Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekly Update #106 Part 2

Editor's Note

And now the rest of your alternate history news...

Reviews on After Earth

After Earth has premiered and the reviews are in...and its not looking good. The film is a science fiction adventure drama directed by M. Night Shyamalan that he co-wrote with Gary Whitta based on an original story idea by Will Smith, about a military father and son crash landed on Earth one thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanity to abandon it for a new home planet. The teenage son must save his dying father by trekking alone across the hostile terrain, encountering highly evolved creatures and a ruthless alien beast along the way, to recover their rescue beacon and also prove that he can live up to his father's reputation as a legendary soldier. It stars Smith and his son Jaden as Cypher and Kitai Raige, with Will Smith also acting as producer, and is distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Now lets ignore how implausible it is for evolution to change Earth wildlife so drastically after only 1000 years and focus on the fact that this is technically an alternate history film, since its based off an alien spaceship crash-landing on Earth in 1908, significantly advancing human technological progress. Now that we have gotten that out of the way (hopefully for the last time) what did people actually think of the film?

Friend of The Update Sean Korsgaard panned the film saying "it’s not only as bad as you've heard, its likely worse. The only upside to this I can see is that if this film crashes and burns – and from all accounts, it’s well on its way to doing so now – is that it will get M. Night Shyamalan handed his pink slip, get Jaden Smith his long-overdue retirement from acting, and get Will Smith his first real slice of humble pie." Meanwhile, Rob Bricken at io9 had an Amusing FAQ about the film. Here is a taste:
So some critics are calling After Earth godawful, while some are saying it’s not bad. Which is it?
Actually, I think Charlie Jane has it exactly right — After Earth is a disappointment, mainly because it’s not the schadenfreude-packed clusterfuck we’ve come to expect from M. Night Shyamalan. 
So it’s actually good?
Oh, goodness me, no! It’s quite bad.
Then there are the inevitable cries that is nothing more than Scientologist propaganda full of language, concepts and imagery plucked directly from the L. Ron Hubbard. My reaction is: so what? Are you trying to tell me a person's religion can influence the fiction they produce? Gasp! How is this different from the Christianity in The Chronicles of Narnia or the agnosticism in The Golden Compass? Regardless of the reputation Scientology has earned, you don't need to bring up religion to convince people not to see this film.

Well I probably won't watch After Earth, not even on Netflix.

Poor timing for Wolfenstein?

So the new trailer for Wolfenstein: The New Order came out last week. Lets watch:
So a nuked New York, Nazi sexual harassment on the streets, Nazi Washington, Nazi Beatles, Nazi mechs crushing protests, Nazis on the Moon...you get the idea. The trailer seems to suggest that the POD is the Nazis getting nuclear weapons first, which puts it dangerously close to becoming Spike's Alternate History, which has quickly become the marker for a bad WWII alternate history for me. For one thing, what happened to the other Axis powers like Italy and Japan? Let us hope there is more to the story when the game is finally released.

Still this trailer did show us some gameplay footage, which is nice. At least we can say this alternate history, completely single-player FPS is visually stunning, but what do the critics say? Joey Davidson of TechnoBuffalo said "Speaking as an American citizen, the imagery in this trailer is particularly chilling. Especially seeing an astronaut salute a Nazi flag on the moon. I’m not sure why that one affected me so much, but it did." That probably explains why we are seeing more focus on the Nazis instead of the Japanese. The swastika has a much powerful emotional impact for Americans when compared to the rising sun.

Some people have pointed out that the release of this trailer was poor timing on Bethesda's part due to the 69th anniversary of D-Day and even Bethesda was forced to comment on the timing. My suggestion is that people need to relax. This is alternate history and I doubt Bethesda was trying to dishonor the memories of the people who gave their lives during Normandy to defeat fascism. If anything, Axis victory timelines like Wolfenstein: The New Order highlight just how important it was for us to win World War II.

So calm down, its not a big deal.

