Star Trek Discovery

StarTrekDiscoverySeason2First, I must say that Discovery is definitely one of the best Star Trek TV series I have seen in a long time. If we don’t count the animated series and the movies, it is the sixth Star Trek series (after Star Trek The Original Series (1966-69), The Next Generation (1987–94), Deep Space Nine (1993–99), Voyager (1995–2001), and Enterprise (2001–2005)). After The Original, none of these series were really satisfactory (in imagination, plot and action) until Discovery.

For the first time, with Discovery, the main character of a series is NOT the captain of the USS Entreprise. The series focus on Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green [The Walking Dead]) who is the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou in the beginning before becoming Science Specialist on the USS Discovery. Born in 2226, she is a xenoanthropologist raised on Vulcan by her adoptive parents, Vulcan ambassador Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife Amanda (Mia Kirshner). She is therefore Spock‘s foster sister! Her biological parents were killed during a Klingon raid on Doctari Alpha.

The first season, set a decade before the Original series, focuses on the FederationKlingon war. During a rare encounter of the Shenzhou with the Klingons, Burnham uses her knowledge of Klingon and Vulcan strategy to try preventing the war but act against her captain’s orders. She fails and Georgiou is killed in the ensuing battle. Burnham is sentenced to life in prison for mutiny, but during a prison transfer her shuttle is damaged and she is rescued by the USS Discovery, commanded by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), where she is given a temporary position of Science Officer. The Discovery uses an experimental spore drive which, after sabotage, brings them to a parallel universe where Captain Georgiou is the Empress of the Terran Empire! After multiple trials and betrayals, the crew succeeds to end the war.

In season two (which is not over yet, as three more episodes remain to air), the captain of the USS Enterprise, Christopher Pike, takes emergency command of the Discovery from interim-captain Saru (Doug Jones) in order to investigate a series of mysterious signals. Spock (Ethan Peck), who appears to have suffered a mental breakdown, has had foreknowledge of those signals, which seem linked to the apparition of a mysterious Red Angel. They must find Spock before Section 31 to try to unravel the mystery…

The latest episode (“If Memory Serves”, 8th episode of the 2nd season and 23rd episode of the series, which aired on March 7th) was particularly impressive. It starts with “Previously on Star Trek” and then shows scenes from the pilot episode of the Original series (“The Cage”, produced in 1964-65 was never aired but later partly used in episodes 11 & 12, “The Menagerie”). In the original pilot, the captain of the Entreprise was not Kirk but Pike and Spock is the only crew-member who remained in the series. In Discovery, Spock brings Burnham to Talos IV so the Talosian can read his mind and show crucial information to Burnham, therefore both healing him and their relationship. That episode was quite something.

It has been relatively well received (with a rating of 7.4 on IMDb, an overall Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 82% [but an audience score of 48%, are they mad? !!!] and the same 82% for season 2 [this time with an audience score of 29%! Unbelievable !!!]. In my point of view, it is a series that is well worth watching, even if you know nothing of Star Trek. It is simply very good science fiction. And a third season has already been commissioned. stars-3-5

Apparently, more live-action series are planned including one with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and one with Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) focusing on the activities of Section 31. 

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Errances d’Emanon

image-1533042376“À bord du Sun Flower, Emanon a confié son étrange histoire à un étudiant qui lui rappelait son époux défunt. Mais cette traversée en bateau n’était qu’une infime partie du voyage de la jeune femme à la mémoire de trois milliards d’années : pour elle, une vie ne dure qu’un instant !

Cette passagère du temps poursuit inlassablement sa route, toujours prête pour de nouvelles rencontres. À la recherche d’un mystérieux trésor enfoui ou d’un frère perdu de vue, retrouvez-la dans ses errances…

Emanon est un des personnages les plus fascinants de la science-fiction contemporaine japonaise. Le dessinateur Kenji Tsuruta, tombé amoureux du concept imaginé par l’écrivain Shinji Kajio, donne un visage aussi vivant que mélancolique à cette incarnation féminine du passé, du présent et du futur de l’humanité. Que l’on croie ou non à son histoire, impossible d’oublier Emanon. Et elle non plus ne vous oubliera jamais…”

[Texte du site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière]

ATTENTION: Peut contenir des traces de “divulgâcheur” [spoilers]! Les personnes allergiques à toutes discussions d’une intrigue avant d’en avoir eux-même pris connaissance sont vivement conseillées de prendre les précautions nécessaires pour leur sécurité et devraient éviter de lire plus loin! 

