Archive for January, 2021


Review by C.J. Bunce

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are a magical team.  Usually Pegg takes the driver’s seat, but not so in the Amazon Prime series Truth Seekers, which puts Pegg back in the office of a British telecom company and Frost on the road as chief broadband installer.  If you ever wondered what The X-Files might look like if produced in England, here is your chance.  With better special effects and even some better scares than the 1990s show featuring agents Mulder and Scully, Truth Seekers is also full of good British humor, the kind that would make it the perfect sequel to the 1999-2001 series Spaced, starring Pegg and Frost.  And it has the supernatural and horror elements that keep the content right in the veins of their big screen Cornetto Trilogy films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, their pop culture references in Paul, and secrets from afar of Frost’s Attack the Block.  It also has two of the best award-winning British actors you could hope to find in an eight-part half-hour horror comedy.  Truth Seekers has been streaming for a few weeks, but we want to make sure you don’t overlook this one.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In a dystopian future, a devastated planet teeters on the brink of collapse.  The next in the line of limited format comics series featuring a merger of sci-fi and terror, including last year’s Sea of Sorrows, Crackdown, Rogue Planet, Rom: Dire Wraiths, and Sentient, Image Comics’ new 12-part monthly Deep Beyond is part future fantasy, part sea monster kaiju fest.  With the tension of last year’s undersea thriller Underwater, this journey tracks a society taxed with curing a deadly virus while locking themselves inside, cordoned off from an even scarier threat to their survival.

Check out a preview of the first issue of Deep Beyond below, plus some forthcoming cover variants.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Tor Essentials is a new library of backlist science fiction and fantasy novels from Macmillan Publishing’s Tor imprint, so far featuring 15 novels plucked from the past few decades.  One of those 21st century titles is a well-constructed gem, Canadian author Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin A broad, epic story that traverses literally billions of years from the vantage of a doctor living on Earth, the novel packs a lot of ideas into 300 pages.  The sub-genres covered are a mix of apocalypse, speculative fiction, and Martians, but not quite the aliens of H.G. Wells or Robert Heinlein.  Like the inexplicable monolith of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a giant black barrier has blocked the atmosphere so we no longer see the Sun, the Moon, or the Stars, but some secret force is protecting the Earth from the effects of such an occurrence.  Somehow Wilson connects the dots between the absurd and the improbable with the realities of the human condition to arrive at a story similar to Daniel H. Wilson’s The Andromeda Evolution, another intriguing, creative tale that made readers believe the unlikely was possible.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Another pandemic delayed production finally makes its way to TV audiences this week.  It’s the Syfy Channel series Resident Alien, based on the crazy-good Dark Horse Comics sci-fi/crime/mystery mash-up comics by Peter Hogan (2000 AD, Tom Strong) and Steve Parkhouse (Milkman Murders, Doctor Who)–first reviewed here at borg back in 2013.  Airing Wednesday nights, the show stars Alan Tudyk as the extra-terrestrial hero who survives a ship crash on what was supposed to be a quick mission to Earth, Coneheads-style.  Taking on the part of Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle, he is able to mask his appearance using his otherworldly powers.  Like E.T. he just wants to go home, but he must wait until his friends come to find him in the town of Patience, Colorado, an Everwood-style small town full of medical crises that he must attend to after the town doctor is found dead.  He gets pulled into a murder mystery, which he takes to like Agent Cooper in the town of Twin Peaks.  It’s this police procedural drama-meets-sci-fi blend that is taken forward in the story.

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Raya and the Last Dragon is the next animated Disney movie, coming later this winter.  Every new look at the film is more exciting than the last, and this is shaping up to be the next Mulan or MoanaRaya and the Last Dragon is entirely computer animated.  It features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Raya, a warrior heroine who is seeking the Last Dragon, named Sisu, voiced by comedy actor Awkwafina (Jumanji: The Next Level), all in a classically designed visual fantasy homage to The Hobbit or The Last Unicorn.  Other cast lending their voices to the film include Gemma Chan (Humans, Captain Marvel) as Namaari, Raya’s chief rival and frenemy, Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) as giant warrior Tong, and Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy) as Raya’s father.

Here’s the second trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

British television series that make their way to America tend to be refreshing in that each new show is incredibly different from the last.  No matter how many times Americans catch the latest Brit/Irish/Scot police procedural, it’s nearly impossible to follow how each level of government polices, and manages the policing, of its citizenry.  That quirk doesn’t get more pronounced than in the opener to The Salisbury Poisonings, a four-part series airing Monday evenings on AMC.  The series will likely mean less to those on this side of the pond, although the real-life attempt on the lives of a Russian spy and his daughter living in Salisbury was international news in March 2018, victims of Vladimir Putin’s spy network.  But the first episode has the kind of TV writing that should bring the show to the attention of anglophiles.

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Here’s some news that got us off to a great start this week–The Mystery Writers of America just announced its annual recognition of the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres. The annual list memorializes the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and this year’s nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2020. The 75th Annual Edgar Awards will be celebrated on April 29, 2021.  And who is on the 2021 nominations shortlist? Our own borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce, for her 2020 novel Premeditated Myrtle

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Could an aircraft carrier support that kind of weight?

Warner Brothers released its new trailer (below) for the next Godzilla movie this weekend–Godzilla vs. Kong–the follow-up to the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters (reviewed here at borg).  It’s one of the hundreds of movies delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this one originally scheduled for a Thanksgiving week 2019 release.  The next effort of U.S. studios to one-up the Japanese kaiju genre doesn’t try to hide what it is: what the director calls a “massive monster brawl,” a straightforward mash-up of MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms).  It merges the 2017 King Kong reboot Kong: Skull Island, and the Godzilla reboot story centered around the secret agency Monarch, which began with the 2014 Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla.  For this fourth film in Legendary Pictures “MonsterVerse,” young director Adam Wingard brings back Godzilla storyline characters played by Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler and adds familiar action stars new to the franchise Eiza González (Bloodshot) and Brian Tyree Henry (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse).  It doesn’t look like any characters are being brought over from the Kong franchise.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A cyborg Red Sonja?  Red Sonja with a gun?  A Sonja multiverse?  “Purple Sonja?”

One Sonja to rule them all–into the Sonjaverse.  What Dynamite Comics bills as “the most important comic book to ever come out in the history of the world” is at a minimum likely to become the publisher’s biggest book of the year.  Some ideas are “money” and that is true for a story of Red Sonja in her own multiverse.  It’s coming the first Wednesday in February with the arrival of the first issue of Sonjaversal, a new, awesome, action book full of all kinds of fun.  An evil force is punishing parallel world versions of Sonja by forcing each Sonja to kill the other.  Who will stop the madness before there is only one Sonja left standing?

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Jules Verne’s novel The Lighthouse at the End of the World was written in 1901, but published posthumously in 1905, about a band of pirates seizing control of a lighthouse that lit a path for ships through an important straight in the South Atlantic.  Comic book writers David Hine and Brian Haberlin are taking that time period and flipping it into the distant future in their new adaptation, a five-issue series called Jules Verne’s Lighthouse, coming this spring from Image Comics.  Don’t confuse this with the 2019 movie Lighthouse starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson–that was an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s unfinished story “The Light-House.”  In this story, at the edge of the galaxy lies a giant supercomputer known as the Lighthouse.  Not a beacon so much as an advanced air traffic control for spaceships navigating wormholes, this Lighthouse is manned by a small group living for years in peace, until the arrival of space pirates.

Check out a preview of the first issue below.

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