Micro Reviews

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January 2013

Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross - In the future people have the option to upload themselves in the cloud. What could go wrong in this world? There are some real humorous bits but there are some dense bits. Another look at the Singularity.

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow - Trent likes making films using clips from movies. Unfortunately this is illegal and his family looses their Internet access for a year. Trent runs away to London and lives with squatters in an abandon bar. Trent continues to make films submits them to an underground film festival. At the same time he finds love and fights a new more stringent anti-Piracy law. As one who made two anime music videos, I get were Trent is coming from. This novel takes a good look at copywright and ant-piracy laws.

Marvel: The Untold Story by Sean Howe - This is the story of Marvel. The good, bad, and ugly. We hear about the unsung heroes of Marvel's prodcution office, the excesses of the Shooter era, and questionable decisions of the 90s and 00s. Howe not only gives us the history but provides a narrative for it.

The Americans (TV Series) - KGB agents posing as a couple in the early 1980s. It is interesting to be constantly routing against the protagonists.

The Carrie Diaries (TV Series) - Another look back at the 1980s. It captures the times well. It was weird and wonderful time to grow-up in.

February 2013

vN by Madeline Ashby - Synthetic people have been developed. Amy Peterson is off mix parentage. Her father is a human but her mother is android. Her parents try to raise as a regular child. Unfortunately Amy's grandmother shows up to a school evenyt and chaos erupts. To save her friends she absrobs her grandmother. Amy should not have been able to do that, as a result she is on the run from the authorities and bounty hunters. The book chnages gears. It starts as a family story and then becoames as someone on the run. The book deals with parenting and determinism.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan - Kami Glass lives in a small town in England, Sorry-in-the-Vail. She is the editor of the school paper and hears a voice of a young man. People thinks its an imaginary friend. The Lynburns, the local aristocrats, return to the manor home. One of the Lynburns sons seems eerily familar. Strange things are going on and Kami investigates the mystery. I like the slow build up. The fantastic element of the plot is brought in subtly. There are two more books and I may check them out.

The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett - People can go to parallel Earths with a device powered by a potato. These new Earths are uninhabited. Some people can go to other Earths without the device, this is called stepping. Joshua is one of these people. He is recurited by a corporation to help explore the other Earths in an airship called the Mark Twain. There is also a police officer dealing with crimes that can be committed with this new technology. There is a lot of great stuff in the book but it is part of a series and really want to know what happens next.

Homeland by Cory Doctorow - Marcus Yallow gets a job working on the campaign for California State Senator. At the same time he gets a ton of information which could wreck a lot of bad people's career. H eneeds to keep his nose clean for the job. What is going to do. Where Little Brother was a response to the Patriot Act, Homeland is a response to the economic meltdown. Doctorow shows how we can fight back with the technology available to us.

March 2013

Books of the New Sun: Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the Concilator by Gene Wolfe - In the far future where the sun has cooled of and technology has regressed, an apprentice tortureeer leaves to find his place in the world. A very intense and complicated story. These are books which demand the readers full concentration.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress - Three teenage women, a scientist, martial artist and magician's assistant meet one night and encounter a mystery in Victorian London. The use their skills to uncover the turth and stop the villians. A great adventure story. These young women have their own agency and are very formidable. More stories would be great.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 -hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - An unemployed tech worker gets a job at a bookstore in San Francisco. He discover it is part of anetwork examining a great mystery. He puts his tech skills to help solve the mystery. He joins up with others, go to New York and goes to warehouse for assorted museum objects. A great look into puzzles and museums.

April 2013

Throne of the Cresecent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (Hugo Nominee) - Reviewed in the July 2013 Event Horizon.

Defiance (Television Series) - This is a very complicated world. Its cool to see an alien race which is not monolithic. A good variation of the SF/Western combo.

