Cleopatra 2525 Review and Opinion

2019/04/29

Cleopatra 2525 (2001)
Created by Robert Tapert and R.J. Stewart

review by Ian Shutter

Remember that classic science fictional song, 'In The Year 2525', by Zager & Evans? It was a number one hit back in 1969, so when the millennium arrived it was probably inevitable there would be something to revive its SF theme - but I doubt the songwriters could ever have envisioned this witty skiffy adventure series! Imagine a variation on Buck Rogers with Amazonian warriors fighting shape-changing androids (not unlike the T-1000 of Terminator 2) in a colourful dystopia, add mission plotlines with goofy non-stop action for three heroines all dressed up in glam rock fetish fashions. Imagine this scenario packaged as 22-minute telefantasy episodes for a predominantly young audience...
   Cleopatra 2525 stars cute Jennifer Sky as 20th century stripper Cleopatra, awakened from cryogenic storage over 500 years in the future. She meets Hel and Sarge (Gina

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Coalescent Review and Opinion

2019/04/28

Coalescent: Destiny's Children - Book 1
Stephen Baxter
Gollancz hardcover £17.99

review by Duncan Lawie

Coalescent shows signs of a new departure for Stephen Baxter, integrating the present day with his grasp of long time scales. It combines George Poole's contemporary investigation of a family mystery with a story that begins 1600 years ago with a young girl living in the last days of Roman Britain.
   After the death of Poole's father, he discovers he had a twin who was sent away to the Puissant Order of Mary Queen of Virgins. Seeking meaning in his life, Poole decides to quest after this lost sister who is wrapped up in the mysteries of church and family. This investigation and its consequences are told in the first person, using a matter of fact style threaded with portent. It is occasionally reminiscent of recent William Gibson, but Baxter's fascinations are still space shuttles and dark matter, and secondary characters that carry these elements

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Collected stories of arthur c. clarke Review and Opinion

2019/04/27

The Collected Stories
Arthur C. Clarke
Gollancz paperback £9.99

review by Tony Lee

This huge volume brings together about 100 short stories from the vaults of the world's most famous living genre writer and, as such, it's a genuine historical document alluding to and commenting upon the phenomenal development and explosive growth of science fiction throughout the middle and latter half of the 20th century. It's also the delivery vehicle for some vintage adventure tales - set on Earth, the planets and moons of our Solar system, and a host of imaginary worlds.

Although many SF writers have captured the common attitude of a moment in time, the character of a particular decade or the prevailing mood of an era, Arthur C. Clarke's SF work readily spans modernity from recent past to turbulent present and the future. This is not due to the wisdom of his advanced years - I hasten to add, but largely because his inspiring visions have come to represent the spirit

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Collected stories by peter carey Review and Opinion

2019/04/26

Collected Stories
Peter Carey
Faber & Faber paperback £8.99

review by Debbie Moon

Booker Prize winner Peter Carey is not a name immediately associated with genre writing. But, judging from this collection, he's actually one of the finest genre writers at work today.
   The 27 stories in this volume cover a wide range of styles and settings, from classic magic realism through noir, slipstream and pure SF, to the final heartbreaking piece of near autobiography. The majority are set in the forgotten corners of a twisted version of our world - frontier guard posts, isolated factories, nature reserves or squats in dystopian cities - where ordinary, emotionally damaged people find themselves manipulated by forces beyond their control.
   The volume opens in fine style with Do You Love Me? A cartographer's adult son is among the first to realise that uninhabited areas of the country are disappearing into thin air. When the problem spreads to unloved

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Complete lovecraft filmography Review and Opinion

2019/04/25

The Complete Lovecraft Filmography
Charles P. Mitchell
Greenwood hardcover £62.50

review by Tony Lee

Author Charles Mitchell tackles a subject long overdue for serious study, and the result is this fine companion volume to the recently published An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz (also from Greenwood Press). The Complete Lovecraft Filmography adds a welcome media studies book to the ever-growing library of scholarly texts about the most influential writer of science fictional horror stories ever.
   Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos provides the rich source of material for a wholly unique brand of fantastic cinema, but has been neglected by non-genre critics (or simply ignored in academic circles) because screen versions of HPL stories are often viewed as nothing more than B-movies, or worse. Mitchell is clearly aware of the problems of artistic merit for 'Cthulhu

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Connie willis interview Review and Opinion

2019/04/24

To Say Nothing of the Dog

Connie willis interview Review and Opinion

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Core Review and Opinion

2019/04/23

The Core (2003)
Director: Jim Amiel

review by Debbie Moon

On an ordinary day in an ordinary American city, dozens of people suddenly drop dead. Pigeons in Trafalgar Square start re-enacting Hitchcock. Crack NASA pilot Beck Childs finds herself landing the space shuttle hundreds of miles off course after the instrumentation fails.
   Madcap geophysicist Josh Keyes soon realises this is only the beginning of a worldwide disaster. The earth's outer core, an underground sea of super-heated metal, has stopped rotating, and the earth's electromagnetic field is falling to pieces as a result. Within the year, all life will be incinerated as solar radiation that the field normally wards off penetrates to the surface. Mankind's only hope is to send a crack team into the core to 're-start' it: but since all current information about the Earth's interior is basically guesswork, that's not going to be easy...

