Category: Sci-Fi Café


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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s more likely than not you haven’t heard of Galaxy’s Edge, or Black Spire Outpost, or the remote Outer Rim planet called Batuu.  But you have heard of Star Wars.  Billions have seen that fictional space fantasy galaxy via movies, books, and a TV series.  But far fewer have made their way to Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyworld in California, and that means a tie-in, real world location event experience is out there that most Star Wars fans haven’t tapped into yet.  That’s where Abrams Books’ seventh book in their concept art library documenting the Star Wars universe comes into play.  The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will take readers where they’ve never been, a world inspired by the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie just as the movies were so inspired, further springing from 11 movies, three series, and dozens of books.  The result is a destination different and new that fans have never seen before.
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BBC war of the Worlds b

Review by C.J. Bunce

Back in 2018 we celebrated the 120th anniversary of the publication of H.G. Wells’ genre defining science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds here at borg We’ve also reviewed several adaptations and retellings over the past decade.  The latest historical adaptation is a 2019 three-part BBC series now streaming here on Amazon Prime.  Director Craig Viveiros’ The War of the Worlds may be the best yet at blending the old and the new–the end of the 19th century with the demands of modern viewers.  Suspenseful, consistent with H.G. Wells’ Edwardian themes, this short series is chock full of very British characters and concepts taking on several science fiction cautionary paradigms: warnings of the dangers of new technologies, the cost of hubris, prejudice, and colonialism, and the adventures, fear, and trials that come with the unknowable future.

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Star Wars’ first live-action TV series, The Mandalorian was created by fans for fans, and every frame tugs at the nostalgia the franchise’s fans hold for the original 1970s and 1980s trilogy.  With those films the most fans could hope for were magazines and books, often ordered via Scholastic book orders at their schools, each showing a few images from the films that could take us–in a snap–back to the movies.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for nearly 44 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans wanted more.  We’ve seen several books on The Mandalorian, including Abrams Books’ The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (reviewed here).  The first of the behind the scenes books we reviewed in October here at borg was Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, covering the first four episodes of the first season.  Now The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery Volume 2 is available, and you can order it here at Amazon or find it at any brick and mortar bookstore.  Take a look inside…

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Fletcher costumes

This week saw the passing of Robert Fletcher at age 98.  If you don’t know the name, you definitely know his work.  Nobody creating the 20th century’s view of futurism through clothing was more influential than Fletcher, who created more Star Trek costumes than any other designer, including William Ware Theiss before him and Robert Blackman after him.  The maroon costumes worn by bridge officers in the first seven Star Trek movies were designed by Fletcher, and are likely the most beloved of all Star Trek costumes by fans excepting possibly the original series bright Starfleet tunics.  Scotty’s radiological suit is also a classic, along with the Klingon uniforms, which were probably the most enduring, used with little modification from Star Trek: The Motion Picture throughout the entire runs of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  The open-chested costume of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan?  Also Fletcher.  The widest reach outside genre fans that Star Trek ever achieved was Star Trek IV, and even those who don’t care about science fiction recall the robe worn by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and the pink shell outfit worn by William Shatner as Kirk when they returned to walk the streets of San Francisco, managing to save a pair of humpback whales on the journey.  Again, costumes designed by Robert Fletcher.  He also created costumes for another sci-fi classic: The Last Starfighter.

Star Trek and its stories continue on.

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By way of new stuff, in the “old is new again” context this week online megastore Entertainment Earth began taking pre-orders for a new retro series not from the movies featuring the original Enterprise crew, but from Star Trek: The Next Generation (which, if you’re paying attention, featured costumes primarily by Robert Blackman).  We’ve talked at length over the past decade about Super7’s line (formerly sold by Funko) of ReAction Kenner-style retro action figures.  Those familiar with Star Trek action figures will find the new line closer to that of the early, rarer Galoob line than the Playmates larger figures that dominated the market for years (and can now be found in vintage toy stores everywhere, generally for about $2).  Check out all the new designs, and the new cardbacks, and pre-order them at the below links.

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April has seen several new trailers for forthcoming Hollywood projects we haven’t discussed yet at borg, all having in common a new look at a past genre property.  From Ghostbusters, it’s a new teaser for Ghostbusters: Afterlife featuring star Paul Rudd and a familiar face (and music) from the past.  From Mark Millar it’s a live-action version of his Jupiter’s Legacy comics coming to Netflix as a series.  From DC Comics it’s an animated adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s popular Batman: The Long Halloween graphic novel.  And from Star Trek, it’s a new season of the animated Lower Decks, and a look at some new costumes in the trailer for the fourth season of Discovery.

