Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

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This short story is literally MacBeth set on Mars. It’s based on my screenplay.

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Solstice Publishing, 320pp.
$4.99 at Amazon

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“There is nothing about Transfixion that won’t excite you and keep you reading late into the night. So if you’re ready for an ‘end of days’ novel with a one-of-a-kind experience, I say you order now and buckle up.”
“This book was AMAZING! …I loved this story! It was action-packed, constantly moving, and definitely worth the read!”
“Every so often, you read a book that makes you stay up till all hours of the morning just so you can finish it. Transfixion is that book.”
“Fast paced page turner!!!!! Can’t wait to see more by this new author!!!!”
“The plot was brilliant. Kaylee is both brave and resourceful, showing strong characterization. This book is well worth its price.”
“Loved it!!! I couldnt stop reading!!!”
Transfixion is a window into a world gone insane and asks us how long we could fight against insanity before falling prey to it ourselves. It’s The Hunger Games meets The Walking Dead! More than worth a look.”
“I found that I could relate well with Kaylee Colton… The fact that she returns to her book is that she isn’t ready to realize what her new reality is. She would rather hole herself up in literature.”
Transfixion held my attention from the start. A fight to survive against extreme odds with the heroine of the hour nose buried in a book more often the not.”
“Great YA thriller – be hooked!  …The story is cleverly elaborated, focuses on Kaylee and her personal growth. I was drawn in, felt like a member of her comrades.”
“It will have you questioning what you would do if in their situation.”
“She has enough drive to keep you on her side and enough smarts to stop you looking down on her or her choices without Kaylee turning into some kind of action hero movie star.”
“At its core, the novel is a thought-provoking science fiction thriller. At the same time, however, Giambrone weaves in elements of paranormal fiction.”
Transfixion is an action-packed novel that will leave you breathless and full of adrenaline. You might need to stop and take a breath every third page or so. At least, I did.”
“Giambrone’s integration of Kaylee’s coping mechanism with the storyline is a nice touch that could be missed if you aren’t reading too closely. As it is, I think that it enhanced the story and the characters, and definitely made me smile at the end.”
“This book is a great YA book, the violence is not so descript that I would fear young teens reading it, it did not have a lot of sexual content and I have actually already recommended to several teens in the 12-15 age range. I really enjoyed this book, it moved very quickly and had a great flow to it.”
“J. Giambrone did a great job of building up the depth of the confusing emotions the characters were experiencing as they muddled their way through a scary turn of events. He gave the teenage characters faults that were realistic and true to their development.”
“This is a good read, great for YA. I will be seeing if my 13 year old son wants to read it.”
Lastly, this analysis by Kieran Kelly is fascinating:
“Fast-paced, thought-provoking and at times moving.”

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J. Giambrone

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This is a modern UK Twilight Zone. Each episode is unique and independent from the rest. The series is now on Netflix, with two seasons. Unfortunately, there are only 3 shows per season.

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The premise is to highlight how technology and humanity interact and will likely interact in the near future with a bias toward the dark side.

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This is some of the most thought-provoking science fiction around today.

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The lack of budget and slick effects hampered this Philip K. Dick film, but the story is interesting and topical. What’s more Phil wrote himself into the movie.

Snared in the rising fascism of the Reagan era, the paranoia and political persecution of dissidents are strong threads running throughout this one. The former McCarthyism red scare paranoia influenced this assault on free association in the land of the free. Dick was personally targeted, and this appears to be his response to an out of control security state, going after sci-fi writers and dissidents of the new “conservative” social order.

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In a purely personal moment, the actress playing the lead neo-nazi bitch looks a lot like my own stepdaughter. And yeah, I can see it.

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Dick brought a lighthearted treatment to this serious descent into totalitarianism. The situations are not new, but the alien contact twist certainly tosses in a monkey wrench. The ending was a bit weak, and this may have relegated it to the desperate-indie bin. With a stronger finish, it could have had the bucks it needed to succeed. C’est la vie.

