Reviews

Review: Toad Words, and Other Stories

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Review: Toad Words, and Other Stories

Talking stags, on the other hand, were nearly always bespelled royalty, and fairies, who could theoretically choose to look like anything, nearly always picked white cats or black horses. Fairies are very beautiful and very vain and they haven’t got the imagination to fill a thimble. And they never learn from their mistakes.

I’ve followed Ursula Vernon over on deviantart for years, mostly for her gorgeous paintings and collages of clockwork creatures, animal saints, hamster warriors, and other beautifully absurd beasties. Almost more than the art, though, I loved the descriptions. She loves to drop the reader smack into the middle of a new world, one she created just to explain why she drew an Iguanodon in a gardener’s hat, or because she liked the name “bramble dragon” and needed a place to put one.

Between deviantart and her blog, I’ve gotten hooked on her writing, and was hoping to someday own a book of her short stories. So you can imaging all the cheering when I ran across “Toad Words, And Other Stories.” (Written under the name T. Kingfisher, since she writes a lovely series of children’s books and likes to keep this slightly more adult work under a different name.)

It’s a book of re-told fairy tales, all in the quirky, matter-of-fact-in-the-face-of-total-nonsense style that I’ve always loved. They’re often dark, sometimes sad, but always endearing, even when they’re disturbing. She’s taken the stories we’ve grown up with and asked why people stuck in a fairy tale would do the things they do. She also assumes we might have only heard one person’s side of the story; who knows what actually happened.

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Review: Doctor Who – Tales of Trenzalore

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Review: Doctor Who – Tales of Trenzalore

‘We didn’t want to disturb you, Doctor. You’re an important man.’

The Doctor rolled his eyes. ‘Important? I’m not important. I’m the least important man in this town.’ He waived his stick at the assembled townsfolk. ‘It’s you lot who are important…”

To celebrate the return of Doctor Who, I’m going to review a second collection of Doctor Who short stories in a row. Love Doctor Who, love short stories. Both together? Can’t resist.

It’s hard to picture, since we only get to see a brief montage of it in one episode, but the Doctor was stranded on Trenzalor, on purpose, for nine hundred years. Nine centuries protecting the town of Christmas against attacks by pretty much every enemy the Doctor had ever faced. You can have a lot of adventures in nine hundred years; Tales of Trenzalore tells four of them.

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Movie Issues: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

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Movie Issues: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the sequel to the 2005 film Sin City. Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. The script is written by Miller and primarily based on the second book in the Sin City series created by Miller. Staring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Eva Green, Powers Boothe and Bruce Willis. New and returning cast members come together for one more hard time in roughest city around.

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Review: Doctor Who – 11 Doctors, 11 Stories

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Review: Doctor Who – 11 Doctors, 11 Stories

‘Be careful, Aggie! Remember, ‘The Doctor is a Master of Deceit”.’

‘Aggie?’ said the Doctor thoughtfully. ‘I wonder what that’s short for.’

The girl’s nostrils flared proudly. ‘My full name is Agony-Without-End-Shall-Be-The-Doctor’s-Punishment.’

‘Ah,’ said the Doctor. ‘You know, Leela, just between ourselves, I’m starting to feel that I’m not entirely welcome here.’

Rejoice! Season 8 of Doctor Who starts in just two days; brand new season, brand new Doctor. And I can’t think of a better way to get ready for the grand entrance of Number Twelve than a collection of short stories about all eleven Doctors who came before.

11 Doctors, 11 Stories brings together eleven award-winning authors, each telling their own tale about a different incarnation of the wandering Time Lord. The stories are about as different from each other as the Doctors are themselves, and since they’re all extremely well-written, I really think the story you like best is going to depend on which one features “your” Doctor.