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Corsair by chris bunch Review and Opinion

2019/04/22

Corsair
Chris Bunch
Orbit paperback £6.99

review by Paul Broome

Things don't begin too well with Chris Bunch's latest standalone fantasy pirate epic, Corsair. Within the first few pages we've already been exposed to two of the biggest clichés in the realm of fantasy fiction: first of all the main character's parents are killed by marauding nasty foreigners leaving him to dream of a distant vengeance, and secondly a character is introduced with more apostrophes in his name than vowels (in this case Knoll N'b'ry). Turning a somewhat weary blind-eye to this, I ploughed on.
   And wasn't I glad that I did. Despite the terrible cover illustration, and the less than encouraging back cover blurb, Corsair is a rip-roaring rollicking good read. The plot is fairly predictable: young orphan makes good, somehow ends up being a pirate on the high seas who preys only upon the marauding nasty foreigners who did away with his parents, while dreaming of his

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Cosmonaut keep by ken macleod Review and Opinion

2019/04/21

Cosmonaut Keep
Ken MacLeod
Orbit paperback £6.99

review by Duncan Lawie

Cosmonaut Keep is the first part of the Engines of Light trilogy and a new beginning for Ken MacLeod. In the first chapter it looks like a massive departure. This is set on Mingulay, a planet on the edge of the Second Sphere, one hundred light years from Nova Sol. The humans of the Second Sphere are co-incidental occupants of a multi-planetary society. Having been collected from Earth by barely explained means over the course of millennia, they are far down the pecking order in a slow moving, largely stable society. Being mostly from pre-scientific, pre-capitalist periods of human history, they do not have the tools to understand - or affect - the aliens amongst whom they live. Yet the most recent influx from Earth arrived in a spaceship of their own. Two centuries have passed since then - long enough for the lightspeed limited ships of the Teuthys to have made a round trip

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Cosmic odyssey, jla: riddle of the beast Review and Opinion

2019/04/20

Cosmic Odyssey
Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola
DC Comics / Titan graphic novel £17.99

J.L.A. Riddle Of The Beast
Alan Grant and Michael Wm Kaluta
DC Comics / Titan graphic novel £10.99

reviews by Christopher Geary

With famous Marvel comicbook heroes (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk) currently all the rage at your local cinema and video shop, blockbuster movies X-Men and X2 doing good business at the box-office and on DVD, and continued speculation in comics' and screen fandom about tantalising possibilities for new Batman and Superman productions, it's an interesting time to reconsider the distinctive Marvel and DC

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Court of the midnight king Review and Opinion

2019/04/19

The Court Of The Midnight King
Freda Warrington
Pocket paperback £7.99

review by Patrick Hudson

This book retells the story of the Wars of the Roses (the English wars of succession between 1432 and 1485, not the film with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner) with a touch of added mysticism, in the style of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists Of Avalon (name checked on the back cover). At the centre of Warrington's narrative is the charismatic antihero Richard of Gloucester, later Richard III, seen through the eyes of Raphael, whom he saves from starvation on the streets, and Katherine, a Yorkist witch, Richard is portrayed as a heroic figure much maligned by history and a certain Elizabethan writer of tawdry summer blockbusters. In Warrington's re-imagined 15th century, the ancient cult of Auset the Serpent Mother with its roots in the distant past exists side by side with the new Christian church. Although distrusted by many (especially the Christians) and

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Cowl by Neal Asher Review and Opinion

2019/04/18

Cowl
Neal Asher
Tor hardcover £17.99

review by Christopher Geary

Polly is a young junkie and whore caught up in assassination and industrial espionage. Tack is a U-Gov hitman programmed to murder without hesitation or remorse. They are among thousands of innocent, and initially helpless, victims snatched from their own century and dragged back through history to the Nodus, where the sinister mutant-human Cowl lurks, apparently plotting the downfall of mankind.

