Geek News Archive


Shaftoe at SFContario Nov. 18-20

If you’re going to be in Toronto from November 18-20 and are looking for something to do over the weekend, you might want to come by SFContario at the Ramada Plaza Toronto.  It will be a veritable who’s who of the literary SF community, and me…for some reason.

In between queueing up for autographs (Must get Robert Charles Wilson to sign my copy of Julian Comstock) and impulse buying everything on the dealer floor, I’m going to be talking on some panels.  Here’s my tentative schedule.

Weapons and Armour – Fri. 8 PM, Parkview

An examination of the historical and ongoing technological race between weapons and the equipment that makes them obsolete. (Erik Buchanan, Stephen B Pearl, Adam Shaftoe (M), David Stephenson)

Considerations in Game Design – Fri. 9 PM, Solarium

This panel tackles game design issues for a wide variety of game types. (Matthew Johnson, John Mansfield, Adam Shaftoe (M), Alex Pantaleev)

Cockpit: Rule of Engagement – Sat. 12 PM, Ballroom BC

Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement is an award winning indie short film

written and directed by Jesse Griffith. Starring Ronny Cox (Deliverance, Robocop, Total Recall) Hellena Taylor (Bavonetta, Saboteur, Stargate Atlantis) and Karl Champley (Wasted Spaces, DIY to the Rescue) the film made its debut at Comicon as a proof of concept for a feature length screenplay. Both stories are set on the front lines of a war against an enemy that uses mind control and subversion to turn humanity against itself. After a premiere Canadian screening, this panel will explore the themes and motifs of the film as well as discussing the challenges of fast-paced story telling within the confines of a cerebral space opera format. (Adam Shaftoe (M), J M Frey, Matt Moore)

PS: Both JM and Matt have been guests on the podcast.  I can not wait to do a panel with them.

If you liked X, You’ll love Y – Sat. 7 PM, Parkview

The panel makes recommendations of novels and series  you may not have tried that will appeal to readers of other novels. Come and bring requests and recommendations of your own. (John Mansfield, D.F.McCourt, Shirley Meier, James Nicoll, Adam Shaftoe)

Is privacy possible in the digital age?(M) – Sun. 11 AM, Ballroom A

“Privacy is dead, deal with it,” Sun MicroSystems CEO Scott McNealy is reported to have said. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has declared that privacy is no longer a “social norm”. Our love affair with all things technological has led to a seemingly unstoppable encroachment on our personal privacy. Have we already created Big Brother? Can we, the public, effectively watch the watchers? (Jonathan Crowe, Alex Pantaleev(M), Adam Shaftoe)

Since I’ve got a huge gap in my Saturday schedule, I might bring my copy of Death Angel with me in case anybody feels like joining me in the game room to kill some foul Xenos in the Emperor’s name.  Otherwise I can’t wait to rub elbows with other folks in the community.  Also, if you’re a panellist or an attendee and want something reviewed prior to the con, don’t hesitate to send me an email.  I’ve just finished with one backlog of review material and I’m itching to build the next.

And that’s your self-promotional geek news for October 26, 2011


Geek News: October 17, 2011

Today in Geek News: Dragon Age is a web series, Voltron grows up and makes us sad, Arrested Development returns from the grave – for real this time – and Spartacus goes sexy, very sexy.

Greetings and salutations, programs.  Who’s heard of a game company called BioWare?  Apparently, they’ve made a few video games here and there over the last fifteen years.  Now the vast mythology that BioWare created in its Dragon Age IP is being translated to the windowed small screen.  Produced by Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible), Kim Evey (The Guild) and Dan Kaplow (United States of Tara) Dragon Age Redemption is a live action web series written by and starring Day as the elf assassin Tallis.

The premier episode of Dragon Age Redemption sees Tallis working as an agent of the Quinari in pursuit of a rouge mage.  Though background knowledge of the mythos will no doubt enhance a viewer’s appreciation of the series, the plot is wholly accessible to newcomers.  I’ll reserve further review until I see a few more episodes but so far it looks like quite the promising production.  The bigger question that this series raises is if we can look at Dragon Age Redemption as a market test for bringing other video game stories to mainstream television?  Though I’m usually the first to complain about a lack of originality on the small screen, I can’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t get behind  Mass Effect or Assassin’s Creed as television proper.  For your viewing pleasure, here is the first episode of Dragon Age Redemption.


