Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan- A mysterious woman named Spyder leads a group of outcasts in Birmingham. Is she helping her friends or leading them down a dark path which may lead to destruction?. Finding out the answer is pretty interesting. The characters are pretty well thought out. There are some real scary moments. Pretty good overall.
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite- In
the small town of Missing Mile, N.C. strange things happen. Jason aka Nothing
discovers his vampiric nature and discovers the group that sire him.
Steve and his friend Ghost will have to confront these vampires to save
Steve's on and off girlfriend Ann. Brite has an incredible
use of language. Ghost exemplifies the classic hero. He is the kind
of guy who will do anything, including unpleasant things, to help his friends.
The Sixth Sense (Theatrical Movie)- An eerie little film. It has an incredible plot twist at the end. Well executed.
Bloom by Wil McCarthy (Reader's
Group Choice)- An nanotech infestation has overrun the inner solar system.
Humanity has escaped to the moons of Jupiter and the asteroids. A
journalist goes with an expedition to the heart of infestation to place
probes to monitor its progress. Interesting change to see the downside
of nanotech. The expedition members are well fleshed out. There is
possibility of a sequel. I would probably check it out.
The 10th Kingdom (TV mini series)- Your classical fantasy quest story. The cast was great. I loved the Snow White bit. They could easily cut some of it out. The Peepville went on a bit too long.
The Garden of Stone by Victoria Strauss (Reader's Group Choice)- In this pre industrial world telepaths rule non telepaths. Years earlier Bron stole the Stone an object of power from the garden of the Fortress and disappeared. In his absence his enemy Jolyon has risen in power. Cariad, Bron's daughter, and Konstant infiltrate the Fortress to find what happened to Bron and discover the source of Jolyon power. This is the second in series but Strausss does a good job explaining the backstory. This world is thoroughly explored particulary the relationship between the telepaths and non telepaths. One can also see an interesting contrast when Konstant finds himself in world of non telepaths.
Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt (Reader's
Group Choice)- Ages ago civilization collapsed as a result of a plague.
Humans remember their ancestors as the Roadmakers. Years ago an expedition
went to look for Haven, a mythical sanctuary where the Roadmakers have
preserved their technology. Only the leader returns from
the journey. After he dies he leaves Chaka, whose brother died on the expedition,
a copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King's Arthur Court a lost
treasure. She decides to mount a second expedition to find Haven.
A good post apocalyspe story. McDevitt conveys the sense of wonder
his characters experience when they see the ancient marvels during their
journey. Its also nice to see a writer tying everything up at the
The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt (Reader's Group Choice)- Regeane is caught in the middle of intrigue in 8th century Italy. She is betrothed to a mysterious lord for political reasons. This is further complicated by the fact she is a werewolf. I am not sure how accurate the history is on this one. There are some interesting characters and the plot is well paced. Might be tempted to read the next one in the series.
Forever Free by Joe Haldeman- A sequel to The Forever War. Mandella and his wife Marygay wish to leave their colony planet, Middle Finger and the group mind called man which has encompassed most of humanity. They plan to leave and return within a space of 40,000 years while aging only 10. On the journey mysterious things occur and force them to return earlier than planned. Haldeman explores other ways for mankind to organize themselves other than traditional government. At the end of the book humanity is forever free in every possible way. The book takes the need for freedom to the source. The answers are scary and wonderful at the same time.
The Humanoids by Jack Williamson - A group of robots called humanoids are built "To Serve and Obey and Guard Men from Harm". The proposition seems all right at first until they restrict man's intellectual endeavors. A group of humans try to rally against the humanoids. A masterpiece. One is left thinking whether the humanoids are mankind's saviors or wardens. Will read the second book as soon as possible.
Stardoc by S.L. Viehl (Reader's Group Choice)- Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil decides to leave earth and her domineering father. She goes to the planet Kevarganzangia 2, a backwater planet inhabited by several races. She faces challenges being one of the few humans on the colony and the secrets of her past. Overall the book is OK. My only problem with it is the alien design. The writer may have been going for effect rather than realistic design.
