Posts Tagged ‘Science Fantasy’

Mindcrash Pt. 3

December 21, 2019

May and Dylan questioned the crowd surrounding the crime scene, most of them had only come to gawk when the security barrier had been erected. One of them pointed toward a nearby house and said that they had been alerted by the citizen in the house. May and Dylan dispersed the crowd after scanning them to keep a record of who had been there. They headed to the threshold of the house. When they got to the door, a tall and gaunt form stepped close to the door. May looked up at the man who had coal-black eyes and fought not to shudder. Vampire Town was creepy.

“Greetings, Detectives,” the man said. “I am Grimm. I am, so to speak, the leader here and I thought I might check in.”

May held up her badge and scanned Grimm. Her badged chirped and the display popped up. “Grimm Harrow. Councilman and de facto mayor of Vampire Town,” May said. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Detective May Collins and this is Detective Dylan Rider.”

“I’ve actually met Mr. Rider before,” Grimm said. “It’s nice to see you again although the circumstances are not ideal.”

“We’re sorry that this happened on your doorstep,” Dylan said. The council did not really rule with iron fists but people deferred to them in times of crisis. They also acted as arbitrators in conflicts.

“Was it one of ours?” Grimm asked, his eyes narrowing slightly. “One of mine?”

May looked around to make sure they did not have any eavesdroppers. “Our technician, Cirra, was able to identify the remains as somebody from the Gamezone.”

Grimm’s eyebrows rose. “So far abroad?” He asked. “So strange. This might be a deep mystery. We have not had many deaths in the Lost Lands so far.”

May nodded. “Yes, well, if you’ll excuse us, Councilman, we were just about to question a witness,” she said.

Grimm looked at the door. “It might be better if I accompany you,” he said. “My constituents are very theatrical but many are actually quite shy.”

May and Dylan shared a look and Dylan shrugged. May sighed. “It might be a really good idea, I guess,” Dylan said.

“Alright,” May said. “Let’s go.” She turned and knocked on the door. Nobody answered it, it simply slowly opened. Grimm made a gesture for them to go first and May cautiously stepped into the house.

The house was extremely dark, like something out of the old horror movies. Almost every surface was textured like old, rotting wood. There were huge cobwebs absolutely swarming with spiders. Every so often, a bat flapped from somewhere in the darkness to somewhere else in the darkness letting out a shriek. May flinched every time a bat made a noise and her skin crawled when she saw the spiders. She knew that none of it was real. There was no such thing as actual animals in the Lost Lands. The spiders and bats were probably elaborate AI programs or possibly just well-programmed decorative effects.

“You don’t really like it here, do you, Detective?” Grimm asked.

May shrugged. “I’m not a fan of horror,” she said. “No offense.”

Grimm laughed and the sound of it was chilling but charming. “It’s quite alright, Detective,” he said. “It’s not for everyone.”

“Who lives here?” Dylan asked. He reached back and touched the sword on his back almost by instinct. May checked her own sidearm just in case.

“Morgan Le Mark,” Grimm said. “She’s rather dramatic as you may have noticed.”

A silken voice rang out from the next room. “Mayor Harrow,” the voice said. “Who have you brought into my abode?”

Grimm called out. “Morgan,” he said. “These detectives mean no harm. May we speak to you?”

“You may enter,” Morgan said.

They stepped into the room and there was Morgan standing in front of a roaring fireplace. She was pale and tall and she was wearing a black dress and she was draped with a black silk shawl. She smiled and there were actual fangs glinting in the firelight. May shuddered.

“Relax, Detectives,” Morgan said. “You will come to no harm in my home.” Her voice held the hints of some sort of European accent. She was a bit cliche but many stuck in the Lost Lands ended up that way. When you could be whatever you wanted for an eternity, some embraced their fondest dream.

