Before Spring comes for real and I have to Go Outside and step away from the remote, I curled up for a long overdue sci-fi love-in. Just me, my kindle and Netflix, oh, and an assortment of aliens, robots and time-travellers.
Read on for book and film reccys (that everyone else watched ages ago).
First up, Lauren Beuke‘s short story collection Slipping. This was hit after hit of what I like best about her writing: sly, sharp digs at who we are, who we want to be, and the tricks we fall for, all with a gritty, near-future cyberpunk backdrop.
If you already like her writing, you’ll like this – if you haven’t read her yet, start here or see my review of Zoo City. I’ve seen this collection hailed as satire but it read more like fortune-telling to me – the future is written, and Instagram is going to kill us all.
Then, my brother added me to his Netflix account (because our mum made him – thanks Mum!), and I streamed Ex Machina immediately.
I’d wanted to see this since the Alex Garland interview on the Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
I love Alex Garland’s novels, but I hadn’t heard him speak before. Swoon! Who here isn’t a sucker for a deep-voiced guy talking knowledgeably about John Wyndham? Not me! So I needed to know if I’d enjoy his films as much as his books (read The Tesseract if you need a book you can’t put down til its finished).
Ex Machina was dreamily shot, cleverly written and has a satisfyingly un-saccharine ending. Most everyone I’ve mentioned it to has already seen it & gushed about how good it was, so I’d file it under Clever Arty Sci Fi Your Clever Arty Friends Will Like (But Saw Without You). Also, Geoff Barrow from Portishead contributes to the soundtrack.
Netflix’s hypnopowers then made me watch Lucy. It’s a fun Luc Besson caper that I refuse to link to the trailer for because it spoilers most of the film.
I’d give it 8.5/10* for satisfying my particular RhianFilm tastes: cheesy gangsters, sci-fi time babble, gunfights, car crashes & a solid Vincent Cassel-alike. [*.5 deducted for tenuous monkey link]
I finished up with Looper, which I’m glad I’ve finally seen but is my least favourite of the three.
It had its highlights: I find that Bruce Willis improves most things, and the future-noir world-building is detailed and believable. I’m not convinced by the time travel rules, though.
Now, this was all great but you might have spotted there are NO SPACE SHIPS in these films. And you can’t have a sci-fi jag with no spaceships. Which led me nicely onto a novel I’ve meant to read for ages – A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers.
I started reading this in bed one morning & was somehow halfway through by lunchtime, in that magic way reading=timetravel sometimes. The good thing about not starting this series for so long is that the sequel is already out, hurrah!
If you (like me) now want to write your own sci fi stories, I’ve done the legwork and found us a course on Cat Rambo’s site, taught with Ann Leckie. Yup, Hugo, Nebula & Arthur C Clarke award winning Ann Leckie. It’s called ‘Space Opera and Beyond‘, and it’s only $29, and I am 100% enrolling once I’ve finished editing this novel & am allowed to play on other projects.
If you also (like me) now need to read more sci-fi, here’s a good article that’s swelled my TBR pile: 9 Modern Women Science Fiction Writers You Need To Be Celebrating.
Send me any of your own sci-fi recommendations and I’ll be your bestest friend (I accept email, Twitter, Facebook or futuristic robot morse code)