Archive for November, 2008

Science Fiction : The 100 Best Novels

Posted in Books on November 24, 2008 by thebigsmoke

A friend sent me this list some time ago, taken from Science Fiction : The 100 Best Novels (1949-1984) by David Pringle. It’s ostensibly a list of the most notable science fiction novels since the Second World War.

001 – 1984 by George Orwell (1949) *
002 – Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (1949) *
003 – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)
004 – The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein (1951)
005 – The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951) *
006 – Limbo by Bernard Wolfe (1952)
007 – The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (1953) *
008 – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953) *
009 – Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke (1953)
010 – The Paradox Men by Charles L. Harness (1953)
011 – Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore (1953)
012 – The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth (1953) *
013 – Ring Around the Sun by Clifford D. Simak (1953)
014 – More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (1953)
015 – Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement (1954)
016 – A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn (1954)
017 – The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (1955)
018 – The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett (1955)
019 – The Inheritors by William Golding (1955)
020 – The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956) (aka Tiger! Tiger! ) *
021 – The Death of Grass by John Christopher (1956)
022 – The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke (1956)
023 – The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (1957)
024 – The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (1957)
025 – Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss (1959) *
026 – A Case of Conscience by James Blish (1959)
027 – Have Space-Suit Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein (1959)
028 – Time Out of Joint by Philip K. Dick (1959)
029 – Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (1959)
030 – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller (1959)
031 – The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (1959) *
032 – Rogue Moon by Algis Buldrys (1960)
033 – Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon (1960)
034 – Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss (1962) *
035 – The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard (1962)
036 – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962) *
037 – The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (1962) *
038 – Journey Beyond Tomorrow by Robert Sheckley (1963)
039 – Way Station by Clifford D. Simak (1963)
040 – Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1963) *
041 – Greybeard by Brian W. Aldiss (1964)
042 – Nova Express by William S. Burroughs (1964)
043 – Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick (1964) *
044 – The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick (1964)
045 – The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber (1964)
046 – Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith (1964-69)
047 – Dr – Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick (1965) *
048 – Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) *
049 – The Crystal World by J. G. Ballard (1966)
050 – Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (1966)
051 – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966) *
052 – The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny (1966)
053 – Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner (1969)
054 – Nova by Samuel R. Delany (1969)
055 – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1969) *
056 – Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch (1969)
057 – The Final Programme by Michael Moorcock (1969)
058 – Pavane by Keith Roberts (1969)
059 – Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter (1969)
060 – The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)
061 – The Palace of Eternity by Bob Shaw (1969)
062 – Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinard (1969)
063 – Tau Zero by Poul Anderson (1970) *
064 – Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg (1970)
065 – The Year of the Quiet Sun by Wilson Tucker (1970)
066 – 334 by Thomas M. Disch (1972)
067 – The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolf (1972)
068 – The Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock (1972-76) *
069 – Crash by J. G. Ballard (1973)
070 – Looking Backward, From the Year 2000 by Mack Reynolds (1973)
071 – The Embedding by Ian Watson (1973)
072 – Walk to the End of the World by Suzy Mckee Charnas (1974)
073 – The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison (1974)
074 – The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)
075 – Inverted World by Christopher Priest (1974)
076 – High-Rise by J. G. Ballard (1975) *
077 – Galaxies by Barry N. Malzberg (1975)
078 – The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975)
079 – Orbitsville by Bob Shaw (1975)
080 – The Alteration by Kingsley Amis (1976)
081 – Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976)
082 – Man Plus by Fredrik Pohl (1976) *
083 – Michaelmas by Algis Budrys (1977)
084 – The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley (1977)
085 – Miracle Visitors by Ian Watson (1979)
086 – Engine Summer by John Crowley (1979)
087 – On Wings of Song by Thomas M. Disch (1979)
088 – The Walking Shadow by Brian Stableford (1979)
089 – Juniper Time by Kate Wilhelm (1979)
090 – Timescape by Gregory Benford (1980)
091 – The Dreaming Dragons by Damien Broderick (1980)
092 – Wild Seed by Octavia A. Butler (1980)
093 – Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (1980) *
094 – Roderick and Roderick at Random by John Sladek (1980-83)
095 – The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolf (1980-83)
096 – The Unreasoning Mask by Philip Jose Farmer (1980)
097 – Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1981)
098 – No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop (1982)
099 – The Birth of People’s Republic of Antartica by John Calvin Batchelor (1983)
100 – Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

I have been dipping into the list for years now, but have really only read a fraction of what’s on there (I’ve put an asterix by the ones I’ve finished reading). It’s a good list and, if you like science fiction at all, it’s fun to pick out the books you think you’ll enjoy.

