TWIN PEAKS: The Return Review

There we go. Eighteen weeks have now passed and we have seen the return of one of the most original and strangely influential cult television shows ever seen. Did you watch it?

We have had around a twenty five year gap since the show was last on tv and this actually has clever significance in the storyline. When it had finally been confirmed that this show was due to return after a number of years of rumours all kinds of thoughts came to mind. Which actors would or even could return? How could the story continue? Was it actually a good idea to bring it back at all?

Famously, the show ended with a highly dramatic final episode closing series 2 (spoiler) as Agent Cooper seemed to have been possessed by the evil spirit Bob. So what did happen next?

Back in the early 90’s this was a show which divided opinion-unlike practically any tv show we had ever seen before thanks to auteur film director David Lynch who had previously made such surreal and often disturbing dream-like films including Eraserhead and Blue Velvet. Along with writer Mark Frost they set out to offer a detective drama show that would confound our expectations and make us work to find the story and possible logic among the long takes, unusual scenes and increasingly bizarre imagery every so often. Starting out like a regular whodunit but with extremely emotional reactions to the death of local girl Laura Palmer, Agent Cooper and the law enforcement came up against often highly strange clues and signs leading them and the audience somewhere-although we regularly were not too sure exactly where.

All these years later and when it seemed like Lynch was even giving up on making another feature film or similar work, he and Frost united again and it was confirmed a number of the key cast would be along for the ride. Needless to say expectations were so high for whatever would eventually be on our small screens this time. While David Lynch does have his own regular recurring themes and motifs I don’t think most of us expected even half as much as what we did get.

The new series started off frustratingly slow and that did seem very Lynch. While this did test some people we knew we had many weeks to go but surprisingly episode two went pretty darn crazy. The hardcore Lynch fan got a load of mad Lynch world sooner than hoped for. From this point on the story was set up and it moved along with (spoilers) two Agent Coopers. We got ‘evil’ Cooper and some kind of dazed Cooper who now resided in the new identity of Dougie Jones who is a regular family guy who works in insurance. This dazed Cooper we watch for what feels at times like years as he ambles around barely able to put a sentence together or walk in a straight line by himself. Meanwhile ‘evil’ Cooper knows that the Black Lodge is calling him back after twenty five years but he has other plans.

So how different is Twin Peaks this time around? Some of the things which made it such an iconic show first time around are not entirely there-the well known musical score and atmospheric themes are only at the beginning and end of the show for almost the entire series, and this kind of makes sense as the show has a very different focus and feel. As we stay with Dougie Cooper for a long while he is often much like some silent movie comedy actor or mime, his dialogue almost zero and all just about his bumbling movement and dazed perception of the world. This is not at all the confident and highly perceptive Agent Cooper we are familiar with. We see ‘evil’ Cooper off and on along his devious journey but these scenes are often very tense or even highly violent. The original series all those years ago had neither of these qualities to such great extents and so the music and atmosphere is much different this time.

Not all of the main cast of actors did return-some opted out, some had passed away in real life, a few passing after completing their scenes such as Albert and the Log Lady. The show could not have returned without Kyle MacLachlan and we really should offer much well deserved praise for his dual performances of three characters all through the new series.

Was this series too long? Initially Lynch was offered around six or eight episodes. He soon after suddenly went of strike or almost walked from the project with many of the cast supporting him. Not too long after, the network or producers made their changes and the series almost doubled in length with director and cast all back again.

There were a number of guest actors and well known Hollywood actors involved this time, and while I might have expect bigger performance from some of them I think Lynch reigned them in or they held themselves back possibly knowing that it was more about this big special storyline than any one performance.

Did we get the answers we had been waiting twenty five years for? Well…yes and no. in some ways Lynch gave us more than we usually get from him in terms of narrative explanation but then of course with the last couple of episodes he threw us a bunch of new twists and clues to argue over for years to come. That is probably how we real Lynch fans want it anyway to be honest.

So the show is not the same show many of us first saw when we were younger viewers but we have aged, time has moved on, David Lynch and Mark frost have aged and changed. I have known for a long time that Lynch has been practising Transcendental Meditation for decades now, almost right from the start of his filmmaking career and I think through the first two series of Twin Peaks. The influence of this may actually be much more obvious in this new series than in any of his other work with the notions of Bob the ancient evil Earth spirit and Laura Palmer as a positive energy spirit force in some sense and the powerful influence of both on the many character in the show. This I can handle and I am fine with even if it was not so prominent in the original show.

