Monday, 22 December 2014

Hex Picks: Comics we want for Christmas

So here we are at the end of 2014, with our final set of recommendations for the year. As with the rest of December, the theme is stuff we'd like to get for Christmas and, as with the rest of December, I've picked something I haven't actually read or seen yet. I've been looking forward to this one for a while, because I really really want to read this comic, and it's always fun to tell people about how weird it sounds. For instance, I never expected to use the words "gay porn" in one of these reviews, but there it is!

So, to find out what comics the Hex crew are hoping to find in their stockings this week, for the last time this year, click the image below. Happy Christmas!


Monday, 15 December 2014

Hex Picks: Games we want for Christmas

I've really been hitting the indie-games on Steam this year. I mentioned one of them last month, but this month's Christmas recommendations gave me the chance to talk about my favourite discovery of this year - a gem of a series that I really hope people will check out.

To see which retro adventure series it is that I'm talking about, and to find out which (slightly less indie) choices the others made, point-and-click the link below!

Use cursor on link.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Hex Picks: Films we want for Christmas

The Hex team continue writing our imaginary Christmas lists this week, picking movies we'd like to find in our stockings this year. And, of course, we continue ignoring and breaking the rules. We were supposed to be highlighting films that came out this year... and I totally failed to do that.

As usual, hit the link below to check out our choices.

Attack the Clone

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Hex Dimension: The Star Wars Trailer Awakens

So, a thing happened this week. You may have heard about it, and you may even have witnessed it first-hand. It was the new Star Wars trailer. And it set the internet alight.

Since my brother and I are Hex Dimension's biggest Star Wars nerds (which, at this point, means we're experts in stuff that doesn't matter any more) we naturally had thoughts and wanted to share them. Our reactions turned out to be very similar, but for quite different reasons. David once again demonstrates why he's the one with a writing degree - firstly by having a much better argument than mine, and secondly by saying more with two words ("exquisitely dumb") than I managed with two whole paragraphs. It was fun to write against each other like this, though, even if we did both somehow use the word "freaking" the exact same way.

To read our thoughts, click the image below. This blog post actually continues after the link, because I have a few additional points to make. So, once you've read the article, head back here if you fancy some extra fanboy rantings!

What's an episode number?

You back? Ok, so you've read the piece, and you've probably rolled your eyes at my rather excessive reaction to something that's only on screen for a couple of seconds. As David says in the article, my disdain for that lightsaber is probably somewhat misplaced. Certainly, I've receieved a few comments from readers to that effect - it is, after all, just a prop in a film.

But here's the thing. If you'd never seen the trailer, and I showed you a screenshot of that lightsaber, would you even know what it was? Would you be able to tell that it was from a Star Wars movie? Because, for every other lightsaber in the series - even the purple one, or the one with two blades, or the Inquisitor's crazy spinning frizbee from Rebels - you can always instantly tell.

This thing? I don't think you could. Personally, I wouldn't even know that it's from a sci-fi - it looks more like a fire-sword from a fantasy movie. For all that it shows us familiar things, like X-wings and Stormtroopers and droids, the lightsaber in this trailer doesn't even register as a lightsaber. And, for me at least, that is a huge problem.

And, on top of that, I have a growing fear that the stupid design for this 'saber - from it's turbulant blade to its rediculous crossguard - is just another symptom of the backward-facing rehashing that David wrote about. We know that the new X-wings are derived from Ralph McQuarrie's early concept-art for the original film, and that the new droid is based on early notes for R2-D2. What if this production is so stuck in the past - so beholden to nostalgia - that they're using designs from old posters too?

...I really hate that sword.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Hex Picks: Books we want for Christmas

Since Doctor Who is well and truly over, and there's no possible way I can drag The Companion Piece out any longer than I already have, there's now a Monday-shaped gap in this blog's schedule. Starting this week, I'm going to be posting Hex Picks - our weekly collection of recommended media - on Mondays instead of Tuesdays. That, of course, opens a new scheduling gap on Tuesdays... but we'll worry about that when we come to it.

For now, please enjoy this month's book recommendations which are, of course, a list of the books we want for Christmas. Some we've read, some we haven't, and all are worth checking out. Click below to take a look!

