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dumbo

Dumbo Soars Back Into Our Lives

Dumbo!

Disney has somehow pulled these live action versions of their classic and loved animated features off. While the story of Favreau’s Jungle Book didn’t blow me away I have to admit it crossed a visual boundary I wasn’t prepared to pass when I went into the theater and Beauty and Beast made over a billion dollars and it’s hard for me to believe The Lion King isn’t going to do the same.

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monsters

Gareth Edwards’ Monsters | Notes from New Sodom

In the Interests of Precision

This is not a review. If you want to know whether I think director Gareth Edwards’s debut feature Monsters is worth seeing, I do. Go see it. But this isn’t about how good I think it is, and why; it’s about what the film’s doing, how this strange fiction (the specific example and the form in general) works. Whether it works well or not, for you or me — I don’t give a shit. More than anything, I want to use it here to explore the sort of dynamics at play in strange fiction, because the movie addresses one aspect of that dynamics directly, proclaiming this in its very title. The film is about the device of the monstrum that drives many narratives, not least those we project onto reality.

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Heroic Bloodshed: John Woo in Hong Kong | Tokyo Drifter

John Woo makes cool films. His Hong Kong action films are amongst some of, if not the best, action movies ever made. Films like A Better Tomorrow and its sequel, A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer, and Once a Thief had high grosses that contributed to the golden age of Hong Kong Cinema during the eighties and early nineties. His work proved influential not only in Hong Kong, but also in the international scene, leading to interest in Hong Kong cinema in countries like the United Kingdom and America, and influencing a generation of non-Asian filmmakers. Woo would himself later make the transition to Hollywood, making films like Broken Arrow and Face/Off, sadly not up to the same standard as his earlier work. For a generation though, Woo defined what it meant to be cool. Gangsters started to dress like Chow Yun Fat in A Better Tomorrow, complete with Alain Delon sunglasses (which caused them to be sold out in Hong Kong). The over the top gun fight choreography, slickness, hint of black humour, and symbolism that has become cliché through uninspired repetition by Hollywood was fresh and exciting. As Bordwell says, he is the ultimate Hong Kong auteur, because when you were watching one of his films, you knew that it could only be a John Woo film.

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marjorie liu

A Marjorie Liu Interview | Dirk, Steele, and X-23

Recently I was given the chance to have a phone chat with best-selling author Marjorie M. Liu, author of the “Dirk & Steele” paranormal romance series and “Hunter Kiss” urban fantasy series; Marjorie is also a current writer for Marvel Comics with “X-23” and “Daken.”

In anticipation for Marjorie’s latest Dirk & Steele novel, In the Dark of Dreams, we discussed the D & S series, working on comics, and the best way to bribe her if you want spoilers for her upcoming releases!

Imager with L.E. Modesitt, Jr. | Interview

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., is the best-selling author of several fantasy and science fiction series, and a name you can’t get through any bookstore’s SFF section without encountering.  I am only familiar with his work on the Imager Portfolio.  From the first book it became one of my favorite fantasy series, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about the books with him.  While I did get some great insight into certain elements in the series, the discussion somehow veered off into cultural territory that I found even more fascinating.  Note on that:  I’m breaking from my usual interviewing presentation and leaving my responses intact, even when they are long, because I’m not sure his answers would make sense without my set-ups.  That being said, I hope you enjoy the perspective!

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daredevil

Daredevil’s Yellow – A Perfect Memory

A bright yellow costume on a man called Daredevil. It was simply never going to work putting a slightly older, lawyer/vigilante, protector of Hell’s Kitchen in a bright yellow costume. How many reasons are there for it not being a great idea? It’s a colour usually reserved for children’s playrooms and bright insects. It would glowingly make Daredevil an easy target at all times. It’s ugly. It certainly doesn’t go with red (which you have to remember was possibly the main colour of the suit with only the arms, legs, and head yellow). It looks too cheery. Is that enough to show the initial costume used by Matt Murdock in his crime fighting exploits was a bad idea?

Yet, the look has seemingly aged incredibly, and perhaps surprisingly, well. Whenever I think of it, or see it, I only get a warm glow inside me.

Why?

Adventures in Unhistory by Avram Davidson Review

Imagine if you will that, when you were younger, you had an older relative — a grandfather or great-aunt — who was something of an armchair historian regarding mythology. Every now and then, when you were visiting, you’d make your way to their study, sit in one of the overstuffed chairs by the fire, and ask a question. “Where exactly did Sindbad sail?,” you’d ask; or, “who was Prester John?” or “were there really ever dragons, rocs, or unicorns?” Your older relative would get a youthful gleam of excitement in their eye and start pulling down a collection of books from the shelves with which to answer your question. “Maybe,” they’d say, opening an ancient-looking tome, “and maybe not. I once met an elderly gentleman named Mr. Dong who claimed to have seen a unicorn while on safari in Africa…but I’ll save that story for later. First, let’s see what old Pliny the Elder had to say on the matter….”

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house of games

The Entertainers: 5 Essential Movies of Scam Cinema

Hollywood: it’s all a scam, isn’t it?

For all of our lives, the movies have promised us big, big things.  Action and adventure are just out there waiting for us.  Good always triumphs over evil.  A simple confusion of gender will result in a humorous situation.  And everybody is having way more sex than you.  Like the good little marks we all are, we run frantically to these show-biz con-men with fistfuls of dollars, just begging to be parted with our money and our senses.  And then as with any good con, once it’s all over, we stand there on the sidewalk, squinting in the sunlight, our dreams crushed by reality and our pockets empty.  The movies are the longest running scam in world history.

Mark Charan Newton Interview | Nights of Villjamur

Mark Charan Newton is an urban fantasy author who’s currently two novels into his writing career and, judging by the sheer tonnage of critical acclaim which now includes a place in Library Journal’s top 5 best SF/F of 2010, is only just getting warmed up. For those of you already familiar with his work, Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, I suspect he needs no introduction…but I’m going to do it anyway.

The Chimpanzee Complex… Stripp’d

There is consolation in conspiracy. Whenever something terrible happens, humans look for answers and they don’t stop looking even when they have found them: It wasn’t Oswald who killed Kennedy, it was the mob or the commies, or the CIA. It wasn’t a drunk driver who killed Princess Diana; it was British Intelligence and the Royal Family. The reason why our minds are drawn to conspiracies is because conspiracies make the world seem a less random and little more comprehensible. Our need to derive spiritual sustenance from a belief that we are part of some grand plan or pattern fuels religion as well as psychology. In fact, one could argue that the whole point of Freudian psychoanalysis is the construction of elaborate conspiracy theories that explain away people’s less desirable character traits:

Memories of Wing Commander

There aren’t many things from my youth that I truly miss, but one of the members of that elite group is the space combat flight simulator game. Once quite common, they are all but unknown today, and that’s a shame. For me, personally, my regret at the genre’s passing is about much more than the fact that I’ll never get to play Freespace 3. (Though that is also a source of nigh-overwhelming anguish, obviously.) My own first encounter with the genre was one of the things that really expanded my ideas of what a video game could be.

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dan abnett

In the Black Library with Dan Abnett | Interview Part 1

For me this is the interview to end all interviews.

It’s not often one gets to interview a personal hero; I suspect this is mostly because heroes don’t enjoy mopping up fanboy drool, and frankly, who can blame them? This is going to be a little different from my other interviews, because while the others have been with relatively new talent, Dan Abnett has been writing for around 27 years and has done everything, and I do mean everything, from Marvel comics to Mr. Men, as well as a phenomenal novel set in a world of his own creation.