Some last questions-what the heck happened to Audrey and Laura’s mother? What really was Judy (Jowday) ? Was Bob really killed? Is Cooper really Agent Cooper? When the heck have Cooper and Laura ended up in the last episode?

Overall while it have been just a few hours too long, I think we got a really great return from Lynch and Frost and the influential show which changed television history.

 

James E. Parsons is author of the SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century both available now from all good bookshops and online shops. His new horror novel Northern Souls is due to be published late September/early October.

 

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Hemlock Grove: Season 3 Review

This is the end beautiful friend. The end.

Yes after a couple of months, through all of the crazed hellish gore and melodrama I have reached the very end of this prickly dark show. Was it worth watching all three seasons on Netflix? Was it much better than American Horror Story?

This was the last season, it was due to all end, all various parts of the tale wrapped up and put to an end. Given the nature of the show, of course I did expect that to be a possibly offensive to some, gruesome and tragic ending.

Many people held very mixed views of the show-some seemed to really like it to begin with, others did not really take to the style of it all. Televised at the same time as the American Horror Story was on a successful high through the second to third series, this show is different enough to warrant your time if you are a horror fan.

The second season of Hemlock Grove ends with a very unexpected almost Lovecraft inspired finale, raising the stakes and demands of the final seasons much higher. Did it manage to rise to that challenge?

More of the original main characters (played by the high profile actors such as Lili Taylor and Dougray Scott) had been killed off, with a handful of new characters added to the story. New stranded love interest Miranda is kidnapped at the end of season two and this sets young troubled vampire Roman and his gypsy werewolf friend Peter on the task of finding her and defeating the monster whom stole her and the baby Nadia.

At the start of the season it does begin with Miranda in some distant snowy winter lodge held captive by the very enigmatic (and entertaining as an actor) Doctor Spivak. Soon enough to focus returns to Peter and Roman back in Hemlock where Peter’s cousin Destiny is due to marry her new fiancée Andreas. After two or three episodes the story settles on the unfolding criminal problems of Andreas and tensions between him and Peter. Destiny is still a very good character played by the great Kaniehtiio Horn as she has some regular visions and help for the young supernatural pair on their quest. Most of the series does lack in either vampire or werewolf action or set pieces, relying on what we have seen before and might hope to expect toward the season end. The tragic young sister Shelley is fought over by Roman and Olivia, who becomes more and more insane and manipulative than we’ve seen her yet in the show.

Also in this final season Doctor Johann Price gets more focus as he himself has some kind of personal breakdown probably does to trying to help both Roman and Olivia and seeing some much continual bloodshed and killing around his research work at the Godfrey institute. Around halfway into the season almost all of the expected horror elements seems to have gone and we are left watching a Johann and Olivia individually loose their minds, and below par urban crime heist plot and Roman shagging around yet more woman until he sucks their blood in desperate confusion.

The plot for Shelley opens up and can be read as a new exploration of the Frankenstein’s monster theme. She is torn between the sides of her nasty and selfish family, runs away and finds a short term happiness living on the streets.

Eventually more of the vampire/vargulf myth is built upon and opened up, backstory explored as a new young mysterious lady comes to change the dynamic of events, which does gradually help to maintain an original and interesting direction for the horror aspect of the show.

Now of course I have been watching this series with comparison of American Horror Story and also Penny Dreadful in the back of my mind. Hemlock Grove mostly focuses on younger characters and has a more youthful energy and terror through it. The other major thing which kept it separate from those shows is that it largely stays with the same group of character over all three series. Penny Dreadful also keeps and builds upon the same characters but is set in a very different time period.

So again like the two previous seasons of this show, it does dip slightly half way, and possibly doesn’t offer as much full out horror on screen as many viewers might hope to see. It is however an interesting exploration of a set group of characters, often very Shakespearean with the OTT drama. Also being one of the very first Netflix produced shows, I think that they maybe didn’t really know how far they could take the show, how they would best balance the story all the way through. It could have been better in some ways, it could have done others things differently but it does all conclude in the end.

