Mi cro Rev iew s
Men of Tomorrow by Gerald Jones - This is the
history of the comic book industry, how it was influenced and
influenced American culture and the men responsible for it. The
focus is on four men. Harry Donnefield, small time hustler who
built DC Comics. Jack Leibowitz, Donnefield's right hand man who
would take the business to great heights and crushed anyone in his
way. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two dreamers whose creation
would launch an empire and nearly ruin them. We also hear about
the stories of Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and
others. This is compelling. A must read for any serious
Man of Two Worlds: : My Life in
Science Fiction and Comic by Julius Schwartz and Brian M.
Thomsen - This is a history of the golden age of sf and the silver age
of comics by a man who was there. Schwartz discusses his times as
an agent to some of the biggest names in speculative fiction. He
also explains how he created a new era for the heroes of DC.
Another treasure of information for any fan of SF and
Bad Deaths by Spider Robinson -
Newspaper columnist Russell Walker is still trying to come to terms
with the death of his wife when his old college roommate Zandor
"Smelly" Zudie comes to visit. Zudie asks for his help to stop a
brutal murder. With little information can Russell with the help
of Nika Mandic, a Vancouver policewoman prevent a gruesome
crime. Spider really shows his range here. Although the
traditonal humor is here, Spider creates one of the most scariest
villians ever. There is some great nail bitiing moments in this
one. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new series.
Elektra (Theatrical Film) - A good
movie. True to character as I remember her (I have not read any
recent comics with Elektra). Terence Stamp is great as Stick.
(TV Series) - This is interesting. I like the
fact the fact the character has a family and they play an important
part in the stories. There is some real potential here.
Galactica (TV Series) - The show continues the
quality established in the mini series. Ron Moore continues
telling a well thought out story. This show was everything the
original should have been. Richard Hatch does a great job as a
guest star. s
Nostrilia by Cordwainer Smith - Rod
McBan, a farm owner on the planet Nostrilia, was facing legal
troubles. To solve them he had a computer help him buy the
Earth. Then a wild adventure starts while forces try to use Rod
for their own ends. A fun little romp in the world of
Cordwainer Smith, full of intrigues and cats. Always interesting.
(Theatrical Movie) - Helena, a young girl in circus family, dreams of
running away to real life. She gets into a fight with her mother
who soon gets sick and is hospitalized. She then finds herself in
a fantasy world where the white queen is also sick and the dark queen
is gaining power. Helena decides to try to restore balance to
this world which requires finding the mirror mask. This is a film
by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. I got to see this at the Sarasota
film festival. Its beautiful. Made with the techs at Jim Henson
Productions its right up there with Labyrinth
and The Dark Crystal.
Hopefully it will get a wide release.
Thief Lord by Cynthia Funke (Readers Group Choice)
- Two orphans, Prosper and Bo, run away from an oppresive aunt to
Venice, Italy. The join up with some local runways who are led by
the mysterious Thief Lord, Scipio. They are pursued by a comical
detective. Scipio is asked to do a job which will change them
forever. The fantastic part comes at the end and it is well used.
There are some good characters and a great locale. Funke makes Venice
comes alive. The good get taken care of and the bad get the just
desserts. A good YA novel.
Abroad by Terry Pratchett - A fairy godmother dies
and leaves her godchild in a mess. Margrat Garlick, Granny
Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg need to go Genua to straighten things
out. Along the way they encounter some very similar situations
involving dwarfs, vampires, wolves, and falling houses.
They also have to deal with being in foreign countries. Can
they stop Emberella from marrying the prince. I really like the
fact I can enjoy a Discworld novel without having to read the
books previous to it. The jokes are great. The trio of
witches are great. It is always fun reading Pratchett.
Stan Lee and The Rise and Fall of
the American Comic Book by Jordon Raphael and Tom Spurgeon
- A history if the American comic book and Stan Lee's role in it.
It is all of Stan's strength and weaknesses. Something magical happened
in comics in 1961 and Stan was a key player in it. Another must
read for comic fans.
(Theatrical Movie) - Charming. A fun little
story. Good cast. A worthy Oscar contender.
Steam Boy (Theatrical Movie) - A very good
steam punk alternative history. The battle for the future takes
place in 19th century London's Great Exhibition. Issues are
presented and argued. One hopes that Ray and Scarlet worked to
make a better world. A lot of food for thought here.
