Author Archive

Binary System Podcast #37 – WTNV #88 “Things Fall Apart”

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Binary System Podcast #37 – WTNV #88 “Things Fall Apart”

The title to this week’s Welcome To Night Vale episode sums it up: things in Night Vale are falling apart. It’s bad enough that the gas, electricity, and water is out, but now the surveillance cameras aren’t working? Everybody panic! (Quietly. Where the Sheriff’s Secret Police can’t hear you.)

(Kidding. They can always hear you.)

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Review: Marvel’s Captain America – Civil War Prelude

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Review: Marvel’s Captain America – Civil War Prelude

The new Captain America movie is doing really well, and I’ll most likely go to see it in a week or so, once the initial crush dies down a little. While I wait, I decided to check out Marvel’s new graphic novel Captain America – Civil War Prelude, collecting all four issues of the Civil War Prequel comics, plus the first issue of the 2006 Marvel Civil War storyline that inspired the movie.

If you’re a diehard fan of Captain America and Iron Man and/or you’re a completist who’s dedicated to having everything Marvel’s released for those two characters then this is a graphic novel for you. Everyone else? You’re better off just seeing the movies again.

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Review: High-Rise

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Review: High-Rise

Without knowing it, he had constructed a gigantic vertical zoo, its hundreds of cages stacked above each other. All the events of the past few months made sense if one realized that these brilliant and exotic creatures had learned to open the doors.

High-Rise, the latest movie by director Ben Wheatley (you remember Wheatley; he directed the Doctor Who episodes “Deep Breath” and “Into the Dalek”) is scheduled for limited release this Friday. Of course I’m going to go see it (Tom Hiddleston, natch), so I was trying to decide if I should read the book it’s based on before or after seeing the movie. I tend to prefer whichever version of a story I experience first, and I have a bad habit of pointing out all the ways the movie is different from the book. Might be better to wait.

Then I found out the book’s author, J.G. Ballard, wrote the short story Chronopolis, which remains one of the best stories I’ve ever read. SO, off to the bookstore I went.

Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise is both more and less grounded in reality than Chronopolis. It has a similar theme (how technology “improves” everyone’s life to the point where humanity’s only purpose is to serve the technology), but High-Rise takes things much further. The book focuses on how modern comforts separate humans from each other, stripping away our ability to see anyone else as human. And then we see what’s left when those comforts are taken away.

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Binary System Podcast #35 – WTNV #87 “The Trial of Hiram McDaniels”

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Binary System Podcast #35 – WTNV #87 “The Trial of Hiram McDaniels”

The long awaited trial of Hiram McDaniels has finally arrived. Aaaand now it’s done. That was fast.

We didn’t get to see much of the trial (Mayor Cardinal took the charge to “Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” a little too seriously, and they had to clear the courtroom), but the results were exactly what we WEREN’T expecting. Justice in Night Vale isn’t for wimps. Or anybody, really.

And weirdly, on the eve of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War we somehow ended up giving a little love to DC and the handful of shows and animations that they’ve done well. This was after we made snarky comments about Batman v Superman and Convergence, but the love got in there eventually.

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Review: Ninefox Gambit

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Review: Ninefox Gambit

Captain Kel Cheris of the Hexarchate may have won a battle, but she’s been officially disgraced for using forbidden strategies to do it. Ordinarily this would mean execution – or worse – but she’s been given a chance to redeem herself. Heretics have captured The Fortress of Scattered Needles, and to recover it Cheris will be using the most dangerous weapon available: the famous tactician Shuos Jedao.

In his entire military career Jedeo never lost a battle, including his last one where he slaughtered thousands of civilians, the enemy army, his own army, and everyone aboard his ship. It’s been four hundred years since he finished off each of his command crew with a bullet to the head, and the Hexarchate is still no closer to understanding why.