In and Out of The Big House: DOING TIME and 9 SOULS

By his own admission, noted Mangaka (pro comics creator) Kazuichi Hanawa had long been interested in themes of confinement. An early, unfinished experiment was a manga concerning a masked man locked up in a basement. It’s oddly appropriate then that Hanawa, a noted collector of replica firearms would, years later, be incarcerated in Hokkaido and serve roughly twenty months of a three-year sentence (December 1994-October 1996) after “trying out” some remodelled guns he’d acquired.

Napoleon’s Pyramids by William Dietrich Review

The initial appearance of the pulp hero in the newspapers, radio shows and cinema of 1920s America was a reassuring affirmation of rugged American individualism in a world that, in the wake of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, seemed suddenly large and uncertain. America’s gradual acceptance of an increasingly multicultural world can be seen in the pulp revivals that followed. The campy, tongue-in-cheek revivals of pulp characters such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon in the 1970s had become by the 1980s and 90s outright humor, as the Indiana Jones series and later Evil Dead films let audiences know that it was okay not to take their pulp heroes’ antics too seriously. Indeed, the self-awareness brought on by globalization made it impossible to do so.

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hal duncan

The Kipple Foodstuff Factory | Notes from New Sodom

The Leopardskin Print of Thrift Shop Drag

So here I am, after a dozen or so columns, sitting in the SF Café, drinking my black coffee and saying, f’r sure, no Science Fiction novel has ever won the Booker. Yeah? And? So? What? Has any Crime novel ever won the Booker? Has any Romance? Has any Western? Let’s simplify it: Has any work of extruded formulaic pabulum in any Genre you care to name ever won the Booker? Has any work in any Genre born of the fricking pulps, in any commercial marketing category specifically designed to target a niche with a promise of extruded formulaic pabulum ever won the Booker?

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville Review

Those who believe that the short story is dead and/or irrelevant, and those who don’t see the value in publishing stories in e-zines that pay very little, if at all, to a circulation that is in all likelihood no more than a thousand would be well served to pay attention to the rise of Stuart Neville, because there are lessons to be learned there. Stuart Neville’s story in Thuglit was read by agent Nat Sobel, who signed him and sold his manuscript. Do people read the ‘zines? Yes. Do we know who is reading them? No, it could be anyone. And the more subtle of the lessons is that you never know who is checking you out online

Pyr Editing with Lou Anders | Interview

This one’s for those of you who like to know what goes on before the book falls off the bookstore shelf into your hands.  Lou Anders is the editorial director of Pyr books, as well as being the man behind many anthologies on a wide variety of topics.  Over the past week or so I’ve had the pleasure of picking his brain about how he chooses manuscripts, how he builds anthologies, what he sees as the current state of science fiction and fantasy, and more.  If you’re a young editor, or someone trying to break into the field as a writer, or just someone who’s curious about the publishing industry from an insider’s perspective, be sure to read this interview!

Scalped: Unwanted – A Study In Flawed Characters

Scalped is a phenomenal series, that’s not news to anyone whether you read it or not. The book gets good press like the ocean gets waves. Constantly. But just recently, I bought the latest trade, Volume 7: Rez Blues, and the next 5 issues to get myself all caught up on a series that consistently amazes me in new ways. While reading through this mammoth stack of one of Vertigo’s best titles I realised what makes this series work, the flaws in the characters. These people are so completely broken and this is massively showcased in the storyline titled Unwanted. This discussion is spoiler filled, so consider yourselves warned.

Playin’ With Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Tyrion Lannister Chapter 13

We back and Elena focuses on info dumping while I give props to days of   ‘yore.  Forgot about us? She’s new, I’m the re-reader.  We are continuing our reread of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on.  We return covering everyone’s favorite Romeo, Tyrion Lannister!

Romancing the Nine Kingdoms | a Lynn Kurland Interview

Lynn Kurland is the author of the Nine Kingdoms romantic fantasy series, as well as a best-selling romance author.  For all my love of dark, bloodspurting, knights who say–er, frak–fantasy, I also love the lighter side of fairy-tale, love-story high fantasy, so this series fits right in to one of my reading sweet spots.  I enjoyed the chance to ask Lynn some questions about how this series came about, what’s been most different for her in switching between genres, how far the story might go, and more.  Keep reading to find out what she had to say!

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit… Stripp’d

Some would say that beautiful lives bloom only in the shadow cast by death. But while this may very well be true, how could we ever know for sure? Statements like this one and Plato’s ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’ are supposed to be useful and practical advice that help us to determine how we ought to live our lives but if we are going to change our lives and live them either with our heads buried in books or our faces pressed up against the nearest tombstone then surely these sorts of statements need to be tested? Motoro Mase’s manga serial Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit is set in an alternate Japan where the state regularly sacrifices one citizen out of every thousand as a reminder to the others that their lives could end at any time. The Japanese state does this because it believes that by reminding its citizens of their mortality, their citizens will choose to live more productive lives. Ikigami is an exploration of what it might be like to live in such a society.

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shana abe

A Female Sort of Revenge – a Shana Abé Interview

Shana Abé is a bestselling author normally found in the Romance section, but whose latest books are fantasy (or at least fairy tale) crossovers.  She’s also a personal favorite of mine–verify on our favorites page, if you doubt–and has just finished up her fabulous historical-fiction shapeshifter series that started with 2006’s The Smoke Thief and continued through five books to last month’s The Time Weaver.  I was beyond pleased when she agreed to an interview and completed my trifecta of conversations with my favorite writers.

A Bad Day For Sorry by Sophie Littlefield Review

When young mother Chrissy Shaw asks Stella for help with her no-good husband, Roy Dean, it looks like an easy case. Until Roy Dean disappears with Chrissy’s two-year-old son, Tucker. Stella quickly learns that Roy Dean was involved with some very scary men, as she tries to sort out who’s hiding information and who’s merely trying to kill her. It’s going to take a hell of a fight to get the little boy back home to his mama, but if anyone can do it, it’s Stella Hardesty.

Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Eddard Stark Chapter 12

Elena and I agree on something! Oh, How we glitter! She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. We are back with a Ned Stark chapter and I waive the white flag as Elena gets kind of nice this week (and like Robert, I’d rather be hunting or wenching than blogging).

RPGs I didn’t get to play: The 8-bit years

I had the bad timing to become a console RPG fan at the dawn of the 1990s. This was originally due to a promotional gimmick run by Nintendo Power magazine in which they gave away a free copy of the game Dragon Warrior to new subscribers. My friends were bored to tears by it, but for me- a kid with extremely poor hand-eye coordination and an affinity for planning, strategy, and numbers- it was ideal.

Night Angel | a Brent Weeks Interview

Our guest this week is Brent Weeks, author of The Night Angel Trilogy, recently published by Orbit Books.  Unless something changes in the next few weeks before the end of the year, The Way of Shadows will be my favorite book of the year. Not since Wes Unseld (NBA Players for the Bullets), in 1969, have I seen a rookie that has put together such a strong first showing.  Brent was a great fellow and even as I pull off an embarrassing interviewer faux pas and asked him pretty much the same question twice, and he answers them both, what a guy.  Now without further delay, let us all welcome Brent Weeks.