Europa Universalis IV Release Date Announced and Pre-Order Launched

If your dreams of leading a global empire have lain dormant for too long, the time to take action is finally here!  Paradox Interactive and Paradox Development Studio today announced that the empire-building game Europa Universalis IV will be released worldwide on August 13th, 2013. Europa Universalis IV is the latest installment in the award-winning series with more than a million copies sold worldwide and will be available on PC, Mac, and Linux at launch. Check out the trailer below:
Following on the success of the critically acclaimed strategy/RPG Crusader Kings II, Paradox Development Studio is ready to take you to worlds both old and new – each yours for the taking. Join the active  community of over half a million members and experience the drama and tension that only the grand stage of history can provide in Europa Universalis IV.

Europa Universalis IV gives you control of a nation to guide it through the years and create a dominant global empire in the age of exploration, providing unprecedented freedom through the use of exploration, trade, warfare and diplomacy to let you rule your nation however you see fit. Strategists will face ruthless AI in an extensive single-player campaign, or be able to backstab friends and foes in 32-player online matches.

Strategy fans can now take the first step to fulfill their quest for global domination by pre-ordering Europa Universalis IV from digital distribution channels everywhere for $39.99, with a Digital Extreme Edition available for $44.99.

LoneStarCo​n 3 Announces a Teaching Science Fiction Workshop for Teachers, Librarians​, and Parents

LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention ("Worldcon"), has announced "Teaching Science Fiction," a workshop for teachers, librarians, and parents on how to use science fiction as a teaching tool. The workshop is a collaborative effort with LoneStarCon 3, and is organized and presented by AboutSF, an organization based at the University of Kansas.

This workshop is a half-day seminar on developing a class on science fiction for primary or secondary students. Educators are the target audience for this course, whether they are interested in designing a class on SF, or want to incorporate SF readings into existing classes. No prior knowledge of the genre is assumed, and general attendees are welcome to attend as well.

"Teaching Science Fiction" covers what to teach, how to organize a class, and ways to promote the course. The workshop will answer questions teachers may have about this idea-oriented and thought-provoking body of speculative literature. Attendees will also receive handouts and CDs containing additional helpful material to take home with them. Workshop speakers will include Worldcon Guest of Honor Dr. James Gunn, with additional speakers to be announced.

The workshop will be held during LoneStarCon 3 in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, September 2, 2013. Worldcon members with an attending membership may participate at no additional cost, but must register in advance, as space is limited. Teachers, librarians, and parents who are not Worldcon members will need to purchase a Day Admission to LoneStarCon 3 for the day of the workshop. Monday Day Admissions cost $30 for adults, and $20 for Young Adults (those aged 21 or under on the day of the workshop).

Calender

June 22: Steam on Queen steampunk street fair in Toronto, Canada.

July 15: Deadline to submit your queries to Echelon Press for their 2014 steampunk anthology entitled Alchemy’s Dark Secrets.

August 4: Last day to see the Antipodeans Steampunk Show at the Tweed River Art Gallery in Australia.

Links to the Multiverse

Comics

DC and Marvel characters combine to form the ultimate superheroes by Lauren Davis at io9.

Films

My top 10 SF and fantasy picks for the big-screen treatment by Alex Kane at Amazing Stories.
Star Trek Into Darkness concept art shows off the rebooted Klingons by Meredith Woerner at io9.

Games

SteamWorld Dig Puts You In A Steampunk Town To Mine For Treasure by Ishaan at Siliconera.

Podcasts

GSN PODCAST: Dissecting Worlds Series 7 – Episode 3: Red Dawn and the Invasion Narrative at Geek Syndicate.

Television

Da Vinci's Demons Season 1 Finale: History, Science Fiction, and Time Travel at Paul Levinson's Infinite Regress.
Revolution Season 1 Finale: Good Pivot at Paul Levinson's Infinite Regress.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. His new story "The Enchanted Bean" can be found in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale from Echelon Press. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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