Doctor Strange Spent a Year Fighting the Infinity War and No One Noticed

My head hurts trying to figure out just how this works. So I'm just going to hope that Dr. Strange had access to some sort of magical processing power which helped sort through the timelines to suit his criteria for him. Like Google, but with alternate futures. After all, we don't know what can be done with a properly-utilized Time Stone and just how omniscient it can be. 

Either way, poor Stephen, knowing that the -one- chance of success still involves his sacrifice, and the deaths of half the universe, for however long it takes to fix things. 

The Flight of Morpho Girl

I love these characters.

Especially Wally, you betcha.

The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me: Fanfic and the Modern World

Ah, fanfic.

I spent a lot of my high school and college years writing X-Men-inspired fanfic. It was the '90s, after all, and dark times for comics in general. Disgruntled and dismayed by the direction the X-line had taken, I worked up my own take on the franchise, populated it with original characters who shared in the same dynamic, and had a lot of fun along the way. I posted it all to the GEnie service (RIP, GEnie). I made mistakes, I learned a lot, and I made some friends along the way... who decided to join in and write their own stories which overlapped, borrowed characters, crossed over, and so on. One of those was Jeremy Bottroff, whose "Brothers in Arms" fanfic lives on in the dusty memories of many. Another was our very own Keith R.A. DeCandido, who, in his typical way, "borrowed" characters and breathed extra life into them, and who inhabited the world even better than I could.  (That's right, KRAD, one of the undisputed kings of licensed fanfic... I mean tie-in novels.)

Honestly, my contributions were lost to time when GEnie went kerplutz, and only exist as 9th generation saved files on copies of copies of jump drives, proof that the Internet doesn't remember everything. I feel like the 5th Beatle... :)

The point is, I really honed myself as a writer over those years, writing for fun and a small but appreciative audience, and for a small but awesome group of co-conspirators, and it laid the groundwork for what success I've accumulated since. Fanfic definitely helped me out when I needed it... and I can only imagine what it would have been like had I started 20 years later. 

Darkness Meets Light in the Newest Cloak and Dagger Trailer

So it looks as though they're swapping elements of the characters' stories for this, since in the comics, Tandy was from a privileged background and here it seems like it's the other way around.

I wonder if they'll keep the part of Tyrone's story where his friend was shot by a cop by accident, and his stutter prevented him from saying anything in time, since obviously that resonates with the Black Lives Matters movement and would feel even more timely and tragic. 

The Sausage Princess, or, Reshaping the Bizarre Structure of Fairy Tales

When I rewrote "The Twelve Huntsmen" as "After the Hunt" for a Circlet anthology, I had a lot of fun trying to explain just -why- the story needed twelve cross-dressing maidens -and- a magical talking know-it-all lion. Likewise, I love "Hans My Hedgehog" because the bizarro fairy tale elements are off the charts: a talking half-person half-hedgehog who rides a rooster and plays the bagpipes and who hangs out in the forest where not one but two lost kings wander by... Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2017

I'd throw in Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, and Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill, and The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco as three of my favorites for the year.

Wild Cards Reveals a Dark Reflection of Our Post-War Reality

I always thought that Ghost Girl was Jennifer MAlloy, aka Wraith, before she met up with Brennan/Yeoman.

And now I really want to see that discussion about Yeoman... an archer/vigilante with no powers or Wild Card, just a nat with a bow, fighting crime, and how well he did or didn't mesh with the setting. 


Announcing George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Reread!

Can't wait to read this reread! When I last proposed it back in 2013 (wow, where has the time gone?) the consensus was that there wasn't a demand for a reread of this series. I'm glad things have changed with the addition of a few more installments.

Please let there be a "Croydwatch" in each installment...