Steel Beach by John Varley - In the future
humanity has been forced of the Earth by aliens. They have
relocated to other planets in the solar system. They have all
they could ask for. For some it is not enough. Hildy, a
reporter on Luna, is bored with this life. He tries to deal with
it by switching his sex to suicide. Hildy's attempts at
suicide are prevented by the central computer CC. There are
plots within plots. Can Hildy find the answers. Will Hildy
find life worth living. The plot rambles on occasions. The
novel explores what is like to live in world where you can get
anything. Its interesting to see the effect of
Hildy's sex change has on his/her outlook. I like there sect on
the moon called the Heinleiners. A good exploration of ideas.
The Companions by Sherri Tepper (Reader's Group
Choice) - In the future Earth is overpopulated. The local floral
and fauna are being evacuated to other planets to make room for off
world retirees. Jewel Delis a member of animal rights group get
involved with an expedition to the planet Moss. Moss has unusual
life forms which Jewel's brother Paul a linguist maybe able to
communicate with. Jewel tags along with some dogs needing sanctuary.
There plots within plots and twist a plenty. It is a page
turner. New things keep happening such hostile aliens and extra
dimensional portals. I am little weary of Tepper's world
view. She seems to blame men for the world's ill (I missed it
here someone had to point it out to me). I may pass on next one.
Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynn Jones - Sophie
Hatter is the oldest of three sister and apparently in this land doomed
to failure. She soon is the victim of the Witch of the Waste and
is aged 80 years. Sophie ends up in the moving castle of the
wizard Howl. Howl has a wicked reputation but is more vain than
evil. Sophie becomes his cleaning women. She tries to find
the connection between Howl and the fire demon Calcifer. If
Sophie can find it she maybe to regain her youth. Its a fun
novel. Great characters. Great world and a lot of
wit. The King's logic to employ slacker Howl despite Sophie's
attempt to dissuade him is priceless. Cannot wait to see
Miyazaki's take on this in June.
Tori Amos: Piece by Piece by Tori Amos and Ann Powers
- An interesting look in the mind of one of the great
musicians of our times. This books gives Tori's view on myth,
religion, art, image and the music industry. Well put together.
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the
Film) - Went to this with some apprehension but came out with a
big smile on my face. There is no true interpretation of Guide
so the film version is bound to be different from other
incarnations. The added parts that seem like things Adams would
have thought up. Nice touch to have Simon Jones, Douglas Adams
(still picture) and the original Marvin costume. Hope we get the
Full Metal Alchemist (TV Series) - Another thing I had
some apprehension over the first time I saw it. It turns out to
be an excellent series. Great characters. Mustang
rules. Another great series presented on the Cartoon
Network. Hope we get more epsiodes soon.
Batman: Dark Detective (Comic Mini-Series) - You
can go home again. The team of Englehart, Rogers and Austin take
up where the left Batman in the late 70s. We get to see one of
the best Batman leading ladies of all time Silver St. Cloud (right up
there with Selina Kyle and Talia). We have some of the great
villians in the mix. We are in for a great ride.
Hercules (TV Movie) - A less
Disneyfied version of the hero of Thebes. I am rusty on my Greek
myths so I am hazy on the deatils. I do remember that while Hera
and Zeus were not on the best terms I do not remember them competting
for followers. Some of the CGI could have been better. A
The Iron Council by China Mieville (Hugo Nominee)
- The third journey in the world of New Corbuzon. Years ago
workers on railroad revolted and escaped to parts unknown on a
train. In New Corbuzon there is great unrest becuase of the
war with the Tesh. Judah Law, who was with rebels on the train,
goes to search for the Iron Council (the rebels on the train).
While Law goes on the search, rebellion erupts in New Corbuzon.
Can these rebels hold out till the Iron Council reaches New
Corbuzon? This book was hard to get into. As usual there
are some interesting bits. I may be wary of another trip to New
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Theatrical Film) - A
satisfying conclusion to the series. Worth waiting for. I
like how Anakin was manipulated by his fears into falling into the dark
side. Best perfomance was from McDiarmid. Cannot wait to
get the whole series in one boxed set. Hope one of the new TV
series explores how the Alliance rises to oppose the Empire.
Howl's Moving Castle (Theatrical
Film) - Studio Ghibli does it again. It does take some liberties with
the book but they work. Its great that the castle looks better at the
end since it is built on a pure foundation. Must get on DVD.
Begins (Theatrical Film)- You can do a Ra's Al Guhl story
without Talia. This film makes one forget the travesty that was Batman
and Robin. While we do not have the great
design of Burton this works as well. If anything the film's
design is less distracting. Everything about this was
great. A new era of Batman.
