A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween. This Chance Planet October 22, 2014 This Chance Planet Elizabeth Bear We are alone, except for the dog. Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza October 15, 2014 Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Carrie Vaughn A Wild Cards story. The Girl in the High Tower October 14, 2014 The Girl in the High Tower Gennifer Albin A Crewel story.
From The Blog
October 30, 2014
Rich and Strange: “Witch, Beast, Saint” by C. S. E. Cooney
Amal El-Mohtar
October 29, 2014
19 Strange Things Hiding in The World of Ice and Fire
Chris Lough
October 28, 2014
Fairy Tale No More: Doctor Who is a Science Fiction Show Again
Ryan Britt
October 27, 2014
Seven Science-Fiction Heroes with Swashbuckling Swagger
David Cranmer
October 24, 2014
9 Harry Potter Halloween Stories We’d Rather See Than Dolores Umbridge
Stubby the Rocket
Showing posts tagged: reviews click to see more stuff tagged with reviews
Wed
Oct 29 2014 2:30pm

Amazing Grace: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things Michael Faber review

Michel Faber’s first novel since The Fire Gospel—a sterling send-up of The Da Vinci Code and its ilk—is a characteristically compelling exploration of faith which takes place “in a foreign solar system, trillions of miles from home,” on a wasteland planet populated by hooded beings with foetuses for faces.

So far, so science fiction. Factor in first contact, a spot of space travel, and an awful lot of apocalypse, and The Book of Strange New Things seems damn near destined to be speculative. Unfortunately for fans of the form, as the author warns early on, “there was nothing here to do justice to [that] fact.” Or, if not nothing, then very little aside the superficial. Even in addition to the aforementioned trappings, honeydewed drinking water and a dizzying day/night cycle do not add up to much more than an unlikely lens through which to look at love: in the first between mere mortals, but above and beyond that, the love—and the love lost—between man and maker.

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Wed
Oct 29 2014 2:00pm

Pull List: Joe Hill’s Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland

It’s almost Halloween, which means the Brown household is in the middle of its annual Joe Hill October (Joetober? Octohill?) Celebration. Between consuming Wraith, Horns the movie, and Horns the book for Tor.com, I’ve also spent my lunch breaks at work binging on his ebook short stories.

At this point, most of you should be at least passingly familiar with Joe Hill, but to quickly sum up, he’s a masterful writer of horror fiction who has also spread his talents into graphic novels. For this special Halloween edition of Pull List, we’re talking Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland, but I also highly recommend The Cape (no, not the TV show Abed was obsessed with) and, of course, the excellent Locke & Key.

[“We’re on our way to Christmasland!”]

Wed
Oct 29 2014 10:00am

Bring Me a Cuddly Marshmallow Robot: Big Hero 6 Will Make You Cry, and That’s Okay

Big Hero 6

Another Disney-Marvel venture that comes from the pages of a comic book, Big Hero 6 was already set to combine our favorite sci-fi buzz words—superheroes, robots, alternate realities—and deliver something fun for the whole family. But the movie supersedes those expectations to ruminate on invention, family, and how grief transforms us all... for better or for worse.

Spoiler-light review below.

[I am satisfied with my care.]

Thu
Oct 23 2014 3:00pm

City of Contradictions: Retribution by Mark Charan Newton

Mark Charon Newton Retribution Drakenfeld

The laid-back detective drama of Drakenfeld marked a propitious departure for Mark Charan Newton: an assured move from the weird and sometimes wonderful fantasy with which he had made his name to a tale of mystery and alt-history not dissimilar to C. J. Sansom's Shardlake stories.

But with all-out war in the offing—in large part because of Drakenfeld's discoveries at the end of the text so titled—and a serial killer torturing and slaughtering some of most prominent people in the kingdom of Koton, the darkness of the Legends of the Red Sun series is back; a change of pace Newton paves the way for on the first page of his new book.

“In over thirty years of life, a decade of which has been spent as an Officer of the Sun Chamber,” Lucan Drakenfeld remarks, “the world has long since robbed me of my limitless optimism.” To be sure, he appears a pretty positive protagonist compared to grimdark Princes like this year's Jalan and Yarvi, yet the events of Retribution are still to take their toll—on its hero and, indeed, its reader.

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Tue
Oct 21 2014 4:00pm

Cosmic Chaos: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

Jonathan Carroll Bathing the Lion

Jonathan Carroll’s first full-length work of fiction in six years is as rooted in the real as it is the surreal its synopsis suggests. Bathing the Lion is about a quintet of cosmic mechanics who can read minds and remake the mundane recovering their talents in advance of the arrival of a fearsome force called Chaos—which seems, I’m sure, like a properly science fictional plot. But it’s not.

To wit, the World Fantasy Award-winning author evidences precious little interest in the ultimate result of this clash between... not good and evil, exactly, but order and its opposite. Rather, Carroll restrains his tale to the strictly small scale, in the process pointedly refusing the reader’s needs.