This is a small screen horror series with some obvious flaws but it does have enough things to make it worth watching I assure you if you are a fan of classic gothic horror such a Dracula, werewolves and old legends with a modern setting and plenty of gallons of blood and dead bodies falling to the floor.

James E. Parsons is author of the science fiction books Orbital Kin and Minerva as paperback, ebook and hardback both available from Waterstones, amazon, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith and all other good bookshops internationally now. His first horror novel is published in 2017.

 

Once more around the galaxy-Doctor Who series 10

Yes here we are at Easter and it is time for the return of Doctor Who to our small screens. The seems to have been like years not months. The big difference now is that it sees the last episodes to feature Peter Capaldi in the lead role. It seems like he has hardly been the character for very long. Has he lasted long enough? Did he come at the right time?

There have been many mixed views of the quality of the show since Capaldi joined and it can be suggested that if it has been weak or lacking at times it may have been more due to the writing from Steven Moffat. So many people have an axe to grind for this man but I think he has in the past given us some very unique episodes and he really does so in the most recent series as well. It may not have been perfect, it may have still had way too much Clara for some, but around half of the episodes of the previous series were actually magnificent. So what can we expect in this last run for Capaldi?

Well we really have moved on past the whole Clara period and onto new times. We’ve passed the extended time of the Doctor contemplating who he is and what he does on his adventures which at times ventured much deeper into his past than the show ever had. This could be one grand defiant and joyful final run. It does though look as if the fun and light tone is being put back in place if the lack of that was a serious concern for the show producers and fans over the last couple of years. The Doctor does now have a new young female companion called Bill. He also has Matt Lucas as strange comedy sidekick Nardole…oh dear.

It could be that this new series is bringing back into the show a few elements that have been missing for a while and which has disappointed the fans. Do most fans of the show want a much more fast, funny and light-hearted show? With Peter Capaldi as the Doctor does that kind of thing just not work well?

We are due a new actor in the lead role next year. Can the show survive until then? Will this be another hit-and-miss series?

It could be that I am in my late 30’s and have perhaps been easily happy with an older Doctor exploring more deeper philosophical questions but it had seemed to go on like that for a good while. Given the chance can Capaldi be as wild and unpredictable as Tom Baker back in the 1970’s? This weekend will bring back the Doctor.

James E. Parsons is author of SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century available from amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith, and other good bookshops internationally as paperback, ebook and hardback.

 

Hemlock Grove:season2 Review

Yes it did take me a while to get down to watching all of season one of this horror show but it has pulled me in and I am heading right on to the very end now.

A few days ago I finished up season two of the show. This is where I try not to drop in any spoilers for those of you yet to watch the show-I’ll try my best. Actually best not read this post until you’re done with season one.

So at the end of the first season a few main characters were killed off, in fact it was surprising just how many continued to be maimed, chopped down, slaughtered in quick succession. There were a few mysteries left to keep us curious and wanting more such as the secret experimental project of doctor Johan and what happened to the baby and where Peter and Roman ended up soon after.

So while the infamous werewolf transformation scene may have been extremely bloody and graphic (plus physically implausible) there was actually very little monster wild wolf action. The focus was mostly on the aftermath of the wolf attacks around town, the tensions between the schools pupils and their suspicions of Roman and Peter, and the tensions between Olivia Godfrey and her brother-in-law Norman. Many secrets to hide while the blood spills and bodies pile up.

With start of the second season and new character in her twenties called Miranda comes to stay with Roman in his new plush house after her car is hit on the near roadside. She soon meets Peter who is working at the car repair place, and they spend time together. Eventually she brings them back together. Peter’s mother Lynda Romancek has been jailed by authorities and so Peter and his cousin Destiny begin to make use of her supernatural gypsy skills and his wolf powers in an attempt to free her. Roman meanwhile finds his own problems as his family history changes him, and his desire for blood makes him desperate.

The two characters of interest in this second season are new girl Miranda, who finds herself trapped  at the home of Roman and curious about what he is hiding and the link with him and Peter. Next we find that Roman’s sister Shelley is alive and on the run, hiding from all and moving in the shadows until she takes refuge in the basement of an abandoned house where a friendly young little boy meets her. Over the season Shelley opens up as a character much more, and she becomes more than the simple vague monster image she had previously been.

There is a shift on tone in this season, and in some ways it works better but only so far. The wicked love triangle of Miranda, Roman and Peter is interesting especially toward the end of the season when all the macabre craziness arrives.

