids three glittering strands into a tapestry that spans vast reaches of time and space.
In the near future, an elderly English widow is stirred from her mundane existence by surreal omens and visitations. Centuries later, the space freighter Nova Swing takes on an illegal alien artifact as cargo, with consequences beyond reckoning. While on a distant planet, a nameless policewoman tries to bring order to an event zone where ordinary physics do not apply, only to find herself caught up in something even stranger and more sublime…
Face Off (Syfy, 8/7c) — “It’s Better in the Dark”
The competitors face a double elimination tonight, with their task to create an original glow-in-the-dark creature makeup.
“A Few Good Men (Earth’s Revolution)” by Sarah A. Hoyt
Synopsis via Amazon:
Original trade paperback, sequel to Darkship Renegades and Darkship Thieves. The son of a ruler on Earth instigates civil war and revolution when he attempts to take the place of his assassinated father and uncovers a terrible secret that has been used to enslave humanity.
The Son Also Rises…
On a near future Earth, Good Man does not mean good at all. Instead, the term signifies a member of the ruling class, and what it takes to become a good man and to hold onto power is downright evil. Now a conspiracy hundreds of years in the making is about to be brought to light when the imprisoned son of the Good Man of Olympic Seacity escapes from his solitary confinement cell and returns to find his father assassinated.
But when Luce Keeva attempts to take hold of the reins of power, he finds that not all is as it seems, that a plot for his own imminent murder is afoot—and that a worldwide conflagration looms. It is a war of revolution, and a shadowy group known as the Sons of Liberty may prove to be Luce’s only ally in a fight to throw off an evil from the past that has enslaved humanity for generations.
Sequel to Sarah A. Hoyt’s award-winning Darkship Thieves, and Darkship Renegades.
Red Dawn (Blu-Ray & DVD)
This remake of the Patrick Swayze/C. Thomas Howell original from 1984 replaces invading Soviets with invading North Koreans, but based on the reviews it sounds like the only ones losing this battle are the audience.
Robot Combat League (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Blood, Sweat, and Gears”
While last week’s premiere had its moments, it quickly became clear that the technology still isn’t where it needs to be to serve up the robot-on-robot carnage sci-fi fans have grown up dreaming about. Still, it’s robots punching robots.
“Shadow of Freedom” by David Weber
Synopsis via Amazon:
New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and international bestselling phenomenon David Weber delivers book #18 in the multiple New York Times best-selling Honor Harrington series. Honor Harrington’s Royal Manticoran Navy fights space battles alongside planetary rebels as its old rival, the corrupt Solarian League, begins to crumble.
#18 in the multiply-bestselling Honor Harrington series.
Wrong number? There are two sides to any quarrel . . . unless there are more.
Michelle Henke, Queen Elizabeth of Manticore’s first cousin, Honor Harrington’s best friend, and the commanding officer of Manticore’s Tenth Fleet, is just a bit surprised when a messenger arrives from the Mobius System to inform her that the Mobius Liberation Front is prepared to rise in rebellion against the hated regime President Svein Lombroso. She can understand why anyone would want to rebel against someone like Lombroso, but why tell her about it? After all, she has problems of her own, like the minor matter of a life-or-death war against the Solarian League.
Michelle has just handed the “invincible” Solarian League Navy the most humiliating, one-sided defeat in its entire almost thousand-year history in defense of the people of the Star Empire’s Talbott Quadrant. But the League is the most powerful star nation in the history of humanity. Its navy is going to be back – and this time with thousands of superdreadnoughts.
Yet she also knows scores of other star systems — some independent, some controlled by puppet regimes, and some simply conquered outright by the Solarian Office of Frontier Security — lie in the League’s grip along its frontier with the Talbott Quadrant. As combat spreads from the initial confrontation, the entire frontier has begun to seethe with unrest, and Michelle sympathizes with the oppressed populations wanting only to be free of their hated masters.
And that puts her in something of a quandary when the messenger from Mobius arrives, because someone’s obviously gotten a wrong number. According to him, the Mobians’ uprising has been carefully planned to coordinate with a powerful outside ally: the Star Empire of Manticore. Only Manticore — and Mike Henke — have never even heard of the Mobius Liberation Front.
It’s a set-up . . . and Michelle knows who’s behind it. The shadowy Mesan Alignment has launched a bold move to destroy Manticore’s reputation as the champion of freedom. And when the RMN doesn’t arrive, when the MLF is brutally and bloodily crushed, no independent star system will ever trust Manticore again.
Mike Henke knows she has no orders from her government to assist any rebellions or liberation movements, that she has only so many ships, which can be in only so many places at a time . . . and that she can’t possibly justify diverting any of her limited, outnumbered strength to missions of liberation the Star Empire never signed on for.
She knows that . . . and she doesn’t care.
No one is going to send thousands of patriots to their deaths, trusting in Manticoran help that will never come.
Not on Mike Henke’s watch.
Wreck-It Ralph (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Along with ParaNorman, this is one of the most buzzed-about animated flicks in a while, and video game fans will find more easter eggs than they can count. John C. Reilly voices Ralph, a video game villain who decides he’d rather be a hero.
Person of Interest (CBS, 9:01/8:01c) — “Proteus”
“The Machine produces six numbers at once, sending Reese and Finch on a search for clues in a coastal town where they must wait out a storm with a group of locals—one of whom may be a killer.”
Cult (The CW, 9/8c) — “Being Billy”
Hopefully you haven’t gotten too attached to Rockne O’Bannon’s latest outing, since it’s being shifted to the Friday-night death slot. Well, hopefully Defiance will fare better… “Jeff encounters a surprise visitor in Nate’s apartment. Meanwhile, E.J. uncovers a cryptic e-mail that was sent by Nate; and Kelly confronts Billy.”
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9/8c) — “Arrow on the Doorpost”
The promos reveal that this week Rick and the Governor sit down to try to work out their grievances. That should go about as well as you’d expect.