(TV Series) - I can understnad why people are into
this. There something interesting stuff with the
characters. I am just not hooked. Will catch when I can.
Paranoia Agent (TV Series) - Not a typical anmie,
artwise and story wise. The viewer is dragged in trying to find
out what is going on. Its great how the stories all seem to be
tied in together. What brings forth this force that comes when
are at the end of their rope. This I want to find out.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Hugo Nominee) -
In the early nineteenth century Mr. Norrell wanted to revive English
magic on his own turns. He succeeds somewhat. Norrell takes on a
student Jonathan Strange. Strange favor a more proactive approach
towards magic. Strange demonstrates his abilities by assiting
Wellington in the Peninsular War. Eventually Strange and Norrell
quarrell on where English magic should go and how it relates to John
Uskglass aka the Raven King, once England's most powerful
magician. This schism takes on incredible dimensions as Norrell
tries to discredit Strange. This is an epic. Clarke has a
slow buildup which takes off in the end. One has to be patient for this
one. I also like the take Clarke has on faery.
War of the Worlds (Theatrical
Film) - An interesting combination of the novel, 1938 radio show and
the George Pal film. Its great to see the red weed
realized. I still not clear on why the tripod crews had to be
"beamed" in. There some really scary moments. Tom Cruise
did a good job playing a slacker trying to cope. Pretty good film.
The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay - Five
Canadians are recruited to go a medieveal fantasy world to help the
locals. This is the first of triology. I may read the rest of
it. What I like is that the people chose to come rather that
being shanghaied. It is also not a Tolkien copy.
Fantastic Four (Theatrical Film) - Not a great
film. Not a bad one though. The characterization seemed to
be right. I think they script was tweekeed
well. It was great when Reed uses his brain to stop
Doom. Dare we hope for a sequel with the Silver Surfer and
McLibel (Theatrical Film) - An eye
opening film. It is the classic story of David and
Goliath. Goliath is played by McDonald and David is
to activist who refuse to be bullied. I challenge anyone to see
this film and eat a Big Mac again.
The Tenth Victim by Robert Sheckley - Imagine
a future where there is is an international dueling game. It is a
life or death struggle. One player gets randomly selected to hunt
and kill another player. Certain rewards and rights come with the
the tenth kill. American Caroline Meredith is on the verge of her
tenth kill. Italian Marcello Polletti is the target.
Who will win? Aside from the serious action there is a lot of
humor and satire in this one. One can see why Skeckley is the one
of the greats of humourous SF. The opening hunt sequence is
incredible. Must read the rest of the series.
Potter and Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling -
Well there are quite of few surprises. The big one I am not sure
about. I see plans within plans. It is nice to see the
characters settle down romantically. The relatiosnhips make
sense. This is all preperation for the big climax in the next
book. I am sure there will be more surprises waiting for us in a
few years time.
High (Theatrical Film) - Best live action Disney
film in years.
The casting in this is just perfect. Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston,
Bruce Campbell and Lynda Carter are made for these roles. The
story is a classic John Hughes high school romp. There are
certain things in the plot that were pretty obvious. Hope to see
Ms. Carter playing Hyppolite in the Wonder Woman film.
by Robert Sheckley - Marvin Flynn wanted to visit Mars
and saw ad for a Martian's desire to mindswap. Marvin goes
through with and discovers his body has been stolen by a criminal. He
has to find work to support himself. Marvin's only hope is a
police detective with 158 unsolved cases. Sheckley was said to be
an inspiration to Douglas Adams. Here you can see it. There
laughs on almost every page.
Sinks by Sakyo Komatsu - A small island near
Japan's coast dissappears into the sea. An investigation
discovers that a geologic catastrophe will fall on on the Japanese home
islands. A series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions will sink
Japan. The Japanese face the lost of their home and possible
their identity. This novel sinks home after the recent disaster
in New Orleans. There are hard questions that people must
face with the lost of their home. At the same time there is a
time for courage in the disaster. The novel, now over 30 years
old, is frighteningly relevant. The only bad thing is according
the copy of the book I read it is abridged. Would like to read
the full version.
Brothers Grimm (Theatrical Film) - This a great visual feast.
I think the story is strong. I like how all the classic plots and
images of the Grimm's fairy tales are interwoven in the piece
Also nice to see the lead characters develop during the film..
The Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman -
Immoratality was discovered. Unfortunately its existance caused a
war between the haves (immortals) and the have nots (non
immortals). This led to the wiping out of the non immortals and
humanity was reduced to about 200 million people. Some of these
immortals decide to leave the solar system and to explore a newly
discovered world. Jake Brewer one of the immortals on this trip
mans a time machine. This time machine is a very sophisticated
virtual reality device which takes persons to the pasts. The past
world are from the twentieth century, the last century beofre
immortality. Haldeman does a great job of making the past come to
life. However something is happening in the time machine.
People are dying and odd thing show up during seissions. Cna Jake
figure it out before its too late. As usual the prose and
characters are great. The ending is a surprise and makes more
sense when you think about it. The book takes an interesting
journey through the last century.
Jhereg by Steven Brust - Vlad Taltos is a
professional assassin. He worked his way up to the top.
Taltos had a talent for witchcraft which is looked down upon. He
also possess a jhereg named Loiosh. Loiosh is a
dragonlike creature linked to Taltos mentally. Taltos has build
up an impressive organization. he has a vast array of resources
and contacts. Taltos gets a commission to kill an embezzler for
for one of the ruling clans. This puts him in the middle of
intrigue. All is not what it seems. Taltos is on a
deadline. Faliure could make him a target. This
was great fun. This fantasy is not a Tolkien rip off. The
characters and plot are very smart. Taltos has a powerful mind
which outshines his physical and even magical power. Great to see
a thinking hero.
Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde - Thursday
Next is now part of Jurisfiction exchange program. She is
substituting for a side kick in work in progress. Something
however is afoot in the bookworld. Grammer is running out of
control. A new book format is coming out. A minotaur is on
the loose. Some agents of Jurisfiction are being done in. Can
Thursday figure it out in time. Will she forget her husband
Landen? Always a blast. Just as good as any Bond novel.
(TV Series) - Interesting. Great to see David
Boreanaz again. Like the lead. Wondering if the premise
will work as a series. Then again this is based on a book series
so it could work.
Name is Earl (TV Series) - Great. Possibly
the funniest show on broadcast TV. Jason Lee is great as a
slacker who discovers karma. This feels very Kevin Smith
(TV Series) - First episode was OK. Still not drawn
to watch it regularly.
Prime by Robert Sheckley - Another novel in the
world of the 10th
Victim. In 2092, Harold Erdman leaves upstate New York
for the Carribean island of Esmeralda. There the hun is
institutionaized. Harold hopes to make a living with the Hunt and
help out the folks back home. Will he survive his first
hunt? Another fun romp with Sheckley. The hunt TV show is
Whisperer (TV Series) - A Medium clone. The protagonist
powers are more clearly defined. The camera just loves Jennifer
Love Hewitt. Its fun although first two episodes get weepy.
Could be a fun distraction.
of Three Worlds by Cordwainer Smith - Casher
O'Neill is looking for aid to liberate his home world Mizzer.
Doing so brings him to some interesting places. O'Neill
eventually comes to world where he is asked to kill a young girl.
There O'Neill may find what he needs or his own destruction. Like
the title says a quest story. There are some great twists.
The last part was fascinating even though it is loosely tied to the
other parts. Another intersting part of this universe.
Stormfront by Jim Butcher - Harry
Dresden is a licensed wizard and private investigator who never seems
to catch a break. He is on probabtion from his fellow
wizards. Dresden is mistrusted in normal world. He gets
involved in case which may alleviate his financial situation but may
also kill him in the process. During this he will encounter an
attractive occult reporter, a fairy, a vampire madam, an
obnoxious wizard council enforcer and a talking skull. Can harry
get through this without have to kill or be killed. Like the fact
they use Chicago rather than some other overused cities I could
mention. This OK as fantasy detective story. I felt sorry
for how things are just stacked against Harry.
Domino (Theatrical Film) - Intense but it
seems like a roller coaster. A lot of spectacle but a thin plot.
Like many films it is trying to top itself in every scene. There
could have been a real story of the turbulent life of Domino
Harvey. The makers of this film settle for an action romp.
Light by M. John Harrison - Michael
Kearney is a scientist in 1999 who is killing people at random and
trying to get back together with his wife. In the future Seria
Mau Genlicher is actually a spaceship, called a K-ship, named The White
Cat. She is trying to find a way out of her current
state of existance. At the same time Ed Chianese is living in his
own virtual world. He is trying to evade people he owes
money too. Chianese is forced to come out his world and escape
his creditors. Somehow all of these stories will eventually
connect. It is intresting to see how theses three very different
story lines comes together. The future worlds are really
cool. There is somebreathe taking stuff. Need to look into
some more Harrison.