The History of Future Folk (Theatrical Film) - An alien comes to Earth to prepare to destroy it. He ends up falling in love with the music and tries to save the Earth and his wife and daughter. A fellow alien comes to finish the job but also falls in love with the music and a local police women. Can they save the Earth and make their concert. A fun story. The music is great. I like how the hero tells his daughter his story as a bedtime story. This saves on effects.

Year of the Living Dead (Theatrical Film) - A great look into the making of Night of the Living Dead. George Romero gives a ton of information about the production. There are lof of experts who explains the film's importance. A thorough documentary.

Love is All You Need (Theatrical Film) - A love story set in Italy focusing on older couple. A strong story and great visuals.

London Falling by Paul Cornell - A team of police officers discover the supernatural side of London by accident. This involves a crime. This team decide to use their skills in solving crimes to combat the supernatural problem they discover. It is a gripping mystery. A great start for a new series.

May 2013

From Up on Poppy Hill (Theatrical Film) - It is a bit of melodrama but it works. We care about the characters. I like the message of not abandoning the old to embrace the new.

Iron Man 3 (Theatrical Film) - It is always cool to see Tony out of the suit and showing his skills as an engineer. The use of Mandarin was great. The regular characters had great stuff to do.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (Theatrical Film) - An interesting retelling of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There are some great twists. I hope they have a new film ready by the 50th anniversary.

One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire - Toby has to stop a war and time is running out. It is a good story, but there is a sad bit.

June 2013

Now You See It (Theatrical Film) - An interesting caper picture with a great twist. Wish they could have the main female characters talk to each other and given more for the woman magician to do.

Man of Steel (Theatrical Film) - A good take on Superman. I can understand why people have some problem with it. I like the parts with Joe-El. The new take on the Lois and Clark relationship is great and its about time. Maybe DC is finally getting its movie act together.

The Ocean at the End of Lane by Neil Gaiman - A young boy finds himself in big paranormal trouble. He knows were he can get help but an evil tenant blocks his way. He has to figure a way around her. There are real scary bits in this. Again Gaiman shows that we can all have the courage to face scary things. The Hempsteads are great. There are some tears at the end but there is also hope.

Velveteen Rabbit vs the Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire - Sometimes being a superhero is not all its cracked up to be. The Velveteen Rabbit wants out of the superhero life but it is not easy. We see her past and her present. This is the first of a series.

July 2013

Much Ado About Nothing (Theatrical Film) - A fun romp with a classic. Alexei Denisof and Amy Acker are incredible as Benedict and Beatrice. Joss Whedon house was great backdrop. One of the best films of the year.

Midnight Riot, Moon Over Soho, and Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch - Peter Grant is has just become a Detective Constable in London Police. He comes across the paranormal in an investigation. He sames to have a knack for detecting the supernatural. Grant is recruited by Chief Inspector Nightengale, a police officer and wizard. Nightengale will teach Peter what he needs to protect the Queen's Peace from the supernatural. A good blending of traditional police fiction and fantasy. There are lot of pop culture refernces.

Timeless by Gail Carriger - Alexia receives a summons from a very powerful vampire in Egypt. She goes to Egypt with her husband and toddler and her best friend's acting troupe. There is action, mystery, and humour. A great conclusion to the series.

The Year of Yes by Maria Dahvana Headley - An autiobiographical tale about a woman who decided to say yes to anyone who would ask her out. The results are intriguing.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger - Sophronia is a bit of a tomboy so she sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. This school is on dirigible. There Sophronia makes friends but skills on how to be a spy. She uncovers a plot involving a new device. A nice pre-quel to the Parasol Protectorate books. There is the signature Carriger humor in the book.

Pacific Rim (Theatrical Film) - A solid action adventure involving giant robot and monsters. There are some issues with racial and gender representation, but not enough to stop from liking the movie.

The Wolverine (Theatrical Film) - Another solid action adventure involving our favorite Canadian superhero. Its great they take the action to Japan. Again there are some issues the way Japanese men are represented, they are either enemies or incompetent. Its great that they try to build a relationship with Logan and Mariko.