Errances d’Emanon (さすらいエマノン / Sasurai Emanon) est le second tome d’un manga seinen publié au Japon en 2010. La série a été prépublié dans le magazine Comic Ryu et compilé en volumes chez Tokuma Shoten. Ce manga peut se lire indépendamment du premier volume, Souvenirs d’Emanon, que nous avons déjà commenté en septembre 2018. L’histoire est basée sur une série de romans de science-fiction par Shinji KAJIO (aussi publiés par Tokuma Shoten), débutée avec une nouvelle en 1983, qui met en scène le personnage de “Emanon” (“no name” en anglais [sans nom] épelé à l’envers), une mystérieuse jeune femme qui a l’étrange pouvoir de se souvenir des vies des tous les individus de sa ligne ancestrale maternelle depuis l’apparition du premier organisme unicellulaire, il y a trois millions d’année!

Ce volume contient deux récits. Le premier, illustré totalement en couleurs, se déroule à une date indéterminée (mais selon les informations fourni on peut calculer que c’est en 1968). Emanon est de passage dans un village pour récupérer un contenant de graines qu’elle y avait caché. Ce sont les semences d’une fleur jaune appelé “Rikaho” qui est en voie de disparition et dont le nectar constitue la nourriture unique d’une variété de scarabées. Ceux-ci produisent des bactéries qui sont capable d’immuniser contre un virus mortel dont certains singes de la jungle sont porteurs (Ebola?). Elle pense que ce serait peut-être là sa raison d’être. Elle confie le reste des graines à Atsushi, un jeune garçon du village dont elle a fait la rencontre, en lui disant qu’elle reviendrait plus tard les chercher. Dans le dernier chapitre, elle revient au village dans un futur indéterminé pour récupérer les graines et le village est englouti sous plusieurs mètres d’eau… Dans ce récit elle croise également une amie, Hikari, qui semble avoir connaissance de l’avenir (une voyageuse temporelle?). Emanon lui mentionne qu’elle a récemment revue son frère…

Le deuxième récit est illustré en noir et blanc et se situe en 1967. Emanon débarque du traversier Sun Flower (où se déroulait le récit du volume précédent) et est à la recherche de son frère. Depuis la nuit des temps ses ancêtres n’ont donné naissance qu’à une seule et unique fille à qui la mémoire ancestrale se transmettait, transformant après quelques années la mère en une coquille vide, amnésique. Or, la mère d’Emanon a donné naissance à des jumeaux, un garçon et une fille. Quant elle a été assez autonome, Emanon a abandonné son frère au “Jardin du Bonheur”, un centre social d’aide à l’enfance où il a été mis en adoption, et elle a placé sa mère dans l’hôpital d’une ville voisine. Takuma a lui aussi quelques pouvoirs (dont la pyrokinésie) puisqu’ils ont été capable de se retrouver sans effort (il peut sentir la présence lointaine d’Emanon comme un point lumineux dans son champs de vision). Son existence a donc aussi sa raison d’être, mais laquelle? Toutefois, Takuma est choqué par les révélations d’Émanon et ressent de la haine envers celle qui l’a abandonné… Ils ne se reverront que trente ans plus tard…

PlancheA_343663Le style de Kenji Tsuruta est plutôt classique car les ombrages et les textures sont fait au trait d’encre (il utilise très peu de trames) ce qui donne un résultat précis et détaillé, qui est assez agréable à l’oeil. La section couleur est colorée à l’aquarelle par dessus l’encrage, ce qui parait encore plus beau. Le récit de Shinji Kajio est assez simple malgré les nombreux changements d’époques. L’histoire est fascinante et captivante. On aimerait bien en savoir plus sur Emanon mais le récit se développe très lentement, avec par moment très peu de dialogue. C’est un auteur qui semble bien aimer la science-fiction (Emanon lit Hauser’s Memory de Siodmak et cite Ray Bradbury) et dont j’aimerais bien lire d’autres de ses oeuvres. Il n’est malheureusement pas traduit (comme c’est le cas de la plupart de la SF japonaise). Plusieurs de ses nouvelles ont cependant été traduite en anglais dans la série d’anthologie Speculative Japan publié chez Kurodahan Press.

Dans l’ensemble, Errances d’Emanon est une très bonne lecture. J’aime bien ce personnage mystérieux et ce lent récit où l’on se demande toujours où il nous mènera. Malheureusement, Ki-oon n’a pas encore annoncé de date de parution pour les volumes trois et quatre. Par contre, Dark Horse publiera le premier volume en anglais, Memories of Emanon, dès mai 2019!