Whitechapel Squad: The Detective Comics of Warren Ellis

I’ve long believed Warren Ellis is a crime-fiction writer at heart.  The first series of Wolfskin was a clear example of sword-and-sorcery comics, but had that distinct Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars feel, a dyed-in-the-wool crook playing both sides.  Comics like Aetheric Mechanics and Captain Swing are solid steampunk works, yet revolve around cops-and-robbers shenanigans.  One of the driving tenets of our work here at Boomtron is that any good story is going to have a vital aspect of crime fiction in there, even if it’s a small one, and the oeuvre of Warren Ellis is about as nearly perfect an example of that as I can find.

Black Crime Fiction: An Introduction

I. Introduction
II. The Holy Trinity – Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines
III. Gone, Forgotten and Waiting for Discovery – Robert Deane Pharr & Clarence Cooper Jr.
IV. The Best of the Rest
V. Lost to History – Jerome Dyson Wright & Charlie Avery Harris
VI. The tip of the Iceberg (but not necessarily Slim) – Books for further consideration
VII. Conclusion

I. Introduction

Years ago I came across a veritable treasure trove of crime fiction. I was at a local library looking through the books that were for sale when I saw a forgotten box of books tucked away in the corner. Curiosity got the better of me and what I discovered inside the box were worn paperbacks with dated covers by authors that I had never heard of. Books with titles like Whoreson, Poor Black and in Real Trouble and The Jones Men. Books that featured characters with names like White Folks, Kenyatta and Giveadamn Brown. All of these books would tellingly bear the stamp of the Maryland DOC.

Arrivederci, Eltingville

Comic book nerds are easy targets.  Fish in a barrel and on crutches, to boot.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but going to down to comics conventions and making fun of grown men dressed in tights or in Klingon make-up is not unlike heckling the Special Olympics.  Maybe it’s less guilt-inducing, but that’s about it.

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ekaterinia sedia

The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia Review

History as it is written is full of holes, of secrets and of omissions. The so-called “secret histories”, fictional or otherwise, are the stories of the forgotten and the suppressed, the stories of those who have been deprived of a voice to tell their version of the past. Ekatarina Sedia’s The Secret History of Moscow is not a story about Moscow per se, but rather a novel about those broken and maladjusted people who lack a voice of their own and who don’t quite “fit” into our modern world of progress, improvement and self-realization.

Maledicte by Lane Robins Review

Maledicte marks Lane Robins’ first effort as a novelist, and a glance at the cover – which depicts and androgynous face in profile, eyes covered with an ornate Venetian-style domino, the title written with gothic type and the tagline: “A novel of love, betrayal, and vengeance” – it quickly becomes clear that Robins is aiming at a brand of dark fantasy of manners and courtly intrigue that have been very successful in the hands of writers like Jacqueline Carey and Ellen Kushner.

Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Jon Snow Chapter 10

Comic Con? Losers. The well-adjusted cool saved their money, stayed home and refreshed until this update. I decided to put this up today so George R.R. himself could attend the gathering tomorrow. Among the people at NYCC this weekend is Elena (shower her with praise if you see her), but before she took the BSC jet to New York, she dropped of the next edition of our trek through A Game of Thrones. Who is Elena? She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. Let’s see what Jon Snow is up to!

“Peakeing” From the Corner of Vellum

Like any other year, 2005 was going to be a heavy book-buying year for me, and like every other year there are those dozen or so books I anticipated even more so than the rest of the worthy choices that I would be collecting to add to my book cases. The added anticipation of these “choice” works is born of pure personal speculation, books I have been waiting for, or authors who were above even being just proven commodities. It is out of these books I thought the cream of this year’s crop would derive from.

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky Review

Empire in Black and Gold is the debut of British author Adrian Tchaikovsky and the first installment in a trilogy titled Shadows of the Apt. In his debut Tchaikovsky gives us a heroic narrative where a small group of travellers offer resistance against overwhelming odds – a narrative pattern typical of epic fantasy. Empire in Black and Gold is, however, a fantasy that is far from generic. Rather it offers a story of politics, war and ruthless imperial aggression set in a highly imaginative world inhabited by nations that model themselves in the style of their insect totems:

C.A.S.S – Cool Acronyms of Spy Stories

The ability to boil something down to just one word has power. To use that word is impressive but to know the meaning of the word is the key to unlocking a world that exists behind the façade of reality that every man faces. To know the meanings of the true powers of the world is a gentlemen’s club of exclusivity and some degree of intimidation. Casanova knows how to use these acronym as the magic words they are, and it is building on a rich history of spy words always meaning so much more, but being able to say it all in just a handful of syllables.

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let the right one in

Best Fantasy Movies of the Decade: 2000-2009

When I was asked to write a companion piece to my Best Science Fiction Movies of the Decade list, I thought it would be equally as easy.  I was wrong.  There were a lot of kind of good fantasy movies over the last 10 years, but not really a lot of great ones.  I think a top five or a top 15 list would have been easier–I had a hell of a time deciding on the last two slots on this list, because I think compelling arguments could have been made for other movies for each of those last picks.

The Combat Fiction Bar & Grill by Hal Duncan | Notes from New Sodom

From Astounding Stories to The Wars My Destination

“Gully Foyle is my name,
And combat is my nation.
Gunfire is my dwelling-place,
The wars my destination.”

Alfred Bester, The Wars My Destination

The SF Café is a curious place. Take a wrong turn when you step inside the door, and you can find yourself not where you expected at all. Or rather, not when you expected to be. You walk into the SF Café, and mostly you’re reckoning on seeing the shape of things to come — twenty minutes into the future, twenty years or twenty millennia — but there’s a corner of the SF Café that’s not the future at all. Take a step to the left, as the door swings shut behind you with a ting of the bell, and you may well find yourself in a today or yesterday where it’s not the science that’s strange but the history. This is the SF not of Suvin’s novum but of comparable errata, quirks of difference like the holes in your New Yorker’s Swiss Cheese, points of divergence and the oddities of a world evolved from them. You look around the café, find the posters of 1950s Sci-Fi flicks are gone, replaced by images of Confederate victories and Nazi triumphs. Where the salt cellars on the formica tables were once sleek chrome rocket-shapes, now they’re khaki and bulbous… grenades. What the fuck?

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scott pilgrim

The Scott Pilgrim Girlfriend Test

So you’ve finally met a girl who seems cool.  Outlook: positive…except that you can’t figure out how to suss out her level of nerdery without offending her or seeming even geekier than you are by running through every conceivable point of geekiness she might secretly have.  Well, you’re in luck, because the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim has been made into a movie that could literally double as a girlfriend test if your interests and/or lifestyle require a girl who is at the least tolerant of the geek in you.

Notes from New Sodom | The Spelunkers of Speculative Fiction by Hal Duncan

The Scalpel and the Cigarette

“In fact, one good working definition of science fiction may be the literature which, growing with science and technology, evaluates it and relates it meaningfully to the rest of human existence.”
H. Bruce Franklin

When you watch enough of the daily dogfights down in the SF Café, you can get a bit jaded with it all. It’s science fiction versus Science Fiction versus Sci-Fi versus science fiction versus Fantasy versus fantasy — and all of these labels simply tags on one collar of a single Hydra-headed hound, our rabid Cerberus unbound, trying to rip its own throat(s) open. And all too often it’s the same fight underneath it all; clear away the rhetoric (e.g. “magic” and “science”) and what you find is Romanticism and Rationalism going at it yet again, the ideal of the sublime versus the ideal of the logical.