House of M

Posted in Comics on November 23, 2008 by thebigsmoke

I thought I should try to get my blog back on track and post up another rambling, geeky diatribe about a comic book.

House of M wasn’t particularly well received and I can distinctly remember being uninterested and deliberately shunning it in favour of DC’s offerings. Now that the Secret Invasion saga is on the shelves and I’m interested in Marvel’s line-up again, I decided to go back and give House of M a chance.

To be honest, I am annoyed I didn’t do so earlier. Olivier Coipel’s pencils are incredible and the story is actually pretty good. I would put it on a par with Civil War perhaps, and it’s certainly better than Bendis’ Secret War, which I hated.

MacGyver

Posted in Television on November 22, 2008 by thebigsmoke

Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, I give you THE MACGYVER TORNADO PUNCH!!!11

Bonus clip:

Strangely very hot

Posted in Stuff on November 21, 2008 by thebigsmoke

In Bruges

Posted in Film on November 10, 2008 by thebigsmoke

Great movie, and Colin Farrell makes an awesome Father Dougal McGuire.

The next Predator movie

Posted in Film on November 4, 2008 by thebigsmoke

Watching Alien Vs. Predator started me thinking about how none of the Predator sequels have come close to being as good as the original. I think it’s partly because the first Predator movie was as much about the good guys as it was about the predator, whereas I think all the sequels have been much more about the predator; and when you’re pitting two non-speaking monsters against each other and you make that the focus of your movie, it’s inevitable that the script is going to be lacking. I’ve come to the conclusion that the first movie will always stand out because of the sheer machismo of Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team of commandoes.

I firmly believe that the next Predator movie should go back to basics and feature some modern day muscle. The only problem with the idea is we no longer have any musclebound action stars in the same league as Schwarzenegger. Today’s action stars are an unlikely and undesirable mix that includes a few relics from the ’80s, some dubious Asian imports and a miscellany of actors who have bizarrely found themselves offered action roles now that steroid usage no longer appears to be a prerequisite.

That the movie-going public will actually pay good money to watch a heavily-botoxed Sylvester Stallone thrust back into the jungle one more time is a testament to the appeal of good old-fashioned, no frills action movies. I remember watching an interview with Ryuhei Kitamura, the director of Versus, in which he said he learnt his craft from watching Mark L. Lester’s Commando over and over again. At the time, I thought it was funny, but actually making movies like Commando seems to be a bit of a lost art.

The first Predator movie featured a commando team of seven, which seems a pretty good model to me. I could only come up with six casting choices for any hypothetical next instalment, and here they are for your amusement:

1. Dwayne Johnson/The Rock

The Rock more than adequately fills the same wrestler quotient established by Jesse Ventura in the first Predator movie. Actually, I just really enjoy watching The Rock on screen. He’s my number one choice.

2. Vin Diesel

Probably the most obvious choice on my list, since he already stared in Pitch Black, a movie that drew heavily from Aliens.

3. Ving Rhames

I guess Ving Rhames reminds me a bit of Bill Duke, who played Mac in the first movie. I think Rhames, with his ultra-deep voice, is even cooler, though.

4. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Best known as Mr Eko in Lost, but I’ve been a massive fan of the most unpronounceable actor in show business since he played Adebisi in the HBO show Oz. He’s playing Heavy Duty in the upcoming G. I. Joe movie, so I guess somebody other than myself thought he’d look good toting a mini-gun.

5. Matthew McConaughey

“Matthew McConaughey? What? Who? WHY?!” you ask. Well, some time ago, someone in Hollywood must have given McConaughey a difficult decision: on the one hand, he could fight it out with all the other actors in Hollywood for the best available roles, or he could carve a niche for himself by starring in one cliché-ridden romcom after another. McConaughey clearly opted for the latter. However, I saw him in Reign of Fire and I won’t even let the impression he made be diminished by Sahara. McConaughey has a lot of untapped action movie potential.

6. Erik King

Like Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Erik King cut his teeth in Oz. More recently he played Sergeant Doakes, a former black ops soldier, in Showtime’s Dexter.

So there you have it. Put them in the Middle East, fighting the Predator in caves, in a kind of hunt for Osama Bin Laden allegory, and you have a return to form and a big hit on your hands, I’m sure.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I didn’t pick Jason Statham, it’s because he’s rubbish.

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