Archive | April, 2007

Forgotten Worlds Issue 7


forgotten worlds 7 issue artwork cover black white fantasy art scifi art workForgotten Worlds #7

Reviewed By Gareth D. Jones

Forgotten Worlds continues to bring us a varied selection of SF, fantasy and horror and his been remarkably regular for its first seven issues. As usual the wide variety of tastes means there’s something for everyone, but each reader won’t necessarily like everything. It’s a balance that has to be made when producing a cross-genre magazine.

A space ship from an ancient culture cleaning up the biological contamination their ancestors left behind is the setting for The Garbage Men by Drew Arrants. The contamination in question is, of course, life on Earth and humanity’s future hangs in the balance while they decide what to do. The ship has arrived coincidentally at the time of a significant historical event, but unfortunately the author has gone along with a common misconception of the incident which rather ruined the whole point of the story for me. Fortunately it is a common misconception, so most people won’t notice the error and can instead enjoy the entertaining interplay and character development aboard ship.

Jarra is a fantasy tale from B.A.Barnett about a young woman’s attempt to free herself, and her people, from tyranny. While the plight of the woman is well-developed in the brief space afforded, the mechanics of her powers are not sufficiently explained. This leads to my problem with magic: you can use it to solve anything. More attention to that aspect would have made for a more well-rounded story.

The relationship between human and faerie forms the basis of Fran Jacobs’ Ume’s Lament, with an ancient cursed castle the setting. The writing is solid and the situation nicely developed.

All in a Day’s Work is a very short story by Chris Silva. It’s quite atmospheric, but so brief that the point of the story is not entirely obvious. There’s an equally brief sequel in issue 8 that begins to build up the picture.

Law Yihua is the featured writer who’s story Seize the Lightning is fabulously bizarre and my favourite of the issue. A warrior king is determined to defend his kingdom against an ancient sentient robot in this tale that could be fantasy or science fiction but is probably both. There’s also a man with a bowler hat thrown in for good measure. It’s a fast paced story, the prose not entirely smooth, but the dialogue and action combine to produce a very unusual and enjoyable tale.

A janitor at a museum has quite a surprise when he discovers that a stuffed bird has come alive in Mark Rigney’s The Mynah. The how and why are never explained, but the mynah’s slow development and the janitor’s struggle with his conscience make this steady story a compelling read. Other characters – the wife and the vicar – and glimpses of the janitor’s family history all add to a well-realised story.

The final tale is a slice of horror from Dylan J Morgan. The Mind Creatures deals with a creature that feasts on people’s minds to absorb their experiences. It’s brief and to the point and ends the magazine with a shiver.

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28 Weeks Later: Synopsis. Cast, Crew, Danny Boyle, Robert Carlyle Interviews And The Destruction Of London


28 weeks later cover artwork image ROBERT CARLYLE ROSE BYRNE JEREMY RENNER HAROLD PERRINEAU CATHERINE MCCORMACK MACKINTOSH MUGGLETON IMOGEN POOTS IDRIS ELBA JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLO28 Weeks Later

“Warning! Maintain the quarantine. Deadly force will be used to protect this area.”

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This article contains background information on 28 Weeks Later, including Cast, Crew and production notes, and interviews with Robert Carlyle, Danny Boyle (Executive Producer), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Director) and a whole host of other people involved in the project.

Play 28 Weeks Later: Infected online game!

Synopsis

28 Weeks Later, the follow up to the hugely successful 28 Days Later, picks up six months after the rage virus has annihilated the Mainland Britain. The US army declares that the war against infection has been won, and that the reconstruction of the country can begin. As the first wave of refugees return, a family is reunited - but one of them unwittingly carries a terrible secret. The virus is not yet dead, and this time, it is more dangerous than ever.

How It All Started

28 Weeks Later is directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto) and produced by Enrique López-Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich. 28 Weeks Later is an original screenplay by Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique López-Lavigne, and Jesus Olmo; with Danny Boyle and Alex Garland serving as executive producers. The cast is led by Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting); Rose Byrne (Sunshine, Troy); Jeremy Renner (The Assassination of Jesse James, Dahmer); Harold Perrineau (The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, Lost); Catherine McCormack (Braveheart, Spy Game); Imogen Poots (V For Vendetta) and Idris Elba (The Wire). Also joining the cast is a talented young newcomer, twelve year old Mackintosh Muggleton making his feature film debut.

