Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

startrek50I remember watching this “old” Star Trek TV series as a kid.  “Trek” didn’t really resonate with me until Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager TV series.  Over time I went back to watch this original Star Trek series and films with the original cast.  This year mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek TV series and this poster size hardbound title Star Trek 50 Artists 50 Years celebrates the iconic sci-fi TV program.

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Top Cow’s Zack Kaplan on Eclipse

dsc_0068Currently, one of Ramen host Ramon Angel’s favorite comic book series is Top Cow’s Eclipse.  Ramon interviews creator/writer Zack Kaplan about the Image Comic series Eclipse.

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The High Ground by Melinda Snodgrass

thehighgroundWhen you have Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin giving praise about this book, it got my attention.  The High Ground – The Imperials Saga is the first book in an epic science-fiction trilogy by author Melinda Snodgrass.  The heart of the story, a handsome lower-class boy Thracius Belmanor aka Tracy working his way up the class-system falls in love with Princess Mercedes Adalina Saturnina Inez de Arango.  It’s mix of BBC drama and a Kdrama love triangle set in outer space worlds.

By year 2100s the Earth is mostly uninhabitable and humans have conquered other worlds in galaxies far away.  In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek when Warp engine technology was discovered it was about the search of new worlds and exploration, but here in this universe, when Fold technology is discovered, humans created a backward class-system hierarchy to control the galaxy and subjugated all the aliens they have conquered like the Haijin, Isanjo and Cara’ot races into “servants”.  The Imperial Family, the father and king Fernan Marcus Serverino Beltran de Arango has a dilemma on his hands.  His 5 wives only gave him daughters and no sons to inherit the throne.  He wants his eldest daughter Mercedes to inherit the kingdom.  The Princess has other plans like attending the military school – The High Ground.  She will be the first woman admitted to school on a large city-port space station.   On the other side, is Tracy whose father is tailor to the “rich” and while Tracy wants none of the class system BS, he is “forced” to go to the High Ground military school.

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Escapology by Ren Warom

escapologyThe post-apocalyptic future Earth is unkind to the masses.  It’s little like Kevin Costner’s ill-fated Waterworld and Mad Max: Fury Road, well kind of.  The world is more of a mix between anime Garganita on the Verdurous Planet without the mechas and Brian Wood’s comic The Massive as an environmental disaster destroys most of the Earth.  Land dwelling places to live are scarce the exception of mega-cities or large ship-cities that rule the seas.  And the internet is run by one gatekeeper, this is the first novel by author Ren Warom – Escapology.

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Labyrinth Board Game for the World!

labyrinthgameThe iconic fantasy adventure 1980s flick Labyrinth comes to board game world.  Just like the film, the mission is to save Toby.  Euro game company and The Jim Henson Company have put together a solid board game experience with dices, cards and game figures.  Players can take on the task being Sarah, Hoggle, Ludo or Didymus to stop the Goblin King.

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New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey

titanbooksnewpompeiiOne of our favorite sci-fi genre’s is about time traveling.  In pop culture entertainment, we have a fetish for the “past”, like what if we could travel to the 1950s era or Roman times and so on, and then have the ability to change the future?  I remember having a dandy of a time reading Timeline (1999) by Michael Crichton.  A footnote, please do not watch the lame movie adaptation of Timeline (2003), but do read the book instead.  In the vein of Timeline and Jurassic Park, Daniel Godfrey’s New Pompeii is this and more.

