The Hobbit Recut, Steampunk Alien, and the Coolest Paper Airplanes in the Galaxy

s41As is our (three-week-old) Friday tradition, here’s what grabbed our attention this week (at least, when we weren’t geeking out about the new Neil Gaiman book).

We all knew it was coming: As much as we loved every moment spent in Peter Jackson’s incarnation of Middle Earth, there’s no denying that his expansive take on The Hobbit strays far and wide from the slim source material. But now, one fan has edited the nearly nine-hour trilogy into a slimmer, but still substantial four-hour version, offering us a peak into the alternate universe in which Guillermo del Toro went ahead with his original plan to direct two films based directly on the book. (Via Tor.com)

Spotted on Nerd Approved: You’ll never believe that these models of your favorite sic-fi spacecraft, from Luke’s X-Wing to Starbuck’s Viper, are made out of nothing but paper. Considering we can’t even manage to make a paper airplane that doesn’t immediately smash directly into our shoes, color us very impressed.

From her award-winning sic-fi to her genre-hopping thrillers, South African author Lauren Beukes is one of the most interesting writers working. Now, she’s poised to get an even wider audience, as Deadline reports her twisted 2014 book Broken Monsters is being turned into a TV series by the team behind AMC’s Hell on Wheels and Low Winter Sun.

We could debate the merits of the Star Wars prequels all weekend long, but most of us would probably agree that, all other considerations aside, it’s a little silly when one of the key moments in a six-film saga involves a droid doctor reporting that Padme died of a broken heart. Thanks to the dedicated crew over at RetroZap, however, we now have a possible alternative explanation, one that both redeems a goofy scene AND reconfirms the fact that Emperor Palpatine is the galaxy’s ultimate long-term planner.

Finally, io9 has rounded up a series of CGI trailers created by a bunch of animation students in Denmark that reimagine classic sci-fi films, including a new take on Ridley Scott’s Alien that incorporates a few steampunk flourishes.

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