Fast-paced, thought-provoking and at times moving.

by K.R. Kelly


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is in the speculative fiction genre that has really come to dominate in the young adult market, and it is a good example of why the genre is popular.

Author J. Giambrone hits the ground running. The reader is not left with much time to draw breath as action piles on action. The pace never flags throughout the book which transitions from a place of surrealism and suspense through watershed moments of growing clarity. In time it reaches a climax in which concrete reality has been recovered – though only through the brave efforts of a protagonist who refuses to let go of her humanity when the entire world has turned dangerously insane.

Transfixion mines some of the same veins of disquiet that have fueled the success of the Hunger Games trilogy, but where Suzanne Collins aims for emotional effect and pathos Giambrone aims for something more elusive – a moral understanding of violent conflict. The result is a bit like what might have happened if Frantz Fanon had got hold of the script of 28 Days Later and insisted that denying the humanity of the zombies would only cause the normal people to become zombies: “There had to be a solution to win without becoming just like them.”

But the “dupes” in this book aren’t zombies – they are anti-zombies. Zombies have stood for many things in political allegory, but they almost always embody the epitome of the enemy “other”. They are implacably violent; they are usually mindless or, if not, they are utterly deranged; they are always incurable. In short, they are unquestionably legitimate targets for violence who are to be killed without compunction. In films zombies are killed for self-defence, but there is also a common tendency, first established in Dawn of the Dead, for protagonists to prolifically splatter zombie brains just in order to perform banal tasks like going from place to place.There is no reason too trivial to be worth taking the “life” of a zombie.

In short zombies are the human-shaped essence of life undeserving of life. Transfixion‘s “dupes” turn this notion on its head. These are every bit as implacably violent as any crazed zombie, but even more deadly for their ruthless and calculating rationality. For those embattled few survivors of the shock and awe of the initial onslaught of violence, the dupes are zombies. You kill them and you don’t think about it, or at least pretend not to. The dupes could literally be their brothers and sisters, but the shared humanity is forgotten by both and lost in both. One side is driven mad by a brain-altering signal, and the other side simply follows suit in many respects.

Young Kaylee Colton resists this amnesia and the disjuncture which creates a rift in humanity. In a brutal world she struggles to recreate a sense that she herself is a real person: “She was not herself, and she wasn’t sure which version of herself she wasn’t.” But, she never quite loses sight of the personhood of the other – even the knife-wielding maniac who will kill her without compunction. And she is right.

The reader is taken inside the mind of a dupe and find not the haze of hatred, but a different sense of reality. Now we are in the territory of Philip K. Dick – the science fiction author for whom reality was fragile and fungible not just in epistemological terms but in political, psychological and social terms. Under the guise of “out there” explorations of drugs and virtual reality, Dick made many astute political and social observations. He explored the significance of what academics would now refer to as a “subject position” decades before the term was coined. To put it another way, Dick’s writing and Transfixion have more in common with Battlestar Galactica than with The Matrix.

And that is the problem of the dupes. They are not different in nature. They are not inhuman. It is the mental landscape they inhabit that is different. That is not to say that their reality is somehow valid. The world they inhabit is not only ultimately senseless, it is extremely limited. The filters through which they see everything turn these human beings into remorseless killers who act like mindless zombies without the mindlessness. For this, Giambrone gleefully indicts the medium of television – the carrier signal of their derangement: “The sign on the door said “Editing,” and a sickly blue glow throbbed out from inside the dark chamber.”

Any young adult who has read this review this far should probably read Transfixion. The novel is a lot more accessible than my review and I really haven’t given any major spoilers. Despite all that I have written, it is still basically action driven and all of the political and philosophical considerations are delivered as subtext.

For adults the above also applies, but if you are thinking of acquiring it for a young person to read I have just one caution. Transfixion is very much in the soft science-fiction/speculative fiction allegorical idiom. The sense of suspense and mystery may lead more literally minded youngsters to think that the resolution will involve the standard denouement where the villain is unmasked and vanquished. This does not happen. Some will definitely find that unsatisfying, but then maybe it might cause them to reflect on the nature of such conventions.


