Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Since I am not a fan of horror films (too scary!) I've decided I'm going to instead make my Halloween post about the creepiest person I can think of. Stephen King. Not only does he write eerie books, but he looks rather spooky himself. Or is it just me? I tend to go through spurts where Stephen King is concerned. I'll read something like 10 books in a row and then completely burn out for the next 10 years. You probably think I'm kidding, but reading 10 Stephen King books in a row is a LOT of Stephen King since the man often averages over 1000 pages a book. I do think he is a great writer when it comes to metaphors and analogies. The guy is nothing if not inventive. Though after reading about 10,000 pages, any sane person needs a break. I think the first of his books I picked up was Misery. This was before the movie came out and I didn't know what to expect. Misery isn't fantasy or sci-fi, though it is darned tense. But it generated an interest in me to continue reading his books. The first supernatural thriller of his that I read was IT. If you have only seen the movie, then you have a good idea how scary the book is. Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown is terrifying. But the movie actually cuts a lot of the story out, as can only be expected by a book that's over 1000 (1004 paperback) pages, so a lot of the story is missing.((Spoiler warning)) One question I do have for the readers who have read this book is whether or not IT was actually a spider or not. Perhaps I was too literal minded when I read the book, but it sure sounded like a spider and I don't recall any allusions that it was a metaphor of some kind. But I have had people get very snippy if you say that IT was in fact, a spider. So please, help me out here. ((End Spoiler)) If you haven't read the book, the only thing you need to know is that the scary monster in the book is a clown much of the time. A creepy, sharp toothed clown. Between this book and the movie Poltergeist, clowns scare the crap out of me. One of my favorites is Needful Things, which is the name of a store that is opened up in the town of Castle Rock Maine. (Most of King's stories are set in Maine, with Derry being another common location) The proprietor of the shop is named Leland Gaunt, a seemingly harmless old man who offers the townspeople objects of their desire, such as rare baseball cards or jewelry, in exchange for "pranks" to be pulled on other people in the town. It is implied throughout the book that Leland is Satan, though it's never directly stated. The pranks increase past the "harmless" stage and mayhem ensues. Normally I am not a big fan of short stories for some reason. But I do make an exception for Stephen King. I don't know why, but his appeal to me. In fact, I often enjoy the short stories a little more. If there are die-hard Kings fans, they may not like me for saying it, but I often feel as if his books fall apart at the ending. It's as if he spends a thousand pages building up the story but doesn't quite know how to wrap it up. I tend to think the endings are too abrupt and sometimes disappointing. So books like Four Past Midnight and Nightmares and Dreamscapes are ideal for me. They have the great fantasy elements I like without feeling as if I have invested so much time that anything less than spectacular will be satisfying. But even though I sometimes don't always like the endings, I still have read lots of his books. I've read The Stand which I think is one of his best. It's another long one, with the uncut paperback running 1168 pages. This one is basically about the near annihilation of the human race due to a "superflu." Over 99% of the population end up dead. The rest of the book kind of ends up as a battle of good vs. evil with and Antichrist type character and another who is the basic personification of good. That's a gross over-simplification, but hey, space is limited. There are a ton more I could mention, like The Shining, Carrie, Cujo or Christine. But I'd like to give the rest of you a chance to tell me what you think about this master of the macabre. Tell me what your favorite books are, or your favorite Stephen King movie. Though taking on movie adaptations could easily be the subject of a whole new post seeing as some really suck, though there have been a few good ones. But anyway, tell me what YOU think. Oh, and recommendations would be great. I haven't read one of his books in awhile.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Oh my......

SQT has invited me to post on her amazing blog and I am all of a twitter. I think the power has gone to my head! I have been a MASSIVE sci fi and fantasy fan since, well, forever. So is my husband...that is why we clicked. We actually clicked over James Cameron. He loved that I knew who he was. Aliens is one of my top movies. I have lost count of how many times I have watched this film. Our entire group of friends used every single one liner from this movie over and over and over. I suppose we were at an impressionable age that it lasted so long in our lexicon. I can't think of anything bad to say about the movie. The effects (for the time) were amazing. The casting great. The pacing was great, the music, the editing.....gush gush. It managed to be totally different from the first Ridley Scott film, yet Cameron kept the background story and the character of Ripley true to what we expected. Where the first movie was tense and atmospheric, Aliens was an adrenalin rush from beginning to end. Lets talk about Alien for a moment. It came out in 1979. I was ten. I did not see it in the theatres. My husband however, did. He had parents who tended to NOT read reviews and ratings. I think his experience says it all about this movie. It did NOT stay on formula. He tells me recalls the horror he felt when Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) bought it. He was dumbfounded. How could the CAPTAIN die!? He was supposed to be the hero!! The movie kept him on the edge of his seat all the way to the end. It was a perfect blend of sci fi and horror Something I don't think we have seen since. I won't talk about the subsequent films...3 and 4...while Finchers '3 was a good film in itself, it was not what the fans wanted to see or hear about their beloved characters. '4 was completely off the rails. Same goes for Alien vs. Predator and I cannot believe they are making a sequal to that one. I guess I am a purist! I am looking forward to the return of Cameron to 'fiction' now that he seems to have tired of the bottom of the ocean. I like his work too much. The Abyss was amazing and I think he did an amazing job with Solaris (as producer) too. We shall all wait to see what Avatar is all about. Well, I better stop for now......pace myself and all that.