August 2013

The Monkey King by Carl Hiaasen - An ex-ploice detective looks for the owner of an arm. He finds a medical fraud scam, and deranged monkey. Hiassen agains captures the all to true lunacy of Florida.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes - reviewed in the Spetember Event Horizon.

AKB0048 (Anime Series) - In a ugly future where pop music is illegal. A pop girl group risk their lives to bring music to the people. The anime follows a group of girls who wish to join the group. Seeing teenage girls fight the oppresive powers of a totalitarion regime is a fun trip.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV Series - Anime) - This first appears to be a magical show. It turns out to much more. Something timey-wimey happens at the end ehoch makes a bit more science fictional.

Broadchurch (TV series) - A young boy is killed in a small town on the English sea side. This reveals a lot of secrets. David Tennant is great as the fallen detective trying to redeem himself. Ther are some really chilling bits in this. Wonder what they will they do in the sequel.

Fables: Cubs in Toyland - One of Snow White's cubs comes to land of broken toys. Is the she their saviour? This is story of making mistakes, taking responsibility for them and making thing right.

September 2013

Earthbound by Joe Haldeman - Carmen returns to Earth. Just after she lands, the aliens called the Others shut off the electricity on Earth. She with her husband and friends have to deal with this new world. This novel dealt a lot with adapting to the new world. It was exciting seeing where this went. A good ending to the series.

Alas, Babylon (Readers' Group Choice) - In the late 1950s, a nuclear war erupts. The people in a small Florida town have to deal with the aftermath. A good look into how people would deal with the situation. Some rise to the occasion while others falter.

Sleepy Hollow (TV Series) - This has its moments. This is a spooky show. The characters are intresting. For soem reason it does not demand me to watch it regularly.

The Blacklist (TV Series) - It is cool to see James Spader, but what did Red do? It is over the top.

Libromancer by Jim Hines - Isaac Viano is a libromancer. He can magically take objects out of books. Isaac gets involved with a dryad on a mission. It is great quest story and the whole magic behind libromancy is fun. I want more.

Peace by Gene Wolfe - Allan Dennis Weer goes over his life. Wolfe demands your full attention to his works. The payoff is a beautiful story. One cares about Weer and the people he talks about.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks - There is a war between the the Culture and the Idirans. The Culture is a peaceful, technologically advanced and post-scarcity society. Horza is a shape shifter working with Idirans. He despises the Culture becuase of the roles the Minds (advance AIs many who run the huge starships). He is given the task of finding a Mind stranded on an planet. There is a lot of great action in this. There is also a deep look into the Culture and what it represents. A great beginning to a great series.

Attack on Titan (Anime Series) - The last refuge of humnaity is under attck by naked, genetalia-less giants. A group of young soldiers fight this threat. There is a great twist by epsiode 8. This is a great show and since the creator has set a ending in the magna, hopefully we will see this story come to a conclusion soon.

Gatchaman Crowds (Anime Series) - New team of modern Gatchamans fight the forces of evil. There some interesting stuff about crowd sourcing.

October 2013

Player of Games by Iain M. Banks - Gamer Jernau Mogh Gurgeh is asked by the Culture's Special Circumstances (a organization which handles delicate matters of secuirty and first contact). He is to go to the planet Ea, home planet of the Azad Empire and particpate in the game of Azad. The game determines one's social status. The ultimate winner can rule Azad. How far can get Gurgeh in the game? There is action and intrigue and big ideas.

Velvelteen vs. the Multiverse Seanan McGuire - Velma Martinez, aka Velveteen, continues her independent superhero career but forces try to stop her. The threats are both serious and surreal. Another great tale which emphasizes the human in superhuman.

In a World (Theatrical Film) - The cut throat world of voice over acting. One woman fights for her the coveted role of doing the narration of the next big YA film. She faces her father and old fashion attitudes. This is a fun film This was written and directed by the lead actress Lake Bell. Thier are some great gags and no one is made to be a chump.

