April 2018~ Secret Cinema- Blade Runner: The Final Cut

SPOILERS BELOW- DO NOT CONTINUE UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED!

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Secret Cinema are back and this time they are celebrating their 10th anniversary by going back to their first event with Blade Runner, only this time it was to be bigger and better.

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The whole premise of the event this time was around humans moving off-world to live on colonies in outer space (as in the film) because the Earth was polluted. Replicants and companions are quite common (again, as in the film) but the Nexus 6 model was banned due to it being a danger- just like the film.

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Three of us were planning on going so bought tickets (unfortunately, our friend Fudge had to pull out at the last minute).  Within a few days we were sent an email inviting us to sign up for our identities for the evening. A quick questionnaire determined your job of which there were many. I was assigned to be Dennis Lockwood, an ambassador for The Utopia Corporation who run all the off-world colonies. My friend David was to be a Private Detective whilst Fudge would be a ‘Professional Friend’. We were given a list of things to bring (including goggles or glasses, a transparent umbrella or jacket, a notepad and more) and told how we should dress. Regular updates gave us more information leading up to the event. We also had to print off our ID card and bring it with us.

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The day of the event arrived and we had to be at Canning Town Station by 6pm. A couple of LAPD Police Officers directed us to the World Terminus, just across the road. Upon arrival we had our tickets scanned and was given a seal-able bag for our mobile phones.

We then entered Downtown LA 2019- the people at Secret Cinema had painstakingly created the stalls, the people, the whole environment, right down to the acid rain! Many key characters from the film could be seen wandering around including Rick Deckard, Rachael, Detective Harry Bryant, Taffey Lewis, JF Sebastian, Gaff and more. There were also plenty of replicants of various models (including Leon, Pris, Zhora and Roy Batty) wandering around. You could eat at any one of the Chinese food stalls, get drinks at nearby bars, visit The Snake Pit, LAPD HQ and Tyrell Corp. Every area had actors in who never break character.

David went off to LAPD to get his assignment and was pretty quickly chasing around The Snake Pit with other detectives. My assignment was to report to Utopia Corp to be inducted. The induction took the form of listening to and taking part in a sales pitch for those wanting to move off-world. At the end, Eve, the Utopia liaison, told me to report to Tyrell to undergo testing.

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On arrival at Tyrell, we were separated by wrist band colour. Mine was red and there were only a few of us- there were not many reds in the box when we were given them at the entrance (something on our ID cards told the staff what colour to give us).

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I was taken, with 4 others, to a back room and shown a rather disturbing ‘mental conditioning’ video. At the end of the video we were told that we were all Nexus 6 replicants and had to do our best to avoid the Blade Runners and stay alive. We had two choices- 1) Go back to Utopia Corp and persuade Eve to get us off-world quickly or 2)Try our best to blend in and stay undetected.

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We left Tyrell. I chose to go with option one, however, someone had beaten me to it. When this other Nexus-6 approached Eve, she worked out he was a dangerous replicant and called the police. He was very quickly chased down. I then decided to blend in and hit the various bars and different districts whilst David ran around being a detective. I had to avoid the scavengers area as they were all diseased. I had a close encounter with someone trying to sell me illegal off-world tickets.

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Then, I decided to fall down the stairs and twist my knee. An LAPD cop and the First Aid guys were awesome and after applying a freeze bandage I headed back out into Chinatown. I met up with David shortly before the film began and the same LAPD cop helped get us to the front to get a decent seat. There were 3 massive screens that all became part of the set and key scenes were, as normal, acted out along with the film.

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Both I and David had an absolute blast and were both upset that Fudge could not join us as she would have loved it! My only complaint (and David’s) was that the cinema seating was too small and too cramped. Luckliy, Detective Krause (they are ALWAYS in character) moved me to a VIP seat due to my dodgy knee. It was better but not by much.

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If you are a big fan of Blade Runner then you must do this. It’s awesome!

A HUGE thanks to David for coming out of his way to pick me up and drive me home again!

April 2018~ Out Of The Ashes Reunion

Since the Out of the Ashes Con in April 2017 ended, many attendees wanted to meet up again and have fun. Some of the attendees got together along with a couple of the FCD crew to organise a reunion event in April 2018. It was to be a one-day event with a buffet and party in the evening.

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Friday April 6th came and the attendees began descending on The Telford-Ironbridge Holiday Inn. After a not-so-enjoyable visit to a local restaurant, the fun began quite quickly and carried on at the hotel bar into the wee small hours of Saturday morning.

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Other folks began arriving on Saturday morning and registered for the event, which began at 12pm with a variety of board games. The crew of the USS Iceni were running a raffle and at 2pm the event would be officially opened.