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

I'm having a nostalgic week for some reason. So while I work on my next Nunchuk Nate installment, I thought I'd mention some of my favorite cartoons from my childhood. The good old days of humanoid cats, super cavemen and flying people of all kinds. Makes me misty eyed just thinking about it. I'm not necessarily one of those people who doesn't like anything that's on TV today. I actually think a lot of the new cartoons are pretty good. I like the Justice League and Batman, though as often as not I end up watching Sponge Bob with my kids. That qualifies as fantasy right? But when I think of what I watched as a kid, I think of Voltron, He-Man & She-Ra, The Thundercats, Thundarr the Barbarian, Robotech and so on. Oh, and I have to make a special mention of my husband's favorite, Battle of the Plants. These, as much as anything else, influenced my adult taste in movies and TV. I mean, how could they not? There's no way I could possibly mention every cartoon I watched, but I can mention the one's I like best, and let you, the reader, tell me what I should have included. The Superfriends were definitely the first comic book/sci-fi series I ever watched. I doubt I even have to describe it. I mean, you'd have to live under a rock not to know the Superfriends right? If you know Superman, Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, then you basically know the Superfriends. Other characters, like Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Flash and Atom were brought in later too. And of course, you can't mention the Supefriends without mentioning the The Legion of Doom. Who didn't love the Legion of Doom? You had Lex Luthor, Cheeta, Bizarro and The Riddler, to name a few. I will admit I wasn't crazy for the non-super characters like Marvin and Wendy, but overall I loved the show. I watch reruns every once in a while, and it's much hokier than I remember. It's a shame adulthood makes critics of us isn't it? The first one, after Superfriends, I remember really getting into was Thundarr the Barbarian Thundarr was kind of an odd combination of Conan the Barbarian with odds and ends from Star Wars thrown in. It was set in a kind of post-apocalyptic world that survived after a large asteroid went between the earth and the moon, causing damage to both. Thundarr's companions include Ookla the Mok, a Wookie like creature and Princess Ariel, a sorceress. Another Star Wars like element is his Sun Sword, which is basically a light saber. I wouldn't say Thundarr was my favorite, but I watched it and it kind warmed me up to the genre. I liked He Man and She-Ra a bit more. And being a girl, I really liked She-Ra. He Man is another Conan like character, though I was biased toward this one over Thundarr. I seem to recall it being a little more polished, so that may be why. He Man was the alter ego of Prince Adam, who could change into He Man by raising his sword and saying "by the power of Grayskull....I have the power," Grayskull being the castle where the Sorceress, or "The Goddess" lives. The Sorceress being the one who gave Adam the power to transform into He Man. I think my favorite aspect of He Man had to be his cat Cringer, a cowardly green tiger that became Battle Cat when Adam changed into He Man. And like any girl, I loved princesses. And who could resist a princess who could turn into a super hero like She-Ra? Not me. The villans were different in both shows. I will admit, I remember Skeltor a heck of a lot more than any villian that was featured in She-Ra. According to Wikipedia, She-Ra's main enemy was Catra, a "jealous beauty." But my recollections are sketchy at best. But the memory of the show lives on. The Thundercats was a huge favorite of mine. And like any girl, it was all about Cheetara, the only female hero of the group. The Thundercats were anthropomorphic characters that were part cat, part human. There was Lion-O, the leader of the group who resembled a lion and carried a sword. Tygra, the second-in-command that resembled a tiger and whose weapon was the bolo whip that gave the power of invisibility. Panthro, the technical expert that looked like a panther and (here's one for you Nate) carried nunchuks that emit various gasses. And last but not least Cheetara, the only adult female (now, now, none of that) who resembled a cheetah, could run really fast and carried a collapsible quarterstaff.And of course Snarf, the nursemaid. Their enemies were mutants who were led by Mumm-ra. Voltron was the first robot based show I really got into. This was also I think one of the first Japanese animated cartoons to really make it big in the U.S. It was basically about five pilots who commanded robotic lions that could be joined together to form Voltron. A later version used land, air and sea based vehicles but I always preferred the lion version. After Voltron came a show I really really loved, Robotech. This show is, in my opinion, what really brought Japanese anime to the U.S. It's been so long since I've seen it though, so I hate to admit that I can't give a definitive description of the show (sad huh). But I do know the show was based on alien technology that was adapted and used by humans to fight off alien invasions. I also kind of remember that it had a continuing story with, dare I say, a slight soap-opera feel. But I liked it, and often got up at 6:00am to watch it. I remember that much. No wonder my family thought I was nuts. And lastly, I have to mention my husband's favorite, Battle of the Planets also known as G-Force. Whenever my daughter wants to watch this, she asks my husband if she can watch "the birds." She gets this because the characters wear outfits that look like bird costumes. Another show that came from the Japanese amime, there were five hero's, Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop, and Tiny. They flew the ship the Fiery Phoenix, that did turn into something like a blowtorch. They protected the earth from all space dangers and their usual enemy Zoltar. Hopefully you didn't mind another trip down memory lane. I loved this stuff though and it's fun to look back. I really only gave the barest thumbnail of what the shows were about, but it's hard to go into too much detail without making the posts a mile long (and this one is definitely pushing the limit). If there's anything I missed that you feel is a sin to leave out, let me know. I'll be happy to add it. Post Script I have to give credit where credit is due. Hey There Skippy has quite the memory and mentioned Wyliekit and Wyliekat. I'm getting old I guess because I just didn't remember them. But I always have to bow down to superior memories. So here's a picture of the characters in question. Skippy also had the superior sci-fi skills in remembrance of She-Ra and her enemies. So I must also include a picture of Hordak.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Newly Mustachioed Nunchuk Nate and his Mad Ninja Skills

