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Apr 072014

Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman star in Lucy, from Universal Pictures.  Pro-tip:  Morgan Freeman is not in the title role.

Set in a futuristic world that is run by the mob, street gangs, drug addicts and corrupted cops, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) plays a woman living in Taipei, Taiwan, 2069 AD, working as a drug mule for the mob.

Johanson is kidnapped and a packet of illicit drugs surgically inserted into her stomach, then used as an unwilling courier to deliver the drugs to their destination.  We’re pretty sure it’s not the usual stuff, though, because when she’s kicked by one of the thugs, it bursts open and things start to happen to her that are beyond the normal range of human experience.

The film is directed by Luc Besson, who has been bringing us high grade entertainment like La Femme Nikita and The Professional, but we geeks may know and love him best for giving us The Fifth Element. Lucy also stars Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman and is produced by Virginie Besson-Silla for EuropaCorp. Universal Pictures will distribute the movie worldwide, except for France, Benelux and China.

Lucy was filmed in Taipei, Paris and New York, and releases in the U.S. on August 8, 2014.  We can’t wait to see this one.


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Apr 042014

RedDevil-4He’s a neurosurgeon.  He’s a bioengineer.  He specializes in the cutting edge field of neuroprosthetics – and he’s a newly minted science fiction author.

Tune in at 9PM this Saturday to hear this week’s episode of The Event Horizon, featuring special guest Eric C. Leuthardt, author of the science fiction murder thriller, Red Devil 4, now available in hard cover from Tor/Forge Books wherever books are sold.

The conversation is wide ranging and covers a lot of ground, not only talking about the novel, but about the future of cybernetically enhanced humans and how this will redefine what it means to be human.

If you miss the show tomorrow, or you want to hear it again, you can tune in again on Sunday, April 6, at 4PM Pacific.

The Event Horizon – it’s Sci-fi for your Wi-fi.

See you there.

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Mar 282014

external forcesby Aly Runke, contributing writer

Dystopian literature has been around for decades, however it seems to have come into popularity within this last decade, especially with regard to young adult (YA) literature. Anyone and everyone has heard of the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent, which have both become box offices successes as well. And now YA dystopian series that have been around for quite a few years such as The Uglies are gaining a new fan base. Another effect of such fervor is readers  -including me-  looking for more new dystopias to read. So, when I read the synopsis of External Forces by Deborah Rix I knew I had to read it, and boy, am I glad I did.

This book is everything you could want in a YA dystopian novel, and it’s only book one of a trilogy! External Forces is set in a skewed version of a world we know: America. Inside the walls is a carefully monitored “superior” genetic society, outside are wastelands and deviants, people born with a genetic difference of sorts. The society wants to weed these people out of existence, killing the newborns that are tested deviant, and hunting and killing those living in the wastelands i.e. the Southwest and Northwest United States and the rest of the world outside the enclosed America.

Our  protagonist, Jess Grant, is joining the military in order to hide; she fears she is in fact a deviant and somehow slipped through the cracks of detection. Mysterious talents with futuristic technology and Sim programs along with superpower-like abilities lead us to believe her assumptions about her deviance are correct. So she joins up to try and become a member of the Special Forces, a guarantee of little to no surveillance. The scientists, genetics technicians, are at the top of the food chain in this world. A tattoo of the DNA helix on their wrist marks them as being above the rest: as people to be afraid of. The only group immune to their influence is the military.

And that’s only a part of what will grab you in this book, there’s also romance (refreshingly minus the love triangle!), plus starting from chapter one, serious life-or-death situations. Ms. Rix does not shy away from ruthless killing or gore and, it’s fantastic; it serves to show the terror of the dystopia the characters live in. Just as in any beloved dystopia in External Forces we fall for the love interest, are horrified at the cruelty of the twisted society and its military, and become invested in the protagonist making it out alive and by the end eager to figure out even more abut this world. So, if you want an intense YA dystopia, go buy this book and join me in eagerly awaiting the next installment.


