Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fusion

I love it when genres collide. Well, I love it when different genres combine with fantasy or sci-fi. When I think of films that combine fantasy elements with more a more traditional film style I think of movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I grew up on Bruce Lee films (3 brothers...) so I tend to think of martial arts films as being about flying fists rather than flying seemingly weightless among the tree branches. Though from what I've read, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon does fit into a sub-genre of films called Wuxia, which often (though not always) incorporates fantasy elements. Whatever the description, I love the movie. There is a languid beauty to it and I like seeing Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat in a movie that seem tailor made for them. But my favorite scenes are the fights that have the characters flying through the trees and virtually walking on water. I wish I could do that. But it's not only movies that are using the audience's love of fantasy. I've mentioned many times the newest craze in publishing; the paranormal romance. But romance isn't the only genre to get a boost from the supernatural. I remember a series that came out years ago (the first one published in 1990) called The Vampire Files about a private investigator who is unwittingly turned into a vampire. There's no doubt in my mind this series' success has had a lot to do with the current craze of the paranormal genre, but it was unique at the time. The author, P.N. Elrod has gone to write several books about vampires and according to Wikipedia co-authored the vampire-themed TV show Forever Knight, though my favorite creation of hers will always be her vampire detective Jack Flemming. But I am a sucker (no pun intended) for a good detective story. And how could I write this post without mentioning one of my all time favorite TV shows, Firefly? The first thing I noticed about the show was it's apparent combination of TV western and sci-fi. I mean, what's not to love? Call it Cowboys in Space, I don't care as long as I get to watch it. Believe it or not, I haven't had anything to drink. Anyway, what other movies, TV shows etc. can you guys think of that combine sci-fi/fantasy with other genre's? Do you like this trend or do you wish for a return of more traditional sword and sorcery fantasy and straightforward sci-fi?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sunshine

Might be good. From the creators of 28 Days Later and The Beach (The book is good!) Check it out... Sunshine Crunch out

Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Review: Greywalker

Let me preface this review by saying I like light fiction. I like silly action movies and detective novels. I have a great life now, but like lots of people I had a childhood filled with too much drama so I tend to avoid it in my entertainment; though I will succumb to a good Scorsese film now and then. Greywalker by Kat Richardson definitely fits into the light fiction category. It's a book I picked up because I liked the idea behind it. Unfortunately, the best thing going for the book is its description. The book attempts to be a paranormal-detective novel, as opposed to the ever popular paranormal-romances. The basic story is about a private detective named Harper Blaine. The book actually opens quite well with a scene in which Harper is attacked and severely injured-- enough so that she is clinically dead for a couple of minutes and then revived. Once she begins to recover from her injuries Blaine begins to see strange things that she attributes to trauma and vertigo from the attack. She later finds out that her brief death has opened a doorway between worlds and that she is now something called a Greywalker; one who can see and interact with The Grey. One of the main problems I have with the book is that The Grey is never sufficiently defined. It is supposed to be another world that overlaps ours but I am never really clear on the concept. For example, Harper discovers that vampires exist, supposedly through her connection to The Grey. But vampires live in the corporeal world and their ties to The Grey are not really explained. It appears that some vampires can touch The Grey and manipulate it but I have no idea why or how. One thing I kept waiting for was for Harper to fully enter The Grey and explore it so that the reader might begin to understand what Richardson was aiming for, but it never happens. The other thing that bothered me about the book was that it was just too busy. My favorite detective novels are by John Sandford and I think he had kind of spoiled me for the genre. One thing Sandford gets that I think Richardson could learn from is keeping the story straightforward. This isn't to suggest that a book can't have a complex plot, but too many elements can make it confusing and unconvincing. And have you ever read a book where you feel like you don't really understand the explanations that are given? That's kind of how I felt here. There are personal attacks on the main character and break-in's to her home and office that are never explained. We are told that another character is responsible, but not why. It's kind of maddening. I just couldn't help but wanting to rewrite this book as I went along. The main idea has a lot of potential. I would have loved to see an author explore the religious and/or spiritual ramifications of another world overlapping our own. The existence of magic, vampires, witches and so on in the everyday world could be very interesting to explore, but it's only dealt with on a very superficial level. The character development is also uneven. Harper is usually likable, but not always. I actually like that in a protagonist, but in this case I have no idea why. There is really no background written into the book on her at all. Her vague love interest has more of a history. The book isn't horrible. There are moments-- glimpses of good ideas. Occasionally the dialogue is good, though at other times it is flat and unrealistic. I do believe this is Richardson's first book and I wonder if it was rushed to publication to try to capitalize on the paranormal craze. Well, I did buy it. I can't say I'd recommend it though I do hope that Richardson improves on the idea in the future. If subsequent books in the series do get good reviews I would be willing to read them; though I think I'll wait until my local library gets a copy rather than pay for it. And isn't it kind of comical that I am giving a book a fairly negative review after my earlier rant about Harriet Klausner? I swear, this is not deliberate. Really. Seriously, read the book and tell me if you disagree. I bet you won't. Okay, now I'm getting insecure..... ;)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES


Old school? OLD SCHOOL????? I'll show you old school, SQT.

Are you aware that there is an internet Star Trek television show available called: "Star Trek: The New Voyages?" Then get yourself over to this site and check it out.

Jim Kirk, Scotty, Bones, Mr. Spock are still on their five year mission and they are racking up new adventures. The creative force behind these episodes is James Cawley, who apparently had ties to the original series. Over the last several years Cawley quietly collected props, costumes, and set pieces from the original sets, as well as constructing some of his own, with the intention of eventually doing something around the old show. Fortunately, the ease of digital creation and the distribution wonder that is the internet, made his dream and the dream of all Trekkers possible : to bring back the original characters and to keep the magic of the show alive.

Now I know some of you will turn your noses up at anyone daring to independently put forward new adventures of Capt. Kirk. But come on people, can anyone do a lesser job than the Paramont produced "Generations"? I think this is worth your time, and I think this group is going to explode into public awareness.

If you want more information, and come on..why wouldn't you?...go to this FAQ and enjoy

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Star Trek Goes Old School

I had no idea anyone was even talking about making another Star Trek movie. Yep, it's being reported by the The Sci-fi Channel that J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Mission Impossible III) is going to write and direct Star Trek XI. Ending months of speculation, J.J. Abrams signed on to direct the next installment of the Star Trek feature-film franchise, sources told The Hollywood Reporter late on Feb. 23. Rumors had been circulating that Abrams, who is also co-writing and producing Star Trek XI, may have decided not to helm the film. But the trade paper confirmed that Abrams will helm Star Trek XI, which it added will revolve around a young James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, chronicling their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and their first space mission. Abrams and Paramount have declined to confirm that version of the supposed story. Abrams is the prolific co-creator/executive producer of ABC's Lost and directed Mission: Impossible III. He has been developing Star Trek XI through his Paramount-based Bad Robot production company. Abrams reportedly committed to directing the project only as of Friday evening, when the deal was finalized, sources told the trade paper. Hmmm, I'm not entirely sure what to think of this. I don't particularly want to watch some sort of weird combo of Star Trek and Alias, so hopefully Abrams will contain his tendency to make everything some sort of convoluted mystery. Well, we'll see. But I am kind of liking the idea the the story goes back to Kirk and Spock. Do you think they'll have Shatner and Nimoy in cameo roles? Anyway, there appears to be a little bit of excitement being stirred up the making of this film. Already a Memory Alpha page has popped up about the film and contains a fair amount of information. (speculation?) So do you think this will actually get made?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ethics and Reviews