TRANSFIXION is now available through Amazon.

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New upcoming sci-fi anti-war novel for YA readers.

 

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This is one of the best confined, low-budget science fiction movies ever made.  A Spanish production, the plot hinges on time travel being a reality.

Some may instantly bring up Primer as another example, but I’m not one of them.  Primer was a dud, lackluster and not in the same league as Timecrimes.

A tense paradox drives the story, and that’s all I’ll say.  I had heard they were thinking about remaking it in Hollywood or something, but never heard any more about it.  Good.  Don’t remake good movies. It’s just exploitative, crass parasitism.

Warning: The trailer gives away too much…

 

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Revolution Goes Global

by Joe Giambrone

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A desolate third world wasteland.  A gated, auspicious, white people paradise.  Slave sweatshop.  Tea and martinis.  Not all that implausible, but Elysium represents the ultimate gated community, while the third world has become the entire earth.

This fundamental class distinction leads to inevitable class conflict in Neil Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9, a similarly weighty sci-fi film.  Both films take on issues of global significance, particularly immigration, apartheid and capitalist exploitation of the underclass.  Blomkamp strikes a blow for the rest of humanity, and Elysium is a very good film, bordering on greatness.  For an action sci-fi thriller, it delivers the battles, the archetypes and the desperation of the world.  I heartily recommend seeing it.

Elysium With Spoilers

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Jihad of the nerds?

Defined.

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This Jason Silva fellow really hits the caffeine hard.  More at TestTube

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Elysium is coming, August they say. This time it’s class war and they’re going big. Take the District 9 budget and add $90 mil. Let’s hope it really delivers.

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What we had to say about District 9:

 

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NEW Additions!

 

ARRIVAL (2016) – Genuine new twist that should have been thought of a long time ago.

MAD MAX FURY ROAD! (2015) – How can anyone not appreciate this vision of post-apocalyptic insanity?

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – Expecting to hate on Cruise, this meticulous, layered hard sci-fi story blew me away instead.

Her (2013) – A subtle immersion into a highly plausible near future society, and the alienation and isolation of modern life.

Original List – Ordering is not too important:
  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – The best of the series, and the most emotional story.  Also some of the greatest action sequences ever filmed, how can this not be included?
  2. District 9 (2009) – The most political and deeply resonant social commentary here (excepting possibly They Live).
  3. Brazil (1985) – Don’t ask me how many times I’ve seen Terry Gilliam’s twisted take on the fascist New World Order.  Part 1984, part Monty Python, Brazil is in a league of its own and will get inside your brain and slosh around for decades.
  4. A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Literally drugging away the ability to commit crimes?  The hair on your neck will stand.  Kubrick wins here, but loses below.
  5. The Prestige (2006) – Nolan and Bale without the bat cape.  One of the best twist endings ever.
  6. The Matrix (1999) – Sacrilege to put Keanu on such a list?  Oh well, he’s on twice.  “I know kung fu.”  Sure you do, Keanu, sure you do.  Still, this is a mind bender, and the NWO is not what you’re expecting.
  7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Dammit the best Planet of the Apes ever.  And if you don’t agree, bite me.
  8. A Scanner Darkly (2006) –  Phillip K. Dick makes multiple appearances, along with Keanu Reeves. This smart, twisting tale of narcotics and counter-narcotics is as timeless as the semi-animated acid trip that the film’s visuals suggest.  A true visionary marvel and the perfect application for animating live-action frames.
  9. WALL-E (2008) – Check the faces of the passengers on the space liner.  You might see yourself.
  10. Blade Runner (1982 – Theatrical Version) – Avoid the Director’s Cut.  People get all geeky over this film, but it’s a visually lush world and a sick noir morality tale in one.
  11. STAR WARS TRILOGY (70s-80s) – Does this need a description?
  12. Watchmen (2009) – Absolute reinvention of the comic book, super hero genre.  Alan Moore’s world of Nixonian fascist America, bolstered by the powers of supernaturals, remains consistent and perfectly executed from beginning to end.
  13. Robocop 1 & 2 – Corporate governance meets up with their own creation, a real cop in a titanium alloy shell.
  14. ExistenZ (1999) – Cronenberg inside your brain.
  15. Idiocracy (2006) – Welcome to CostCo; I love you.
  16. ALIENS – This macho ‘space Marines’ tale grows on you, as it explores the Alien world as well as the corporate greed, which always places profits over innocent lives.
  17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – UFO paranoia done on the grandest scale imaginable.  Spielberg can dazzle and tell a compelling story.
  18. 12 Monkeys – More Terry Gilliam, and a super dystopian end of world scenario that you have to see to appreciate.
  19. Galaxy Quest (1999) – A space comedy that lampoons Star Trek.
  20. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – Holy shit, that last shot haunted me for years.
  21. 28 Days / Weeks Later – Yes the zombie idea reinvented with a laboratory concocted “RAGE.”  Should scare and perplex.
  22. Dawn of the Dead (2004) – As long as we’re talking zombies, this is the best of them all.
  23. Serenity (2005) – Astounding filmmaking, and Joss Whedon knows how to give it to the audience.  After Firefly was abruptly cancelled, Whedon turned it around and triumphed.
  24. The Avengers (2012) – A top notch comic book movie, unparalleled action and a lot of fun humor.
  25. Europa Report (2013) – This is a unique experience, filmed from the space ship’s built in cameras.

