Author Archive

Binary System #5 – WTNV Bonus Episode #4

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Binary System #5 – WTNV Bonus Episode #4

Lotta numbers in that title. Confused yet? God knows we are…

The Welcome to Night Vale crew must have known that we’re all busy getting ready for San Diego Comic-Con, because the Bonus Episode we recap this week was maybe eight minutes long. Nine minutes, tops. To use up some more time, the twins talked about their plans for SDCC 2015. Oh, and Kathryn finally watched the first season of The Walking Dead. (Kathryn’s note: Because when I jump on a bandwagon I…wait until the bandwagon’s been idling at the curb for about five years. And then I sneak onboard. Like a ninja.)

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Review: Scavenger – Evolution

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Review: Scavenger – Evolution

The Pixelated Geek crew is prepping for Comic-Con, so there’s just enough time for a quick book review before the festivities start. And since there may be an upcoming podcast on fan-fiction, the review this week will be for something that’s every fan-fic’s writer’s dream: fan-fiction that’s been published with permission from the author of the original work.

Hugh Howey’s novel Sand created a future Earth that’s been ravaged by environmental disaster, leaving plenty of unanswered questions. What turned the planet into an endless desert? Who runs the distant camps where the bombs fall all day, every day? Is there more technology like the thought-controlled dive suits buried in the lost city of Danver? And how exactly did someone manage to bomb the city wall and bury Springston in an avalanche of sand? In a spin-off authorized by Hugh Howey himself, Timothy attempts to answer some of these questions with his debut novel Scavenger: Evolution.

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Binary System #4 – Getting Ready for Comic-Con

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Binary System #4 – Getting Ready for Comic-Con

This week we’re ditching the formula and just rambling some rambles, since a new Night Vale episode dropped (*checks watch*) yesterday, which didn’t leave us enough time to listen to it, record a recap, and post it without the aid of a TARDIS or Time Turner. (If you know where we can rent one, please leave a message in the comments. We will worship you if we get one.)

So instead, we have a quick talk about how San Diego Comic-Con starts up in one week, some Convention tips, what we’ve got planned, what we hope to see, and how many Welcome To Night Vale cosplay photos we want to take. (Answer: all of them. Please let us know if you’ll be there in your Night Vale cosplay, we really want to get your photo.)

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Review: Make Something Up – Stories You Can’t Unread

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Review: Make Something Up – Stories You Can’t Unread

Readers of Chuck Palahniuk’s comic book sequel to Fight Club might see his recently released short-story collection Make Something Up and think “Oh hey, it’s the guy who wrote the book that the Brad Pitt film was based on. I’ll probably love this.”

Whoa. Slow down. Hold up. Hang on just a minute.

Palahniuk is the author of Survivor and Rant, two books which are close to the top of my list of all-time favorites. However, his novels also include – among other things – graphic detail about drug use, horrific violence, sex addiction, hell, rape, death by eating diamonds, and a porn star trying to set a new world’s record. The man kept a running tab of the number of people who passed out during live readings from his novel Haunted (which remains the only book so gruesome that I had to stop reading it) and each story in Make Something Up is a distilled sample of everything that makes Palahniuk’s work so fascinating and appalling.

In short, there aren’t enough trigger warnings in the world for this collection. Enter at your own risk.

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Review: The Last Passenger

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Review: The Last Passenger

There have been cases of mysteriously abandoned ships recorded throughout history. They  even have a poetic name: ships without a soul. The Marie Celeste is just the most famous of a whole list of ghost vessels; derelict ships with no signs of a struggle, just a logbook that ends for no reason, and sometimes food still left on the table.

In Manel Loureiro’s latest book, The Last Passenger, a cargo ship stumbles across just such a mystery in the middle of the North Atlantic in 1939. There’s no obvious reason for the Valkyrie to have been abandoned; the ship isn’t damaged, and all of the lifeboats are still place. But the entire luxury ship (covered in symbols of the growing Nazi party) is deserted, except for a blanket-wrapped baby found in the middle of a ballroom with the remains of a party that seems to have just…stopped. Those exploring the ship are quickly chased away by strange voices and moving shadows, and one man loses his sanity after an attack by unseen forces. The baby is left at an orphanage, and the Valkyre – who’s engines resist any effort to be repaired – is towed to a scrapyard and then forgotten.

Seventy years later, the journalist Kate Soto is given a unique opportunity: to travel with the eccentric millionaire Isaac Feldman on the refurbished Valkyrie in a repeat of its maiden voyage. Accompanied by a crowd of scientists, some with their own hidden agendas, Isaac hopes to unlock the secret of his own past, and find out what happened to cause the disappearance of every passenger aboard.

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Night Vale Recap: Episode 70A and 70B “Taking Off” and “Review”

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Night Vale Recap: Episode 70A and 70B “Taking Off” and “Review”

That’s right, this week’s recap is two episodes for the price of one!

Cecil had big plans last episode to leave Night Vale for good and move to the Desert Otherworld. The twins both figured that was going to go horribly wrong, and they had a million theories as to how. None of them right. And that’s amazing.

