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Archive for November, 2013


Shelley handwriting banner The earliest modern source for what it means to be “borg” is no doubt Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, perhaps the most famous and widely reproduced work of fiction–and certainly the most adapted over the past 200 years in books, plays, television, and movies.  Originally titled Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, Shelley wrote her book in a series of notebooks from an idea she had from a dream while pondering what to write for a competition to write a “frightening tale”.

Frankenstein first edition 1818

Published first in 1818 with a run of 500 copies, her original manuscript notebooks survived. If you happen to be more than a few decades old, you remember the days of pages of handwriting, before word processors and PCs, and long before the days when schools stopped teaching handwriting.  Tasks we can perform quickly today only years ago took far greater effort, and the thought of writing something as lengthy as an entire book long-hand seems so very archaic in 2013.  And exhausting.

Page from Shelley's Frankenstein

Original handwritten page from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein manuscript.

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Almost Human future cop

With the new RoboCop movie coming in 2014 and the new series Almost Human coming November 17, you’re about to get a good dose of cyborg cops.  J.J. Abrams and Fringe’s J.H. Wyman are bringing the Vancouver production of Almost Human our way with mega-sci-fi star Karl Urban, and documentary filmmaker José Padilha is helming a big cast of classic sci-fi stars in RoboCop.

RoboCop armor

The latest trailer is now out for the new RoboCop.  Every movie is better with Samuel L. Jackson, and his speech shown in this preview is a great way to reel us all in.  And Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman?  What more could you want?  Check it out:

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Day of the Doctor poster

In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion.  Celebrating the series’ 50th anniversary, a new BBC episode of Doctor Who will be released for two one-night screenings as part of the Fathom Events series November 23 and 25, 2013.  Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor will bring together former Doctor and companion and fan favorites David Tennant and Billie Piper for the first time along with Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in their penultimate episode as Doctor and companion.  Also featuring guest star John Hurt, the episode will be shown in REALD 3D, and includes a ten-minute behind the scenes featurette.  And who knows what other surprises may show up in this 50th anniversary event–other past Doctors?  A visit from the Cybermen and Daleks?

Daleks--Day of the Doctor

With a devoted audience of 80 million fans in over 200 countries, the series has twice been honored by Guinness World Records as the longest running and the most successful science-fiction series in the world.

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Bionic action figures sets

Today at Entertainment Earth the retro-styled Six Million Dollar Man action figure pairings are on sale for up to fifty percent off.  You can choose either the 8-inch Bionic Man with 9 5/8-inch Bigfoot set, or the 8-inch Oscar Goldman with Fembot set–or pick up both sets.  The Bionic Man set comes with sound effects key chains, and Oscar comes with his signature briefcase.  Scare your friends with the freakish Fembot.  Wreak havoc with your own Bigfoot (originally played on the TV series by Andre the Giant).  The sale runs today only and since each set is regularly nearly $40, now’s the time to grab these if you ever were considering checking them out.

Click here to order the Bionic Man/Bigfoot set, and here to order the Oscar Goldman/Fembot set.

Flash Gordon and Twilight Zone

This series is produced by Bif Bang Pow! with EMCE toy company, who has also released Mego-style carded action figures from the classic Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, The Twilight Zone, Flash Gordon, and recent series Big Bang Theory, Dexter, and Lost Yes, now you can pit Hurley and Locke from Lost and Prince Barin from Flash Gordon against a large-headed Sontaran from Doctor Who, the airplane wing gremlin from The Twilight Zone, and a chrome Cylon from Battlestar Galactica.

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Smaug Dwarves

Not since the first trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has Peter Jackson released a more enticing movie trailer for his Middle Earth films.  This full-length “sneak peek” for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at three minutes includes so many characters, so many locations, so many great sets and costumes, that the waiting until December 13 for its release is going to be… well, the hardest part.

Smaug epic quest

So much action and destinations on this epic journey of Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo Baggins, and Thorin Oakenshield and his band of Dwarves, makes us wonder whether this could possibly be the sequel of sequels in Peter Jackson’s arsenal.  We of course loved both The Lord of the Rings installments of The Two Towers and The Return of the King.  But like The Empire Strikes Back was for George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, will this be the grand opus for Peter Jackson?

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Dracula or Selfridge

After its second week in the late Friday time slot following Grimm, NBC’s new Dracula series is off to a very solid start.  It’s incredibly polished for an early first season effort, with lavish sets, beautiful costumes, and an expertly cast group of actors.  Like Fox’s Monday night similarly dark Sleepy Hollow, Dracula is also an interesting update to a classic with an intriguing story and smart dialogue.