Kids books again?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hex Dimension Review: Interstellar

It's been a while since I reviewed something in earnest, beyond my brief weekly titbits for Hex Picks. Quite honestly, there just hasn't been much out that's tickled my fancy. But now there's finally something meaty in cinemas - Christopher Nolan's first ever full-on space movie, no less - and Hex Dimension kindly let me be the one to tackle it. I've even whipped up a new Review colour-scheme to celebrate!

Nolan is most famous for his Batman films of course but, much as I love Batman Begins, it's always been his other work that really appeals to me. The Prestige and Inception - both produced in the gap between Batmans - are such brilliant and intelligent movies, and Interstellar looked set to follow that trend. To find out whether or not it actually did, hit the rather pretty link below.

Disclaimer: there is no interstellar travel in this film.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Hex Picks: Most Recent Comic

I started writing this blog for a couple of reasons. The main thing is a general love of films, of course, but perhaps even more important is the fact that I really needed to blurt out my thoughts about Prometheus.

That need has never really gone away, so when the chance came up to write some more about it for Hex Dimension, I jumped all over it. The only problem is that I was supposed to be writing about comics. This week's recommendations are the most interesting and most numerous in a while - so to take a look (and to find out just how badly I went off-topic) click the link below.

By happy coincidence, I got the new issue today!

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Companion Piece: 2014 Archive

And one more for luck. The Companion Piece has ended for the series (though it'll hopefully be back for Christmas) but I thought it would be useful to have one final post archiving all the rest, making it possible to access every episode of the series without having to search for them.

Actually that's a lie. The main reason I wanted to do this was to showcase all the header images we created for this series. I put far more effort into them than any sensible person would, and I'm extremely pleased how they all turned out. Flatline's still my favourite, I think, but there's a few contenders.

But the point still stands - it's nice to finally have all the episodes together in one place! So click below to check out all fourteen episodes of our Doctor Who discussions.


Deep Breath

Into the Dalek

Robot of Sherwood


Time Heist

The Caretaker

Kill the Moon

Mummy on the Orient Express


In the Forest of the Night

Dark Water

Death in Heaven

Series Eight

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hex Picks: Most Recent Game

I'm really enjoying this themeless month of recommendations, because it's forcing us to write about things that would normally get overlooked. Case in point: a small-scale Steam game snatched up in a weekly sale. There's no way any of us would have singled this out for our pick in a normal week, but today it gets a chance to shine!

To find out which game in particular (hint: it's the only one in the pic that you've never heard of) click the link below!

Play again? Y/N

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Companion Piece 13: Series Eight

Y'know, I'm going to miss doing The Companion Piece every week. I've never had a project with a consistant weekly deadline before - certainly never one with such a quick turnaround - and trying to keep on top of it was exhilarating, sleep-deprivation and all! Having said that, doing this week's final retrospective episode was something of a relief, because we could transcribe it early instead of waiting for everyone to catch a new episode first.

What's struck me most throughout the last twelve weeks is how everyone on the team approaches these episodes in such different ways. Matt King looks for action and excitement, Paul Blewitt wants logic and scientific accuracy, David responds to emotional content, Paul Everitt just wants good individual stories, and I'm a sucker for themes and arcs. And those different attitudes have never been more apparent than this week, where we talked about what worked for us and what didn't. The answers we all came up with could not be more different, and I think that's wonderful.

So one last time, for old times' sake, click the image below...

Lazy header-image is lazy.

Friday, 14 November 2014

(non-) Hex Picks: Most Recent Book

We skipped our usual first-week book recommendations this month (as I mentioned when I linked to our film picks) but I had this new background all ready to go and I never got the chance to use it. So, following Wednesday's debut of my new green background for discussions and opinions, here's my new book-related background too! I couldn't very well post it without at least mentioning a book, though, so here's the recommendation I would have written if I hadn't sucked and failed last week:

The Long Earth - Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Yes, I know, I've covered Pratchett twice before in these things, but the theme is my most recent book and, what can I say - I read a lot of Pratchett. What I haven't read a lot of is Stephen Baxter, who co-writes with Pratchett here. “Co-writes” is a slippery word, as it's never clear exactly who has done what - but having witnessed the deterioration of Sir Terry's prose over his last few novels, it's pretty clear that Baxter has handled most of the actual writing. I wish I'd actually read some of his other books, so that I could properly comment on whether he's purposefully emulating Pratchett's style or whether he just writes like that anyway - but either way they seem a perfect match for each other. Whoever's actually responsible, the deft worldbuilding and idiosyncratic characters feel wonderfully assured and familiar - this partnership is a strong one.

