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Science-Fiction Weekly – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Han Solo, Dr. Who, Avatar, Avorion

by Andrew Reiner on Jan 31, 2017 at 09:42 AM

After two seasons of traveling in the TARDIS, actor Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who at the end of this season. He was the 12th Doctor, and a damn fine one at that. Capaldi didn't make me forget about David Tennant's brilliant run as the 10th Doctor, but he delivered a unique punch to his Doctor and made the role his own. Capaldi previously said the show's shooting schedule and workload were taxing for an actor, but said it wouldn't stop him from being a part of this universe. Although TV ratings are down this season, BBC won't be putting the series on ice again. It sounds like 2018's season is already locked in. BBC's content director Charlotte Moore says "It's not over yet – I know the next series is going to be spectacular."

I always hate seeing a Doctor go, especially when it feels like we are just getting to know them, but BBC has done a nice job of reinventing the role each time the baton is passed to another actor. Here's hoping the next Doctor shakes up the foundation a little.

I'm guessing one actor's interpretation of a popular character will be a little harder to accept than a typical Doctor Who replacement. Filming is officially under way for the Han Solo prequel film. The news broke via director Chris Miller's Twitter account, where he shared an image from the set. Miller refrains from showing us anything meaningful, but does reveal the working title of the film is Star Wars: Red Cup. Outside of knowing filming is happening as you read this, the best part of the Tweet is Miller's humor. His statement of "Han first shot," is a hilarious play on the "Han shot first" debacle, which George Lucas probably loves seeing. Red Cup is also a cute reference to Red Solo Cup. We don't know what is being filmed at this point, or if Alden Ehrenreich (the new Han Solo) is even on set yet, but we do know actor Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian) was left in the dark on the script almost all the way up to filming.

In an interview with SciFi Now Magazine earlier this month, he said he hadn't seen the script yet. “It’s like an owl flies through your window and gives you a script; that’s how quiet and confidential it is,” he joked. Lucasfilm obviously doesn't want the script to leak on the internet, but it must be frustrating for the actors to blindly sign on to a project, even if it is Star Wars.

The other Star Wars film in development, The Last Jedi, is supposedly progressing nicely. Director Rian Johnson told Empire Magazine he is in the heart of editing the film, and recently shared a photo of the new name being added to the opening scroll. He also said inspiration for his sequel story comes from three films: "Twelve O’Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots," he said. "Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur."

James Cameron apparently wants Avatar to be just as big of a series as Marvel's super hero films and Lucasfilm's Star Wars projects. He doesn't have his vision on just one sequel. He's actively working on a billion of them. "The thing is, my focus isn’t on Avatar 2. My focus is on Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5 equally," he told the Daily Beast. "That’s exactly how I’m approaching it. They’ve all been developed equally. I’ve just finished the script to Avatar 5. I’m now starting the process of active prep. I’ll be working with the actors in the capture volume in August, so I’m booked in production every day between now and then. Our volume is up and running, and everything is designed, and so we’re going full-guns right now. I feel like I’ve been let out of jail, because I’ve been in the writing cave for the last two years. I’m actually enjoying life. I don’t enjoy writing. I wouldn’t wish writing on a dog."

He sounds equally miserable and content with Avatar. Why he decided to write four sequels at once is beyond me, but I'm guessing we'll learn soon. The good news, "capture volume" begins in August. He's talking about motion capture, suggesting this film will mostly be CG again. Say what you will about Avatar, but we need more sci-fi universes on the big screen. I love Cameron's work and can't wait to see what he does with this franchise, even if it is starting to sound bats--- crazy.

In the world of games, if the idea of designing your own capital-class starship sounds fun, you can achieve this goal in a new game called Avorion, which just released on Steam Early Access. The launch trailer shows how ships can be constructed quickly through a process similar to snapping Lego pieces together. The building aspect reminds me of Kingdom Hearts' terrible Gummi Ships, as does the brief snippets of gameplay. I haven't had a chance to get my hands on the game, and won't until it's officially released (a stance I've taken with all Early Access titles lately), but I do like the sound of what developer Boxelware is selling. The goal is to start on the edge of the universe and travel toward its center. Yes, I know what this sounds like. Rather than comparing it to THAT game, Boxelware says it takes inspiration from Freelance, and adds in cooperative play.

The ship building sounds ambitious. "There are no limits to ship size or complexity besides your resources," Boxelware details. "You're not bound to the standard voxel style and while building an awesome ship in Avorion you won't get lost in lots and lots of micro-management. You can focus on building a great looking ship, without having too much trouble to make it work. But make sure you still keep an eye on your ship’s maneuverability or energy requirements. Adjust your ships perfectly to their operational purpose by building light and agile or heavily armored ships. Build specialized transport ships with lots of cargo space or heavily armored battleships with strong shields. Collect loot from defeated foes which you can use to upgrade your ship: New turrets, resources, trading goods or system upgrades. Install system upgrades that allow more weapons, ease asteroid mining or trading systems which detect trading routes over multiple sectors. And why build only one ship? Hire captains to fly your ships for you, manage your crews, weapons, hangars and fighters and build your own fleet of space ships." That crew can consist of another ship controlled by a friend. That sounds awesome.

Place Avorion on your radars, folks, unless of course you enjoy playing games that are actively in development. We don't when this one will release officially, but it sounds like Boxelware is working hard on updates and is listening to the community to nail the concept.

As always, let me know what you think of the topics from this week's column in the comments section below. I especially want to hear your take on Avatar and Cameron's ambitious plans.