Tag Archives: robots

Eva, New Robotic Film from Spain


This movie looks pretty awesome. Eva is set in the not-so-distant future (2041), in which humans live with mechanical creatures. Alex, a renowned cybernetic engineer, returns to Santa Irene -after being away for years- to build a child robot.

The most recent synopsis says Alex’s brother David and Lana have a ten-year-old daughter, Eva, a very charismatic little girl. She and Alex have a special connection from the first time they meet. From the trailer, we see that she is curious about robotics, or at least what Alex is up to in his workshop.

The following may be a spoiler, considering it’s from an older website, not included in the new one, and is quite different. A previous synopsis says that Eve became an amnesiac after being the only witness of a tragic accident where her mother dies. Eve enters the world of robotics with Alex to try and find her identity. If this version is correct, it is not hard to guess at least one of the plotlines. Either way I look forward to this film.

[END SPOILER]

Eva will premiere in December 2010. See the trailer here (with high tech awesomeness!). Production pictures from an older site here.

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The Raven, Futuristic Film Set in Los Angeles (Sci-Fi Short)

Beautifully shot shorts on a budget are quite popular these days. The web is buzzing with this new short directed by Peruvian Ricardo de Montreuil  and written by de Montreuil and Antonio Pérez. Their budget was all of $5,000. Set in 2074, the film shows Chris Black (played by Víctor López), a young man of mysterious powers persecuted by the LAPD. The Raven short is based on a trilogy written by de Montreuil which he hopes to film one day. Click here for a look. For more information on this film, go to their official Facebook page.

UPDATE 7/17/10: Latino Review reports“Mark Wahlberg is in talks to star and produce the feature version of THE RAVEN at Universal with Montreuil directing! Screenwriter Justin Marks is penning the script.” I have mixed feelings about this.  It’s great for de Montreuil, but if Wahlberg is the star, then we missed out on the opportunity of a Latino lead like the one in the short. Not saying that it has to be the same actor, and I do like Mark Wahlberg, but…  slightly disappointed here for what could have been. Still, if these ‘talks’ go through, congratulations are in order for de Montreuil and his original crew for a job well done.

UPDATE 7/19/10: Cinema Blend and other sources confirm Mark Wahlberg is already developing the script, and will star in the movie.

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Caprica, Season One, Episode One: Rebirth (Review)

[Minor spoilers for Rebirth, major ones for Pilot]

Caprica on SyFy is getting better and better. The writers keep bringing on those details us sci-fi geeks love. Caprican seedy drug world! Planetary anthem! Little Tauron neighborhood! I must note that this first episode after the two-hour pilot (which would be episode zero) opened with a gorgeous series intro that reminded me of those newer SyFy channel promos. Very well done! Check it out here:

 


This episode focused mostly on the Graystones, and we begin as Daniel Graystone tries to fulfill his robot order to the Caprican military. He needs to program 100,000 Cylons and so far the MCP device that allowed him to transfer Zoe into a mechanical Cylon (a U-87) isn’t replicating correctly and he’s ending up with a bunch of  units that aren’t responding well to commands. Meanwhile the prototype we saw from the Pilot that has Zoe’s programming is hiding in plain sight- she doesn’t want anyone but her best friend Lacy to know that she’s still there behind the glowing red eye.  (I think Cesar the Dog knows!)

Esaí Morales’ Adama didn’t do much in this episode. However, we see how his character evolves from complete rejection of the “resurrection” concept to a somewhat sad acceptance that he misses his daughter and wife too much to let go completely.

 

Olaf and Zoe

I didn’t realize we had at least one other cast member of Latin American heritage! The Canadian of Haitian heritage Panou plays Olaf Willow, a member of Sister Clarice’s family. I don’t actually recall if he’s in this episode, but Clarice did introduce him. Panou (one name) has been in other science fiction TV series in minor roles including Stargate Atlantis, SG-1, and Sanctuary. Here’s hoping that his Caprica role gets more interesting.

I like that Caprica allows itself a sense of humor. Battlestar Galactica rarely got that privilege considering the context.  In this episode Shmoo Serge, the Graystone robotic butler, had a great line that made me laugh out loud. Also Sam Adama has an interesting sense of humor, dark, but practical. We see him showing his nephew Will some mafia techniques.  The lab assistants Philomon and his (unnamed?) lab partner are also amusing although I don’t think they’re meant to be.