The protagonist Dr. Nick Houghton has been stuck in limbo as a part-time college intern and researcher, due to his dad’s outspoken negative comments against one the world’s biggest energy company Novus Particles.  NovusPart has created technology to grab matter from the past and bring it into the future.  For instance, the company saved the ancient Roman town of Pompeii which was destroyed by volcanic eruption.  NovusPart was able to build a replica town called New Pompeii and saved many of the townspeople.  With this incredible technology, history buff and researcher Dr. Nick Houghton is offered a job to see New Pompeii.  He’s excited to see what real Roman’s are like and to learn how they interact at pubs, bath houses and in the homes. But as he steps into New Pompeii, he notices some discrepancies in the town and among the people.  He wonders what happened to his predecessor Dr. Samson?  And why are many buildings empty, when many of the poor townspeople have nothing?  Nick begins to wonder if there is deeper conspiracy by NovusPart.  It’s up to Nick, Roman leader Barbatus and his daughter Calpurnia to stop NovusPart from changing history and the timeline.

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Interstellar – Limited Edition 2-Pack

interstellaractionfigures00Either you love Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar space epic or hate it with a passion, here’s something you can kind of like, the NECA Limited Edition Action Figure 2-Pack.  It may not have the Hot Toys bling, but if you’re on a budget, it’s a nice 2-pack for display.  The Brand and Cooper figures stand 8″ tall with articulation.  The action figures come various accessories and with sculpted likeness of actors Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.

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NECA Aliens Ellen Ripley

necaaliensripleyfigureALIENS fans looking for that kick-ass Ellen Ripley action figure should take at look at this Toys’R’Us Exclusive – the NECA Aliens Lt. Ellen Ripley figure.  The action figure stands 7″ tall and features 25 points of articulation.

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Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse

fireflyshiniestdictionarybookWhen you see a book with the words ‘Dicitionary Book.’  You might think to yourself, this is going to be a boring reference book or just a plain Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  But this ain’t know ordinary dictionary, friends!  It’s the Firefly:  The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse.

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Firefly: The Official Companion, Volume One

fireflycoverDuring the 2002 Fall TV Season, FOX aired Joss Whedon’s sci-fi western ‘Firefly’ and then it was cancelled before it could gather a TV following.  Over the years, “Firefly” has been a cult hit with fans with the help of DVD sales and Firefly panels at various comic-cons.  If you’re re-watching the ‘Firefly’ series on DVD at home, this Titan Books’ Firefly: The Official Companion Volume One is a great guide to “Browncoat” fans.

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The Final Programme (The Cornelius Quartet 1) by Michael Moorcock

michaelmoorcockIf director Guy Ritchie’s 1960’s themed “The Man from UNCLE” film didn’t float your boat, why not tried this underground British sci-fi novel first published in the 1960s – The Final Programme by author Michael Moorcock.  Titan Books is reprinting the adventures of rock star scientist Jerry Cornelius.

First, if you’re a little unfamiliar with Michael Moorcock’s writing style, the meanings and so on, writer John Clute intros the character Jerry Cornelius and his thoughts on British sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock’s 4 book collection.  Jerry Cornelius’s brother Frank and the sexy evil Miss Brunner have concocted a plan to build the world’s ultimate super computer.  Jerry Cornelius is the key to all this and his unique family background keeps things interesting.

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Rebel Galaxy Review

Rebel Galaxy

Rebel Galaxy came out on Steam in October, but it just recently came out for the PlayStation 4 at the beginning of the month, January 5th.  I had never heard of this game before it came to the PS4 but the opportunity to be a “Space Cowboy” was too much to pass up.  The game played a lot like the naval side of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.  You sail the ocean of space in a straight line, not being able to pitch up or down, however your opponents are given that option and the smaller crafts will often fly above and below you, while the larger ships are stuck flying on the same level that you are.  Think of it as a less maneuverable version of the “Freelancer” game.