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Tue
Oct 21 2014 11:00am

Everyone is Trying to Prove They’re Relevant: Birdman

Birdman movie, Michael Keaton, Riggan

Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, as it says) was an experience. One that I will try to parse out below. But frankly, though I can go on about the true merits of the film, I expect my take to be wildly different from anyone else’s—it is a piece of art designed to speak to many people, in many walks of life, and much of what it has to say is dependent entirely on who is watching.

Minor spoilers for the film below.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 3:00pm

Kuvira Always Gets What She Wants: The Legend of Korra’s “The Coronation”

Legend of Korra The Coronation

The politics in The Legend of Korra are getting down to brass tacks. It’s hard not to see Kuvira as a net positive. There is no reason whatsoever to support the royal dynasty. Heck, as far as I’m concerned, there was every reason to support its overthrow. An actual caste system, an apartheid of rings that is so culturally ingrained that even the mall in Republic City’s “Little Ba Sing Se” is segregated by class. A powerful secret police, kidnapping and press-gangs. Propaganda and cruel whim and extortion. I’m with Bolin on this one.

I think Kuvira should hold an election—why wouldn’t she, she’s beloved—and then just claim authority thus. President Raiko sets a precedent for it. Then there you go. We should be so lucky: I kind of want to see Bolin succeed at keeping her on the strait and narrow...even as tensions increase.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 9:00am

A False Premise: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Moriarty Anthony Horowitz US review

The great detective and his greatest enemy are dead—or so it is said. “After the confrontation that the world has come to know as ‘The Final Problem,’ [though] there was nothing final about it, as we now know,” Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty have absented their respective roles, each for his own secretive reasons. So what’s Scotland Yard to do when London is rocked by a series of crimes so indescribably violent that they rival the Ripper’s?

Why, hand over Holmes’ role to Inspector Athelney Jones: a man, you might remember, much maligned by Dr Watson’s depiction of him as a total dolt in ‘The Sign of the Four.’ Since then, however, Jones has “read everything that Mr Holmes has ever written. He has studied his methods and replicated his experiments. He has consulted with every inspector who ever worked with him. He has, in short, made Sherlock Holmes the very paradigm of his own life.”

And in our narrator, Frederick Chase—apparently the pick of Pinkerton’s Detective Agency—Jones’ Holmes has his Watson.

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Sun
Oct 19 2014 3:15pm

You made a mighty fine Doctor. Doctor Who: “Flatline”

Doctor Who, Flatline

You may never look at murals the same way. “Flatline” is here to remind you that while two dimensions may seem harmless to the average three-dimensional being… there are many possibilities for what lies beyond our senses.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 11:30am

The Non-Linear Hero’s Quest: The Legend of Korra, “Korra Alone”

Legend of Korra Korra Alone

Well this episode of The Legend of Korra was a lovely treat, and not just because we saw you-know-who. You might think it strange to call an episode that focuses entirely on Korra’s painful physical rehabilitation and distressingly empathizable post-traumatic stress disorder a “treat,” but “Korra Alone” really was.

What I didn’t want was a whining, emo, “feels” episode. I’ve sort of had my fill of them for a bit, not that they don’t have their due time. I was hoping for, at best, a recovering montage. What I got was something like I was talking about when I discussed Kuvira last week: neither one option nor the other, but a new, third path. We got Korra on her own self-motivated Hero’s Quest. She’s neither sulking nor recuperating: she’s proactive.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 10:30am

The Walking Dead Season 5 Premiere: “No Sanctuary”

The Walking Dead No Sanctuary

When we last left our depressive band of post-apocalyptic survivors, Rick and the gang were trapped in the cannibal capital of the South, a new crew joined up with the supposed key to solving the zombie infection, and Beth was still kidnapped by mystery villains.

Last season was definitely better than previous installments, but was uneven in many troubling ways. What should have been a tight, explosive season turned into a sprawling two half-seasons of wheel-spinning and ill-conceived plots. Paring down the group and splintering them into unusual factions was mostly successful, and helped spice up some previously uninteresting characters. And the introduction of Terminus and the crazy Christian cult made for a high-energy cliffhanger that should provide enough of a jolt to keep the tension going throughout the new season.

[“You’re either the butcher or the cattle.”]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 4:00pm

Freefall: TimeBomb by Scott K. Andrews

TimeBomb Scott K Andrews review

Three teens from three times run rampant in 17th century Cornwall in the frenetic first volume of Scott K. Andrews’ TimeBomb trilogy, a paradoxical romp which, whilst engaging and entertaining, promises a little more than it delivers.

To wit, TimeBomb begins quite brilliantly, with a fleeting glimpse of future New York: a sprawling city in which forty-storey superstructures are “dwarfed by the looming organic skytowns that twined sinuously up into the cloud base.” Here, we meet Yojana Patel, the determinedly independent daughter of... a powerful politician, I think? We can’t be certain because Andrews doesn’t dally. In a matter of moments, rather than give her pursuers the satisfaction of catching her, Jana has thrown herself off the roof of a great skyscraper.

[Read More]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 11:00am

Here and There: The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil Stephen Collins review

Beneath the skin of everything is something nobody can know. The job of the skin is to keep it all in and never let anything show.