One thing I didn’t notice from seeing the Pilot the first time was that the MCP device that Graystone stole came from the Vergis Corporation on Tauron. That changed my concept of that planet and again, made me want to see more of it. So it isn’t just a war-torn planet without flowers- can we get some space travel and have a look?

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Caprica Pilot Review (Spoilers)

No, really, it's the future

The new Battlestar Galactica series Caprica (SyFy) begins fifty eight years before the fall of Caprica to the Cylons. We finally get to see what life was like before humanity ended up living in run-down spaceships jumping from place to place in an attempt to outrun the Cylons. You don’t need to have seen BSG to understand the Caprica prequel, but you would certainly have a different perspective considering future events.

This is a richly created world.  The details are wonderful. Little things like mourning customs, a silly “So Say We All” hand gesture (nice try, but glad it didn’t survive the genocide), the Pyramid sports game that for some reason reminded me of Quidditch…

In Caprica City, teenagers don’t merely flirt online; they enter virtual nightclubs where every type of decadence is permitted. The Holoband technology that allows this is the Caprican answer to the holodeck. (Bonus- when you get scanned for your avatar you tingle.) House robots that resemble large floating dildos guard your house. Levtrains looking eerily like Cylons transport the masses. Extremely large deity statues benignly observe the Pyramid games. Proto-centurions play paintball with mechanical Shmoos.

Not everything is a utopia. There is a terrorist organization called the Soldiers of the One, a monotheistic group amongst the gods-worshipping Colonials. Prejudice according to what planet you’re from substitutes for racism.

Daniel Graystone, the creative genius behind the Holoband and Joseph Adama, lawyer, both lose family members in the same event, and they “coincidentally” meet while having a smoke.  They end up talking for hours about their loss over coffee and more cigarettes.

Joseph Adama, played by Esaí Morales, is a lawyer from the planet Tauron, the “racial” underdog of Caprica.  He and his brother Sam are orphans due to a Tauron uprising and civil war. Adama is an unbeliever of sorts and lives in the city with his mother in law and son Billy (future Admiral Adama). His brother Sam is a member of the Tauron mafia and has the tattoos to prove it. Seems like Adama gets to defend Tauron syndicate members in court but isn’t involved directly with them so he can feel ethical about it. Yet during this episode he gets called upon to do dirty work not only for the syndicate but also for Graystone. He doesn’t get a break. He routinely deals with anti-Tauron prejudice, even to the extent of modifying his surname to fit in. He can’t quit smoking. He has to deal with a nagging mother-in-law. The one bright spot in his life is his son. It’s a rich character for Morales to interpret.

The Caprica series looks very promising. I was a bit worried by the promos heavily featuring the decadent virtual V-Club and Graystone’s daughter- naked. Looks like it will be an excellent addition to the BSG world. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more planets during the series. Tauron would be a good place to start. Gemenon too, since it might be related to the Soldiers of the One.

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Cosmos Latinos: Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (Book Review, Part Two)

The previous post covered the introduction of the Cosmos Latinos anthology edited by Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilán. This post will briefly describe the 27 short stories in the book without spoilers except for the first two essay-type stories. The 27 were selected to represent different authors and different “eras” of Latin American science fiction. Each story is preceded by a short biography.

In the Beginning: The Visionaries

1. The Distant Future by Juan Nepomuceno Adorno (Mexico, 1862). A treatise on what the author, an inventor and philosopher, thought the future would be like. He cites a philosophy called Providentiality, which sounds like Communism enhanced with literal brainwashing, all based on “moral science.” Racial differences literally disappear. Women’s rights are honored (sort of). Nature is submissive. Telegraph and trains link all parts of the globe like one big city. Neighborly aliens of our solar system also communicate with humans via telegraph. War has been eradicated. Medicine is highly advanced. Carnal pleasures are of limited use and sexual love isn’t a “frenzy of anguish and jealousy.”  The rare case of crime is a result of mental disorders which barely exist. People live in sparkling, safe, portable, and sometimes floating homes called social nuclei along with their local workers guild. In the social nuclei, men and women sleep separately. When their bodies develop, young women are presented at a Festival of Virgins in a kind of talent show.  The young men submit a formal request to a council of elders when they see someone they like. The women are then given the young men’s file and they decide who to marry at the Festival of the Adults. Women can be married for as long as they wish, and can separate easily at the same Festival of the Adults (hopefully away from all the marriages). When they return to the nuclei, the man goes to the men’s sleeping area and the woman gets a marriage chamber where her husband can only go by request.