Rebel Galaxy - 2

Most of this game will be you flying your ship from one end of the solar system to the other, complete a mission and head back across the solar system again.  One of the best way to make money in this game will be doing missions that you can pick up during your stops at different space stations; however, after you jump to the next solar system, you will be able to join the mercenary guild which will give you a lot more money but for a lot more risk of course.  This means you will be going back and forth in one system just to scrounge up enough money to to buy upgrades or new weapons/armors for your ship.  Speaking of the stations, the game will automatically save your game when you visit one so always remember to stop by one before heading off to a difficult mission.  Missions and mercenary work aren’t the only way to make money in this game though.  You can also scavenge for parts scattered around space, which to be honest will probably take the most time since you can barely find cargo floating around, look around the space system for bounties to collect or mine asteroids for goods.  Everything you find can then be sold at the commodities market, but be warned as the price for different goods fluctuates.  Then once you get enough credits to buy the new spaceship you’d been eyeing, you’ll be doing missions, mercenary work, scavenging for parts, hunting down pirates and mining asteroids all over again to get more money for new upgrades.  In other words, you will probably be spending most of your time trying to make enough money to use on your ship than actually going through the games story.

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So is this game fun?  Should you try it out or pass on it?  Well I’ve been having a blast with it myself, though it really depends on if you have the patience to play a game like this.  You won’t be getting into space battle after space battle unless you are actively looking for them.  Most of your time will be flying through the emptiness of space.  For a game created by a two man team, this game is amazing.  Still it would have been better if you could fly up and down because there are times when your enemies or certain asteroids are above or below you that your guns can’t seem to shoot at.

In the end, I give this game a solid 8/10.  The price point of 19.99 may drive off a few customers, but for those who enjoy these types of games, I say go for it.  It’s a good PSN game to pass the time with.

The Art of Stephen Hickman: Empyrean

hickmanartbookIf you ever read a Harlan Ellison, Anne McCaffrey or Larry Niven sci-fi book, usually the sci-fi art cover that catches your eye is drawn by artist Stephen Hickman.  This full-color hardcover art book – “The Art of Stephen Hickman:  Empyrean” is collection of Hickman’s amazing 40 years in fantasy sci-fi art.

hickman00“For me, fantasy imagery is simply my favorite place to work and live, and nature … Personal imagery, much of it inspired or informed by nature, is becoming more important to me the more painting I do, and fantasy is my direction of choice.” Stephen Hickman.

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Virtues of War by Bennett R. Coles

virutesofwarcoverI read many novels, and you know it’s going to be some heavy reading when the first couple of pages start with a character listings, glossary and military definitions.  Our story doesn’t kick-off until page 13!  Virtues of War is the first in a trilogy of books by author Bennett R. Coles with the second novel Ghost of War available sometime in 2016 and the third novel March of War available sometime in 2017.  Virtues of War follows Lieutenant Katja Emmes and her 10-trooper striker team on Rapier spacecraft.

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The Iron Giant Movie Re-Release

irongiantNot many people would remember this animated classic, The Iron Giant which came out in 1999.  The Iron Giant gets a multiplex revival of sorts with this Signature Edition re-release with remastered sound and colors.  The Iron Giant Signature Edition will hit theaters September 30, 2015 for a limited time.

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Doctor Who: Four Doctors Collide!

4 doctors 1If you’re a comic book reader veteran, then you’re probably familiar with the usual once-a-year mega cross-over event like in the DC and Marvel Universe.  Well, this summer 2015, Titan Comics will mix-it up with 4 Doctors and 3 companions meeting up in this 5-issue mini-series.  Doctor Who:  Four Doctors #1 (1-5) follows the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and their companions on a mission against an unknown foe.  The epic crossover-event is written by Paul Cornell (Wolverine) and illustrated by Neil Edwards
(Assassin’s Creed).

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LOST IN THE SUN – A cultish San Francisco Indie Film

Retrenders - Lost in the Sun - Dan Bernstein - David Moutray - Marcus Sams - Jess Reich

Dan Bernstein (actor), Dave Moutray (director), Marcus Sams (actor) and Jess Reich (make-up)

I feel very fortunate to be one of the crew members of “Lost in the Sun“, a feature film with a mysterious cult happening that takes meditation of body, mind and the discipline of gazing at the sun ritually to transform one’s life. The only catch is that someone has gone missing through the process, and the cult of sun gazers are not exactly your typical sun gazers, and that’s about all I can tell you.