So begins The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, award-winning cartoonist Stephen Collins’ first graphic novel proper, and it is as dark and charming a parable as the poetry of its first panels portends.

The eventual originator of the evil beard is a drone called Dave. Not literally a drone, however his behaviours are practically mechanical. In that, Dave is not dissimilar to the other strangely hairless inhabitants of Here; like them, he lives in almost constant fear of There. Happily, his job at A&C Industries occupies his thoughts during the day, and in his downtime, Dave draws. He draws the pedestrians that pass his house; he pencil sketches pets and post boxes; but by and large his subject is the street. “It was just so neat,” you see. “So... complete.”

[Read More]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 10:00am

Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV

Fall 2014 television

Welcome back to “Don’t Touch That Dial,” a seasonal series in which I, your friendly neighborhood television addict, break down some of the shows screaming for your attention. I already told you what’s new this fall, so now we’re diving a little deeper. In this very special episode we’re covering an immortal medical examiner (Forever), a shady attorney (How to Get Away with Murder), and sexy stalkers sexily stalking sexy stalkers (Stalker).

[Give me all the Forever/HtGAwM crossover fanfic you have.]

Thu
Oct 9 2014 11:00am

Dating and Death and Corporate Takeovers — Must Be Tuesday. Arrow: “The Calm”

Arrow, The Calm, season 3

After the relative epicness that was the Arrow season 2 finale, the archer and his band of buddies are back to keep Starling City safe. We hope. It’s something of a chore, as we keep finding out. But if you were worried that the start of season 3 would be as calm as its title suggests, don’t worry—we’re not even close to downtime.

Thar be spoilers for the premiere below, so don’t peek if you’re not caught up!

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 2:20pm

Supernatural Season 10 Premiere: “Black”

Supernatural Black

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Supernatural fan. In fact, my relationship with Supernatural is remarkably similar to how I feel about Doctor Who. Both shows came to me through the magic of the internet - YouTube for DW, Tumblr for the Winchesters. I fell in love hard and fast, and my life was irrevocably altered.

And, like DW, the last few seasons of Supernatural have been a bit of a bear to get through. Seasons 6 and 7 were stuck trying to work around the brick walls put up by Eric Kripke at the end of season 5, and the last two seasons were faltered attempts to kickstart new mythologies. Fortunately, no matter what ludicrous insanity the writers hurl on the screen, the core of the show - Sam and Dean Winchester, and, to a lesser extent, Castiel and Crowley - are interesting enough to keep the show afloat.

[“I’m going to save my brother, and then I’m going to kill you dead.”]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 12:45pm

The Fastest Origin Story Ever Told—Oddly Inappropriate For The Flash

The Flash, CW

A lot of folks have been excited for Arrow’s spinoff, The Flash, and that’s probably down to the backdoor pilot they seeded last season. The introduction of Grant Gustin as Barry Allen was exciting, in no small part due to the fact that Gustin was instantly likable.

But now the real pilot is upon us and, well… it was a strangely abrupt offering.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 6 2014 2:15pm

Whatever Happened to Avatar Korra? The Legend of Korra Returns!

Avatar Legend of Korra After All These Years

For someone who happens to have a show named after her, Korra sure doesn’t get much screen time in the premiere of the new season of The Legend of Korra! Doesn’t bother me none, personally; I’ve always like the without-the-Doctor Doctor Who episodes, myself. Still, can I tell you something? I’m well ready for this depressing plot line to come to an end already. Really, I hope the whole recovery story arc runs on an accelerated track. I’ve had enough emo Korra in this series; I’m ready for no-holds-barred, cage-match, all-or-nothing Korra to come back.

I think Korra’s ready, too. She’s brawl-bending, putting her in the underdog role that Bolin and Mako were in as pro-benders in season one, and they’re the authority figures with government ties; how the tables have turned. We’ve had three years of lapsed time, so I think it is possible. Plus...perfect opportunity for Korra to be taken under Toph’s wing as a mentor, just sayin’.

[Read More]

Sun
Oct 5 2014 2:20pm

I Don’t Feel Supported Right Now. Doctor Who: “Kill the Moon”

Doctor Who, Kill the Moon

Why would we want to kill our moon? Doctor Who was bound to think of a reason at some point, so we’ve arrived. And while the episode delivers some tour de force performances, it’s startlingly difficult to parse out where the center of the episode lies.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 1 2014 10:00am

Pull List: Lumberjanes

From the first page of the first issue, I knew Lumberjanes was going to be my new favorite thing. All the girls are awesome—I absolutely adore Mal, probably more than is healthy—the story is easy but engaging, and the dialogue is sharp, cheerful, and pleasantly down to earth. But it wasn’t until page 9 that I fell in love.

The girls use famous/important women as interjections, and on that page Molly referenced a woman who has been my hero since I was a little girl: Bessie “Queen Bess” Coleman. She was the first African American person of any gender to have an international license, and the first Black female pilot in the world, and it’s a rare day when I encounter someone who not only knows of her but treats her with the respect she deserves. This is probably going to be less review and more love letter, because there’s just so much greatness bundled up in such a little comic.

[“What the junk?!”]