2.  On the Planet Mars by Nilo María Fabra (Spain, 1890). Fabra, a journalist and a main force behind the creation of Spain’s first news agency, envisions a world where people no longer read but listen to all their news via paid in-home or street phonographs. People no longer write, but communicate via telephone. Only diplomats are taught to read and write. All streets are moving platforms at different speeds with hotels above them for travelers.  Canals crisscross the continents to allow for the melting of the polar icecaps and also for fast electric ships.  There is political, linguistic, and religious uniformity. Martians boast of synthetic clothing and food, free travel via an unnamed “vital fluid,” weather control, teaching via hypnotic sleep, telefoteidoscope (similar to TV and videophone). Mars discovers that their blue planet neighbor is inhabited, and the main news program Universal Resonance tells its listeners all about it. The story is a thinly veiled critique of Earth’s state of societal and scientific backwardness with a smugness in Mars’ superiority. Reports from Earth show mistreatment of women, excessive animal sacrifice, war, and general barbarity. The report starts talking of Earth but then ignores it in its insignificance to exalt Mars’ superior virtues. It is disheartening to read about an 1890 Earth that sounds a lot like what we have more than a hundred years later.

Speculating on a New Genre: SF from 1900 through the 1950s

3.  Mechanopolis by Miguel de Unamuno (Spain, 1913). Mechanopolis is the story of a traveler that comes upon a highly advanced city devoid of humans or animals and ruled by unseen machines that regard the man as a curiosity since humans have become extinct.

4. The Death Star by Ernesto Silva Román (Chile, 1929). In 2035, the radiation wave of a star passing near Earth causes all living things including humans to grow exponentially the closer it gets.

5.  Baby H.P. by Juan José Arreola (Mexico, 1952). Hilarious advertisement, directed to exhausted moms, of a contraption to harness the energy of children and put it to use in the home and even market any surplus.

The First Wave: The 1960s to the Mid 1980s

6.  The Cosmonaut by Ángel Arango (Cuba, 1964).  On an alien planet with sociable creatures of tentacles and pincers, a human visitor faces well-intentioned yet confused inhabitants. Interesting use of dark humor and authentically alien creatures.

7.  The Crystal Goblet by Jerônimo Monteiro (Brazil, 1964). The founder of the first Brazilian sci-fi club writes a story of Miguel, a former political prisoner, who rediscovers a crystal device from his childhood that shows disturbing scenes from a people unknown to himself and his wife.

8.  A Cord Made of Nylon and Gold by Álvaro Menén Desleal (El Salvador, 1965). At the height of the space race and the Cold War, an American astronaut, frustrated with humanity (especially his cheating wife), cuts the cord that tethers him to his orbiting space vessel with an unexpected result.

9.  Acronia by Pablo Capanna (Argentina, 1966). P. lives in a bureaucratic state, manned by robots but supervised by humans. The construct of time doesn’t exist, just the Plan, which tells everyone what they should be doing at a determined moment. Architecture and transportation are radically different: homes, shopping centers, and workplace quadrants orbit and intersect according to Plan. Due to “errors” in his education that were never fixed, P. starts to question and deviate from the Plan, a condition called oneiromancy that could result in exile from society.

10.  The Last Refuge by Eduardo Goligorsky (Argentina, 1967). A man persecuted by an authoritarian regime because he possesses photographs of the outside world seeks salvation from a nearby spaceship grounded due to mechanical difficulties.

11.  Post Boomboom by Alberto Vanasco (Argentina, 1967). Dark comedy about three not so bright men gathering to write the history of mankind that has all but disappeared after a cataclysmic event.

12.  Gu Ta Guttarrak (We and Our Own) by Magdalena Mouján Otaño (Argentina, 1968). Comedy of a family of Basque geniuses that develops time travel to discover the origin of their people.

13.  Future by Luis Britto García (Venezuela, 1970). A humorous depiction of the future of humanity and what happens when it finally reaches all its goals.

