About Stephen K.

I have three blogs currently: One on Gnosticism http://eternalouroboros.wordpress.com/ One on British Scifi: http://anamericanviewofbritishsciencefiction.com/ And one that covers anime: https://classicanimeblog.wordpress.com/

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The Monday Meme: Bad Fan Fiction

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Gotta Catch ‘em all!

What Would Doctor Who Look Like as a 1970′s/80′s Japanese Action Show?

The Monday Meme: The Captain Kirk Effect

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Image from the series 3 ep,”Gridlock”

The Monday Meme: Co-Workers

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Everyone has had that co-worker in the past that basically promotes themselves to supervisory level because they are a huge loudmouth. I’m so glad there isn’t much of that at my current job, VERY glad.

 

“Red Dwarf XI is on the cards” – The Best of Robert Llewellyn’s reddit AMA

 

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The reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) is quickly becoming a format of choice for the more tech savvy public figures to talk directly to fans. Yesterday Robert Llewellyn, of Red Dwarf fame, sat down in front of his computer and answered some questions relating to just about everything he is involved with.

My first encounter with Robert Llewellyn’s work was not actually Red Dwarf at all, but his popular competition show Scrapheap Challenge. When I was in high school, it aired in America a few years later as Junkyard Wars. This was way back in the days when TLC actually played stuff vaguely educational, and not human freak show affairs. Seeing questions about the show made my day!

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A lot of people tried to sneak questions in about Red Dwarf XI, knowing Llewellyn’s tendency to be loose with information on the show. This eventually did get (sort of) answered.

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People wanted to know about some failed Red Dwarf side projects like the 2001 movie that never really came to be, and the US TV series.

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And then there were controversial questions you knew were never going to get answered!

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You can read everything here

 

Doctor Who: Where in the Whoniverse are the Doctor’s pals now?

Wales Online has an interesting “where are they now” type article for a few recent Doctor Who alumni. All of the listed people seem to be working fairly consistently still, so the often mentoined “curse” that supposedly befalls former Doctor Who cast members seems to be dead as a dodo, or at least on vacation.  

Link: Doctor Who: Where in the Whoniverse are the Doctor’s pals now? – Wales Online.

Bonus Link: The Curse of being a Doctor Who Companion

 

The Monday Meme: Tumbleweeds

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Whether it be Star Trek or Red Dwarf, I always cringe a little bit when I see that a “theme episode”is coming up. At least Doctor Who has a central time traveling theme to make this less silly, but some shows really stretch to allow for such things. Western episodes are especially goofy in UK-based sci-fi, as they take all of the tired cliches that were mainstays decades ago and exaggerate them to a spectacular degree.

How to Create an Audio Podcast for Almost Nothing

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français :...

One of the things I’ve really become immersed in the past few years is the new “podcast” revolution that is slowly taking terrestrial radio to the path of obsolescence. I work a job that requires me to do constant repetitive tasks for close to ten hours a day, and that isn’t made any better with the sounds of hushed talking and rustling paper  in the background. After getting tired of listening to music for a few months, I took the plunge with podcasts, and haven’t looked back. When I started this website, I toyed around with doing a podcast about British science fiction, and although I haven’t “pulled the trigger” quite yet, I have something planned.

Last year, I became an infrequent collaborator on one of my buddy’s podcasts, The *Nixed Report, and it blew me away how easy it was to create a decent podcast for basically nothing. One look around online overwhelms a person with tons of “tips articles” and recommendation lists that seem disingenuous. Sure, I could throw down hundreds of dollars all at once, but why? Could it be that this article is a referral link? Are you trying to prey on my ignorance? Stuff like this puts a prospective podcast hobbyist in a land of overpriced microphones and software designed for radio studios and music production. Making a podcast with these tools would work, but it would be like driving a Bugati Veyron to work.

I recently began a new podcast for another group of friends called Triangle Face Podcast, and right now I’m going to walk you through how to make a similar amateur podcast. This the real cheap way to do this, not a sales pitch like so many others!

Here’s the Software you will need:

Here’s the hardware you will need:

  • Some sort of computer, I use a crappy outdated laptop.
  • Microphones, I bought three of these and a splitter, I bet cheaper mics would suffice, but these had a great Amazon rating.

And finally, These websites need your attention:

I opted for this set-up because it’s FREE, One could simplify this guide considerably by signing up for something like Podbean or Libsyn, but I couldn’t justify the cost. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to be the next WTF with Marc Marron, so anything spent on hosting is money wasted. This way you can try to find an audience, and who knows, you can move your set-up to a better system if it takes off!

