After months of rumors, reshoots, and bad buzz, World War Z finally hits theaters this Friday. I still haven’t read Max Brooks’ book, so I don’t have a horse in this race, but I can understand fans who have viewed each new over-the-top trailer with increasing disdain. Then again, from what I know of the book, it definitely wouldn’t translate into a movie without some major changes, so I guess better to get a bad movie with the same name than a bad movie that tries and fails to adapt the book directly.
All that, of course, assumes that World War Z proves to be a bad movie. Although the trailers have looked pretty so-so thus far, reports from early screenings of the movie have been overwhelmingly positive. I think the best way to go into World War Z is the same way I went into Star Trek Into Darkness: it wasn’t going to be the Star Trek I grew up with, so judge it by what it is rather than by what it isn’t. Or, you know, just don’t buy a ticket in the first place.
And if you don’t plan to buy a ticket, there’s another really cool new release on the science fiction landscape this week. The X-Files is returning as a new comic book series, dubbed “Season 10,” which picks up after the last (better left forgotten) movie, 2008’s I Want to Believe. The new series from IDW Publishing is taking a page from Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, telling new, in-canon stories on the comic page. And just as Joss Whedon served as “executive producer” of Buffy’s season comic-ized seasons 8 and 9, X-Files creator Chris Carter is emerging from his money vault to oversee the return of Mulder and Scully.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
Defiance (Syfy, 9/8c) — “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”
The town is hit by a deadly plague, leaving the Irathients quarantined inside the mines. Plus side: They won’t have to listen to anything from the annoying radio station dangling from the underside of the Arch.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 10/9c) — “What Matters Most”
Myka and Pete infiltrate a fancy gated community that may be harboring an artifact.
“Lexicon” by Max Barry
I loved Barry’s 2003 book Jennifer Government, but he’s one of those guys where I finished it, put it on the shelf, and then kind of forgot about him. He’s got a new one hitting shelves this week, and it sounds kind of awesome. Check it out:
At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics—at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as “poets”: adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.
Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school’s strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Brontë, Eliot, and Lowell—who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.
Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he’s done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the toxically decimated tow nof Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.
As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Max Barry’s most spellbinding and ambitious novel yet, Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love—whatever the cost.
Lifeforce: Collector’s Edition (Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack)
Naked alien space vampires! What more do you need than naked alien space vampires? This new collector’s edition has audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper, a new retrospective with the cast and crew, a making-of featurette, and more.
“The Long War” by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
Summary via Amazon:
The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter follows the adventures and travails of heroes Joshua Valiente and Lobsang in an exciting continuation of the extraordinary science fiction journey begun in their New York Times bestseller The Long Earth.
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, humankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by “stepping.” A new “America”—Valhalla—is emerging more than a million steps from Datum—our Earth. Thanks to a bountiful environment, the Valhallan society mirrors the core values and behaviors of colonial America. And Valhalla is growing restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government.
Soon Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a building crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any humankind has waged before.
Sex: How It Works (National Geographic, 8/7c)
Finally, you can find out if you’ve been doing it wrong.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “2-D Blacktop / Fry and Leela’s Big Fling”
The Planetary Express gang returns for a final season. Or at least it’s final for now. This show’s pulled off some unlikely resurrections in the past, so who knows? As for tonight’s two-fer premiere, the Professor joins a street-racing gang, then Fry & Leela take a romantic getaway to a place that turns out to be an alien zoo.
Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “How Do Aliens Think?”
I don’t know how they think, but I do know they’re after our women. Or is that only Martians?
X-Files Season 10 #1 (IDW Publishing)
Mulder are Scull are back on the case, in search of the truth that may or may not be out there. But wait, weren’t the aliens supposed to begin colonizing us on this past December 25th? Maybe they’re just being really sneaky about it. Check out a preview of issue #1 right here.
“The Adjacent” by Christopher Priest
Priest is the chap who wrote the book that Christopher and Jonathan Nolan eventually adapted into the excellent 2006 flick The Prestige. This new one once again involves magic and historical events, but this time he’s throwing a theoretical physicist into the mix as well. Why not?
Tibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled to Britain from Anatolia where his wife Melanie has been killed by insurgent militia. IRGB is a nation living in the aftermath of a bizarre and terrifying terrorist atrocity – hundreds of thousands were wiped out when a vast triangle of west London was instantly annihilated. The authorities think the terrorist attack and the death of Tarent’s wife are somehow connected. A century earlier, a stage magician is sent to the Western Front on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy. On his journey to the trenches he meets the visionary who believes that this will be the war to end all wars. In 1943, a woman pilot from Poland tells a young RAF technician of her escape from the Nazis, and her desperate need to return home. In the present day, a theoretical physicist stands in his English garden and creates the first adjacency. The Adjacent is a novel where nothing is quite as it seems. Where fiction and history intersect, where every version of reality is suspect, where truth and falsehood lie closely adjacent to one another. It shows why Christopher Priest is one of our greatest writers.
Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Second Thoughts”
Kiera realizes a drug from her future has hit the streets of our present. If you overdose on a drug that hasn’t been invented yet, does that make you ahead of your time?
World War Z (In theaters)
Well, it’s here. Early word says it’s got nothing to do with Max Brooks’ novel beyond the name, but it’s still getting some pretty good buzz as an action movie in and of itself. Still not feeling those swarming zombies, though.
Primeval: New World (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Fear of Flying”
Evan and Dylan travel back in time in search of a vanished cargo plane.
Wizards vs. Aliens (The Hub, 7:30/6:30c)
Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “At All Costs”
“Tom is invited to meet an all-powerful leader after advanced weaponry helps the Charleston denizens thwart another alien attack. Elsewhere, Ben struggles with his identity, and stunning new information could place everyone in jeopardy.”