The Time Weaver by Shana Abé Review

The Time Weaver is the fifth and final book of Shana Abé’s drakon series, which is a historical fantasy-romance about, yes, glittering dragon people.  It follows Honor Carlisle, the only drakon Gifted with the ability to weave time, and her quest–aided or hampered by her adoptive mother who Dreams the future–to change the path of her destiny.  Not the part where she ends up with Alexsandru, the dark drakon prince of her dreams in every time she’s ever weaved herself into, but the part where everything and everyone she loves end up destroyed while she can only watch it happen.

Warren Ellis’ X-Men Is Death

The fact that Warren Ellis has a run on any X-Men title should be enough to merit pause and reflection. That he was then able to craft a science fiction dirge about mortality and creation after the pop sensibilities of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run is a feat unto itself. Reading through the first two arcs of Ellis’ run I was struck by the notion this comic was completely about death. On many levels. The death of a dream, the death of creation, and ultimately, the death that always comes for us and the choice we must make in its face.

Notes Towards a Sort of Supreme Fiction | by Chris Barzak

I was going to write an essay describing the state of the speculative fiction genre, or describing my uneasiness with certain genre-oriented tenets, but I decided not to. I thought, then, that I might write an essay describing the state of fiction in general, because the idea of speculative fiction, for me, is something much wider than what is published in fantasy and science fiction magazines; these stories can be found in many literary periodicals as well. I then decided that it would be best for me to write only small fragments of belief, because what I think changes so quickly, so often, that I would hate to be kept to my word. I hate not being able to change my mind about things, and putting things in print makes that more difficult. But I do have some ideas that don’t change very much; or if they do change, it’s not in very big ways, but more like refinements. Also, there’s a lot of good stuff going on in and out of the genre these days. So instead of an essay, I’ve jotted down some notes. I’m not sure if they really make much sense, but they’re notes towards something more extensive, something still partially submerged, like Hemingway’s famous tip of the iceberg.

LIFE’S A BALL! CHASE IT! | a Margaret Weis guest post

What do authors do when they’re not writing?

I race my dogs in a sport that is fun, loud, exciting, and crazy. It’s called flyball.

You may have seen this sport on Animal Planet or on ESPN. If not and you’re interesting in seeing what it’s all about, you can find racing videos on YouTube.

What is flyball? Whenever I explain it, people’s eyes glaze over. Here’s the description from NAFA–the official site of the North American Flyball Association.

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rai

10 VALIANT Comics to Own Before They Become Movies

I’ve done a couple of posts about VALIANT comics, regarding cameo appearances and highlighting what issues from the new (post-2012) VALIANT universe that may be worth keeping an eye on, but I thought it might be time too look at VALIANT as a whole now that we’ve got more than just rumors about VALIANT films with what seems to be a solid commitment and direction from Sony in bringing VALIANT to the big screen. I thought it might be time to drop a list of ten taking into account the entire rich history of VALIANT comics now that it’s just too late to buy them at near record low prices.

Phonogram… Stripp’d

One could argue that the enduring popularity of genre motifs is a direct result of the death of God.

Prior to the Enlightenment, the people of the ancient and medieval worlds knew their place.  They knew that there were gods and demons, monsters and spirits. They knew that the good things in life could be lured to them by undertaking certain actions and they knew that the bad things could be kept in the shadows by undertaking other actions. They knew that their lives were meaningful and they knew that they were part of the elaborate tapestry of myth, prophecy and magic that held the world together. However, as science cast its light into the darkness old certainties were overturned and magic was forced from the world along with that sense of purpose that the ancients took for granted.  Suddenly, humanity knew that there was nothing to fear because nothing really mattered. Instead of ritual and magic, humanity contented itself with paperwork, breakfast cereals and trips to the bathroom. We had successfully dis-enchanted the world.

Scam Artist Hall Of Fame: M. Sgt. E.G. Bilko

Welcome, dear friends and other suckers, to a new regular feature here at the Criminal Complex.  Yes, the Scam Artist Hall Of Fame, as demanded by none of you, will highlight those great men and women, fictional and non, who through their erudite shrewdness and intelligence part money from its fools.  Our inaugural inductee is none other than that captain of the cardsharps, the service’s own shuckster, Sergeant Bilko.

An Essay into Exoticism | Hal Duncan’s Notes from New Sodom

The Appetence for Alterity

Exoticism is — rightly — something of a dirty word. It is the commodification of the Other, appropriating the thoughts or clothing or music or food or religion of an unfamiliar culture for the charm of the unfamiliar. The example that always comes to mind for me is Lamont Cranston — The Shadow — who learned the power to cloud men’s minds “while traveling in East Asia.”
— Daniel Abraham, A Defence of Exoticism

It’s the other day in the SF Café. I’m sipping a coffee, checking emails, browsing blogs, when I notice, over at his booth, writer Daniel Abraham musing on exoticism. As he takes pains to note, as we can see in the quote above, the stigma of colonialism attaching to that term is not to be dismissed. Still, he admits, he can’t wholly dismiss the appetence for alterity either. It’s less a defence he offers, I’d say, than it’s a consideration of an ambiguous stance that allows for value in the romance with the Other. He’s not denying the toxic outcomes, but suggesting that these aren’t the aim of our attraction, that there’s an impulse here that isn’t pathological for all its ultimate effects.

The appetence for alterity…

Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary Review

Door Number Three is a book that not only requires but demands to be read a second time. In fact, the desire to immediately start reading it again hits you as soon as you finish it. Embedded in the text are references to and even jokes about the story at hand. Multiple readings, while necessary, are never tedious. It is a puzzle box of a novel that proves to be challenging to open, a delight to read and rewarding once opened.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip Review

The award winning Patricia A. McKillip is one of the prominent authors within fantasy fiction, but whereas notable masters of the genre like J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin work on an epic scale, McKillip’s fantasies are more intimate and dreamlike. The Book of Atrix Wolfe can in many respects be likened to the detailed and colourful tapestries of the late medieval period, where vividly archaic figures of humans, animals and mythological creatures are intertwined with a myriad of organic ornamentation. Supported by a wonderfully lyrical and sensuous prose, the McKillip weaves an evocative and enchanting narrative composed by motifs and themes from myth and fairy tale (fx the Wild Hunt, the Horned Hunter, the Faerie Queen) that she elegantly re-orders and re-interprets into something entirely unique.

Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Eddard Chapter 4

Bloody Roses! Time to get to know the Warden of North — Eddard Stark! She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the fresh newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together we are playin’ with ice and fire, reading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, getting our POV on. If you missed it, check out our thoughts on the third chapter (where we go to the free cities and meet Targaryens) from last week or check out our archives and read them from jump. Let’s get to Ned, and bring flowers and your respects for the crypt!

Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle Review

ASH – A Secret History can in many respects be regarded as Mary Gentle’s magnum opus, both in terms of volume (a whopping 1100 pages) and in terms of its ambition and scope. It is also a work of literature that is very difficult, if not impossible, to categorize. It is simultaneously historical fiction, alternate history, fantasy and science fiction. The novel was awarded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History in 2000. It should also be noted that while ASH is published in one volume by Gollancz in the UK, it is published in four volumes (A Secret History, Carthage Ascendant, The Wild Machines, Lost Burgundy) by Avon Eos in the US.

Entering The Doctrine of Labyrinths, a Sarah Monette Interview

My guest this week recently saw her debut novel Melusine released. A gifted short story writer who has forthcoming projects in an anthology by Ace in February titled The Queen of Winter with a story in the Melusine setting, and the sequel to Melusine, The Virtu scheduled for July of 2006.

I really enjoyed reading Melusine and I want to thank Ms. Monette for accepting my invitation as we talk Melusine, a passion for short stories, Tolkien, her future work and more.