The story itself (which I'm only halfway through) deals with the sudden discovery - and universal public access to - an infinite string of parallel worlds. Our main character Joshua is, naturally, an explorer. Things get crazy quickly as he is employed by Lobsang, a supercomputer who may or may not be a reincarnated Tibetan mechanic, to head further out into these unknown Earths than anyone has ever ventured before. Interspersed with this main story (which, honestly, could be going anywhere at this point) are little vignettes depicting how various people from around the world have reacted to this new reality. I actually think these are the real meat of the book - using a “what if” concept to comment on society in the real world. The anger burning beneath Raising Steam (and Science of Discworld IV) is still here, but now it's channelled in a more hopeful direction.

All this adds up to a novel with a strong sci-fi concept hidden behind a deceptively light-hearted tone. Humour with an edge. Y'know, like a Terry Pratchett book. It feels like we got the master back, and I can't thank Stephen Baxter enough.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Hex Dimension: DC v Marvel: Dawn of Universes

You've probably noticed how psychadelic the blog's been looking recently. Well, now it's getting worse. This is the debut of my new Opinion Green theme, to sit alongside Recommendation Red and TARDIS Blue as ways to distinguish my nonsense. Hopefully all these colours are brightening the place up and not just hurting everyone's eyes! Anyway, to business...

With Doctor Who and The Companion Piece both winding down for the year, I finally have more time on my hands to write actual articles and opinion pieces and maybe even reviews! The first, which I hope will be one of several over the next few weeks, is a sceptical look at last month's press-releases from Marvel and DC, which announced their future movies.

I fall down pretty heavily on one side of the equation, and it's probably quite predictable which one - but I feel like my reasons are valid and the points are worth reiterating. Click the link below to take a look!

The main difference is that DC costumes have collars.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hex Picks: Most Recent Film

It's November, and that means it's time for another round of Hex Dimension's weekly recommendations. Due to a bunch of stuff (although, on my part, that stuff was mostly just uselessness) we didn't manage to get a selection of books together for the first week. As a result, we're jumping straight in this week with our film picks!

Our theme for the month is, unusually, the last thing that we read/watched/played. It's unusual because there's no quality control for this - we're not picking our favourites of a genre, or even good films - so for the first time we might end up with picks we don't actually like! I'm not saying that's necessarily what happened (though I'm not saying it isn't either) but it was an interesting selection we ended up with and definitely worth a look.

So go on - say "Hex Dimension" three times and click to summon the page...

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Companion Piece 12: Death in Heaven

It's been a few days since Death in Heaven brought an end to this latest series of Doctor Who, and I'm still kinda struggling with it. I can see, on a structural and intellectual level, how things played out the way they did and why that should have worked - and yet it never quite felt like it did.

It's all there, though. Every little setup and repeating motif in this crazy-dense series gets paid off in this one. Some are more successful than others (Courtney Woods and the Gifted and Talented class only seem to exist to set up one line) but they're all there and they all work. It's clever and meticulously constructed, to the point that there are (admittedly unnecessary) flashbacks from basically every single episode tying this one together.

Yet there's just something about the soldier arc that doesn't quite click, even though what happens makes perfect thematic sense. In The Companion Piece below, I had a few thoughts on what the problem might be, but even they don't seem quite right. I feel like I'm missing something fundamental, and it bugged me for days that I couldn't work out what.

But then I took a step back, and looked at the finale as a whole. Dark Water and Death in Heaven are one story, not two, and it's actually a bloody good one. This might be the best use of Cybermen I've ever seen - creepy and chilling and heartfelt and sad - and Missy is a villain for the ages! Taken as a regular Doctor Who story, this is a very strong episode. But, on top of that, it's bookended by two absolutely brilliant sequences with Clara and the Doctor - fulfilling everything their arcs were building to and proving, once again, that Coleman and Capaldi are maybe the strongest actors the show has had. That's the real finale of the series, and it's damn near perfect.

Viewed in that light, how could I possibly be disappointed?

Look familiar?

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Companion Piece 11: Dark Water

Doctor Who reached the first part of its climax this week, and I have to admit that it didn't completely work for me. It was good, definitely, but nothing really connected beyond the truly phenomenal opening scenes.

