Category: Sci-Fi Café


Every year industry group The Toy Foundation unveils its annual Toy of the Year Awards (see the 22nd annual award winners here) and this week it announced the finalists for the 23rd annual honors, this time representing the past two years in 17 categories, with the final awards coming in November.  Altogether that’s 122 toys vying for top honors, selected from more than 600 nominees by a panel of judges comprising play experts, journalists, academics, retailers, and other toy authorities, and now it’s up to the voters to determine the winners.  All are invited to visit ToyAwards.org to vote for their favorites in each category through September 2, 2022.

Links, links, and more links… check out the full slate of finalists:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

No doubt the most eagerly-awaited gaming event of the year is Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, and at last it arrives tomorrow.  An inexpensive three-book boxed set (including DM screen and two of the most beautiful of the 5th Edition’s pull-out maps) that feels like a standalone RPG, it allows Dungeon Masters and players to explore Wildspace and the Astral Sea.  Combining themes of nautical exploration with deep space–think fantasy mash-ups like characters from H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Verne, Alex Raymond, and Edgar Rice Burroughs–Spelljammer brings new characters and places to 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, while allowing characters you already know into another world.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year Netflix delivered what Blade Runner creator Philip K. Dick would have flipped over–the futurism and dark beauty of Adult Swim and Crunchyroll’s Japanese and American half-hour anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus With a second season of the brilliant Blade Runner anime up in the air, Titan Comics is offering the next best thing.  This week the TV series continues in the first issue of Blade Runner: Black Lotus–the monthly comic.  This past May we previewed the comic here at borg.

So how does the comic compare to the TV series that made our annual best TV of the year, kick-ass heroines, and the Borg Hall of Fame?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the world of zombie stories, Resident Evil has more than established itself as the big winner.  Box office billions aside, after this year’s better than expected, big-budget fun zombie flick Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (reviewed here) and last year’s anime Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, the most successful video game tie-in franchise ever only gets better.  Netflix’s eight-part Resident Evil live-action television series isn’t perfect, but fans aren’t really looking for perfect.  What you get is the ultimate genre-bending mash-up.  Sure, you’d expect the sci-fi horror, but full-fledged kaiju monster action?  Edgy-Terminator level cautionary themes?  Orphan Black-inspired clones?  Evil Dead-level action and fun?  Skip the drama of The Walking Dead–this is the kind of action, acting, and storytelling game fans really want.  And you don’t even need to care about the zombie genre to dig it.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s fun to both know what you’re getting and to get some surprises, too.  That’s the case with Hard Case Crime’s latest novel, Jason Starr’s The Next Time I Die.  It’s billed as a paranoid thriller, a mix of Philip K. Dick and The Twilight Zone.  But the publisher is the home of classic crime novels, right?  It so happens that not only is The Next Time I Die a retelling of sorts of a few PKD short stories, it’s a mix of a number of sci-fi tropes while pulling in a protagonist you might find in old crime stories like Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A., James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, and Vera Caspary’s Laura.  All in, it’s a lot of fun.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

An almost unrecognizable look at Earth’s future at the time of an alien close encounter, the new novel A Half-Built Garden arrives as a bit of a rarity in a bookstore section filled with so much future noir and dystopia.  But writer Ruthanna Emrys’ future feels just as unfamiliar and strange as Blade Runner or Mad Max.  The digitally interconnected, wired world seems out of control in the year 2083, and yet the characters are going with the flow when aliens arrive to clue-in we Earthlings to the need to move along because the course we are on is otherwise going to be–no surprise–oblivion.

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If it’s not your third favorite Star Wars movie, it’s probably your fourth.  It’s director Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the movie that re-ignited the possibilities for Star Wars after George Lucas sold it all to Disney, and laid the groundwork for the great series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.  We thought the May teaser looked fantastic for Andor, the prequel series to Rogue One coming to Disney+ next month, but the full trailer is even better with some great surprises, including the return of Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera.  And bigger news: The first season will have 12 episodes, with 12 more on the way.

Diego Luna returns as rebel hero Cassian Andor, joined by Genevieve O’Reilly in her third stint as Mon Mothma plus the MCU’s Stellan Skarsgård is a new Kenobi-like mentor named Luthen RaelAdria Arjona (Morbius, 6 Underground) is Kleya, Denise Gough (Colette) is Imperial officer Dedra, plus Kyle Soller (Fury, Poldark), The Batman’s Alex Ferns, and Harry Potter and True Blood’s Fiona Shaw co-star (and it looks like Outlaw King and Monarch of the Glen’s Alastair Mackenzie or his doppelganger as a Senator or Ambassador of some sort).

Andor is already confirmed for a second season.  The series will not have the benefit of Gareth Edwards’ input, but it does have contributions from Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy and franchise creature maker Neal Scanlan will be pulling in unused creatures and effects from the films along with new ones for the series.  Meet B2EMO:

Check out this epic trailer for Andor:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re looking to get your fix of Doctor Who, a new roleplaying game has just arrived that may be just the thing for you.  Whether you want to step into the shoes of a Time Lord yourself, become a member of an alien species (join your own Paternoster Gang!), travel anywhere to the past or future, journey into outer space, or accompany a Doctor as a Companion, the Doctor Who Doctors and Daleks Player’s Guide is a giant guide to a new RPG for three or more players.  Grab your friends and take your own time machine to explore the universe and history, help others solve problems, and share your fish fingers, just like in the six decades of the Doctor Who series.  And you’re not required to use existing Doctors and Companions–or alien races–you can make up your own.  Or play without a Doctor, like UNIT and Sarah Jane Smith in the show.  How about Captain Jack Harkness and Torchwood?  Pull them in, too.

Filled with photographs from the franchise’s six decades, Doctors and Daleks Player’s Guide is available now in PDF, with pre-orders now being taken by publisher Cubicle 7 Games for the hardcover and a Collector’s Edition.  Check out links to order below.

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Arguably no player of fictional roles did more to further science and the future than Nichelle Nichols.  The actress who played Star Trek crew member Uhura for 54 years in the original series, six movies, and fan films passed away today at age 89.  I first met her in San Francisco in the 1990s and later at other events, and she always was gracious, embraced fans, and was always laughing, smiling, and enjoying her time recounting her personal story.  She probably has the most familiar story of any science fiction actor, as she became an icon of television, science fiction, and science fact.

Her greatest story was recounting how she had decided to leave the Star Trek series until she had a conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr., who informed her just how important it was that a black woman was being seen by an entire nation on television.  She was an equal crew member serving in a prime-time network series, and would go on to help expand the boundaries of race relations, participating in the first on-screen inter-racial kiss, with co-star William Shatner’s Captain Kirk.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Who knew Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars could feel like a blend of Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Quantum Leap, and the Skrulls and Black Order of Marvel Comics?  Dynamite’s new comic books series John Carter of Mars is, of course, very different from the 1911 original and subsequent novels, but this modern update is all high adventure, all fun.  Gone is the painted artwork of past graphic adaptations–this is clearly an effort to make the 111-year-old Civil War veteran accessible.  It works.  And where John Carter goes, Dejah Thoris is soon to follow.

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