Nate was lying in bed, debating on the pros and cons of answering nature's increasingly demanding calls. Finally, deciding that he felt too lazy to change the sheets for the third time this week, he staggered out of bed toward the bathroom. Normally Nate didn't glance in the mirror before answering nature's call, preferring to do search and destroy missions with the zits on his face with an empty bladder. But a quick sideways glance caused Nate to pause and take a look. And to his amazement he saw something that hadn't been there when he went to bed. At least he didn't think so, though he had had a few appletini's the night before. Sure enough, there, right on his upper lip perched a black mustache. It was a kind of odd, Salvador Dali looking thing and Nate thought for a second it might have been drawn on by his mother, who was still trying to get him to move out. But when he moved closer to the mirror he could see that it was in fact real. Thinking that Mom might have taken things to the next level and glued the thing on, he started tugging on it to see if the glue would come loose. But once he touched it, he could actually feel that the follicles had really come out of his face. Looking at himself in wonder and at several different angles, Nate marveled that he could grow a mustache so rapidly and wondered at the strange color. Nature, not to be denied, forced Nate to consider the new development without the mirror for a minute. And Nate couldn't help think, while standing there, that maybe, just maybe he was now as cool as the Nate Smith with the goatee. But fate wasn't to allow him to ponder the situation too much longer. Without warning, his nemesis Nevins Manafe burst into his room flinging steel ninja stars at Nate. Nate barely had time to pull his pants up as he frantically tried to find his nunchuks. Unfortunately the only thing in reach was a prosthetic leg Nate had lying on the floor. Grabbing the leg and swinging it at Nevins, Nate had to ask, "What are you doing here?" Nevins, grinning evilly answered "I told your Mom I was going to help you find an apartment and she let me in." "Drat," Nate replied, "She couldn't possibly resist that, you evil genius." Nevins raised his katana, "No more talk Smith, it's time to end this. Though I must say, it's a shame to kill you now that you have such a nice mustache." "En Guard!" Nate yelled as he swung the leg at Manafe. Much to his surprise, the leg made an impressive weapon. Swung just right it could deliver a vicious round house kick, and he managed to land several on Manafe before his enemy knew what hit him. While Manafe stood dazed and swaying, Nate considered grabbing his nunchucks off the nightstand. But having too much fun with the leg, he just keep using to kick Nevins until he finally fell unconscious to the floor. Amazed at the ease with which he dispatched his enemy, Nate picked up his nunchuks and attempted to swing them around in the patterns he had seen Bruce Lee use in “Enter the Dragon.” Without any hesitation the weapons seemed to move in perfect execution and Nate didn’t hit himself in the head once! Wondering where this newfound ability came from, Nate felt a twitch on his upper lip. Reaching up to scratch the now itchy area, he remember the mustache. The mustache! That must be it, he thought. The mustache is magical. Cooooool. Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, Nate had a rare moment of clarity and remembered that he had a job interview that afternoon. Stumbling over the prone Manafe, and realizing that his newly acquired ninja skills apparently didn't apply to walking, Nate grabbed some clothes out of the closet and got dressed. Deciding to leave Nevins to fend for himself, Nate started for the door. But not wanting to answer any awkward moving out questions from his Mom, he decided to jump out the window instead. About halfway out he remembered that he was on the second floor and he started to panic. But after feeling that same odd twitch from his mustache, he continued out the window and confidently landed with the grace of a cat. Feeling good after his triumph over Nevins, Nate confidently started walking to his job interview. Along the way he noticed more than a few admiring glances and received many cheerful greetings from the other pedestrians. Hmmm, he thought, this mustache seems to give me great powers of charisma too. Awesome! Feeling good, Nate started waving back at the other people. He started humming Staying Alive and doing the John Travolta strut, but after having to fend off too many male admirers, he decided he had to contain his newborn coolness. Before long he made it to the job interview. Confidently walking in the front door he approached the receptionist. Leaning in on the counter and casually stroking the mustache Nate addressed the receptionist. "I'm here for the desk monkey job." Swooning a little, the receptionist breathlessly told him to wait while she told the boss he was there. Before he had a chance to hand over his telephone number, his interviewer arrived. Noticing that she was looking Nate up and down and licking her lips, he knew he was a shoo-in for the job. Closing the door to her office when they got there, Nate had a moment of nerves, but remembering his new repertoire of ninja moves, he knew he’d be able to fend off the most aggressive advances. Fortunately, his boss-to-be had great restraint and merely sat down. Smiling at Nate she said, “You appear to have the exact qualities I am looking for in my new assistant.” “Really?” Nate replied before he could think of anything more clever. “Oh yes,” she said, “and let me say, that while you smell really good, there’s something about that mustache that just....” She hesitated. Nate leaned in for the answer............ To Be Continued....... This is dedicated to my new friend Nate Smith. If you haven’t been to his blog Nate is a Blog, then you don't know what you're missing. He is the funniest guy I have seen in the blogoshpere yet.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sid and Marty Krofft made me what I am today!

A blue mutant? No, no that's not it. A fan of fantasy and sci-fi of course. You probably have to be a bit older, like me, to remember the shows put out by Sid and Marty Krofft. But if you are my age, chances are you not only remember, but devotedly watched them like I did. I mean, who could resist? Talking cars (before Knight Rider), bugs, sea monsters and whatever a Pufnstuf is. If I try to remember the Sid and Marty Krofft shows I watched as a kid, the first one that comes to mind is Land of the Lost. My husband and I still refer back to this show; usually it's something like, doesn't that guy look like Chaka? Land of the Lost was a show about a family, Rick, Will and Holly Marshall, who were rafting when a big earthquake hit and sucked through a dimensional portal into the Land of the Lost. I remember it kind of being a prehistoric place, populated by dinosaurs and cavemen like people-- including Chaka; though other people from other times in history were also brought there. Like all Krofft shows, the costumes are cheesy and the sets even worse. But who cares when you're a kid? I thought it was great. What could be better than reptilian/insectoid villains like the Sleestak? H.R. Pufnstuf is another Krofft show that has managed to become part of the vernacular of my life. Witches are not witches, they're Witchiepoo! This is another show where a human gets lost in another land. This time it's a boy named Jimmy who gets lost on Living Island, where everything is well....alive. H.R. Pufnstuf is a dragon who befriends Jimmy and tries to help him. Jimmy also has a talking flute named Freddie that Witchiepoo is always trying to get. And if that doesn't sound good enough, then how about the fact that Witchipoo rode a broom with with a steering wheel named Vroom Broom? I don't make this stuff up folks. And then there's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Oh, I loved Sigmund. Instead of a human getting lost, this time it was the sea monster who ended up in the human world. Sigmund left his mean sea monster family and ends up being taken in by Johnny and his brother Scott. There isn't much more to it than that. Again, totally cheesy costumes, but I swear, my son looked just like Sigmund when he got his first tooth in. Another one of my favorites was the Bugaloos This one was about a bunch of buglike people who had wings and could fly. I think I liked this one because they always played music. The Bugaloos were a musical group that lived in Tranquility Forest who were always being chased by the jealous Benita Bizarre. Bizarre was jealous of the Bugaloos talent and popularity and was always trying to catch them. And lastly, there was Wonderbug a show about a talking Dune buggy. Basically a rip off of Speed Buggy, a cartoon about a talking Dune buggy. But who cares about these things when you're a kid? I didn't. I just liked the show because it had a talking car. I mean, who doesn't? A lot of these shows, when I look at them as an adult, make me think they were conceived over several bong hits. And lots of people apparently felt the same way since there was this whole controversy over the name H.R. Pufnstuf. Many thought Pufnstuf referred to "puffin' stuff" like pot. The Krofft brothers denied this, but really, who comes up with stuff like the Vroom Broom and the Sleestak's when they're sober? I'm just sayin' But oh, the happy, lost Saturday afternoons I spent watching these shows. How lucky was I that I didn't have a Mom who insisted I do something more constructive with my time? Thanks Mom.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nobody knows the blogs I've seen..................