28 weeks later cover artwork image ROBERT CARLYLE ROSE BYRNE JEREMY RENNER HAROLD PERRINEAU CATHERINE MCCORMACK MACKINTOSH MUGGLETON IMOGEN POOTS IDRIS ELBA JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLOFour years after the enormous international success of 28 Days Later, the director/producer/writer team of Danny Boyle, Andrew Macdonald and Alex Garland felt the time was right to make a sequel. “We were quite taken aback by the phenomenal success of the first film, particularly in America,” recalls producer Andrew Macdonald. “We saw an opportunity to make a second film that already had a built in audience. We thought it would be a great idea to try and satisfy that audience again. The hard bit was to try and find a story which would live up to the power and depth that Danny and Alex brought to the first film.”

The first decision the filmmakers had to make was when should the sequel be set. Should the film involve the original cast? Should it go further into the future? Should it be a prequel? 28 Days Later told the story of when the virus was first unleashed following a raid on a primate research facility by animal rights activists. Transmittable in a single drop of blood, the virus locks those infected into a permanent state of murderous rage. Within 28 days the country was overwhelmed and a handful of survivors desperately struggled to salvage a future.

“Alex came up with a lot of ideas and eventually we agreed upon a concept about what would happen to the UK after the disease had been eradicated and the quarantine was lifted,” explains Macdonald. “What would happen if there were only 500 people populating the UK? Who would be there to organize the survivors and refugees coming back from overseas, and what would happen to the Brits who survived? All those questions seemed interesting to us and it was out of them that the story evolved”.

Screenwriter Rowan Joffe, who had previously written Gas Attack and Last Resort, was hired to craft a first draft of the script. The search then began for a talented young director who would have the flare to follow in Boyle’s footsteps as well as be able to bring a fresh new perspective and their own unique vision to the film. “We were looking for a filmmaker of some individuality who could bring something different to the film,” says Boyle. “London was such a big part of the first film we thought that getting somebody from outside the UK to come in and direct would be an interesting approach as they would give the Capital a fresh look.”

28 weeks later car crash screen shot image cover artwork image ROBERT CARLYLE ROSE BYRNE JEREMY RENNER HAROLD PERRINEAU CATHERINE MCCORMACK MACKINTOSH MUGGLETON IMOGEN POOTS IDRIS ELBA JUAN CARLOS FRESNADILLOBoyle had recently seen the provocative thriller Intacto, the feature film debut from Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo which had been a huge international and critical success. “I thought Intacto was amazing,” recalls Boyle. “A terrific thriller with tremendous flare and energy, as well as being a highly individual piece of filmmaking. I recommended [Producer] Andrew Macdonald and [Executive Producer] Alex Garland go and see it with Juan Carlos in mind for taking the helm on 28 Weeks Later.”

After seeing Intacto Macdonald and Garland were also convinced that Fresnadillo was the director they were looking for, and the filmmakers approached him to direct 28 Weeks Later.

They were thrilled when Fresnadillo and his Spanish producing partner Enrique López-Lavigne agreed to come on board. Producer Allon Reich explains, “Juan Carlos and López-Lavigne, they’re a fantastic double act. Juan Carlos is very thoughtful, very much about the detail… While Enrique is a ball of energy, a film geek, and he’s seen every film of this type. And I think there’s definitely a yin and yang in their energy, and the way they approach life that leads to a very kind of a creative whole.”

Fresnadillo recalls being approached by DNA, “I’m a big fan of 28 Days Later. It was such a big honor to receive the invitation to direct the second film, but at the same time it was something really scary. I didn’t understand what I could do, you know, to improve on the first one or to follow that landscape. But DNA chased me for one or two months… And from the first time we met I was very comfortable with them, because they were open to my ideas.”

Fresnadillo and López-Lavigne began working on the script with the help of Spanish screenwriter Jesus Olmo, developing the story around a family and what happened to them in the aftermath of the original film.

López-Lavigne explains, “The family was a good idea for us, and we wanted to develop this into something. But there is always a problem with this kind of structure in which you are looking at the new world through four different eyes, instead of one. That’s why we had to find a really strong concept for the actual storyline. And what we came up with is a storyline, that we really believe; it’s about the idea that no one is unaffected from his past.”

Fresnadillo tells about the process of writing the script, “We worked on the screenplay for almost one year, and at the end we reached a screenplay that I really love. But I was concerned about if the producers were going to like it because it was very special and different from the first one. Obviously following the same landscape and the same situation about this apocalyptic vision of the world, but to my surprise they liked it a lot.”

Boyle elaborates on working with Fresnadillo, “He’s got one foot in two cultures, so he was an interesting guy to get, you know, rather than just get another Brit who probably would [have made] it much as I’d made the first one. So you need a kind of different eye on it, really. And there’s a great tradition at the moment in our cinema of Latin American and Spanish directors, and it’s, I think, great to be able to be part of it.”

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Beyond Future Shock: Alex Alaniz, Ph.D.


beyond future shock cover alan alaniz ph.d. wwii image cover german fighter plane
Beyond Future Shock

Alex Alaniz, Ph.D.