Step one – record your podcast with Audacity. This is usually the hardest part. For Triangle Face Podcast, we just yammer away for around an hour and post it as is, but others go for a “slicker” presentation and edit the audio drastically. I’d look at some Youtube tutorials for the basics, but Audacity is pretty deep if you want to utilize it more. If you know what your doing, (we don’t…LOL) you can make yourself talk like a robot in an opera house if you so desire. I spent some time messing with a podcast intro including audio snippets and a robot voice generator I found online. I fade this intro and an outro onto each episode and it basically sounds faux professional almost immediately.

Step Two – Export your audio to a .Wav format. then “balance the noise” with Levelator. We will do a lot of re-saving this file, so make sure you save your original file just in case something goes wrong! The reason we are saving a .Wav file and not an immediate MP3 is because Levelator only plays nice with uncompressed audio. what Levelator basically does, is it takes the audio and makes any peaks and valleys sound the same. That way places where you start yelling or talking quietly don’t sound bad or deafen your audience. This should create a file clone called “whateveryoucalledit.output” which is your new file to mess with.

Step Three – Take your output file and load that back into Audacity. Once you “Levelate” the sound, take this file and open it within a new instance of Audacity. From here, export this file as an MP3, you should notice your file size will drop considerably. ours go from 700 mb in .Wav format to something like 50 mb .Mp3s! be sure to fill out those meta tags!

Step Four – Upload this file to Archive.org. Be sure to fill out all of your meta tags once again and let it rip. Once you have your file in there go to the area that I have highlighted in red and click. This is the URL you will be using next.

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Step Five – WordPress stuff. What you need to do is create a simple WordPress page, what I can recommend is laying the skeleton down, then making it look pretty later. Your main concern is tagging each episode with something like “podcast archive” that you can pull up later. I try to follow a simple format for each post utilizing a picture, a description, and a link. The link has the same text as my title, but you can’t see that from this image.

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In order to get your link to work click the little icon that looks like a chain link on your WordPress text editor. Once you are able to past your URL, paste the link from your Archive.org page from Step Four, but remove the “s” from the “https://blah” THIS IS IMPORTANT, if you don’t remove this the feed WILL NOT work.

Step Six – Add to Feedburner. When you post  your blog entry on WordPress, be sure to arrow down and take a look at your tags below the post. You should see the one we discussed earlier, I chose “podcast archive”:
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Click on this and copy the URL. When you set up your feed on Feedburner, this will be the feed you are submitting. This way, each time you make a new post and label it “podcast archive” it gets added to the list. Feedburner is pretty straight forward, but make sure you fill everything out and add an appropriate picture. This way when you do the next step, it’ll look nice! Make sure to look at your feed by clicking this button to see if it’s “pulling” from your WordPress account:

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Step Seven – Submit this feed to iTunes. We’re almost there! open iTunes on your computer and look for the “iTunes store”. Click on the “podcast” header at the top, and look for a section on the right labled “submit a podcast”.
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By all means, iTunes is not the only service for Podcasts, but it is the most widely used. you can try to get these on other services like Soundcloud if you so like, but we ultimately went with iTunes. The submission to iTunes is a bit finicky, and you’ll know if something is wrong pretty fast. This is where I discovered the “https” thing and had to work-around that whole ordeal, thankfully if you follow my guide you won’t have to! It takes a few weeks for a podcast to get approved, but once it does it will be easily searchable on iTunes, and the iTunes website – thus making you look like somebody important!

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If you have any questions, or even any suggestions to make this how-to better – feel feel to drop me a comment! I am by no means an authority on this topic, but figured out a way to make a podcast with my friends for nearly nothing! Ignore those guys trying to sell you the moon and follow my guide for the real deal.

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The Monday Meme: Dolls

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It always cracks me up when someone gets all bent out of shape the moment someone slips up and refers to an “action figure” or “collectible figurine” as a “doll”. Then again, nerds and geeks always have something to whine about!

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The Tomorrow People Falls in the Battle of TV Renewal

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While I’m excited for a whole slew of new TV programs coming to us this upcoming fall, I’m pretty bummed that no less than THREE shows that I currently enjoy were canceled recently. There may be some hope for NBC’s Community or Fox’s Almost Human on digital streaming services, but I can pretty much guarantee that the CW’s The Tomorrow People is as dead as my chances of visiting Mars. I’m usually critical, bordering on overly-critical, on shows that get remade in the US market; but I will say, I quite enjoyed this show and am sad to see it go. The CW has really surprised me as of late with their push for science fiction programming. Even though I have quibbles with how some of their shows get produced (people are all supermodels in their shows) I have become a fan.