As this show was basically competing with American Horror Story, it wanted to set itself apart with a distinctive style that was not seen in AHS. This is of course the times where Hemlock goes very bizarre and quite Freudian with the horror elements and the family tensions. It remains often very soap opera and camp but this is part of the charm in all honesty.

It is great to see Destiny get a lot more screen time as she really is good fun and could probably even lead her own show. Toward the end of the season it is almost like David Lynch is directing Hammer House of Horrors. It becomes even more ludicrous and funny (intentionally all of the time? This could be debated). You know that this is an over the top macabre and melodramatic show, and if you want just that then that is what you get and it goes up a few more notches.

James E.Parsons is author of the science fiction books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century both available from amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith and other good bookshops internationally. His first horror novel is published in 2017.

Hemlock Grove: Season 1 Review

Yes this OTT bloody small screen show has been finished a while now from 2013 until late 2015, but thanks to Netflix I am binge watching it all over a few weeks. I had started with the first series on dvd a while ago but writing put a stop to it. Well now I’ve got right to the end of this series.

I would think that this series got to go ahead due to the huge success of American Horror Story which began in 2011 showing that what could be done with a long running small screen horror series with a decent budget. An audience is there for this kind of thing, and in big number it would be revealed.

And so along came Hemlock Grove a couple of years later as the first real competition to that show. Whereas AHS for the first couple of seasons was really fairly serious and intense, Hemlock Grove was more of an opened up story, with a variety of characters and tones. It reminds me of a number of horror novels I have read, possibly like some Stephen King or Graham Masterton. The show was executive produced by horror director Eli Roth (he of Hostel, Cabin Fever and recently Green Inferno ) a youngish director always pushing at boundaries of taste, censorship and extreme terror on screen. This gave us some suggestion of the kind of show it might be and also how it would possibly differ or be even more shocking that AHS.

From early on, in trailers and promo publicity we learned about the infamous (and kind of physically impossible) werewolf change scene near the start of the series. This was made out to be one very over the top and gore filled show. Is it more that just that?

Adapted from the book by Brian McGreevy (who also developed and helped write the show) it follows the young gypsy Peter Romancek who moves to Hemlock Grove with his mother. They have some family past there from a long time ago, and soon after started at the local school Peter connects up with spoilt rich kid Roman Godfrey, heir to the Godfrey estate. The research building and company with the Godfrey name works on various kinds of biological research and experimentation. Local teens begin to be found dead more and more as Peter and Roman learn of the secrets each holds from the community around them.

The show looks really great. This was one of the very first made exclusively by Netflix, and it has great cinematography, sets and locations and costume design. The influence of shows such as Twin Peaks and the Hammer horror films can be seen regularly. As it focuses largely on the two teen characters of Peter and Roman, it has a more jaded, melodramatic feel but that also goes for the show in general. The mother of Roman, Olivia is played by Famke Janssen is often acting high camp like a light headed Morticia Adams. It can often feel like The Breakfast Club meets a number of classic modern horror films.

I did feel that the show started slowly, but keeping on with it past the third episode I did get to like what was going on and whole feeling of the show. Yes sometimes the acting may be a little hammy and overdone but it has a number of great genre elements and eventually they explode all over the screen with bloody vitriol.

This first season deals with the hunt for a mystery serial killer of teens, while many at the school suspect Peter, even as a werewolf (which he really is) but he and Roman unite to connect up the clues which reveal a much deeper terror. Other characters come into the show to help and hinder their search.

The show also follows the interconnected tensions and troubles between the two main families and how the past is setting up the present for them.

There may have been a few times after the half way mark when it was getting repetitive but it was still the kind of show that I had wanted to see on television and which is very rare. It can be more like a soap opera than AHS but also it is in some ways more emotional and dramatic, as there are characters that the viewers does empathise with as they attempt to stop the werewolf on the loose and the deadly plans of the Godfrey research empire.

James E. Parsons is author of Orbital Kin and Minerva Century-both available from Amazon, Waterstones ,Barnes & Noble, WHSmith in paperback/hardback/ebook and from other good bookshops. His new horror novel is due in 2017.

 

Class-Doctor Who spin off series 2016-short review

Are you a huge Whovian? Been watching Doctor Who for decades, years or only just begun recently? What do you like most about the show? Have you seen any of the spin-off related show from over the years such as Sarah Jane Adventures or K-9?

