Tag Archive: A Boy and His Dog


If you thought that dystopian science fiction had exhausted itself, a new mash-up of future dreary and fantasy may change your mind.  Vesper is an independent project coming this month from IFC Films, and it looks like it could have been the product of some of cinema’s master genre auteurs.  It takes place in post-environmental collapse Earth, making it science fiction with imagery in its trailer reminiscent of Luc Besson.  But it’s also fantasy, with the visual imagination of Hayao Miyazaki, and it’s the brand of darker fantasy that looks like it could have been created by Guillermo del Toro.  And it has a plot that sounds like A Boy and His Dog meets His Dark Materials.

From Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte and French writer-director Bruno Samper, Vesper stars 13-year-old Raffiella Chapman (His Dark Materials, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) as Vesper, a young teenage survivor, experimenting with seeds as her ailing father accompanies her from his bed via a drone (that looks oddly like the volleyball from Cast Away).  Her uncle is played by genre movie familiar Eddie Marsan (the Cornetto trilogy, Sherlock Holmes, Deadpool 2).  And there may be zombies who aren’t really zombies.

And it looks incredible.  Definitely fantasy, but something new.  Take a look at the trailer for Vesper:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The Alien universe makes a major shift in storytelling in its latest novel, Alien: Colony War, realizing the long-standing promise of Weyland-Yutani, the most hated corporation in sci-fi, finally weaponizing Xenomorphs for an all-out interplanetary war.  In the running for the most action-packed story in the series, it also covers a lot of territory, merging political intrigue with personal trials and one of the best examinations of its cybernetic Synthetic characters yet.  Writer David Barnett taps into surprising tropes as he weaves into the bigger Alien narrative stories from the comics and video games.  It has the suspense of Into Thin Air, the pacing of Jurassic Park, the layered plight of cyborgs from the Humans TV series, and dips back into science fiction’s past with a dose of Forbidden Planet.  That’s a pretty good mix for an Alien adventure.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

M.F. Gibson′s new novel Babylon Twins doesn’t seem to be targeted for the Young Adult section of the bookstore, but it should be.  Following a pair of twins who share a secret language whose lives take a turn as a big pharma-virus, artificial intelligence experiment, and robot war collide to take down and remake civilization.  The novel fits well with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games novels and would make a good follow-up for fans of the series, especially older teens.  More focused on their survival in a Creek Stewart sort of way (move along if you can’t stomach animal hunting for survival purposes), these girls don’t ever get the kind of gourmet food the competitors land in The Hunger Games. We meet the girls both when they’re young and later as young adults, and their lack of contacts and traditional educational resources keep their dialogue and needs more child-like than adult.

The best comparison to this story of dystopian, post-apocalyptic sci-fi is the classic 1970s sci-fi film Logan’s Run.  Like the Runners of that story, Clo and El live the best they can after escaping the new norm thanks to their mother, but when their mother leaves their forest hovel they decide to take their brother and return to the city to find her, ten years after the “end of the world.”  This is far more classic sci-fi than zombie horror, a good entry point for young adult readers dabbling into the short stories and novels of Philip K. Dick (like Minority Report) and Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog.  Encounters with freakish new lifeforms that aren’t what they seem as found in classic sci-fi like Logan’s Run or Beneath the Planet of the Apes combine with a setting sharing a lot with that of Dawn/Rise/War of the Planet of the Apes, or the Jessica Chastain movie Mama (without that movie’s kind of horror).

Readers of John Christopher’s Tripods series will also see parallels in Babylon Twins Gibson’s wooded home for the girls conjures a loneliness oddly akin to Christopher McCandless’s grim solo journey in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, yet their path is much different.  Girls with younger brothers may particularly love the book, as the older sisters really never give the poor little brother a break across the entire story, including chastising him, berating him as bigger sisters do, and even tying him up and throwing him in the car at one point.  It’s all written with a dose of humor.  And the youthful voice of the narrator and characters reveals a coming of age story for the twins, sometimes dipping into the stuff of middle grade stories from Judy Blume.

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