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Why a BLADE RUNNER sequel?

The 1982 film was absolutely on point for it’s science fiction noir story taking place in 2019, because we still have neon lights and newspapers! Bladerunner - RetrendersDirected by Ridley Scott , Bladerunner accomplished its look with a raw and real-life edge of art direction and special effects  that we see influencing today’s futuristic films; the modern caper wardrobe intermingled with stylized space-tech outfits depending on the defined identity of the character – to the atmosphere of space age flying vehicles through a sky rise metropolis contrasting the ground level of real city life eclecticism of street cyclist, people walking with umbrellas, to grime that exists in rainwater running down a gutter in a dark alley street. There was no superficiality, but dark romanticism to this futuristic film which made it a cult noir classic.

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Google Doodle Tribute to Eiji Tsubaraya

googlekingkongtributeIf you remember watching Ultraman or those badly dubbed Godzilla flicks from Japan back in the day, well, today’s Google Doodle is a tribute to the sci-fi monster maker Eiji Tsubaraya.  The famous director passed away in the 1970s and today would be his 114th birthday.  Google Doodles honors the man with neat little video on monster making.

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The Sandman Chess Set

sandmanchesscoverThis is a truly wonderful collectible for fans of Neil Gailman’s acclaimed The Sandman series and chess fans alike.  All 32 chess piece figures come from the Sandman universe and sculpted by Paul Harding.

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LEGO TRON Playset

tronplaysetYeah, I admit I bought into the hype when TRON: Legacy came out in 2010.  I bought the amazing Daft Punk soundtrack and then a bunch of the Hasbro approved action figures which sucked and the cheap vehicles.  What I should have done was build my own TRON toys like this guy – Tim Schwalfenberg.  Tim builds an amazing TRON-like environment and playset.

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Sci-Fi LEGO Diorama Playset

cineasis5waterworldThis ain’t no lame Waterworld LEGO brick playset.  This is kind of like that Japanese anime “Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet” collection of city/ships, but cooler and techy.  I’m a big fan of LEGO builders building new sci-fi worlds and landscapes like this.  This is Cienasis 5 by LEGO fan Daniel Church.

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Firefly Fans Play Yahtzee

fireflyserenityshipcoverLike many of my Retrenders crew, we are big fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly.  I fell in love with characters, the universe and the world building.  I have the special edition DVD’s, the Dark Horse Comics editions and the Funko/Super7 action figures.  And now from USAopoly based on the Yahtzee game, comes the Firefly version.

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The X-Files returns in a Mini-Series

X-Files Returns - Mulder and ScullyThe X-Files Mini-Series

I’m an X-Files fan because it was the “one” show at the time that was an eye-opener to mysteries and conspiracies of the unknown and unnatural phenomenon – and what better way to have two FBI agents go door to door and solve them. By watching the series, we got to follow agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they investigate incidents of flying saucers, people being abducted by aliens, spontaneous human combustion, to cult tales of witchery and the chupacabra (goat sucker).

Then the first film came out in 1998. I remember it clearly, it was opening weekend for the first X-files film of all-time in San Francisco, but it was like a Star Wars convention waiting in line to get into the theater! I mean, I saw some real or religious fan fanatics that came out of the wood-work with t-shirts, mocked up characters of Mulder, Scully and the Lone Gunmen; and homemade alien costumes. It was amazing, because I didn’t know there was such a passionate following of the show. Now they’re back and I just can’t wait to see what conspiracy – or depths of a conspiracy they will be entangled with this time!

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Student Animated Homage to Hayao Miyazaki

hayaomizakitributeThis animated-short Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux (Girls & Guys from Summits & Skies) was made as a final project by Gwenn Germain.  No dialogue needed, just watch the visual animated treat.

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