I got into an interesting discussion with an editor at Juno Books. She is a sincerely nice lady who has been in the publishing industry for a long time and knows a heck of a lot more about the business than I do. We got into a discussion about Harriet Klausner. For those of you not familiar with Harriet, she's the #1 reviewer on Amazon. Not that she's the best reviewer, but she's the most prolific. She has something like 13,000+ reviews on the site, posting as many as 90+ a day. If you have ever read a review by Klausner, then you probably already suspect that she doesn't read most of the books she "reviews." Generally, the reviews only summarize the back cover and she loves everything she reads; giving everything 4 or 5 stars (usually 5). She has also been known to give inaccurate information on books or give away major plot details. To add insult to injury (IMO) the reviews are poorly written. For the most part I could get over this. But now Klausner has made something of a name for herself. She's gotten a write up in Time where she was referred to as an "extraordinary talent." (gag) And now her name can be seen on the cover of various books (mostly minor authors) with her recommendations for the book. Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong on some level? The Juno editor tells me that I am over reacting. And she's probably right. But I have seen books on the shelf with Klausner's recommendation on it and I refuse to buy them on principle. But then I was told that I shouldn't judge the book by Klausner's name on it because author not only has no control over what the cover looks like, but also over the names the publisher uses to recommend the book. And furthermore, many blurbs we see on the books are written by "house authors" who are under certain obligations to provide such recommendations and it isn't that unusual for them to give the book their approval without actually reading it. Really? How disappointing. I told this person over at Juno books that I thought this was like reviewing a movie after only seeing the trailers. But then, I got to thinking. How many times have you seen movie previews where they flash recommendations by people you've never heard of saying some ridiculous movie is "brilliant" or "extraordinary?" I see it all the time. If I remember correctly there was a bit of an uproar awhile back over people being paid to give recommendations for movies; though I don't know if that changed the way things are done. But jeeez, isn't this all a bit disheartening? I don't do that many book reviews on my site (though I would do more if I got more ARC's hint- hint-) but I do try to be honest about whether I like a book or not. There is this kind of uncomfortable territory when you are given a free book though. I know the publisher wants the publicity for the book and it's kind of awkward to thank them by trashing the book. I have probably been over kind in the past, though I do try to be honest about what I do and don't like about a book. I know that over time I would probably be less inclined to gush about everything and offer honest reviews about what I read. So it offends me that someone like Klausner can make a career out of being a fraud. The editor at Juno said she didn't see the harm in it and that it was good for the authors to have the positive reviews. But I guess I haven't quite reached the point where I am that jaded. I still think a reviewer should read the darn thing, and give an honest opinion.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Does America Have Any Taste?

Apparently not. Ghost Rider was the number one movie this last weekend. I suppose it could be argued that there just isn't anything at the theatre to watch, though I did look and Pan's Labyrinth is still playing. If I could drag my husband to go see it, I would certainly rather see Pan's Labyrinth than the poorly rated Ghost Rider. I have to add too that reviews of Ghost Rider were kind of hard to find since the movie was not previewed before critics before its release; never a good sign. I must admit though, as a comic book movie fan, Ghost Rider sounds kind of interesting. Comic Book Movies describes the story: In order to save his dying father, young stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze sells his soul to Mephistopheles and sadly parts from the pure-hearted Roxanne Simpson, the love of his life. Years later, Johnny's path crosses again with Roxanne, now a go getting reporter, and also with Mephistopheles, who offers to release Johnny's soul if Johnny becomes the fabled, fiery Ghost Rider, a supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. Mephistopheles charges Johnny with defeating the despicable Blackheart, Mephistopheles's nemesis and son, who plans to displace his father and create a new hell even more terrible than the old one. Well, maybe this comes across better in comic books. But audiences are eating this up. Opening weekend grossed something like $50 million+; not as much as Spiderman, but not bad. So are any of you actually tempted to go see this? I mean, we're the hardcore sci-fi/fantasy fans right? Does that mean we need to endure Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze? Maybe I'm being unfair. But hasn't Nicholas Cage become kind of a caricature of himself? I can't believe the casting that goes on in some of these comic book movies. Ben Affleck? Jessica Alba? (though some guys may forgive the casting as Susan Storm due to her generally accepted hotness) Halle Berry? and now Nicholas Cage? Is it just me or is rare to find good casting in comic book movies? Spiderman was cast well with Tobey McGuire and I liked Brandon Routh as Superman even if the movie was essentially a remake. Oh, and I loved Christian Bale in Batman Begins. But other than that I am at a loss. Why oh why can't movie makers take the genre more seriously? But then again, what do I know. Ghost Rider is number 1 at the box office. This week.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Does Fantasy Have Credibility?

