Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera. When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami September 16, 2014 When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami Kendare Blake A Goddess Wars story As Good As New September 10, 2014 As Good As New Charlie Jane Anders She has three chances to save the world. Tuckitor’s Last Swim September 9, 2014 Tuckitor’s Last Swim Edith Cohn A hurricane is coming.
From The Blog
September 18, 2014
Cast As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Dream Cast
Natalie Zutter
September 17, 2014
How Goldfinger Bound Sci-Fi to James Bond
Ryan Britt
September 15, 2014
Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Servant of the Empire, Part 1
Tansy Rayner Roberts
September 13, 2014
If You Want a Monster to Hunt, You’ll Get It. Doctor Who: “Listen”
Chris Lough
September 11, 2014
The Ghostbusters are an Antidote to Lovecraft’s Dismal Worldview
Max Gladstone
Showing posts by: Alex Brown click to see Alex Brown's profile
Mar 21 2014 12:00pm

The 100 Could Be Worse, But It Could Also Be A Lot Better

97 years ago, humans on Earth decided the Cold War wasn’t enough and nuked the frak out of each other. The planet was rendered uninhabitable, and billions died, save colonies of 400 farmers, scientists, and engineers from 12 nations who made their way to their space stations. Over the decades, the space stations joined up and formed the Ark. But as time went on, the resources dwindled as the population grew to 4,000. To keep a lid on crime and so as to not waste precious oxygen, all misdeeds were punishable by death—getting chucked out the airlock into the cold clutches of space, specifically. Since even in the apocalypse you can’t go about killing kids willy nilly, anyone under 18 was kept in lockdown. The adults in charge make the difficult decision to pack up 100 teenage lawbreakers into a dilapidated shuttle and drop them back on Earth, because science.

[“We’re back, bitches!”]

Mar 17 2014 1:30pm

A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Friends: The Veronica Mars Movie

Veronica Mars Movie Kristen Bell

When Veronica Mars was airing on television, I didn’t watch. Hell, I barely even remember it being on. The mid-Aughts were a difficult period in my life for a variety of reasons, and I missed a lot of great shows that had the misfortune to premiere in my televisual deadzone - Deadwood, Supernatural, The Dresden Files, to name a few. Nowadays, things are a lot less complicated, which means I have a lot more time to pillage the back catalogue of Great Television. And during the month of January 2012, I did just that with Veronica Mars. When I say I watched that show, I mean I binge-watched it. Every bit of spare time was spent with Veronica, Keith, Wallace, and Logan. And when the Kickstarter popped up a few months later, I rushed to become one of those 91,585 backers eager to do anything and everything to bring Neptune back.

[“People say I’m a marshmallow.”]

Mar 17 2014 10:00am

The Walking Dead, S4 E14 “The Grove”

“The Grove” aims to tie up loose ends from the first half of season 4 and flesh out the remaining undeveloped characters. When we last left Tyrese, Mika, Lizzie, Li’l Asskicker, and Carol, they’d joined up and set off in search of Terminus. Upon discovery of an abandoned house in the woods not far from the train tracks, they decide to set a while and rest. There are three graves in the backyard, presumably of the children of the family who once lived there, but the whole world is a grave now, so they aren’t about to let that taint a good thing. The pantry is full, the stove still works, there’s a pecan orchard in the yard and fresh water out back, and the property is surrounded by wildflowers. Everything’s so lovely Tyrese and Carol decide to stick around. Terminus isn’t going anywhere, and they can always leave. But for now the safety and solitude could work. If nothing else, Mika could use some more lessons in toughening up and Lizzie could benefit from some stability and security.

I suspect this is going to be one of those polarizing reviews, so buckle up kiddos, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

[“She can’t be around other people.”]

Mar 13 2014 2:00pm

Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

The Burning Dark Adam Christopher reviewAll Captain Abraham Idaho “Ida” Cleveland and his robotic knee want is to retire with honor. The Fleet has other ideas, however, and shunt him off to a space station orbiting a toxic purple star on the outer reaches of charted space to supervise its disassembly.

When he arrives, he’s met with derision and mocking rather than respect and praise. The marines on the U-Star Coast City decide he’s lying about his great victory against the Spiders, a race of planet-destroying sentient machines in arachnoid shape. Ida sulks but doesn’t dwell. Instead he seeks solace in Izanami, a medic left behind to tend to the few and far between crew, and his hobby of building space radios from scratch.

[“In the dark she burned.”]

