GAME REVIEW – Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode 4: The Cain Killer (PC)

Alternative Magazine Online

By Marty Mulrooney

Cognition Episode 4

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode 4: The Cain Killer (PC) is the final instalment in the Erica Reed series of episodic point-and-click adventure games created by Phoenix Online Studios. Following on directly from Episode 3 (which Alternative Magazine Online described as “a potent murder mystery where questions continue to arise”), players once again take control of Boston-based FBI agent Erica Reed. Only this time, she is operating outside the law to finally bring the Cain Killer to justice…

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I will be doing a book signing for Orbital Kin tomorrow at WHSmith Trafford Centre Manchester, UK. Here I look at the characters in this new dramatic and epic modern science fiction novel.

The two main characters are Steven and Alan-university science students finishing their Masters degrees projects with other friends. They do not really know or expect just what threat and dangers their sudden scientific breakthrough will have on them, their families, friends and their lives.

Steven is a wild though confused young man. Early twenties, he is constantly hedonistic, a reliable party man, center of attention from the girls and guys around town in most clubs. He is loved, admired and remembered. As a young scientist he is dedicated and interested, but inside he has deeper personal struggles and problems.

Alan is the quieter more thoughtful other main character. Another science student, he lacks the success with women and freinds that he sees in Steven, and usually just keeps extremely focused on research, reading, learning and respecting the world and limits of science he knows.

The next main character is Gordon, the father of Steven. Through the first part of the book he is seen as a highly respected and well known local scientifc research and production businessman. Something is very wrong with his health and even more issues lie between his relationship with his son Steven.

All three characters experience temptations, fears, tensions and deep questions through the story, as the disease spreads, trouble breaks out, some travel through space, and others look for reasons and hope.

Signing copies of Orbital Kin tomorrow Saturday 21st September at WHSmith Trafford Cen. Manchester Uk


Second blog post the day before I do a book signing at Trafford Centre WHSmith, Manchester 21st September.

Thinking of the themes contained within the Orbital Kin science fiction novel from 2013, there were many things at the begining of writing all the way through to the end, some new and some older.

There are many things that I think about, some things which trouble or fascinate me which relate and connect to the science fiction genre and this new novel does link to a number of them.

Initially the book focuses on scientific research, experimentation, breakthroughs. In our current modern world these events and happenings are often very curious, sometimes amazing and herald hope for many who need medication, physical help, help from disease, illnesses of many kinds etc.

I also think about how corporations often seem to get too connected to medical and scientific research and how that could be a very good or extremely negative element.

The story looks at the role of Britain in space exploration, how far or much further that might go or have been going. Are we able to do such things when currently much of the population are heading to food banks and unemployment?

The third part of the book explores potential ruin and chaos across the UK, causes by a mystery disease, outbreak or virus. Are we actually safe from these kinds of things? How would we cope-as a society, as individuals, as families or communities?


Some of the book observes and explores the difficult balance between science and religion, faith and facts, optimism and tragedy, hope and chaos. If there is life further out there in space, can we reach it, would it allow us to know? Should we make contact? Have we already done so? If we did, would that be the end of us…or the very begining?


I am book signing Orbital Kin 21st September (tomorrow) in WHSmith, Trafford Cen. Manchester.  




Tomorrow at WHSmith in the Trafford Centre at Manchester I will be doing my first book signing for my latest science fiction novel Orbital Kin. Here now, I am going to post a few blog pieces about the book, and the plot, characters, themes etc.

Influences on Orbital Kin-

Of course I think it is a new original science fiction tale, though no story is absolutely totally original. Of course there have been so many fantastic classic SF authors over nearly the last hundred years and more perhaps. Although I did more horror and strange literary beat novels when younger, increasingly over the last ten or more years I have been reading so much more science fiction and already was certainly well aware of many of the big name authors. There have been many classic scifi tales adapted to film over the decades, some great some laughable.

Some of the strongest most lasting film influences on this book-and myself, having studied and been involved in filmmaking- 2001:A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, The Running Man, 28 Days Later, Star Wars, Terminator and dozens more.

Then actual science fiction novel influences on this new sci-fi novel would actually range from my huge respect for and amazement of much of the work of J.G.Ballard, Robert A. Heinlein with his often suspicious and new-age themes and allegories in space, the crazed and paranoid tales of Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, and certainly the tales of Arthur C. Clarke.

The book being in three seperate parts, does have three kind of subgenre science fiction themes-part one is a sort of modern technological sci-fi thriller, part two is an absolute epic space journey trip, and part three is some kind of strange and dangerous dystopian horror thriller in some ways.

The story of Orbital Kin might be set anywhere between 10 to 30 years from today, and there is a paranoid uneasy cynical fear through it. The power and influence of modern scientific breakthroughs and discoveries and disasters and explored and contemplated in extreme and fantastic ways.