But what fantastic scenes they were! Clara, shockingly enough, steals the show again - turning well and truly to the dark-side but, more importantly, breaking our hearts first so that we'll understand why. And then the Doctor - Capaldi's cold, unsympathetic Doctor - turns the whole thing on its head and meets her betrayal with kindness and empathy. These two are so good together - so it's a shame that there's no more scenes like this after they leave the TARDIS.

There are, in Dark Water's defence, a lot of things it needs to set up. And it does so well, even at the expense of character drama. But add these new setups to the already massive pile of other things this series has set up, and there's a definite question over how (and even if) Moffat can pull all this together. I really hope it works, and I'm dying to find out how.

I've purposefully not said anything about, y'know, that reveal - or that other reveal that they gave away in the trailers - partly because spoilers, but mainly because that's exactly what The Companion Piece is for. Click the link below to head over to Hex Dimension and find out what the team made of all the questions and answers and more questions in this week's episode!

This image is probably a spoiler.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hex Picks: Horror Comics

I almost skipped this one - comics is the medium I have the least experience with and the one I always have most trouble recommending - but then, one day before the deadline, I realised there was a choice so head-smackingly obvious that I couldn't believe no-one else had already picked it.

But, while my choice is obvious, there's a couple in here that definitely aren't. There's one in particular that I've never heard of, but which sounds really creepy and awesome - I can't wait to get hold of a copy!

Click the link below to check that out, along with the rest of our scary comic picks, and don't forget, you only have a few days left to enter Hex's big Hallowe'en givaway!

What's your favourite scary movie?

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Companion Piece 10: In the Forest of the Night

Lets break this down.

The world is threatened by a solar flare (like in Time Heist), it's overrun by a real forest that became a myth (like Robot of Sherwood), and the solution to both of these problems is to Listen. The troubled children are back, the noble soldiers are back, and my fixation with the probably-coincidental eye motif is back. All of this takes place in an episode that heavily mirrors Kill the Moon in almost every respect.

I have no idea what any of this means, of course, but it's clear that this is a very dense series with a lot on its mind. That's pretty exciting, and I can't wait to see how it all pays off.

The anchor around which all these themes and their payoffs presumably orbit is Clara. Her arc continues this week as she actually surpasses the Doctor in her Doctor-ness, remaining practical in the face of extinction while he despairs. What's really interesting is that her "save who you can" speech seems remarkably similar to Donna's attitude in The Fires of Pompeii - an episode which also had an eye motif and which ended with the Doctor... saving Peter Capaldi.

Did I mention this series is dense?

As always, these more allegorical episodes are the most contentious and the most fun to talk about, so I think this week's Companion Piece is one of our best discussions! Click the image below to read the team's thoughts - and bonus points to anyone who recognises the font it uses.

Another Bad Wolf!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Hex Picks: Horror Games

I was pleasently surprised by the team's choices this week. So often computer games just stick horrible-looking monsters in front of you and call it horror - but it's the uniquely immersive nature of games that actually makes them scary. That's what all of us seemed drawn to write about, so there's some great picks in here. I particularly love David's game, which isn't usually classed as horror but has exactly that kind of atmosphere to it.

As well as this week's decidedly creepy recommendations (which you can read by clicking the image below) there's also Hex's Hallowe'en givaway, the deadline for which continues to approach with the slow inevitability of a zombie hoard...

What's your favourite scary movie?

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Companion Piece 09: Flatline

Another week where everyone on the team enjoyed the episode! Hooray!

I would never have suspected, this time last year, that Jenna Coleman might be the best actor since 2005 to play a Companion, but I think this episode settles it. Clara is amazing here - exceptional, as the Doctor puts it - and her story continues to be the main draw of this series for me.

It helps that she's surrounded by inventive monsters and a smart plot, of course, and The Companion Piece delves into all that too. To read our usual helping of discussion and crackpot theories, click the mural below (my favourite header-image so far) and don't forget to enter our gore-filled Hallowe'en draw!

Bad Wolf

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hex Picks: Horror Movies

Hallowe'en horror picks continue at Hex Dimension this week with our film recommendations. I believe it's at this point that I'm legally obliged to ask, "What's your favourite scary movie?"

