Category: Sci-Fi Café


Review by C.J. Bunce

TV historian and Star Trek expert Marc Cushman is back to continue his second trilogy of books about the development, production, and struggles behind the first two decades of Star Trek.  In These Are the Voyages: Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek in the 1970s, Volume 2 (1975-77), at last we get to delve into the biggest Star Trek project never delivered: The 1970s Star Trek: Phase II series that would be parted out and become Star Trek: The Motion Picture and later Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And that’s not all–ideas and early scripts for Phase II continue to be tapped in the 21st century Star Trek series and films.  Even better, Cushman digs into the ever-developing Star Trek novels, conventions, and more, which became the practice grounds for the wider, broad world of pop culture fandom as a whole.  How did Star Trek finally movie forward from the original series to become what it is today?  How did the fans play a major role in making that happen?   Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Forty years of Alien It’s worth celebrating.  Ridley Scott blended science fiction and horror in a way never seen before, and it’s in large part due to the uniquely dark imagination of H.R. Giger, who we’ve discussed for years here at borg.  Plus he gave us one of sci-fi’s greatest heroines (in Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley) and cats (in the ginger crewmember Jonesy).  We’ve taken a look at multi-artist tribute concept books before at borg, including the massive The Thing Artbook, Star Trek: 50 Artists/50 Years, and The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute books.  Anytime we showcase a major benchmark in comic book titles, like Detective Comics 1000th issue, Wonder Woman’s 750th issue, and The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #800, or charity projects like the Wonder Woman 100 showcase, we’re seeing the same thing: a variety of artists interpreting an icon of popular culture.  In Alien: 40 Years/40 Artists, we’re seeing another artist challenge, and the result is among the best of the bunch.  The new tribute arrives at bookstores tomorrow, so you have one more day to pre-order it at a discount here at Amazon.

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Director Danny Boyle has championed some unique stories into films, including 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, and Trainspotting.  His 2019 film Yesterday fit into this grouping nicely, a very British story about a singer/songwriter named Jack, played by Himesh Patel (The Aeronauts), who encounters a miracle of sorts: a solar event that changes several aspects of the world.  The key change?  The world never knew a band called The Beatles.  But the twist is only Jack can remember The Beatles.  It’s a goodhearted drama with a dose of comedy and a bit of a love story.  It’s also science fiction.  Yesterday is now streaming on HBO Max, along with other digital streaming platforms.

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Titan Books has released the first images of the next Star Trek book, and fans of the franchise will want to check it out.  It’s The Art of Star Trek: Discovery, Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann’s latest look inside the extensive Star Trek universe.  Star Trek: Discovery, the newest chapter in the Star Trek Universe, follows the exploits of Vulcan-raised science officer Michael Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery as they boldly go where no one has gone before.  You can now pre-order the book here at Amazon, and we have a preview of The Art of Star Trek: Discovery for borg readers below.

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Nathan Fillion–with a moustache?  One of the more interesting panels from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and one certainly not to miss for Browncoats everywhere is a panel devoted exclusively to the star of Firefly, Castle, and The Rookie.  It’s definitely one of those atypical panels (even for 2020) like we saw Fillion host back in the days of Nerd HQ, this time with added wacky editing and Fillion stepping in to provide commentary along the way.  That’s right, Fillion has enough pop culture street cred to get a panel to himself.  But he also knows how to share the stage.

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Was it really only two years ago that we were meeting the cast and crew of The Orville at their first appearance at San Diego Comic-Con?  Take a look back here at borg if you missed it (director/executive producer Jon Cassar and producer/editor Tom Costantino gave us some cool swag and let us take photos with props from the series and we chatted with the cast wearing our custom-made The Orville uniforms).  This year you won’t want to miss a few features for The Orville at SDCC 2020/Comic-Con@Home, including the reveal of new The Orville Starship Collection of miniature ships from Eaglemoss and some great behind-the-scenes images.

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In a normal year for San Diego Comic-Con, we at borg would be taking photos and checking out the new products, panels, and movie trailers, and trying to share as many as possible.  But first we’d go through the badge line and get our annual, over-sized haul bag, which we’d probably keep folded up anyway because it makes it difficult to move around.  But with that bag is the annual “Comic-Con book,” which is not a comic book, but an official book about half of a medium-sized city telephone directory (what’s a telephone directory?).  The book would be full of discussions about anniversaries of comic and pop culture events and salutes to individuals who have gained some portion of iconic status for fanboys and fangirls everywhere.  But you never read this during con week.  Why?  You’re too busy trying to cram in all you can before the show is over.  Sometimes you don’t even find this book until two months after you get back home after the con and are revisiting your swag.  This year, the SDCC staff has made it possible for everyone to download a copy of that book.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For all the complex technology inside the Chain-Program Robot, a fully-functional, all-in-one model robotics kit, Tamiya, Japan’s premiere modelmaker, has made a surprisingly straight-forward, project to build in a day or less for anyone looking for a great hobby project right now.  A motorized robot that resembles Number Five from the 1980s comedy classic starring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, Short Circuit (“Number Five is alive!”), that is actually programmable, in a kit that includes everything you need to build and operate it, except a hobby knife, screwdriver, and double-A battery?  Thanks to Plaza Japan, the world’s best online store for authentic Japanese action figures, model kits, toys and puzzles, we gave the Chain-Program Robot a try, and it is every bit as good–and fun–as it sounds.  Take a look at a detailed rundown of my experience with the build process, and a video of the robot in action, below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

They’re outnumbered and outgunned.

Last year Halo, Destiny, and Crackdown game writer and Spawn comic book writer Jonathan Goff created a comics mini-series last based on Xbox′s Crackdown 3 (previewed here at borg).  A military science fiction-action series not requiring readers to know the game, it featured some nicely rendered futurism from artist Ricardo Jaime (The Shadow).  Goff and Jaime created a future world ruled by a corporate power elite, and a city sitting on a powder keg of class warfare ready to blow.  Then the lights go out.  Literally.  Someone has taken control of power sources everywhere.  Dynamite’s Crackdown is heading to a comic shop near you next week in a complete trade paperback edition so fans of the game and sci-fi can join in on the action.

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It looks exactly like this is what all the big-budget live-action movies were leading toward: The ultimate destruction for Optimus Prime and the Autobots.  In a new three-season anime series beginning on Netflix this month, Transformers: War for Cybertron gets underway in what’s built up to be like a battle for Gallifrey in the Doctor Who universe.  Its first chapter, Siege, picks up at the end of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons.  In the first trailer, we hear the familiar sound of new Optimus Prime voice actor Jake Foushee echoing the longtime voice of Peter Cullen, who voiced the character from its inception through the tie-in video game for this new era.  We hear despair for the future of the Autobots in his message.  Fans of the five decades of Transformers toys and stories will soon learn his fate against Megatron, who stands ready to reboot them all.

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