You may have heard that Lionsgate now have the rights to develop a Borderlands movie. So what was your first reaction to the news? Excitement? Apprehension? As someone who has played all the games and is currently knee deep in foam, fabric and paint working on Borderlands cosplay, I have to say it was certainly an announcement that made me sit up and take notice. The sci-fi frontier world of Pandora is a distinctively cinematic one and, done right, the franchise could make for a fantastic big screen experience. But done right is a fairly weighty qualifier. Let’s not kid ourselves, video game movies in Hollywood do not exactly have a stellar history and the producer tied to the project, Avi Arad, has more than a few misses on his CV. So I’m more intrigued than excited at this point.
Just two of the things we should expect from a Borderlands movie. The third is guns. Screenshot from the Borderlands The Pre-Sequel intro sequence.
I thought I’d take a few moments to share some of the things about this franchise that I’d like to see done justice on the big screen, as well as my initial concerns on the “danger zones” – that is, the things I fear Hollywood is most likely to ruin.
Title: The Alchemy of Stone
Author: Ekaterina Sedia
First Published: 2008
Robots tend to be imagined as being pretty tough and durable. Even those machines that aren’t specifically built for war or heavy labour are often depicted as having super-strength or the ability to withstand great pressure (check out the TV Tropes page Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids!) This is understandable: metal is stronger than flesh. But when authors diverge wildly from this stereotype the results can be intriguing. Mattie, the mechanical protagonist of this steampunk fantasy novel is one such divergent creation. She is an (allegedly) ”emancipated automaton” with a clockwork core; less sentient tank and more whalebone-ribbed living doll – with all the frailty that implies. She even has a delicate, porcelain face that is prone to cracking.
It’s refreshing to see a more vulnerable robot for a change; refreshing, but also heart-breaking. Think about how much prejudice and intolerance we see towards sentient machines in other sci-fi and fantasy works and now imagine a creation singularly ill-equipped to defend herself against such abuses. “There are a few intelligent automatons around,” Mattie explains ”…But you know, nobody likes making them. And they… we don’t even like ourselves.”
As this quote suggests, The Alchemy of Stone is a beautifully melancholy read, blending the sensibilities of a dark fairytale with an allusive commentary on real world issues of gender and racial inequality and – as is common in steampunk-inspired fiction – an exploration of the conquests and casualties that are inherent in the unstoppable march of progress. Sedia’s vivid imagination and beguiling way with words kept me intrigued to the end of Mattie’s story, but I have to admit, I felt this novel’s world-building was finally more captivating than its plot.
So, a while back I posted a fairly passionate rant/ramble about female Transformers and being a female Transformers fan. It seems to have struck a chord for a lot of people as it got shared quite widely on Twitter, and continues to be one of our most viewed posts here. So it’s really nice to be able to follow up now by looking at all the femmebot-related news that has emerged since I wrote that earlier post because, happily, there’s quite a lot of it…
“TF ladies? Tell us more…”
Generations Arcee, Custom Slipstream, TF Prime Arcee
Title: He, She and It
Author: Marge Piercy
First Published: 1991 by Ballantine
Isn’t it a rare but exhilarating thing when a book comes along that ticks almost all of your personal reading boxes? For me, He, She and It is one such book. It’s a work of feminist (tick), dystopian (tick), cyberpunk science-fiction but with a strongly literary flavour (triple tick) that also features an affecting and pretty damn sexy robot romance plot (yes that’s a big tick for me too, which should surprise nobody). Piercy’s novel also contains many ingredients – such as its elements of Jewish history and mysticism – that I wouldn’t necessarily seek out in a book but which actually proved fascinating. The novel features two interlinked stories, one set in a grim near-future of nuclear fallout and environmental destruction and one set in 1600s Prague. Despite their very different locales both narratives explore, in a way that is both searching and sympathetic, the consequences of creating an artificial being that can think – and, crucially, feel – for itself.
If you’ve more than a passing interest in a certain transforming robot franchise, you may have heard the news – and very welcome news it is too. Hasbro are finally bringing more female Transformers into the spotlight. Specifically, an article on USA Today reported that Windblade will be appearing in future episodes of the new Robots In Disguise cartoon, and that there are also plans to introduce a female ‘bot to the cast of the Rescue Bots, the iteration of the franchise aimed at youngest viewers, which is just entering its fourth season. This on top of the results of the fan built combiner poll, which also voted to create a new team of 6 female Autobots who – the USA Today article also reveals – will form a new combiner “Victorion.”
RiD poster advertising the new arrival: source
Now female Transformers are a subject close to my heart, so this seems like a good time to discuss the topic in a bit more depth….