Opposing Cowl's plan, the fourth millennial Heliothane Dominion are keen to follow the gruelling journeys of those involuntary time-travellers with a view to attacking the prehistoric stronghold of their enemy. Heliothane agent Saphothere arrests Tack's progress back through time, and recruits the perturbed killer into the ongoing temporal conflict against Cowl and his accomplices, while Polly is unexpectedly accompanied on her erratic travels

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Crash Review and Opinion

2019/04/17

Crash (1999)
Director: David Cronenberg

review by Steven Hampton

Based on J.G. Ballard's cult novel, this is about a mixed group of accident victims who become obsessed with car crashes. Nominal leader, Vaughan (Elias Koteas, from Exotica and, bizarrely, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), goes so far as to recreate the fatal wrecks that killed movie celebrities like James Dean and Jane Mansfield. Crash survivor, James Ballard (James Spader, perfectly cast), is drawn into Vaughan's shiny but shadowy world, which gives new meaning to the term autoeroticism.
   Metal bodywork has fetishistic appeal here, and road rage is an acceptable form of foreplay. Ballard has sex in cars with the doctor (Holly Hunter) whose car he hit. Vaughan's pet stunt driver is killed in a horrific pileup. Jaded thrill seeker Ballard blithely watches his wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger) screw Vaughan in a carwash. There are lots of medical support appliances to match the

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Creepshow 2 Review and Opinion

2019/04/16

Creepshow 2 (1987)
Director: Michael Gornick

review by Ian Shutter

A horror story anthology based on tales by Stephen King, this sequel to George Romero's entertaining genre portmanteau took five years to get made, and has cameraman Michael Gornick at the helm, with Romero serving as screenwriter. It isn't as good as Creepshow, and it's not hard to figure out why. The material gives up on generating suspense and fearfulness, angling instead to exploit new special effects technologies and focus on violent action. Apart from the cheesy animation framing device and episode links, about the only element that's retained from the first movie is the hard lessons dealt out to bad guys getting their comeuppance in the final twist.
   Old Chief Woodenhead sees elderly general store owners, George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour (coming out of retirement for her final screen appearance), attacked by a gang of robbers. In a variation of the golem legend, a carved

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Creepshows Review and Opinion

2019/04/15

Creepshows: The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide
Stephen Jones
Titan paperback £16.99

review by Christopher Geary

The majority of Stephen King's works have been adapted, with variable success, for the big and small screens so it's about time that someone tackled this subject anew in book form. This comprehensive yet concise survey of cinema and TV versions charts the hits and misses of movies and serials derived from 25 years of novels and short stories, from Carrie to Rose Red.
   Whether you are a fan of King's fiction or not, there's no denying the fact that in terms of source material alone, he has become a major force in genre media. Ranging from vampire chillers (Salem's Lot) to psychological terror (The Dead Zone, Needful Things), SF-horror (Firestarter, The Tommyknockers, The Stand, The Langoliers), ghost stories (The Shining, Sometimes They Come Back), youth tragedy

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Crescent city rhapsody Review and Opinion

2019/04/14

Crescent City Rhapsody
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Millennium paperback £6.99

review by Ceri Jordan

It would seem that our American cousins have inherited a good deal of that famed British 'stiff upper lip'. Over here, we're reduced to panic by petrol shortages or even heavy snow. But, faced with a series of electromagnetic pulses originating from outer space that destroy all but the most heavily shielded technology, the Americans seem to cope perfectly well, thank you very much. And there I was, thinking that society would collapse without its daily dose of Jerry Springer or 'The Bold And The Beautiful'. Silly me.
   Of course, the people of the 2010s have a few advantages. Like illegal but increasingly pervasive nanotech. And then there are the gifted children born in the aftermath of the first pulse, and visionaries like nascent voudon queen Marie Laveau, and the genius astronomer Zeb, the only man who understands what the disastrous pulses really mean...

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Crime studio by steve aylett Review and Opinion

2019/04/13

The Crime Studio
Steve Aylett
Orion paperback £6.99

review by Trent Walters

Looking for a good mystery? Keep looking - unless you consider a police chief, who consumes the donut evidence that had nothing to do with the crime, a mystery (Donut Theory). Looking for a space lark as good as Douglas Adams? Keep looking - this reviewer was one of three readers who read all but laughed maybe once at Adams' 'jokes'. Looking for a good Chandler noir comedy ("[Bleach Pastiche] wasn't a beautiful mess, she was just beautiful. Her mouth was so red I had to regard it through a welding mask... She once rubbed a sleep crumb out of her eye and when I studied it under a microscope I found it was a perfect miniature replica of an Alpine village" from Auto Erotica)? Getting closer.
   You'll hear a lot of hoopla comparing Steve Aylett to great writers

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Charles saunders interviewed at Review and Opinion

2019/04/12

Adding To The Gumbo Mix:

Charles saunders interviewed at Review and Opinion

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Cubby house Review and Opinion

2019/04/11

Cubby House (2001)
Director: Murray Fahey

review by Denise Wayne

Australian terror can occasionally be exceptional and innovative but, sadly, this is not one of those rare cases. Following a prologue about child murders by drugged out hippies back in the 1960s, the film opens with a dodgy estate agent (played by Craig McLachlan from TV series, Bugs) more or less conning ignorant American immigrants into buying the only vacant property on a sprawling development. It's a frightfully rundown 'fixer-upper' that Lynn Graham (Belinda McClory) and her three kids take on, reluctantly, and blissfully unaware at first of their new home's secret history.
   By the time a neighbourhood loony has explained what the Grahams have gone and let themselves in for, it's too late to back out of the deal. Divorcee Lynn fools herself into believing that the house's dark past has nothing to do with her underage children's weird misbehaviour, even though it's obvious that