Millennial Tension: Selfie Does Everything Wrong, Generates Negative Feels
This show needed more musical numbers. Like, any musical numbers. John Cho and Karen Gillan, who have managed to become great SF icons (okay, decent SF icons), deserve better than a mediocre tv comedy which may not even last out the season.
Lowball: A Wild Cards Novel Sweepstakes!
Ah, the shame and regret that comes from not checking this site over the weekend... sigh.
Tasty, Tasty Angst: Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire
It's really interesting to see your take on this series after my reviews of the first two books. It's definitely a different perspective. I'll have to check out this third book at some point and see if I like it as much. :)
Exo (Excerpt)
Don't forget to reread my review of Impulse if you need a reminder of why this is such an awesome concept, character, and series.
Breaking into the Underworld: Skin Game by Jim Butcher
The strength of this book, I'd say, rests in the character development experienced by Harry and those he impacts. Sure, we don't get a lot of huge world-changing revelations or meta-arc advancement, but we get some of the character bits and growth that's been desperately needed as a result of the past few books. How he deals with Michael Carpenter, for instance. How he interacts with Butters. How he works with Murphy. And so on. It's the little stuff that brings this installment to life. Sure, in a different series with less installments, we might begrudge a book that's "lighter" or has less overall impact, or which focuses on catching up with suppoting cast, but in a series fifteen books strong and still going, we need this sort of breather. Some of what happens is almost crucially important to te continuing development of Harry Dresden as a character. And of course we'll probably find out later that some of what came to pass here is indeed vitally important. I used to describe this series as hard-boiled detective fiction meets urban fantasy, but I think we can safely say that Butcher left that sub-genre behind a long time ago. :)
New Transformers: Age Of Extinction Trailer Will Make You Sad About Being Excited
I lost interest in this movie franchise after #2... but Dinobots. And no Shia LeBoeuf. It's...tempting.
Notes from the Internet Apocalypse Sweepstakes!
I read the original serialized form of this on Cracked, and it was hilarious and bizarre. Good stuff. Strangely enough, until now, I never realized Gladstone had a first name or that it was Wayne. It's like getting a peek at the man behind the curtain and finding out he wears Superman Underoos. Once known, cannot un-know. :)
Watch the Full Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer!
I can't stop watching and rewatching this trailer. So many kinds of awesome. And not just because ROCKET FREAKING RACCOON. In a MOVIE. Becoming a household name. There is justice after all. I was thinking about this lineup, cherrypicked from the most recent incarnations of the team, and honestly, it makes the most sense to me. Mostly physical characters, using guns and knives and fists. Much easier to handle than the somewhat nebulous powers of Phylla-Vel, the telepathy/telekinesis of Moondragon, the bizarre backstories of some of the others. (Let's face it: Richard Rider/Nova deserves a full movie of his own. Same with Adam Warlock...if anyone wants a flashback to the soul-searching Seventies...) Do I wish the team had more female characters represented? Of course. But most of the ones not here are either well-represented, or too tricky to condense down for a movie that already requires a lot from its viewers. So I'll take what we've got. Because, again, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. So while there's a lot of things I'd like to see, I'm happy to accept what I see here as a perfectly servicable cinematic adaptation that leaves room for expansion if the gods be willing. (Moondragon with her tie to Drax would be perfect. Cosmo would be awesome. Nova would be splendiferous. Bug would be fun.) In the meantime... ooka-chaka, ooka-chaga....
Oh No! A Brief History of the Chung Kuo
I had the opportunity to read several of the recent Chung Kuo releases, books 5 and 6 I believe, and what I saw didn't impress me. Too many subplots and characters, too little payoff. Too many frquent point of view shifts. Some really troublesome attitudes towards women and sex and both together. Somewhat explicit sex between brother and underage sister. A poor feeling for the actual setting. Ambitious, yes. Epic, yes. But a story worth telling in 20 volumes? When each book feels like several chapters in a larger work? Not my thing at all. I hope fans can get their hands on the full series and it makes them happy, but I'll be sitting out the rest of it. :)
The Triumph of Private Industry: Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire’s Club by Ben Bova
For what it's worth, I've long argued that the future of space travel lies in private enterprise. I always figured that if we let Coke, Disney, and Marriott have first dibs on the Moon, we'd have Disney Luna and regular trips there within five years. :) I can't fault Bova for telling a story about what we all know to be coming, especially with privatized space travel already a thing in the works. But this book, as executed, just seemed less...well, flawed in various ways. With someone like him, you come to expect a lot more in terms of storytelling and scientific exploration. This felt kind of dumbed down and underwhelming by comparison.
The Triumph of Private Industry: Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire’s Club by Ben Bova
@1 - This is true. A look at real-life billionaires does turn up a disproportionate amount of men. I'm also fairly certain that two of the main backers in the book, Charles and David Kahn, are very thinly-veiled versions of Charles and David Koch. (You THINK?) And another backer, Will Portal is... gee, I wonder, Bill Gates? So he's definitely steering pretty close to real life. The point being, it's still a male-dominated storyline, in a way that's not easy to overlook. @2 - Most of the billionaires involved are in it for the money. Whether it's in the real estate or infrastructure needed to create the Mars One project from the ground up, or the virtual reality equipment that will be sold to allow people on Earth to visit Mars, there's significant money to be made. I might have indulged in some hyperbole with the "for the taking" but it's still a project run by very rich people who tend to enjoy getting a return on their investment. :)
The Importance of a Well-Made Pamphlet. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “0-8-4”
I could totally see them using the "Slingshot" to keep firing dangerous objects into the sun for the rest of the season...even longer, only to turn around at some point and reveal that -someone-has been intercepting the rockets and now has an entire arsenal of MacGuffins. Someone like AIM or Hydra. Muahahaha.
Albus Dumbledore Didn’t Come Out at the Right Time (According to Everyone)