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton Review

This book review is proving to be a real challenge. Mark Charan Newton has penned a book so rich that trying to do justice to its many themes, characters and story arcs is taxing my writing ability in a whole new way. In fact, it’s akin to trying to review five separate but connected novels simultaneously.

By now I suspect you’ve guessed my conclusion:  it is a masterpiece of the genre. Let me try and tell you why I experienced it that way.

Escapement by Jay Lake Review

Escapement is the sequel to Jay Lake’s critically acclaimed novel Mainspring, wherein he maps out an alternate Earth anno 1900. Lake has quite cleverly constructed a world that for the most part resembles ours yet differs in one very important aspect – Lake envisions the universe as an enormous clockwork whose brass mechanisms are, mostly, visible to the naked eye. Thus Earth is powered by a mainspring, hidden in its core, it circles around the Lamp of the Sun on a brass rail and it is divided by an enormous equatorial wall, topped by a brass gear train that physically connects the planet itself to its orbital trajectory around the sun.

Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts: Daenerys Chapter 3

Chapter 3 brings us Targaryens! She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together we are going through George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. Check out our thoughts on the second chapter (our intro to Catelyn Stark) from last week, and now we move on to my girl, Dany Stormborn!

Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Catelyn Chapter 2

The new hotness and old and busted. She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together we are  going George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. You can check out our thoughts on the first chapter (Bran) from last week, and now we move on to the second chapter, told from the perspective of Catelyn Stark. Personally, I can’t wait to get away from all of these traitors and start reading about some Targaryens. Readers, thank you for the support on this feature!

Blood and Iron: A Novel of the Promethean Age by Elizabeth Bear Review

Elizabeth Bear is a very talented, imaginative and highly prolific writer, who, since publishing her first novel from 2004 (Hammered), already has 13 whole novels under her belt (though one of them, A Companion to Wolves, is co-authored with Sarah Monette). She has primarily written within the genre of science fiction (fx Dust and All the Windwracked Stars) but has recently begun making forays into the territory of fantasy and alternate history with novels such as New Amsterdam and the subject of the present review. Blood and Iron is also an instalment in a larger series of novels called the Promethean Age, of which four books (Blood and Iron, Whiskey and Water, Ink and Steel, Heaven and Hell) already have been published. These novels explore a slightly alternate Earth, marked by a secret, 500 year old conflict between Faerie and the Prometheus Club – a secret society of human magi that seeks to protect humanity from the wild and dangerous creatures of Faerie.

Evermore by Alyson Noël Review

Evermore is the first book in Alyson Noël’s new YA series, The Immortals.  Fittingly, considering the title, a lot of E words popped into my mind when I was thinking of how to describe it:  Enchanting.  Exciting.  Enthralling.  Enticing.  All of them words, as well, of seduction and magic, which are two of the book’s main themes.

The third is loss.

The Art Director | an Irene Gallo interview

I was finally able to get in touch with Irene, as she has a very busy schedule. This interview was all prompted from meeting Irene at last year’s New York Comic Con where I think I interrupted her lunch. Being the courteous person that I am, I figured I would let her finish lunch and track her down a bit later. That bit later took some stalking on my part and some annoying emails. I think Irene ended up finishing this interview just so I would not bother her anymore. All joking aside though I am very happy to introduce Irene Gallo, the Art director for Tor, Forge, and Starscape Books. I also want to thank Nicole Cardiff, one of my favorite young fantasy artists, who helped me with the questions for this interview.

The Treasure Keeper by Shana Abé Review

Shana Abé’s drakón (read:  dragon) series is for people who read both fantasy and romance.  While the series does have an overarching plot of the drakón vs. their human hunters, the main focus of each book is the individual relationship developing between the hero and the heroine.  The books are thus correctly shelved in the romance section of most bookstores. The drakón are shapeshifters who can move between human, smoke, and dragon.  They are an insular clan living in wide-open secrecy in rural England.  The books are set during the mid- to late-1700s and conform to many standards of historical romance–basically, they are paranormal historical romances.  A couple key points to understanding the drakón as a people and as characters:  the females are for the most part unable to Turn out of their human form.  Gemstones and precious metals sing to the drakón and, in a high enough volume, can sometimes control them, drive them mad, or simply cause them to lose themselves in the song.  The tribe is ruled by an Alpha, who is somewhat answerable to the council who enforce the tribe’s restrictive laws; none of the tribe is allowed to leave their shire without permission, with death as the standard punishment for “running.”

Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Review

Imager is the first book in a new fantasy world for Modesitt.  It introduces us to Rhenn, a young journeyman portraiteurist who begins to suspect that he might have a small talent for imaging when he begins to correct his own brushstrokes using only the power of his mind and his inner vision.  His talent is seemingly so small, so useless, that he does not present himself to Imagisle, home of all the city’s Imagers, to be tested.  His only ambition is to make it through the rest of his journeyman training and become a master painter.

To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman Review

Laura Lippman, author of the popular Tess Monaghan series, takes a break to explore a stand alone novel. In To the Power of Three she takes an old mystery novel concept, the locked room mystery and updates it, using it to explore upper middle class suburbia in northern Baltimore County.

To the Power of Three opens with a letter being written on the eve of a school shooting by the shooter. Before the start of first period the next day a murder will take place behind a locked bathroom door. Three seniors who were life long friends: one will be dead, one will be critically wounded and the other injured. The only living witness and most of the evidence points to one outcome but a few minor pieces of evidence and the professional eye of a veteran murder police point to other possibilities. What really happened in that room? What caused such a breakdown in this supposedly unpenetrable friendship? Is someone lying, if so why?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith Review

Letter from Jane Austen to Seth Grahame-Smith

Dear Sir,

I have recently become acquainted with your work as a novelist, while I believe your acquaintance with mine is of a much longer standing.  Nevertheless, I do not scruple to use the term acquaintance to describe your relation to my work, despite the fact that it was the base for your own, for, in your attempt to re-envision my novel, you showed how soundly you had misunderstood it.

I hope my words do not bring you distress, but I believe them just, and will endeavor to explain to you my dissatisfaction with your manuscript.

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland Review

The Nine Kingdoms series is another offering from a writer who normally writes romance. Despite the fact that these books are placed in the romance section at bookstores (along with the rest of Kurland’s work, which belongs there), they are fantasy. Not fantasy-romance like Shana Abé, but romantic fantasy–the difference to my mind being that in fantasy-romance, the plot and the events of the book are based on the love story (like traditional romance novels), while in romantic fantasy there is a larger story in which the romance is neither the main/only plotline nor the focus of the storytelling.

Notes from New Sodom | The Kerspindle Kerfuffle by Hal Duncan

The Autonomous Archipelago of Åthorland

It was Friday night in the city of Writing when the shit hit the fan. I didn’t make it down to the SF Café myself till Saturday afternoon or so, having been off at a gig that Friday night; so when I finally stumbled in, somewhat worse for wear, to grab my daily brunch of coffee and a cigarette over the Twitter Gazette, the kerfuffle was already in full swing.  It’s war! people were saying. War! The neighbouring states of Amazonia and Macmilland have gone to war! Even the poor citizens of Åthorland have been dragged into it, much to their chagrin! Chagrined? They were downright pissed, those Åthorlanders. Since there’s a rather sizeable contingent of them who hang out at the SF Café, it was hard not to notice their impassioned speeches from their counter stool pulpits, the conversations going on in the booths.

