Suddenly, and presumably for just a couple of days, some great SciFi in Kindle form on sale dirt cheap.
Seed to Harvest: The Complete Patternist Series (The Patternist Series)* by Octavia Butler: The complete Patternist series—the acclaimed science fiction epic of a world transformed by a secret race of telepaths and their devastating rise to power. In the late seventeenth century, two immortals meet in an African forest. Anyanwu is a healer, a three-hundred-year-old woman who uses her wisdom to help those around her. The other is Doro, a malevolent despot who has mastered the power of stealing the bodies of others when his wears out. Together they will change the world. Over the next three centuries, Doro mounts a colossal selective breeding project, attempting to create a master race of telepaths. He succeeds beyond his wildest dreams, splitting the human race down the middle and establishing a new world order dominated by the most manipulative minds on Earth. In these four novels, award-winning author Octavia E. Butler tells the classic story that began her legendary career: a mythic tale of the transformation of civilization. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.
In a near-future world beset by war, climate change, and overpopulation, Portland resident George Orr discovers that his dreams have the power to alter reality. Upon waking, the world he knew has become a strange, barely recognizable place, where only George has a clear memory of how it was before. Seeking escape from these “effective dreams,” George eventually turns to behavioral psychologist Dr. William Haber for a cure. But Haber has other ideas in mind.
Seeing the profound power of George’s dreams, Haber believes it must be harnessed for the greater good—no matter the cost. Soon, George is a pawn in Haber’s dangerous game, where the fate of humanity grows more imperiled with every waking hour.
As relevant today as it was when it won the Locus Award in 1971, The Lathe of Heaven is a true classic, at once eerie and prescient, entertaining and intelligent. In short, it does “what science fiction is supposed to do”
In the near future, enormous silver spaceships appear without warning over mankind’s largest cities. They belong to the Overlords, an alien race far superior to humanity in technological development. Their purpose is to dominate Earth. Their demands, however, are surprisingly benevolent: end war, poverty, and cruelty. Their presence, rather than signaling the end of humanity, ushers in a golden age . . . or so it seems.
Without conflict, human culture and progress stagnate. As the years pass, it becomes clear that the Overlords have a hidden agenda for the evolution of the human race that may not be as benevolent as it seems.
There have been, I think, two earlier failed starts for a project that turns what might be the number one interstellar long-history science fiction book written. This project looks like it is going to happen. The producer is Apple, so you will probably have to buy their latest computing device to get permission to watch it. (And therein could lie the plot for a very Azimov-like science fiction story…)
Anyway, you need to read the books before you watch the show, so get started. There is no information available as to when this series will be released. And, despite my snark above, it is not know where it will be shown, but it will be streamed. And, it will be in 10 parts.
These may also be among the most commonly available used books in science fiction, so check your local used book store, if you can still find one. (Hint: On line, the cost of one of these volumes, because of their continued popularity, used, is above $4.00 with shipping, with the shipping price dropping as the volume price increases, to make the actual cost per volume between $8.00 and $12.00. So, don’t bother with used on line.)
If there is a Bechdel Test for ableism, it would pass.
This is an interesting story written for youthful readers (see publisher’s summary below) that is well written and mostly devoid of the usual plot holes we find in this genre, but where the characters represent a range of non normative persona.
Benny, fifteen, is solitary by circumstance more than choice: he counts each move to a new town as “a life.” He’s on Life Number Seven. His last! He plans to run away from his paranoid mother, who’s been on the run since the disappearance of his father when he was three. Benny has no memory of it, except for weird dreams of a firestorm and a hideous dragon. After a fight with his mother, Benny packs his bags. Boom! The house explodes, catapulting Benny into a world he never imagined existed. The trail leads him to a gated Neoclassical building in the woods and to six teens he vaguely remembers: Kami is deaf, Amir is blind, Zuma is overweight, Layla is gorgeous but lazy, Chaz is in a wheelchair and Raj is as angry as the purple dagger-shaped birthmark running down the side of her face. These unlikely heroes share a common thread: Benny lost his father and they lost their mothers on the same day. The only clue to the mystery is Benny’s grandfather, Domenico H. Adez, a strange and dangerous man. “In my last years at Harcourt, I can’t remember reading one single fantasy MG or YA that was half as interesting as the world you have created. . . It really was a cool discovery that you had linked these modern-day misfits to Greek mythology and Greek history! So brilliant! Between the fight scenes and the stories and people and creatures of Greek mythology coming to life, it was truly a roller-coaster adventure. And the ending—now THAT is how you leave us wanting for more!” –Editor, Evil Speaks
Bounty hunter Jahdo Kyn intends to start a new life, but in order to leave his troubled past behind he has to buy himself a new future. He has a plan, but as his plan develops he discovers a dilemma, one that requires him to make choices he is not well-prepared to make. This is what happens when you have the kind of past Jahdo Kyn has made for himself.