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Enjoy these trailers:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first season of Netflix’s imported series Glitch is so well done, it’s easy to compare it to the first season of TV’s Lost–another genre-bending series that held enough back that viewers never quite knew the secrets behind the strange happenings to an unusual assemblage of characters.  That’s the good and bad part about Glitch, because by the end of the second season the story loses its way and ultimately doesn’t deliver the payoff the first season deserved.  That said, a great cast of Australian actors, including some familiar faces from the Star Wars franchise, and great mystery and intrigue ultimately make the series worth watching despite its drawbacks.  Something wicked this way comes–again–to Australia, co-starring Emma Booth, the lead in the Starz series The Gloaming.  When officer James Hayes appears one night at a cemetery in his small town of Yoorana, Victoria, who could know that people would begin pulling themselves out of their graves?  Is this a zombie show or something with more to say about humans and the world?  It’s not the payoff but the journey that is so much fun in this 2015-2019, three-season, 18-episode tale now streaming on Netflix.

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Alien Alex White

Review by C.J. Bunce

Three years ago here at borg I said no book or film has portrayed the people behind the Weyland-Yutani Corporation as more vile and despicable as author Alex White has envisioned them in the novel Alien: The Cold Forge, a sequel to the second film in the franchise, James Cameron’s Aliens.  In that story the Company is proceeding to fulfill one of its initial ideas: to weaponize the Xenomorphs for military use.  Alien: The Cold Forge was Aliens as if written by Michael Crichton, a blend of Congo and Jurassic Park with aspects of the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy tie-ins and Project X.  As vile, greedy corporate types go, White upped the ante.  White’s sequel, Alien: Into Charybdis, is different, but a must-read for fans of the first chapter in what could have been a trilogy of novels, as this book is nearly twice the length of the first at 560 pages.  A mix of Office Space (without the comedy) meets Rogue One and Dungeons & Dragons, this is a dark adventure in a giant research facility of international IT and network guys duking it out over what goes where and why that just might make readers feel like someone is flipping a die before the characters enter the next room.  Continue reading

Tarkin

The Clones Wars have ended.  You can either adapt and survive, or die with the past.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is a new animated series spinning out of characters featured in last year’s seventh season of The Clone Wars.  It’s about that motley band of clone troopers we discussed in our review here at borg.  This week we have a new trailer, and it reveals the return of Grand Moff Tarkin, now merely Admiral Tarkin, the villain played by Peter Cushing who saw his end in the original Star Wars, resurrected thanks to CGI for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  His backstory was fleshed out in recent tie-in novels, and now we’ll see him early on just after the Clone Wars.  Get ready to meet “again for the first time” Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand (The Mandalorian) and the return of Saw Gerrera (The Clone Wars, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), too.

Check out the new trailer for Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch, an original animated series launching exclusively on Disney+ in May:

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Kenobi cast

He already established himself going lightspeed as a guy named Han in the Fast & Furious movie series.  He’s Sung Kang, an actor from Georgia who brings an extra dose of cool to every TV or movie project he’s a part of.  Thanks to Disney and Lucasfilm, he’s now going to be a part of the Star Wars universe.  He and a host of other actors were announced this week as Disney revealed the key cast of the six-part event series Obi-Wan Kenobi, which begins filming soon.  Ewan McGregor has been tied to the project for years, finally to reprise his role from the Star Wars prequels as an older Jedi Master.  Joining him from the prequels is Hayden Christensen as Anakin or Darth Vader, along with Joel Edgerton as Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen Lars and Bonnie Piesse as Aunt Beru.  The real question the cast announcement raises in light of last year’s appearance of a de-aged Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian is: How could Lucasfilm not give Hamill an appearance in this series, too?  Sure, he’d be a kid whining about spare parts at Tosche Station, but why not?

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Since launching it’s studio of direct-to-streaming films, Netflix has not been lacking for sci-fi.  The latest in its line of space disasters is Stowaway, coming to your TV sets next month.  It’s a suspense thriller about a long-term voyage to Mars that–no surprise–has a stowaway, and other problems that require some life-and-death decisions of the Kobayashi Maru variety.  Because of the stranded lifepod nature of the story, look for a small cast.  It stars Anna Kendrick (Twilight, End of Watch), with Daniel Dae Kim (Star Trek Enterprise, Star Trek Voyager), Shamier Anderson (Wynonna Earp, Lost Girl) and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Shaft).

Check out the trailer for Netflix’s Stowaway.

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