“Contact” by Carl Sagan

Contact_SaganFor me, the film version Contact is still the gold standard for intelligent science fiction in cinema. After having read Carl Sagan’s Contact, I realize that the movie benefitted from exceptionally strong source material. Sagan manages to explore Big Ideas™, but also develops compelling characters. In addition to being a talented scientist, Sagan could write better than most professional science fiction authors.

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“Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke

Rendezvous with Rama is widely acclaimed as Arthur C. Clarke’s best book, and it definitely deserves much of the praise it’s gotten. That said, the book isn’t perfect, particularly when it comes to the characters.

Rendezvous with Rama starts when an large, cylindrical object is detected hurtling towards the sun. The object is named “Rama” after the Hindu god. The United Planets sends the solar survey vessel Endeavour under the command of Commander Bill Norton to investigate. The rest of the book focuses on the crew’s exploration of the alien artifact. Continue reading ““Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke”

Childhood’s End

mv5bmtuxmjayntyynv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdaxmzk0nze-_v1__sx1129_sy889_I wasn’t a big fan of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End (see my full  review here). Despite that, I was interested to see how SyFy’s TV miniseries adaptation would approach the story. I came away with the impression that this was more of an update to the story than either a straight retelling or a creative adaptation. In that sense, it’s an interesting look at how science fiction and pop culture have changed from 1953, when Clarke first published the novel, to the modern era.

*** WARNING: Spoilers for both the book and TV show follow *** Continue reading “Childhood’s End”

“Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

childhood'sI am reposting my review of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End before I watch the SyFy channel TV miniseries that aired last month.

Childhood’s End is frustrating. This is one of Arthur C. Clarke’s most famous novels. The story has several great twists, even brilliant, but it’s poorly executed and the ending veers into paranormal mysticism rather than science fiction. Too often, the story drops the interesting ideas it raises in favor of some of the sillier concepts. I can’t really discuss the problems with this book without SPOILERS, so be warned!

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“Enemy Mine”


Enemy Mine had the potential to be a science fiction classic, but gets bogged down by Hollywood clichés. The script is based on a short story of the same name by Barry B. Longyear. Indeed, the first two-thirds of the film feel like classic science fiction. The last third doesn’t.

The concept is quite simple. In the future, humans are at war with an alien race called the Drac. A human pilot, Willis E. Davidge (Dennis Quaid), crashes on a planet with a Drac pilot, Jeriba Shigan (Louis Gossett, Jr.). The two have to learn to overcome their differences for the sake of survival in a hostile environment.

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“District 9” by Neill Blomkamp


Neil Blomkamp’s latest sci-fi film, Chappie, hits U.S. theaters on March 6. Here I review Blomkamp’s breakout hit, District 9. Next week, I will review Elysium, his 2013 followup.

Most sci-fi movies about first contact with aliens generally depict humans as either the heroes or victims – or both. First contact can be a chance for peoples of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds to make common cause against alien invaders (Independence Day) or a moment that inspires us to reach for the stars (Star Trek: First Contact). Continue reading ““District 9” by Neill Blomkamp”

“2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke

2001 novel

Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey was not simply an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey novel. Kubrick and Clarke actually produced their works in tandem and meant for each to supplement the other. It was meant to be an experiment in telling a story across different media. However, the movie so outshone the novel that most viewers never received the complete experience. That’s a shame because they work well together.

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