I mentioned Captain Picard's Journal in my last post and since then I have done some perusing through the blogosphere. Wow! All I can say is Wow! People are inventive to say the least. Since I have established this as a sci-fi/fantasy blog, I'll stick to that subject matter for the purposes of this post. But let me tell you, if you haven't looked around, you should. There's a little something for everyone out there. If you go to a lot of these blogs, you'll notice blog rolls, which are basically links to other blogs. This is how I became aware of a lot of the blogs I've looked at today. Let me list some examples. First, I must start with the one that started it all, Captain Picard's Journal, This one is basically exactly what it sounds like; excerpts from the journal that the Captains of the Enterprise read from at the beginning of the show. Fun posts that are centered in the Star Trek universe, but bring in all kinds of other stuff. Another type of blog that seems really popular (and is related to the Captain Picard blog) are blogs that are named after a fictional character, and the posts are ostensibly written by that character. Here are some favorites that I looked at today. Professor Xavier's Blog Hulk's Diary that is on the Internet Spiderman, the Weblog Batblog If you like comic book's or any of these movies, I urge you to check out these blogs. They're really fun and well done. Another kind of blog that fits into this category are the one's that tell a story in the posts. Usually a continuing one from one post to the next. Here are a few of those. Efira Apoc An Army of (Cl)one Darth Nepharia These are all really good blogs, especially if you like the type and they have lots of links attached to them. So let me know if there are any other's out there I should take a look and I'll bid you good blogging; and say hi for me. ;)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

How Could I Forget Star Trek?

I went to a clever site today Captain Picard's Journal, and it dawned on me that I haven't mentioned Star Trek in one post yet. Not one! What's wrong with me? I don't know if I can call myself a confirmed Trekkie. I don't even know what that entails. But I have always liked the show. It's hard to even say which one is my favorite. Though I will go out on a limb and say that If I were forced to choose between Picard and Kirk, I would have to reluctantly choose Picard. (ducks) Though in truth, I think that's more of a generational preference than anything else. In fact, I just looked up the date of when Star Trek The Next Generation Premiered, and the date listed was my 18th birthday. So there's just a little bit of bias there. I did watch the original show growing up though, which was kind of odd for a young girl. Though I did have odd friends too. My best girlfriend in high school had memorized all the dialogue of Star Wars and we used to talk on the phone while we watched Star Trek and V. Yeah, geeks, the both of us. But at this point, what can I say that hasn't already been said? Star Trek is well....... Star Trek! It's basically THE sci-fi show that defined all the shows that followed. I never really appreciated just how the good the original series was until I was older. I watched it a bit when I was a kid, but I was too young to really understand that the show was more than green women and photon torpedoes. The one thing that I've always liked about the show(s) is that they are consistently good. I kind of feel as if I grew up with The Next Generation even though it didn't hit the air until I was 18. It's the one I remember most. Though I did see almost all of the original Star Trek movies in the theatre. But I've watched them all at one time or another. The captains have all appealed to me on different levels. Picard as the intellectual, Kirk at the man of action and Janeway as TV's first female captain, among others. So I guess in a way this post isn't really about critiquing the show, it's more of a tribute. Tell me what your favorite show was, or your favorite episode. Or tell me what you didn't like about the show if you're so inclined. As long as I don't forget Star Trek, I'll feel OK about it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is Starship Troopers the Best Sci-fi Movie Ever...or Complete Crap?

Well, the title of this post ought to put anyone who reads this firmly in one camp or the other. The reason I ask the question is because so many sci-fi lovers I know LOVE this movie. It is a great sci-fi story. Where the controversy comes in is whether or not you're a fan of Robert Heinlein, who wrote the original story. Heinlein fans apparently fall into the group that believe the movie is crap. I'm not a particular fan of Heinlein, though maybe I should try a little harder. I tried to read "Stranger in a Strange Land" years ago, and just couldn't get into it. I've been reluctant to pick up a Heinlein book ever since. But as far as Starship Troopers goes, I am kind of on the fence. Though, I probably fall more into the category of a fan of the movie. Why? Well, I have watched it more than once, and I don't do that if I really don't care for something. Another reason is that the movie did leave an impression; enough so that I am writing a post in my blog nine years after the movie came out. That says something. If you haven't seen the movie, it's not too difficult to summarize. It's a war movie, but instead of fighting another country we're fighting aliens- referred to as "bugs." And boy do they look like bugs, great big scary ones. The society depicted in the movie is futuristic and far more militaristic than ours is now. It has pretty decent special effects, especially for its time; and the bugs make such a menacing enemy that it's hard to see how the humans could effectively fight them. Another interesting plot point is that military service is compulsory for a person to become a citizen. (if I remember correctly) From the descriptions I have read of Heinlein's book, citizenship means you must fight to vote, though it's not clear what the scope of citizenship means in the movie. But what really stands out about the movie is the use of propaganda films to sell the war to the people. The film reels hearken back to WWII when the U.S. would make propaganda reels to show to the public, and Starship Troopers shows the very same thing. War is sold as patriotic and noble. In stark contrast to this is the reality of war that is shown as the movie moves along. Even in basic training there are violent accidents. One cadet is killed in a live ammo exercise and flogging is shown as the accepted form of punishment. But this is nothing compared to the violence that is shown when the cadets go to war. The military is completely out-classed by the bugs and they take heavy losses. These are brutally depicted in the movie as well. Another thing that invites a lot of comment about the movie is that the people in it are stunningly beautiful. You have Caspar Van Dien and Denise Richards as the lead characters. Two people not particularly known for their great acting skills, but very well known for their looks. Most of the secondary characters are very good looking as well. I find this an interesting choice and who knows, maybe it was a choice intended to show a contrast between the beauty of unscarred innocence and brutality of war. I don't know if that's the case, but the contrast does show up in the movie regardless. The movie is only loosely based on the book according to Wikipidea. In fact, the article states that Paul Verhoeven, the director, didn't even finish the book; though he still puts some of the book's dialogue into the movie. And this is where the biggest controversy comes in. Apparently Heinlein's mobile infantry in the book was far more developed than in the movie; the difference has been blamed on budget constraints. And while some people were bothered by that, overall the biggest complaint was that Heinlein emphasized fascism quite a bit more than was shown in the movie. In fact, the movie depicted the society as far more liberal, with women serving in the military and the sexes mingle quite freely without embarrassment; even bunking and showering together. At the end of the day, I guess it's what you want out of the movie that determines whether you like it or not. If you're looking for a pretty straight forward action movie with a lot of blood and guts, you'll probably like it. If you're looking for social commentary, maybe the book would be more to your taste. And regardless of anything, the movie is over nine years old and the book was published in 1959. The fact that anyone is still talking about it says something doesn't it?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Joss Whedon NEEDS to Return to TV!

