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.

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.

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?

Read More
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.