Sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” to become video game

February 3, 2008

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game“Ender’s Game,” the classic science fiction novel about a boy military genius that is trained through war games to fight aliens, is finally becoming a game itself.

Under a deal announced on Tuesday, Chair Entertainment, the game studio behind the recent hit “Undertow,” will develop titles based on Orson Scott Card’s book.

The novel, with its probing of the line between reality and games, has long been eyed by video game fans as a rich source of material for the medium.

Chair plans to make several titles based on the book, with the first one slated to be a downloadable game that should be available in 2009.

Card said he decided to move ahead with an “Ender’s Game” video game after years of wrangling to make a feature film bore no fruit.

“There is going to be a universe of ‘Ender’s Game’ games, hopefully. But that’s like someone starting a restaurant and thinking about opening 100 franchises all over the country,” Card told Reuters.

“Let’s make this one work first,” Card said.

The first game will focus on the Battle Room, the elite military academy where Ender hones his strategic and tactical skills and that provided some of the most memorable scenes in the book.

Based in Provo, Utah, privately held Chair enjoyed success with “Undertow,” a downloadable game for Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360 console that pits teams of players against each other in a fast-paced underwater battle.

“The really cool thing about ‘Ender’s Game’ is that there’s lots of potential for lots of types of gameplay. We wanted to initially create the Battle Room, that’s really what jumped out to me as a gamer that I really wanted to play,” said Chair’s creative director Donald Mustard.

“We have not fully designed the game yet. I think that the game will play very much what we’ve all imagined the Battle School is, a cross between ‘Call of Duty’ with zero-g with hardcore strategy elements more like a sports game,” Mustard said, referring to a popular military shooting game.

It is the latest collaboration for Card and Chair, which is making a game based on Card’s recent novel “Empire.” (Source: Scott Hillis for Reuters)

Destination: Afterworld

February 3, 2008

afterworld is a fully immersive sci fi seriesPerhaps the future of storytelling–personal, web delivered, mixed media–may be hinted in the slick and imaginative AFTERWORLD.

Afterworld is a fully immersive sci-fi series. A new kind of computer-animated entertainment that blends video games, graphic novels and anime into one dynamic experience.

Afterworld is about life on Earth after an inexplicable global event renders technology useless and more than 99.9% of the population missing.

The story follows the adventures of Russell Shoemaker, who wakes up in New York after this event and is compelled to walk to Seattle in the faint hope that his wife and child have survived.

Russell’s own harrowing journey, from technological dependence to total self-reliance, mirrors the world he discovers along the way, where other survivors are rebuilding society in strange and surprising ways. Piecing together the complex mystery of what caused the global event, Russell eventually paves the way for the bold new future of mankind.

One of the top science fiction podcast sites has now started to offer free SF audio fiction

February 1, 2008

StarShipSofa imagined on imaginedworlds.usThe StarShipSofa podcast, who have been going since July 2006, decided to offer the very best of audio science fiction short stories as part of it’s continual growth.

A host of SF writers have offered to let the StarShipSofa narrate their works. Writers who have already donated their work include Ian Watson, Pat Cadigan, Harry Harrison, Joe Haldeman, Joan D Vinge, Norman Spinrad, Ian MacDonald, J D Nordley, Bruce Sterling, Gweneth Jones, Alastair Reynolds, Jerry Pournelle, Landon Jones, John Varley, Pat Murphy, John Kessel, Laurel Winter, Jeff Vandermeer, Kevin J Anderson, Bradley Denton and Matthew Hughes.

Tony C Smith host of the StarShipSofa podcast explains that all the authors kindly donated their work to be narrated for free as long as there was no money to be made. Tony Smith says, “I wanted to start getting great stories out there for free and thought the best way to do that was to contact the writers directly. All have been happy to donate works to the StarShipSofa as long as we make no money from this venture. That is exactly what we are doing.”

He goes on to say, “We have just narrated the 1985 Hugo Short Story winner The Crystal Spheres by David Brin.

We have also put out audio stories by Michael Moorcock: London Bone, Through The Shaving Mirror, A Slow Saturday Night At The Surrealist Sporting Club, and The Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel. We have also just released a Peter Watts story called The Second Coming Of Jasmine Fitzgerald. You can find all these free stories in the new Sofa Audio part of the site

Along with the audio fiction shows which go out on a Wednesday, StarShipSofa puts out a regular show each weekend - where it delves deep into a SF writer’s life and works. Some of the shows include Philip K Dick, Iain M Banks, who is in the news of late with his new SF novel Matter, also James Tiptree Jr and last week L Sprague De Camp. The podcast is now up to show 75 and going from strength to strength, especially with the inclusion of the weekly free audio.