@1, @4, @5 - I agree. As thrilled as I am that there was at least one queer character in the Harry Potter franchise, it just wasn't relevant to the storyline. I just can't look at the story at any point, and see where Dumbledore's sexuality would have informed or influenced Harry's journey. Think about it: Dumbledore was...well, ancient. Harry was 11 at the start. Even by the end, when Harry was 18, it wasn't about Dumbledore's private life, it was about Harry and his friends and a great big huge epic struggle against Voldemort. Sex, sexuality, and themes of that nature, simply weren't built into the Harry Potter narrative as Rowling laid it out for us. Oh sure, we got some relatively chaste romantic hijinks as the characters became teenagers, but that seemed to be more as a necessary gesture than something Rowling truly wanted to get into. Her romances and relationships were mostly superficial, mostly harmless, mostly innocent. You never saw the characters debating about which Hufflepuff had the best body, which Slytherin was the most promiscuous, or which Ravenclaw was good for "study session." (If we did, I missed it!) Harry Potter was about a great many things, but never sex or sexuality. Yes, those themes are built into a lot of books, and that's awesome. But when you look at how Harry Potter was constructed, it's pretty clear what elements, themes, tropes and story beats were intentionally incorporated, and what was left out. With a few words here and there, Rowling could have changed the whole structure, given Dumbledore a sexuality, given Ron a boyfriend, given Cho Chang a questioning nature, maybe even have someone discover their true gender via Polyjuice Potion. It's all there in the possibilities. It's just not the story Rowling was telling. And thousands of fanfic writers have put their own spin on the story and come up with some amazing, and awful things. Do I wish that Rowling had incorporated queer themes? Hell yes. Do I fault her for playing it safe? No. If she wasn't ready to do it, if she didn't feel comfortable, if it simply didn't fit in the story she was telling, that's her perogative and she doesn't owe us a thing. But she still made Dumbledore, that magnificent wizard, the surrogate father, the giver of wisdom and sharer of advice, gay, and she told us when the time felt right. I will always welcome gay, lesbian, trans, genderqueer, bi characters of any sort in fiction, but only if the story fits. In this case, the story covered different ground.
Strange New World: New Earth by Ben Bova
I've seen lists that add in PRIVATEERS after Powersat, but then contend that it's an alternate history and thus its place may or may not be canon. FARSIDE (2013) comes between 7 and 8 and seems to set up the plot for NEW EARTH. And so on. The problem with nearly 2 dozen books written over almost 30 years is that there's a fair amount of either contradiction or loose continuity, especially when he wrote a bunch of unconnected things and then decided to connect them later on. You get the feeling that he's been improvising some of the time, and is determined to leave this as his magnum opus, no matter what it takes. So maybe this is indeed his attempt to tie together older or more unrelated work. And yes, a major plot point is "how is Sirius C so much like Earth, when it's in such a particularly inhospitable location?" The answer(s) take up a lot of the latter half of the book's plot. I consider myself a Bova fan, but there's a -lot-, especially his older work, that I haven't read. Hs output is considerable...and for a while it was hard to find in the bookstores when it first came out because apparently B&N didn't feel like carrying him. Go figure.
Strange New World: New Earth by Ben Bova
@5 Would it help if by "man" I meant "person?" I used the somewhat timeworn phrase without thinking, sorry. Although I'm sure we could also have a fascinating discussion on the role of women in Bova's work...
Strange New World: New Earth by Ben Bova
I've never read As on a Darkling Plain, but my research shows that it actually involved a mission to the Saturnian moon of Titan, and was part of the Others Saga. So I guess there's no real relation. Pretty sure it's completely unrelated to his Grand Tour sequence, which he's been working on since the early '90s... or mid '80s depending on which books officially count.
Watch This Kitten Wander In to Help Play a Ukelele Nerd Love Song
I am absolutely dead of the cute. And I love DeAnne's look as well. She just looks so -nifty-. Fun song, too!
Eight Heroes I’d Love To See On Agents of SHIELD
I would love to see them do a tie-in show about Daredevil. It would be television gold: case-of-the-week law show by day, rooftop vigilante by night. Set it in the same universe, and the crossover possibilities are endless. As far as guest heroes for SH.I.E.L.D... Mockingbird is a good choice, since she's another low-powered street-level hero with ties to SHIELD. If they really wanted to blow our minds, they could always do a riff on the old storyline where SHIELD tried to create their own super-agents, and ended up with Blue Streak (a dude on rocket-powered roller skates), Vamp/Animus (a lady who turns into a big-headed guy-thing with a club), Texas Twister (a Texan with wind/cyclone powers) and Marvel Man/Marvel Boy/Quasar (a guy with cosmic energy wristbands). Then again...maybe not. But I hope they remain at least somewhat faithful to whatever characters they draw from.
Penguin Books Announces The Dark Crystal Author Contest!
I'll admit I was excited about this, until I looked at the fine print. Specifically: "4. Each entry will be the sole property of the Sponsors. By competing in the Contest and/or accepting a prize, each entrant (including the prize winner) grants to Sponsors the right to edit, adapt, publish,copy, display, reproduce and otherwise use their entry in connection with this Contest and in any other way, in any and all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, throughout the world, in perpetuity, including publication on Further, each entrant (including the prize winner) grants to Sponsors the right to use each entry and the winner's name, likeness, and biographical information in advertising, trade and promotional materials, without notice, review or approval, or further compensation or permission, except as set forth herein, and except where prohibited by law. Sponsors are not obligated to use, publish, display or reproduce any entry." So... just by submitting, they own your story in all forms, for all time. And they can use your name, likeness, and biographical information in any way they see fit. Unless I'm somehow missing something. Consider this the Black Hole of Dark Crystal Fanfic. One person gets the brass ring, everyone else gets the satisfaction of a nice try.
Fiction Affliction: June Releases in Paranormal Romance
Suzanne - I'm still seeing a fair number of paranormal romances in the YA market, so that part of the trend may be lagging behind. But you may be right, now that I think about it. At least one major erotica publisher has been moving away from the paranormal-themed anthologies because they're apparently not selling as well. I may have to go back and analyze the recent marketplace deals and see what's selling to the houses.
Fiction Affliction: June Releases in Paranormal Romance