In other web video news, the saddest Voltron story ever told has hit the internet.  Director and TV personality Alex Albrecht (The Screen Savers, The Totally Rad Show) has directed a live action Voltron short called, Voltron: The End. Spoiler alert: it’s depressing.  It’s also one of the best things that anybody has ever dared to do with the Voltron mythology.  Timothy Omundson (Psych) portrays Lance, the pilot of Red Lion and last surviving member of the Voltron Force.  Call me a fanboy but somebody needs to give Mr. Albrecht several bath tubs filled with unmarked non-sequential C-notes so that he might make a feature length version of this story.

PS: there’s a standing invitation to both Alex Albrecht and Felicia Day to come on the podcast and talk about their projects.


Back in 2006, I wrote a series of angry blog posts about Fox’s decision to cancel the delightfully seditious series Arrested Development.  As you might expect, nobody cared about what I had to say.  But the powers that be, much like every member of the Bluth family, have come to recognize that they made a huge mistake.

At a recent cast reunion, series creator Mitchell Hurwitz announced that Arrested Development would return for a ten episode season to be immediately followed by a feature length movie.  On the unusual nature of transitioning from small screen to big screen format, Hurwitz explained that “…where everyone’s been for five years became a big part of the story. So in working on the screenplay, I found even if I just gave five minutes per character to that back story, we were halfway through the movie before the characters got together.”  Here’s to hoping that the “magic” hasn’t been lost over the years.


Last but not least, we turn our attention to porn.  Now hold on a second, restrain your outrage and let me finish.  There’s nothing new to seeing a television series or PG rated movie turned into porn.  With the release of the Star Trek TNG porn, which numerous people have reported as being a fairly well crafted trek plot featuring gratuitous sex scenes, genre porn might just be something worth talking about.

Case in point Spartacus XXX: The Beginning. The PG rated trailer wasn’t a poorly acted and tawdry preamble for a spoof of Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  Indeed, Spartacus XXX seems like a production that is putting some attention to detail into the costumes, offering decent sets, and staging some proper fight choreography.  Moreover, the fact that the studio went to the trouble of making a PG rated trailer could suggest that the movie’s story is at least as important as its sex.  It also merits mentioning that there were times when the only objective difference between the Starz series, especially Gods of the Arena, and porno proper were a few choice camera angles and some better lighting.  I mean Romans stood around gambling over how long Varro would be able to last while ravaging another slave.  If proposition bets on coitus aren’t porn fodder, I don’t know what is.

Whether you’re interested or outraged, you won’t have to wait long as Spartacus XXX The Beginning is coming to DVD in November.


And that is your oh-so-sexy Geek News for October 17, 2011.  We who are about to (insert verb) salute you.


Spartacus star Andy Whitfield loses battle with Cancer

Sad news in the entertainment world today.  Andy Whitfield, star of the sleeper hit Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died after a prolonged struggle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  The 39-year-old Welsh born actor was a relative unknown to North American audiences before assuming the role that Kirk Douglas made famous in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film Spartacus.

The depth and strength of Whitfield’s acting was a constant anchor for a show that lurched through mediocre writing and lousy production values in its early episodes.  As the scripts improved and titillation gave way to intrigue, Whitfield’s take on the 2000-year-old Thracian slave kept pace as his character transformed from savage to Roman to rebel.  Even when bracketed by veteran actors such as John Hannah and Lucy Lawlass, Whitfield maintained a screen presence that enabled a constant broadening of the show’s fan base.

Starz, the network that produces the series, hoped that the production of a six-episode prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena – a sexy though thoroughly lack lustre affair sans Spartacus – would allow Whitfield sufficient time to recover for the show’s second season. The actor announced in the Fall of 2010 that his cancer treatment would not allow for a return to the physically demanding series.  Production on season two resumed in January of 2011 with Australian actor Liam McIntyre filling the role of Spartacus.

Spartacus is scheduled to air in January of 2012.

RIP Andy Whitfield, we who are about to die salute you.


Geek News: September 10, 2011

Today in Geek News:  A new space combat game, David Weber has a new book, and Fox is the only network that seems to care about science fiction on television.