Ion Flow

April 10, 2017

I woke to the sound of the base alarms going off. The sound made my eyeballs jiggle in their sockets and made the rest of my body feel like jello. I scrambled to get out of my bunk and stood for a moment in my boxers trying to get my bearings. There was a chill in the air which meant that something was wrong. I reached out to turn the lights on and they flickered for a moment and then the fixture exploded with a loud pop. I flinched. I realized that there must be some sort of electrical problem. There were never electrical problems at Base Victor. It was close to a solar panel array and had state of the art energy storage.

I reached for the disk on my bedside table without having to look. It was nearly a year since I had started as a researcher at Base Victor, a forward research station on the moon over Arcturis. All of the little things had become easy through the routine. I slapped the disk against my chest and I closed my eyes as cloth spread over my body. The bodysuit would keep me warm with the malfunctioning climate systems. I immediately felt more prepared for the emergency. The cloth over my feet hardened into boots. I grabbed my jacket and walked out into the hallway and tried to get the jacket on as I ran toward somebody who could tell me what was happening.

Like its name might suggest, Base Victor was a lonely place. The highest number of staff members I had seen in the base was fifteen and that had been maybe one week before many of them were transferred. The base currently only had five staff members. It was divided up into different laboratories and offices that researchers took over and practically lived in. My office was set up with shelves and shelves of recently discovered books. We had already deciphered the alien language a few years ago and now I was trying to piece together the history of their civilization. I was starting by trying to sort books into fiction and non-fiction.

I stormed down the hallway toward the Command Action Center. It was the one common area beside the kitchens and it was supposed to be the nerve center of bases like this. Most days it was neglected but now I could guess that it had four people in it. Make that three, Holly turned the corner ahead of me and looked at me with an exasperated look in her eyes. She stomped toward me and I slowed my pace to a stop as she approached. In the flickering emergency lighting, her pink hair practically glowed.

“Where have you been?” She shouted.

“The alarms woke me up,” I shouted back. The alarm shut off so my next words still sounded loud even though I kept myself from shouting them. “I was up late reading a book of poetry.”

“We have an emergency,” Holly said as if they had been waiting for me.

“Can it be solved by reading more poetry?” I asked and I believe that Holly nearly slapped me. Her eyes narrowed and I shrugged. “What? I know nothing about engineering or science like you and Arif.”

“It’s some weird sort of ion storm. It is messing with most of our systems as you can see,” She said, releasing her anger visibly.

“Will we survive?” I asked. I was a little shaken knowing that our two scientists were not exactly sure what was happening yet.

“I think it will pass. Arif seems to agree,” She replied, leaning against the wall for the moment. She looked tired. It looked like she might have been up for hours already or maybe she had not gotten to sleep yet at all. There was always a danger of that out here, free from the conventions of the time cycles of normal society.

“Should we go back and check it out some more?” I asked.

“Only if you promise to lean against the wall and not touch anything. Can you promise that?” Holly asked. She had a smirk on her face that felt insulting. Well, sort of insulting. She was not in the wrong.

“I promise,” I said. “I’m curious what’s going on.”

“Come on then, poet,” Holly said. “Follow me.”

We walked back the way she had come to reach the Command Action Center. Arif was lounging in front of a console, not really working on the problem. He looked like he was deep in thought. He snapped to attention when Holly and I entered the room. I dutifully leaned against the wall with my hands behind my back. I may have smirked when I did it.

“There’s a strange build-up of ionic charge,” Arif said. He looked at me. “Before you ask, it’s strange because there’s little to no atmosphere out there. It’s almost like a lightning storm. It shouldn’t exist.”

“Maybe it just wants to exist,” I offered. I got looks for that comment.

“Holy shit, we’ve got incoming!” Holly yelled, rushing up to a console. Before I could ask what that meant, the base was raked with what looked like lightning. It was both terrifying and awe-inspiring and I pressed myself closer to the wall as if that would save me. Holly and Arif scrambled around trying to monitor the situation. I saw the emergency teleporter start to glow in the corner and even I knew it should not do that. Before I could alert them, it exploded.

We all hit the deck, our training kicking in. Thankfully nothing was breached and there was no explosive decompression. Instead, there was a glowing figure standing where the teleporter had been. As the glow faded away, I stood atop the rubble looking confused. Against the wall, I was confused too.