It is a fine time to be a lover of SF especially when sites like StarShipSofa are putting out great works for free.

You can subscribe free to StarShipSofa via their RSS feed at, which will allow you to never miss a free show.

Ode to a Joker

January 28, 2008

Heath Leder as The Joker in  ‘The Dark Knight’I heard the news today, oh boy
About a talented promising lad who made the grade
The news was horribly sad
He was destined to make The Joker laugh
All too soon the camera stole his last photograph
He blew my mind out in a role about a mountain
Everyone noticed that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
But now we were sure his talent would take him to an actor’s house of lords.

Heath Leder 1979-2008I saw an interview today, oh boy
An uncomfortable Aussie charmed the publicity whore
Crowds seemed promised to queue his way
I just had to look
Having all ready read the end of that book
I would loved to have seen him onward

(By way of Lennon and McCartney)

Heath Leder

Why Cloverfield’s the YouTube Generation’s Movie

January 20, 2008 imagines CloverfieldAfter a yearlong highly crafted campaign of viral marketing, the much-hyped J.J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield arrived in movie theaters. The result is a film experience that is familiar, wrapped in proven Hollywood convention and also innovative and genre twisting.

Cloverfield is essentially a Godzilla movie without Godzilla. After the dismal 1998 Roland Emmerich Americanized adaption who can blame the franchise’s owners wanting their Gojira copyright to remain in Japan.

To be more accurate, Cloverfield is a classic 1950’s era rampaging monster movie very much in the tradition of the great B-movies like The Blob, Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Tarantula. It is dressed in 21st Century clothes.

The classic monster movies of the ’50 tapped into Americans’ collective fears of Communism and nuclear war; fueled by that generations’ anxiety that a malevolent Other will attack and wipe the U.S., freedom and consumer-driven democracy from the face of Earth, with unchecked scientific advancement often an unwitting accomplice.

Cloverfield taps present-day Americans’ collective xenophobia that malevolent foreign forces they don’t understand and cannot reason with are poised to descend on them and wipe the U.S., freedom and consumer-driven democracy from the face of the Earth.

Images of debris clouds and a devastated New York City skyline evoke the terror attacks of 9/11 all too clearly. In case anyone in the theatre had any doubts, Cloverfield punctuates its understanding of Americans’ internalize 9/11 wounds by loping off the head of the Statue of Liberty. An ineffective military bravely and courageously unleash everything in their arsenal at the beast, but really they are clueless as to what the creature is or where to came from or how to combat it. IEDs are replaced in the film by vicious “flies” or baby monsters that overrun ground troops and innocent bystanders. The film’s characters spend the movie equally clueless as to the origins of the monster and its intent. These subliminal horrors are as potent and present in filmgoers’ minds today as the Red Scare was interwoven into filmgoer consciousness in the ’50.

Cloverfield may also be described as The Blair Witch Project Meets Godzilla.

Cloverfield’s Hud watches and so does imaginedworlds.usPlaying out the drama from the first person view through a camcorder or film camera is not new. Like Blair Witch, Cloverfield chooses to make its extreme cinema verite the entire movie and all filmgoers know is what the character holding the camera sees and experiences in the film’s contrived “real-time.” The difference between Cloverfield and Blair Witch and how this camera -narrative approach has previously been used is that Cloverfield simultaneously taps into the current emergent culture shaped by YouTube and a generations’ access to high-quality consumer video technology. In the few years since Blair Witch premiered, families have grown up in front of the camcorder, video clips are snapped off on mobile phones and no one thinks twice about capturing any mundane moment to share with the world whether anyone cares or not (and we do it all the time). First person experience is the new entertainment.

Cloverfield may be the first major studio movie to successfully take current Internet sensibilities and commit them dramatically to film. It is likely not the last instance in which a major studio production mimics the type of filmmaking experience for dramatic affect that people do for themselves.

Am I completely happy with Cloverfield as film? No. Do I want to sit through 85 minutes of shaky camera work? Let’s say thank God it is not Blair Witch. Could the third act have been stronger? Maybe.

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