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Silver machines: origins and return of cybermen Review and Opinion

2019/04/10

Silver Machines:

Silver machines: origins and return of cybermen Review and Opinion

Comprar Silver machines: origins and return of cybermen Review and Opinion

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Cypher Review and Opinion

2019/04/09

Cypher (2002)
Director: Vincenzo Natali

review by Debbie Moon

Morgan Sullivan is an ordinary guy looking for an ordinary job. Rather to his surprise, he's recruited to a ruthless corporation as an industrial spy, assigned to report on apparently innocuous trade conferences around the country. But, if that's all there is to his new job, why is he being stalked by a mysterious woman, attacked by kidnappers - and dreaming about another life that definitely isn't his? As he's sucked deeper into a war between two rival corporations, he starts to realise that nothing he thinks he knows can be relied upon - even his own memories...
   That may all sound rather vague, but donít let that put you off. Cypher is one of the most imaginative, intelligent, and startling films you'll see this year. Brian King's clever script keeps you intrigued and off-balance, and horror maestro Natali (maker of Cube) racks up the tension. A terrific performance from Jeremy

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Dagon Review and Opinion

2019/04/08

Dagon (2001)
Director: Stuart Gordon

review by Octavio Ramos Jr

When Stuart Gordon made Re-Animator, he selected the ideal candidate for his style of gore and humour driven storytelling. As a result, even Lovecraft purists (myself included) found the proceedings perfectly reflected the overall tone of the original source material. Things became a little more discombobulated with From Beyond (1986), with Gordon using his directorial style on a story that possessed a more serious tone. Still, the movie proved to be solid entertainment.
   With Dagon, Gordon attempts to adapt A Shadow Over Innsmouth, but his directorial style is ill suited for the task, and as a result the film fails. Lovecraft's short story (it is long enough to qualify as a novella) is an exercise in the author's common themes, such as alienation, bigotry, and overwhelming forces seething underneath the veneer

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Dan simmons interview Review and Opinion

2019/04/07

Darkling Plain:

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Daredevil Review and Opinion

2019/04/06

Daredevil (2003)
Writer and director: Mark Steven Johnson

review by Debbie Moon

Growing up in Hell's Kitchen, New York, with his washed-up boxer Dad, Matt Murdoch has it tough. Things get even tougher when he's blinded in a toxic waste accident. But, as we all know, radioactive waste has a tendency to give you superpowers - and Matt's remaining senses are sharpened into a kind of aural radar, opening the way for impossible feats of agility and some mean street-fighting skills. He overcomes his disability to become a lawyer, championing the poor and downtrodden - and by night, he roams the streets as the vigilante Daredevil, bringing brutal justice to those the law can't touch.
   But being a hero in a corrupt world isn't easy. He's starting to blur the line between justice and brutal vengeance, a sharp-eyed reporter is on to his secret, and when love enters his life in the form of beautiful heiress Elektra, his night life and day life collide, with catastrophic

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Dark angel season one Review and Opinion

2019/04/05

Dark Angel (2000-1)
Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee

review by Debbie Moon

The near future: a secret military base is at full alert, as maverick officer Lydecker attempts to prevent the escape of his latest genetic experiments. Enhanced humans called X5s, both bred and trained to be the ultimate soldier. And they're all tiny children.
   Years later. A terrorist attack has wounded America so badly that it's degenerated into a police state (how prescient...) Downtown Seattle is a third-world economy of squatters, bent cops, and street people. The beautiful Max (Jessica Alba) survives as a bicycle messenger - but she needs more money, to pay the P.I. she has tracking down her missing 'siblings'.
   Her inhumanly athletic cat burglary brings her into contact with the hacker-journalist known as Eyes Only, who piggybacks exposís of official corruption onto TV broadcasts. He turns out to be roguishly handsome rich kid Logan (Michael Weatherly),

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Dark angel season two Review and Opinion

2019/04/04

Dark Angel: Season Two (2001-03)
Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee

review by Steven Hampton

This SF TV show is about mutants. Not the (supra)naturally occurring next step in human evolution as mutants are depicted in movies like X-Men and its sequel X2, but genetically modified children with selected bits of creature code spliced into their DNA, to create a new breed of 'super-soldiers' with animal characteristics endowing them with superior strength, speed, agility, endurance and recuperative powers. The transgenic kids of Dark Angel are a barcode branded X-series, comprising seemingly monstrous failures - like Joshua, the dog-faced artist, introduced in season two's first episode, Designate This, and the uncannily prescient strategic mastermind (but obese and socially invisible) Brian in Brainiac. Another psychic,

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Darkness falls Review and Opinion