Errances d’Emanon, par Shinji KAJIO (scénario) et Kenji TSURUTA (dessin). Paris: Ki-oon (Coll. Latitudes), septembre 2018. 208 pages (64 en couleurs), 17 x 24 cm, 15,00 € / $28.95 Can. ISBN 979-10-327-0315-1. Pour un lectorat adolescent (16 ans et plus; contiens de la nudité). stars-3-5

Pour en savoir plus vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

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SASURAI EMANON © Shinji Kajio, Kenji Tsuruta 2012 / TOKUMA SHOTEN PUBLISHING CO., LTD

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Découverte: Suggestions d’achats

En octobre dernier j’ai fait une liste de suggestions d’achats pour le bibliothécaire adulte de ma bibliothèque. Elle comprenait quelques mangas récents qu’il me semblaient essentiels d’avoir, des livres de cuisine japonaise en manga (une curiosité) ainsi qu’une série d’anthologies de littérature de l’imaginaire japonais que je trouvais intéressante à lire (particulièrement parce qu’elle contiens des histoires courtes de l’auteur KAJIO Shinji, dont l’oeuvre n’a pas encore été traduite ni en anglais, ni en français). Je la partage ici avec vous:

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Moriarty vol. 1-2, Hikaru Miyoshi, Kana (Coll. Dark), Juin/Septembre 2018, 212/204 pgs, 9782505070733 / 9782505070740, 6,85€ / $12.95 Can ch. [ Amazon / Biblio / Goodreads ]

The Manga Cookbook: Japanese Bento Boxes, Main Dishes and More!, The Manga University Culinary Institute & Chihiro Hattori, Japanime Co. Ltd, December 2007, 158 pgs, 978-4921205072, $16.95. [ Amazon / Goodreads ]

The Manga Cookbook Vol. 2: More Popular and Delicious Japanese Dishes!, The Manga University Culinary Institute & Koda Tadashi, Japanime Co. Ltd, June 2017, 160 pgs, 978-4921205362, $16.95. [ Amazon / Goodreads ]

The Manga Cookbook Vol. 3: Japanese Fusion Food with Character!, The Manga University Culinary Institute & Ryo Katagiri, Japanime Co. Ltd., September 2018, 192 pgs, 978-4921205393, $19.95. [ Amazon / Goodreads ]

She and Her Cat, Vol. 1, Makoto Shinkai and Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Vertical Comics, Aout 2017, 180 Pages, 9781945054402, $12.95 US / $13.95 Can. [ Amazon / Goodreads ]

Le signe des rêves Vol. 1 & 2, Naoki Urasawa, Futuropolis (Coll. Louvre), Août/Octobre 2018, 144/136 pgs, 9782754825771 / 9782754825818, 20 € / $39.95 ch. [ Amazon / Biblio / Goodreads ] Voir mon commentaire du vol. 1 et du vol. 2.

Speculative Japan #1: Outstanding Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Gene van Troyer (Editor). Kurodahan Press, 2007, 290 pg. ISBN 9784902075267. Anthology that contains the short story “Reiko’s Universe Box” by KAJIO Shinji. [ Amazon / BiblioGoodreads ]

Speculative Japan #2: The Man Who Watched the Sea and Other Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy. Kurodahan Press, 2011, 282 pg. ISBN 9784902075182. Anthology that contains the short story “Emanon: A Reminiscence” by KAJIO Shinji. [ Amazon / Goodreads ]

Speculative Japan #4: “Pearls for Mia” and Other Tales. Kurodahan Press, 2018, 272 pg. ISBN 978-4-902075-84-7. Contains the short story “Pearls for Mia”「美亜へ贈る真珠」by KAJIO Shinji. [ Amazon / Goodreads ]

Vampire! Tales of Blood and Roses from Japan. Kurodahan Press, to be released late 2019, pages TBD. ISBN 978-4-909473-00-4. Contains the short story “干し若” by KAJIO Shinji. 

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Z Nation

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Season 5

“A group of survivors must cross the country with a possible cure for the zombie apocalypse. The holder of the cure, a zombie-human hybrid named Murphy, may not be so cooperative.”

That’s the premise of this 5-season series. At first I thought, “Not another zombie show!” but it grew on me because of its humour, its clever ideas and the fact that it was able to reinvent itself season after season. Hell, it tackled every zombie cliché, and sometimes it was boring or stupid, often repetitive, but the producers had the sense to give it mercy before it becomes worse.

The fact that the series is a gross comedy doesn’t prevent it from touching serious subjects. It is particularly the case in the fifth and last season which is more political. The series talks about Native American rights and the zombies (who have evolved an intermediary stage where they still have cognitive and language abilities before becoming murderous brutes) are an allegory pleading against prejudice and discrimination (racial, sexual, religious, etc.). We must accept the difference in other people, whatever they are.