Mar 10 2014 10:00am

The Walking Dead, S4 E13 “Alone”

The Walking Dead Alone Beth

Just about every episode of The Walking Dead can be viewed as a study in parallel universes. In “Alone,” Bob, Maggie, and Sasha go on walkabout then split up due to go their own way, while Daryl and Beth decide to set down roots in the funeral home and eat pickled pigs feet together. Bob makes a failed romantic gesture toward Sasha, and who knows what’s going on between Daryl and Beth—Is it a deepening platonic bond? Are they becoming a close-knit family? Or do they just wanna bone?—while Glenn and Maggie are wrapped up in what they believe to be the greatest love story ever told. Daryl teaches Beth how to track walkers and hunt with a crossbow in a way that doesn’t involve drunkenly manhandling her, while Maggie hunts Glenn and Bob and Sasha track Maggie. Maggie, Bob, and Sasha break up and reunite by choice, while Daryl and Beth are forced apart by terrible, mysterious circumstances. The trio reunite with hope overflowing, while Daryl is conscripted into joining up with Jeff Kober and the Creeper Gang, and Beth is presumably being trafficked by an ex-preacher driving a Cadillac.

[“It’s a serious piggyback.”]

Mar 3 2014 3:20pm

Hannibal the Cannibal Comes Back for Seconds

Hannibal Season 2

Previously on Hannibal: Hannibal kills an IT consultant, an independent medical examiner, and a crap-ton of other people and turns them into delicious noms; Will Graham is a dog hoarder who sleep-eats Abigail Hobbs’ ear; Abigail gets a mild Electra complex for her fake fathers; Bedelia du Maurier can’t decide if Hannibal loves Will or love loves him; Jack Crawford bullies Will, then acts petty when Alana calls him on it; Alana continues to not be Jay Tyler no matter how much I keep hoping she’ll start talking to anthropomorphic inanimate objects; Freddie Lounds remains alternately obnoxious and frustrating.

[“I never feel guilty eating anything.”]

Mar 3 2014 1:00pm

The Walking Dead, S4 E12 “Still”

My God. All this time Beth and Daryl were the competent ones. They’ve got this survival thing down pat. When the group reunites, I vote for them to be in charge. Also, Daryl eating snake is the best thing to ever happen on this show. While Carl’s spending his afternoons eating pudding and running into doors, Beth takes care of business. She decides she’s sick of camping in the woods with a taciturn, snake-eating jerkwad. But it’s not safety or security she seeks.

No, what Beth really, really wants is a stiff drink. That’s right. This entire episode’s impetus is Beth wanted to get drunk. That’s about all that happens, plot-wise. Beth sets off in search of hooch while Daryl follows. Beth breaks into a golf club house while Daryl follows. Daryl takes her to a moonshine cabin, they get snookered, they scream their feelings at each other, they hug it out, then they burn the cabin down. Roll credits. It’s what happens between the sparse storyline that matters.

[“Home sweet home.”]

Feb 28 2014 11:00am

The Devil You Know: A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrianne Harun

There is more than one kind of devil in this world. The kind that arrives out of the blue like a summer thunderstorm, severe, inescapable, and over in a flash. The kind that lives on the edge of town, seeping their poisonous hate into the groundwater, gradually destroying everything in their radius. The kind that seems innocent enough until your throat is already slashed, a mouth full of kind words spoken over sharp teeth.

Short story writer Adrianne Harun pulls the devil out of the realm of fantasy and into the real world with her debut novel A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain.

[“If they come here, don’t hesitate. They won’t.”]

Feb 24 2014 11:30am

The Walking Dead, S4 E11 “Claimed”

It’s clear with the back half of season 4 that Scott Gimple is trying to redress the errors caused by previous showrunners. This Michonne is practically an entirely different character than the one who first arrived. Carl isn’t an insipid, frustrating little brat, but an interesting, challenging teenager. Carol is a revelation compared to the cowed, quaking nothing she was in season 1. Daryl, Glenn, and Maggie, are growing and deepening, albeit far slower than I prefer. Characters who used to sit around whining and bickering until Rick gave them something productive to do now make their own decisions and act on them. Granted, those decisions tend to be fairly one-dimensional, but at least there’s some personal motivation beyond “Rick said so.” We’re getting episodes with an actual plot and mostly decent dialogue that build on each other and appear to leading to a cohesive arc. They aren’t stellar episodes, mind. But I’ll gladly take B-level quality with developing characters and solid storytelling over the crap the show usually cranks out.

[“Trust me. I’m smarter than you.”]

Feb 19 2014 12:00pm

Do the Stars Align for Star-Crossed?