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Binary System Podcast #34 – Alice Isn’t Dead #4 “Factory By the Sea”

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Binary System Podcast #34 – Alice Isn’t Dead #4 “Factory By the Sea”

This week’s episode of Alice Isn’t Dead was like a Ray Bradbury short story; it was beautiful and surreal and oh so creepy. If the writers keep this up then we’re looking forward to many more chapters in this very odd story. (And we promise to stop accidentally calling the narrator “Alice” if you’ll just TELL US HER NAME EVENTUALLY.)

More topics discussed on this podcast: the Welcome To Night Vale live show, Elizabeth finally started watching Season 2 of Daredevil, Kathryn’s finally finished House of Cards, and the Saga comic book is still not for children.

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Review: Doctor Who – The Shakespeare Notebooks

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Review: Doctor Who – The Shakespeare Notebooks

“…The Shakespeare Notebooks is an astonishing document that offers a unique insight into the mind of one of history’s most respected and admired figures. And also, of course, William Shakespeare.”

Tomorrow marks 400 years since William Shakespeare shuffled off this mortal coil. In that time his reputation has grown from a somewhat well-known playwright to the most famous writer in the English language. I’m sure fans of Shakespeare have dreamed of traveling to early seventeenth century Stratford-upon-Avon and meeting the great playwright at least once; imagine how often a centuries-old Time Lord with access to his own TARDIS could make the trip.

Newly discovered “The Shakespeare Notebooks” is a comprehensive collection of journal entries, rough drafts, additional characters, annotated scripts, and many other snippets from the Bard’s personal writing which will give you an idea of just how much of an influence that a mysterious “Doctor” had on his life.

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Review: Bone Swans

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Review: Bone Swans

The beautiful cover art for C.S.E. Cooney’s 2015 book Bone Swans was what first caught my eye. The fact that it’s a short-story collection meant I’d definitely get around to reading it sooner or later, but seeing that at least two of the stories were retold fairy tales sealed the deal; a 99-cent sale for an e-copy of the book was overkill, but much appreciated.

I’m really glad I picked this one up; I’ve never ready any of Cooney’s work before, but she’s automatically on my favorites list now. Her style is equal parts folksy, flamboyant, romantic, lyrical, filled with atmospheric paragraphs you fall into. The characters are just smart-aleck enough to make me root for them, and each of the five stories here is a jewel.

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Binary System Podcast #32 – Alice Isn’t Dead #3 “Nothing To See”

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Binary System Podcast #32 – Alice Isn’t Dead #3 “Nothing To See”

This week we’re recapping the latest episode of Alice Isn’t Dead and then we talk about the things that, on a deep and primitive level, scare the hell out of us. Then we cheer ourselves up with some Zootopia and Daredevil, freak ourselves out again with the idea of motherhood in The Walking Dead world, and then get the giggles by recommending that folks make sure their…bidness…is taken care of.

Also this is an open call for suggestions: what’s a good character to cosplay while wearing glasses?

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Review: Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess

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Review: Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess

How do you know when someone is a Spark?

The answer is when they create something too mad to ignore.

The adventures of Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius, continues! In this installment, Agatha finds herself on the run from the diabolical Baron Wulfenbach, and his lovelorn son, Prince Gilgamesh. Needing to travel unnoticed through the Wastelands, Agatha and her companion Krosp (The Emperor Of All Cats) join a traveling circus that specializes in Heterodyne shows – dramatizations of the exploits of Bill and Barry Heterodyne. Ironic, considering that Agatha is secretly the long-lost heir to the Heterodyne Family.

And if you think all of that sounds a little crazy, just wait until you get to the scientist who’s scientific breakthrough involves pies.

This is the second novelization of Phil and Kaja Foglio’s award-winning Girl Genius series. The first book was a pure madcap adventure, and the format gave the Foglio’s the opportunity to add tons of extra details and backstories, as well as plenty of clever comments, random trivia, and snarky asides. All in all it was a hell of a lot of fun to read.

The second book is, and I know this is a bold statement here, even better than the first.

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