I find it interesting that of the 14 offerings, just about half come from Samhain, which I've always considered to be one of the smaller-yet-steadily growing presses, whose stuff seems to veer more towards the erotic paranormal. The rest are spread between Sourcebooks Casablanca, St. Martins, and Montlake (an Amazon imprint). I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure there's a marked absence of paranormals from some of the other major publishers known to deal in the genre... like all things Harlequin-related. (Missing from last month's similiar column: Signet, Zebra, HarperTeen, Brava, BerkleyTrade, Zebra, Jove. Down 7 books from 21.) I suspect a summer break in the schedule. Because the paranormal trend shows little sign of actually dying. :)
The Elephant in the Room
I loved this story. It was a great look at the Wild Cards universe, and it's always great to see Croyd "the Sleeper" Crenson. He's always been one of my favorites, right from the beginning, and I've always suspected his true superpower is to be in any and every story as needed. (I wonder if there's an Ace with the power of Deus ex Machina... some of them have come pretty close in the past.)
Fiction Affliction: June Releases in Urban Fantasy
So many books, so little time. But I'll use this list to help me plan. :)
The Button Man and the Murder Tree
A great story. Very noirish, atmospheric and well-done. As usual, Cherie delivers a heck of a tale. Oddly, this didn't feel like a Wild Cards story to me. The lingo was there, and the setting, but still...strip out a few of the specific details and this could just have easily worked as a stand-alone. I wish I could put my finger on A) what exactly I consider to be a Wild Cards story and B) why this doesn't have that element. Perhaps it's just the greater lack of connection to all of the tried and true elements, the characters and events that have shaped the past twenty-some books. Perhaps it's that this veers into horror-noir instead of mature comic book trope/adventure. This isn't really a criticism so much as an observation. Like I said, strip out a few bits and this could be... I dunno, set in a world where random mutations or magical curses or -something- quietly create a new breed of person. As opposed to the very much in your face standard of Wild Cards, where it's usually about nicknames and superpowers, Aces and Jokers. But I suppose I'm just rambling on. Bottom line is, it's a great story. I wouldn't mind seeing it expanded, just to see where Raul goes from here... and what the mushrooms really mean in the long run. (I have at least half a dozen wild ideas just off the top of my head.)
The God-Machine Hints at the World of Darkness’ Future
Wow. Back in the day, I was really into the World of Darkness, especially Changeling: the Dreaming. But when White Wolf killed off the old WoD, I had to make the hard decision to leave it all behind.... the new WoD was interesting but the core rulebooks were getting expensive and, well, something had to give. I miss the old days. I still have a bookcase in the basement that's pretty much nothing but old WoD supplements from all the various lines, from core books to splatbooks. And every once in a while I think of checking out the new WoD again, but part of me worries that it just wouldn't be the same. Because change is scary, yo. :)
The Eye of the Beholder: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
I loved Every Day, as my previous review will attest. It's what convinced me that Levithan has an interesting approach to genre fiction, and what really secured me as a fan of his work.
The First Ender’s Game Trailer Will Make You So Uneasy, In a Perfect Way
Just call me a sheep. Because I believe in gay marriage and equality for all, disagree with OSC's beliefs, and wish the world was a better place. Baaaaaaaaaa. Why yes, I do think Kenny's statement is bordering on the silly. You don't have to be brainwashed by the Thought Police (wasn't that a Philip K. Dick story?) in order to believe in something. That said, I'm still debating about seeing the movie, just to see how they translate story into film.
Music and magic: Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks
I have never made a secret of my love for this book, writing long love letters disguised as reviews. But the simple thing is: War For The Oaks is one of my all-time favorite books in any genre, ever. It's a comfort book. I can open it to any page, enjoy the scenes, enjoy the characters, sink into the comfortable embrace of the descriptions of music and magic, revel in the marriage of real world and fantasy... War For The Oaks is damned near perfect because it was such an early entry in the urban fantasy genre. Like walking in virgin snow, it was new and interesting and different, a rare and wonderful beast, breaking new ground and pushing into new territory. There wasn't a whole lot of urban fantasy (magic realism, whatever you want to call it) at the time, so Bull's take is original and relatively uninfluenced. While today's UF and paranormal romance build on years of work and hundreds of precedessors, WFTO is still a trailblazer. And that's why it's a book I love. Is it the best-written out there? The most original? The most artistic? Maybe not. But it was one of the first of its kind, certainly one of the earliest I encountered, and it shaped my love of the genre and my expectations for many years to follow. If you'll humor me, you can find my review, originally done for Green Man Review, here. But I honestly can't recommend this book enough for anyone who's ever loved urban fantasy, magic realism, paranormal romance, or any of that ilk.
A Good Day to Die Hard Is Exactly What You Think It Is. Here’s Proof
@13: You are correct. There were numerous times when McClane basically looked common sense and death right in the eye and spat defiance without even a second thought. Like picking up a big-ass machine gun and mowing down bad guys without even batting an eyelash, as though his decades as a cop and previous experiences had indeed turned him into Rambo. Like doing things with a car that no sane or reasonable person would ever do... and walking away with nary a scratch. Like heading into a radioactive wasteland without even worrying about protective gear. (Not spoiling too much with those examples, I hope.) I don't think they'll ever top Die Hards 1 and 3 for me. :)
A Good Day to Die Hard Is Exactly What You Think It Is. Here’s Proof
Definitely not one of the franchise's best installments. I couldn't stop laughing as the first third of the movie was basically a nonstop demolition derby. My list of Things That Can Not Kill John McClane: cars, trucks, helicopters, guns, knives, falling damage, glass, fire, water, terrorists, radiation, blunt trauma. Not ruled out yet: old age, apathy, bad reviews. Seriously, it's like at some point he transcended mere mortal status and can barely be harmed, let alone slowed or severely injured. Want to buy a return of Reginald VelJohnson and Bonnie Bedelia for the rumored sixth and final installment. This movie was entertaining, but will never be considered one of the good Die Hards. It felt too much like Bruce Willis stumbled into a rejected Bond script... Which is saying something since all the good Die Hards began life as other projects as well. Oh well. It was a good date movie. :)
Vintage Transformers Box Art Portrays Toys as Serious Emotional Wrecks
