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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Reaction – “The wait is over”

Posted by Michael Warren on May 8, 2009

OK, Star Trek instant reaction:

Bloody hell, that was good.

Near-instant reaction (i.e. having returned home afterwards) – with SPOILERS – below the cut.

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Review – Back to Earth, part 3

Posted by Michael Warren on April 12, 2009

Yeah, I couldn’t think of a memorable quote to use… tells you a little bit about the review.

Having considered through the making of (which definitely felt far too short), I’m more at ease with part 3 than the immediate reaction I had.

It is something more of a mixed bag, this one. Some good moments, some weak moments. The fakeout with the chase sequence was fun, and there were some good character moments, particularly for Craig (both as Lister, and as himself). The Kabin scene and Kryten’s “interrogation” were a big minus, though, and almost spoiled the rest of the episode for me.

I felt a bit too lost with the Blade Runner references – last night, I enjoyed them without knowing what they were; tonight, knowing that they’re Blade Runner references, it feels rather different. The fact that I was told that there were references actually impacted how I saw them in this part.

The ending seemed a little bit too pat (oh, it was the despair squid, oh, Lister’s staying for Kochanski, oh, Lister’s going back, oh, everything back the way it was), but I’m still, overall, quite pleased with the episode. There were some good moments of humour, some good moments of pathos and emotion, and it didn’t quite disappear up its own arse, as I might have feared.

The writing out of Katerina in part two seems even more abrupt and silly after all three, though.

But, they kept the secret of Chloe Annett’s appearance incredibly well, considering the press interest in the series, and the extensive pre-release publicity. And that resulted in a genuine surprise which I really enjoyed.

I look forward to the DVD release, and hope we get to see Back to Earth in a feature-length form there.

As I mentioned above, the making of that followed was good, although rather too short (we’ve been a bit spoiled by the documentaries on the DVDs – this really needed to be 90 minutes long!).

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Review – “Science fiction, it’s all bollocks, isn’t it?”

Posted by Michael Warren on April 11, 2009

Erm… my brain has not quite recovered from Back to Earth part 2. Red Dwarf, you went all wonky, and yet awesome at the same time.

The first half, I pretty much laughed hysterically for nine minutes non-stop. Utter magnificence. The second half, not quite as much, but there was a huge grin on my face even when I wasn’t giggling madly.

This was, quite frankly, superb. And that’s about all the reaction I can manage this evening.

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Review – “I bid greetings”

Posted by Michael Warren on April 10, 2009

group2-1000So, “nine years later”, eh…

Red Dwarf is back, after quite an absence – film deals falling through and the BBC completely abandoning the series made it feel like we’d seen the last of The Boys from the Dwarf. But now, on what is, quite frankly, a fairly minor channel (for which this is one of their first original commissions), we have a trilogy of episodes airing over this Easter weekend. And part one just finished.

It’s hard to judge the thing based solely on this first episode – as the first part in a trilogy, it’s largely a lot of plot setup. It’s not bad – although it felt rather too short, and the jumps to/from commercial break and the “To Be Continued” were rather abrupt. There were some humourous moments, some good bits of character interaction, and some intriguing plot developments. The use of special effects is good, and rarely intrudes into the reality of the situation.

It’s clear that the sitcom aspect has pretty much been jettisoned for this trilogy, and the setting is far more of a comedy-drama. This is fine, as it feels like a natural evolution for the series (which was already underway in series VI and VII [the slide back in VIII is best left forgotten – and the complete ignoring of the “cliffhanger” we had at the end of that series is very welcome]), and the cast don’t seem to be troubled by the shift in tone. It’s almost like they’ve never been away, as each has settled straight back into their character.

Part two tomorrow, along with new Doctor Who!

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Review – Exploring the Archives

Posted by Michael Warren on February 1, 2009

Star Trek Magazines - The Archives screenshotLast week, I told you all about the new Star Trek Magazine – The Archives, and said my order had already been placed. Well, it arrived on Tuesday, and, after a few moments of confusion about what the package was (since I hadn’t actually received an email confirmation that everything was OK with my transaction), I got on with the task of exploring the product.