2019/04/03

Darkness Falls (2003)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman

review by Octavio Ramos Jr

Darkness Falls begins as an interesting combination of atmospheric horror and phobia-driven terror, but the film quickly succumbs to the more mainstream elements of an action thriller. The story's setup is intriguing and filled with possibilities: In the town of Darkness Falls there lives an old woman by the name of Matilda Dixon, a widow who spends her days cooking treats for the town's children. She also has earned the nickname 'Tooth Fairy' because the children can exchange their last tooth for a gold coin.
   But fate is unkind to Matilda. One night while cooking goodies for the children, her home catches fire, leaving her so badly burned that she must shun the light and wear a porcelain mask to hide her hideous visage. As a result, Dixon only comes out at night, taking long walks under the moonlight and paying visits to the houses of young children. She continues to

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Dark light by ken macleod Review and Opinion

2019/04/02

Dark Light
Ken MacLeod
Tor hardcover $25.95 / Orbit £16.99

review by Jeremy Smith

British science fiction has always stood apart from the American brand. Writing as the sun set on their empire, the earliest masters of the scientific romance and the dreadful warning - men like H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapleton, and Aldous Huxley - published novels of philosophical as well as scientific speculation, often imbued with a deep fatalism. Later, as mid-century US space opera optimistically and uncritically surged across the galaxy, British writers like J.G. Ballard and Michael Moorcock contemplated global disaster, urban decadence, and psychological inner space.
   At first glance, Scottish science fiction writer Ken MacLeod seems to have nothing at all to do with this now-venerable tradition. Like William Gibson or Orson Scott Card on this side of the Atlantic, MacLeod's post-cyberpunk novels are fast, furious, and infused by an early adopter fascination with new hardware

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Darker places by richard matheson- book review for zone-sf.com Review and Opinion

2019/04/01

Darker Places
Richard Matheson
Gauntlet hardcover $55

review by Michael McCarty

In the dedication of this short story collection, Richard Matheson writes: "To Barry Hoffman - with many thanks for resuscitating so much of my early work." That statement sums things up dead-on. Hoffman, the publisher and editor of Gauntlet Press has been collecting the early works of Matheson that might have remained in obscurity if it wasn't for his publishing company.
   In the year 2000, Gauntlet published Matheson's first novel called Hunger And Thirst, the author's first novel, written half a century ago and unpublished. A 'whopper novel' of over 600 pages tells the story of a young author completely paralysed by a gunshot wound in his New York City apartment, slowly dying of hunger and thirst and unable to get help. The book unfolds with a series of flashbacks and is interspersed with the current drama of life and death survival. It was an ambitious book for a

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Dark sun rises by brian aldiss Review and Opinion

2019/03/31

The Dark Sun Rises
Brian Aldiss
Avernus Media chapbook £5.99

review by Steve Sneyd

As with his myriad novels, Brian Aldiss' poetry spans genre and non-genre modes, versatility well reflected in this latest of his poetry collections. So, before a closer look at some of the genre work here, some mention of others is needed. In particular, despite their wide variety of topics, there is a strong unifying element, that's also present in many of the genre pieces. This is a detachedly precise, always economical, often affectionate, sometimes dryly humorous, even for the oddity and inconsistency of human beings and the emotions they bring to relationships - love here, for example, whether genuine or deceptive of the other or the self, compromising or compromised, always remains a kind of quantum force, unpredictably disruptive of any certainty. In fact, insofar as a genre feel often involves a distanced view,

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Dark water Review and Opinion

2019/03/30

Dark Water (2002)
Director: Hideo Nakata

review by Tom Matic

The latest supernatural thriller from Hideo Nakata director of the Ring trilogy, Dark Water (aka: Honogurai mizu no soko kara) had a particular resonance for me. I watched it not long after I moved into a new flat, and got off to a less than auspicious start with my downstairs neighbour by flooding his kitchen with a poorly plumbed-in washing machine. Dark Water attempts to do for water pipes what Ring did for VCRs.
   I felt a twinge of familiarity as the over-eager estate agent shows her client round the dingy apartment, distracting her attention from the damp patch on the ceiling. You want to shout, 'don't take the flat!' And, later, you want to scream 'ring a plumber!' Maybe that's why Dark Water didn't leave me a gibbering wreck the way Ring and, for that matter,

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Darker than you think Review and Opinion

2019/03/29

Darker Than You Think
Jack Williamson
Gollancz paperback £6.99

review by Tom Matic

The 38th entry in Gollancz's Fantasy Masterworks series is a thrilling novel of lycanthropy from the pen of Jack Williamson, an author better known for science fiction. However, Darker Than You Think enters territory usually unexplored by SF, the realm of witches and werewolves. Not to be limited by the normal conventions of the werewolf subgenre, its lycanthropes can change not only into wolves, but leopards, sabre-toothed tigers and pythons, although they are vulnerable to the traditional scourge of the werewolf: silver.
   The novel opens with an encounter between two journalists, Will Barbee and April Bell. Both are reporting the same story: the return of an expedition led by the anthropologist, Dr Lamarck Mondrick (Where do they get those names?). When Mondrick dies in mysterious circumstances shortly after getting off the plane - and crucially while in the middle