Set in NBC series Dracula

The cast of Dracula is mostly fresh faces, yet each actor could be the doppelgänger for well-known actors.  Dracula himself, known to his contemporaries in the series as Alexander Grayson, is played appropriately vampirish by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who played King Henry VIII in the romance heavy The Tudors.  Meyers seems to be doing a riff on Jeremy Pivens’ Mr. Selfridge from the popular British series, portraying a Gilded Age businessman from America bringing his ingenuity to the Old World.  Meyers also has the determination and charisma–and the same general appearance–of Josh Henderson’s John Ross Ewing from TNT’s Dallas series.  Meyers is good, very good in fact, as his Dracula only recently back from the dead, fawning after a woman who looks exactly like his wife, murdered ages ago by the Order of the Dragon.

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My Yang interior panel 1

At first look at Mickey Lam’s detailed cityscape panels you’ll wonder why he isn’t drawing a regular monthly series.  His first comic book is the black and white Mr. Yang Fights Aliens, Part 1.  By day Mr. Yang is a schoolteacher.  One evening he is awakened in his Peckham neighborhood and observes a kidnapping–a kidnapping of a homeless man by an insectoid alien race.  Can this schoolteacher, who would rather work on balancing his own life issues, like keeping ahead of work and finding a girlfriend, save the world?

Lam is a self-taught illustrator based in London.  He has a degree in biomedical materials and was a secondary school science teacher before committing to illustration work.  In addition to creating art for clients, he creates his own comic books to experiment with his style and improve his skills.  Lam’s cityscapes in particular will appeal to fans of Moritat–DC Comics’ Jonah Hex series artist.

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Enders Game image

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

First, let me say that I’m struggling to figure out how to review this for people who haven’t read the book (really?).  Although it’s been almost 20 years since my last read, so much of what I just saw is wrapped up in what I remember, and what I wanted to see, that it’s difficult to give this an objective viewing.  So I’m just going to give up trying.

Ender’s Game follows a talented young (young) military cadet, Andrew “Ender” Wiggan (Asa Butterfield, Hugo) as he navigates his way through a complex future military academy.  Picked at birth, soldiers begin their training in childhood, all in preparation for a massive war with Earth’s longtime, poorly-understood alien enemy, the Formics.  The title refers to the computer simulations and novel physical training undergone by the students at Battle School.  What makes Ender’s Game different from any other sci-fi bootcamp movie (like 1997’s Starship Troopers, itself an adaptation of the science fiction classic by Robert Heinlein, which was poorly received but which borg.com editor C.J. and I both enjoyed) is the focus on the emotional arc of the adolescent hero.  Where Starship Troopers is a straightforward shoot-’em-up action flick, Ender’s Game is a little more complex, delving into the psychology of indoctrinating the young to kill, and examining the effect of this training on young Ender himself, as he grows from a scrawny little picked-on genius to a brilliant military commander.  Oh, yeah—and it’s a damn good shoot-’em-up action flick.

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Yoda and Luke

Review by C.J. Bunce

After the completion of the Star Wars prequels, George Lucas sat down and went frame by frame through all six Star Wars movies, examining literally hundreds of thousands of images and selecting about 250 screen grabs from each film, frames that he believed showed particular artistry, each in its own right.  The result was 2011’s limited edition of 1,138 boxed sets called Star Wars: Frames, sold for $3,000, and now only rarely available with one set being sold at Amazon.com for a whopping $11,500.  Thanks to Abrams Books, Star Wars: Frames is being re-released this month in a far less expensive but complete edition, collecting 1,472 stills from all six films in the Star Wars saga.  It is without a doubt the definitive visual work on Star Wars, in a rare league of deluxe book editions along with long out-of-print Dressing a Galaxy: The Costume of Star Wars and Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop as the best Star Wars books ever released.

Star Wars Frames

This more affordable, unabridged version of Star Wars: Frames includes two hardcover books, each covering one of the two movie trilogies in 368 pages, housed in a hefty Death Star-themed silver box.  Listing at a published price of $150, you can buy it for less than $100 at Amazon.com.  The only difference between the $3,000 version and this version is the original was issued in a six-book set (one book for each film instead of one for each trilogy), with each image taking up a full page, packaged in a wooden crate instead of cardboard.   The content is the same.  Star Wars: Frames will be released November 5, 2013, but we received an early review copy this week.  The book lives up to its promise, in surprising ways.

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Afterlife with Archie main cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Nothing is more impressive than someone creating an original work that makes you interested in something you were not interested in before.  Even better, when someone creates a new mash-up that brings together two concepts that just can’t go together–like Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Sabrina–and zombies.  Yet they make it work.  A candidate for best single issue comic book this year is Issue #1 of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s new series Afterlife with Archie.

It’s so wrong, and yet so right.  I reader Archie Comics as a kid, but I still haven’t been swept up by the zombie thing… until now.  Heavily influenced by the monster comics of Bernie Wrightson, the art in Afterlife with Archie is as good as it gets.  Eisner winner Francavilla’s style is entirely his own, and like his Black Beetle series discussed here at borg.com earlier this year, readers are transported to the vision of the past as seen in Golden Age comic books.  Even the paper and printing on Issue #1 feels like you’re holding a 1940s comic book in your hands.  Francavilla brings together the classic characters of the Archie universe and the creepiness of “how the end of the world begins”.

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