Aliens have gotten the short shrift on television in the last few years. As has the science fiction part of SFF, for that matter. Star-Crossed (CW, Mon 8p), loosely inspired by Romeo and Juliet, attempts to rectify that imbalance, with moderate success. As an episode of television, this particular pilot does its job. It introduces the key players and sets up the central conflict—interspecies conflict versus moony love—while hinting at a much larger and more sinister conspiracy looming at the edges. But what you really want to know is if it’s worth watching. All I can tell you is yeah, sure, why not.

[“They’re never going to treat us like equals.”]

Feb 17 2014 1:00pm

The Walking Dead, S4 E10 “Inmates”

As has been noted before, The Walking Dead is very good at premieres and finales. The intensity and drama take a sledgehammer to the audience’s building disillusionment with everything in between. But instead of sweeping clear the broken crap that didn’t work, the writers have a nasty tendency to glue the pieces back together and hope we don’t notice the cracks. The show is also great at standalone episodes, ones where the events function independently of the bigger storyline while affecting the characters participating in it. “After” is a prime example of both situations, and “Inmates” what happens after the high wears off.

Last week, it took a lot of work to keep my gushing praise under 1400 words. This week, I’ll be pleased if I make it over 1000 without spiraling into frustration. In some ways, “Inmates” mirror “After,” but without any of the dramatic flair or character development. It was like an anthology of short vignettes, some more interesting and impactful than others.

[“We can live here. We can live here for the rest of our lives.”]

Feb 10 2014 11:45am

The Walking Dead, S4 E9 “After”

TBH, watching The Walking Dead is rather an ambivalent experience for me. I love the tense drama, the philosophical debates, the clash between morality and the will to live. Heck, I even love the zombies. On the other hand, almost every character is infurating inconsistent or frustratingly unknowable. Practically every major narrative arc on TWD has failed, then been dug out of the trash and reused with diminishing returns.

[Sometimes TWD gets it wrong—but once in awhile it gets things oh, so right…]

Jan 23 2014 5:00pm

Immortal Odd Couple: Fragile Spirits by Mary Lindsey

Fragile Spirits Mary Lindsey

Paul Blackwell takes front and center in Fragile Spirits, a new YA novel by Mary Lindsey set in her Shattered Souls universe. Paul is a kid from the wrong side of the tracks whose special talents landed him in the biggest house in town. In his world, there are three kinds of people: humans, Speakers (a person who can commune with the dead), and Protectors (those who guard the Speakers). Speakers and Protectors are monitored and paired up by a secret global organization, and that pairing will last lifetimes. They are basically immortal. They can die, but they always come back in a future version of themselves.

Paul is a Protector awaiting his Speaker. When she finally arrives, she’s a hot-tempered wannabe goth who despises Paul and everything he stands for. Vivienne is brash, outspoken, intense, and volatile, while Paul is calm, considerate, thoughtful, and planful. Are they opposites or complements? If they plan to work together for the rest of eternity, they’ll have to sort out their feelings toward one another. But first they’ll have to battle a paranormal evil set on re-killing one of their fellow Speakers. Vivienne will have to decide if revenge is the most important thing in her life, and Paul will be forced to choose between duty to his job and loyalty to his Speaker.

[“Immortality has a certain appeal, don’t you think?”]

Jan 8 2014 6:00pm

Living Dead Girl: The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden

Charlaine Harris Christopher Golden Cemetary Girl The PretendersCharlaine Harris and Christopher Golden’s first book in the Cemetery Girl trilogy, The Pretenders, tells the story of Calexa Rose Dunhill. That is not her real name, but, then again, the poor girl can’t remember what her real name is. She was left for dead in a cemetery, with only a few scattered memories of her life before to keep her tethered to sanity.

Maybe she died when her body was dumped. Maybe that’s why she can see the spirits of the dead as they rise from their graves and head off to the Afterlife. Or maybe she could always see ghosts, and her current predicament is an old habit refusing to die.

[“I’m pretty sure I died. For, like, a minute at least.”]

Dec 9 2013 6:00pm

After the Big Sleep: Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis

Something More than Night Ian TregillisWhat do you get when you let the dude who wrote about Nazi superhumans battling English warlocks write a story about a murdered archangel, a tool of righteous fury, a heavenly host of pissed off beings that can alter the very shape or reality, a dead femme fatale, and a chain-smoking wannabe Philip Marlowe? What you get is something that shouldn’t work. At all.