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Dawn of amber Review and Opinion

2019/03/28

Roger Zelazny's The Dawn Of Amber
John Gregory Betancourt
iBooks paperback £10.99

review by Debbie Moon

First in a prequel trilogy, The Dawn Of Amber takes us back to the days when the Logrus in the Courts of Chaos was the only pattern, exiled Dworkin was sane (more or less), and Oberon was a young soldier in a distant shadow, unaware of his descent or his destiny. But Dworkin has dangerous enemies, there's a murderous traitor in the family, and Oberon soon discovers that he holds the key to a new magic that everyone wants to get their hands on...
   You either have no idea what I'm talking about - or you're already rushing to the bookshop to buy this. Roger Zelazny's Amber series, while hardly his most intellectual work, is one of the most popular series of science fantasy, and with a Sci-Fi Channel adaptation of the original books in the pipeline, this prequel's timing is faultless.
   Betancourt's imitation of Zelazny's casual, fast-

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Dawn of the dead Review and Opinion

2019/03/27

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder

review by Paul Higson

George A. Romero's 1979 Dawn of the Dead (and its shorter UK Goblin-remix release version Zombies: Dawn Of The Dead - of which British fans are more familiar and fond) had it all. It was an allegory at the same time that it was a gung-ho action flick, it was gory and had a sense of humour, it was low budget yet an epic, independent and commercial, a tragedy, a love story, had characters that were real that resided in and reacted naturally to a fantastical premise. It was the sequel to the film that upset the horror genre rulebook more than any other before or since, and was succeeded by the perfect closing chapter. It was the longest horror film in release up until that time, too. So how do you meet that? You don't... because you can't! It doesn't mean you can't make a good film drawing on the

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Day the earth caught fire Review and Opinion

2019/03/26

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Director: Val Guest

review by Tony Lee

With recent freak storms, droughts and recurring floods, and the gloomy prospect of global warming fast becoming unavoidable reality, a new generation of film fans will surely find this 40-year-old British disaster movie far more eerie, frightening, and unnervingly prophetic than it was on its original release. Then, it was applauded as another gripping SF thriller - produced in the wake of success stories like Quatermass. Today, The Day The Earth Caught Fire seems like a masterpiece of wholly understated screen apocalypse, capturing a simply chilling end-of-the-world melancholy which recent US blockbusters like Armageddon are unable to match. Set in the offices of the Daily Express newspaper, this ironic tale of mankind's folly unfolds in flashback - as a reporter stumbles through the litter and rubble strewn streets of London, waiting for the outcome of

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Day the world ended Review and Opinion

2019/03/25

The Day The World Ended (2001)
Director: Terence Gross

review by Christopher Geary

One of a batch of recent made-for-TV creature features inspired by cult 1950s' horrors, The Day The World Ended (aka: Tod aus dem All) is joined by other 'remake' films: Earth Vs The Spider, She-Creature, How To Make A Monster, and Teenage Caveman. This series of obviously generic but, interestingly, not narrative remakes was co-produced by award-winning effects creator Stan Winston. And, despite the film's judicious use of digital visuals, Winston seems admirably intent on preserving the craft and artistry of monster movie prosthetics and special effects makeup for a CGI-obsessed 21st century, while (of course) keeping his own studio crews in work. The result is standard SF-horror fare with brooding atmosphere, satisfactory monster design and good quality creature effects, though it's somewhat lacking in ambition or imagination...
   

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Dead end Review and Opinion

2019/03/24

Dead End (2002)
Writers and directors: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Febrice Canepa

review by Steven HamptonSpoiler alert!Lately, our cinemas and home screens alike have been deluged with grisly and uncanny visions of both the undead and the death-obsessed, as zombies abound (see 28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn Of The Dead) and maniacal ghouls lurk in every unmapped small town and along every dirt track off the highway (Wrong Turn, House Of 1,000 Corpses, and the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre). There's also the ought-to-be dead (

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Dead in the water Review and Opinion

2019/03/23

Dead In The Water (2002)
Writer and director: Merlin Ward

review by Paul Higson

A number of British horror films are slipping out onto video left to sit there as the legion of the brainwashed pick up one of the rack load of copies of Seabiscuit, or the latest Oscar nominated flicker instead, the number of copies saying it all for them. Many of the smaller films may deserve bypassing or stranding, but there are others for which it can be two years before the ex-rental two-for-one deal and it finally gets a just viewing. Let me lead you back to this one, Merlin Ward's Dead In The Water (aka: Out Of Bounds), as it is one of those films that will supplement the subgenre that is the British horror film. Low-budget but accommodating the limited number of locations and cast well, it has been sold as a supernatural thriller quoting obscure source reviews to support that aspect though anyone making a direct connection between this and the films (