Greetings programs.  Let’s do things in the reverse order of the headline, just to mix it up a bit.  This September’s television line-up doesn’t cater to fans of science fiction.  We’re coming up on seven years without a new Star Trek series, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is still being talked about in the future conditional tense and for the first time since I was fifteen years old I find myself living in a Stargate free world.  So what’s a genre fan to do other than mine episodes of Castle for its various and sundry Firefly references?  Why watch the Fox network, of course.

I know, Fox gets a lot of hate for cancelling shows with cult followings.  There’s also no denying that particular network has pissed me off on more than one occasion.  However, it was recently pointed out to me that Fox takes chances on shows that other networks wouldn’t touch with an inanimate carbon rod: case in point Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. So while I don’t expect it to fill the Destiny sized hole that SGU’s departure left in my life, I can’t deny that Fox’s time travel-dinosaur-dystopia, Terra Nova, looks reasonably interesting.  Terra Nova sees humanity escaping from its polluted and overcrowded future into its distant past.  The idea is that the refugees will built a sustainable civilization and either escape to Mars, or die off with the ice age thus preventing any species-nullifying time paradoxes.  It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard.  Here’s the clip.

Anybody who knows science fiction knows that David Weber is one of the genre’s most prolific writers.  Weber’s most recognizable claim to fame is the long running Honor Harrington series of military sci-fi novels.  This coming Tuesday, September 13, 2011, sees the launch of the next entry into Weber’s “Safehold” series of novels.  How Firm a Foundation is the fifth instalment in a series of novels that chronicle the ongoing conflict between an oppressive and dogmatic church and the small empire that dares to defy the “truth” of the Church’s history.

Blending elements of science fiction, fantasy, and historical narrative, the Safehold novels are rich in detail and rife with complex characters.  Moreover, Weber’s outstanding ability to write space battles has easily translated to the sea battles of planet Safehold.   How Firm a Foundation will be released in hardcover, e-format and as an audio book which promises “to translate to die-hard fans as well as listeners looking to break into the Sci-Fi genre.”  Here’s a little taste of what’s to come in audio book format.

Finally, gamers can delight to the knowledge that a new first-person space combat game is on its way.  Back in July, indie gaming studio Seamless Entertainment announced Sol: Exodus. The good folk at Seamless are, in their own words, intent on “re-energizing a faded genre once known for legendary hits like Wing Commander and Freespace.”  It’s a gusty proposition to say the least, but one that seems to have a lot of potential.

Sol: Exodus taps directly into the fears of our time to weave its story.  When humanity discovers that it has centuries, not eons, before the sun goes nova, the Earth government sends out a fleet of starships to find a new home.  One ship, the UCS Atlas, returns to the Sol system to find the government that sent it out displaced by a doomsday cult that embraces the impending destruction.  Players will assume the role of an Atlas star fighter pilot while this lone starship attempts to save humanity from itself and its dying star.  The game promises fast-paced dog fighting, to scale capital ship battles and a gripping story.

Want to know more? Send me an email and I’ll be sure to ask your questions when I have the developers on an upcoming podcast.

And that, friends, Romans and Space Marines, is your geek news for September 10, 2011.  May the immortal Emperor’s blessings be upon you.


Geek News: July 26, 2011

Today in geek news: An indie sci-fi flick with Ronny Cox, side scrolling shooters just got meaner and genre fans get some serious recognition.

Well another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone. Once again, I sweltered in Southern Ontario’s unrelenting heat while a venerable who’s who of celebs, geeks and nerds made the annual hajj to the holy land of all things genre.  One year I will make my pilgrimage and it will be a glorious and drunken affair.  For all of the promotions and previews to come out of Comic-Con, one thing stood out for me: a ten-minute indie/proof of concept film called Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement. The movie is a standalone story based on writer/director Jesse Griffith’s multiple award-winning feature length script Cockpit. Within this military science fiction world, Earth is at war with aliens who have the ability to control a person’s mind once they have established a line of sight.  Although heavily green screened, the story is promising and Ronny Cox’s acting chops are as sharp as ever.  You can watch the trailer here but you’ll have to head over to io9 to watch the actual movie.  I wonder if I can get Mr. Griffith on the podcast…


Back in 2010 UK game developer Boss Baddie released a side scrolling bullet hell space shooter called Big Sky.  To stand out within an established genre, Big Sky boasted a visual style that was likely to induce more seizures than an mid 90s Pokémon marathon and unique procedurally generated gameplay – that is to say, it is never the same game twice.  To build on that success Boss Baddie recently released Really Big Sky, a sequel to the original that offers more gameplay modes, online leader boards and lots of new visuals. I dare say that Boss Baddie has succeeded in their goal of making “a red-blooded, fit-inducing hardcore twin-analogue space shooter”.  Really Big Sky is currently available on Impulse and Gamersgate for about $8.