Crunchy Carpets wrote a post a couple of days ago about author Guy Gavriel Kay and said he talked about the fact fantasy writers don't have as much credibility as writers of other genres. I wonder why? I love fantasy, I always have. I've been an avid fan since childhood and if I could be a successful writer of any genre I'd pick fantasy. But there is that little part of me that not only wants to be a successful writer, but a critically acclaimed one as well. Can this be done as a fantasy author? Harry Potter has been a commercial success if not a critical one. I can understand that. Crunchy mentioned in the past how many elements of the story seemed to be blatantly taken from other books. I've read critical reviews that dislike the use of clichés in the books and feel the story isn't original. I get all that. But there have been critically acclaimed fantasy authors. I rarely hear a negative word spoken about Neil Gaiman or China Mieville though they aren't always my taste. I think ultimately if a book is entertaining and well written that should in itself lend credibility to the author. But apparently there is a bit of literary snobbery out there. I wonder what genre is considered to have literary merit? I think I can say with some certainty that romances are not given much standing despite their popularity. And does success somehow mean that the literary elite will now look down upon a book as if somehow monetary achievement has tainted it? I certainly hope not, though I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case. And if so, as an aspiring writer there is something a little disheartening about that. I would like to think I could write something entertaining that could have both critical and commercial success; though if I had to choose between the two... Well, I do have bills to pay. But I have also heard that once an author is pigeonholed into a genre it's really tough to break out. Doesn't it figure? You do what you have to do to get published by writing something commercial and then the publisher won't let you broaden your horizon's? What's an aspiring author to do? I know I know.. write what you love; and that's what I plan on doing. But will I be viewed as something less if I write fantasy? I hope not.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Who's afraid of Diana Prince? 1967 Wonder Woman TV pilot

I saw this on YouTube listed as a 1967 pilot for Wonder Woman. Really? This is for real? What were they thinking?

Ysabel


Last night I had the honour of attending ‘An Evening with Guy Gavriel Kay’ as part of the Vancouver Writers Festival. This was a treat for me for two reasons – I needed to escape my mom duties and have a break, and Kay is one of my favorite authors. It was mostly part of his tour to promote his new novel Ysabel, but it was fascinating to hear a successful novelist talking about the craft of writing and the almost ‘stigma’ of being pegged a Fantasy Writer.

After being introduced by Hal Wake of the CBC and Artistic Director of the Writers Festival, John Burns of the Georgia Straight sat down with him to discuss the novel and the craft of writing. Being that this took place in a small lecture theatre at Simon Fraser University, it felt very intimate and comfortable. Both John and Guy tried very hard to not spoil the book for us folks who have not read it yet. I actually had just picked it up a week ago after my MOM told me about it. It was laying in my purse as the discussion went on.

Apart from thoroughly enjoying the reading from the book (I can’t WAIT to read it now), the discussion was a wonderful opportunity to hear a writer discuss his craft and his own personal experiences. He spoke about the struggle to be ‘respected’ when you write in the ‘Fantasy’ genre. How that label tends to push people away from even trying a book. How reviewers and newspapers shun the genre or change the label to ‘imaginary fiction’ if they are forced to discuss it. Big guns like Margaret Atwood must drive them crazy.

One of the things that stuck with me was his comments about how over the years the ‘compliment’ that he was good at writing full and well developed female characters, turned more and more into an insult to him and to pretty much any author. He said that if you can’t write something other than yourself, then we would all just right autobiographies. He said all it took was ‘imaginary empathy,’

Another thing he discussed was how the theme of the past ‘haunting’ the present was really a key theme that runs through all his work. It is the major theme in this new work. Ysabel was inspired by his time in Provence, France. How you can’t walk anywhere there, without tripping over history and how that history inspires and influences everything today. He said that he really felt the tension between the ages on his last visit there. France is going through big upheavals, politically and culturally, but as he pointed out, so it had done in the past, over and over again. History does tend to repeat itself.

He briefly also touched on magic and how he uses it in his novels. Magic in his books tends to be a reminder or warning about ages gone by. It tends to represent the ‘natural’ vs. ‘unnatural’ or ‘human built.’ You really see that in Sailing to Sarantium., where we read of an Empire that balances the present and future ambitions with the legends and myths and ways of the past. The protagonist comes face to face with the ‘ancient’ and this encounter humbles him and terrifies him. It also helps him see how flimsy mans grasp is on the world as is his art. The use of magic is used in this form in ‘Tigana’ too.

Ysabel gives us a new treat from Kay. Ysabel does not take place in a past…it takes place in the here and now. I can’t wait to sit down and read it. Kay seems to be a really nice guy who enjoys and appreciates his die-hard audience. He stuck around after to sign books and so I was very happy to get a brief chance to speak to him and have my copy signed and to note that he is a lefty like myself.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Top 12 Movies in History That Were Ahead of Their Time

I got home late tonight so I'm bit short on time to put up a new post. So like usual, I'll steal one. Here's a list of 12 films that First Showing says were ahead of their time. Tell me if you agree.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Alien Life