My choice is one of the first things I ever wrote about on this blog, weirdly enough, and while I'm not certain it's my favourite horror film, it is absolutely the best example of all my favourite things about horror films. I'm not sure if that sentence made any sense or not, but hopefully you can figure out what I'm on about if you click the link below.

By spooky coincidence, my pick this week is actually one of the prizes in this year's big horror givaway, too. So, if horror movies are your thing (and even if they're not) click here for the chance to win a small blood-stained pile of them!

What's your favourite scary movie?

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Companion Piece 08: Mummy on the Orient Express

"People with guns to their heads, they cannot mourn. We don't have time to mourn!"

And there it is - the explanation for all Capaldi's seeming callousness this series, and the confirmation of what I've suspected since Into the Dalek. This Doctor still cares about people, but he's almost frighteningly practical about it. Capaldi's attitude to death is actually one of my favourite things about his Doctor so far, and this episode made the absolute most of that.

Something else I love, which got touched on back in our Listen discussion, is how excited he always seems by danger. I thought back then that was just a quirk of his performance, but it turns out this week that it's an intentional and fundamental part of his character. And Clara's too, it seems, as she begins to adopt all of the Doctor's worst qualities - not least of which is the generous application of Rule One.

Hang on. An emotionally detached genius with an adrenaline-junkie sidekick? We've seen this before. But, unlike Sherlock and Watson, the balance between plot and character feels much more comfortable here. Clara's "addiction" is clearly a major piece of the plot - along with soldiers and robots and death - but that plot feels like it's evolving naturally rather than being forced upon us. Series Eight is kicking Seven's arse, in other words.

I really liked this episode, in case you can't tell. It hit all the right notes for me, and I'd have loved to get into all its juicy details with The Companion Piece this week. But, alas, I couldn't make it - there were alpacas to feed and waves to jump in - but the excellent Paul B has stepped up to the (boiler) plate and taken charge on this one. He's done an amazing job, and it was kind of wonderful to experience one of these as a reader for the first time instead of a contributor. The team has some great thoughts on all this so, as always, hit the link below!

Are you my Mummy?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hex Picks: Horror Stories

It's October - Hallowe'en approaches - and that means that our theme this month is, inevitably, Horror.

Books are up first and, although there's only a few suggestions this week, they're very very good ones. There's a bit of an unexpected theme, too, in that we all picked books where the horror elements turn out to be less scary than the mundane ones. Books where terror is found in our everyday lives rather than something supernatural (although they have that too).

There's clearly something to that - the idea that scary monsters will never be as terrifying as the things we're familiar with. Like a book. Or a webpage. So, to cower in fear at our choices, click this spooky link...

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Companion Piece 07: Kill the Moon

The whole idea of The Doctor Who Companion Piece - the reason it's framed as a discussion each week instead of a straight review - is so that we can dig a little deeper into the ideas and themes of the episodes. And this week was a goldmine.

Not that I think Kill the Moon was a particularly good episode or anything. It was not. But it gave us more interesting things to discuss, I think, than any other episode this series - not even Listen.

We got into a bunch of interesting topics, but there's one huge one that overwhelmed all the rest for me. Which is weird, because no-one else seemed to have even noticed it. For me there was such an unsubtle subtext to this episode that it was basically just text. And it was kind of awful.

To find out exactly what it is that I'm skirting around, click the super-nerdy pic below. And click here for the chance to win a free sci-fi novel!
Kill the Moon

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Companion Piece 06: The Caretaker

This week's episode of the Doctor Who Companion Piece was quite an exciting one, for a couple of reasons.

The first exciting reason is the newly improved visual theme, which you can actually see right here! I'm really pleased with it, and I learnt a bunch of new stuff figuring out how to do it - I've already got a much better grasp of CSS, JavaScript, and even basic HTML than I did last week. I want to learn more, too, so expect this blog to become a playground of graphical nonsense in the coming months.

The second, even more exciting reason is that The Caretaker is the first episode of this series that everyone in the team properly enjoyed. With the exception of a naff baddie, this one delivered on every level - and it actually gave us a lot to talk and think about.

To read all those thoughts (and talks) just click the fancy link below!
The Caretaker

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pile of Shame: DotA 2

Hopefully you're aware of Pile of Shame - it's one of the regular weekly features over at Hex Dimension, and it's a really great idea. Basically it's a look at the games you've owned for ages but never got around to playing. It's been running for a while, but I've never played any games that qualify... until now.