At the end of 2016 we were taken to a familiar school in the world of Who over the years, Coal Hill academy. While there was a break from the Doctor and his own adventures last year, this location and a group of teenage characters came along to keep us entertained.

CLASS does come from the same place as Doctor Who (and even features him at the end of the first episode) but it is quite a surprisingly different show. This may have shocked or actually upset a great many people judging from the very mixed response in the last couple of months since it first aired in the UK on BBC3.

The eight episode series does have a loose story thread but starts with individual tales. This episodes are similar to quite a few Who episodes but edge closer to other sci-fi films and tv shows such as The Twilight Zone, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, X-Files and more. The series had been aired late night on Mondays on BBC1 due to the gore, blood, violence and occasional swearing at times.

A good few loyal Doctor Who fans may have been very surprised, and I know some have just not been impressed or happy with it at all. Why is this? It is really so bad?

Since Doctor Who successfully returned long-term in the mid-00’s and has been on the small screen ever since, the show creators have taken some inspiration and chances with that success at times, with casting, scripts and other projects. One successful early spin-off show which quickly gained a big fanbase was Torchwood. It was connected to Who and came from there but had its own set of characters and stories goin on separately. People loved that show and especially the lead character Captain Jack Harkness and his golden age Hollywood style adventure hero antics and fascinating sexuality. That show though did largely stay in the same area where the whole family could watch it together, all ages.

This probably does not really apply with CLASS. Your very small kids should not see most of this. I mean, its not as excessive as any actual 15 or 18 rated horror films but it does almost get to that level, almost. Some fans therefore may feel this betrayed where it comes from and what it should be coming from the world of Doctor Who.

This isn’t the main issue that most people have had with the show. Usually reactions I’ve read or heard take aim of the low or clichéd quality of the scriptwriting. Some thought the characters were terrible, just really predictable. Others may have commented on the acting.

For me personally, I actually did enjoy the series for most of the time and like a couple of people I know, I think it probably did get better toward the end. Some thought the opposite was true.

Well look, they couldn’t just go and make another Torchwood (though the fans have been waiting for that show to return for years now) and in a way it is like seeing a more naughty, offensive and slightly subversive part of the Doctor Who show where the lead character goes missing and the cameras turn to others around him, but for eight episodes.

I’m over twice the age of the young characters but I could mostly still believe them and understand their lives, even if sometimes maybe too tragic.

Like Doctor Who over the last decade and more it is brave at times to include people and issues relating to our modern times- gay characters, people of ethnic minority background, other countries and not have them simply be ‘joke’ characters but the ones we connect with and invest our interest in. But really the best character is Ms. Quill, who comes from Doctor Who and she acts like he ever rarely does. She is regularly aloof, obnoxious, sarcastic, funny, bored, self-interested even nasty. So then of course this all makes her very watchable and entertaining all the way through. And like the present Doctor at least, she is not young-well, she is probably middle aged at a push. While most of the series looks at each individual young character and their issues while some random wild alien invasion takes place, toward the end Miss Quill is revealed as a very interesting character.

The series comes to a highly dramatic and possibly OTT ending but this does probably leave things open for the show to return. If that will happen is yet to be confirmed. I would like to see the series return and maybe some of the flaws in the scripts and writing could be smoothed out with it next time.

 

James E. Parsons is a SF/Horror author. His SF books Orbital Kin & Minerva Century are available now from Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, WHSmith, and other good bookshops. His first horror book is published later in 2017.

 

The Expanse-tv show review

In the last week or more I have managed to watch this new sci-fi show which thankfully just suddenly ended up on Netflix in the UK here. I had read about it many months ago, but there had been very little news about when it would come over here or on what television channel.

I had been aware that it is adapted from the hugely popular SF space opera book series from the last few years written by James S.A.Corey (which is actually two writers working together). Like that book series this seemed to be a very epic and complex story, weaving together a number of plots and characters.

In the last couple of years we have had a few mostly good quality new SF shows, often on SyFy channel. These included Continuum, Defiance and more recently Killjoys and Dark Matter. How would this show compare to these other recent successes? What would all of the fans of the book series it is based upon think of it?

