Discworld and Flat Earth Myths

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels captured my imagination from an early age, and one of the reasons for that was the idea of a flat world flying through space on the back of four elephants, on the back of a giant turtle, a concept that just seemed so odd and exciting.  But what inspired Pratchett to set his stories on a flat earth?  His first use of the idea can be found in Strata, a pre-Discworld book, which draws heavily on ideas from Ringworld by Larry Niven.  Another likely source of inspiration can be found Steven Hawking’s opening to A Brief History of Time: Continue reading

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Alice Through the Looking Glass (1973)

Alice Through the Looking Glass 1973 Sarah SuttonOne of my favourite television productions is the weird and wonderful adaptation of Alice in Wonderland from 1966. The next time the BBC returned to the world of Alice was their attempt at Alice Through the Looking Glass, seven years later. It’s hard to imagine how they could have made something more different and more disappointing. Continue reading

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The Avengers: The Sell-Out

The Avengers DVD releaseI have to admit the first two acts of this episode had quite a soporific effect on me. In fact, I’m not entirely sure I didn’t doze off for a bit. The story seems like a good one, with Steed trying to figure out who is the traitor in the midst of the organisation he works for, but not a lot happens to change that status quo for about half an hour, and it’s all very talky and slow. It doesn’t help that Steed is basically working alone most of the time. Dr. King’s part in the story is of little relevance until we get to the final act, so we are missing much in the way of the edgy interactions we are used to between Steed and his (often reluctant) colleague, whether than be King, Venus or Cathy. That’s made up for to a certain extent by his uneasy working relationship with One Twelve, who Steed clearly dislikes and distrusts in a way that was certainly not the case with One Ten. In fact, he asks to liaise with One Ten instead, but he’s out of luck. The boredom of the first couple of acts is also ameliorated by the location filming, which has been a rarity so far, and brightens things up a bit. Continue reading

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The Outer Limits: Keeper of the Purple Twilight

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalA weird thing happened to me today.  I worked on my write up for a Twilight Zone episode, then finished prepping a pre-written post for a Doctor Who audio story called The Twilight Kingdom.  Finally done with writing for the blog, I sat down to watch an Outer Limits episode.  When Keeper of the Purple Twilight came on, I wondered about the likelihood of that word showing up three times in one night.  (Thankfully, I had no hankering to watch Twilight next!  Twinkly vampires indeed!)  Did it count that I sat down to watch this at 7pm… just about the twilight hour?  Ok… perhaps it means nothing after all! Continue reading

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Doctor Who Flux: The Halloween Apocalypse

Halloween Apocalypse SwarmIt seems like forever since the last full series of Doctor Who, but we can’t really complain. Once upon a time we had to wait 16 years between seasons. As is often the case after a hiatus of sorts, we return with a tweaked format. The whole season is going to be one story. This has been tried before, and patience has been tried in the process, but the difference with Flux is that we only have a six episode season, so perhaps the precedent is Torchwood: Children of Earth. There is no reason why this shouldn’t work, and work well. Continue reading

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Star Trek: A Piece of the Action

Star Trek Opening TitlesSeason 2 of Star Trek was clearly in a funny state of mind, right?  Check!  It was also helping me make a point to my kids, and a generation of TV viewers, that the act of watching the TV has value.  This is a skill I have noticed declining in recent years.  My kids and many of my friends “watch” TV while playing on their phones, doing dishes, the laundry, learning Fizzbin or even swinging from their chandeliers.  Continue reading

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Daleks (The Time Lord Victorious series)

daleksIt seems appropriate to take a pause from Big Finish after last week’s adventure, The Juggernauts, to go to another of those special Doctor Who extras that may have slipped past your respective radars.  In November of 2020, while we were all locked in our homes due to concerns around Covid-19, and Doctor Who could not come to our screens because putting actors together could be a dangerous thing, a 5-part animated series was released featuring our favorite armored tanks, the Daleks.  And what other race would we get to encounter?  How about the far less grating Mechanoids?  “Zero, Zero.  Mechanoids.  Zero!”  I love hearing them speak and zero seems to be a favorite number, but they are far from zeroes in my book!