Mar 252014
Four and Tris overlook the city

Movie poster for Divergent

by Karina Montgomery, contributing writer

Rating: Rental Price

The film adaptation of Divergent is diverting, well-paced, and well-performed.  Full disclosure: I had not managed to read Veronica Roth’s trilogy before seeing this film.  Generally speaking, a movie that stirs my brain and/or spirit makes me want to run out and read the book afterward, if I had not before.  Divergent fails on this count, and in fact reduced my former desire to read the books.  I don’t think any of this is the fault of the screen adaptation, but rather the overly simplistic themes and frustrating lack of basic logic in the story.

Shailene Woodley beautifully plays Tris, a girl who is – spoiler alert! – Divergent! This basically means that she does not fit into just one of the five neat categories determined by the society in which she lives (an isolated post-cataclysm Chicago, color coded like Logan’s Run, but by faction rather than by generation).  For some reason, if your personality is not entirely subsumed by your factional duty (kindness, self-denial, honesty, intellect, or bravery), then you are a huge threat to the status quo… yeah, see, it’s pretty silly already.  Woodley acts the hell out of this movie, as do her compatriots on the screen.  Mentor Four (Theo James) is almost too good looking to take seriously, but by Act III he brings it just as well as she does.

I totally get why the YA audience it was written for (and by) is smitten by it – it’s a vivid and high stakes portrayal of the coming of age struggle we all face as we leave high school and break out into college or the real world or wherever we go.  I can see how someone who had been defined by their schoolmates/social identity for 18 years would want to emulate Tris and choose how they are identified going forward, or reject their stringent upbringing for something they deem more valuable.  But as a metaphor, it’s fatally simplistic and still strained by the simple reality of That’s Not Really Not How People Work.  If anything, Darwin would recommend more divergence rather than less; what a waste of human skills and potential to grind out all but one positive quality in each person.  Woodley grounds Tris in a solid place and makes the whole thing believable, despite the 1980’s teen movie depth of the rest of the story.

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We are never really privy to the threat that Divergents seem to represent, nor to the bigger picture motivations of the baddies.  They tell us, but it’s not ever coherent enough a plan for us to think it has a remote chance of working.  You can tell who’s the heavy as soon as you see her – it’s Kate Winslet, enjoying the pants off herself as basically a megalomaniacal Vulcan. Why she wishes to crush the meekest and mildest faction is never logical, and after a while it doesn’t matter.  We’re really watching Tris come into her own, Stripes-like, going from zero to hero, and all the big picture machinations seem only to be pasteboard reasons for her to keep her secret shame to herself.

The rubble of Chicago houses this reborn society, which somehow let itself devolve into this ridiculous system (is the rest of the world gone, or coping similarly?).  This microcosm walks a knife’s edge between “Know Thyself” and “Know Your Place.” This could lead to some very interesting philosophical ruminations about questioning authority and how misplaced leadership can stunt the burgeoning throes of rebuilding civilization. And maybe the other two books/movies will do that.  But this movie was sadly forgettable while also being legitimately wonderful to experience as a piece of disposable entertainment.  Cinematographer Alvin Küchler (Hanna and Sunshine, if that helps) shoots this beautifully and viscerally. There is a lot of interior landscape for him to traverse with his camera, and he makes it just as immediate as the real-life action.


  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Release date: 3/21/14
  • Time in minutes: 139
  • Director: Neil Burger
  • Studio: Summit/Lionsgate



Mar 222014

Carole Barrowman2

Author & Professor Carole Barrowman

Tune in this evening at 9PM Pacific to hear The Event Horizon with our special guest, author and professor Carole E. Barrowman.

She and her brother John Barrowman are authors of a series of books for young adults, Hollow Earth, Bone Quill and the upcoming Book of Beasts, as well as two autobiographical works on John Barrowman himself, and one Torchwood novel, Exodus Code.

She’s a Professor of English and Director of Creative Studies in Writing at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where, among other things, she conducts a seminar on the art of the mystery. She’s been teaching at Alverno for over twenty years.

Born and raised with her brother John in Glasgow, Scotland, her family immigrated to America where she’s made a career out of her passions: reading, writing, and teaching.

If you miss this evening’s presentation, it will replay on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 4PM on Sunday.

The Event Horizon – it’s Sci-Fi for your Wifi.

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