Darkborn by Alison Sinclair Review

Darkborn is a fantasy novel that I’m not quite sure how to further classify or qualify.  It’s not quite romantic fantasy, because even though it has strong themes of love, it is not a love story.  It’s not sword and sorcery, because there are no swords and almost no sorcery.  It’s not epic fantasy in the way most people mean the term, because even though the consequences of failure would affect their entire race, the mission is not a sprawling adventure that covers half the known world.  Dark fantasy is perhaps the closest (even aside from the lovely pun it makes on the title and the world itself), but even that term implies a moral ambiguity and intrinsic hopelessness that aren’t quite apt for this book.  So, it is simply a fantasy novel, an interesting story intersecting love, loyalty, politics, and mystery in a world that is not our own.

Mirrored Heavens | a David J. Williams interview

The Mirrored Heavens by debut author David J. Williams is described by Stephen Baxter as “Tom Clancy interfacing Bruce Sterling.”  Williams combines future technology and espionage with a richly imagined political climate, with action and mordant humor to spare. The main characters–the Razor (hacker) Claire Haskell and the Mech (assassin) Jason Marlowe hunt the terrorist group Autumn Rain through virtual and real worlds, not sure who to trust–even their own memories. The book is a rollercoaster ride, but Williams’ future is grimy and intense–this isn’t shiny new gadgets–and there is a serious exploration of the clash between the developing world and the first world.

Mr. Williams, fellow DC dweller and my occasional drinking buddy, graciously agreed to be interviewed for Boomtron.

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson Review

Warbreaker is Brandon Sanderson’s second standalone fantasy novel. It is unrelated to any of his other books. The process of writing this book was somewhat unusual, earlier versions of the story were released under a creative commons license on the author’s website  so the reader could more or less follow the creative process. I must admit I have not read any of the earlier drafts, by the time this book came to my attention the author was almost done writing it, but I like this idea a lot. I guess the sales the author is now waiting to see how this experiment impacts the sales. From the quality of the book I’d say it should do very well. I think it is Sanderson’s best book yet.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier Review

Daughter of the Forest is the debut of the New Zealand author Juliet Marillier and the first book in the widely acclaimed Sevenwaters Trilogy. It offers a deep-felt re-telling of “Six Swans”, an old folk tale that exists in many variations throughout Germany and Scandinavia. With this novel, which was awarded the 2001 American Library Association Alex Award, Marillier follows into the footsteps of such literary giants as the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who set his version of the tale of the swan brothers to paper in 1838. Marillier relocates the Germanic tale to Ireland during the Dark Ages, a move that allows her to enrich the story with the rich Celtic lore of the Fair Folk, the Tuatha Dée Danann.

Counting Heads by David Marusek Review

My latest review is for Counting Heads by David Marusek. This is a catchy read. The story pulls up sort of like a shiny new car to whisk you off to an exotic location. It is March 30, 2092. That is announced immediately like a road sign. The technology is exotic and plentiful from the get go, so that serves as an invitation to put the imagination on cruise control, kick the seat back and enjoy the scenery that Marusek supplies along the way.

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Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | The Prologue

‘Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts’ is a chapter-by-chapter read through of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Elena brings the perspective and fresh eyes of a new reader to A Song of Ice and Fire, and I offer the pseudo-wisdom of a re-reader’s experience (that is as official a spoiler warning you’re going to get–though new readers or those who haven’t read up to A Feast for Crows can still follow Elena’s views and enjoy the ride). She’s the new hotness and I’m old and busted. Elena will not be reading my portions, but we will have various themed supplementary posts as either of us deems fit to make sure we touch on important points and keep shit rockin’.

The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess Review

With textual help from some well-known names, but primarily from the inspiration of classic Anglo-Saxon storysongs, Charles Vess has created a unique form of graphic novel. Recently reprinted in softcover, THE BOOK OF BALLADS is a gorgeous pictorial songbook, meriting exuberant praise and permanent shelf space for its artwork even above the rich story content. I warn you now that this review is lengthy, but there are thirteen different ballads, and this title deserves the attention.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Review

Shades of Milk and Honey is not an action-packed novel, nor is its plot based around numerous startling events. It is foremost a story about relationships–more specifically, relationships as viewed by the main character, Jane Ellsworth. It is a look at a certain moment of her life and how she interacts with the people around her. Comparisons made to the style of Jane Austen are not awry. Through the first few chapters, I was reminded of the relationships and expectations in Sense and Sensibility–more specifically, the sisters, their differences, and the concern for their futures.

Con Report – Readercon 18

Readercon 18 was held July 5th through the 8th, 2007, in Burlington, MA, USA. Readercon is known as a very focused convention: there are none of the art shows, music, gaming, costumes, etc. that one often sees at conventions of the fantastic. Instead the attention is lavished on the convention program — the panels, talks, readings and interviews. As the name suggests, Readercon is very much a convention by and for those who share a love of books that require discussion.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey Review

Kushiel’s Dart is Jacqueline Carey’s highly successful debut and the first instalment of a trilogy that chronicles the exploits of Phèdre nó Delaunay – exquisite courtesan, talented spy and god-touched masochist. The book received the 2002 Locus Award for Best First Novel, and it established Carey as one of the new and innovative talents within the fantasy genre.

The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert Review

The Dosadi Experiment is set in the same universe as Whipping Star, which has recently been reissued by Tor. After reading that book I just had to reread The Dosadi Experiment as well. First published in 1977, seven years after the first ConSentiency novel, I consider it to be Herbert’s best non-Dune work, although I have to admit there are still a number of his novels I haven’t read yet. It is also a very densely plotted and inaccessible novel. That plus the fact that every other work Herbert wrote tends to be buried under the enormous success of Dune makes it a somewhat underappreciated book in my opinion. For the basic idea of the ConSentiency I am going to refer to the Whipping Star review, otherwise this review will be excessively long.

Live Chat – Paul S. Kemp of the Forgotten Realms

On November 10th (2007) best selling author Paul S. Kemp joined us live for a chat in our chat room. Kemp has written several books perhaps most notable those featuring the adventures of his creation, Erevis Cale, in the Forgotten Realms setting. He also wrote an installment of the R.A. Salvatore presented War of the Spider Queen series, Resurrection, bringing it to a conclusion.

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake Review

If you haven’t yet read Titus Groan, then for all your life, the infant heir to castle Gormenghast has waited for you. Certainly for most of your life anyway, since Book One in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy was first published in 1946. In its day, Titus Groan wasn’t relegated to the fantasy shelves as it might be now, but was a sensation and critically celebrated- as it well deserves- next to other great novels. For whatever reason, it has since faded into twilight, and is today even less mentioned than read. Still, the good news is that Peake’s world has exquisite staying power. Indeed, it is timeless. For a willing reader, it retains the transformative power that defines a classic.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin Review

In the five years since the third volume in his Song of Ice and Fire saga, George R. R. Martin has become the most popular and the most respected author in epic fantasy. As a thirty-five year veteran writer with a bevy of Hugo and Nebula awards, he deserves every bit of it. But the fanfare and expectations have attracted stringent scrutiny to the fourth volume in the series, A Feast for Crows. This novel does continue the saga in Martin’s uniquely brilliant style, but it suffers from an expanded scope and a truncated cast of characters.

The Wizard Lord by Lawrence Watt-Evans Review

Lawrence Watt-Evans begins his latest sword and sorcery series with THE WIZARD LORD, Volume One of The Annals of the Chosen. In the land of Barokan, magic is everpresent. The ler are the spirits within every living and nonliving thing; they’re in the air itself. To cooperate peacefully, people have had to learn to satisfy their local ler’s requirements which vary widely and are administered by the priestly class. Wizards, on the other hand, can conjure wild ler, and a fascinating arrangement has developed between them and human society over the centuries.