If you’re new to the game, here is a quick synopsis of the show shamelessly plagiarized from another article I did a while back: “The Tomorrow People tells the story of the next chapter in human evolution – Homo Superior. These are people born of normal humans, but possessing telekinesis, teleportation, and other psychic abilities that make them far apart from normal society. As a trade-off for such abilities, The Tomorrow People can’t willingly kill others, and have to stay safe using non-lethal weaponry – this is a shame because they seem to be targeted by some very bad people. In a sort of X-Men meets Torchwood amalgamation, we come to learn that The Tomorrow People live in a secret base under the Thames and actively look for others like themselves to help and protect. When someone realizes that they are Homo-Superior they go through a process of great mental strain and bodily stress called “breaking out””

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The Tomorrow People was a bit different to the normal US television remake factory, in that it’s pretty different from the somewhat obscure source material and is distanced by nearly forty years. Instead of remaking something from the UK that’s popular now, (I’m amazed someone hasn’t attempted a Downton Abbey remake) I’ll hand it to CW for remaking a children’s show that hasn’t been on for decades. Even the iteration that aired on Nickelodeon was on almost TWENTY years ago.

Many people were confused that TTP was canceled instead of shows doing far worse in ratings and critical reception – take Beauty and the Beast which had a rather lackluster fall showing. A recent Entertainment Weekly article lays out what happened: “Pedowitz explained that Beauty and the Beast performed better in terms of international sales and social engagement. “We’ve always said we’re a very different style of broadcast network,” he said. “We have situations where shows like Beauty have created upside potential … it’s a fan favorite. It has a great international [interest]. Primarily, Tomorrow People was a great show — [it] just didn’t have the same level of social engagement or digital side that Beauty and the Beast gets.””

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So what went wrong? I will admit that the show had a slow start, a fact that seemed to put a lot of reviewers against it immediately. The show wasn’t critically panned by any means, but many saw it as “average” or sought parallels to other properties – like The X-men. That’s the problem with doing a remake of something so old – once cutting edge and hip has grown commonplace forty years later. As the Entertainment Weekly article pointed out, there was little overseas interest for this show, and one only has to look at a UK-based science fiction forum to sense the apathy.

I will hand it to the CW for at least attempting to inject life into the property. Replacing things like a robot named Jedikiah as a principle villain (see image above), with a more-realistic leader of a militarized scientific operation was a good idea. The characters were older, more rounded and had real issues. Here’s hoping CW keeps Arrow and Flash around and takes some more chances like they did with The Tomorrow People in the future.

 

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The Monday Meme: Lowered Standards

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BBC News – Great War was world’s first sci-fi war, says Pat Mills

LINK: BBC News – Great War was world’s first sci-fi war, says Pat Mills.

 

Here’s an interesting read I found this week, from the BBC News website, that talks about a comic strip called Charley’s War. “Charley’s War was a comic strip set in World War One that ran for many years in Battle, a British comic published in the 1970s until the late 80s.” One of the more interesting things in this article was reading Mills talking about some of his more controversial story-lines including one where Charley is forced to fight a man clad in thick armor, and how this was based squarely in fact.

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“”To me, the First World War was the world’s first science-fiction war. It saw the first use of tanks, which terrified some of the Germans in their trenches when they first saw these machines.” Mills and Colquhoun also featured Zeppelin airship bombing raids on London, aerial dogfights above the trenches and later heavily armed, armoured trains in the stories.”

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Deal of the Week: Humble Doctor Who Comics Bundle presented by IDW (pay what you want and help charity)

Humble Doctor Who Comics Bundle presented by IDW (pay what you want and help charity).

I used to buy a bunch of these “humble bundles” for PC games until I realized I was basically “hoarding” indy games that I was likely to not get around to playing. I had no idea they did this for books and stuff, so it looks like I got some comic reviews on the Horizon!

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The Tripods: (1984) France, September 2089

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AKA Season 1, Episode 9

Many medical professionals go to school for upwards of eight to ten years to hone their craft as a practicing physician. Intricate procedures like doing surgery are skills that one must spend countless hours to perfect in order to keep the patients alive and well. In a post-apocalyptic dystopia nobody is that lucky, and your only bet might be the gangly guy with glasses who seems smarter than everyone else.

When faced with a foreign object embedded into his flesh, Will has to make that very choice – letting Beanpole dig a hunting knife into his side to remove what can only be assumed to be a Tripod tracking device. To really send the gravity of the situation home, one of the last things beanpole says to Will is- “you better find something to bite on.” This is, of course, as he sharpens his knife on the wall of a dirty underpass they are hiding in.

