Category: Sci-Fi Café


Picard Rogue Elements cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Of all the new characters created since Scott Bakula’s Enterprise went off the air and J.J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman took the reins of the Star Trek franchise, one of the best contributions is Santiago Cabrera’s Cristóbal Rios, captain of the vessel La Sirena, a ship staffed by a motley myriad of holograms that mirror Rios’s image.  In John Jackson Miller’s new Star Trek: Picard tie-in novel Rogue Elements, readers will learn the back story of Rios, how he got his ship, and how he was destined to have a run-in with Jean-Luc Picard, sooner or later.  A familiar brand of space pilot, call him rogue or scoundrel or buckaroo, Rios had encounters before the days of Star Trek: Picard–the series–with several characters you’ll know well from Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond, including the most ruthless villain the Enterprise-D may have ever faced.  Star Trek: Picard–Rogue Elements is just out, available now here at Amazon and bookstores everywhere.

Nausicaans, dead Ferengi, and dead Klingons?  Oh, my!

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Star Trek A Celebration cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

In many ways the most diehard Star Trek fan is going to be surprised when they flip open the new behind-the-scenes account of the original 1966-1969 series in the full-color, hardcover, coffee table-style book, Star Trek: A CelebrationEven if you’ve read everything about Star Trek you could get your hands on, you haven’t seen it in one volume presented like this.  Star Wars fans have seen this kind of volume in the works of the late JW Rinzler, and although this book is not as dense, it will serve the same purpose for Star Trek aficionados.  The wildly popular The Princess Bride–A Celebration was given similar treatment, as was the landmark Star Trek: Voyager–A Celebration, released only this year, also by publisher Hero Collector.  I can’t understate what a welcome book this is for fans of the original Star Trek series.  As Star Trek fans across the globe celebrate 55 years of the Star Trek franchise, coinciding with the centennial of the birth of its creator, Gene Roddenberry, it’s well past time fans got a book to–yes–celebrate one of the greatest and most influential television series of all time.  Star Trek: A Celebration is available today for the first time here at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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sts future cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

By my count there are six books so far in the Star Trek Shipyards library from publisher Hero Collector: Star Trek Shipyards: Starfleet Ships 2063-2293, Star Trek Shipyards: Starfleet Ships 2294 – The Future, Star Trek Shipyards: Federation Members, Star Trek Shipyards: Klingon Fleet, and most recently in 2021, Star Trek Shipyards: The Borg and Delta Quadrant (reviewed here), and Star Trek Shipyards: The Delta Quadrant Volume 2 (reviewed here).  With two more volumes due out in the coming months available for pre-order now (Alpha Quadrant and Major Species Volume 1 and Alpha Quadrant and Major Species Volume 2), the publisher is taking a step back with the late summer release Star Trek Shipyards: Starfleet Ships 2294 – The Future, an updated and expanded edition of the second volume in the library, adding significant content to the original edition.  The most popular of the Star Trek Shipyards library, this volume presents many of fans’ favorite ships of the line in high-quality illustrations.  A lot has happened in the franchise in the past few years, and readers will find much of it making its way into this book, with vessels from all three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery to Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Picard. 

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For both film buffs and a new generation of a movie fans, a definitive guide to the most influential film directors–spanning a century of Hollywood creativity–will soon be a fixture in libraries everywhere.   Turner Classic Movies/TCM and film writer Sloan De Forest, author of TCM’s Dynamic Dames (reviewed here) and TCM’s Must-See Sci-fi (reviewed here), chronicle 58 directors, their works, and influence on the filmmaking in TCM’s The Essential Directors: The Art and Impact of Cinema’s Most Influential Filmmakers.  From Charlie Chaplin to Steven Spielberg, these are the directors that film aficionados will be unlikely to quibble with.  Some made their marks as household names, others are legendary auteurs, while others provided a singular film or image that has made them synonymous with Hollywood royalty.  From epic dramas, to laugh-out-loud comedies, readers will find TCM’s Essential Directors as the go-to source for the heavy-hitters behind the biggest movies in history.

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COWBOYBEB_Unit

Running for 26 episodes between 1999 and 2001, the future noir anime series Cowboy Bebop arrived as an instant classic for the medium, a Japanese sci-fi Western three years before Firefly.  A new Netflix series is on its way this year, starring John Cho (Star Trek) as bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s cyborg, former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  The television series is also coming to comics–writer Dan Watters and artist Lamar Mathurin are creating a monthly comic–and we have a preview of the Issue #1 cover artwork below.