Victor Frankenstein (2015)

April 26, 2016

I went to Friends School of Baltimore from first grade until the end of high school. Every summer up until high school, we were assigned summer reading. This was never a problem because I love stories and I always loved to read. Early on it was easy reading like Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and so many young adult books. Unfortunately, the young adult horror series like Fear Street were not on the approved lists so I read those after finishing the approved books. I was a quiet, nerdy kid who did not really go on normal kid adventures so I was happy to have a stack of books. One summer, I decided that it was high time that I delve into classic horror. I gobbled up The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Dracula and a ton of Edgar Allen Poe. I enjoyed it all but the final book in that vein that I read resonated with me most of all.

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (which is its full title) was a really interesting book to finally read. I felt I needed to read it after seeing all of the Frankenstein images and watching all of the Frankenstein movies (including Young Frankenstein). It was the same experience I had with Dracula. I had to go back and see the source for myself. I wanted to read the original story and see how it held up after more than 175 years. I read it quickly because I found that I could not put the book down once I picked it up. The original story is the tale of a man’s hubris in trying to create a man. The biggest shock was how philosophical the book is. There is a lot of thought and fearful reflection from one of the main characters (Dr. Frankenstein). Also, the other main character (Frankenstein) is extremely intelligent and very tragic. It was a great book for a pre-teen to read.

The movie introduces Daniel Radcliffe as Igor which is a character purely invented for the movies in the 1930’s. This is not automatically a problem for me as I have stated before that I do not mind adaptations making changes as long as those changes are to serve the story. Otherwise, we could never take the racist elements out of Lovecraft or have a rapping Puerto Rican Alexander Hamilton. Besides, Igor has become a beloved stock character over the years. The way Igor is used here is pleasantly how Watson is used in the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies. He is not just an interesting looking prop to do the doctor’s bidding. He is intelligent in his own right and is actually a somewhat nuanced character with a backstory and emotions. This was a good sign early on in the movie as it was an indicator that they were going for something a little different.

I want to take a break and warn you right now that there are a lot of scenes that are not for the faint of heart. A lot of these scenes are either very graphic or highly suggestive of pretty horrific things. Mary Shelley’s original book went into a lot of gory detail about building the titular monster and this movie does not pull any punches there. Kudos to the props department for creating a lot of spectacular visuals. The CGI work is equally great as I found it really hard to figure out where certain things stopped being practical and started being computer generated. The direction is also very good. Paul McGuigan directed this one and there were some reasons to be wary as he directed the truly awful Wicker Park but later redeemed himself by directing half of the present BBC Sherlock series. Like that show, he is working with two main characters who have a close but extremely complicated personal and professional relationship. He pulls this project off almost as well as Sherlock.

The script was written by Max Landis who seems to be quickly becoming known as a mad genius in Hollywood. I think that one day he will be a really brilliant screenwriter. He is good right now, but like American Ultra, this movie felt like it rambled a little and could have used a little tightening up. He is definitely doing a lot of innovative work as he was able to really bring the characters to life in a new way. Of course, some of that credit goes to Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy who are pretty great together. MacAvoy is great as a mad genius, a sort of sociopath with great vision. Andrew Scott is arguably the villain of the movie although, like the book, the movie is a sea of gray areas. The shining star, at least for me, was still Radcliffe who is the emotional center of the movie. He has come a long way since Harry Potter (which I liked) and if this and Horns are any indication, he is going to be remembered well at the end.

Overall, I thought it was a good movie. It could have been a great movie but its pacing felt a little off and some of the characterization was just a little bit muddled. There is also a secondary villain and an anti-hero which starts to mess with the morality messages. It stayed true to the heart of the original story as a tale of Man vs. Nature and the ethical problems that surround the creation of life. There is also a great message about the measure of a man and what exactly makes something or someone a monster. The movie is pretty clever and ambitious and worth a look if only to encourage this kind of film from being made in the future.


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