DotA2 (it stands for Defense of the Ancients) is probably the world's biggest electronic-sport - a game where two teams battle it out for supremacy on a fixed playing field. But, more to the point, it's free, which means I've had it for ages but never actually risked the humiliation of playing it. That changed last week, as I finally dipped my toes into the world of online multiplayer.

You can read about all my n00bish DotA adventures right here, and you can enter Hex's current competition to win a free novel here! It's a busy week!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hex Picks: Crime Comics

The theme for Semptember's recommendations is still Crime and Punishment, and this week we looked at comics. Obviously this is the most superhero-oriented week we've ever had, since superheroes are crimefighters and all. Only one comic in the entire list managed to avoid tights and capes entirely!

But, even though superheroes were the obvious choice, this is the week where I finally bent the theme as far as it could go. Whether or not it actually works as a Crime and Punishment choice at all is up for debate. Why not take a look and decide for yourself?

We're also running a competition right now, so for a chance to win Jeff VanderMeer’s new novel, click here!

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Companion Piece 05: Time Heist

Doctor Who does Ocean's Eleven. It sounds like an amazing premise - so amazing, in fact, that I couldn't believe no-one had thought of it before. I couldn't wait for this episode! Yet Time Heist left me cold somehow.

Heist movies, and series like the BBC's own Hustle, have a very particular structure - the gang plan the job (with a slick montage and great music), then they execute it and it all goes horribly wrong, and they have to improvise their way out of it (which often turns out to have secretly been the plan all along). But Time Heist had none of that - they stumble in without a plan, meaning that there's no plan to go wrong - so it never actually feels like the heist movie it's trying to be.

It felt like a wasted opportunity. But there was still a lot to like, and the rest of the Companion Piece team seemed to love it. To get both sides of that discussion, as well as some deeper insights into the series this week, click the mugshot below.

Also, for a chance to win Jeff VanderMeer’s new novel  Acceptance, click here!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hex Picks: Crime Games

When you think of games that fit the theme "Crime and Punishment" you think of stuff like GTA or Driver, right? What you don't think of is point-and-click adventure games. Yet here we are, with a list mostly made up of exactly that!

Click here to find out which adventure games in particular made our list. Why not sign up for our weekly newsletter too, so you never miss out.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Companion Piece 04: Listen

Last May - at the lowest arc of my relationship with Doctor Who - I wrote a piece describing the elements that make up the best Doctor Who stories, and lamenting the fact that they seemingly weren't making them like that any more. This week, following the latest episode, it's hard to believe I ever felt that way. Steven Moffat has written an episode that perfectly encapsulates everything I was talking about and more.

Listen is easily my favourite episode since The Girl Who Waited, A Good Man Goes to War, or maybe even Day of the Moon. It's just that good. In fact, it's probably even better.

So, I've kind of spoilt any surprise that will come from reading this week's Companion Piece - but you should still read it anyway, because the team have some really great thoughts on this one. For arguments about whether the monsters exist, and a wonderfully mad theory about the Master, click the image below!

By the way - in the ongoing debacle of the 100th Post, it turns out that my Tic-Tacs were passion-fruit and not mango. I thought you'd want to know...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Hex Picks: Crime Movies

Who would have thought that there would ever be a week of these recommendations where I would be the one person playing the theme straight?

This week - part of "Crime and Punishment" month - we've ended up with one comedy, one sci-fi, one comedy-sci-fi, an anachronistic-steampunk-comedy-action-thing, and a horror film. And only one straight crime thriller, weirdly chosen by me. I love how creatively we all interpret these monthly subjects - it might be my favourite thing about them.

It's a really great mix this week, with no two films even remotely alike, and you should absolutely get over there and check it out!

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Companion Piece 03: Robot of Sherwood (100th post!)

Last week I mistakenly thought this blog had reached its hundredth post. I was dead wrong - it was only the ninety-nineth. But that means that today's post - this post - is the hundredth post instead! Yaay!

To celebrate one-hundred pages of my rambling, I've treated myself to a random box of Tic-Tacs that I found at the back of a cupboard. They're mango-flavoured and everything!