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Cells at Work! Code Black (Anime Review)

Cells at Work Code Black White Blood CellIf you thought the body the cells inhabit in Cells at Work! had problems, that was nothing compared to the health issues experienced in Code Black, the darker, more adult spin-off series. The basic premise is the same, with anthropomorphised cells in the human body working hard to keep it alive and well, but this body is doing nothing to help himself. It’s a bleak work environment for the cells.               Continue reading

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Shadow of the Vampire

Willem Dafoe as Schreck / Orlok in Shadow of the VampireThere is no doubt in my mind that this is an impressive film with some remarkable performances. Willem Dafoe embodies the vampire in just the same way that Max Schreck did (in the reality of the original acting, of course, not the fiction of this account), while John Malkovich gives us an amazing portrayal of a descent into madness, fuelled by an obsession with his art. And “art” is exactly the right word: Continue reading

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The Avengers: Death of a Great Dane

The Avengers DVD releaseI am yet to see an episode of The Avengers I didn’t enjoy, despite the quality of the scripts being variable, and I think this episode put into perspective why that might be. The standard of acting has consistently been top notch. It’s hard to make a bad episode of something with great actors. That certainly applies here. Beyond the revelation of the exact nature of the crime being committed, there is not much to get excited about, and it’s generally a slow episode with little action, and yet I loved every minute of it. I have to put that down to the performances of Patrick Macnee, Honor Blackman and the guest actors playing the villains. Continue reading

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The Outer Limits: The Inheritors

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalThe only two-part story in the entire run of The Outer Limits and it feels like an actual movie.  The Inheritors was the one episode I wasn’t really looking forward to because I was a bit put off by sitting through a two-parter so soon after watching Wolf 359, an episode I found nearly unwatchable.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the episode didn’t just have momentum, but a damned good story as well.  I was surprised when the first episode ended; how did the better part of an hour go by already? Continue reading

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dagonAs we approach Halloween, I wanted to share a little something I discovered based on a post I read on fellow blogger David Haden’s site, Tentaclii.  I’m a fan of the works of H. P. Lovecraft, as readers of the Junkyard must know by now.  David provides metric tons of data on Lovecraft and that means sometimes I find an announcement that really jumps out at me.  A graphic novel here, a mix a bit of video games there and I’m a happy chappie.  Sadly, if I’m honest, those Lovecraftian video games seldom live up to expectation, with rare exception.  But this time, Steam had a freebie called Dagon and I’ll be honest: a freebie gets a lot more leeway than a game that I have to pay for.  I can be more forgiving if things don’t meet my expectations.
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Star Trek: The Gamesters of Triskelion

Star Trek Opening TitlesI’ve always had a soft spot for The Gamesters of Triskelion.  Maybe its aluminum foil bra-wearing Shahna that won me over; undoubtedly the sexiest outfit in the series!  In fairness, she’s no Dr. Helen Noel, that’s for sure, so maybe it wasn’t her.  Maybe it was Trek’s attempt at the planet Marinus, with a brain-creature in a glass case; that’s probably more like it!  Doctor Who and Star Trek are the two giants in SF Fandom, and maybe it started with brains in jars?  Trek went for more color, but I still like the creepy alien-ness of the eye stalks, and black and white certainly adds a creep-factor.  Or maybe it was just the idea of wagering in Quatloos.  I mean,  who doesn’t like that word?   I want quatloos to be our new form of currency.  If Roger and I ever form our own society (residents of the junkyard?), I will petition for that to be our recognized currency!  If nothing more, we should sell apparel; sweatshirts: 50 Quatloos!  I digress… Continue reading