Join the twins as they recap Welcome To Night Vale episode 70A “Taking Off” and 70B “Review.” And hey! We’re now Binary System Podcast! Coming soon to an iTunes channel and a new url!

And also, Happy One Year Anniversary of Night Vale Recaps! Thanks for listening!

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Review: Freedom’s Gate

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Review: Freedom’s Gate

Naomi Kritzer is an extremely prolific writer of short stories (my favorite format), and her collection Comrade Grandmother made me curious to see what she can do when she has an entire novel’s worth of room. In Freedom’s Gate – the first book in The Dead River’s trilogy – Kritzer expands on the world hinted at in her short story “Spirit Stone”.

Lauria was born a free woman in the Greek territory of Elpsia. It isn’t easy being half-Danibeki in a land where most of her mother’s people are slaves, but she’s built a comfortable life for herself and gained the trust and respect of her boss, the military officer Kyros. It’s that trust and her heritage that makes Kyros pick her for a dangerous assignment: infiltrate the bandit tribes of the Alashi – Danibeki who fled to the steppes to live as nomads – and find out the details of their planned attack on the Greek border towns.

It’s risky trying to spy on the Alashi. They execute any spies they catch, and it’s rumored that they sacrifice travelers to their gods and force anyone who wants to join to prove that they’re worthy by letting themselves be bitten by poisonous spiders. And even before she can reach the Alashi, Lauria will have to temporarily give up her status as a military aide and take on the role of the lowest member of society: an escaped slave.

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Review: The Master Magician

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Review: The Master Magician

The final book of Charlie N. Holmburg’s The Paper Magician trilogy opens with Ceony just weeks away from the end of her apprenticeship as a Paper Magician. Having to prepare for the Folder’s exam would be stressful enough even without the secret she’s keeping about being able to break her bond with Paper and work with other materials. She’s also having to deal with the (false) rumors about what’s been going on between her and Emory Thane, caused by the (very much true) growing affection and desire between her and her mentor. And then there’s the little matter of the escape of Saraj, an Excisioner notorious even among other Excisioners for being violent and unstable, and who just happens to have a grudge against Ceony and Mg. Thane.

The Paper Magician introduced the beautiful and sometimes terrifying world of materials magic. The Glass Magician was a straightforward magical adventure that showed us new aspects of the magic of glass and paper, many of them very, very violent. The Master Magician is a coming-of-age story. With magic. And romance. And occasional violence.

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Review: Bryony and Roses

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Review: Bryony and Roses

Everyone should be familiar with the fairytale of Beauty and the Beast: a father takes refuge in an abandoned castle and picks a rose without permission, so his beautiful daughter must come live with the Beast, who she restores to humanity when she agrees to marry him. You’ve probably seen quite a few versions, all with the same basic story. Fortunately Ursula Vernon (writing as T. Kingfisher) has created a version that’s a lot darker, quite a bit stranger, and just far enough off from the original that it becomes an entirely new story.

Bryony would never describe herself as a beauty, but just like in the original fairytale the cost of taking a rose leads to her being trapped in a mysterious mansion with someone who’s been cursed to be a Beast. This version of the tale still has the daily marriage proposals, and the invisible servants who cater to Bryony’s every whim. But there’s something else odd going on in the mansion, with strange footsteps in Bryony’s room at night, and bizarre dreams, and there’s something the Beast isn’t allowed to say, because the entire house seems to be alive. And it’s listening.

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Review: Karen Memory

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Review: Karen Memory

Karen had to learn to do for herself years ago when her beloved Da died, leaving her orphaned and penniless. Working as a high-class prostitute isn’t exactly what her parents would have wanted, but she’s good at it, and she’s comfortably situated at the finest bordello in Rapid City, where the girls are well fed and protected from abuse; any man that tries to cross the line will face the wrath of the proprietress herself: Madame Damnable. The employees of the Hôtel Mon Cherie are even allowed to keep forty percent of their considerable wages; Karen plans in a few years to save up enough money to buy her own stable and become a respectable businesswoman.

And then one night the girls are startled by the arrival of the vigilante Merry Lee, badly-wounded after rescuing one of the many women kept prisoner in the dockside cribs for the sailors’ uses. Hot on their heels is the pimp, Peter Bantle, and his whole posse. Soon Karen’s mostly squared-away life is thrown into a chaos of sadistic flesh-peddlers, secret plots, a US Marshall and his Comanche partner hunting a mysterious figure killing streetwalkers, and most importantly Priya, the half-starved crib-worker Merry Lee rescued who just happens to be the loveliest woman Karen has seen in all her life.

The setting of Rapid City (a fantasy-version of Seattle or San Francisco) in the late 19th century technically puts this book in the Weird Western genre. But with the steam-powered automatons and airships and mind-controlling gauntlets, Elizabeth Bear’s latest novel Karen Memory is one of the most gloriously steampunk books I’ve ever read.

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