Confession time: I once used Tron as a metaphor for teaching Locke and Rousseau to first year undergraduates.  Bonus confession:  To celebrate our impending 30th birthday, my friend, and one-time podcast co-host, and I are brewing a beer called ‘Logan’s Run Lastday Stout’ – well he’s brewing it, I’m going to drink it.  Such shameless confessions can only mean that tomorrow night marks the season finale of Fanboy Confessional.  This Canadian made series has spent the last few weeks exploring fandom and fan culture from Steampunk to cosplay.  Wednesday night’s episodes take a look at the world of live action role play (LARP) and Furry fandom.  Given its thorough and thoughtful treatment of fandom, as well as proving that you can say douche bag on Canadian television, it’s fair to say that Fanboy Confessional is a fantastic success.  Here’s hoping for season two.  Oh and for the record, I think spotlighting ruggedly good looking podcasters would make for a splendid episode.  Fanboy Confessional airs at 10pm on Space.  Past episodes can be streamed on Space’s website.


And that is your Geek News for July 26, 2011.  Now get me that foreign language file that I requested.  End of line.


Television Preview: 9 Minutes of the new Thundercats cartoon

Summary Judgement: Considering how god-awful it is to revisit classic Thundercats as an adult, this reboot seems promising.

Spoilers ahead.

Good ol’ internet, just when I think there’s nothing particularly exciting/geeky to write about today, you come along and deliver us the first nine minutes of the new Thundercats cartoon.  While purists can argue that the new visual style and re-imagined mythology fly in the face of countless childhood memories, I’d like to remind everybody that the original Thundercats was mostly terrible.  The voice acting was dreadful, the animation was shoddy and the stories were, at best, on par with He-Man and nowhere near as gloriously laden with Reaganite propaganda as G.I. Joe. So before everybody says that Cartoon Network and Warner Brothers are shitting on their childhoods, let’s try to keep things in perspective.  The only good thing that came out of the original Thundercats was the theme song and the strange feelings that I felt whenever Shetara was on screen.

So without further ado, here’s the video…

I’ll reserve most of my commentary for the one-hour premier, but a few things merit mentioning now.

1 – Thundercats are now native to Third Earth, not refugees from Thundara.

2 – True to form, cats are the elitist snobs of the animal kingdom.  New Lion-O’s father, voice acted by the original Lion-O, Larry Kenney, spins a good story about a fragile peace among Third Earth’s animals.  However, angry mobs harassing lizards and cat protection rackets shaking down dogs suggest that Thundercats are bullies in line for a hubristic downfall.

3 – Tigra and Lion-O are now brothers.  Despite the fact that Tigra is the older brother, Lion-O is somehow the crown prince.  I’ll post 20:1 odds that season one ends with Tigra trying to usurp the throne.

4 – Panthro remains absent from the ensemble.

5 – Am I having a stroke or did WilyKit and WilyKat actually go “nom nom nom” while they ate dinner?

5a – Re: WilyKit and WilyKat – actual children as voice actors? Seriously?  Come on!

Update:  Read my full review of Thundercats one-hour premier here



Geek News: June 24 2011

Today in Geek News: Another Earth offers a glimmer of hope that there will be at least one genre movie this summer that isn’t painfully stupid.  The gods smile upon us with Project Zomboid, a zombie survival game that will kill you dead.  A whole lot of people watched Noah Wyle run, shoot and lecture his way through the premier of Falling Skies.  And science fiction author Jamie Mason releases his young adult novel Echo.

Amid a summer movie season that features talking cars that aren’t made by Knight Industries, another Transformers sequel and a remake/reboot of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, I’ve managed to find one movie that looks genuinely intriguing: Mike Cahill’s Another Earth. Having already won critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, Another Earth tells the story of a duplicate Earth and the tragedy that brings together an astrophysics student and a composer who has “reached the pinnacle of his profession”.  While I hold out hope that Cowboys and Aliens might be this year’s Iron Man, it’s nice to see something that looks like a genuine think piece quietly inserted into the mix.  Another Earth opens on July 22.  Here’s the trailer.