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The Juggernauts

the juggernautsIs it wrong of me to be glad to be done with the Divergent universe and have the Doctor and company back in our universe?  I think Paul McGann is both a really nice guy and a great Doctor but the Divergent universe was Doctor Who’s foray into what I consider Star Trek: Voyager territory.  It promised something different but delivered the same as what was delivered in our universe.  (With some exception, to be fair!)  To discover I was getting into a Colin Baker story next was a joy.  Baker is excellent in these stories but I was stunned to find that Maggie Smith (Evelyn) was not the companion in this, but rather Bonnie Langford as Mel.  Well, this might be a breath of fresh air! Continue reading

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Spice and Wolf (Season Two Review)

Spice and Wolf Season 2 Finale Holo in the snowWe kick off the second season of Spice and Wolf with an OVA episode, which feels like a holdover from the first season. It’s a lot of fun, with Lawrence tending to an unwell Holo, who ends up exaggerating her illness because she likes the attention. It is the only episode to feature Nora, and that’s a great shame, because she was an effective third main character for the first season, but the second season sees Lawrence and Holo moving on to pastures new.                Continue reading

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Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

Nosferatu Orlok shadowWelcome to Halloween in the Junkyard! We are going to start with one of the great classics of silent cinema from 1922, the unauthorised adaptation of Dracula, which only survives to this day thanks to the survival of a handful of prints that were supposed to be destroyed. The fact that Nosferatu came so close to being lost to history doesn’t bear thinking about, because it is a visual masterpiece.                     Continue reading

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The Avengers: The Mauritius Penny

The Avengers DVD releaseI have had a lot of fun so far with The Avengers, spotting actors who are familiar to Doctor Who fans, but never mind the actors, look who wrote this episode: Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks! This is quite a moment in television history, because it’s the first ever writing credit for good old Uncle Terrance, who had his breakthrough here by pure luck, simply because he was renting out a room to Malcolm Hulke and helped him out with the script for The Mauritius Penny. The Who fans will notice the similarity between the end of this episode and the Doctor Who story Robot, which happened unconsciously, according to Dicks. Continue reading

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The Outer Limits: I, Robot

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalI, Robot is a unique episode for me because the first draft of my writeup was done as a story; a sort of continuation of the events depicted in the actual episode.  After careful consideration, however, I realized that it was really little more than fan fiction and many people, myself included, are not really into fan fiction.  (If you’re interested, please go to the fanfic section of the site and give it a read and let me know what you think!)  The fun thing about writing it was that I actually still managed to cover all of the points I wanted to bring up in the actual review.  (And had some fun with Spock as well…) Continue reading

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There was a recent game release called Control that looked like it would have been a game right up my alley, but somehow the trailer didn’t appeal to me.  I don’t really have a good explanation for it.  3rd person shooter with supernatural elements, eerie lab setting and strange incursions from another dimension… couldn’t be more me!  Yet, I decided not to get it.  Then Epic Games, rapidly rising in my book to rival Steam as a provider of games, gave it away.  Free as an opinion!  So I picked it up and still did not play it, opting instead to play Cyberpunk 2077 and Days Gone.  Then I even tried some shorter games.  When I finished I checked on Far Cry 6 and found it was less than a week away, so I decided I’d play Control to kill time.  And wish I had started sooner.
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Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles

Star Trek Opening TitlesOne of the all-time highest rated Star Trek episodes is The Trouble with Tribbles, often vying for the #1 position against Mirror, Mirror.   I know which I prefer because you could say that I had a little trouble with Tribbles myself.  I think it’s because of the “Kling’ns”, as everyone says their name.   Unlike Kirk, I’m not bothered because they are there, but rather Kirk’s attitude toward them.  Here’s what contemporary viewers would have seen by this point: Errand of Mercy where, while they cause trouble, they do little more than any other “bad-guy” race in Trek up until that point and certainly less than humans, by miles.  (Frankly, the Romulans did far worse to the starbases in Balance of Terror.)  The second time we meet the Klingons, it’s a singular guy causing problems while Julie Newmar is having a kid.  Hardly a race of villains. Continue reading

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