A Telling of Stars by Caitlin Sweet review

Caitlin Sweet’s debut novel – A Telling of Stars– was nominated for the Locus Best First Novel of 2003 and the Crawford Award for the Best First Novel 2003, given a special mention by the Sunburst judges in 2004 and was heavily praised by certain friends and authors whose opinions I trust. So, as soon as a copy came my way, through the mysterious channels and numerous hands that constitute overseas shipping (the book has only been published in Canada thus far, making it slightly more difficult to obtain in other parts of the world), it leapt to the top of my reading pile. And it didn’t take long to devour. Partly because it is that most rare of things: a short(ish) stand-alone fantasy novel, weighing in at a svelte 373 pages and partly because it is written in a lyrical, sensual prose that delivered me quickly from chapter to chapter.

Scar-ed On the High Seas of Mieville’s Bas-Lag

The Scar was the first novel China Mieville wrote while being known as a major figure in the world of speculative fiction and with the expectations that come along with such praise. Perdido Street Station, aside from being in my opinion one of the finest works of speculative fiction I have ever read, achieving a brilliance born of vivid imagination and more than occasional examples of linguistic superiority — it was also wake up call to the genre. It was harder to not draw comparisons, or more aptly to deny as Perdido Street Station was picked up by Del Rey sharing shelf space with other works that seemed to have misconstrued traditional with stagnant.

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Sheev’s Bored Game – STAR WARS: Aftermath Empire’s End Review

So I just finished Empire’s End even earlier than I initially thought I would, though I’ve always been a quick reader. Whether that’s a positive reflection or not is something I mentioned in my previous post but to summarize Empire’s End almost feels like a practice in repetition, as the same qualities inherent in the final chapter of Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars new-canon trilogy also aptly describe my feeling of the series as a whole.

My Kind(t) of Science Fiction – VALIANT X-O Manowar #1 Review

Wow, the joy and surprise of super-sized digital.

Typically, especially at my age, I tend to tune out action in comics unless I’m reading manga and it’s partly because I feel like writers today, especially in superhero comics, view them as elements they have to include in the actual character story they want to get to. The number of actual action scenes that I’d consider memorable over the last several years in western comics would not cause me to use all of the digits my two hands afford me to recount. Thor hammer heaves during Infinity are few and far between.

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Before Youtube, Ninjak Debuts with a Bloodshot Problem in VALIANT Comics

Okay, so Ninjak is going to be featured in an upcoming live action webseries on Youtube by Bat in the Sun, which considering they don’t do cosmetics tutorials is a reasonably big channel on youtube and has more subscribers/watchers than any American comic book has. I say American because I think One Piece still keeps comics alive and hovers around that 7 figure readership. I follow some entertainment channels on Youtube obsessively but can’t claim to have heard of them until the Ninjak announcement, which is no shade, this is just not really my type of thing, though I will admit that I did see an Epic Rap Battle pitting George R.R. Martin against J.R.R. Tolkien which was one of the funniest (and passed my fact check) things I’ve seen all year.

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The Wonder of Jonathan Carroll’s The Wooden Sea – Review

Jonathan Carroll is one of and perhaps the first writer who went on that list of “all I need to know is that the book is out” authors. I don’t need to know what it’s about. I don’t need to know where or when it takes place. I don’t need to know if it’s called fantasy, mystery, horror or science fiction — because such questions, such words, cannot contain Carroll.

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Gal Gadot Wonder Woman Makes World’s Finest a Trinity

For some time now I’ve been planning a theater room addition to one of my homes. I think often when such endeavors are planned we often start thinking about the least significant details first. After all, I won’t be the one doing the electrical work or heavy lifting, nor will I be laying down any foundation or building frames for walls. Much like when I was a kid, I would just be sitting around thinking about shit.

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STAR WARS Bloodline Review – Claudia Gray’s Shadows of the Empire

Up until recently only two new canon STAR WARS novels were books that I thought both captured what this thing of ours is and just added something potentially valuable to the mythos or how we understood it. Also, and this is important, were cool. The rest, of which I have read all off (excluding those aimed specifically at kids), were in various degrees problematic.

They were also both surprises.

Matt Kindt’s VALIANT Divinity Gauntlet – Review

Much like waiting for the trade I decided to combine my reviews of the first four issues of VALIANT’s Divinity, the Matt Kindt written introduction of a new character into the VALIANT universe, and as an aside, one of the best comics of last year. Why should you care? Well, I’m pretty smart so you should read my reviews. Actually, I’m actually not smart at all but I do actually try to give my thoughts and convey my experience from reading the comic and not just summarize them, and I enjoy people who do the same so you might too. Or you might hate it, and that’s totally cool too. I should remind people that I did these as the single issues came out, so if I look dumb with some, well to be honest most, of my guesses it’s because I didn’t just read a trade and review all of the issues as if it was one sitting, but instead combined 4 separate reviews I did.

 Back to Amberle & Brooks’ The Elfstones – MTV’s Shannara Chronicles Trailer 

I will admit that I’m pretty easy to please but this thing looks better than I could have imagined. I’d consider myself very well entrenched in the world(s) of Terry Brooks, including and perhaps mostly his Shannara output, even though I’m not a mega fan in that way being a The Lord of the Rings diehard won’t allow. That said, I’ve never been someone who doesn’t acknowledge both the historical significance of Terry Brooks as it relates to direct impact on the modern fantasy publishing landscape and market and that I used to check for Brooks every time I was in the Walden Books paper back section to see if the next Shannara installment had hit.<

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Roku Rises & VALIANT Darque Knights – Ninjak Review

Some more VALIANT comics reviews and thoughts, this time in the form of Ninjak, and much like how I collected separate issue reviews of VALIANT’s Divinity and collected them in one post (which I guess could work as a review for a first trade). Like Divinity, Ninjak is written by Matt Kindt where he joined by artist Clay Mann. Just a note, for the first issue I did more of a page by page brief bullet point stlye w/ my thoughts while the next 4 issues are more traditional style reviews. Enjoy.

Shame! Gut Takes from Mother’s Mercy – Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale

Mother’s Mercy. Just some gut reactions to the season 5 finale to Game of Thrones. I realize the internet broke with analysis from both people with early access to the show and events of the finale from day one, and I imagine there are a bunch of pieces on fan sites with great takes with book knowledge. I have close to decades of book knowledge, but for people who purely watch and experience Game of Thrones via HBO, nothing below is a spoiler in terms of book facts being brought in that reveal something that hasn’t already occurred.

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What is the Queen’s Power in Game of Thrones? 

This is another question that popped up as a search term to get to the site. I’m going to be picking some of these out and answering them to the best of my ability, the first time I did this, skipping the at the very least weird, and at worst, criminal search terms that somehow lead people here. Yes, some of the actions in Game of Thrones are actually PG in comparison to some of them, and some of the not so cleaner recent ones are about Natalie Portman’s character in Leon: The Professional, that I think got an uptick because it was recently made available on netflix. Enough preamble though, today I field: What is the Queen’s Power in Game of Thrones?