The indie game renaissance has finally extended its reach into the world of zombies.  The Indie Stone’s Project Zomboid might only be in pre-release alpha, but it is already making waves on the internet.  PZ tells the story of the player’s death.  There is no winning this 2D isometric role-playing game; there is only surviving a little longer than in the last play through.  Project Zomboid’s tech demo boasts a very creative crafting system, haunting music and survival mechanics that demand players manage their character’s mental and physical needs while evading the zombie hoard and other survivors.  The devs have promised that the release version will feature skill trees, randomly generated quests and co-op multiplayer.  A free tech demo is available via The Indie Stone’s website.  Once the devs patch the game to deal with a recent hack attack, the alpha version, which will be updated Minecraft style, will be on sale for about nine dollars.

Last weekend Doctor Professor Noah Wyle made his return to the small screen and apparently people were watching.  The premier episodes of TNT’s alien invasion series, Falling Skies, pulled in 5.9 million viewers to become the biggest cable television launch of the year.  For comparison, last summer’s The Walking Dead pulled in 5.3 million viewers with its debut.  While Falling Skies offers some promise, it’s hard not to notice the War of the Worlds meets The Patriot meets The Triopds vibe that echoes through the show. It’s even harder not to notice the odd plot holes within the first two episodes.  Falling Skies now faces the challenge of holding on to its huge audience.  But, really, it’s not like there’s anything else to watch this summer.

And finally, science fiction author Jamie Mason, the very first person to ever do an interview with the Page of Reviews, has just released his new young adult SF novel, Echo. Set on a planet where human colonists have lost all memory of Earth, Echo explores religion and false history through the lens of an outcast youth.  I’d have my review of Echo done by now if the damn postal strike hadn’t intercepted my Kindle.  Echo is available in any format you can imagine from Drollerie Press.













That, friends, Romans and Klingons, is your geek news for June 24 2011.  Optimus Prime be with you.


Geek News: June 2 2011

Today in geek news, we take some time to look at fan made movies.

Fan productions can be a bit of a touchy subject.  To some people they stand as a tribute to a particular work of genre fiction, a way to give something back to a story that has provided countless hours of joy.  A very good fan production has the capacity to go beyond self-gratification, standing as an example of how the professionals ought to do things.  In the case of a certain game studio that shall not be named, fan productions represent the voice of devotees who want a group of lazy gits to hurry up and finish the Half-Life trilogy.

But for every well acted and well written fan project there are those other ones; the ones that feel like plagiarism of the highest order.  The ones that seem like fetish pieces designed to edify the producers’ kooky views instead of honouring their source material.  The only benefit to these crappy productions is that they are easy enough to ignore.

In that light, I thought that it would be fun to use today’s geek news to show off some of the better entries in the world of fan made movies.

#1 TryForce Productions – Gears of War 3 Live Action Trailer

Why it’s awesome:  The amount of work that went into the set shows a clear respect for the Gears of War mythology.  While the costumes don’t look quite like what you’d expect to see for gears in full armour, they are suitably dirty and hodge-podge for a world where the last human city was just sunk into planet’s outer crust.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the music in this fan-made trailer carried a hell of a lot more emotion than the recent use of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs in the actual Gears of War 3 trailer.

#2 Wayside Creations – Fallout: Nuka Break

Why it’s awesome: Fallout: Nuka Break revels in the dark humour that is an essential part of the Fallout mythology.  Maybe the actors aren’t quite grimy enough given their lives in the wasteland.  Perhaps bare midriffs and short shorts aren’t the most functional for UV protection.  However the ruined landscapes and fatigued props, all of which are accurate renderings from the Fallout series, make up for a lack of hair loss from prolonged exposure to radiation.

#3 The Purchase Brothers – Half-Life: Escape from City 17

Why it’s awesome: The brothers Purchase have done an impressive job of importing SFX from the Half-Life games into their movie.  Although the audio isn’t quite perfect; the detail in the costuming is fantastic.  Of all the Half-Life fan movies floating around the internet, Escape from City 17 does the Combine’s Overwatch the best.  I’m also rather impressed with the skilful use of  shaky-cam.  Normally, I hate camera shake.  In this movie it seems fitting.  The only problem, and I use the word very loosely, is that Half-Life fan movies are usually done by people younger than myself.  As such, the actors seem impossibly young given the fact that The Combine’s suppression field stops all human conception.  Not really a big deal, but the hardcore Half-Life fans are apt to complain about this fact.