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Death in the family Review and Opinion

2019/03/22

Death In The Family (1981)
Director: Michael J. Murphy

review by Paul Higson

Several poisonings, a bludgeoning, incest, a couple of bombs, a dismembered burnt arm in a rock pool and a knifing, all in a package only 51 minutes length. In fact, there are more bodies than there are cast members in this one... and still you reach the end and you can't rightly declare it a horror film. It is too bright, too in love with the sunshine and holiday location for that, too fond of the sol, the rented villa and the blue waters. I am beginning to wonder if the part I have played in uncovering and bringing into reach Michael J. Murphy, has not begun to influence me favourably to his work. How is it I can enjoy this film this much when it runs less than an hour and it is so blatantly cheap? Should I even be asking that question? No, because normally feature films running under the hour still feel like time spent, and

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Deep blue sea Review and Opinion

2019/03/21

Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Director: Renny Harlin

review by Steven Hampton

Saffron Burrows plays an ambitious scientist using shark brains to find a cure for Alzheimer's. Samuel L. Jackson is the wealthy but demanding investor, curious enough about this line of medical research to visit Aquatica, Burrows' oceanic lab with many tons of hi-tech equipment. The techies and support crew are restless, uncertain of their project's future. The GM mutant sharks are smarter than the blinkered scientist believes possible, and to cap it all there's a severe storm moving in on the facility. Into this supposedly unpredictable scenario the writing team, and director, Renny Harlin, bring some entirely predictable horror clichés. The talented cast get chewed on or eaten alive by sharks that break security to hunt in flooded corridors, stairwells and even a lift shaft. They attack the cook in his kitchen and the doctor in her bedroom. Every shock moment from decades of seafaring adventure

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Deep future Review and Opinion

2019/03/20

Deep Future
Stephen Baxter
Gallancz hardcover £18

review by Steven Hampton

Britain's top hard-SF author turns his attention to nonfiction here, but this isn't some sort of physics textbook aimed at the layman. It's a catalogue of knowledge, current speculative thinking and visionary ideas about near and distant futures, exploring human hopes and mortal fears.
   Balancing optimism and pessimism without making light of either viewpoint, Baxter turns to physics for solutions to the immense difficulties facing any effort to establish a permanent manned space station, bases on the Moon, a colony on Mars and remote settlements on the moons of gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. The issue of interstellar journeys is more problematic. Baxter ponders the worrying question of whether we can ever hope to afford an infrastructure in space, let alone a self-sufficient starship. And yet, following the intriguing interview with aged astronaut/moonwalker Charlie Duke

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Devil's backbone Review and Opinion

2019/03/19

The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Director: Guillermo del Toro

review by Debbie Moon

As the Spanish Civil War shudders to a close, an orphanage run by communist sympathisers finds itself in the path of the fascist forces' advance. But the horrors outside the walls are the least of their worries. The ghost of a dead child walks the corridors, looking for vengeance, and the adults are preoccupied with a horde of communist gold left in their keeping. As violence explodes within the isolated community, the children find themselves very much alone, and fighting for survival - and avenging the dead child may be the only way to end the madness...
   Calling del Toro's breakout film a horror movie is almost an injustice. Yes, it's atmospheric, steeped in the supernatural, and has at least one jump-out-of-your-seat scare. But, in fact, the ghost story is almost an excuse for an intense psychological study of individuals under extreme pressure, and what happens to their

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Die another day Review and Opinion

2019/03/18

Die Another Day (2002)
Director: Lee Tamahori

review by Christopher GearySpoiler alert!Die Another Day opens with a rather disappointing surfing sequence and proceeds to a hovercraft chase, after briskly introducing the criminally old-fashioned backstory of a military power struggle, as a kindly and sympathetic but aged and naive Korean General (Kenneth Tsang) laments the loss of his brashly wayward son Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee), and unhappily ensures that his son's killer (Bond, of course) is captured to spend a year being tortured - with frequent beatings, water dunking, scorpion stings and anti-venom injections - in the hellhole of an Asian prison.
   When he is eventually traded for the facially scarred henchman Zao (Rick Yune), Bond finds that he's lost the essential trust of his MI6 superior M (the formidable but underused Judi Dench), and is forced to escape from a secure convalescence facility

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Difference engine Review and Opinion

2019/03/17

The Difference Engine
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Gollancz paperback £6.99

review by Patrick Hudson

The Difference Engine was first published in 1990, just as cyberpunk hit the mainstream and SF had one of its brief moments in the sun. The Internet was beginning to make the news, the web was just around the corner, computers were slowly infiltrating all corners of business and government, the state was shrinking, corporate power growing and all things Japanese were considered the sin qua non of futuristic chic. The Gollancz paperback that I bought at the time came with endorsements from style mags The Face and I-D, as well as Ridley Scott and The Guardian.
   Set in 1855, The Difference Engine imagines a Victorian London where Charles Babbage perfected his calculating engine - for which he produced complete designs and theories, but never constructed a working version (although you can see a recreation of it in the