Alien life forms. It's something we've speculated about from War of the Worlds (the original) to E.T. We've seen everything from green women in the original Star Trek to life forms that are not remotely humanoid in Aliens. It's a favorite subject of sci-fi novels and anyone who has ever grokked Robert A. Heinlein has probably read more than a few books about extra-terrestrial life. This wouldn't be much of a sci-fi blog if we didn't delve into the subject of aliens every now and then. It's as much a part of the genre as magic is to fantasy. The whole point of seeking out new worlds with our scientific technology seems to be almost solely based on finding out if other beings exist in the universe. Not only does science fiction ponder the question, but authors like Erich Von Daniken have devoted whole careers to studying what they believe is evidence of alien life on earth; with varying results. And if that's not enough, our own government sponsors programs such as SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), famously promoted by Carl Sagan. Why are we so moved to seek out alien intelligence? There are so many possible answers to that question. Could it simply be the next logical step in scientific advancement? I could buy that if it were only the scientist that was interested in the subject. But based on how many sci-fi novels sell each year, and of course the claims of alien abductions we hear about, it doesn't seem to be a subject that is exclusively of scientific interest. It could simply be that we don't want to believe that we're alone in the great big cosmos. I could buy that. I could also believe that maybe we're seeking the answers to the larger questions. Maybe in finding extra-terrestrial life we'll find the answers to our own creation. Or maybe not. Maybe like Mulder in the X-Files, we just want to believe.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This One's For Stewart

Thanks Mike for the quiz. Which Super Villain are you? Was there any doubt? Your results:You are Mystique Sometimes motherly, sometimes a beautiful companion, but most of the time a deceiving vixen. Mystique ----------77% Venom -----------55% Catwoman ---------51% Juggernaut -------- 49% Dark Phoenix ------ 49% Apocalypse --------44% Poison Ivy --------- 40% Magneto ---------- 36% Dr. Doom --------- 35% Kingpin ----------- 35% The Joker --------- 30% Green Goblin ------ 29% Riddler ----------- 26% Two-Face ---------25% Lex Luthor -------- 24% Mr. Freeze --------22% Click here to take the Super Villain Personality Test

Emmm....BSG?

Speaking of parallel universes....we appear to have fallen into one where BSG is the 21st Century version of Star Trek:TNG.

While I am VERY happy to have an episode all about my second husband, 'The Woman, King' went beyond filler episode because we blew our wad already on cool effects, we had, for me anyway, stumbled into STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION territory.

You know what I am talking about. While I loved the show. TNG was never great at stringing multi episodic tales together. Each our was it's own little story and they ran fast and loose with continuity to make it suit the storyline.


We know we are being messed around with right away when they show "previous" happening that we actually have not seen. And while that can be fun, you also gotta wonder. I am still doubtful that the writers are as clever as we would like them to be. I feel the same way about the writers of Lost - they are making it up as they go.

So...Helo gets a crap assignment to look after the civilian refugees.

Now while I get that they have a lot less ships than when they started out and so there WOULD be a scramble to house these folks. I kept asking; 'where were they before Galactica?' And if there is no room for them anywhere, how come they keep having room for cool bars for the crew to hang at.

Civilian Doctor? Greatly admired by Tigh??? Boy, we never heard or saw this guy before. Did we ever get even a hint that there WERE other doctors assigned roles in the fleet???

Lots of eye opening news.

Sharon can't seem to understand why Helo is so upset? SHE can't understand? The dialogue between these two, in my opinion, was very uneven and didn't make too much sense to me.

Not to mention they all seemed to have adjusted a bit TOO much to being lied to about Hera about her death. I didn't picture happy families. I would have imagined more a couple paranoid about her continuing existence and not letting her out of their site. While Helo is a very idealistic fellow, he DID sabotage his own people's chance at wiping out the Cylons. Are we going to hear more discussion about the fear surrounding Hera's existence. Would the rest of the crew be THAT palsy with him? Sharon and him just felt too comfortable in their role as happy family. Would it even be safe to have him around civilians? Some people MUST know who he is and what he is married to. Would not he and Sharon wonder about his assignment as a wish for an 'incident' to happen to him by some angry victims?

Oh and help me here. My husband says that there was never mention that Tom Zarek was made Vice President. I disagree..I actually remember hearing this.....who is right?

And can we just answer once and for all why the Cylons want to find earth? I am just a bit confused about how it started as one group of cylons basically becoming rebels and and almost sympathizers to the humans into the whole wack of them ready to follow this religious idea. And why isn't anyone asking about going home now that they have apparently cleared out of the Colonies? It just seemed a huge shift in their whole reasoning.....I guess for me I need more dissent amongst them.