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Once again Will becomes a bit of a liability to the group as he recovers from his amateur surgery. Not since a handful of episodes ago has the team been so vulnerable to an attack with Tripods basically crawling all over them. Beanpole steps up and formulates a plan involving this tracking device, their new horse, and a straw dummy fashioned to look vaguely human. The tracking device is stuck in the dummy, the dummy placed on the horse, and the whole shebang is sent off into the wilderness or as far away from the boys as they can get it.

One of the many things I like about the characterization of Beanpole is that he is a formidable genius, but it’s not too over-the-top. Some shows have guys in these sorts of survivalist situations that rub two pine cones together and produce cold fusion somehow or another. Characters like McGyver come to mind, and even though I loved that show as a kid, his genius was a little far-fetched at times. Beanpole is more realistic in the way that he attacks the trios problems, and whether it be cutting into somebody to retrieve a weapon or creating a dummy to distract the baddies – it’s exactly the sort of stuff one could imagine a sheltered genius doing with very little materials.

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Once this plan is executed, flawlessly I might add, the guys find themselves once again in the company of French citizens with an injured Will needing a place to rest (sound familiar?). This time they are taken in by a group of young girls and their mother and father, a headmistress of sorts and a farmer. Unlike the previous aristocratic family, these guys run a vineyard and live off of the land. They of course get cleaned up, fed, and are expected to work a little bit in exchange for the hospitality.

I noticed that this show has a silly way of making French people suddenly all start speaking English, and it first popped up in the “Chateau arc”. Basically when these girls realize that Will and Henry are not French (Beanpole is) they proclaim that “from here on out, we will all be speaking English”. This is from the perspective of hospitality within the show, but it’s real purpose to to keep the whole thing left un-subtitled for English speaking TV audiences. Let’s face it, if this were to really happen Beanpole would be translating for Will and Henry, and everyone else would be speaking French. Drawing attention to such a problem almost makes it more silly than just having everyone magically speak the same language.

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Basically, this episode and the next episode exist solely to give Henry a romantic fling so that Will isn’t the only “Mac Daddy” of the trio. This entire story-line is absent from the original books, so I’m not too sure if this was added in as a “filler” of sorts or to balance the story out a bit. It becomes fairly clear that this family is keeping the boys around in the hopes that their enormous family of young girls will suddenly all get married and move on. Will is still hurt from what happened  to Eloise just days prior, and wants no part of this. Henry however goes on and starts to fall in love with one of the older daughters.

Will and Henry basically flip sides on their previous views on relationships during this adventure, and come across as huge hypocrites. Henry suddenly has googly eyes whenever he thinks about staying at the house – to the point that he suggests they wait there all winter. Will, on the other hand, suddenly doesn’t trust anyone and wants to leave ASAP.

We don’t see them bicker too long, as their decision is basically made for them later in the episode during a banquet for the oldest daughter. They are all set to meet her fiance, and a young “Blackguard” walks in the door! if you forgot who those guys are, just think of Nazi Gestapo officers working for the Tripods. They also have dumb hats!

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As we roll into episode 10, the boys are on the verge on yet another daring escape, and with Will at less than 100%, that’s not going to be easy at all. Luckily, this story is wrapping up pretty fast and we don’t have 4-5 more episodes of Henry falling in love to deal with, sad that he gets the short end of the stick all the time.

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The Tripods: (1984) Chateau Ricordeau, France, August 2089

AKA Season 1, episode 8

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“What I can’t have, nobody else shall have!”

 

This is the ONE sentence that sums up this particular story-arc‘s mini-villain pretty well. This was, of course, Duc Du Sarlat‘s answer to Will’s simple question of “why Eloise?” pertaining to the previous episode’s climax. For those not following along at home, this general “D-bag” referred to as The Duc Du Sarlat basically cheated in order to win a prestigious athletics tournament, and was given the chance to name his own “Queen of the Tournament”. He, of course, chose the love interest of his rival, his former fiance until Will showed up. This was purely in spite, and generally because he wasn’t getting his way.

You may be thinking “I’ve seen this trope a million times before, if she’s got to marry that slime ball, Will should just…” Wait right there…Eloise wasn’t betrothed to Sarlat, no that would be easy, she won a one-way trip to the Tripod home city never to be seen again. This sort of villainy is great, because a lot of genre fiction villains fall into the problem of being “too cool to be bad”and end up being either anti-heroes or reformed villains turned heroes in the end. Unless my assumptions are completely off here, Sarlat is destined for none of that. He seems to be taking a page out the the playbook of other notable fictitious bastards (non-literal) and doing everything in his power to be vile and unlikable.