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Digital dead by bruce balfour Review and Opinion

2019/03/16

The Digital Dead
Bruce Balfour
Ace paperback $6.99

review by Cristopher Hennessey-DeRose

In this sequel to his wonderful The Forge Of Mars, Bruce Balfour brings back the characters of Tau Wolfsinger and his girlfriend Kate McCloud into another aspect of his world, seeing Kate kidnapped and Tau himself very nearly killed.
   Although Kate manages to escape her captors, Tau suspects that this turn of events is tied to their discovery of Martian ruins and alien technology. During the investigation of what appears to be some kind of Martian artifact, Tau's father is killed. The clues point further down the technological road than Tau first suspected, to the Elysian Fields, where virtual copies of those who have passed away are kept.
   Dense, complex, yet easy to read and enjoy, the trappings of SF, cyberpunk and the technothriller are all present here, wrapped up neatly by Balfour's prose, which

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The dish Review and Opinion

2019/03/15

The Dish (2000)
Director: Rob Sitch

review by Steven Hampton

This retells the story of Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 Moon landing, of July 1969, as seen through the eyes of civilians in the Australian community of Parkes, where a large radio telescope was a vital part of NASA's plan to make their space mission the first global television event...
   Antipodean comedy drama about such a momentous human endeavour does sound terrible, doesn't it? But, against all the odds, this turns out to be a warmly engaging tale of ordinary folk peripherally involved in, or reacting to, televised history in the making. Pipe-smoking Cliff (Sam Neill) is the quietly spoken boss at the Parkes tracking dish, incongruously located at the heart of sheep farming countryside, and he's persuasively enthusiastic about his station's participation in this grandly ambitious scheme. Coping admirably with visiting dignitaries, public relations troubles between acerbic engineers and

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Dobermann Review and Opinion

2019/03/14

Dobermann (1997)
Director: Jan Kounen

review by Tony Lee

French crime thriller, starring Vincent Cassel as the successful bank-robber of the title, Tchéky Karyo (who has made distinguished appearances in everything from Nikita to GoldenEye, and 1492 to Wing Commander), as a misogynistic cop - our antihero's nemesis, and Monica Bellucci (one of the vampire brides in Coppola's Dracula), who plays Dobermann's mute girlfriend. This is the sort of low budget thriller where the intensity of its OTT stylised action is leavened, and actually redeemed, by comic book style flourishes such as a handgun which fires missiles, and an unfortunate police motorcyclist with a primed grenade lodged inside his helmet.

It's no surprise, then, to hear that this film is actually based on some pulp novels (which I've not read) by one Jöel Houssin. There's a masked stickup spree, some stupid detectives who only get each other shot in their hurry

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Cory doctorow profiled at Review and Opinion

2019/03/13

Genre Greats:

Cory doctorow profiled at Review and Opinion

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Dogma Review and Opinion

2019/03/12

Dogma (1999)
Director: Kevin Smith

review by Steven Hampton

Certainly one of the most generically mixed up films I have ever seen, this lamely whimsical comedy fantasy is too confused to satisfy even the most undemanding viewer. It fails miserably as biblical apocalypse, road movie, counterculture satire and - whatever! The familiar characters of Jay and silent Bob from this director's earlier slacker movies like Clerks (1994), which I have not seen, and Mallrats (1995) which I did see, and found wanting - seem wholly out of place here, consigned to merely non-participant spectatorship at worst, clumsy interlopers in the main, earnestly theological action, at best.
   A potentially great cast are largely wasted as they stand firm spouting the vacuous dialogue (Alan Rickman is only amusing as the 'voice of God' until we realise he isn't going to go away), or go running scared of ridiculous juvenilia, like the smelly and almost invulnerable shit

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Dog soldiers Review and Opinion

2019/03/11

Dog Soldiers (2002)
Director: Neil Marshall

review by Michael Lohr

This is a very entertaining, realistic horror movie about werewolves, the best one since John Landis' An American Werewolf in London. This movie marks a much-needed return to the traditional horror movie genre. Written and directed by Neil Marshall and co-produced by Christopher Figg (Trainspotting, Hellraiser), Dog Soldiers is a classic tale of survival, in much the same regard as Night Of The Living Dead and Alien. Bob Keen's Image Effects did a fantastic job at making the werewolves of Dog Soldiers look realistic and terrifying. The odd thing about this film is that it contains quite a bit of humour, well-written humour that fits in oddly and superbly with the stark realism of the terror.
   The movie is set deep in the forests of Scotland, and stars Shawn Pertwee (Event Horizon, Soldier), Kevin McKidd (Hideous Kinky),

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