#4 Infectious Designer – Beyond Black Mesa

Why it’s awesome:  Where Escape from City 17 works as a gritty vignette, Beyond Black Mesa offers a slightly more cinematic experience.  The movie boasts impressive visuals, a fantastic soundtrack and very slick special effects.  While I find the Combine Overwatch less impressive in this film than I do in City 17, there’s nothing bad per se about their design.  The only real flaw here is that there are zombies running about without headcrabs affixed to their noggins.  I guess we can chalk that one up to budgets and concern for actor well being.  At least we can console ourselves with the fact that the zombie make-up job is first rate.

#5 Angelo Licata and Davide Bigazzi – Star Wars: Dark Resurrection

Why it’s awesome:  Grown up actors with what appears to be an impressive budget set out to make a high quality Star Wars movie.  Written and directed by Angelo Licata, this Italian language Star Wars fan film is pure genius.  The special effects, costumes and location shots in this fan movie look better than what Lucas turned out in any of the last three films.  Perhaps it has something to do with not shooting the entire movie in front of a green screen?  Although the subtitles do get a little wonky, the movie is well worth watching if you’re interested in a Star Wars story that is reminiscent of the tone set in The Empire Strikes Back.

Five movies, five wins.  Awesome.

And that, Earth-Humans, is your geek news for June 2, 2011.  Force be with you.



Geek News: May 17 2011

Today in geek news, it’s a banner day for Canadian Science Fiction writers, a hopeful day for grown-up video games and a poignant day for space exploration.

Yesterday the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced the nominees for the 2011 Prix Aurora Awards.  The Auroras honour the best in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy as voted by members of the CSFFA – a non-profit organization that offers free membership to all Canadians.  While I extend kudos to all those in contention for an Aurora, I’d like to offer my personal recognition – for the fifty-three cents that it is worth – to two nominees, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this year’s Ad Astra convention.

Matt Moore is up for Best English Short Story with his story Touch the Sky, They Say.

Marie Bilodeau is up for Best English Novel with her book Destiny’s Blood.

Spoiler Alert: One of these two writers has agreed to be on an upcoming podcast.

On behalf of myself and everybody else who makes The Page of Reviews possible, we wish both of you the best of luck.

The full list of Aurora nominees can be found here

In video games, today sees the launch of two highly anticipated titles, L.A. Noire by Rockstar Games and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings by CD Projekt.  Rockstar, best known for the Grand Theft Auto and the Red Dead franchises, brings its unique style of hard nosed gameplay to post WW2 Los Angles.  Players will assume the role of Cole Phelps an LAPD detective who finds himself caught up in a story of organized crime, sex and drugs.  L.A. Noire promises to deliver “a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience.”   Given the gritty nature of the game, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before some group of concerned crackpots begin lambasting the game for every ill that society has to offer.  L.A. Noire is now available for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Meanwhile The Witcher 2 has been collecting its fair share of launch hype.  The game has already been hailed for its mature and non-linear story line, unabashed nudity and solid RPG elements.  This sophomore entry into a franchise that began in 2007 also boasts a deep branching dialogue system that will have significant impact on how the game unfolds.  Naturally, this style of gameplay has invited comparisons between Polish publisher CD Projekt and Edmonton’s BioWare, the studio that brought us such RPGs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Mass Effect. One noticeable difference between the two companies is that CD Projekt will be offering all DLC for The Witcher 2 for free.  That’s right, gratis DLC for registered users.  I’ve got to admit that this game, and its progressive DLC model, have piqued my interest.  Also, it would be nice to use my PC for something other than marathon Starcraft 2 sessions and internet porn.

Finally, yesterday saw the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.  Flying its 25th mission, the Endeavour is set to bring parts and technical staff to the deflector shield station on the third moon Endor said “up yours” to gravity one final time as it brought spare parts for a robot arm and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station.  According to NASA, “The AMS-02 uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe’s origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays.”  In a related story, renowned Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking says that Heaven is a fairy story.