I have not personally read the Expanse book series and so had no solid expectations or ideas of how the characters should look, act or what the show should look like. I do though write space opera-my latest published book is in that style- and I am a fan of the classic tales of that kind.

So what did I think? Well first of all, with just the first episode it looked very well made with high production values and good direction. The sets seemed to be on a big scale as if for a feature film and the visual effects seemed like something you would possibly see in a cinema. It started very well.

It soon gives us a space attack and mystery, and a small group of main characters are thrown together and left to desperately travel to safety in deep space. Somewhere else on colonised space habitat a tired detective begins to follow a trail which leads him toward some interesting but dangers people and places.

The show had the look and feel at times of the recent very popular Battlestar Galactica television reboot-quite realistic camerawork, fairly dark and gritty lighting often, desperate and tense situations. Sometimes though it has some lighter brief moments of humour and colour which remind of the cult hit Joss Whedon Firefly show.

This does look like the most visually impressive tv science fiction show for years, which is great and unusual to see on a small screen. For the most part, the writing is very good. The characters and acting do pull you in and you want to watch them interact and see where they go together and how. In some sense because the visuals do look so good, almost Hollywood sci-fi cinema level an slight difficult feeling arises as it feels like a film stretched over several hours and there are maybe a few times when it does drag just a bit.

Is it what I thought it would be? I may have been expecting something more like the ALIENS films due to the early photographs and pictures of this show in magazines and online. Was I let down? No, it was a very good show, which could hopefully continue and get even better as it does leave us with some intriguing new mysteries in space to be resolved. I also do have to say that the actor Thomas Jane -previously most well loved for his shot at a Punisher Marvel movie over a decade ago-here he is a fantastic character, so well worn in watchable.

I have recently seen the new trailer for season two of this show and so next year will reveal if it can keep going and give us even more great deep space action and thrilling adventure.

 

James E.Parsons is author of SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century-both available as paperback/ebook from all good bookshops internationally now.

 

 

Westworld-Friends are electric again…

Inspired by the cult 1970’s sci-fi movie written and direction by Michael Crichton-the man who also gave us Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, this new HBO show was billed as the new event to step into the place of Game of Thrones.

It may not be the first seventies SF movie that comes to mind when considering an adaptation for small screen. Other cult movies films of that period to adapt could have included A Clockwork Orange, THX-1138, Zardoz (maybe…), Deathrace 2000, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Mad Max among others.

With the first released picture of this new Westworld tv show, it looked like something that might have come direct from cinema screens and Hollywood millions. There are a great number of very big cast name actors involved including Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood to name only the main players. Yes, the producers really were aiming to give us something very special and high quality this time. We were to believe this as well given that brother of Batman director Chris Nolan, Jonathan Nolan was (who co-wrote those Batman films) helped create this series and it had the huge guiding hand of J.J. Abrams.

So is it a good show? How much like the original cult movie is it?

Well right with the first episode you will quickly recognize many familiar visual elements and tropes seen in the film. You get the wild west theme park, we are shown that the cowboys are of course robots called Hosts. Like the film, at first it seems like a great place to spend some leisure time. Although with the show, we follow a different set of characters as the story moves along.

This was a slow burning series. There were some serious changes and unexpected switches from the movie to what we were watching here. At times it almost felt as if they may have taken things too far with the onscreen violence of various forms, as if it was just too much for what we remember the film as being, besides the last twenty minutes or so. Here it is like this series starts with the end of the movie and continues along that path but then goes on to explore and wide range of notions of violence as entertainment and what that means for us humans, why we sometimes seek that out and how it affects us.

Coming from J.J.Abrams and Jonathan Nolan many of us probably did expect to some extent some mysterious macguffins or long and unwinding narrative paths which could take many weeks to unravel and reveal strange truths-if they ever would. Yes, this is a challenging show regularly. After a couple of weeks many viewers were agreeing on social media how they were confused or perplexed in a number of ways by the often very vague and elliptical way characters would walk or scenes were cut suggesting a number of thing but not always obviously clear of meaning or the plot. But how often do we really want everything always spelled out to us in cinema movies or television like we are very small children with the smallest attention span?

This show does go way beyond the basic premise of the original movie, delving deeper into the existence of the theme park robot wild west characters. They do become conscious but why and how and for what reasons are held from us but very teasingly suggested episode by episode. There are some episodes where you really do have to pay very close attention or you will sudden be very confused or lost but stay with the show and I think I can say that you will probably be very rewarded and stimulated emotionally and intellectually.

We are challenged to ask questions about how we use modern technology, what we might do with artificial intelligence and super-realistic robots in our near future. These can actually be quite disturbing things to consider but with the whole series and the well chosen cast of actors we can look at some possible times of tomorrow and the challenges of our rapidly advancing technology and how we will live with it.

 

James E.Parsons is the author of SF novels Orbital Kin and Minerva Century, both available on Amazon and in various other well known and reliable bookshops internationally.

 

 

More human than human…Robots on television in 2016

Like my own new SF book, robots are in our thoughts and on our screens again…

We are getting close to the end of the year soon, Halloween in a couple of weeks, and all kinds of plastic creepy and kooky merchandise in the stores. But this is a good time for the small screen and tv shows return after their summer breaks and new shows land with promises of all kinds of unusual entertainment.

Here we are after summer and a couple of weeks ago the increasingly anticipated television reboot/adaptation of the 1970’s sci-fi classic movie Westworld had begun on Sky Atlantic. As the global success of fantasy swords and dragons epic Game of Thrones nears the end, this show has hopes to take its place if viewers show an interest toward the interaction between man and machine mankind.

Did you see the original movie at cinemas decades ago? Personally I finally watched it just perhaps half a dozen or more years ago. It has dated, and does seem quaint most of the way through now, right up until the end. The last twenty minutes or so are still very much pretty disturbing viewing as the almost unstoppable psychotic robot played by Yul Brynner stalks onward on the kill.

The new show, of course intends to last for at least a whole series (probably a couple more) and so sets up the tale in a slightly fresh angle, flipping around the characters and who we identify with as viewers this time. It also intends to explore just how real the cowboy robots might be, and how the humans interact with them. The original movie was a long time ago now, but adapting it to television at this present time could be a real prescient move, as it connects up with the rapidly increasing advances in robot technology around the world and our actual genuine concerns and fears around this.

 

Just a few weeks after this intense and all-star Hollywood cast sci-fi show, we see the return of a series which was possibly surprisingly popular to some. UK Channel4 series Humans makes a return-the first series turned out to actually be the most successful drama on the channel for two decades. A much smaller budget than Westworld, but arguably an even more emotionally challenging and stimulating show which focuses on a group of ‘synths’ (robots) used and built for domestic purposes but who begin to regain their original conscious memories and come together to escape being captured and ‘turned off’. This show was very much a family drama which just happened to contain robot characters portrayed in very realistic ways, and was then very engaging and a must-see show. With the obvious building popularity, the producers did soon announce a second series but how this will play out can mostly only be guessed at this stage. Does the show really much more to say? Was the one original series enough?

If you do just a brief search on the net, you will find that more and more varied kinds of robots are being built globally for many different reasons. We really will see them much more involved in our daily lives in the next few decades, but how we will react to them is something which it seem we are all very interested in finding out.

James E.Parsons is an author of science fiction/horror and more. His latest SF book Minerva Century was published this summer, is available from all good bookshops including Waterstones, Amazon, WHSmith, Foyles, Barnes&Noble as paperback, ebook and hardback. His previous book Orbital Kin is also available.

To leave Earth-Minerva Century thoughts

The countdown has now begun. There are just weeks until my new science fiction/speculative fiction book Minerva Century is published.

This is a new story which looks at a possible time in future when humankind has left this planet, relocated to another, and we have changed ourselves and where we are, and why we are.

If we were to really leave our Earth, in big numbers-say hundreds or thousands of people at a time, or even more than this-how would we do this, and why would we do it?

There are a number of specific business people and individual corporate entities right now attempting to take small numbers of regular, willing individuals who are will to pay the price on brief journeys into near space with mixed results.

Very many sci-fi tales over more than a century now have considered where mankind might go in outer space, which planets we would make our own first. I would hope to think that I am not a pessimistic person, but what do you think might be the main thing which would finally make us leave this planet? Would we be leaving for good, progressive reasons or actually could it be that some terrible or horrific event or change in global cultures, economies, technologies might provoke us to escape?

The new SF book Minerva Century from James E.Parsons is published at the end of June, in paperback, ebook and hardback from all good booksellers. His first book Orbital Kin is available now.