World War Z was one of the biggest surprises of the summer, proving damn near everybody wrong and taking in half a billion dollars worldwide. The movie that many predicted to be an utter train wreck was such an unexpected success that there’s a very real possibility that it will get a sequel a few years down the line. It definitely deviated from Max Brooks’ brilliant novel, but it’s still up for debate whether it succeeded on its own strengths or not. And who knows, maybe the sequel will be more faithful to the spirit and tone of Brooks’ work.
- “Origins” — The filmmakers discuss collaborating with renowned actor/producer Brad Pitt to create a zombie film the likes of which have never been seen.
- “Looking to Science” — Explore the scientific realities of zombie behavior in nature and learn more about zombies in literature and film.
- WWZ: Production
- “Outbreak” — Go on set with Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster for a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s breathtaking first attack in Philadelphia.
- “The Journey Begins” — Delve deeper into Gerry’s fight for survival during the dramatic escape in South Korea.
- “Behind the Wall” — Explore the epic scene in Jerusalem and discover the incredible logistics of creating the elaborate stunts and crowd sequences.
- “Camouflage” — Experience the final confrontation between Gerry and the zombies and discover the phenomenal scope of the film’s production.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
Sleepy Hollow (Fox, 9/8c) – “Pilot”
This looks to be fantasy rather than science fiction, but it’s still a noteworthy premiere and it was written by Star Trek Into Darkness’s Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
In the series premiere of this update of Washington Irving’s classic tale, Ichabod Crane wakes up in the 21st century but finds his 18th-century nemesis, the Headless Horseman, has also come along for the ride. After a local sheriff is killed, Crane teams up with Det. Abbie Mills to sort out the mystery and its historical implications, though her supervisor is skeptical of all the supernatural shenanigans
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “Curtains” Season finale!
Season 1 ends with secrets of the Dome being revealed, and Big Jim becoming determined to put an end to Barbie once and for all. Meanwhile, Junior, Angie, Joe and Norrie discover who the Monarch is after receiving a shocking visit from a familiar face.
“Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left.
Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics—carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people’s bank accounts—without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom—two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood—till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler’s aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.
With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?
Hey. Who wants to know?
Day of the Dead: Collector’s Edition (Blu-Ray & DVD)
This new edition of George Romero’s third “…of the Dead” film includes behind-the-scenes interviews and featurettes, as well as an audio commentary with Romero, special make-up effects artist Tom Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson, and actress Lori Cardille (Sarah).
Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka (DVD)
This is an odd little Who curiosity. The flash-animated story was put together in 2003, for the show’s fortieth anniversary. It picked up the Doctor’s adventures in the aftermath of the 1996 Fox TV movie starring Paul McGann. It got booted out of the canon when Russell T Davies resurrected the show with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper in 2004. Technically you don’t even need to pick up this DVD to see Scream of the Shalka: it’s still watchable on the BBC’s website.
Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors (DVD)
The 1967 Doctor Who serial The Ice Warriors is one of many classic Who serials that is sadly incomplete, with parts 2 and 3 lost. Thankfully, the missing parts have been recreated in animated form for this DVD release, using the existing audio tracks as the foundation. The serial marks the first appearance of the titular aliens, who returned this past season in the episode “Cold War.”
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Trick or Treat”
The show seems to be a month early: tonight’s episode has the contestants reimagining classic Halloween characters.
“Fortunately, the Milk” by Neil Gaiman
’I bought the milk,’ said my father. ‘I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.’
‘Hullo,’ I said to myself. ‘That’s not something you see every day.’ And then something odd happened.
Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.
Heroes of Cosplay (Syfy, 10/9c) — Planet Comicon Part 2
Season finale! The show’s first season wraps up as the cosplayers try to triumph in the team competition at Kansas City’s Planet Comicon.
“Kinslayer” by Jay Kristoff
Kinslayer is Book Two in Jay Kristoff’s critically acclaimed Lotus War series that began with Stormdancer, featuring an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original Japanese dystopian steampunk world.
A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The toxic blood lotus flower continues to ravage the land, the deadlands splitting wider by the day. The machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild conspire to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously — by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.
A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.
A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.
The ghosts of a blood-stained past.