The series was relatively well received (rating of 6.7 on IMDb and if the first season was dislike by critics on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 45%, the over-all audience score is nevertheless 77%). It aired on SyFy in the U.S. and on Space in Canada, but can still be viewed on Dvds and on Netflix. A prequel, titled Black Summer, will be airing on Netflix in early 2019. Over all it is a nice, funny entertainment, that changes us from The Walking Dead. I have always been partial to post-apocalyptic stories, so I guess it is binge-watching worthy. stars-3-0

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Pacific Rim Uprising

pacificrim2-posterAs bad as this movie is you cannot but love it if you are a mecha (or giant robots) and a kaiju fan — which I am. There’s plenty of action (although not very realistic and playing loose with the laws of physics), not much story, a hint of human drama, and a bit of humour. There’s not much originality either, but let’s call it an “hommage.” The term Jaeger reminds me a little of Heavy Gear (although it could come from so many other sources: it means hunter in German, could refers to infantry troops, a bird, a car, or several anime or manga), some designs seems inspired by many giant robots anime (Giant Robo, Mazinger, The Big O) and, of course, the kaiju part if inspired by Ultraman, Godzilla and Gamera, but the biggest “influence” is without contest Neon Genesis Evangelion — and this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to an Evangelion live-action movie. The alien monster attacking Earth, using alien technology to develop weapon against them, the synchronization part, the tall slender design similar to the rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury (damn! I love that design!): that’s seems all “inspired” by Evangelion. Although they’ve gutted all the really interesting stuff (mystical bits and human drama) it is still pretty entertaining.

There is plenty of cool stuff in this movie. No transforming robot but instead a combining kaiju. Not a bad idea. And I’ve certainly LOL when the pilots of Bracer Phoenix have to eject and land at the feet of a statue of a… Gundam! Beautiful and really funny. I couldn’t fail to notice the heavy Chinese presence in the cast and crew (not surprising since producer Legendary was bought by the Chinese Wanda Group and some of the shooting was done in a studio in China). It did relatively well at the box office but was not particularly liked (rating of 5.6 on IMDb and 44% / 41% on Rotten Tomatoes !).

All in all, it offers brainless sci-fi action and lots of mecha & kaiju nostalgia. If you are a fan. stars-3-0

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Transformers: The Last Knight

TransformersTheLastKnight-covThis story literally puts Earth against Cybertron. It’s Megatron versus Unicron. The Transformers have been here since the night of time. They fought with King Arthur, they fought in World War One, and even against Hitler. But we didn’t know about it because their existence has been occulted by a secret society started by Merlin himself, as he was entrusted with a power staff to control them all (or at least the three-headed dragon made of the bot-knights of the round table!). And Stonehenge is a weapon (more or less; maybe more a socket for a weapon…)!

Under the influence of Quintessa, Optimus has become Nemesis Prime! However, Yeager’s Autobot partner, Bumblebee, turns him around and, with the help of the bot-knights, they fight back against Quintessa and Megatron’s plan to destroy Earth. But it is far from over as the fight will continue with yet another movie (no, please, make them stop!)…

This movie offers a few good ideas (transformers in the past, steampunk influences, introduction of interesting new characters like Viviane or Izabella), but they are unfortunately slapped together in a messy way. The editing is horrendous, the dialogues terrible and don’t even get me started with the bad humour! At 2h34, the movie is way too long and the action is going too fast — transformations are just a blur and it feels like you’re watching a movie in fast-forward! Definitely entertaining but also rather annoying (particularly Cogman, the Bot-ler). I guess it is mostly for the hard-core fans.

The movie made plenty of money but it was disliked by viewers (with a mere 15% critic rating and 44% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes and 5.2 on IMDb — strangely the next film, standalone prequel Bumblebee, did very well with a Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 94%). Maybe it’s time to pause and rethink the franchise… stars-2-0

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Mars S02

Mars-TV-posterI just finished watching the second season (and the end) of Mars, a National Geographic docudrama about what the colonisation of the red planet could look like. It’s based on a book by Stephen Petranek, How We’ll Live on Mars Amazon / Biblio ]The series has 13 episodes (two seasons of six episodes, plus a prequel).

It offers a fictitious story intertwined with interviews of real scientists and personalities (such has Elon Musk, Susan Wise Bauer, Andy Weir, Antonia Juhasz, Neil deGrass Tyson, Adam Frank, Stephen Petranek, Bill Nye, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Zubrin, Ann Druyan, etc.) to discuss the feasibility and necessity of exploring and colonizing Mars. It shows not only the scientific aspects of such endeavour, but also its human side. It is filmed in a very realistic way and the acting is good (although there’s no known actors in this international cast). A companion book was created to go along the TV series: Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet [ Amazon / Biblio ].

It is really interesting, particularly if you like hard science-fiction (series like The Expanse), but I would rather see a TV series adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy… I am disappointed that it lasted only two seasons as it could have been so much more. The constant interruption of the storytelling with interviews can be annoying sometimes, but it gives the story more realism and makes the series not only entertaining but also educative. However, considering how slow space exploration is going right now, I think that starting the story in 2033 is a bit too optimistic. It was relatively well received by viewers and critics (ratings of 61% / 66% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.5 on IMDb) and it is worth watching if you like space exploration. stars-3-5

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