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Movie Issues: The Giver

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Movie Issues: The Giver

The Giver is a social science fiction film directed Phillip Noyce, based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Lois Lowry. In a perfect world where there is no conflict, racism, or sickness, every member of society has a specific role, and 16-year-old Jonas is selected to be the new Receiver of Memory. Soon Jonas uncovers the truth behind his world’s past, and discovers that many years earlier, his forefathers gave up humanity in order to have a stable society. Now he must come to terms with what he’s learned and either except it or try to find a new path. Staring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, and Katie Holmes.

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Review – Batman: Assault on Arkham

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Review – Batman: Assault on Arkham

The one thing that DC always seems to get right is their animated featured films. You may still want another season of Green Lantern Animated or Young Justice, that’s because they are just that good. When I heard the next DC animated film was going to borrow from the Arkham series of games, I was a little timid. The series of games have been amazing, except for Origin, and would an Animated feature be able to capture the world that had been created by RockSteady Games?

I sat down and got an early look at the film, and it’s an interesting style. Is it the next best Batman animated, or just another New52?

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Movie Issues: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Movie Issues: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Since the first comic book appeared in the mid-eighties, and on to the much different iterations in animated forms and films, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a huge success, gaining love from millions of fans. Each has their favorite turtle or series they remember as their first. It’s fair to say that the Turtles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Which brings us to the newest version of their live action movie franchise. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle LA, Wrath of the Titians) produced by Michael Bay, they bring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a new world full of CGI, and new plots/themes for a whole new generation to enjoy.

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Review: Deathbird Stories

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Review: Deathbird Stories

Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child. –Robert Heinlein, 1973

That quote is featured in the introduction to this bookIf it offended you, well guess what, it was supposed to. Harlan Ellison has made a career out of, if not actually picking fights, then at least never pulling his punches. There’s no sugar-coating in any of his writing, no shading of the truth, and certainly no dumbing-down of anything. The man will dive into any topic and wrestle out its darkest, hardest-to-face aspects, and then shove them in the reader’s face. His writing is impossible to categorize; some bookstores file him in Science-Fiction, some in Literature. Mr. Ellison refers to his own work as Speculative Fiction, so let’s go with that.

Harlan Ellison has written for comic books, TV (remind me to review his book about writing a Star Trek episode sometime), movies, and he’s published several novels/novellas. But it’s his short-stories that first caught my attention; there’s simply no one out there who can pack that much fire and poison into just a few pages. So take a belligerent author with a genius for the short story format, and add an unflinching look at God, or gods, or Gods, and what you get is Deathbird Stories. It’s one of Ellison’s many short-story collections, and also one of my favorites. Not in spite of the bitter, angry, way these stories tear into the whole concept of faith, but because if it.

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Movie Issues: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Movie Issues: Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel and their cinematic universe opened the summer with Captain America: The Winter Solider, so it’s only fitting they also close down the summer movie season with their new film, Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn and staring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, and featuring the voice talents of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. This time Marvel shows us an all new, exciting, and absolutely amazing world above and beyond the stars with a fantastic new team of heroes in one great action packed movie.

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Review: The Scar

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Review: The Scar

Imagine a world that’s run on magic and steam. Fill it with a collection of races so different from each other that they might as well be alien species. Then picture a pirate fleet that takes every ship it captures and adds it to the collection of ships already bolted together into a miles-wide floating island.

What you end up with is a city-on-the-sea, one made entirely of steamboats and tall-ships and blockade-runners and pleasure yachts, all of which have been gutted and turned into libraries and markets and workshops and sports arenas, or just scraped down to the waterline and covered in soil to make farms. And around each corner is a woman with a scarab for a head, or a human with pistons instead of legs, or a cactus-man, or a priestess who used to serve as the figurehead for her ship, or any number of other people who were taken prisoner when their ship was pirated and are now trying to make a life for themselves as a citizen of the floating city.

And that’s only the setting. The story quickly moves on to a quest to find a hidden civilization, in order to recruit the one scientist who can track down and capture an impossible underwater creature big enough to pull the floating city to the literal end of the world: a fissure in the ocean (and the planet, and reality) known only as the Scar.

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