Saturday, July 30, 2011

Catching Up on Comics-Adventures in Canada and on Other Worlds

I am planning on putting up short reviews of the comic books I read each week.  Sometimes the comics will be new ones and other times they will be ones that have been on my "to be read" stack.  This week's reviews include...

Alpha Flight #.1
Hulk #34

The picture to the left is promotional art of Alpha Flight by John Byrne.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dune by Frank Herbert

During the last three weeks, I have been participating in a group read of Frank Herbert's classic novel.  Here are links to those posts:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

What are my overall thoughts about the book?  Just click on "Read More" to find out...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dune Group Read, Round 3

 In addition to the answers to questions about the third section of the classic science fiction novel-Dune-I decided to include images of some of the covers you do not normally see for the book.  The Analog cover for "The Prophet of Dune" count.  This was the second half of the magazine serialization of the novel.

On Monday, I will be posting a look back at the group read and my overall review of the book.

To read the answers of other members of the group read click here Stainless Steel Droppings.

Spoiler Alert!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dune Group Read, Round 2

Part two of our group read of "Dune" reaches the section where things really (pardon the pun) heat up.  The Harkonnens' plan kicks into high gear as Duke Leto is betrayed while Jessica and Paul go out into the desert.  Will Paul fulfill his destiny and become the savior of Arrakis?

Warning, spoilers are heading your way...after the page break...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Torchwood Miracle Day Episode 1: The New World

What if one day the world woke up to find out that no one would every die?  At first this sounds like a blessing...a miracle.  Then the realization sinks in.  How long can the world survive with the exploding population (approximately 300,000 people die each day)?  What about the people who are mutilated?  What at first seems like a miracle suddenly becomes a curse...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dune Group Read, Round 1

Carl (at Stainless Steel Droppings) has put Dune on his reading list each year.  And every year he has not read it.  This year he is involved with a group reading of the book over a three week period.  I was considering re-reading this classic and thought it was a good time to join in.  Each week I, and many others who have joined in, will answer questions about that week's section.  

If you have not read the book be aware that the questions and answers will contain spoilers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Beginnings of Amber (a Roger Zelazny Tale)

Once upon a time, Roger Zelazny came up with an idea for a new short story.  In it a being had the ability to create parallel worlds.  When he did this he could guide the process into making changes that suited him.  His race could travel between the worlds.  They are stronger than the beings they create.  At the start of the story, he would awaken on one of the worlds.  From there Zelazny weaves a story of betrayal and a quest for freedom. 

Fans of Zelazny’s work will recognize this as the basic plot behind the Chronicles of Amber (my reviews of the first two books can be read at Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon).  But the Amber series was not Zelazny’s first attempt at writing this story.  The first one is called “Love is an Imaginary Number”.  Having read the Amber novels before I discovered this story, it seems like it is full of ideas that are never developed.  The short story form did not give Zelazny time to explore all of the concepts he introduces.  Fortunately for us, he went on to develop them in a series of novels. 

“Love is an Imaginary Number” is an interesting piece of history.  Fans of Roger Zelazny should invest the small amount of time it takes to find and read this story.  I look at it as an alternate universe version of Corwin.  Based on the principles of the Amber series, it could be a story of Corwin that fits into the Amber Chronicles.  Although the details do not match up with the novels, it is possible that the main character is not being completely truthful. 

Either way, I am glad I read this tale.  Any time I get the opportunity to read a new “Amber” story, I will take it. 


A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

From Goodreads...
Conversing in a mausoleum with the dead, an eccentric recluse is tugged back into the world by a pair of ghostly lovers bearing an extraordinary gift—the final chance for his own happiness. When challenged by a faithless wife and aided by a talking raven, the lives of the living and the dead may be renewed by courage and passion, but only if not belatedly. Told with an elegiac wisdom, this delightful tale of magic and otherworldly love is a timeless work of fantasy imbued with hope and wonder. 

Most of the books I read are science fiction but on occasion I like to pick up a fantasy book.  "A Fine and Private Place" was my latest  and it is an amazing read.  The various love, and life, stories are very touching.  With the death of my mother this year the themes of love, life, and death have weighed heavily on my mind.  Stories like this one help me to get in touch with my thoughts on these subjects.  I believe this will be one of the books I return to in the future.  The death of loved ones is something that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives.  I would be curious as to whether the author was dealing with such a loss when he wrote this novel.

It features some of the best character studies I have seen.  By the time you finish the story, it seems like the characters are people you have known for a long time. You will remember them long after you read this book.

In some ways, I can see where Neil Gaiman must have been influenced by the writing of Peter S. Beagle.  The character development and themes are many of the ones explored by Gaiman in his writing career.  One of his most popular characters from the Sandman comic series was Death.  She would be right at home in this novel.

It is hard to describe this book without giving the story away.  If you like plot driven books, stay away from this one.  If fantastically developed characters trapped between love and death appeal to you, this is a nearly perfect book.  One of the most amazing things about it is the author was only 19 when he wrote it.  How he could gain such insight into people at that young of an age is beyond me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Classic Doctor Who: Season 1: Episode 1: An Unearthly Child Part 1

As readers of this blog can see, I am a big fan of Doctor Who.  I have watched, and will be reviewing, all of the "new" series.  My interest in the classic episodes has grown.  I decided to go back to the beginning of Doctor Who (first broadcast on November 23, 1963). 

"An Unearthly Child" starts in an alley.  We see that the T.A.R.D.I.S. is there.  Later, two teachers are discussing a student named Susan.  Susan is amazingly intelligent in some respects but does not know some of the basic facts of life.  She lives with her grandfather.  The teachers follow her home only to find the T.A.R.D.I.S.  They make their way aboard only to find that her grandfather is the Doctor.  

What becomes quickly apparent with this incarnation of the Doctor is his lack of patience with humanity.  He comes off as more severe.  He is very critical of his granddaughter's love of humanity.  In the new Doctor Who revival (beginning in 2005) the Doctor loves mankind.  I would imagine that we will see this develop as the series progresses.  One of my favorite parts of this series is the way each incarnation of the Doctor adds different aspects to the story.  Another obvious thing with the William Hartnell Doctor is the age.  He appears to be an older gentleman and that fits the grandfather role he plays in this one.

Carole Ann Ford plays the role of the Doctor's granddaughter (Susan Foreman) to perfection in this episode.  She rattles off some complicated formulas then turns around and does not know if the metric system is in use.  It is not revealed, at least in this episode, who her parents are.  We also do not find out the identity of her grandmother.

On a curious aside, the musician Susan is listening to is named "John Smith".  "John Smith" is the name taken by the tenth Doctor in the two part story  called "Human Nature/The Family of Blood".

It was a great start to the classic Doctor Who.  "An Unearthly Child" is definitely worth watching.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

The first Transformers movie was a commercial success.  At the same time it was not as well received by the critics.

Since it did well at the box office, a second Transformers movie appeared (Transformers:  Revenge of the Fallen).  While it did not make the money the first movie did, "Revenge of the Fallen" was a box office success.  If the critics disliked the first movie they hated the second.  Even the stars of the movie complained about this one.

Which now brings us to a third Transformers movie "Dark of the Moon" (does everyone else keep wanting to call it "Dark Side of the Moon"?).  Already the critics are panning this film but it shot to the front of the pack while grossing $32.7 million dollars on its opening day.  In this summer of many big movies, "Dark of the Moon" might end up as the biggest money maker. 

One thing we know for certain, as long as it keeps packing the movie theaters Michael Bay will continue to crank out these action packed, amazing special effect filled spectacles with no (or very little) stories.  They are fun to watch but do not expect your mind to be challenged.