Frequency (Theatrical Movie) - Original
premise for a movie. Its about love of family. The movie reminds
of Richard Matheson work. There is small glitch in the film's end.
The film's strong plot and characters makes one ignore the error.
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Hugo Nominee)- Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse works on decoding enemy cyphers during World War II. This leads to a series of events which will effect his grandson Randy. Randy is involved in an enterprise which create a data haven, a safe place where information can be stored away from prying eyes. Stephenson creates a Clancy like plot flipping between World War II and the early 21st century. Stephenson pulls together what seems like completely unrelated plot threads. The only problem is that he sometimes get obsessed with minutiae.
The Arabian Knights (T.V. mini series)- Beautifully filmed. I like the change in the reason for Scheherezade telling the tales. Instead of mere survival, she is trying to save the soul of the man she loves.
Jason and the Argonauts (T.V. mini series)- Again another good twist in the retelling of this story. I like the fact that the fleece has no real power and Jason has to make his own destiny. The special effect as usually are excellent.
A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor
Vinge (Hugo Nominee)- Two group of humans arrive at On/Off star, a sun
which goes dark and lights up on a regular basis. Orbiting
this star is a planet of intelligent arachnids. The groups are the
traders known as the Queng Ho and the Emergents, a more authoritarian group
who have created a process called focusing. When one is focused they become
highy specialized in one area and completely oblivious to other things.
The Emergents attack the Queng Ho and enslave the survivors.
They plan to stay in the system until the Spiders come to a technological
level which can help them. On the planet, the Spider Sherkaner Underhill
is trying to push new technologies which allow his people to live openly
when the sun goes dark. This is an incredibly complex novel. It is
well crafted. The narration shifts form the humans to the Spiders.
Both Underhill and Pham Nuwen, the main human character, are both
trying to liberate their people. The novel explores the nature of
freedom. Can focusing be the key uniting humanity? How can
technology empower a race?
Lord of the Isle by David Drake (Reader's Group Choice) - A group of four from an isolated island find themselves in the center of intrigue. This is your typical fantasy quest. It tended to drag at some points. The best part of the book when Cashel the shepherd discovers his true destiny by becoming a wizard. Not real eager to read the rest of the series.
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold (Hugo Nominee)- Miles has fallen in love with widow Ekaterin Vorsoisson. He has a cunning plan to woo her. At the same time Miles has to deal with court intrigue. I have not been keeping up with the Vorkosigan saga. I really regret it since this book was so much fun. The plot flows easily. Bujold has a great knack for comedy. You find yourself cheering at the end.
Titan A.E. (Theatrical Movie)- Nice to see a major American animated feature with out any musical numbers. It is a classic space opera. The alien design is great, particualrly the Goug (sp?) and the Drej.
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
(Theatrical Movie)- It was a goofy TV show. So they made a goofy
movie about it. It rocks. The film uses the same humor used on the
show including the dreaded pun. It was great to hear June Foray's
voice again. If it does not leave a smile on your face, you are a cruel
and evil person or you were abused as a child and must get help.
The Empire Stone by Chris Bunch (Reader's Group Choice) - Jeweler Peirol is sent by a wizard to retrieve the infamous Empire Stone. He is confronted by several challenges before he secures the stone. This was a surprise. I thought it was going to be a ponderous quest story. It was saved by the character. Peirol is a guy with a talent who is trying to get by. Using his charm and his talent Peirol is able to solve his problems. The plot moved well. An OK fantasy and it may be stand alone.