I've been sitting around trying to think of a new post to put on my blog. I don't want it to get super stale, even though only 3 people or so check in occasionally. But that's besides the point! I do it for myself anyway. But it dawned on me that I was having a hard time thinking of something to put up because there just isn't enough out there right now. At least in my opinion there isn't. When I say that, I mean something current. There's always old movies, TV shows and books to talk about. But when it comes to what's on right now, I keep getting stuck on Battlestar Gallactica because it's the only show I think that has the level of quality I look for in a sci-fi series. Which is why I say we NEED to have Joss Whedon come back to TV! Maybe it's silly, but I probably enjoyed TV the most when Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were on the air; both Whedon shows. And when he brought Firefly to TV, that was a brief bit of heaven. I really looked forward to that show and was very disappointed when it was pulled. Astrid mentioned on the Firefly thread that Whedon is now in the process of making Wonder Woman. Which is great, but not enough. I also looked on Whedon's bio at Wikipidea and there's no mention of any upcoming TV shows. Personally, I blame Fox. According to the bio, Whedon has said he won't work with Fox again after the way they treated his show Firefly. They cut short the run and aired the shows out of sequence. I probably shouldn't blame the Fox network. After all, Whedon could probably put a new series on the SciFi channel and it would probably do very well. Though I think a little anger at Fox is justified since they have a contractual grip on Firefly that won't allow Whedon to continue the series on another network. ( also according to Wikipedia) Just what is it about Whedon's shows that appeal to people like me? I'm not exactly sure. I wasn't even interested in Buffy the Vampire Slayer at first. The fact that it featured high school aged characters kept me from watching it for awhile. I guess I kind of assumed it was going to be a kind of Dracula meets Beverly Hills 90210. I think it was one of my friends who suggested I watch it that finally got me hooked. Ever since then I have been a loyal fan. I think what appeals to me the most is that Whedon finds a way to make the shows scary and funny at the same time. Buffy definitely got dark toward the end of the series, as did Angel. But there were always those moments that made me chuckle. Firefly had a way of doing this too. I guess Whedon is good at striking a balance that I like. I've always had my guilty pleasure shows, like Hercules and Xena, though I don't think I can say I have watched every episode of those the way I can about all of Whedon's shows. And I liked the campy goofiness of Xena and Hercules, but I can't see going to the movie theatre to watch a movie based on either of those series'. And of the shows that are on TV today, there are a few that qualify to be on this blog. I mentioned Lost already, though it only loosely fits into the fantasy category in my opinion. Hero's looks like a kind of X-Men copy, though it could be good. I occasionally watch The Ghost Whisperer, but I found that the show too often goes for the tear-jerker storyline. I have heard them say they're going to go for more scary stories in the future, but I haven't been too interested in going back. I think with other psychic shows on TV like Medium that I am getting a little tired of that storyline. And maybe that's why I crave a show by Whedon so much. I don't think anyone can say Buffy the Vampire Slayer is derivative of anything. Nor is Angel or Firefly. They have influences from other genre's like horror and cowboy westerns, but they are definitely unique. And as much as I like Battlestar Gallactica, I would really like something completely unique from Whedon. I wonder if a letter writing campaign would work??

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fiction and Religion

Religion is something that is so integral to a society, that most fantasy author's find themselves confronted with the topic at some point in their story. Some authors I find deal with it on a superficial level- it's there, but not significant. And others really take the time to make it convincing and use it to move the plot forward. It's the authors who really use the idea of faith that interest me. It's not that I am particularly religious, I'm not, but I love to read stories that include religion as a subtext to their story. I feel it gives it more depth and realism. One of my favorite series' that uses religion so well is The Book of Words trilogy by J. V. Jones.

 In fact, one of my favorite characters is Tavalisk, the Archbishop of Roan. What makes Tavalisk so great is that he is unrepentantly greedy. He's not a man of religion, but rather someone who has used the church to further his own ambitions. Maybe I'll go to Hell for enjoying the character so much. But we know from our own history than many church leaders often ignore the rules of the church for their own benefit. For example, Pope Alexander VI had eleven illegitimate children, even going so far as to throw an opulent wedding for one of his daughters at the Vatican Palace.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI

 Tavalisk, in my opinion, is like an open window into the mind of the morally corrupt. What makes the character even more entertaining is that he enjoys his debauchery and Jones seems to have fun with the character. Jones, like most authors, creates her own church and religion. Some authors really go into detail, outlining a whole pantheon of Gods. David Eddings uses the idea of multiple Gods quite a bit in his novels. His God's often take a direct hand in the affairs of man, kind of like the Greek myths many of us are familiar with. Lynn Flewelling is another favorite author of mine. She also has a religion that is her own construct in her Nightrunner and Tamir trilogies. Flewelling tends to let the Gods be an abstract part of the story and instead uses religion as the goad it so often is in war. A central point in her story is a prophesy made by an oracle who speaks for a particular God. For the true believers, it's gospel, for non-believers it is fodder for conflict. The story isn't one of religion though; it's more about man's response to it.