Book signing of Orbital Kin-21st September, WHSmith Trafford Cen. Manchester, 11-3pm.




Warner Bros. release official Gravity trailer

Looks like still possibly one fantastic sci-fi films of 2013…


gravity-poster-ukAfter various clips have appeared on line, Warner Bros. has now finally released the full trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Described by Bullock at the Venice Film Festival as “physically and mentally, the craziest, most bizarre, challenging thing” she has done, Gravity is set in a zero-g environment after satellite debris destroys a space shuttle in which Bullock as a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission is working alongside a veteran astronaut played by Clooney. Tethered to one another they are left spiralling into the blackness.

Watch the trailer here:

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I have surprisingly managed to get out to the local multiplex cinema to catch one of the movies that I personally have been waiting for now since around the begining of the year if not before. There was a point when I was not too bothered, maybe didn’t realise it to be the new film from Neill Blomkamp, director of the similar and amazingly fresh sci-fi flick District 9 only a few years back. There was also the matter of the lead actor in this new mysterious space epic being Matt Damon, who does not always blow my mind on screen it has to be noted. It is only in more very recent times when I have begun to give him more of a fair chance, and he can be great, but it can possibly be due to the screenplay of the particular film.

There have been a number of newspaper and magazine reviews that I devoured quickly prior to seeing this SF big screen modern space age epic. Being an author of science fiction tales fairly similar in tone and style to how this film and District 9 seem, I was hoping it really might be a fantastic film, as were many others since District 9 has in the last four or so years gained an increasing and respectful fanbase and many wishing Blomkamp would provide something as radically new and gripping and his previous movie.

I also want to point out that before the film started, we were given the new trailers for three similar possibly great 2013 sci-fi flicks-RIDDICK and Gravity, and Ender’s Game all due in the next few months. Could the build up and geek excitement get any more fever-like?

 So even from early trailers, we knew that Elysium did hold an obviously similar visual style to District 9, seeming to build upon it and move further in even more bold and colossal ways.

From the simple narrative begining set up, we meet Damon as Max, a once troublesome low level street criminal, but with some degree of honest and compassionate feelings, who is working simply in a depressingly grey and soul-sucking factory building robot parts. It is these robots who keep down and opress him and all his fellow people on the neglected and ruined earth, while the richest and luckiest souls live many miles out in space in the vast Elysium space station. The majority live in filth and dirt, with little hope or joy below.

Generally the plot is kept fairly simple, which is actually fine as it we watch some honest very spectacular and awesome images of the Elysium space station, the patrol robots, the ruined slum towns of future LA and many space craft flying around. These again, like District 9 are some of the most striking and bracing science fiction visuals on screen in recent times.

Characterization might not be as satisfying as it could be, be thankfully Matt Damon really does seem to fit the part very well, his regular ‘every-man’ common joe type so suitable for this movie. Trying to forget the desperate and agressive crimes of his earlier youth, his wants to just get by with honest if constantly unsatisfying factory work. Soon enough he is picked on, beaten, warned by his boss, and eventually in the most desperate and dangerous situation.

With barely any serious reason left to remain straight and honest, he goes to seek help from old criminal gang friends. A job is offered, a seriously deathly suicidal job, in exchange for a ticket to Elysium where he can heal himself. His time is desperately running out.

Then the movie races along, keeping things simple, yet chases and wild action sequences one after another. The frenetic hand-held camerawork conbined with the state-of-the-art CG robots and space craft imagery just keep us right inside this desperate dangerous future ruined world, with Jodie Foster as a truly vile and nasty corrupted politician up on Elysium watching Max, and the highly unstable and shockingly sadistic mercenary she sends to catch him.

Again, as some had noted, Blomkamp does still reflect real world political and ethical tensions like South African Aparthied but I actually did feel that with this film he moved more widely to commenting on the increasing social and financial divides of our current world.

There are some suddenly nasty and bloodily graphic scenes, which reminded me of the original Total Recall movie or Robocop for sci-fi splatter on screen. Like District 9, this is generally justified and matches the almost documentary ‘found-footage’ cinema verite style of direction from Blomkamp. And as he is dealing with depicting such tragic and desperate extremes of future living, this kind of violence works and is thankfully then balanced well with a number of genuinely touching scenes of hope, loss and affection between Max his childhood sweetheart and her little girl.

Yes, many have praised the film up until the last half hour or so, where like Man of Steel and arguably IRON MAN 3 too, it just comes down to a repetitive bash and knockabout smack-down between good guy and super-evil guy. It basically is just that, but the journey all the way to that ending sequence is great and largely satisfying enough that it does not really spoil the entire film. There are other characters, many people depicted, some unresolved tensions, though the ending is fairly obvious though still a good enough way to close things.

Yes, this really is probably the most stunning and vast space opera action science fiction film of this year, and I do recommend that if sci-fi is your thing in the slightest way, go get to this movie very soon.