ZACk to the future

When I saw the list of performers at this year’s Fringe Festival, there were certain shows I immediately knew I wanted to check out: one of them was Shane Adamczak (aka Zack Adams) and his production of Zack Adams: Zack to the Future. 

The native Australian has always impressed me with his quirky songwriting on No More Radio podcasts and in this new one man production he provides not only that but storytelling and a creepy puppet to boot. The venue for this show (Venue 4) is both conveniently and unfortunately located across the street from Fringe Park. I would actually advise against seeing shows there because as I watched the show I was distracted by the sounds of ironically, The No More Radio showcase at the Park.

The premise is that Zack Adams  wants to see if he ever becomes famous so he borrows a time machine and travels five years into the future to find his future self. While I wanted to love Zack to the Future, I have to admit that my favourite show by Adamczak remains the audience participation show How to Start a Country with Gerard Harris (which will be performed as a part of this year’s Zoofest).

ZACk adams

Don’t get me wrong there are some great moments throughout this show; as with his previous shows, his songs are my favourite part. Honestly it’s hard not to enjoy yourself as Adamczak is incredibly charming and has a great knack for physical comedy, flinging himself from one side of the stage to the other.

Don’t go see Zack to the Future if you’re looking for depth to your science fiction storytelling, go because you want to be entertained by a great comedian with a promising future.

Zack to the future plays until June 23rd. For tickets visit  the Fringe Festival Website.



For a while I had decided on skipping Star Trek: Into Darkness, JJ Abrams’ sequel to the 2009 reboot. I did enjoy the last one, in spite of myself, but the prevailing sentiment I was getting about Into Darkness was that it was insanely dumb and not worth ticket price.

But eventually I thought to myself “What the hell, maybe I’ll give it a shot. There was bad press for that last Spider-Man movie and I actually enjoyed that one. Maybe if I just go in with low expectations I’ll be pleasantly surprised”.


Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX posterYou heard right. I heard right. Star Trek: Into Darkness is dumb. Hella dumb. Transformers dumb, unsurprising considering it comes courtesy of the same hack screenwriters as that infernal franchise.

I’m not normally one to write detailed descriptions or plot summaries, but I think the best way to give you an introduction as to how mindbogglingly stupid this film is is to take you through the opening scene, because it really does set you up quite beautifully for the kind of experience you’re in for.

The film opens with Kirk and Bones getting chased through an alien forest by some spear-throwing, loincloth-clad natives like Jim Carrey at the end of Ace Ventura 2. The natives, incidentally, are all the color of day old cream, almost as though someone sensed they were a hair’s width away from a massive racial shitstorm and made the natives as not black as possible. Apparently, the Enterprise was doing a routine survey of the planet and found the nearby volcano was on the brink of eruption, which would destroy the entire planet somehow, and decided to swoop in and save the day by…..and I want you to pay attention here, lower Spock on a cable from a shuttle craft into the volcano, so he can drop some kind of anti-volcano device into it. Of course, why this involved Kirk stealing the natives sacred scroll thingy, or why Kirk and Bones had to go near their village in the first place, is never explained.

Likewise, why they couldn’t just teleport the anti-volcano device INTO the volcano, in spite of the fact that they later teleport Spock out, is likewise left a mystery for the ages. This is a recurring theme, you’ll find. Apparently in the last few years transporter technology has become fussier than a videogame cartridge from 1995, and only ever works when the script calls for it. But after a few close calls, they all get safely back to the Enterprise, which has been hiding…..underwater in a nearby lake. Why is it in the lake? Why not in space, it being a space ship? How did they get it there without any of the natives seeing it? How did no one in the entire film making process think “Wait, this makes no fucking sense”? The movie seems to meet all these questions, and the many others you’ll doubtlessly have after watching the film, with a resounding “because fuck you”.

I could really spend the entire review pointing out the many, MANY logical inconsistencies, terrible decisions, lazy plot devices and general stupidity of the movie, but there are plenty of people already doing that. This IS the internet, after all. So suffice to say, the movie’s dumb. Moving on.

