‘The Windup Girl,’ by Paolo Bacigalupi

Novel, 2009 Science-fiction dystopia, with some great ideas and scenes set around the precarious management and incipient crash of ecosystems and food chains, but one whose cast of characters, intrigues, adventures and interventions immediately dazzle, then quickly confuse the reader. This may be a book suited to the hardwired genre reader adept to retaining a good deal of information about myriad characters and situations, but … Continue reading ‘The Windup Girl,’ by Paolo Bacigalupi

“Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve

Movie, 2016 A Close Encounter-tinged movie, in which a Language Professor is tasked by a gruff and not-too patient military, to translate alien messages. This basic framework, in a film which is darkly lit and mumbled, uses many sci-fi tropes and devices to inject significance and tension. A film, really, which tries too hard and doesn’t quite deliver, with everything about if feeling old-fashioned and … Continue reading “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve

“Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison

Novel, 1966 Dystopian New York novel set in 1999, in which the unchecked population has led to a starved planet struggling and largely failing to feed itself on scraps and ersatz food produced. There is a vaguely didactic feeling to the book, but also a pace and energy, helped along by noirish elements and nods including a murder, high level corruption and an idealised romance, … Continue reading “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison

“The Curse of The Fly”, directed by Don Sharp

Movie, 1965 Cheap, schlocky addition to the black and white horror/sci-fi Fly movies of old. The mixture of mad science and the familial torment surrounding it, together with the teleportation and romantic, gothic motifs are well worn tropes, and the story plods with no hint of any major surprise up its sleeve. Still, the film’s gloominess – enhanced by a rock bottom budget and some … Continue reading “The Curse of The Fly”, directed by Don Sharp

“The Mind of Mr Soames,” directed by Alan Cooke

Movie, 1970 Science-fiction in which a 30 year-old man is woken up from a coma he’s been in since being born. A film whose setting and themes of nature and nurture feel and are treated through the time of the film’s production, and which combine, at times, with the low budget to cut corners and make things feel a little under powered at times. There … Continue reading “The Mind of Mr Soames,” directed by Alan Cooke

“Target Earth,” directed by Sherman A Rose

Movie, 1954 B-movie science-fiction with a terrific, eerie start in the company of a woman waking up after a failed suicide attempt, with no power or services in her apartment and no one out and about – on first inspection – out in the city. As the film picks up speed, it’s still watchable, despite the stock footage and creaky characters. Right up until the … Continue reading “Target Earth,” directed by Sherman A Rose

“The Platform,” directed by Galder Gaztelu-Ursutia

Movie, 2019 Allegorical, almost religious science-fiction about a man who essentially subjects himself to a cut-throat, authoritarian nightmare. Debauchery, gore, cannibalism and a very un-English regard for canines abound, though while they’re played for horror, scenes at the beginning of film are constrained and only introduce an element of gratuity when the full horror and madness become apparent. A hint of over-acting here and there … Continue reading “The Platform,” directed by Galder Gaztelu-Ursutia

“A Quiet Place”, directed by John Krasinski

Movie, 2018 Vaguely prescient alien film in which family threatening beasts from the cosmos track sounds and use them to hone in and prey on human beings. Some great ideas and great atmospheric build-up, with some wonderfully shot locations. The film is a little overdone here and there with a little too much ‘Alien’ influence and some plot holes I’d usually forgive; but seem a … Continue reading “A Quiet Place”, directed by John Krasinski

"The Man Who Ate the World", by Frederik Pohl

Fiction, 1979 Science-fiction stories from the late 1950s. A curious blend of humour, sharp writing, good ideas and impenetrable stodge. Which means that some stories are light, others lose their thread somewhat; in The Waging of Peace, for example, there’s some smart satire on the consumer economy, snuffed and stuffed with some period representation of women, then a boys’ own battle, both of which get … Continue reading "The Man Who Ate the World", by Frederik Pohl

“The Body Stealers”, directed by Gerry Levy

Movie, 1969 Low budget British science-fiction thriller from the end of the 1960s. Some real cardboard acting and wooden heroics from a square jawed male nympho played by Patrick Allen. There’s pretty much no redeeming features in this film, other than spotting various British character actors trying their best to tread water rather than drown in it. A couple of plot surprises here and there, … Continue reading “The Body Stealers”, directed by Gerry Levy