CB#1_Cover_A CB#1_Cover_C

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Designing Starships cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Where Star Trek Shipyards is an in-universe library looking at the hundreds of ships of the franchise, Star Trek Designing Starships is a library about the creators and creative process behind those ships.  The fifth volume of the encyclopedia of Star Trek ship design has arrived as publisher Hero Collector continues its series after volumes on the starships Enterprise, Voyager, the Kelvin timeline ships, and DiscoveryThe human adventure continues in Star Trek Designing Starships: Deep Space Nine and Beyond.  It’s available now here at Amazon.  As with the publisher’s previous books, Star Trek Designing Starships is known for its colorful, high quality illustrations in a coffee table-style hardcover edition, providing a near-exhaustive library to the array of the franchise’s highly-detailed spacecraft. 

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Snowpiercer book cover a

Review by C.J. Bunce

Three things should get you to take a second look at both the 2013 movie Snowpiercer and the new behind the scenes book Snowpiercer: The Art and Making of the Film, just released from Titan Books.  First, it’s been a really hot summer almost everywhere and the movie is all about freezing cold temps.  Second, everyone loves Chris Evans, and it’s time to revisit his work outside of the supersuit and shield.  Third, after winning three Oscars in 2020, for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, everyone should also go back and revisit the works of Korean director Bong Joon-ho.  After the film suffered a long and clunky path to theaters thanks to the Weinstein scandal, the end result–even if it was far removed from its source material–was an interesting action movie, notable for actor Song Kang-ho, too.  It’s been seven years since Snowpiercer, the highly, almost ludicrously improbable story of a train carrying the last humans on Earth akin to Noah’s Ark, finally arrived in wide release (see my review here), but now it gets a thorough investigation in Snowpiercer: The Art and Making of the Film, which was also delayed, this time for the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the intervening years a prequel tie-in TV series took off.  For all the above reasons, it’s a good time to hunker down and take a look at this book and its one-of-a-kind vision.

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Star Trek Designing the Future cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

For nearly 55 years sci-fi fans have been watching and re-watching Star Trek’s original series and rebuilding futuristic components from the show in their own homes.  In the 1960s it was easier, as many of the components that defined the early look of Star Trek were simply “found objects”–items existing in the real world that could be repurposed to create a vision of the future.  Midcentury Modernism was the artistic movement that coincided with the inception of the worldbuilding for Star Trek, and fans Dan Chavkin and Brian McGuire chronicled some of the Star Trek creators’ use of those designs in their new coffee table book, Star Trek: Designing the Future–How Midcentury Modernism Shaped Our View of the Future Take a look at a preview of this introduction to the artistic movement and the early Star Trek design aesthetic below, courtesy of publisher Insight Editions.

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STAR_TREK_VILLAINS_COVER

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you wish you could go back in time, to decades past where life was simpler and you could grab a magazine at the local bookstore or grocery store rack to get a fix from your favorite movies or TV series.  Back in the 1970s and 1980s sometimes that meant Starlog, Starburst, or Space Wars, Fantastic Films Magazine, or even mags aimed at the younger set, like Dynamite.  Then publishers targeted fandoms with The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine for Star Wars, and Star Trek Communicator all sprouting out of fanzines.  Titan Magazines has been publishing both Star Wars Insider and Star Trek Magazine–soon to become Star Trek Explorer–for decades, and it’s the articles from the Star Trek mags that fans can “read again for the first time” as Titan launches its best magazine-sourced overview yet from the big franchises, Star Trek Villains, now available for pre-order here.  What is your favorite Star Trek villain?  Check out a preview below courtesy of Titan.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last month I reviewed TCM’s Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics, the eighth volume reviewed here at borg in the TCM library.  TCM is busy with new releases this year, and its look at film noir takes a different approach.  Written by Noir Alley host Eddie Muller, The Art of Noir author and proclaimed Czar of Noir, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (available now in bookstores and at Amazon here) is actually an update of his 1998 look at film noir of the same name.  It’s an essential look at the genre for both novices and diehard fans, providing just enough about the key films to entice readers to add several movies to their DVR, and giving long-time noir audiences new ways to think about some classic films.  Whenever I hear someone referred to as an expert in genre, I make notes.  Here I made a list of what those essential and important obscure noir films should make any book on film noir.  Muller includes discussions of all of them except one, from Laura and Shadow of a Doubt to DOA, from Sorry, Wrong Number, Sunset Boulevard, and Call Northside 777, to The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Chinatown.  So the book by all counts is the real deal and worthy of its accolades for both its original and new edition.  Unlike some of the other TCM books I’ve reviewed here at borg, Dark City: The Lost World of Film is not only an annotated guide to a list of recommended movies.  What film noir movies would you expect to find inside?

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