 Sara Douglass uses religion much more literally in her Crucible series. I have to admit I haven't finished the series though. I found her main character Thomas Neville to be completely insufferable. The story is set in 1377 and Thomas is a Dominican Friar. The character is written as sort of an early Born Again Christian. Once he's discovered God, he's so convinced of his moral superiority that he cannot help but sermonize at every opportunity. I'm sure Douglass intended the character to be as insufferable as I found him to be so that there could be an opportunity to show the character's growth. But it's hard to read a book when you can't identify with the main character. Douglass does make an interesting choice though. She uses the established Roman Catholic church as her foundation. She does employ fantasy elements by bringing demons and angels into the story as actual characters. These are the kind of plot elements I like and enjoy when authors use them. But I do tend to prefer a more subtle approach to building a character. Usually I like Douglass, but I found Thomas to be a heavy handed personality.


Anne Bishop is an author who really turns religion on its head. In her Black Jewels trilogy, she uses Satan as an actual character in the story, and not an evil one at that. In fact, her books are not particularly religious at all. Mostly she uses names that we are familiar with, such as Lucifer (changed to Luciver) and Hell as a framework for her story. Perhaps her intention is to simply get the reader to think about what the Hell mythos means. Maybe she is suggesting that our whole system of belief is based on real events that were later recast as larger and more meaningful than they really were. Personally, I think she was just inspired by the idea of Hell to create a very imaginative story. But then, I don't tend to be terribly superstitious.

 I don't look at Harry Potter as evil; as I mentioned in an earlier post some do. In fact I think trying to tie Harry Potter to religion is specious at best. Witchcraft and wizardry are not offered as a religion in the Harry Potter books. It is merely presented as an ability. I think most fantasy authors get that religion can be good and bad depending on how it's perceived by any individual. I like that it's a subject that is constantly explored in fiction (and non-fiction). I didn't even get into one the biggest and most controversial books dealing with religion in this post, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. But for now I am going to stick with fantasy novels. (Though many might feel Brown's book fits into this category)If there are any books that deal with religion in a way you like, please let me know. I'd like to read them.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Submissions Policy

Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews accepts almost anything fantasy/scifi related. If you'd like to have something considered for review, there are a few options. (All items sent to the blog owner will be posted on the "Items Received" page) The blog owner is Theresa Lucas (SQT) and I can be reached at sqt1969@gmail.com. I do mainly large press publications due to the sheer volume of books I receive and can no longer accept self published works. I also frequently review movies and television shows and accept review copies. I often do book giveaways on the blog as well. So if your book is not featured in a review, there is a good chance it will be offered in a giveaway-- though I cannot guarantee every item will be featured. Giveaways on the blog frequently feature current movie promotions as well. I currently do not own an eReader, so I cannot accept books via download. Shaun Duke is the go-to guy for small & large press reviews, though he also does not accept self published works. He maintains a blog at The World in the Satin Bag, as well as posting here as a frequent reviewer. If you're interested in asking Shaun for a review, he can be contacted at arconna@yahoo.com. You can also read his extended submission policy HERE Harry Markov is my international reviewer. He lives in Bulgaria and maintains a blog at Temple Library Reviews. If you have a U.K. submission, Harry is your guy. He can be reached at likenion@yahoo.com. Harry also does not accept self published works. You can read his extended review policy HERE. This blog does not receive compensation for reviews. Though we receive a lot of complimentary review copies, we do endeavor to evaluate each book/dvd as objectively as possible. Each review is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of all reviewers on the site.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Did I Mention that Battlestar Galactica Rocks?!

Something I have been looking forward to for months finally happened. Battlestar Gallactica finally started it's new season. Yes, I know I have no life. But this show is the BEST I tell you! The BEST! What I love about this show.... is that it moves forward. What I mean by that is that the writers don't just keep regurgitating the same story line over and over. I think so many shows get stale because there is this fear that moving the story along will also push it toward a type of completion. And in many minds that means the end of the show. But Battlestar Galactica is different. A lot has happened in just two seasons and it looks like a lot more is going to happen in the third. If you haven't watched the show, and I highly recommend you do, there's a pretty decent summary of what the show is about here. The first season follows the human survivors of the cylon attacks and their struggle to survive and evade the pursuing cylons at the same time. In addition to the basic story, which follows the original TV series, there is quite a bit of human drama and interplay between the human-like cylons and the human survivors. I mentioned in my previous post that we didn't know the identities of many of the cylons and as the first two seasons progressed we learned the identities of about 6 different models. There is still an unknown number of models left to be discovered later. What we learn about the cylons in the two first seasons is that they are obsessed with God, and feel they are His creations. Though it is unclear, since they can be continually resurrected, how they feel their souls are connected to God. We also find out the cylons are also determined to breed with the remaining human population. In the second season the cylons actually kidnap women and attempt to impregnate them to create half-cylon half-human babies, though they are unsuccessful in these attempts. Again, it's not entirely clear to what end. The cylon Sharon, also known as Boomer becomes pregnant by Karl Agathon, aka Helo, before he is aware she is a cylon. They later come to believe that the pregnancy was possible because they were in love. Sharon is allowed to carry the pregnancy to term, though the baby is taken away and she is told it died. There are so many complex story lines that it is impossible to repeat them all. I could tell you about Laura Roslin, the President of the colonies, played by Mary McDonnel and her battle with cancer. Or of Gaius Baltar, the Vice President, and his obsession with his cylon lover whom he believes to be dead. But it wouldn't even begin to get across the intensity of the show, which you'd need to watch to understand. The last season ended with the surviving humans being discovered by the cylons on a habitable planet the humans had colonized. The new season, which started tonight, shows us what has been happening in the four months since the cylons have taken over. It is what I imagine Nazi Germany must have been like for the Jewish who had to live under their rule. People are arrested in the middle of the night, kept in prolonged captivity and tortured. The cylons also attempt to create a human police force, but they are mostly viewed at traitors and become targets of insurgent attacks by rebelling humans, who also resort to suicide bombings. The show is dark, violent and uncompromising. I love that it explores the dark side of man's psyche and never takes the easy way out of a situation. I am continually impressed at the depths of the shows intelligence and it's one of the few shows on TV that makes me think beyond the credits. There is so much I'd like to add to this post, but there just isn't room. The political machinations that brought the survivors to the planet are so real that you can just see it happening. Characters that appear noble are anything but, and characters that look to have sold their souls are often the best allies the humans can have. Misunderstandings cost lives, and lives are willing sacrificed in the name of the greater good. I don't believe you have to be a fan of sci-fi to enjoy the show since the emotional elements are so good. But if you're like me, and you like sci-fi, then I don't have to tell you twice how good it is. You'll already know.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Banning Harry Potter............Again