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Quirks, Oddballs and Also-Rans

NEW ENTRIES:

Ex Machina (2015) – If this wasn’t overrated elsewhere I might be convinced to slide it up to the top, but it is a very good film nonetheless, despite my few quibbles.

ORIGINAL LIST:

  •  Immortal / Ad Vitam (2004) – What a world.
  • Pitch Black (1998) – One of the best alien/human survival stories ever.
  • Moon (2009) – Sam Rockwell delivers.  No spoilers.
  • Splice (2009) – Genetic engineering and its moral implications.
  • Repo Man (1984) – Fun with radioactive repo’d cars.
  • They Live (1988) – Wear your sunglasses.
  • The Fountain (2006) – Brain scratching Aronofsky and the last man from earth.
  • AI (2001) – Spielberg transitions from commercial to artsy during the course of the story.
  • Dark City (1998) – WTF?
  • No Such Thing (2001) – Monsters do exist.  And they’re pissy.
  • Looper (2012) – The second you think about the plot, it falls apart, still very exciting and a decent ending.
  • The Fly (1986) – Great in parts, but inconsistent.
  • Star Trek (2009) – Fun but a bit too silly to be taken seriously.
  • Escape From New York (1981) – Call me Snake.
  • Back to the Future (1985) – Lighthearted time-travel comedy, but the insidious “Libyan” racist/terrorist propaganda twist turns me off today.
  • Mars Attacks (1996) –  “I want the people to know that they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain’t bad.”
  • Young Frankenstein (1974) – It’s Frahnkenshteen.
  • Starship Troopers (1997) – Paul Verhoeven again with future fascism, mindless militarism, desperation and gigantic bugs.
  • The Thing (1982) – Creeped me out, and made me feel cold.  If that’s a positive thing to you, then…
  • Avatar (2009) – Yes, it’s hard to avoid the biggest box office draw of all time.  I liked the story, the theme, more than the execution (while most crow on about the execution and dis the story).  Still it was too long and a little heavy handed.
  • The Road Warrior (1981) – Just walk away. I spare you lives.
  • Battle For Terra (2006) – Is this a kid’s movie?
  • The Ciry of Lost Children (1995) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s twisted fairy tale, arguably should be on the above list.

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Way Overrated:
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey (1969) – A boring space odyssey.
  • Transformers – I refuse to watch any Michael Bay Robosplosions.  Hollywood can’t get enough.

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