A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Cleopatra 2525

Cleopatra 2525 titleA most unusual show appears this month as the subject of the Obscure Sci-Fi Primer in the form of Cleopatra 2525, from the same production company that brought us M.A.N.T.I.S. This 2000 series pretty much hits all the boxes on our obscure sci-fi bingo card: it was originally syndicated; it had a format change, moving from a half hour to hour-long in its second season; a campy, zany premise; low production values; abundant fanservice; and it debuted right at the tail end of the sci-fi boom that hit during the 90’s. It’s sort of got a “Charlie’s Angels after the robot apocalypse” vibe to it. We all know that shows with any one of those problems aren’t necessarily bad, but is there anything to be said for Cleopatra 2525 if it has all of them? Let’s find out.

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A Cyberpunk History: The Background of The Arcology

As part of the build towards the release of The Arcology‘s sequel, Eidolon, I’ve decided to share a glimpse into the background of the world from my notes. The timeline of events in the world of Lance Canela, in spoiler-free form, is now available here. See how dystopia takes hold in this cyberpunk history and pick up a few clues towards the future releases.

4 Cyborg Enhancements to Handle With Caution–Friday Four

Doctor who CyThere’s a lot to be said for cybernetics–they allow the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the handicapped to walk once more (sometimes even as superheroes!). Such enhancements can be extremely impressive, sometimes offering vast improvements over your average human’s capabilities. But let’s not be chopping off limbs as an excuse to go full cyborg just yet; just as often, there’s a high cost associated with obtaining cybernetically enhanced strength or senses. We have to consider exactly what it is you’re giving up: your ability to touch, perhaps… or even your very personality. Here are four dangers commonly faced by those who’ve chased after the perfect blend of man and machine, to offer you a chance to avoid them.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Quark

QuarkAs we emerge at last from a dreadful period where Star Trek did not grace our television screens, it’s time to look back at another such dark era–the 1970’s. While Star Trek had yet to return (though not for lack of trying), it still held a strong presence in the public consciousness through syndicated reruns, and out of that building popularity came the spoof series Quark, from the mind of Get Smart creator Buck Henry. Yes, long before the Trek fandom’s beloved Galaxy Quest, there was another affectionate parody that just so happened to emerge right at the time of the Star Wars-led sci-fi boom. Quark managed only a meager 8 episodes, but one has to ask: was it really so bad, or was it simply too niche to find a large enough audience? Let’s find out.

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On Reboots, Changes, and Fandom Reaction

Ghostbusters rebootWith the release of the all-female Ghostbusters reboot and the recent news about Sulu’s character in Star Trek Beyond (and comments from both Takei and Simon Pegg regarding it), I feel like this is a good time to discuss something that’s kind of been itching at me for a while now. That is, as I often talk about, the subject of reboots, and what kind of changes the existing fandom should expect or be willing to tolerate when a movie’s being remade. We live in a world where the overwhelming majority of media that’s released is in the form of reboots, remakes, and revivals, with original content few and far between (at least for cinema, anyway). This is a problem that’s got roots in other issues, however, regarding representation of minorities in media and all kinds of social justice problems that are highly controversial, but I’m looking at this through the same lens of franchises, reboots, and fandom that I always discuss here.

Here’s hoping I don’t regret this, eh?

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Summer Sale at Smashwords!

To my American readers, Happy 4th of July! Summer’s in full swing, so if you’re the outdoors type I hope you enjoy it. Me, I’ll be hiding from the sun in an attempt to get Eidolon out by the fall… and maybe because I have a tendency to turn crispy rather quick this time of year.

On that note, Smashwords is helping out your summer reading list with a great sale throughout the month of July, and I’ve opted to put The Arcology on sale as part of it. Until the 31st, you can get a 50% off discount on the ebook version of The Arcology, in any format! Just use coupon code SSW50. What better way to appreciate a sunny beach than by reading about a rainy dystopia? That is what people like to do on beaches, right?

There are a lot of other great books on sale too, so do browse the sale page and see what else strikes your fancy. If you do pick up The Arcology, thanks! You can help me out even more by leaving reviews, be they on Amazon, Goodreads, or right there on Smashwords. Reviews mean a lot!

4 Excerpts from the Mecha Piloting Guide–Friday Four

G Gundam AMERICACongratulations on being selected for the Giant Robot Piloting Program! I assume this means you’re a 15-year-old Japanese boy, but I guess you don’t have to be. One thing they might not teach you in the program, though, is that nothing takes as much work to keep running as a giant mech. The humanoid form doesn’t leave a lot of room for complex machinery, and scaling that up to 50 feet tall doesn’t help quite as much as you’d expect. And that’s without considering all the missiles, guns, laser swords, jetpacks and other add-ons these Mecha have to be able to swap out at a moment’s notice. All this is left up to the unsung heroes, the Giant Mecha mechanics (not to be confused with giant Mecha-Mechanics, which are a totally different and much more confusing issue), who have to get these things up and running after every city-destroying slugfest they take part in. So what I’ve got here are a few pro tips to help ease the burden on our intrepid robo-engineers and keep your giant robots in fighting shape.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: M.A.N.T.I.S.

MANTISLike an eclipse in the dark night sky, the Obscure Sci-Fi Primer makes its periodic reappearance. And speaking of things that emerge in the night, our subject this month is a vigilante-by-night superhero series M.A.N.T.I.S. A 1994 series, it debuted on Fox and, surprise of all surprises, lasted only one season. That might not sound like a recipe for success, especially given that better known superheroes had been failing to find an audience on TV for years at the time, and M.A.N.T.I.S. followed an original character that no one had any preexisting reason to care about. But this show had some interesting creative forces behind it–namely Sam Hamm (writer for Batman 1989 and Batman Returns) and Sam Raimi (known at the time for Evil Dead, but who would go on to spark the modern Superhero Movie craze with Spider-Man 2002). While it’s largely remembered today for being one of the first film or TV productions to focus on a black superhero, this aspect was… well, a big part of why the show struggled to find an audience, unfortunately. This didn’t factor into the plot or character as much as the creators wanted it to, which leads one to ask: did the show that made it to air deserve to find an audience? Let’s find out. Read more

Lance Canela’s Dossier Files #075-A: The Arin Group

The Arin Group

click to enlarge.

RetroPhaseShift’s 2 Year Anniversary!

Data CakesOn June 4, 2014, RetroPhaseShift went live for the first time. It’s been 2 years since then, and boy, has the site been through a lot of changes, from posting schedules and topics of focus to huge influxes of visitors and changes of hosts. I thought I’d share some of what I consider to be the site’s most important moments today, and some interesting statistics I’ve collected.

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