X-Men (Theatrical Movie)- A film I have been waiting for 15 years. It was worth the wait. Its a film for fans and non fans. Non fans can learn the story about the X-Men without being confused. Long time fans have fun looking at the details in the film (The Mansion's address, cameos at the school). Jackman is Wolverine and rest of the cast was excellent. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
Against the Fall of Night by Sir Arthur C. Clarke - Alvin, an inhabitant of the utopic city Dispar, wishes to leave the city to discover his race's past. He discovers mankind's lost legacy. This is classic Clarke. Alvin's search invokes the classic sense of wonder. There is great satisfaction when he puts mankind back on track to take their rightful place among the stars.
The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein - Engineer Dan Davis is betrayed by his girlfriend and business partner. They put him into suspended animation for 30 years. Fortunately for Dan time travel has been developed and has a way to get back at his enemies. This novel shows Heinlein expertise in the area of the time travel. Heinlein is able to maneuver around paradoxes in an interesting way. The good guys as always are competent and reap great rewards and villains are efficiently thwarted. Engaging and fun at the same time.
Knight Life by Peter David - King Arthur returns to present day New York. The best way to fulfill his destiny is to run for mayor. Along the way he encounters old friends and foes. Peter David has fun with the Avalon myth and at the same time takes a poke at the political system.
Scary Movie (Theatrical Movie)- A bit over the top. Still it was a good send up of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Sixth Sense among others. It could have been toned down a bit for my taste.
Nuremeburg (TV mini series)- It was great to see the real trial of the century brought to TV. Brian Cox did an excellent job of recreating Goering. The only problem was Jackson's (Alec Baldwin) romance with his secretary. It seemed to be a distraction to kill time. The trial scenes however were breath taking especially Jackson's cross examination of Goering.
The Flying Sorcerers by David Gerrold and Larry Niven - On a distant planet exists a primitive society exists which still believes in magic. A stranger from another world comes and threatens the authority of local wizard Shoogar. Shoogar sabotages the stranger's vehicle which wipes out most of the village. The village inhabitants migrate to an area which seasonally cut off from the mainland. The stranger is there and proposes to build a flying machine to get back to the mainland and escape this world. The book shows the pressure that radical change can put on a society and how people will do anything to hold on to power. The plot never drags. It is great to see the plan for building the flying machine unfold.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by
J.K. Rowling- In his fourth year at Hogwarts Harry is entered into an international
wizard competiton. This is the turning point in the series.
Like Babylon 5, things will get darker before they get better.
However Harry shows he has what it takes to be a hero. He is getting
ready for a final showdown with the forces of darkness. Rowling
again dazzles the reader with her creativity. The characters are
evolving and learning crucial values like loyalty and tolerance.
Ultraviolet (TV mini series)- Prime Suspect meets Vampire$. It works. I like combining the British crime show with vampire hunting. There are some great twists and I like how the vampire myth is established in this world.
The Waiting by Frank Robinson (Reader's Group Choice) - Arthur Banks discover an ancient race of humanity still exists and will stop at nothing to protect the secret of their existence. It was well plotted and the science is pretty sound. It reminded me of of Darwin's Radio from another angle. I had a problem with the ending and the race's motivations.
Moonwar by Ben Bova - Sequel to Moonrise. Moonbase tries to win its independence from Earth. They have to do it without spilling blood. I did not think that there could be such a thing a bloodless revolution. Bova proved me wrong. Bova's colonists use every scintilla of intelligence to accomplish their goal. Need to make time for the rest of Bova's solar system.
The Empire of Isher by A.E. van Vogt (Reader's Group Choice) - Originally two books, The Weapon Shops of Isher and The Weapon Makers. In the future mankind's freedom depends on delicate balance of power between the ruling family of Isher and the Weapon Shops. The Weapon Shops provide the people with weapons that can only be used in self defense. The books deal with the struggle between those agencies. We are given an incredible plot which nothing less than the freedom of man is at stake. Van Vogt can take these far out plots and makes it plausible and make us want more. This is why van Vogt is a Grandmaster. .
Is it Fall Yet? (TV Movie) - Quinn
gets a brain. Daria shows she has heart . Jake finds his sense of humor.
