Friday, April 12, 2013

It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago Today....

My first novel, published as a paperback original in the US by Del Rey, in 1988. Still in print, in the UK at least.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


The moon has been shattered by vicious alien invaders, the Scavengers, and Earth has been ruined by the all-out nuclear war that defeated them.  Most of the surviving human beings have decamped for Saturn's moon, Titan.  Only a small clean-up crew is left behind, using drones to defend massive machines that process seawater into fusion fuel from the roving remnants of the Scavenger army.  Jack (Tom Cruise) is a drone repairman, assisted by his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and mission controller Sally (Melissa Leo).  Both Jack and Victoria have had their memories wiped as a security precaution, but Jack is increasingly troubled by dreams of life on Earth before the Scavengers came . . .

If that sounds like an over-elaborate and implausible set up (how did the human race manage to build huge machines and initiate a deep-space colonisation programme after an apocalyptic war? why leave Earth in the first place? why Titan, of all places? why drain Earth's oceans for fusion fuel when most of the moons of Saturn are mostly water?), that's because it really is a set up.  After rescuing the pilot of a crashed spacecraft (Olga Kurylenko), Jack begins to uncover the truth - which is, unfortunately, only slightly less implausible than the cover story, owes a big debt to Philip K. Dick and a bunch of SF films I won't mention because spoilers, and is full of the usual logic holes that allow for heroic gestures and explosions.

Still, the ruin porn of the devastated Earth is lovely to look at, especially on an IMAX screen, and while the story slowly unfolds you can pass the time spotting homages and allusions to Wall-E, Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and many others.  And even though it devolves into a derivative, two-fisted actioner and gives neither Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman enough to do, it is at least a widescreen SF film that is knowingly SF.  What a shame that, like so many big budget SF shoot-em-ups, it lost its sense of humour somewhere in the production process.
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