Tag Archive: sci-fi horror


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re like me and you’ve read nearly all of the adaptations, novelizations, sequels, and spin-offs to the Alien and Aliens movies, you might be surprised at how different these sci-fi horror tales play out when you add the sci-fi hunters of Predator and Predators to the mix.  Husband and wife writers Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro take up the challenge in Aliens vs Predators: Rift War, hot on the heels of the Hulu prequel movie Prey.  This story is for anyone who wanted to see more of the third Predator movie: 2010’s Predators, as it could easily take place right after that movie.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last month I reviewed Alien: Colony War, a novel in the Alien universe that finds hated corporation Weyland-Yutani weaponizing Xenomorphs for an all-out interplanetary war.  Xenomorphs are weaponized in an entirely new way in Philippa Ballentine and Clara Čarij’s next Alien novel, Alien: Inferno’s Fall, and this time nobody knows who is behind it.  This is not another political story unpacking and unraveling Earth’s future, but a gritty and down in the dirt tale of survival from the vantage of three interesting heroines.  One you know, one you sort of know, and the other is all new.  The Colonial Marines battalion known as the Jackals are in prime form in this sci-fi blend of elements from Armageddon, Aliens, and Blade Runner.

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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

I’m just going to say it.  This may be the greatest pop culture celebration book ever.  It couldn’t be more keyed-in on its source material and fan base.  Ugh.  Gah.  Zhuuh.  You’ll make those sounds and more going through the recipes in Alien: The Official Cookbook, the latest Alien franchise tie-in book and a food prep guide for anyone planning the ultimate Halloween party.  “Gross!”  You can just hear those kids who are fans of gross-out movies as they try to pick what course to make first.  It’s disturbing and a masterpiece at the same time.  Normally I wouldn’t review a cookbook without preparing some of the meals, so I can present a read on the design and content as well as the desirability of the food.  This is an exception, first: to get it out to you before Halloween weekend, and second: because if you’re like me then making these selections for a party will be more for the visual surprise than the eating (I may double back later for a review of the meals, too).

Eggs, chestbursters, and xenomorphs.  Oh, my!  The dishes are all presented in a way Alien designer H.R. Giger would have loved.  Alien is known for its dinner scene, cut short by… intervening events of a horrific nature.  (Insert a screaming Veronica Cartwright as Lambert here).  Thanks to cookbook writer Chris-Rachel Oseland, you, too, can experience something similar.

Alien: The Official Cookbook is available now here at Amazon (you still have time to get it before Halloween!).  Take a look at a preview of some of the recipes below, courtesy of Titan Books.

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Alien3

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best work of some of the best creators, especially movie directors, happens when the creators are tested by someone else’s source material, where they aren’t allowed to indulge themselves with carte blanche resources and instead show restraint in their skill and craftsmanship.  Perhaps Stanley Kubrick’s best work really is his adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and Quentin Tarantino’s best work is Jackie Brown, his adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch–both studies in how to create a perfect film.  Although 20th Century Fox obviously wasn’t ready for it, William Gibson, known for “cyberpunk,” actually handled his screenplay for the third Alien movie quite well, but it was summarily discarded.  Next month, dressed up and fleshed out is Pat Cadigan’s Alien3–The Unproduced, First-Draft Screenplay by William Gibson: A Novel Pre-order Cadigan’s novel adaptation now here at Amazon.  Readers will find no cyberpunk here, but what Gibson handed in was a better Alien franchise story than what became Alien3, not quite Alien or Aliens, but still one great thriller.  Understandably, however, the script was rejected by the studio for missing a key feature that couldn’t be overlooked.

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With the exception of the vast expanded universe of Star Wars and Star Trek, no other sci-fi property has branched out in the past ten years in as many exciting ways as the Alien universe.  Every new tie-in novel consistently has been packed with suspense and innovative takes on Weyland-Yutani and its influence years before, during, and after the events of Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie.  Each year fans of Alien celebrate April 26 as Alien Day, reflecting not a specific day inside the Alien universe, but the designation of the moon in the film Aliens: LV426.  Back in 2019 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Ridley Scott film, and the tie-ins keep coming now that the Fox movies fall under the Disney umbrella.  Here’s a list of what you should check out if you’re an Alien fan.  First up, the new novel, Aliens: Infiltrator.

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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

Bliss B

Review by C.J. Bunce

In the 2017 movie Logan, three characters drawn together by circumstance form a family unit and for a brief moment over a dinner with strangers they get to experience bliss for the first, and possibly only, times of their lives.  In the climactic sequence of Amazon Studio’s original 2021 film, Bliss, the two lead characters also get to have a moment where their lives are what they always dreamed of.  Is it real or is this sci-fi or fantasy, or are we headed into some kind of twisted horror story?  That’s the question viewers will be waiting for as they take a very strange trip with Owen Wilson as a down-on-his-luck estranged father whose life collides with Salma Hayek as a vagabond conjurer of magic who lives on the streets nearby.  Fortunately the characters are endearing and sympathetic, the performances spot-on, and their story worth your two hours.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

So often big budget dramas dressed in sci-fi dress rise up the box office rankings, you might miss the best films, the ones that don’t need the big budgets or major stars, the refreshing sleepers that surprise you.  One of those great surprises was Midnight Special, which I reviewed here at borg back in 2016.  The next spectacular science fiction work is even better–The Vast of Night–the brainchild of writer-director-producer-editor Andrew Patterson (who is billed under multiple names), now streaming on Amazon Prime.  Could this freshman filmmaker be the next J.J. Abrams, John Carpenter, or Steven Spielberg?  Think Super 8, The Fog, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in a setting like American Graffiti and The Outsiders, with stunning cinematography, superb dialogue in a tightly written script, and a fresh and eerie use of sound.  If you missed this Amazon Studios arrival earlier this summer, you’re in for a treat of 1950s teenage sleuths, a radio station, and strange goings about town: An ambitious film that comes pretty close to perfect science fiction in the classic tradition of The Twilight Zone, The War of the Worlds, and the short stories of Philip K. Dick.

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In the next twist on using science to find true love, AMC is bringing to television a new limited anthology series–AMC’s first.  Soulmates explores a new invention that reveals your true love and viewers get to watch how it all unfolds for six couples, each in a separate episode.  But it’s not the fun and games we saw in TiMER, the Emma Caulfield rom-com with a similar plot.  The first trailer for Soulmates is more dread than utopia.  Nope, this series looks like the stuff of sci-fi horror.  The Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury Theater, The Outer Limits, and Black Mirror all had their share of dabbles in romance turned wrong.  The victims, err… participants in this latest experiment in love are played a few of our favorite young genre actors.

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