Beyond Future Shock begins as a pre-WWII love story. When two German lovers, Heinrich and Lise, marry, their jealous, scientific peer and friend (Hans), who has become a fervent Nazi, exposes Lise and her Jewish family.

The plot starts off slowly with no hint of sci-fi, except for baffling, but intriguing, mentions of ‘hundreds of years in the future’ and scientific discoveries to do with DNA. This shouldn’t put you off reading it, as it is an enjoyable period read.

We follow Heinrich, Lise and Hans through their early years and education. To start with, their education is almost happy go lucky, they enjoy every moment of it - until war looms and Hitler take over their education and Nazism is shoved down their throats.

From then on, it follows the three through the war, sometimes in a graphic way. The general history of this period, including the Nazis, SS, Hitler, extermination camps and bombings seems to have been well researched and is an enjoyable read, as the author really describes the people and places, and their interactions. You can feel Heinrich’s love for flying, Lise’s love of Physics and Hans’ obsession with Nazism.

So for two third of the book it really is a WWII love story, including the almost cliched love triangle, in which the two lovers are split up and go in different directions, and don’t hear from each other for a long time, all the while not knowing if the other is alive.

As I read the narrative, I found that the story picked up pace with regards to the amount of time which passes with each set of pages. This helped to give the story depth into the future - the same number of pages read, but more time passes in those pages.

Towards the end, things get a little vague. They upload their minds into Mindspace Servers and gradually use their physical bodies less and less, until eventually they are redundant. It seems most humans are doing this, but the story doesn’t really explain what it is like. Everything seems to be pretty much ‘as was’.

As most humans upload their ’self’ into these Mindspace servers, the more server space the person has, the more processing power they have. So it goes without saying that people try and take over other people’s mindspace area. Thus begins the ‘Minspace Wars’.

The only downside of the story being that the fine narrative to start with gets a little flat as Heinrich and Lise emigrate to Mindspace. An enemy is described, but there is no motivation as to why this entity is attacking (you never see things from its point of view). It is still the ‘old’ Heinrich and Lise in there, but they don’t come across as the same. Some spark is lost. Maybe that was intentional, as they are now no longer human.

There are some neat parts though. The while first two-thirds of the book are a must read, as the author brings it to life with his styled prose. Also, in the scifi part of the book, Heinrich orders hundreds of spacecraft to be built and loads in the persona of a dead pilot friend into them all. He changes the logic in one of them to be more ‘human’ - i.e. it cracks jokes. After one outing with it, he returns and programs a few more with the same more human logic.

Overall, it’s a pretty mindblowing concept. The book flows well until the end (if you can use your imagination and fill in the blanks somewhat), and seems grounded in fact, only to explode into SF.

Alan Alaniz’s homepage.

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Forgotten Worlds Issue 6


forgotten worlds 6 issue artwork cover black white fantasy art scifi art workForgotten Worlds #6

Reviewed By Gareth D. Jones

While issue 5 contained predominantly science fiction stories, this edition leans a lot more heavily toward fantasy. This makes my review more difficult to write as I’m not really a fantasy fan, but nonetheless this is still a collection of varied and, for the most part, well-written stories.

Now, while I don’t really read fantasy, I do like dragons, so Chris Kastensmidt’s Even Dragons Dance is a good start. A fearless knight heads off to heroically slay a dragon and is somewhat bemused that his princess bride is not overly impressed. He has to learn what all of us learn the hard way eventually – women are more impressed by flowers than heroic deeds. It’s a pleasant and heart-warming story to open the collection.

The Fallen Angels of Jude by Terry Bramlett takes an entirely different and much darker tone and is probably the strongest story in this issue. It’s set somewhere in the backwoods of America where strange creatures with glowing red eyes live in the woods and kill any strangers who enter. Rather than focus on horror and gore though, the mystery of the creatures is explored through the family who have owned the land for generations and have come to an understanding with the tribe. Are they aliens, throwbacks to an earlier age or possibly the fallen angels of Jude? It’s well worth taking the time to find out.

David Downing gives us Vilkatis, the story of a traveller on a mission to slay a werewolf that has been terrorising a village. This is one of a series of stories apparently, and you do get the impression that the hero has a bigger and more interesting background than your standard wandering vigilante. This background and the brief details of village life make it an engaging read.

H.S.Sheik’s very short Proper Magic is an account more than a story, of a tourist’s visit to stall selling allegedly magical items. The stall holder is a great character and his anecdotes amusing, but I was left feeling a bit disappointed. The story was probably quite realistic, and the atmosphere was conveyed well, but I was looking for something a bit more fantastic. Hypocritical of me, I know, but you can’t please everyone.