Well, here we go again. Another mom has decided that Harry Potter should be banned from school calling it "evil" and saying it promotes witchcraft. *sigh* Witchcraft or fantasy? Education officer hears about Harry Potter As someone who has always loved fantasy it bugs me to no end that fundamentalist religion so often seeks to repress books like Harry Potter claiming that books like this promote violence. The woman who is bringing the suit to ban the books, Laura Mallory, tries to draw the conclusion that books like the Harry Potter series corrupt children and lead to things like school shootings. She also claims that these kinds of things wouldn't happen if children instead read the bible. Huh? Lets take a closer look at this shall we? Without even getting into the issue of all the violence throughout history in the name of religion, it's all to easy to dispute her arguments. First off, I have never heard of a school shooting where the attacker claimed Harry Potter was an influence. Not once. I've heard of school shooters who played violent video games, who had abusive upbringings and even those who came from severely strict households. I don't think it's possible to point the finger at one particular cause of violence in schools, but trying to blame Harry Potter is a stretch at best. The most popular argument for banning Harry Potter usually centers around witchcraft. Mallory says that Harry Potter is "evil" and that it attempts to indoctrinate children in the "evil" religion of Wicca. I actually have some personal experience here. I have a family member who considers herself a practicing Wiccan, and I guarantee that she'd be mightily offended at hearing Wicca called evil. It's easy for people like Mallory to claim something like Wicca is evil since they really don't know anything about it. From my limited understanding Wicca is more about the worship of nature than anything else. Trying to draw any Satanic connotations is misleading and harmful in my opinion. But mostly, I think the damage comes from trying to keep children from an enjoyable story. I love Harry Potter because it gets kids to read. You will never convince me that Harry Potter is anything but a positive influence on children. The stories do not teach children to commit evil acts. In fact the books have very positive messages about friendship and doing the right thing. I can only assume that Mallory hasn't read the books. She probably wouldn't because she'd be too offended by the theme of wizardry. I remember when I was younger and worked at a movie theatre, we were getting all kinds of protests against the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ" before it was released. The church goers were protesting a movie they had not seen, nor would ever likely view. How can you protest something when you don't really know what it's about? But we see this all the time. Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" was widely protested as anti-Semitic before it was released. I don't have a problem with people feeling that way about the movie, I'm simply suggesting that you view it first, then draw your conclusions. Also, the issue of censorship comes into play. I don't believe in censorship at all, after all, who gets to decide what's appropriate? I get that we have to keep certain materials away from our kids. I would never suggest porn or anything of that nature ever be accessible to kids. But shouldn't we base what's appropriate for our children on things such as profanity and violence, not some spurious and inaccurate connection to Satanism? And if we're to go a little further, if there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, does the church have any business getting involved in what books should be allowed in school? The creationism vs. evolution debate has been huge in the school system, with evolution generally being the winner. So why now is the religious right allowed to sometimes succeed in pulling these books from school shelves? I wish I had an answer, then maybe there would be a way to put an end to such nonsense. At the end of the day though, the only people who should be concerned about what kids read are the parents. It is the parent's job to monitor what music, TV and books the kids are exposed to. I really don't want someone like Mallory telling me what my kids should read. I do think I am capable of making these decisions myself, thank you very much.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

LOST in Primetime

It's baaaaaaaaack! Tonight, Lost returns for it's third season. I'm not as excited as I am about Battlestar Gallactica, but I like Lost and I'm interested to see if J.J Abrams can sneak in a good third season.... For those of you not familiar with J.J. Abrams, he's the guy who was behind the series Alias. He created, wrote, directed and produced it. I liked it at first, but it became very repetitious after the first season. It also didn't help that Jennifer Garner only has about 3 facial expressions. If you've read my previous posts you'll notice a theme regarding Garner. I don't dislike her, I'm sure she's very nice. I just don't think she's a very good actress. But that's a discussion for another blog. But after Alias, I was reluctant to watch another show created by Abrams. I didn't want to get sucked in only to be disappointed soon after. In fact, I didn't watch the premier when it first showed. But the reviews for Lost were very good, so in the end I relented and watched the show. If you haven't watched it, you may be wondering why I am featuring it on a sci-fi/fantasy fan blog. After all, it just appears to be a show about a bunch of people stranded on an island after their plane crashed, right? And basically, that's the surface story. But it only takes a show or two to realise that a lot more is going on than meets the eye. One thing Abrams does really well on this show is build up the background story on his characters. The whole first two seasons are shown quite a bit in flashbacks that reveal little bits and pieces of the characters stories, and how many of the passengers on the ill-fated flight had interconnecting lives that they may not even be aware of. As these flashbacks are shown interspersed with real time events, certain mystical happenings occur. Initially we see trees being felled by some strange creature, that we never actually see. Another passenger is attacked by a polar bear that has no business being on a tropical island. Other people have visions of dead relatives that lead them to other parts of the island where they learn more about their mysterious surroundings. We learn about the main characters, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Michael, Locke, Charlie and Claire; and last seasons new characters, Libby, Anna Lucia and Mr. Echo. I would say the focus is usually on Jack, Sawyer and Kate, the main love triangle the show, though many other characters are brought into play. It would be really hard to go into great detail about the characters without taking up too much space, and time. But Jack is essentially our flawed hero, while Kate is the woman with the secret past and Sawyer is the obvious bad guy. Of course nothing ends up being as clear cut as that, but that's half the fun. What puts Lost in the fantasy category the most though, is what we don't know about the show. There has been a lot of conjecture about what the show is really about; and many people think that the passengers on the flight didn't actually survive, but are in purgatory. I don't know if that's the story Abrams has in mind, but it's a really good guess in my opinion. One of the plot twists that Abrams throws in is a group of people on the island that become known as "The Others." They were already on the island when the plane crashed, they're aggressive, secretive and have a completely unknown agenda. When asked who they are, they usually reply "we're the good guys." So one has to wonder, are they angels come to test the people who were on the flight to see if they are worthy of heaven? Only Abrams knows for sure and he's not telling. He probably won't tell until it looks like the show is headed for cancellation. I just hope the show continues to be as good as it was for the first two seasons for awhile. Or maybe I don't. I wouldn't mind knowing what the real story is. http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost/show.html