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I had been asked a few months ago to come up with some kind of quiz along with my FCD sidekick (or am I the sidekick) Neil Green. It was to start out as a team event with The Tribblemakers taking on Team DISCO.

All rounds had some kind of geeky link but were based on a classic gameshow from the 70s onwards. Examples included ‘Play Your Cardassians Right,’ ‘The Next Generation Game’ and ‘Odo’s Weakest Link’. After the first four rounds, one team was eliminated and the remaining team had to compete against each other with one person leaving at the end of each round.

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One round involved the final three contestants having to sculpt a model of Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine out of modelling clay. Our surprise guest, Rainbow Sun-Francks from Stargate Atlantis, hilariously judged this particular round.

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At the very end, the one remaining contestant took part in ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Geek Edition. Our Grand Champion was Mark Cottam.

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Everyone left to go and get ready for our Mask Party and buffet. I’m not a fan of masks but found one I was happy with- Captain Chaos from Cannonball Run.

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People began arriving in a variety of outfits, including Holly, one of the organisers who came as an Andorian from Star Trek. After a few opening remarks and a guest announcement for the upcoming FCD Stargate con, Cal Mah, the party began.

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Many people headed home the next day but a few of us hung around to chill out before heading home on the Monday.

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I really hope it becomes an annual event as its good to catch up with good friends and family and do it away from a full blown con.

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A huge thanks to the organisers! A job well done!

April 2018~ 2001: A Space Odyssey 50th Anniversary

50 years ago today ‘Something wonderful’ happened. A film was released that would split the sci-fi world in two. You either loved it or hated it.

Most fans have their own theory about the meaning behind the plot and indeed the plot itself. Many of these theories overlap. Here’s my interpretation.

4 million years ago, a group of apes lived in Africa, fighting over food and water with another tribes of apes. One night, an Alien artifact, a large black monolith, suddenly appears, near this tribe. This black slab represents a challenge for the apes as they were naturally fearful but also curious creatures. Their curiosity eventually won and led Moonwatcher, the leader of the tribe to touch the Monolith. This touch sparked the next stage in evolution and led the apes to create the first tool which was then used as the first weapon.

Skipping forward 4 million years to the year 2001 we see the Earth, surround by a variety of space stations and nuclear weapons platforms. Humans have evolved, are rational and still curious but lacking the fear the apes had. There is no gravity space space so humans need to learn to walk again and be toilet trained and eats baby-style food. In essence, they are babies again.

The tools have evolved too, in many cases becoming more human-like. In space, humans can easily lose control of their tools.

Another large monolith is discovered beneath the surface near the crater, Tycho. A group of humans visit the now-uncovered monolith. As this new contact is made, a high-pitched transmission is beamed from the slab and out towards Jupiter (Saturn in the first novel). This monolith is acting as some kind of sentry- letting its creators know that humans have now evolved to a stage that is taking them out into space- a possible potential threat??

18 months later, the Discovery One ship, under the command of Dr Dave Bowman and Dr Frank Poole is approaching Jupiter where another Monolith has been detected. On board Discovery, along with Dave, Frank and three crew in cryo-sleep is HAL- HAL is the name of the ship’s on-board HAL9000 computer, the brains and nervous system of the whole ship. HAL sees Dave, Frank and the other humans as mere maintenance men, just there to look after and service him. To HAL, humans have gone as far as they can go and he is the next stage in evolution. HAL believes he is a living, sentient being. Superior to humans in every way.

HAL detects an error in the AE-35 unit. This eventually turns out to be a mistake, causing Dave and Frank to attempt to deactivate HAL. However, HAL is one tool that man has lost control of. He doesn’t need air to breathe or food for fuel. HAL was also given conflicting orders, preserve the mission above all other orders as well as take care of the crew- this in turn also added to his downfall. A battle between man and tool begins and leads HAL to cause the death of Frank Poole as well as the other 3 crew members in cryo-sleep and leaving Dave Bowman stranded in an EV-Pod outside of the ship.

HAL didn’t figure on Dave’s human, ape-like ingenuity kicking in and Dave is able to get back on to the Discovery and shut-down HAL with the simplest tool of all. A screwdriver.

Dave now finds himself alone and facing certain death. His crew are dead as is his ship.

Dave decides to go and investigate the Monolith and heads out in one of the EV-Pods. On arrival, he is instantly transported through a star-gate to another dimension where he sees himself as an old man facing humanities final challenge- death. Like the broken wine glass and spilt wine, he understands that the human body is just a vessel for the human spirit.

Human evolution had relied so much on the tools it created that it the end it was the tools (HAL) that almost killed him. This realisation shows that man is ready for the next evolutionary leap and thus the star-child is born.

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