Each issue has been carefully scanned and reproduced, with the exception of the comic strips that were originally featured in these early issues – licensing and copyright issues have prevented that. The interface is fairly basic, essentially a navigation frame built over a PDF document, but this release isn’t really about the programming, but the content. This first volume covers what many consider to be the “peak” of Star Trek in terms of popularity and impact – the mid 1990’s, between the launch of Voyager and the release of Star Trek: First Contact.

Admittedly, there are some gripes, like the fact that the text doesn’t quite display properly – the fonts seem slightly reduced, making them harder to read as a result. Also, the “copyright restrictions” message on the comic strips is reasonable, but does it have to be displayed in place of every single page? Why not just have one page with the message on, and then skip to after the end of the strip? Otherwise, it is extremely hard to navigate past it, as you don’t really know how many pages you’ve skipped, and how many more there are before the magazine appears again. Obviously, this isn’t an issue that has to be corrected for Volume 2, since this volume contains the only issues to include comic strips, and the restriction isn’t likely to be needed again (unless there’s an issue with the novel extracts…). The navigation menu – being set up by type of feature, rather than just the order in the magazine – is not all that helpful to navigate, as it happens, particularly if you want to jump past the comic strip (since you can’t tell what the first feature after it is).

Still, regardless of all that, it is a brilliant product, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and certainly will be of interest to those who crave background information on the various series. Volume 2 cannot come soon enough for me.

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Review – “To be regarded in his own age as a classic…”

Posted by Michael Warren on January 22, 2009

A Singular DestinySo, Destiny has reshaped the state of the Star Trek universe. And now, the ripples from that catastrophic trilogy are beginning to spread. A Singular Destiny is the first novel to explore this new horizon – and it sets the seeds for the next two years’ worth of stories.

Did it live up to expectations? Find out below…

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Review – “A tatter of shadows peaked to white…”

Posted by Michael Warren on August 13, 2008

So, after my praise for the first volume of the Myriad Universes series, the second arrives through my letterbox this morning.

How does it compare to the first, and what intriguing scenarios have the three authors behind Echoes and Refractions created? Find out now.

This review contains spoilers.

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Review – “Computer, define ‘dancing’.”

Posted by Michael Warren on August 9, 2008

The most eagerly-awaited (by me) movie of the summer has arrived.

No. It’s not The Dark Knight.

It’s WALL-E. Yes, I know you ‘Muricans got to see it weeks ago, but over here in the backwoods of the United Kingdom of… yadda-yadda-yadda…, it wasn’t released until mid-July. And yours truly was at one of the first showings. So, I review it. As is my right.

Spoilers within.

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Review – “What if you could travel to parallel worlds? The same year, the same Earth…”

Posted by Michael Warren on August 6, 2008

Imagine a world where the Roman Empire never fell.

Or one where Lenin never made it back to Russia to lead the Revolution.

Even a history where the Cuban Missile Crisis sparked a nuclear exchange that wiped out eight-tenths of Earth’s population.

Alternate history stories have been a part of literature for over a century, and they have been a part of Star Trek fan fiction for some time as well. Now, Pocket Books has begun exploring those “strange new times”, with the launch of the Myriad Universes series. The first volume, Infinity’s Prism, is out now.

This review contains spoilers.

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Review – Greater Than The Sum

Posted by Michael Warren on August 4, 2008

The “TNG relaunch” – the series of books designed to restart the adventures of the Enterprise-E crew after the events of Star Trek Nemesis – has been a bit of a mixed bag. Of the four novels released before now, only Keith DeCandido’s Q&A has been enjoyable. Indeed, the last of the four, Before Dishonor, has distinguished itself as being one of the few Trek books I found myself wanting to stop reading before the end (other novels to have engendered such a reaction have included Engines of Destiny and Triangle). Poorly written, overindulgent, with juvenile humour and character assassination abounding, it didn’t bode too well for the future of the storyline, especially with the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy on the horizon. The next novel had a lot riding on it.

Fortunately, that novel, following on from these events and leading us into the assault that is Destiny, is written by Christopher L. Bennett, one of my favourite Trek writers. Bennett looks beyond the basic plot to delve into real science, grounding the universe of Star Trek in the theoretical framework of the one we live in today. That’s not to say his stories lack the human touch, though. His characters stand out from the page as fully fleshed-out creations. And in Greater Than the Sum, we get more of the same.

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