Planetes (TV Series/Anime) -Reviewed in November 2005 Event Horizon.
Mirrormask (Theatrical Film) -Reviewed in November 2005 Event Horizon.
Stalker (TV Series) - There some real scares
here. Its the regulars I have hard time with. Perry is too
hard on Kolchak. The man lost his wife and is trying to find
answers. She could give a bit more leeway. Sponitz is
trying to create a new Scully and Mulder. He forgot that Scully
always gave Mulder his head believing that they would the truth.
Protector by Larry Niven (Readers' Group
Choice) - An apparent alien is coming into the solar
system. A belter tries to intercept. He is not only
captured by the alien but the alien food supplies changes him to an
alien. What will he do next. Niven does it again with great
alien design. The pak is throughly alien yet
understandable. This is a great romp in the playground that is
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde - Thursday Next
decides to return home to Swindon. She goes back to her old
job. Meanwhile one of her enemies is trying to run for
dictador. At the same time there is anti Denmark fervor in the
country and Thursday is stuck with Hamlet trying to work out his agnst
.Her father tells her to beware of assassins and to prevent a diaster
with the election. The fate of the world maybe decide by the a
croquet match. Can Thrusday save the day and find her husband who
has been erased? A satisfying conclusion the the Thrusday Next
series. A throughly humorous series and one which rejoices in the
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - Fat Charlie Nancy's father was fun to be around
but an embarassment to his son. Becuase of his father he got
stuck with the name Fat Charlie. His father dies a kareoke bar.
Fat Charlie goes to Florda for the funeral and discovers he has a
brother. Back in London, fat Charlie has to deal with a hostile
future mother in law and a obnoxious boss who is crook who speakes in
cliches. He calls on his brothe Spider who is a party animal and
messes up Charlie's life. Charlie finds out his father was Anansi the
trickster god. Charlie goes back to Florida and asks for help to get
rid of his bother and that when all hell breaks loose. Then coems an
ivestigation from the frauad squad, murder and a resolution in the
island of St. Andrews. This is the most humourous of Gaiman's
solo novels. Great British humor. Its great how it all
comes together at the end. Did a good job of capturing small
Florida towns. Another Gaiman tour de force.
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the
Silk Stocking (TV Movie) - The game is afoot
again. A very good original story told in the Doyle style.
Everet is agreat Holmes.
Good Night and Good Luck (Theatrical Film) - An
interesting look at some history. Everything looks from that
period Do not understand why the had the couple's storyline
included. Maybe as a sign of the times?
Wallace and Gromit in The
Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Theatrical Film)
-Brilliantly funny. Though once I would like to a segment of the
guys putting together their gadgets. Once of the best animated
films of the year.
Who: City of Death (DVD) - One of the all time
classics. I think it was a great opportunity to discuss Douglas
Adams contribution to the series. Great commentary and
documemtary, although wish Tom and Lalla could have contributed.
Like the use of the Adams style in documentary. Great skit film
about the second to last Jagoroth.
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams - Someone
explodes at Heathrow Airport. The fun starts from
their. Dirk Gently gets involved with a case which involves gods
and a dead record producer. Its weird. Its Wacky. Its
hilarious. After watching City of Death and reading this makes me
really miss Adams.
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (Theatrical Film) - They did
a good job putting the essentials of the book in the movie. It
was scary where it was supposed to be. Voldernot is the villian
to beat. They just keeping getting better.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion,
The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Theatrical Film) -
Excellent. faithfull to work and even adds to it. The movie
fills in the gaps Lewis had in the book. There is some depth
given too the kids. This is well cast. Good CGI and good
songs on the soundtrack.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - OK I never got
around to reading the books. So I bought the whole thing in a big
trade. Its incredible. Even though I had seen 4 of the
books adapted by BBC I was still turning the pages. Between the Space series
there is great improvement in technique. I am, like many upset
about Susan's fate but still impressed by it overall. This work
is deserves its reputation.
King Kong (Theatrical Film) -
Good. Some things bugged me. Driscoll going into the jungle
unarmed to find Ann. The National Guard shooting artillery rounds
in the air in Manhatten. Still we see a very realistic
Kong. I like the fact he has scars. No pretty boy Ape
here. Effects pretty good. At least the use the time to
develop characters. Worthy of Jackson.