Jason Sizemore is heralded as the ‘featured writer’, and his story The Sleeping Quartet is certainly a fast-paced and attention-grabbing tale. It deals with the horrific goings-on in a sleep disorder clinic where maniacal staff have the four patients at their mercy. The central character is obviously very nervous about being there, maybe even paranoid. The problem is that the set-up means that you don’t really know whether he’s dreaming it all, which ruined the tension for me. You’ll have to judge for yourself whether or not it avoids the Alice in Wonderland cliché.

Finally Cat Rambo has written what I would think of as a typical fantasy tale in Alkyone’s Journey. Correct me if I’m wrong as I’m probably misled by my own preconceptions. A young girl is going into the forest on her ‘mage journey’ to come of age and become a mage. She’s under pressure to succeed from her mother, and has magical encounters with woodland animals and mysterious characters who appear from the dark. It’s a nice enough story, and perhaps others would appreciate it more.

So a good collection for fantasy readers, not so good if you’re more into SF. Perhaps more of a balance between the genres would give it more appeal. This issue marks six months as a monthly magazine, quite an accomplishment in such a tough market. You may be aware that Forgotten Worlds has since switched to quarterly publication, a development that, while sad, can only lead to an ever stronger publication.

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Alien National Review : Manchester Art Gallery : Sainsbury Art Gallery Norwich


alien exhibition artwork image dvd cover alien life Aliens in Manchester and East Anglia. Roy Gray Investigates.

Alien Nation Exhibition
Saturday 17 March 2007 - Monday 7 May 2007
Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
Then later at the Sainsbury Art Gallery, Norwich, October 2nd to December 9th 2007.

The official website states that the Alien Nation Exhibition:
“…explores the relationship between science fiction, race and contemporary art. Twelve contemporary international artists use science fiction and extra-terrestrial forms to explore racial difference as a metaphor for the threat of the outsider.”
“… presents the work of twelve contemporary international artists all of whom explore themes of ‘otherness’ and ‘difference’ through the language and iconography of sci-fi.”
… and “will also show a collection of original sci-fi film posters from the 1950’s to present day, … as well as extracts from contemporary and archive science fiction films…”
“… is an inIVA and ICA touring exhibition supported by the Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.”

Manchester Art Gallery’s classical front end connects to a contemporary rear filled with more modern exhibits. ‘Alien Nation’ caps this latter building away from the Holman Hunt, Lowry, Rossetti, Canaletto etc paintings in the classical galleries.

The exhibition is dedicated to Nigel Kneale and his Quatermass and the Pit was running silently on a TV in the media gallery of the exhibition. Black and white 50’s SF movies (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It Came from Outer Space, The Thing) were running on other screens in that space but the soundtrack overhead was Orson Wells’ 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Colourful pulpish posters from Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still and similar 50’s movies filled one wall but where was the credit for the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s pulp magazine covers that predated, and surely influenced, the movie posters?

A second gallery contained a separate darkened room that echoed with the clacking of the five projectors of a, can I say, ‘avante garde’ 16 mm ‘film installation’, plus a video installation, objects, images, and murals.

Mario Ybarra Jnr’s giant mural Brown and Proud impressed me with its busy scenes benevolently presided over by Zapata on one side and Chewbacca in opposition. The exhibition programme suggests they are seen as partners, both rebels facing powerful empires, “whether galactic or earthly”. However for me the cigar smoking ‘Chewy’ prompted thoughts of Castro. I was puzzled by the letters ‘SMS’ in the lower right corner of this mural. Maybe it was a reference to texting but I immediately thought of the Interzone cover and SF artist SMS. The mural’s main female image toted a life and (male) pride threatening AK 47. As a Jim Burns Interzone cover she would bring a host of threats to cancel subscriptions.

Kori Newkirk’s Merck, a curtain maybe 3 metres high and at least a metre wide, made from coloured ponybeads threaded on braided hair was a very effective SF image of an American small town split by a strange vertical yellow beam.

My favourite was Hew Locke’s installation Golden Horde, a bejewelled and beweaponed space fleet, its large spacecraft reminiscent of both Star Wars and the ornate howdahs of a Raja’s wedding.

As an art critic I have serious failings so here are links to reviews by those with a better pedigree:
http://marcusdruen.blogspot.com/search/label/Hackney Sorry, no useful images.

http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/london/news/ART42204.html : Good images of the exhibition but not the space fleet.

In summary the gallery is well worth a visit and, while there or in central Manchester, you might as well look in on the Alien Nation exhibition but if you know the gallery and/or live a distance from Manchester then you won’t miss a lot if you can’t get there before May 7th.

See more information on the Alien Nation Exhibition.

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