I grew up with Tranformers Generation 1, the comic book series and cartoon and toys, so I remember many of these characters and their quirks all too well. I fell away from all of it after a few years, as I entered my teen years, but this generation of Transformers will always be "mine." Go back and read those first few issues and marvel at how freaking WORDY they were, as poor Bob Budiansky shoehorned in dozens of characters, complete with name, special abilities, and a revealing snippet of dialogue in the first issue alone. Baffle at the crossover with Spider-Man thatwas so very very out of place.... I've come back to the Transformers franchise now and again over the years, long enough to check on the status of things. One thing I've learned: Transformers continuity, at this point, is a shark-infested nightmare no one truly understands. However, IDW's done awesome things with the comic book side of things. They have two series--Robots in Disguise, and More Than Meets the Eye--which are downright brilliant. One series is full of political intrigue, mystery, adventure and so on, as the Transformers try to rebuild a post-war Cybertron. The other has a rag-tag band of robots on a comic quest that keeps getting sidetracked and derailed, as much by their own personality clashes as anything. It's the first time in years that I've found this franchise to be both interesting and compelling, and wholy entertaining.
Fables Will Cross Over With The Unwritten And I Am Kind of Worried
The Great Fables Crossover with the Literals and so forth was indeed something that didn't need to be shoehorned into the main title. Jack of Fables was a very nice series with some serious misfires and truly bizarre creative turns, and it suffered a lot from some of its more gratuitous excesses. I'm not saying that the idea of the Literals was a bad thing in its own right, but the way it was all handled, was. And the overlong storyline about Jack turning into a dragon while his son took over the series and had weird pulp pastiche adventures in other worlds... again, I'm not opposed to weird pulp pastiche adventures, but it didn't feel right for the series, and it all led to one of the most grossly wasteful endings for a series I've seen in a long time. By comparison, at least this "Crossover" event is self-contained, taking place only in the Unwritten title, and presumably to be written fully by Mike Carey, with, I'd assume, input and approval by Willingham. So the Unwritten characters will stay in character, the themes will stay in theme, it shouldn't disrupt the Fables storylines and things will continue at whatever pace Carey has set. This is why I'm not worried. It's not one of those things where Tommy Taylor will show up in the Fables title and upset the apple cart, it's just part of his story arc. So to recap: I doubt the story will have a huge impact on Fables, and Carey remains in control of the overall picture. So keep your fingers crossed?
Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for February
A new Tiger and Del? The 90's called, they want to get back together. But seriously, wow. It's been -ages- since I read that series.
Fables Will Cross Over With The Unwritten And I Am Kind of Worried
Frankly, if The Unwritten had to cross over with any series, Fables makes as much sense as anything, and much more than most. After all, one of the underlying ideas behind Fables is the relationship between original source and story... the Fables have a weird symbiotic relationship with the stories told about them, so that while they may have "come first" they live and die depending on the tales we tell. Hence, the best known like Goldilocks and Snow White and Jack are nigh-immortal and unkillable due to their popularity, while more obscure ones might die and never return. Sometimes the universe insists on replacements, like with the three bears or the three little pigs. So in short, The Unwritten, which is about the power of story and the relatonship between teller and tale, is going to enjoy an in-house crossover with a series where fairy tales and myths enjoy a life both reliant upon and separate from the people who enjoy them. I'm optimistic.
Sleeps With Monsters: Recommend Some Things!
I'm going to go ahead and recommend my anthology, Scheherazade's Facade, now available in ebook or print edition for your pleasure. Not only are the majority of the 12 authors in it female (with at least one identifying more as genderqueer), but the stories deal with gender and identity in some surprisingly fascinating ways.
Hi-Yo Trailer! First Look at The Lone Ranger
I am inspired to comment with a hearty "meh." It just didn't seem to have the heart or spirit the concept deserves. And seriously, they couldn't have worked the classic theme music into the trailer, just to get us excited? And really. It's Johnny Depp. With a dead bird on his head. Yeah, not exactly rocking the positive vibes on this one.
Fiction Affliction: December Releases in Urban Fantasy
"My name is Hedi Peacock. I'm not human, and I have the pointy Fae ears and Were inner-bitch to prove it." ... There are days when I'm absolutely convinced that the publishers are just toying with me. Looking forward to the new Diana Pharaoh Francis!
Fiction Affliction: December Releases in Paranormal Romance
Just as an experiment, I skipped over everything that was listed as part of a series. Apparently, there is but one paranormal romance coming out this month. Three if you include the ones that are just marked as the start of a series. There are days when it's nice to find something that's not necessarily part of a longer series (either following the same character, or following an ever-expanding cast of characters, a different one of whom finds love in each book...) Looks like a good month to catch up on my other reading.
The Great Stephen King Reread: House Rules
I was a faithful King reader right up until the early '90s (or so), but for some reason, Tommyknockers was the last one I really read. So in my opinion, Classic King would also have to include Skeleton Crew (1985), Bachman Books (1985), It (1986) and Eyes of the Dragon (1987). I don't think I've been able to get into a King book since, save for the odd one here and there, like Blood and Smoke, or The Colorado Kid. I hope you consider expanding your project to cover some of the above. It, at the very least, is certainly one of the quintessential King books.
Ghosts at Midnight: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
It's mentioned as being on, around, or off of Route 64, which runs east-west through the middle of the state. If you remember the area, 64 hits I-81 around Staunton, goes by Charlottesville, and around Richmond. So Henrietta's not terribly far in the grand scheme of things for DC people to send their slightly troublesome men-children. :)
Conspiracy and Identity: Adaptation by Malinda Lo
I made the bold (for me) choice to actually pick this up in hardback as soon as I could get my hands on it. I say bold because I've become extremely picky about what I buy in the stores for hardback prices, given how much I can get in ARC form or as an ebook. I blew through it in a space of an evening at work, and loved it. Definitely worth the price. Like you, I saw some pacing issues and other minor things, but in general, I loved the portrayal of Reese as an intelligent, stubborn, resourceful young woman who's suddenly forced to confront her own sexual identity. Can't wait to see what comes next!