If you fancy celebrating with me, the best present you could give is to pop over to Hex Dimension and give us some traffic. Lots of awesome stuff on the site this week, as always, including an interview with Liz Prince about her new comic, Tomboy, and the latest installment of the dreaded Pile of Shame.

And, of course, we've got Doctor Who coming out of our ears. The latest Robin-Hood-themed episode seems to have been less well recieved than the others this series, but our team had a different reaction. To read the latest Companion Piece, and find out what we thought, click on the birthday cake below!

Here's to the next hundred!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Hex Picks: Crime Novels

This is my hundredth blog post! To celebrate such a momentous occasion I've decided to do something special and... um... post the same thing I post every week. I guess I thought it would be more of an occasion. Sorry.

Our recommendations this week focus on crime and punishment. Also time-machines, ghosts, and robots. Maybe one day I'll manage to actually stick to the suggested theme but, alas, not this week.

Check out our eclectic mix of book ideas here, and why not subscribe to the newly spruced up Hex newsletter, for all your geekish needs!

It turns out this is only NerdTech's ninety-ninth post, so it's even more of a let down than I thought!

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Companion Piece 02: Into the Dalek

Were back again, with another look at the Doctor's adventures! There's Daleks this week but, more importantly, far more time with our new Doctor and this latest incarnation of Clara.

I feel like The Companion Piece is really starting to find it's footing. It's becoming quicker to actually have the conversations, and it's slowly becoming fun to edit and format, rather than a chore. The new layout works really well and, for the first time, I think we figured out how to include pictures without breaking the flow.

On the whole we liked this episode a little less than the first, though I personally liked the peripheral stuff a lot more this time, and our own Dalek, Emily, actually liked this one a little bit more. Click the rather nifty banner below (biased opinion) to find out what else we thought about this second episode!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Hex Picks: Romantic Comics

Romance month is over! Nope, no more hugs. We're done.

Our final recommendation, as always, was comics. And, being the discerning connoisseur I am, I chose that rarest and most unique of genres: superhero comics. Joking aside, it's a superhero comic that I enjoyed mostly for its romantic angle, and that is fairly unusual.

There's a couple of other unusual choices in there too - one postmodern meta-comic, a D&D stickman comic and, weirdest of all, Chobits. So it's worth having a look, just to see what strange and unhealthy ideas about romance we all have...

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Companion Piece 01: Deep Breath

Last Monday was the first episode of Hex Dimension's weekly feature looking at the latest series of Doctor Who and the adventures of Peter Capaldi's new Doctor. We call it... The Companion Piece.

Today that feature continues - the difference being that this week we actually had a new episode to talk about! The first episode of Series 8 aired this past Sunday, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot. It's not spectacular, but it's a strong effort, introducing us to this new incarnation of the Doctor with both humour and horror, in true Doctor Who fashion. However, not everyone agrees with me, and we ended up with quite a mixture of feelings about it.

We've also made some aesthetic changes - adding user icons to our discussion and messing with the layout. I'd originally planned to turn everyone into monsters, but we all agreed that was a little too disturbing, as Silence-Matt and Ood-Paul here should probably illustrate.

So please click on, and find out what the team and I thought of Capaldi's introduction, as well as our thoughts on dinosaurs, Romans, lizard lips, and the afterlife.

It's all going on in this week's Companion Piece!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Hex Picks: Romantic Games

Yesterday on Hex, as well as launching our new weekly Doctor Who feature, we continued with this month's theme of romantic recommendations. We've covered books and movies, so this week was games, and we ended up with a collection of games both obvious and unexpected - there's one super-obvious choice in there, but not for the obvious reason. Also, I love what they did with the title.

It's good, is what I'm saying, so get over there and take a look!

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Companion Piece 00: Who?

If you're at all familiar with this blog, or with me as a person, then you'll know that I love me some Doctor Who. Or rather, you'll know that I love talking about Doctor Who. At horrifying length.

Well, good news for both of us, because me and the rest of the Hex Dimension crew are launching a new weekly Doctor Who feature to coincide with the start of the new series this coming Saturday. It's good news for me because it means I get to talk about Doctor Who every week; and it's good news for you because I won't be the only one talking, and because the others might be able to shut me up.

Tonight, in the run-up to Series 8, we ran the first instalment - an introduction to the team and a look back at the programme so far. We talk about our favourite Doctors, discuss what we are and aren't looking forward to this year, and discover that one of us is even grumpier about this stuff than me!