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Big Week Ahead for Sci-fi Lovers

Is it wrong to be excited about a TV show? How about 2 TV shows? I hope not. Actually I am more excited about one show than the other, though both shows are good. In fact, both shows have managed to go 2 seasons without "jumping the shark," at least not yet....... In case you are actually wondering, I am talking about Lost and Battlestar Gallactica. I'll have to divide this into two posts; there's no way I can keep this short enough to talk about two shows. So I'll feature one show now, and another in a couple of days. I have to start with Battlestar Gallactica. I love love love this show. I was a fan when I was a kid. I remember sitting in front of the TV on Saturday mornings (how my mom allowed me to do this is still a mystery) and watching Buck Rodgers and Battlestar Gallactica back to back every week. Obviously my infatuation with sci-fi goes back to childhood. The funny thing is that I preferred Buck Rodgers back in the day, but when I watch them now, I think Battlestar was the more mature, interesting show. But then, with the remake being as good as it is, I am totally biased. I literally wanted to cry when last season ended. Previously, the seasons were kind of cut up and the show would only go off for about 3 month, and then come back with another short season. I kind of liked that. It was on the air while everything else was in reruns and I could get my sci-fi fix in the off season. For some reason, the show went to a more traditional schedule this last year and I had to wait about 6 months for the season to start again. Oh that was so hard. Fortunately, our friends at the Sci-fi channel have been playing "webisodes" and if you haven't seen them, I suggest you go there right now and watch them. http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/video/index.php?cat=webisodes&vid=30385 Right now folks! Right now! Ok, I get a little worked up. If you haven't watched the show, let me tell you a little bit about it. The original Battlestar Gallactica was about man made robots called "cylons" that eventually rebelled against their human creators and moved to destroy them. This is not an unusual story, one that often comes up whenever a sci-fi writer questions the idea of artificial intelligence and whether or not man-made creations can have a soul. The story continues when the Battlestar, Gallactica, is one of the few military vessels to escape the attack. They flee the cylons in the company of several civilian vessels in hope of finding refuge from the cylons, who continue to hunt them down in an attempt to annihilate the rest of the human population. The new Battlestar Gallactica is basically the same. The main differences have to do with technology and the kind of advances one would assume would happen over time. The biggest twist on the story is that the new cylons are not just the chrome plated robots we're used to seeing. Nope. The cylons have developed a cloning technology that allows some of them to assume a human appearance. There is no obvious way to tell the humanoid cylons apart from other humans. The first season begins with the audience only knowing what one or two cylons look like, and finding out who others are as time goes on. It's kind of creepy, but in a good way. What's even more interesting is that the memories of one humanoid cylon can be downloaded into another cloned body that's just waiting to be "resurrected" if a cylon is killed. Basically, the humanoid cylons can't be killed at all, since they can be continually reborn. The only true death a cylon is in danger of is if they are too far away from the new body, then the data is essentially out of range, kind of like when your cell phone is too far from a cell to get a connection. Last season also had an episode called "Scar" which was about one of the cylon ships that had an amazing intelligence and was the terror of the skies. It was then we learned that the ships, and most likely the scary chrome plated robots, also had memories that could be downloaded into a newer version once the old one is "killed." And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The show also has politics and sex and a black market and so much more! I know that some people didn't like some of the changes. I wasn't sure if I liked the fact that Starbuck, the character originally played by Dirk Benedict in the original, is now a woman, played by Katee Sackhoff. But I am so over that now. Sackhoff is really good. Starbuck has more attitude than the character ever had before. Boomer is also female, and if you don't like spoilers-stop reading now- but she's also a cylon! Talk about twists! And for you Xena fans, Lucy Lawless has also been brought on the show, as a cylon no less! It's awesome I tell you! If you don't believe me, watch some of the repeat episodes that are being played this week before the new season starts. I defy you not to get addicted to the show. I predict, if you watch one or two, you will be getting on netflix and ordering the whole first 2 seasons. If you don't then I don't know what's wrong with you. Ok, I'm a tad irrational. But shows this good don't come along often. And if the description of the show isn't enough to get you to watch. Then maybe knowing that Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnel are also starring in the show will get your attention. These are two actors with some pretty impressive credentials, and they deliver. Edward James Olmos plays Admiral William Adama, the character originally played by Lorne Green. And Mary McDonnel, best known as "Stands with a fist" from Dances With Wolves is the President of the colonies Laura Roslin. If you like sci-fi this show is a must see. It is definitely my favorite and I can't wait for the new season to start. And if my enthusiasm is annoying, I apologise. But I also warn you, there will be more posts like this to follow. I can't help myself.