Introducing Simon Baz, the First Muslim-American Green Lantern
Not too long ago, before DC rebooted itself, there was a several issue storyline in, I want to say Power Girl, where a metahuman from the fictional DC nation of Qurac used his powers to try and save a disabled airplane, only to be mistaken for a terrorist and imprisoned. So this isn't the first time DC has played the "Arabs are mistaken for terrorists even when they're really trying to do the right thing" card in recent memory.
The Thrice-Done Film of the ’90s: What Jim West, Zorro, and Mrs Peel Have in Common
I'm going to go on record as one of the five people who enjoyed Wild Wild West. Okay, sure, in retrospect it's awful and problematic and painful, but at the same time... It's highly entertaining. Weird inventions, wacky concepts, completely over-the-top scenery-chewing from Smith and Brannagh and Kline, and a giant mechanical fire-breathing tarantula. Call me shallow, but sometimes you just have to go with the big idea and roll with it. And yeah, some of the jokes are both funny and offensive, in the way that makes you laugh and then feel very uncomfortable afterwards, and slightly ashamed.... Man, the more I think about the more I question myself. But still, it's nowhere near the worst movie I've seen. I watched the Avengers once, and couldn't get through it when it popped up on cable lately. I'm gonna claim this as one of those really guilty pleasures, and we shall never speak of this again.
The Pen Is Mightier: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
@3 - My thoughts exactly. Jim's not afraid to start some difficult discussions. @4 - That's still cheaper than the $25 for the hardcover! And it's very much worth it. Jim's one of the few authors I'd pay full-price hardcover for if I saw this in the stores and hadn't already gotten a review copy beforehand. And it still beats waiting a year for the paperback. (I know, $12 is still a fair amount these days, but in my humble opinion, this particular book is worth at least $12. :) )
Space Stallions is the Best Fake 80s Cartoon We’ve Ever Seen
This needs an entire season. Preferably on Saturday morning, NBC, 1984-1985. And a toy line. I would buy that toy line so much. The only problem is that the animation is -too- good for the '80s.
Before Watchmen Rehashes a Comic Masterpiece. Is It Working?
From what's been released so far, I got the impression that, if anything, Ozymandias is bisexual but not really -into- anything. He has sex with men and women, or intimate encounters, but doesn't seem to care one way or the other. It's like he's so wrapped up in himself and his self-importance that he doesn't pay much attention to such minor details. Now that I've read all of the issues to date, I will say that Minutemen is the best and most intriguing of the lot. It provides such careful insight into tragically doomed characters like Mothman and Silhouette that their eventual fates become all the more powerful. It's the most interesting for covering such territory. The other series range from entertaining (Nite Owl) to cute (Silk Spectre, love the artwork) to yawn (Ozymandias).
Extraordinary Abilities, Ordinary Disabilities
@17 You're right! Good call. I'd never heard of it before, but now I'll have to see if I can get my hands on a copy. I did think of two heroes who do fit into the paremeters of this discussion. Both from Marvel. Echo (aka Ronin) is a deaf superheroine who actually relies on lip-reading and visual cues to understand people. She's been sadly under-utilized in the past few years, and... she's apparently dead at the moment. Grrrrrrrrrrr, dammit, I almost got my hopes up there. I hope she recovers from death quickly, but maintains her status as a competent deaf hero. Sihlouette was one of the New Warriors, who was partially paralyzed sometime in the past. Every time we saw her, she used crutches and leg braces to get around, and had incorporated them into her fighting style. Although a teleporter, this didn't reduce her reliance on the crutches for everyday mobility. Okay, the crutches were apparently tricked out with gadgets, which is kinda cool.
Which of These Insane Sci-Fi Things Will Actually Happen at the Olympics?
I support the "clap if you want the British team to win" theory. It worked for Tinkerbell....
Extraordinary Abilities, Ordinary Disabilities
@15 You know it's bad when even the superheroes acknowledge that death among their brethren is really just a temporary thing. Peter David lampooned this in X-Factor some years back when, after the death of her father Banshee, Theresa "Siryn" Cassidy laughed it off, knowing he'd be back sooner or later. Not only is death a reversible thing for any character deemed desirable, it's the ultimate catch-all for "fixing" any traits that don't suit the new vision. I'd love to see a hero who actually needed glasses and who actually had to cope with that need by using corrective lenses in their hero gear-- aha! Heather "Vindicator/Guardian" Hudson from Alpha Flight had that issue, as far as I know. I'm not sure if we could count Scott Summers, since his vision's great, it's just also extremely destructive. Mark Millar, of all people, came up with an interesting spin on things with his recent series, Superior, which featured a young man with multiple sclerosis, who gets the ability to turn into a Superman-like character. While yes, a magic transformation from disabled character to godlike being was involved, the story had much more going for it. The short-lived series Kinetic had a main character living with diabetes, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and more, who gained temporary strength and invulnerability, but the series was cancelled before it could go very far with whatever story it wanted to tell. I guess the challenge still remains: create a superhero who lives with disabilities, who doesn't have access to the usual comic book solutions, and whose superpowers don't essentially counter it out. (No blind telepaths who see through other peoples' eyes!) I'd buy it.
Extraordinary Abilities, Ordinary Disabilities
@12 That's pretty much my underlying point: when you're dealing with a comic book setting, everything breaks down under a simple application of logic and common sense. Super-villains rob banks rather than make billions for their wrist-mounted plot device cannons, and a thousand excuses exist for why Misty Knight can have a bionic arm yet they can't be rushed into mass production. One regrettable side-effect is that magic cures and quick fixes are available only to a special group of people, and super-heroes, by and large, fall into that special group by sheer virtue of existing. Super-villains are a whole different story, and another long essay at that, but bottom line: people don't usually want to identify with them. (Oh, I just thought of someone who did rocket into battle in an Action Chair: Sparks from the Steel live action movie. Um... yay?) I'll be over here, frantically racking my brain to come up with some decent exceptions to my argument, because I'd love to disprove myself. :)
Extraordinary Abilities, Ordinary Disabilities