All in all for me it felt like a contrived hour that played fast and lose with the rapidly disintegrating continuity of the story.

My hopes are wavering on the continuing quality of the show. I hope they prove me wrong.

They did get their season four. So fingers crossed.



Monday, February 12, 2007

Parallel Universes

On my Twilight Zone post Crunchy Carpets mentioned that a company claims to have developed a quantum computer that can prove the existence of parallel universes. Can you imagine? I haven't been able to find a whole heck of a lot on the subject, so I can only guess that it's in the very early stages of development. But I am seriously wondering what this means. When I think of parallel universes I tend to think of books I've read that create whole new worlds that are in some way attached to ours; most books seem to rely on magic doorways. Take The Chronicles of Narnia for example. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe the Pevensie children discover Narnia through a doorway in an old wardrobe. The book was first published in 1950, so it may have been one of the first of its kind. But it is kind of classic in its literary formula. I've read tons of authors who have characters from our world step through a portal to another. Stephen R. Donaldson wrote a book about a woman who steps through a mirror in The Mirror of her Dreams. J.V. Jones has her heroine step into another world through the use of a magic talisman in The Barbed Coil. And it's not just books that like to use the subject of alternate universes. Star Trek had an episode about a mirror universe in "mirror, mirror in which Kirk finds himself in a parallel universe with a goateed Mr. Spock. In fact, most of the Star Trek television shows featured the idea of parallel universes, or multiverses at one time or another. I remember the wormhole being a favorite method to shuttle members of the crew through space, time and alternate universes. So I wonder what will happen if this quantum computer works. What kind of parallel universes are they talking about? Will it be anything like what we've come to expect through our favorite books and movies or something completely different? And what will the impact on our world be? I can't help but find this incredibly fascinating, and more than a little scary.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Most Intimidating Villains Ever

So we've discussed the lamest villains we can think of. Now how about looking at the one's that keep us up at night? I both love and hate the villains of my favorite movies. They scare me, but in a great no-real-danger sense; usually. Though I have been known to occasionally go to sleep with the light on. So here are the villains that are the most memorable to me-- in no particular order. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) I ate his liver with some fave beans and a nice Chianti...(add slurpy noise here)........ I honestly don't remember if that line was in the book Silence of the Lambs, but I sure couldn't forget the impact it had when I saw it on the screen. I think what made Lecter so menacing was the fact that he was psychotic, brilliant and civilized at the same time. Me? I wouldn't have a clue what wine should go with a human liver. I haven't seen the new movie Hannibal Rising and I don't really intend to. In my opinion Hannibal needs to be played by Anthony Hopkins in order to remain the charismatic sadist who causes me insomnia. The Alien (Alien) I can't think of a scarier creature in existence than the Alien from Ridley Scott's movie Alien. This movie is soooo good, but terrifying. I still can't watch the scene where Ridley comes face to face with the alien and its second mouth comes forward with all the sharp teeth and slime. ((shudder)) And do we even need to mention the much parodied scene in which an alien comes out of Kane's stomach. ((ewwww)) But my God, what a scary villain. I don't want to peek inside the brain that came up with this one. Darth Vader (Star Wars) This list could not exist without mentioning Darth Vader. Not the Hayden Christensen version, but the black suited, heavy breathing one. It's an absolute tribute to James Earl Jones and that magnificent voice of his that Vader is so intimidating without facial expressions. I don't remember that many scenes in which Vader displayed his prowess with the dark side of the force, but you believed in his power. Norman Bates (Psycho) Just the name gives me the willies. On the surface Norman Bates seemed harmless enough. He was this milquetoast of a man who nonetheless turned out to be horrifying. Essentially based on serial killer Ed Gein, Norman Bates showed us what happens when the "momma's boy" syndrome goes to the extreme. Alfred Hitchcock did a magnificent job of showing how a timid little man can nonetheless harbor a serious dark side. If you want a good old fashioned horror film, the original Psycho is a must see. The Shark (Jaws) Jaws was one of those movies that seriously affected my formative years. My parents had an unusual lack of good sense in taking me to see that movie when I was way too young. I guess that's what happens when you can't find babysitting. I literally took a flying leap onto my bed for years just on the off chance that a great white shark might be hiding under the bed. You can't be too careful about these things can you? But Jaws affected everyone didn't it? I don't know anyone that wasn't a little scared of going into the ocean after seeing that movie. And if you weren't scared, well, what the heck is wrong with you? This is a movie that grabs you from the very fist scene. You could feel the terror of the woman swimming in the ocean as the shark first grabs her and pulls her under. I'm still a little scared to swim in the ocean. Annie Wilkes (Misery) I'm your biggest fan...... Ever since Kathy Bates uttered those words in the movie adaptation of Stephen King's novel Misery authors everywhere have shuddered in fear. We've all heard of the obsessed fan. The stalker. But Annie Wilkes is even more intense than your average psycho. One the one hand, there is something pitiable about the character. This is a woman with no real life outside of the one she's created in her head. And boy is it a scary one. When she calls Paul Sheldon mister man as she tells him what she expects of him, we feel his alarm. This is not a woman in charge of her thoughts or feelings. And if you thought the hobbling scene in the movie was grotesque, you should read the book. So these are the one's that stick out in my mind. I've deliberately kept the list short because I hope the rest of you will add to the list and tell me what scares you at night when you're home......alone.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Have We Finally Entered the Twilight Zone?