All of the characters of substance in Daria
grow in this
film. Something that is nice to see in American animation.
Household Gods by Harry Turtledove and Judith Tarr (Reader's Group Choice) - Nicole Gunther-Perrin has a very bad day and wishes to live in a simpler time. She wakes up to find herself in the Roman frontier in 170 A.D. She learns the hard way the past is not all its cracked up to be. The writer describe the time in painstaking detail. Nicole learns to deal with the situation and the experience helps her deal with problems in the present.
Doctor Who Audio Adventures: The Genocide Machine (7th Doctor and Ace) and The Apocalypse Element (6th Doctor Romana) (Audio CD) - The Doctor is back on audio. These are fully fleshed out original adventures. These 2 stories feature the Daleks. The Daleks have never been more menacing. The stories are great and they no longer limited by a budget. There more CDs that feature the 5th and 8th Doctor.
Through Alien Eyes by Amy Thomson
(Reader's Group Choice) - The second part in a first contact story.
Dr. Juna Saari returns to Earth with to representatives of Tendu race.
One is her adopted son Moki and Ukaoten an elder. They aliens encounter
the best and worst humanity has to offer. Its an excellent first
contact novel. The Tendu were well defined. Its great to see human culture
through Moki's and Ukaoten's perspective.
Wilderness by Dennis Danvers (Reader's Group Choice) - Alice White has been living a solitary life. The she meets college professor Erik Sommers who turns her life around. The only problem she is a werewolf. Alice and Erik have to deal with this and other mundane relationship problems. An interesting interpretation of the werewolf myth. It is also good seeing the complexity connected with human relationships.
Colonization: Second Contact and Down to Earth by Harry Turtledove - A sequel to the Worldwar series. It is the early 1960s, twenty years after a reptilian race tried to conquer Earth. The alien colonization fleet arrives. This brings native flora and fauna and the females of the Race. A truce enforced by nuclear weapons have been established. The main world powers are the United States, the Soviet Union, and the Greater German Reich (which still occupies Western Europe). The aliens occupy most of southern hemisphere dealing with insurrections in the Middle East and China. In this world technology is more advanced due to alien influence. There are plots and counter plot everywhere as human and aliens deal with situation. An engaging read.
The Burning City by Larry Niven
and Jerry Pournelle - This takes place in ancient Los Angeles in Niven's
The Magic Goes Away. The fire god Yagen-Tep controls Tep's
Town. Nothing can burn without his permission and every few years
the city is razed ny its underclass called Lordkin during the Burning.
Whandall Placehold, a Lordkin, grows up and longs for something better.
His hope for a better life lies outside of Tep's town and with Morth, an
Atlantean wizard responsible for the death of Whandall's father.
An interesting adventure with some interesting social commentary.
Made me interested in investigating the rest of this universe.
Callahan's Legacy and Callahan's Key by Spider Robinson - The last 2 installments of the Callahan saga. In both the old gang have to save all of creation. We learn about Doc, Long Drink and Fast Eddie. Unfortunately Mary's Place gets shut down at the end of Legacy. In Key, the gang decide to escape Suffolk County, Ny and go to Key West, FL. Jake starts up the Place. Its a great road trip which includes a stop at Kennedy Space Center to watch a launch. The gang also joined by Pixel Heinlein's last cat. Fun is had by all. Makes me want to forgive the punning.
Midnight Nation (Comic Book Mini Series) by Joe Straczynski (story) and Gary Frank (Art)- Police officer David Grey has had his soul stolen by an evil entity. This entity lives in a world where the discarded members of society live. He has to find it within a year or he will become one of the entities minions. A mysterious woman named Laurel is guide in this world. A decent but flawed man has to fight to stay that way. A classic quest story. The art is some of Frank's best stuff.