Peter Parker wore glasses when he first started out. However, the need for glasses was quickly phased out in issue #8 of his own title. There are conflicting stories given: either he never actually needed them but Aunt May thought he did, or the spider bite which gave him his powers corrected his vision along with everything else. Clark Kent's glasses are, of course, entirely unnecessary. When it comes to superheroes with disabilities, it's hard to reconcile the disabilty with a world where super-science or radioactive materials or magic can fix almost anything. Lose an arm? Get a bionic arm. Lose your sight? You probably get radar sense or blackout vision. Lose your hearing? Bionic implants. Lame in your civilian ID? Magic gives you an intact body! As far as I know, there are only a few examples of characters where a disability really stuck. Hawkeye's deafness is one example, but for all I know that was fixed during the last time he came back from the dead. Professor X has alternated between wheelchair and full mobility depending on how recently he's come back from the dead. The Doom Patrol's Chief... (mumble mumble, again with coming back from the dead.) When you get right down to it, it's extremely hard to justify a superhero who is in any way less abled than their peers. Barbara Gordon actually fought for years to remain in the wheelchair, when she had access to dozens of potential miracle cures and workarounds. She did so because A) she was a much more versatile and interesting and beloved character as Oracle, and B) she either didn't feel like she'd earned a cure, or she didn't think it fair she recieve special treatment when so many others did not. The point is, she remained in a wheelchair like a realistic person, while being part of an entirely unrealistic setting, and a certain incongruity set in. (I honestly preferred her as Oracle, and as a disabled heroine, and was not happy to see her status changed.) In a truly progressive comic book setting, we'd see bionic limbs made available for everyone who'd lost part of their body. Mutant healers would work around the clock to cure birth defects and genetic disorders. Nanobots would fix spines and restore senses. And so on, and so on. Cures and treatments would be available for everyone, not just a tiny fraction of the population. What's my point? That we may be hoping too much, asking for disabled superheroes out of a genre that is built around showcasing men and women in peak athletic condition locked in constant life-or-death struggles. Disabilities are for their supporting cast, or the general populace, or -possibly- their secret identity. The only "acceptable" disabilities are either those which can be countered by available technology (see again bionic arms: Misty Knight, Lightning Lad, Roy Harper), superpowers (Blindness: All three Drs Midnight, Daredevil) or magic (Crippled: Freddy Freeman, Donald Blake). (Wheelchair-bound heroes are invariably leaders or support with appropriate abilities, as mentioned above. No one rockets into battle in their Action Chair unless they're Quincy Harker from Marvel's Dracula series. Or that Elseworlds where the Flash lost the use of his legs.) I would absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent LOVE to see a comic book setting that allowed for disabled heroes, but at this point, it seems like the only way to actually make it happen would be to build a universe from the ground up, and write the rules specifically to allow for such things to still make sense when people can also fly, shoot lasers, and punch through walls. Because until then, the best you can hope for is someone like Oracle, whose status quo stuck for as long as it did through fan and writer popularity. Because y'know? There's always cloning. Cloning fixes everything. (And after all this, I would love to be proven wrong!)
Neil Gaiman to Write a Sandman Prequel in 2013
I wonder how much money they offered Gaiman for this. Or if they just revealed they had blackmail pictures of his wife. :)
Dissecting Spider-Man: The Comic Storylines That Inform The Film
I'm hoping that future installments will avoid the Green Goblin, if only because we've seen that done so many times before. Instead, they should rmmage around in Spider-Man's rogues gallery and pick out a few who really haven't seen much attention. Option 1) A two-fer team-up of the Chameleon and Mysterio. One's the ultimate master of disguise, the other the ultimate special effects artist. In the recent "Ends of the Earth" storyline, we saw how they might play well together. I think those two could really turn Spider-Man's world upside-down and give him a mental, physical, and emotional run for his money. Their agenda? Take your pick. Option 2) Team up two of Spider-Man's gimmick villains for an old-fashioned robbery spree with fights galore. Electro and Shocker might make for great pals, since they both have the same "work ethic" and similiar but different power sets. Together, they'd really be able to put our hero through the wringer before he beat them. And as a bonus, they can always be working for The Evil Shadowy Mastermind. Option 3) Stir in some romance with the Black Cat...although that might be risking comparison with Catwoman in the new Batman movie. But have her do her usual not-a-hero shtick after stealing something important, and throw in someone chasing her. Maybe the Vulture, for some high-flying action? Option 4) Maybe the time is right to play up a crime war angle instead, and work in the twin mastermind menaces of the Big Man and the Crime-Master. Bring in the Kingpin, if he's not still tied up in Daredevil rights. How would Spider-Man handle an escalating series of threats that weren't superhuman in nature? Admittedly, this is a real long shot. If none of those villains appeal, there's also the Rhino and the Scorpion, but they pretty much provide more physical fights. If one really wanted to play the long game, they could introduce the Shadowy Figure Behind Everything to be Doctor Octopus doing his Master Plan routine. The important thing is that all of these options provide interesting stories, without going back to the same old same of Green Goblin, and they also avoid using Venom or Sandman, which we saw in the Raimi trilogy. Spider-Man has a huge rogues gallery, and we need to embrace it, not stagnate. (And no Ezekiel/Morlun/The Other/Mephisto mumbo-jumbo, please!) @2 - Kraven's Last Hunt can be found, in its entirely, in the recently-release Marvel Essentials collection, Web Of Spider-Man #2, along with a decent run of other comics from that particular title. Black and white, but an affordable $19.99 for 19 issues including an annual. In fact, you can find just about all of the storylines listed above, reprinted in the Essentials for Amazing Spider-Man.
Detailed Infographic Depicts 73 Years of Visual Batman History
Fascinating. Although I'm a little surprised that it didn't include Robin along the top row. I know he hasn't made an appearance in the Nolan films, but you'd think he'd warrant inclusion anyway. Either a look at how Dick Grayson has been portrayed in each specific era, or "Robin" in general, would have been appropriate. And why a gap between 1997 and 2005? I get that thy're showing the period between the death of the film franchise and its rebirth, but it's a pretty significant gap in terms of Batman history. You can't argue that the infographic is only following the movie/television/media portrayal because it also hits various comic eras. It's also a real pity that they chose the godawful Catwoman film to represent her during the Schmuaker period. /shudder All in all, it's an interesting piece, but with some odd choices.
The Good, the Bat, and the Ugly: Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
@1 - Thanks for the link. It made for some giggles. @2 - You got me there, but whenever they strip Batman down to his essentials, Robin's usually one of the first things to go and first things to return. What's odd about this iteration is that there's no sign of any Robin being introduced. @3 - Yeah, I agree that angry Batman isn't exactly a new thing. This is why my own personal favorite version is from the Brave and the Bold cartoon. :) @4 - Thanks for the notes and links!
Last Man Standing: Live and Let Drood by Simon R. Green
@1 - I wouldn't put it past Green to have used the name for the similiarity. @2 - The only Simon R. Green book which hasn't been incorporated into his overarching mythos at this point is probably his Robin Hood: Prince of Thiefs novelization. I can't speak for his short stories, but everything else fits together. It's not surprising that it feels like Deathstalker in some ways. @3 - Them's fighting words. Shall it be books at dawn? Choose your second! @4 - It's long been evident that Green, while a mad genius in his own right, does what amuses him. I doubt we're going to see him attempt anything truly stand-alone. But whatever he does, I'll be there! @5 - Clint Eastwood played James Bond during the brief interregnum between George Lazenby and Roger Moore, when the producers thought about going for something even more radical. However, personality conflicts and common sense quickly led to Eastwood's departure, and Sean Connery's return for Diamonds Are Forever. But for several brief, glorious weeks, we almost had Clint Eastwood in that role instead.
There is Nothing Like Tron and That’s Why You Should Love It
Just to be contrary: when I think of Jeff Bridges, I think of the movie Stick It. :)
Apocalypse In Aisle Five: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
@9: The only explanation I can think of to counter your argument here is that the book takes place several years in the future. Long enough for NORAD to decide, for whatever, reason, to store chemical weapons in Colorado Springs. Sadly, with kids as the protagonists and outside news sparse, we don't get much more than a token "this is immoral" and "not if the government does it" argument. We never really do learn what's behind the origin of the compounds. Only that A) they deliver various debilitating effects corresponding to blood type, and B) it also forms some sort of "magnetic blackout cloud" covering an 800-mile radius of the area, unable to be dispersed by rain or wind. Future Science, everyone! As for those wondering how accurate the story is to the town it's set in, don't hold your breath. 99.5 percent of it takes place in the superstore. There's a brief excursion outside which mentions a few roads and the Lewis-Palmer Regional Hospital.
Dying To Be Famous: Losers in Space by John Barnes
@1 - I'm not sure it's really a satire. While some of the trappings are funny at times, it's played pretty straight-forward most of the time. @2 - Like I tried to explain, the "moes" are the main characters. Because they're not "eenies" (celebrities and employment eligible), "meanies" (the sociopaths, criminals, and undesirables) or "minies" (the vast majority of the population) at the moment, they think of themselves as "moes" who will fall into one of the three categories when they come of majority age. This was one of the book's more complicated set-ups, and I hopefully didn't botch the explanation too badly. :)
Lady Gaga Has Decreed It: Don’t Ever Be Ashamed to Be A Hufflepuff
Wow... if Hufflepuffs actually looked like that, and did that in the secrecy of their dorms, everyone would want to join that house. :) Impressive video.
When Will You Rise: Deadline and Blackout by Mira Grant
@2 Definitely good points. I'm not sure hardcopy papers survived the apocalypse, because part of the while culture of fear underlying this series requires that people be too scared to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. This is a world where bloggers provide the bulk of the information and entertainment. But I may have missed some of the series subtleties, so don't quote me on everything. :) @3 Clearly, that should read "uninhabitable" and be chalked up to reviewer failure. My apologies. @4 If you read the Wired interview that my editors so helpfully added for me (it came out after I'd already finished this review, I believe), you'll see where the biology is as plausible as possible, while conforming to literary requirements... but it was enough to make the CDC twitch a little and probably put the author on a watch list. :)
Apocalypse In Aisle Five: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
In trying to describe the various disasters, I may have been slightly unclear. The tsunami took out the East Coast. The supercell storms hit the Rockies, causing the killer hail among other problems. I can only assume that the volcanic eruption is what ultimately caused the earthquake as well. Sadly, I never was that good at Earth Sciences; my eighth grade science teacher seriously tried to convince us that North Dakota was a government plot and didn't actually exist.
Cover Reveal for New YA Novel The Nightmare Affair
Looks fantastic. Can't wait to check it out when the time comes. I'll have to remember who to shake down for review copies.... muaha.
True Blood Fan Confession: I’m So Over Sookie
I had to give up on the book series when Sookie started suffering from Anita Blake Syndrome, about 5 or 6 books in. When you have no less than six different men, each of a different supernatural species, lusting after you, you may also be suffering from ABS. It was hard for me to get into the show based on my annoyance with the books.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Galaxy’s Child”
So what you're saying is that the whole LaForge/Brahms thing is kinda creepy, right? Just want to make sure I'm not misreading this... :) Nah, but seriously, this really was a problematic episode in so many ways. Surprised LaForge wasn't remanded to counseling for a very long time as a result.
Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks for April
@5 - It was only afterwards that I followed the click-through on hawkwing-lb's name to see that she is indeed a contributor. I missed that, and I do apologize. I may have incorrectly read her response as a criticism of and responded improperly. I'm also sorry if my attempt to inject a little humor into things was unclear and thus offensive. It certainly wasn't my intent to suggest that the gender ratios are really equivalent to the color of book covers. Now, while I try to figure out if my foot tastes better with salt and pepper, or a nice brown sugar-and-balsamic vinegar glaze, I'll get back to reviewing this stack of books before the cats knock it over again.
The Twelfth Doctor Probably Won’t Be a Woman. But If She Was….
Now I can't unthink the idea of Tilda Swinton as the Doctor. And while we're at it, let's find her a Companion who doesn't look like they belong in high school. That would be awesome.

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