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Science-Fiction Weekly – The Best Movies, Games, And New Star Wars: Episode VIII Updates

by Andrew Reiner on May 17, 2016 at 10:55 AM

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I’ve had a love affair with science fiction since my father took me to see Star Wars: A New Hope. I was three- or four-years-old at the time; far too young to watch Darth Vader choke the life out of his coworkers, and incinerate Luke Skywalker’s family. Vader initially imprinted on my young mind poorly, but the nightmares he gave me eventually led to a lifelong appreciation obsession of George Lucas’ Galaxy Far, Far Away. Star Wars gave way to science fiction becoming my favorite form of entertainment. Yes, I love it more than video games.

Thankfully there’s a lot of crossover between science fiction and video games; an inordinate amount, more than I could ever keep up with. The column you are reading (and will hopefully be returning to each week) is an exploration of all things in this sector. From the latest developments in video games to the most random factoids in Star Wars’ lore, these editorials should be crammed to capacity with a wealth of science fiction news and opinions.

This first post is a bit of a primer for what you can expect, format and all. I know many of you are probably wondering what my favorite science-fiction movie, book, game, and television show are, so let’s get all of that out of the way in this first post.

My favorite movie (science fiction or otherwise) is Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Equally as thought provoking as it is exciting, no film has captured my imagination as much as this dark and brilliantly penned second chapter in the Star Wars saga. Even the rubbery Yoda still holds up surprisingly well today.

And speaking of puppets, the TV show I recommend everyone watch is Farscape, a criminally underappreciated gem that was cut way too short. Farscape takes a few episodes to get cooking, but quickly settles in with big laughs, awesome conflicts, puppets farting, spaceships getting pregnant and giving birth to baby spaceships (yes, you read that correctly), and the craziest theme song of any TV show.

My favorite science-fiction-flavored video game shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. While I have fond memories of the Wing Commanders, and Star Controls, System Shocks, Half-Lifes, Halos, Portals, Star Warses, and Dead Spaces, no interactive universe has hit me as hard as Mass Effect. Taking control of Commander Shepard’s conscience to arrange a galactic chess board across three massive games is as good as games get. Seriously. Why don’t all companies make continuations like this? And yes, I even loved Mass Effect 3’s original ending. That send off is as science fiction as science fiction gets.

When it comes to books, well, I’m going to leave my all-time favorite a mystery for now, as we’ll have plenty to discuss in the weeks ahead. You can get a small taste of what I enjoy by reading my 10 Science-Fiction Stories Reimagined As Games editorial. I also wrote a book of my own.

If my lede didn’t show my hand enough, my current obsession in life is Star Wars, and with three different films in active development (Episode VIII, Rogue One, and the untitled Han Solo movie),  rumors and news hit almost daily. The latest scuttlebutt centers on Episode VIII. Before I dive into the news, here's your obligatory SPOILER warning. Much like Daniel Craig's cameo as a helmeted First Order storm trooper in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Daily Express is reporting Tom Hardy has accepted a similar role to play a storm trooper in Episode VIII. Daily Express says Hardy's storm trooper recognizes Finn (who was once storm trooper FN-2187).

John Boyega, the actor playing Finn, told Variety that Episode VIII is a "different take, darker, bigger. Someone will say: 'How do you get bigger than Force Awakens?' But it’s crazy." He also revealed that Rey and Finn were just friends in The Force Awakens, but it could be a central plot point in the sequel. "The romance thing is something that’s going to be interesting in the next installment," Boyega says. "It’s not going to go the way you think it’s going to go."

Episode VIII filming is currently underway in Ireland. Most of the sets we've seen are scenic with green hills surrounded by the ocean. The latest development at Malin Head is no different. The Millennium Falcon is a part of this set, and fans have spied Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) getting ready for a shot. Costume details from the set reveal that Rey and Luke wear familiar garb to The Force Awakens and Return of the Jedi. You can see what they supposedly look like here.

Lucasfilm announced Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's director) and Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm's president) are kicking off this year's Star Wars Celebration held in London’s ExCeL Centre from July 15-17 with a talk about Rogue One. If this presentation is anything like last year's for The Force Awakens, we'll likely get a second Rogue One trailer on July 15. If you want to know more about the film – such as character names and who the big bad is – check out this enormous leak that hit earlier today from a book publisher working on the Official Visual Story Guide for the film. Be warned, few leaks reveal a mountain of info like this one does.

And in other book news, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced the winners of the 2015 Nebula Awards over the weekend. The winners include Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Our Lady of the Open Road by Sarah Pinsker, and Updraft by Fran Wilde.

That's going to do it for my first entry of Science-Fiction Weekly. Expect plenty more Star Wars talk in the weeks and months ahead, but also plenty of science-fiction game, movie, comic book, and action figure news when it hits. Next week's focus is the science-fiction comics you should be reading.