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Duc Du Sarlat is your classic literary”resenter” villain, he’s that guy that stands behind the hero and feels bad because the hero of the tale is getting good things, and he’s losing a bit of his prestige. In previous blogs, I’ve generally compared him to a Game of Thrones character named Joffrey, but If I mill over the whole thing, he’s more like Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy. Not only is he a colossal jerk, but he’s also pretty pathetic and isn’t even cool enough to be a real villain. If he were to get killed, that would almost be too good for him.

Will gets tired of his new social pressures sans-Eloise and slips out under cover of nightfall during a fancy banquet. This is really no shock since he was planning an escape anyway, but the way he leaves is sort of depressing. While riding a horse around the French countryside, in an inky cover of darkness, he stumbles onto a lurking Tripod and is taken prisoner by it’s huge metallic tendrils.

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The next morning, Will wakes up as if nothing had happened. He wasn’t capped, and it definitely wasn’t a dream, so he is puzzled why he is so lucky. After meeting back up with Henry and Beanpole it all becomes clear – the Tripods have planted a tracking beacon into his skin like a wildlife conservationist would do to a fish. Not only are they following the boys, the tripods seem to be using them to gather Intel on other like-minded people.

One quibble I had with this episode was that more than a few of the exterior scenes were nearly pitch black. I sometimes get privately annoyed when movies and TV shows film “night-time scenes” in broad daylight then lay a cheesy “oh look how dark it is!” filter over the whole thing. It usually looks like the movie is being filmed with sunglasses over the camera. Here we see why they do that, as many scenes during Will’s escape are almost entirely pitch black. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s riding a white horse, I’d think that my TV suddenly stopped working. These scenes do work in that once will almost rides his horse into a Tripod, it’s lights cast an creepy green tinge to everything that gives an other-worldly feel.

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One of the recurring themes of this show is the loss of civilization due to The Tripods, and our heroes coming to terms with a past that is so distant to them that they are completely ignorant to it. We saw a bit of this is a previous episode involving the boys walking through a Parisian shopping mall and nearly getting themselves killed with various weapons like guns and grenades.

This time we see them come face to face with a marauding Tripod trying to corner them in a small shack that the boys are using as a safe house. Henry has a great idea: starting a fire will cause smoke to surround them, and they should be able to escape through said smoke. Next thing you know, the boys have started a huge fire and are chucking all the wood they can find onto it. The camera pans over the back wall to reveal a HUGE stockpile of various petroleum-based fuels such as gasoline and kerosene! This is where they innocently discover an easy way to get a Tripod off their backs – an explosion!

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With that out of the way, this episode is the first that really starts to look into the nature of the Tripods themselves. The boys ponder if it’s a huge creature or if it’s merely a vessel by which something drives around the countryside. It’s still a while before we get the answer, but at least Will and the gang are starting to discover what they can do to defend themselves against this monstrous walkers, even if it takes the might of a while storeroom of gasoline to do the trick.

All in all, this was a solid episode, and a great injection of much needed action piped into the show after the characters were running around a stuffy chateau for the better part of four episodes. Now Will has nothing to distract him from the goal of reaching the White Mountains as fast as they can, and barring more Tripods, nothing can stop them.

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The Monday Meme: Syphilis

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I know it’s been forever since “The Sci-fi channel” changed it’s name to “Syfy” for whatever reason, but let’s face it – it’s pretty awful nowadays. They keep releasing press for new shows that they are currently working on, but I wonder if it’s too little too late? I mean, a lot of fans have left ever since Battlestar Galactica and Stargate ended, meaning the ONLY press they have been getting is for things like Sharknado and WWE Smackdown. Prove me wrong guys, prove me wrong…

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The Monday Meme: Don’t Blink

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Steven Moffat seems to make it his goal to freak us all out about every inanimate object in our homes. Pretty soon, any Doctor Who fan will have to come to terms with the fact that going outside simply isn’t safe anymore. So what are we scared of boys and girls: Weeping angel statues – check, shadows – check, children’s dolls – check, kids in gas masks – check, and even innocent children’s songs – check.

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The Monday meme: Robo-Apocalypse

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It never fails that when I see various scientific experiments being done, especially ones that are close to the plots of science fiction films, something lingering in the back of my mind wants to yell out “NO!!!! Haven’t you seen X”. This is of course with “X” being a stand in for things like 28 days later, Planet of the Apes, Threads, Terminator etc. I know it’s illogical, but I don’t want to be the guy reminding everyone that the giant “hellmouth” opening in  New York could have been avoided if these guys ever played Doom 2.

 

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