The beautiful and deadly Aisha Lefu is part of that past. And she’s not the only individual that will make Jahdo Kyn wish he hadn’t gotten out of bed that one morning, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
A New Star Wars Fan Film
And that is the setup for The Recompense, a Star Wars fan film directed by Ben Enke. “Making a Star Wars fan film has been unlike any experience in independent filmmaking for me so far,” Enke mused. “Upon receiving permission from the Star Wars ?gods themselves at Lucasfilms, we immediately began to feel a responsibility to ensure that the content we were producing was of the highest quality.”
The Recompense will will develop the seedy side of the Star Wars world, relating the characters’ past and present to produce a futuristic film noir.
The screenplay is written by Conrad Flemming, though with a great deal of feedback from the others involved in the film. Flemming told me, “I did write the script, but felt it was more of a collaborative effort, as many fans, filmmakers, authors, and friends provided feedback for each draft I turned over to them for review. I wanted to get it perfect, because this is Star Wars after all, and we’re being watched closely.”
In an effort to capture that certain je ne sais quoi of le film noir and the original Star Wars films, Enke and cinematographer Brent Duncan chose some interesting technology. “The lenses we are using are all vintage 1970’s Canon lenses,” said Duncan. “When I met with Ben and Conrad we discussed the look the film should have and they said they wanted something that would have the feel of The Empire Strikes Back and the look and tone of Blade Runner. After doing massive amounts of research I found out what lenses were used to film not only the original Star Wars (A New Hope), but also Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner and Alien.”
The lenses have a slightly radioactive coating made with Throium. “Upon doing more research I discovered that Canon also made still photography lenses (SLR lenses) that had this same coating. The still lenses work beautifully and cost a fraction of the cinema lenses cost, so using them was a no-brainer,” Duncan told me. “The next step was to find a vintage anamorphic lens that would help solidify the look to match as best we could the look of the films we all loved growing up. Once I found that, all the pieces fell in place and we were able to achieve a look that we were all very pleased with and that is, in my opinion at least, very close to Blade Runner and the other late 70’s and early 80’s sci-fi masterpieces.”
The Recompense is set between Episodes IV and V of the original Star Wars series, on Ord Mantell, a Mid Rim planet. Star Wars fans will recognize another planet in that actor, Naboo, and may remember Han Solo telling Leia in the Empire Strikes Back, “Well the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind.” (“The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell” also refers to a 1981 comic strip written by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Al Williamson.)
I asked director Ben Enke what technologies Star Wars fans might be looking for are used in the film. He told me, “our most obvious one would be our spaceship, which has a fully functional cockpit with all sorts of buttons and switches that are operable. We have a crotchety old Clone War vulture droid built into the ship that you’ll never really get a chance to see, but he’s definitely part of what gives our ship some personality and life, and he’s fantastic.” Regarding weapons, Enke said there are “plenty of blasters (some really cool ones being developed for this, particularly a modular gun that serves as a few different weapons), and there may or may not be a vibroblade battle! But definitely no lightsabers. That was a very conscious decision by myself and Conrad, based on previous fan films that overuse lightsabers to death.” Screenplay writer Flemming added, “Ben and I decided early on, since this was taking place in a time when the ‘Jedi are all but extinct’ there wouldn’t be a whole lot of lightsaber battles taking place in the middle of city streets and in back alleys. Ben and I each had specific shots we wanted in the movie that ultimately got cut from the script. Ben wanted our hero to shoot a thermal detonator out of the air, and I wanted our villain to fly around on a speeder bike.”
Enke also told me, “we’re developing some original tech as well, based on the kind of planet and environment we’re going to be in. Ord Mantell, which is the planet that this entire film takes place on, has rain, and it rains all the time, so we’re coming up with some neat tech that plays into that aspect of it.”
One of the most interesting aspects of this film is how it is being made. Aside from the selection of period radioactive lenses to create a vintage look and feel, the film makers have built sets with a higher than usual degree of interactivity with the actors, and created actual alien prosthetics rather than using motion capture or green screen suits. They make creative use of rear-projection screens to simulate different environments.
You can help make this film, as it is being crowd funded on Kickstarter. There are a number of cool rewards, including early access packages, an autographed DVD with the original soundtrack, original concept art, your rights to name a character, and props and costumes. At the highest level, you can have the Greasy Mynock itself. See this page for more details!
The final production will have a 45 minute runtime, and will be shown in 15 minute segments on the internet. Enke also hopes to show the film at various Conventions and similar venues.
Here’s a tease:
And, if you are interested in some more Sci Fi, check out my novella about an elusive African Ape, aliens, Bigfoot, and the origins of the Skeptics movement: In Search of Sungudogo.
Here is a short film by the same production house, TruHaven Studio, “Three Card Draw”: