Toys. Every generation has had their favourites, and each bemoans the simplicity of the generation before, scoff at how antiquated they were. Admittedly in the eighties children were rather spoilt for choice, their icons have gone on to become pop culture legends: My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja (or Hero) Turtles, Jem, Ghostbusters, Centurions, GI Joe, and of course Transformers. People all over social media bask in nostalgia, quoting theme songs and taglines, and dozens of sites cater to the favourites everyone remembers.
It’s five years since Guillermo del Toro, acclaimed producer and director of such films as El espinazo del diablo
and El laberinto del fauno
as well as more commercial projects such as Blade II
teamed up with author Chuck Hogan to create a trilogy of modern vampire novels, The Strain, The Fall and The Night Eternal. Now adapted into a television show with a thirteen episode commitment from FX, home of American Horror Story
, del Toro is serving as executive producer, a role he shares with Lost
’s Carlton Cuse and Hogan, and has directed the opening episode Night Zero
from a script written in collaboration with Hogan.
It's been three long years since the franchise re-booting Rise of the Planet of the Apes
astonished sci-fi fans with a masterful new take on the classic franchise. In the first of a new prequel series, we were introduced to Caesar, a brilliant chimpanzee born of a lab-rat mother and spirited away by a kind-hearted scientist to be raised as his "child". Rise concluded with an epic confrontation between hundreds of escaped simians, all with heightened intelligence following exposure to an experimental Alzheimer's drug, warring with humans on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco before escaping into the dense woods north of the city.
Comprising fourteen tales including contributions from some of the shining stars of the science fiction firmament, Reach for Infinity is Jonathan Strahan’s third Infinity collection following the success of 2011’s Engineering… and 2013’s Edge of… While the first collection featured only four women writers in the sixteen stories, the latest collection offers six women in the fourteen featured authors, a step forward which is unfortunately counterpointed by a move away from the hard science background originally evident which may in turn be linked with the diminishing quality of some of the inclusions.
Having only just recovered from the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the floodgates of culture once again prepare to open upon the Athens of the North, with tickets already on sale for the recently announced roster of authors and events coming to the city in August. The largest draw is of course the widely publicised appearance of A Song of Fire and Ice author George R R Martin, enjoying his worldwide fame through the television adaptation as Game of Thrones, with tickets to both his appearances selling out the morningo they were released, but he is far from the only creative of interest to genre fans.
August not only brings the Book Festival to Edinburgh, it also brings the Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, as the whole city becomes a stage for performance - theatre, dance, music, comedy, spoken word performances, exhibitions, events, children's shows, we have it all. With so much to see, it's easy to be paralysed - with the Fringe office on the High Street and the Half Price Hut on the Mound, both are magnets for performers, either flyering or mounting impromptu showcases of their work. The Fringe is also one of the few places where audiences can see genuine science fiction, fantasy and horror performed on stage, often in an innovative and exciting way, and there may also be some genre friendly names gracing the stage.
Five years have passed since Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III befriended the injured Night Fury he named Toothless, and in that time the village of Berk has changed; with the new relationship between dragons and humans, both have thrived, Berk growing to a prosperous town where dragons are welcomed, stabled, ridden in tournaments. The only ones who are unhappy with the arrangement are the local sheep population, flung about the sky for hunting practice. The relationship between Hiccup and his father Stoick the Vast has also changed; previously almost disowned as the black sheep of the family, Hiccup has been embraced by his stern Viking warrior father who is preparing to name him as successor as chieftain of Berk.
From prehistoric cave paintings through the Epic of Gilgamesh and on to Harry Potter, the history of humanity is the history of storytelling, allowing communication between generations, defining concepts of good and evil, passing our own experiences to our children and shaping their minds. But in truth we live in a world of shades of grey, where ambiguity is more common than the comforting black and white too often presented to children, and the increasing sophistication of modern audiences must reflect that complexity.
Ever on the outside of society due to the rare medical condition he suffers from, non-24 hour sleep patterns, computer programmer Raf is already prepared to quit London, the city he has lived in all his life, his girlfriend having left him for a hot Berlin DJ. Exploiting his odd waking hours, his friends at the local pirate radio station Myth FM employ Raf to keep an unpredictably random watch on their relay transmitter, but that is not all that he sees, and his eyes are opened by two chance encounters, Cherish, the exotic girl at the after-hours party with whom he shares a hit of the new street drug glow before she vanishes into the night, and the glowing fox riding the night bus home.
Arriving a decade too late to cash in on millennium angst, the film Legion, directed by Scott Stewart from a script co-written with Peter Schink, was over-wrought and long winded, the tale of a desert diner laid siege by rampaging angels sent to purge the Earth after God has finally (and understandably) lost patience with mankind. Lacking the originality or weight required to carry itself as a serious drama, the one saving grace could have been to recognise the absurdity of the conceit and leaven it with a generous dose of, if not outright comedy, at least irony, yet the plagues of flies, possessed humans and demonic ice cream vendors of the archangel Gabriel’s army were presented with po-faced solemnity.