“The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, with Winds and Accompaniment” by L.E. Modesitt
The colony world of Stittara is no ordinary planet. For the interstellar Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, Stittara is the primary source of anagathics: drugs that have more than doubled the human life span. But the ecological balance that makes anagathics possible on Stittara is fragile, and the Unity government has a vital interest in making sure the flow of longevity drugs remains uninterrupted, even if it means uprooting the human settlements.
Offered the job of assessing the ecological impact of the human presence on Stittara, freelance consultant Dr. Paulo Verano jumps at the chance to escape the ruin of his personal life. He gets far more than he bargained for: Stittara’s atmosphere is populated with skytubes — gigantic, mysterious airborne organisms that drift like clouds above the surface of the planet. Their exact nature has eluded humanity for centuries, but Verano believes his conclusions about Stittara may hinge on understanding the skytubes’ role in the planet’s ecology — if he survives the hurricane winds, distrustful settlers, and secret agendas that impede his investigation at every turn.
“Swarm” by Lauren Carter
In the not-too-distant future, thirty-seven-year-old Sandy lives a challenging and unfamiliar life. She survives by fishing, farming, and beekeeping on an isolated island with her partner, Marvin, and friend, Thomson. When the footprints of a thieving child start appearing in their garden, the family must come together to protect both the child and their fragile community.
In the face of scarcity, Sandy still dreams of being a mother. The thought of a child compels her to revisit her earlier life in a city plagued by power outages, unemployment, and protests. There she met Marvin and joined his violent cause, initiating a chain of events that led to tragic and life-altering consequences.
A powerful debut novel, Swarm is about persevering in a time of shrinking options, and coming to terms with regrettable choices.
“Wikiworld” by Paul Di Filippo
WikiWorld contains a choice assortment of Di Filippo’s best and most recent work. The title story, a radical envisioning of near-future sociopolitical modes, received accolades from both Cory Doctorow and Warren Ellis. In addition, there are alternate history adventures such as “Yes We Have No Bananas” (which critic Gary Wolfe called “a new kind of science fiction”); homages to icons such as Stanislaw Lem (“The New Cyberiad”); collaborations with Rudy Rucker and Damien Broderick; and a posthuman odyssey (“Waves and Smart Magma”). WikiWorld is the best of the best from this British Science Fiction Association Award-winning and Nebula, Hugo, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Award-nominated author.
The X-Fles: Season 10 #4 (IDW Publishing)
‘Believers,’ Part 4 of 5: A new government conspiracy comes to light that involves weather control and alien invasion. But what role does the Deacon and the Acolytes play in these mechanations? And what happened to Scully’s missing child? Mystery upon mystery sets the stage for the next phase of Mulder and Scully’s lives!
“Proxima” by Stephen Baxter
The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous Galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light…The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun — and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The ‘substellar point’, with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the ‘antistellar point’ on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world? Needle ships fall from Proxima IV’s sky. Yuri Jones, with 1000 others, is about to find out…PROXIMA tells the amazing tale of how we colonise a harsh new eden, and the secret we find there that will change our role in the Universe for ever.
Revolution Marathon (Syfy, 8 a.m./7 a.m. Central)
If you skipped Revolution and want to play catch-up before the new season premieres on September 25, Syfy is running a marathon of the show all day. For some reason, however, they’re starting with episode 5, “Soul Train,” and then running all the way through the first season finale. It’s an odd choice, but then again, the first half of the season is less than stellar, so skipping some of the earlier eps isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Colony (In theaters)
Starring Bill Paxton and Laurence Fishburne, The Colony is set during a new ice age, with pockets of humanity eking out a bleak, subterranean existence. After receiving a distress signal from another settlement, a group from Colony 7 goes to investigate and finds a threat much more terrifying than the cold.
The Neighbors (ABC, 10/9c) — “Family Conference”
Somehow this horrible sci-fi sitcom has survived into a second season, although it has been banished to a Friday-night death slot. Here’s hoping that finishes it off.
In the Season 2 premiere, Amber and Reggie break the news of their romance to their families, who convene for a conference in the Bird-Kersee basement to put the relationship up to a vote, the outcome of which may depend on an emotional speech by Abby