The Fanzine of Starbase Leicester

Welcome to Avatar, the Group Fanzine. Here you will find the latest articles, reviews, stories and much more, all written by our members.

All contributions of written work are gratefully received, please contact the Fanzine Editor Garak via the messaging service in the Members area.




Our new ratings system.

As editor of Avatar I decided a while ago to look into developing a ratings system which could be applied by all reviewers to all of the different things we review and which could serve as a quick and handy reference for the reader when comparing like with like, or like with unlike, or even unlike with unlike.

While other publications might use a percentage rating system or marks out of ten or even star based ratings, we are STARBASE Leicester so for all future reviews we will be using our own unique rating system based, not just on stars, but on their Spectral Class.

As I'm sure you all know, this Stellar Classification system categorises suns based on their size, luminosity and temperature. From the O-class which is the hottest type of star (between 28,000 and 50,000 degrees Kelvin), to B (10,000 to 28,000 degrees Kelvin), then A, F, G, K and finally with M as the coolest (2,500 to 3,500). Under the Morgan-Keenan System these Classes are further subdivided into 10 sub-classes, O9 being hotter than O1, which in turn is hotter than B9 etc. 

By this system we will define the best movie, book, video game, etc, that could ever be created (which may be a theoretical impossibility) as O9 while the worst ever would earn the rating M0. The hotter something is, the better. The cooler, the worse it is, unless or course you happen to confuse the word 'coolest' with something being good, but I'm sure that won't happen.

In addition to this vector we also have the Luminosity of a star, denoted in Roman numerals i, ii, iii, iv and v. We will be using this rating in our reviews to measure the success of a work when compared to the other works by the same Author, Director, Publisher etc. 

All of this is of course in the hands of the particular reviewer, but under this system a great book such as Neuromancer might be rated as O6v (being rated very high and the best of Gibson's works by the reviewer) while a dreadful (even by its Directors own admission) movie such as Transformers 2 could score as low as M4ii (not the worst film ever and not Michael Bays worst film, but close).

Conversely our own Sun which is a medium class main sequence star rated as G2v would be roughly equivalent to the Bill Cosby film Ghost Dad.

So I hope that will all be very clear to anyone with even a passing interest in astrophysics and provide you, the reader, and them, the reviewer, with a simple and clear method of grading and comparison. Enjoy!

Mark E. Cotterill

Cert. 15
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Starring Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley

Question 1: What do you get if you cross a kangaroo with a sheep?
Answer: A woolly jumper.

Question 2: What do you get if you cross Frankenstein with Oedipus Rex?
Answer. The movie Splice.

I think it’s been a while since anybody made a b-movie, deliberately I mean. For those of you too young to remember them, b-movies were made to accompany the main feature of an evening of movies, newsreels and shorts back in the days when people had a longer attention span. B-movies weren’t meant to be big blockbusters, they were always very low budget, not meant to break any box-office records and generally as cheesy as hell. It’s great to see this tradition being revived with Splice, a movie which looks pretty cheap but is good fun all the same.

It’s firmly in the biopunk genre which means that none of the ethical issues raised by the gene-splicing, protein synthesising or embryo researching poses are in even the slightest danger of being discussed. No, we’re here to see squishiness, slimy things exploding and nasty surprises. It's horror, but it's well lit and the basement is sterilised.

There are some original twists, I particularly liked the gender reversal of having the woman be the 'mad scientist' for a change, with her male partner taking on the role of trying to talk some sense into her. Although he's not really in much of a position of moral superiority since, when he isn't trying to kill the creature he's trying (and rather disturbingly succeeding) to have sex with it.

It gets hard to sympathise with either of the lead characters and you find yourself rooting for Dren almost by default. I think this was perhaps a very shrewd move by the writers as we are made to both love and hate both the creature and the scientists at various points. Sometimes the monster is cute and vulnerable, other times it's dangerous and scary. But even when the scientists are being 'loveable' it's hard to really forgive them for what they've done. As noted above the moral justification for their medical experiments is never adequately explored and is referenced only in the usual terms of "this protein could help Alzheimer sufferers." This movie does come just a few months after it was announced that scientists working in the US have created 'artificial' life in the lab, raising the prospect that however far fetched this story may seem, it's probably not totally in the realms of fantasy.

As a horror movie it does most definitely work, by which I mean in the style of an old 1950s horror movie. A lot of the time It makes you want to stop looking at the screen and there is no let up in the stream of gross-out bodily fluids and goo. True to the best traditions of action films there is something to be horrified by every few minutes and the pace is kept up and maintained right through to the film's climax.

I was thinking about whether this was actually one of the few movies released this year which might have actually benefited from 3D, but I think at any rate it is a better experience on the big screen. It's much more visceral in the dark and probably wouldn't have the same impact on a tv screen.

SBL Rating: G6
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