14.  When Pilate Said No by Hugo Correa (Chile, 1971). Humans travel to the planet of the Sumis, a “savage” race of smelly cave dwellers that look like insects. A Sumi prophet born on the night of a shining nova causes unrest among his people, and is brought before the human conquerors. The captain of the starship must decide the prophet’s fate.

15.  The Falsifier by José B. Adolph (Peru, 1972). Story based on a native legend about a white man who appears and performs miracles before he continues his journey, and the royal chronicler who in the 1600s feels obliged to change the tale to avoid heresy.

16.  The Violet’s Embryos by Angélica Gorodischer (Argentina, 1973). A mission to the planet Vantedour to discover what happened to a previous mission’s crew finds them alive and wielding seemingly infinite power.

17.  Brain Transplant by André Carneiro (Brazil, 1978). One of the founding fathers of Brazilian sci-fi presents a bizarre story of a future classroom in which the professor uses every one of his students’ senses to teach a lesson about the history of human brain transplants and reality.

18.  The Annunciation by Daína Chaviano (Cuba, 1983). Founder of Cuba’s first sci-fi writers’ workshop and host of genre-related television and radio programs before emigrating to the U.S., Chaviano presents an alternate and humorous view of the immaculate conception.

19.  A Miscalculation by Federico Schaffler (Mexico, 1983). A little fanboy lying in his back yard is dreaming of the stars when he suddenly sees a bright object come towards him.

Riding the Crest: The Late 1980s into the New Millennium

20.  Stuntmind by Braulio Tavares (Brazil, 1989). Roger Van Dali is chosen to be the first of several human contacts for a race of alien visitors, changing his life from simple bookkeeper to fabulously rich, but with severe physical and mental consequences. The contacts, called Stuntminds, provide a wealth of alien knowledge to the world.

21.  Reaching the Shore by Guillermo Lavín (Mexico, 1994). On Christmas Eve, a little boy dreaming of a new bicycle runs to greet his father at the end of his factory shift but his dad, a pleasure microchip addict, just wants his next fix.

22.  First Time by Elia Barceló (Spain, 1994). In a decadent world, a teenager writes excitedly about her first time in her diary while doing her best to ignore her computer teacher and parents that force her to socialize.

23.  Gray Noise by Pepe Rojo (Mexico, 1996). A reporter with a camera in his eye, embedded audio links and a direct line to the news center, roams the city in search of the best news. The more his items are viewed the better he gets paid, and violence always gets the most attention. Meanwhile anti-media extremists use the panic caused by a new illness called Constant Electrical Exposure Syndrome to advocate a radical change in society.

24.  Glimmerings on Blue Glass by Mauricio-José Schwarz (Mexico, 1996). An office full of detectives is addicted to the adventures of Jacknife, a fictional private eye. In real life however, their main job is to certify the mental retardation of assembly line applicants.

25.  The Day We Went through the Transition by Ricard de la Casa and Pedro Jorge Romero (Spain, 1998). The GEI Temporal Intervention Corps protects the pre-2012 historical timeline from those who would benefit from illegal time travel in Spain. In this particular story, the Corps intervenes in the post-Franco transition to democracy (1975-1981).

26.  Exerion by Pablo Castro (Chile, 2000). A metaphor for Chile’s brutal Pinochet period, this story is about a man traumatized by his father’s kidnapping who tries to escape the authorities himself years later by preserving his memories virtually. As he awaits the police, he attempts to break the record of his favorite videogame, Exerion.

27.  Like the Roses Had to Die by Michel Encinosa (Cuba, 2001). Encinosa tells the story of a world with millions of exotics- humans with extreme animal, vegetable, or synthetic implants. The Walled Zone inside an unfinished Olympic stadium is a market and center of a city filled with violence perpetuated by power struggles, virus-laden Skaters and the police.  Here the Wolf, a former space fighter pilot, awaits her friend the Wizard, a techno-alchemist. She recruits the Wizard to help free her husband Mastín from a group of mercenaries. The Wolf stumbles upon a war against exotics led by fanatical pure humans.

The only ones I found to be a chore to read were The Violet’s Embryos and Brain Transplant which were a bit too “out there” for me. My personal favorites were Baby H.P. and The Annunciation for making me laugh; Acronia and The Day We Went through the Transition for the worlds they create; Like the Roses Had to Die and Gray Noise for their fast-paced action; and Reaching the Shore for its tenderness. I will definitely be looking for more from these authors- any recommendations are appreciated!

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