I really do hope you'll check it out, because a lot of effort, confusion and panic went into making this. No doubt there will be even more effort, confusion and panic as the weeks go on, and I fall back into my familiar pattern of alternately bitching and raving about the show. But, for now at least, I'm immensely proud of how this first one turned out.

So please, head over to Hex Dimension for our pre-series discussion, and don't forget to check back on Monday for the first real episode of...

Monday, 11 August 2014

Hex Picks: Romantic Films

Romance Month continues at Hex Dimension this week, as we choose a selection of our favourite romantic films. Unlike last time, a few of us even managed to play the theme straight, and didn't pick sci-fi or fantasy romances! Of course, some of us still cheated, and (naturally) I was one of them.

Click here to find out which sci-fi romance never fails to make me cry, and to witness the continuing streak of my brother and I thinking the exact same way...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Hex Dimension: A Case of the Ghiblis

Yesterday the news broke that Studio Ghibli, the loved and lauded Japanese animation studio, might be closing its doors. I've written about anime and Ghibli before, of course (spoiler: not a fan), so Emily over at Hex asked me to write a few words.

I didn't want to, at first, but as the day went on I slowly realised that I needed to. Because this news was huge - world-changing, even. It just took me a while to realise that.

Please do check out my article, and see why Studio Ghibli matters so damn much.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hex Picks: Romantic Novels

This month is romance month on Hex Dimension! It was a joke at first, but the theme stuck and we're doing our best to run with it. Unfortunately, because we're a bunch of massive nerds, every book we picked turned out to be our usual selection of fantasy and sci-fi - but with added mushiness.

So, if you want to read our thoughts on what makes a good romance - which in my case turns out to involve quite a lot of snot - check out our picks here, and remember to check back every week for even more unashamed slush!

x x x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Way way back in early June, when the Earth was still young, you may remember that I promised to review the then-current movie Edge of Tomorrow. Well, let it never be said that I don't keep my promises, because here, barely a month-and-a-half late, is that fabled review!

Normally I would act coy about what I thought, to try and get you to click the link below, but this time I'm just going to say it: Edge of Tomorrow is the best film of the summer so far. Chances are it's not playing anywhere near you, because late review is late, but if you do somehow manage to find a showing then this thing is shockingly good and well worth your time. If you want to know why it's so good... you'll have to click the link below. Because I'm coy like that.

Read the review here!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hex Picks: Sci-Fi Month

It's recommendation time again! This month, Hex Dimension tried something new and had a constant theme running through all our picks. The theme for July was science-fiction (we are a geek website, after all) and it resulted in a bunch of great suggestions, ranging from hardcore cyberpunk to whacky space-fantasy.

As always, we started with books, moved on to films, then games, and wrapped up this week with comics. Hopefully you'll check them all out and discover some hidden sci-fi gems! Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for that final post (by a mere half-hour, I swear) and my recommended comic didn't make the cut. I do still want to share it with you, though, so I've decided to post it here on NerdTech instead:

Girl Genius - Phil and Kaja Foglio

All this month, for our sci-fi recommendations, I've been trying to pick examples of real, hard sci-fi rather than that namby-pamby soft stuff. But I've been racking my brains for a similarly hardcore comic and, shamefully, I don't think I've read any! So today I'm going completely the other way.

Kaja and Phil Foglio's ongoing webcomic Girl Genius is about as soft and unrealistic as it's possible for sci-fi to be. Because this is not a comic about science; it's a comic about MAD science. Girl Genius takes the age-old idea of the mad scientist and spins it in a unique direction: what if all scientists were mad? What if the use and understanding of science required (and also caused) a certain level of insanity? What would that world be like?

The answer, of course, is "very very silly". This is a world of giant clockwork men, steampunk spider-tanks, airship cities, unstable time-machines, frankinsteinian abominations, and an alarming number of death-rays. But that's all just texture - this sci-fi nonsense is fun, but the substance lies in some great characters and relationships, and there's some pretty complex political intrigue too.

The art can be a little messy and confusing at times, and the story often throws things rapidly and haphazardly together, possibly just to see what works - but the chaos actually suits Girl Genius perfectly. It's a mad experiment performed by crazy people, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But hey, that's SCIENCE!