A Case for a VALIANT Shadowman Movie

I’m sure all VALIANT fans are aware of the recent announcement of a VALIANT and DMG relationship established to bring VALIANT characters to TV and the big screen. Prominent in the press release is Shadowman, a character that isn’t really prominent (like he’s not even around at all) in current VALIANT comics and I think if we took a poll would probably rank as the most disappointing of the regular comic releases, barring the possibility of Quantum & Woody which admittedly is a bit of an oddball title to classic VALIANT fans. I think Shadowman, even the one we saw in the comics recently, works for me seamlessly in the way some of the other titles don’t to a movie audience.

Judging Jorah Mormont as Daenerys Targaryen’s Champion

A lot things happened in last week’s episode that people want to talk about a lot more — and oddly I think that particular one was one of the better shot, edited, and acted scenes in a episode that was otherwise kind of a disaster — but I wanted to go into some other directions, namely that of a line by Tyrion regarding Jorah Mormont. I think for TV watchers it would be easy to forget that Jorah is the son of Jeor, and the Valyrian sword Jon Snow wields, Long Claw, was Jorah’s sword that he left behind before he went into exile. Also, if you recall, a couple episodes back Stannis was telling Davos about how a ten year old Northern Lord sent back a letter in response to him desiring their allegiance, and basically telling him they only recognize one King in the North (a Stark) — that little girl, Lyanna, (in the TV show) is a Mormont and is Jorah’s cousin replying for the House that Jorah used to be the head of.

Randyll Tarly? Let’s Get to Know Sam’s Dad in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones episode “Kill the Boy” we got a brief scene with Stannis and Sam where Stannis mentioned Sam’s father, Randyll Tarly, and I thought it might be worthwhile to talk about him a bit beyond that we know he sent his son and one time heir to the Wall, in favor of his second son, Dickon, who hasn’t slayed any walkers.

7 Things About Game of Thrones’ House Baratheon and the Stormlands

As a lot of people read my Ten Things about Dorne and House Martell and a similar post about House Stark and House Targaryen so I thought it might be worthwhile to actually gives some love to the actual ruling family of Westeros, The Baratheons. For the HBO tv watchers, I wanted to get to House Baratheon because while we get Stannis all of the time, I think we sometimes forget that the actual King of Westeros is a technically (or not technically) a Baratheon. They are the royal house, not the Lannisters even though most of the Baratheon bannerman, including their seat of power in the Stormlands is not loyal to the current crown. They also had very close ties to the Targaryens almost from jump and maintained them almost throughout their history leading up to Robert’s Rebellion.

Lemire’s VALIANT Bloodshot FCBD —  What VALIANT Dreams May Come

Full disclosure, I don’t go to boutiques to buy anything anymore (okay, okay, I bought Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer), not even for free, so Free Comic Book Day is kind of lost on me but I do understand that publishers may be under the impression that it is worthwhile so I do loosely monitor what’s coming out for FCBD so I don’t miss anything that would cause me to not have… you know… everything related to what I like.

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A Bold Life Amidst A Game of Thrones – Ser Barristan Selmy 

If you watched last Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones you know that the realm lost a good one in Barristan the Bold. For such a knight of accomplishment to die outside of Westeros may not seem right, but one would think he did so at the service of a ruler he respected, and that’s all he ever wanted. I thought it would be appropriate to look back at the life of a character that for TV watchers was a few years old, but for book readers we’ve been reading Selmy for almost TWENTY years. If you want, you can go check out my review of The Sons of the Harpy where Barristan, along with Greyworm, kicked a lot of ass. I think what tv watchers of Game of Thrones should know is that this hasn’t happened in the books, so this was not only an end to a major character, it was a shocking one to book readers.

All the Smiles Died in Sons of the Harpy – Game of Thrones

The Sons of the Harpy immediately bring us back to Jorah and Tyrion to give us a taste of last week’s cliffhanger, almost a promise that they won’t leave it alone like they have some threads for an episode or two like with Dorne or Dany.

The isle Jaime points out is Tarth, where Brienne is from. We learn he’s pretty salty about the death of his father, obviously he feels a bit guilty because it would not have happened if it were not for him.

Ten Things About House Targaryen for Game of Thrones Fans

Back to Game of Thrones as a lot of people read my Ten Things about Dorne and House Martell and a similar post about House Stark so I thought it might be worthwhile to go back to Westeros and do something similar around for the HBO watchers. I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire since the mid-90s but these are spoiler free and does not detail anything anyone who is even a passive reader doesn’t know. Just some added information or historical footnotes that may or probably won’t enrich the Game of Thrones experience.

The North Remembers in High Sparrow – Game of Thrones Review

Time to recap “High Sparrow”, tonight’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. It was a really good one and a lot happens, and throughout it all I could think of was mentors. Teachers. I think we all see the ramifications of what occurs when someone like Tywin Lannister dies. Alliances don’t seem as lucrative or trusted, and enemies become braver.

10 Things About House Martell and Dorne in HBO’s Game of Thrones

A new episode of Game of Thrones is coming at us Sunday but we were briefly introduced to Dorne last week. Dorne’s a bit of a new flavor from what we have seen of Westeros thus far, something that I guess was evident when we saw Prince Oberyn arrive at King’s Landing being all kinds of awesome. Nothing below is anything even the most passive book reader does not know, nor is it something that will spoil anything for TV watchers (with perhaps the caveat that you are already aware of the Sand Snakes) but if you are exceptionally easy to offend because internet, please stop reading.

Ten Things About House Stark of Game of Thrones

Back to some Game of Thrones . A lot of people read my 10 Things about Dorne and House Martell so I thought it might be worthwhile to go back to Westeros and do something similar around hump day between episode reviews for the HBO tv watchers. I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire since the mid-’90s but like with the previous one I’m not listing anything that isn’t pretty spoiler free and not anything anyone who is even the most passive of readers doesn’t already know. So no minds blown, just information that may but probably won’t enrich the Game of Thrones watching experience.

Enter The House of Black and White – Game of Thrones Review

I think we ended the Game of Thrones season premiere mostly wondering where Arya was, so it feels really appropriate that episode 2, The House of Black and White, begins with Maisie Williams in kind of a brave new world moment. Arya, the smallest of our main cast staring at the giant Titan of Braavos statue that guards the entrance of Braavos. Little person, about to do big things. Beyond being excited to see Arya again, I think this simple scene also gave me this feeling that wherever we are going is formidable. Fans should remember and file away that the Iron Bank we hear about periodically in the show is the Iron Bank of Braavos and their saying is “the Iron Bank will have it’s due”. The titular house has a split black and white door — made of ebony and weirwood — Arya knocks on the white, black opens.

The NEW Faces of VALIANT that May Be in Sony Movies

I want to start with comics in the current VALIANT universe. The 2012 relaunch.

I first want to make a basic statement for the possible uninitiated. All of the older comics, the pre-2012 output, has nothing to do with the current VALIANT comics, with the sole exception of (I think) the Christopher Priest & Mark Bright Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody. We are in a totally different universe, none of those stories happened or are continued. The names are the same, a lot of the designs are still there, and while the current VALIANT owners do own all of those properties and material — minus those involving the three licensed characters from Gold Key, Magnus, Solar, and Turok, which no iteration of VALIANT ever owned — this universe started completely fresh in 2012.

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Enter Sansa Fierce – GRRM Drops Winds of Winter Chapter

George R.R. Martin dropped another excerpt/sample chapter from The Winds of Winter today and I just wanted to jot down some thoughts on the Alayne/Sansa POV, as we go back to the Eyrie and see what Petyr has brewing, as the Vale has for the most part been lounging during The War of the Five Kings. Reaction to this sample chapter seems to be a bit divisive among fandom so I wanted to dive in and see where I ended up on the spectrum.