Tag Archive: space Western


Just because Netflix canceled after only one season 2021’s best sci-fi TV series, best western TV series, best space fantasy series, best retro fix, with the best TV soundtrack, best costumes, best actors and guest stars, and best borg on TV, doesn’t mean we can’t keep reliving the fantastic live-action reboot/homage series Cowboy Bebop One more way we’re going to do that is with Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series, coming next month from Titan Books.  It’s the official companion book to the Netflix TV series featuring concept art, sketches, behind-the-scenes photography and interviews with the cast and production crew.  Check out a preview below, courtesy of the publisher.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Along with a comic book limited series, a new novel is the best bet for an additional space Western fix for anyone saddened by the cancellation of Netflix’s fantastic sci-fi series, Cowboy Bebop.  Cowboy Bebop: A Syndicate Story–Red Planet Requiem provides the full space mobster origin story for both lead hero Spike Spiegel aka Fearless and his one-time friend and partner, Vicious.  As a bonus, this novel, now available in paperback here at Amazon, is written by a member of the writing staff for the series.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The new Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, an adaptation of the 1999-2001 anime series, is so good, so well-written, so jazz-filled, stylish, cool, and sexy that you won’t deny it’s the best streaming series yet.  It’s not only the best science fiction series in years, but also solid noir, solid space Western, peppered with martial arts action.  If you loved the space life of Firefly, the dark future Earth noir of Altered Carbon and Blade Runner, and the lived-in future realism of Alien and Outland, you’re in for some great television.  Funny dialogue, actors inhabiting their characters, cool noir vibe, the drudgery of life as a space pilot and exploits of a space bounty hunter.  It’s as good as TV gets.  It’s as good as sci-fi and space westerns get.

But what’s the best part?  The music?  The style?  The characters?  The lived-in sci-fi world?  The dog?  Or the year’s coolest borg character?

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Tick tick tick… It’s almost here: the premiere of season one of the live-action version of the anime series Cowboy Bebop And now we have a full-length trailer that leans harder into the sci-fi elements of the series.  It stars John Cho (Star Trek) as a Bruce Lee-inspired bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s larger than life cyborg and former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  And a corgi (his name is Ein).  Imagine what Firefly would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you have Netflix’s 10-episode live-action series Cowboy Bebop

Check out another great trailer:

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Bebop pic

Running for 26 episodes between 1999 and 2001, the future noir anime series Cowboy Bebop arrived as an instant classic for the medium that many have called the greatest anime of all time, a Japanese sci-fi Western three years before Firefly.  Imagine what Firefly would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you have the new teaser-trailer for Netflix’s 10-episode live-action series Cowboy Bebop, coming in 30 days. 

bEBOP SHIP

It has the style and the throwback vibe of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as a cool soundtrack, and comic book-style scene-change pan slides with the characters participating in the movement.  The series stars John Cho (Star Trek) as a Bruce Lee-inspired bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s larger than life cyborg and former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  And a corgi (his name is Ein).

You don’t want to miss the teaser and opening credits–take a look at both below.

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Picard Rogue Elements cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Of all the new characters created since Scott Bakula’s Enterprise went off the air and J.J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman took the reins of the Star Trek franchise, one of the best contributions is Santiago Cabrera’s Cristóbal Rios, captain of the vessel La Sirena, a ship staffed by a motley myriad of holograms that mirror Rios’s image.  In John Jackson Miller’s new Star Trek: Picard tie-in novel Rogue Elements, readers will learn the back story of Rios, how he got his ship, and how he was destined to have a run-in with Jean-Luc Picard, sooner or later.  A familiar brand of space pilot, call him rogue or scoundrel or buckaroo, Rios had encounters before the days of Star Trek: Picard–the series–with several characters you’ll know well from Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond, including the most ruthless villain the Enterprise-D may have ever faced.  Star Trek: Picard–Rogue Elements is just out, available now here at Amazon and bookstores everywhere.

Nausicaans, dead Ferengi, and dead Klingons?  Oh, my!

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COWBOYBEB_Unit

Running for 26 episodes between 1999 and 2001, the future noir anime series Cowboy Bebop arrived as an instant classic for the medium, a Japanese sci-fi Western three years before Firefly.  A new Netflix series is on its way this year, starring John Cho (Star Trek) as bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s cyborg, former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  The television series is also coming to comics–writer Dan Watters and artist Lamar Mathurin are creating a monthly comic–and we have a preview of the Issue #1 cover artwork below.

CB#1_Cover_A CB#1_Cover_C

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fifteen years after the last time we saw the crew of the Serenity, the next novel of Joss Whedon’s space Western universe is here to quench your thirst for more Firefly.  James Lovegrove’s third Firefly novel, The Ghost Machine, again takes place between the events of season one of the TV series and the Serenity film, but unlike his first two novels (Big Damn Hero, reviewed here, and The Magnificent Nine, reviewed here), which felt like movie prequels to the 2005 film, this new story feels like the next episode of the TV series.  It borrows a lot from the series, which will make Browncoats feel like they’re nestling back into familiar territory, while also tapping into tropes fans of science fiction will be familiar with.