Like any good detective story, Ian Tregillis’ newest book Something More Than Night (a book which got its title from a like from a Raymond Chandler story), is set in a world of murder, dames, a missing valuable, and lies and betrayals, all involving plot twists upon plot twists. Thrusting together 1930s-style hardboiled detective noir with a physics-drenched fantasy about cosmic beings should mix about as well as oil and water. Something More Than Night should feel jarring and disconnected, full of purple prose, slow plotting, and mismatched tones.

It shouldn’t work, but it does. And it is glorious to behold.

[“She was golden, she was silver, she was cold moonlight.”]

Dec 2 2013 12:15pm

The Walking Dead, S4 E8 “Too Far Gone”

This episode was the first in a long stretch that felt like it flew by. Normally—and even with the really good episodes—I can practically count the minutes ticking by. But this one was over and done before I even realized it. Not that any of it was particularly good, but at least it was an exciting way to go out. This was yet another one of those episodes TWD is notorious for, one where characters do things simply because the writers think it looks cool or because they need a particular plot point to happen, not because it’s something the characters would actually do. Like the Governor burning Woodbury so he could stand in front of it for a promo shot. Visually arresting but signifying nothing.


Nov 25 2013 1:00pm

The Walking Dead, S4 E7 “Dead Weight”

The Walking Dead Dead Weight Governor

And there’s the Governor we all know and loathe. This time he has a whole pond to play with, rather than just heads in fish tanks. Last week saw Brian pulling himself out of rock bottom with the love of a good woman, a can of spaghetti-o’s, and the world’s most annoying little girl. This week Brian got the old heave-ho and the Governor took his place on the throne.

Martinez makes the big mistake of believing Brian’s con that he really is a changed man, a con Brian himself seems to have bought into. When Martinez expresses doubt at being able to keep the camp safe—a not unrealistic fear, given the circumstances; it’s less being pessimistic about their odds and more being pragmatic about the harsh realities of the Endverse—Brian snaps and kills him in cold blood by bashing him in the head with a golf club and feeding him to a pit full of zombies, all while crying “I don’t want it!” Clearly homeboy’s a wee bit conflicted.

[“Everybody loves a hero.”]

Nov 18 2013 12:00pm

The Walking Dead, S4 E6: “Live Bait”

Raise your hands if you were dying to know what the Governor has been up to all these months. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Well, you’re in not-luck with “Live Bait.” Normally, I’d be all for watching David Morrissey brood for an extended period of time, especially in a Jane Austen novel, but not when it comes to his ridiculous villain in The Walking Dead. His reappearance at the end of “Internment” nearly retroactively ruined the episode, and I was not looking forward to his continued existence in last night’s episode. Even now I can’t say my fears were eased, but neither were they stoked.

So. Woodbury. Last season, the Governor went on a vengeance-fueled killing rampage after Rick’s rescue mission. At some point he returned to the scene of the crime and burned the town down. Or, at least one building. Not sure why he’d even bother, catharsis maybe? Whatever. Point is it looked cool having him stand, head cocked and face all a’glower, in front of a burning building.

[“I’m never gonna let anything happen to you.”]

Nov 11 2013 5:00pm

All Hail The CW, Television Overlord of SFF

Something magical is going on at The CW. Over the last few years, they’ve quietly become the one of the best channels for genre television, and, more specifically, SFF. In some ways, it’s not entirely surprising. When the scrappy little channel was birthed from the flames in the wake of the 2006 collapse-slash-merging of UPN (half cheesy teen melodramas and half network version of BET) and The WB (half cheesy teen melodramas and half Joss Whedon), few people gave The CW any thought. Home to Gossip Girl, America’s Next Top Model, and One Tree Hill, the channel became a laughingstock to the network powerhouses lower down the dial. Everyone joked that the only people watching The CW were hormonal teenage girls.

The CW dabbled in genre fare, offering up Veronica Mars (which it canceled a year after the merger), Smallville (which, by that point, was largely a (boring) young adult melodrama), and Supernatural (which has never managed to secure the larger audience it deserves). But speculative fiction was only a drop in their programming bucket and never seemed to be much of an interest to the Powers That Be.

[“The CW is killing it. In a good way. No, seriously!”]

Nov 11 2013 12:30pm

The Walking Dead, S4 E5 “Internment”

Well, fellow zombie lovers, we made it all the way to episode 5 before The Walking Dead took its first dip in quality this season. That’s high praise, given the show’s track record. Not that last night’s episode was bad, per se. Just not to the same high standard set by previous Scott Gimple-helmed episodes. It was still a solid episode, overall, even if it was severely hampered by some major plot holes and poorly thought out story logistics.

[“You’re a tough son of a bitch.”]