From that little adventure, the Enterprise crew heads back to earth, where a mysterious terrorist played by Benedict Cumberbatch is causing all kinds of havoc for the Federation bigwigs, and after Cumberbatch lures the Federation’s best and brightest into the most obvious trap in recent film history, Admiral Robocop sends Kirk and the Enterprise out to kick his ass.


From a technical standpoint, Abrams’ usual signatures are on full display. Lens flares out the butt, shaky, unsteady camera work and selective focus during fight scenes, it’s all par for the course. When the camera is being held steady and isn’t awash with blue-white light, there isn’t anything particularly interesting to look at on display. The Enterprise in the new timeline still looks like the inside of an Apple Store, and the looks we get at various Earth cities are probably the most dull, generic looking futuristic cityscapes I’ve ever seen on film. Similarly, Federation dress uniform is now a gray tunic with a peaked officer’s cap. At least Next Generation gave its main characters a fashionable frock for formal occasions.

On the acting front, most of the characters have become more caricatures in the years since the last one. I actually really liked Karl Urban’s Deforest Kelley impersonation in the last one, but by this point it feels more like something you do to get laughs at parties than an actual performance. Simon Pegg’s Scottish antics as Scotty have similarly been dialed up a notch. For all its faults, the last movie at least had the plus of a fairly strong cast that gelled as a unit. This time around, the gel’s gone a tad moldy after too long in the fridge.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is, as we’ve covered here, a definitively dumb movie. But what’s worse, it’s not even the fun kind of dumb, the kind of dumb you can laugh at. This is the kind of dumb that just makes your soul ache at how little thought went into it and how little almost anyone involved seemed to give a shit about crafting an interesting narrative or inventive action scenes. Remember that scene in the first one where Kirk and another cast member suit up in space-suits and skydive towards a narrow target at breakneck speeds in a scene tailor made for the shitty tie-in videogame? They do the exact same scene in Into Darkness, but the big selling point this time: they’re going sideways instead of down. That’s literally the most innovation or originality you’re gonna get in this one. A scene you’ve already seen, but rotated 90 degrees.

The cyberpunk phenomena has lead to a plethora of fascinating works of fiction. Enhanced humans, transhuman problems and fusion-powered bad guys are only part of the appeal. The other side of the story, as I’ve discovered, is part of the timeless narrative of character development and fantastic storytelling.

One such example is Shadow of a Dead Star, by Michael Shean. The story takes place in 2078 Seattle, a city marked by its consumerism and abject depravity. At the core of this soulless world is detective Tom Walken, a man driven to seek justice. In a nation where corporations run the police, he is tasked with stopping shipments of banned contraband. One night, he’s ordered to confiscate three living sex dolls – called Princess Dolls – abominations that come out of illicit offshore labs. Predictably, the raid goes horribly wrong, and Walken must submerge himself in Seattle’s vile underbelly in order to crack the case. However, he’s in over his head and between him and his hacker partner Bobbi January, he needs to untangle a web of deception that threatens to engulf all of humanity.

I was sucked right in by this book from the moment I picked it up. The descriptive value is almost cinematic. Painstaking detail is used to describe every facet of this rich and gloomy universe. The clothes, hairstyles, plastic surgery, and even the cars are fleshed out until they’re more realistic than the room you’re sitting in. Suffice it to say, Shean has a talent for descriptiveness. Whether he’s describing futuristic fashions or a shower of gore, you’re trapped in that moment with him.

cyberpunk girlThe characters are also exceptional. Bobbi stole the show. She’s a lady hacker–smart-talking, resourceful and stunningly human. Her dimension gives this story a grounding point, a place the audience can cling to when the story gets crazy. In short, she’s a great, strong female character that the genre sorely needs. As for Walken, he’s a great, driven character who can lose himself in his own single minded need for justice. It’s all he believes in, and that faith is what sustains him until the very end.

In short, the mystery will keep you guessing until the very end. And, you will get it wrong, so just sit back and enjoy the ride. There’s a subtext to this story as well, lurking just below the surface. Social commentary, an intoxicating mystery and amazing world building are what’s made Shadow of a Dead star my favourite cyberpunk book of all time.

Do you have a favorite scifi or cyberpunk book? let us know in the comments!