Levity aside, I can’t help but feel a collective loss for humanity as another one of our mighty shuttles prepares for life as a museum piece.  It’s well and good for NASA to plan new ships with greater lift capacity.  However, these plans are all talk until the new vehicles get built.  I fear that the short-term exigencies of life on this planet may end up precluding the long-term need for humanity to expand beyond our small world.  So on that sombre note, here’s the video of Endavour’s last launch.  Let’s all marvel at human ingenuity giving the finger to gravity.

That, prisoners of gravity, is your geek news for May 17, 2011.

Today’s Geek News is brought to you by Chris Noon Graphic Designs.  See what Chris can do for your business at


Geek News: May 5 2011

Today in geek news, Mr. Sulu has some things to say about the upcoming Akira movie, Ubisoft lays the foundation for some epic movie making, the SyFy channel does another stupid thing, Mortal Kombat’s web series doesn’t suck and the internet makes me feel strange feelings about mac and cheese.

First up, George Takei on Akira. On Monday, George Takei brought his fight against Hollywood whitewashing to Canada.  Appearing on CBC’s arts and culture program Q, George sneered at Warner Brothers for considering Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake as candidates for the ethnically Japanese roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo.  Takei was quick to point out that Akira has a huge global following and relocating the movie from post-apocalypic “Neo-Tokyo” to New York and filling it with unaccented white actors will likely create the sort of flop that Paramount Pictures saw in The Last Airbender. With all due deference to Mr. Takei, that movie had bigger problems then its all white cast.

Takei also spoke on the larger issues of race within Hollywood casting decisions.  While proud of the strides made by Asian actors, notably his spiritual successor John Cho, Takei suggests that Hollywood is not offering ethnic Asians the leading roles that they deserve.

You can listen to full audio of the interview here.


Ubisoft, the video game publisher that brought you Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and the Silent Hunter series, is opening the doors on Ubisoft Motion Pictures.  Variety reports that the Paris based studio could be used to make film and television adaptations of Ubisoft’s properties.  Considering the fantastic job that Ubisoft did with Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, the 30 minute prequel movie to AC2, I think we can put this in the category of “good thing”.  Furthermore, we should all take a moment to thank Jerry Bruckheimer for ensuring that Ubisoft will retain creative control over any future game-to-movie adaptations.  If he hadn’t cocked up Prince of Persia with his white actors and pointless script then this may have never happened.


The SyFy channel released a trailer for their upcoming Red Faction movie, Red Faction Origins.  Inspired by THQ’s video game series of the same name, this movie will tell a story about a civil disagreement between Martian colonists, twenty-five years after they won independence from Earth.  Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the dumbest thing ever.  How the hell do you do an “origin” story twenty five years after the events that defined the Red Faction video games?  I would have liked to sit in on the production meeting where somebody said, “No thanks we don’t want to tell the story of Martian rebellion against Earth.  We’ll just assume that our target audience has played all three Red Faction games and is familiar enough with the back story that we can do something new.”  If SyFy had problems getting people to watch Caprica and Stargate Universe, I have to wonder what sort of ratings Red Faction Origins will pull in.

Red Faction Origins airs June 4th at 9PM on SyFy.  It stars Robert Patrick and a whole bunch of supporting cast from other shows including Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Universe and Torchwood.

Meanwhile, the internet continues to show us just how good television can be when networks aren’t total asshats.  Mortal Kombat: Legacy, released its fourth episode this week.  Written and directed by Kevin Tancharoen, a former choreographer for Madonna and Britney Spears, the web series examines the mythology surrounding the Mortal Kombat tournament and its most notable fighters.  The show’s rather impressive cast includes Star Trek’s Jeri Ryan, Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmoh Pinikett and Spawn himself, Michael Jai White.  In my editorial opinion, Mortal Kombat: Legacy boasts surprisingly good fight scenes and special effects as well as solid acting.  Moreover, the show feels like something that is self-contained, rather than a cheap promotion for the video game.  Good on Warner Brothers for embracing web television.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy airs directly on youtube.  Here’s the first episode for your viewing pleasure.

Finally, the web series Epic Meal Time has left me at a loss for words.  I don’t really know what to say other than I think this is the sort of stuff that Caligula would use as masturbation fodder.  I’ll let you watch the video and decide for yourself if humanity is worthy of expanding its reach beyond this planet.

That, such as it is, is your geek news for May 5, 2011.  I’ll be going to the gym to punish myself for the next two hours as that Epic Meal Time actually made me a little hungry.  Force be with you.

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