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton - Fairy princess Meredith is hiding out from her aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, as a private detective in Los Angeles. Soon her cover will be blown and she will be forced to face her aunt. There plots within plots as she deals with the intricacies of the Unseelie Court. There are some interesting twists. There are some pretty well written sensual scenes. The novel sets up this world were fairies co-exists with humanity very well. Hopefully one will see more of this world in future books.
Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague
de Camp - In the late 30s scholar Martin Padway is transported to sixth
century Rome. he knowledge of the period allows to him survive.
He decides to take steps in order to prevent the Dark Ages. He does
by build a printing press, a crude semaphore telegraph system and involving
himself in the conflicts and politics of the time. De Camp took great
care in describing this ancient world. It also great to see someone
taking the initiative to improve the world. Padway encounters great
challenges and he meets them head on. A great work from a great writer.
GalaxyQuest (Theatrical Movie-DVD) - OK for a space opera. had its funny bits. Some see as a posittive view of fans and fandom. I feel That is a bit of a stretch. I just cannot see this being better than its competiton for the Hugo.
Being John Malkovitch (Theatrical Movie-DVD) - A film with a daring and original idea. It is well excuted and consistent.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman - Goldman did an excellent job adpating his own novel to film. The novel was a bit more cynical than the film. The wit which the film stand out came from here. Need to check more Goldman films and novels.
Unbreakable (Theatrical Movie) - One of the best superhero films in years. M. Night Shyamalan uses some intresting techniques to tell his stories (filming certain charcters in reflection for one). Its a grea idea a man discovering he has extraordinary gifts and using them for the greater good. The twists at then end works. The best SF?Fantasy film of the year.
Dungeons and Dragons (Theatrical Movie) - Its a typical fantasy quest nove brought to life. The design of the film is excellent. Some great camoe by Richard O'Brien and Tom Baker. It seems though the film was badly edited. Scenes critcally to plot seem to be missing. The film unfortunately has a typical Holloywood cliche (the handling of minority charcters) Still worth watching. Sequels could proof interesting.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Theatrical Movie) - Ron Howard succesfully answers the why the Grinch stole Christmas. I also like the idea of making Cindy Lou the brideg between the grinchg and the town. A new Christmas heroine. Jim Carey does a great job under Rick Baker's make up. I will not mind seeing this every December
The Emperor's New Groove (Theatrical Movie). - Disney trying to do Chuck Jones. It kind of works. It has an odd feeling to it though. It works most of the time. I was laughing at the appropiate time especially during Cronk's scenes.
Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein - A compilation of 2 shorter works "Universe" and "Common Sense" which take place on a generation starship. Hugh Hoyland disocover that his world is actually a spaceship. he tries to explain this to other but is tricke into keeping silent by corrupt official. Evnetually he rebels and tries to bring to his people the truth. Some great action in this one. Heinlein demonstrates the desire for those in poweer to stay in power no matter what.
Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov - This is a bridge between the robot series and the Galactic Empire trilogy. R. Daneel Olivaw and the robot Griskard try to stop the Spacer Amadiro from inflicting harm on Earth. As usual most of the action is of stage and there is alot of talking in the novel. The good Doctor always gives them something interesting to say. A good intermediate novel.
Castaway (Theatrical Movie) - Hanks does a good job doing most of the movie by himself and a volleyball. Only bad thing about this film was the trailer. It gave away too much so the ending does not have the impact it could have had.
Playing God by Sarah Zettler (Reader's
Group Choice) - Dr Lynn Nussbaumer is trying to save an enitire planet.
Unfortunately she meets challenges from with out and within. The planet
All-Cradle has been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides will
prevent her from doing her job in order to gain advantge over the other
side. It is more difficult when her friends on All-Cradle get caught
up in the intrigue. Its a book about making hard decesions in a difficult
situation. Nussbaumer does her best to do deals with it in order to accomplish
her job and clean up All-Cradle. Zettler does a great job in creating a
conflict with no clear good guys and bad guys. Her alien design is great.
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