The first act finds the crew on one of its trademark jobs to pick up for none other than Badger, the man in the bowler hat, certain strange cargo, that unknown quantity sealed in a can that we’ve seen the series pursue in episodes like The Train Job and The Message, and outside the stories of the ‘Verse in films like The Transporter (it’s not a person this time).  The second act reveals what is inside the crate with the Blue Sun label, which Captain Mal Reynolds ultimately decides is too risky to even take aboard his ship, and then wraps readers in a whirlwind of activity as the ramifications of the cargo are played out–sort of.  Recall that niggling feeling of the crew–and the viewers–from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect,” and the trapped in a parallel world vibe of the Voyager two-parter “The Killing Game” and dreamscape of “Bliss”?  But The Ghost Machine really kicks in with the third act, as everything you’ve read is taken to a different extreme, and a ticking clock propels the reader headlong into a gripping climax.  What will it take, and who is the right choice from the crew, to break the spell and reveal the truth behind this unusual Pandora’s jar?

Lovegrove, whose novels we’re reviewed previously here at borg–both from the world of Firefly and his Sherlock Holmes mysteries–is really good at endings, and that’s what makes this story a winner.  Along the way the author investigates each crew member’s ideal worlds–and their worst nightmares.  This is one of the darker tales from the Firefly ‘verse, on par with the episode “Objects in Space.”  Peppered throughout the novel, as you’d expect from anything sourced from the mind of Joss Whedon, who serves as consulting editor on these books, are the Easter eggs, particularly from the Western genre.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For every new movie you watch, you need to go back and see a classic, right?  If The Hunt for Red October is Star Trek in the ocean, then Outland is The Sand Pebbles in outer space.  A predecessor to science fiction staples like Total Recall, Blade Runner, and Firefly, Outland is still one of the best depictions of what life actually may be like working aboard a space vessel, once modern technology figures out how to get past that zero gravity issue.  Isolation rarely has been portrayed as believably as directed here by Peter Hyams (Timecop, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, The Star Chamber, Amazing Stories).  The 1981 Academy Award-nominated classic, Outland is now streaming on Starz, Hulu, Amazon, and Vudu.

Audiences never saw Sean Connery so average as he was playing Marshal William T. O’Niel.  In a very low-key role more frequently seen played by someone like Steve McQueen, Connery is a federal cop in space, assigned to the titanium ore mining outpost Con-Am 27.  He was selected because he was likely to phone in his job, and not ruffle feathers.  But he finds himself when he learns the outpost is a haven for drug smuggling and worse, using drugs to work crews to their deaths, all part of a cover-up.  The film’s own predecessors were any number of cop shows, and it has themes from Westerns, too, especially High Noon, another lone lawman trying to take out a local band of ruffians–and another man with marital problems.  Critics accused the film of being thin, but it’s exactly why the film works so well and holds up well still today.  In many ways the film is better, and even scarier, than Alien and Total Recall, proving you don’t need monsters to be truly alone and unprotected from life-threatening elements in space.

O’Niel’s only help is from Frances Sternhagen (Doc Hollywood, Cheers, The Closer) as Dr. Marian Lazarus, a no-nonsense crewman who is sympathetic to O’Niel as the newbie having to dodge the unfamiliar “way things are done.”  Dr. Lazarus is one of sci-fi’s least known but toughest sci-fi heroines, and her chemistry with Connery as comrade-at-arms is superb.  Another crew member is played by sci-fi and Western veteran James Sikking (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Hill Street Blues, Doogie Howser, MD), who would continue for decades to play similar roles.  And the baddie of the bunch is played by your favorite film Frankenstein, Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, Johnny Dangerously, The X-Files, Everybody Loves Raymond).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s an event to make a Browncoat teary-eyed.  Firefly fans have not seen a story that rivaled the original series episodes, until now.  Tomorrow a new era in the Firefly universe begins as the first novel arrives in bookstores, carrying on from those revered 14 original episodes.  Firefly: Big Damn Hero is the big, bold story fans have been waiting for, and it’s even better than the Serenity movie or any other tie-in since the last episode first aired 15 years ago.  Fans will find here a story that would make a great roadmap for a movie, a great radio drama, or a new episode.  That’s probably not going to happen, but put on the soundtrack as you read it and you’ll feel like you’re right back with the crew again.

In Firefly: Big Damn Hero, author James Lovegrove found his way into the core of each character, their motivations, and most importantly their voice, to create a novel set in the years the series takes place, well before the movie Serenity killed off two key characters.  Joss Whedon served as consulting editor of the book, which was written from a story concept by Nancy Holder.  Lovegrove brings readers back to what made the series great–the interaction of the crew of the Serenity–and then he splits them off on a couple of missions that go sideways.  One by one he focuses on each of the nine as Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Book, River, Simon, Inara, and Wash each get a focal subplot that hits the spot for fans who have their favorite or love them all.  But best of all is Lovegrove’s treatment of River, the erratic and seemingly confused young genius who always seems a step ahead of everyone.  Here she practically speaks through the story and across the other characters directly to the reader.  We know what she’s up to even if her friends don’t.

The story itself is part science fiction, part war novel, part Louis L’Amour Western, all rolled up together as one rip-roaring space Western story, just like the series was known for.  Fans who know the ‘verse well, particularly its warring factions that were fleshed out in the series and tie-in comic books, will feel right at home in this story that spans the era before the series, with callbacks to events in the series, and right afterward as if it were a 15th episode.

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