Yowapeda (TV Anime Series) - Onoda starts high school with hopes of joining the anime club, only to find it has been shut down due to low membership. He bikes to Akihabara to cheer up. He is able to get Akihabara in very good time on hios bicycle. He recruited to school's cycling team. He will develop his skills to compete in the Inter-High comptition. As a bicylist this is great. The animation for riding scenes is top notch. It conveys the speed and feelings of riding.

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks - Culture agent Cheradienne Zakalwe is asked by senior Special Circumstances agent Dizmet Sma to handle a diffcult job. While Zakalwe exceutes the current job we learn about his past. The narrative structure is unique. Another great combination of character, ideas, and action

November 2013

The Space Merchants by C.M Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl - In the future the world is dominated by businesses. Ad agencies have great power. Mitch Courteany is copy writer working on the Venus colony account. While on vavcation he is kidnapped and sent to a workers colony in South America and stripped of his identity. Using his skills he frees himself and returns home. Dated in some place but horribly relevant in others. The work of two masters.

The Europa Report (Theatrical Film) - Recovered footage tells the story of ill fated expedition to Europa (a moon of Jupiter). The science is very strong. The crew are comepetent and what happens is not through fault of their own. These are professionals who have some real bad luck. A great hard SF film.

Excession by Iain M. Banks - A new celestial object is discovered. Several parties want to study or exploit it. The Minds of the ships of the Culture debate on what to do. There is alot going on and to take in. The book needs the reader's complete attention.

Adventures in Space and Time (Television Movie) - The origin story of Doctor Who. The humble beginnings of a cultural phenomenon. Like Paul Cornell, I want a show where Waris Hussien and Verity Lambert fight crime.

December 2013

Inversions by Iain M. Banks - A soldier in service of a general and a doctor in the service of the king look at the heart of power in two different places on this world. Are these more than they seem. How will they influence this world. Banks denies this was a Culture a nove but it was and he did a bad job of hiding it. What is the right way to help? The constant question for the Culture.

Good Ole Freda (Theatrical Film) - A documentary on Freda Kelly, the Beatles' secretary. She is a classy woman. She gives us a behind scenes look at the band without being tawdry.

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty - Zoe Norris relocates to New York looking for a job. She finds one, editing a guide to the paranormal side of the city. Zoe is thrusted is a world of zombies, werewolves, vampires, and all the rest. Something is going on. Something that can threaten the city/ Zoe can figure it out and meet her deadlines. Zoes takes this world and stride and is not intimidated by it. There is an interesting take on zombies. I cannot wait to see where the series goes next.

Bodacious Space Pirates (TV Anime Series) - Marika Kato is ordinary high school girl in the far future on a colony planet. Marika discovers her father was government approved pirate. In order for his ship, Bentenmaru, to keep its letter of maquis Marika has to take command. She is helped by the crew and her fellow students in the yacht club. This is a classic space opera from a girl's point of view and its great fun.

Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks - An officer loses his wife in war that the Culture is blamed for. He is sent to Massq Orbital to meet a fellow countrymen. There is more to this meeting than meets the eye. Can a possible diaster be stopped. Is it warrented. Another good mix of ideas, action, and tension. There is a big surprise at the end that completely satisfies.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan - India Morgan Phelps, Imp to her friends. She is schziophernic. One night she picks up a myterious women on the road and everything changes. Is what Imp telling us accurate? Does it matter? You are never sure about anything but one still cares. A fascinating read.

WataMote (TV Anime Series) - Tomoko wants to be popular and have friends but has tremendous social anxiety. Can she learn how to relate with other people. This is a disturning show. Tomoko does make progress but it is slow and she is her own worst enemy. I would be interesting to see more episodes of this.

Kill La Kill (TV Anime Series) - A young girl seeks to avenge her father in a post apocalyptic high school. She is helped by a sentient school uniform which give her enhanced strength and agility. This is an insane show and that is a good thing.


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