Normally I don't do a lot of posts about current events since they're not usually sci-fi related. But you gotta admit this has been a mighty strange week in the news. First we had Lisa Nowak, who has to be a brilliant woman to have been an astronaut, completely go off the deep end. And now Anna Nicole Smith. Okay, her death wasn't a surprise at all. But I just turned on the news and this is getting even more surreal-- if that's even possible. You want to know what the latest "news" on this whole deal is? Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband is now claiming that he is the father of Anna Nicole's infant daughter. Say what? Prince Frederick von Anhalt, Gabor's husband, at 59 is quite a bit younger than Gabor who is 90. That's right, 90. But really, where the heck did this come from? He claims that he and Anna Nicole have had an off-and-on affair for years and that he may be the father of the baby. Good Lord. Do you think Anna Nicole was even aware of this? Okay, that might have been a cheap shot. But really, this is so bizarre. I keep expecting Rod Serling to enter the room and say....... For your consideration.... The story of a talentless woman who nonetheless became quite famous for her incoherent babbling. She inexplicably rose to fame and wealth through strange marriages and a reality show no one ever admitted to watching. Through a haze of drugs and big hair she conceived a child by a man she could not later identify. And now she is abruptly dead, though her legacy lives on in a child who may inherit vast wealth. And now, in the Twilight Zone, we watch as men we never knew existed step forward to lay claim to the dubious honor of having fathered a child with a woman who had the brain of an eggplant.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I Love These Things.... So Sue Me.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You? Which Sci-fi/Fantasy character are you? YODA A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light. Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere. Yoda is a is a character in the Star Wars universe. More Yoda information is available at the Star Wars Databank. I saw this survey over at Here, There and Everywhere.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Think This Qualifies as "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction."

Lee, one of my favorite bloggers over at My Letter of the Day, put up a post today about the completely psychotic actions of Astronaut Lisa Nowak. For those of you who haven't read the news today, Nowak drove 900 miles while wearing an adult diaper (so she wouldn't have to stop for potty breaks) in order to confront a woman who she felt was a rival for the affections of fellow Astronaut William Oefelein. Nowak tricked her nemesis into thinking she was stranded so she could spray the poor woman in the face with pepper spray. The other woman managed to drive away and call police who then found a wig, a BB gun, a steel mallet, twist ties, a knife and rubber tubing among Nowak's belongings. She'd like authorities to believe she just wanted to talk things over with her adversary. Yeah right. This got me to thinking though. What if this was a Stephen King novel? Imagine. You have a female Astronaut in the dark recesses of space prey to all kinds of alien contact. What if she went on a spacewalk and stepped in some alien goo? Do they decontaminate when they come back into the space station? Who's to say that all the Astronauts are not now infected, ticking time bombs waiting to blow? Really, it wasn't Nowak's fault. It's the alien who took over her body and is now in control of her brain. I mean, why else would a person drive 900 miles in a diaper? Only an alien would think this is normal. Well, Stephen King might also. But what if folks? What if? Seriously though, what a whack job.

The Doctor Is In


As a child he terrified me. A hulking shape. Unstoppable. The Frankenstein Monster. An abomination. A golem. The personification of the flaws of humanity. But in a time of cloning and mapping of the human genome, has science taken the horror from this great monster? And that question can be applied to not just the Frankenstein's monster but Dracula and others who haunted the black and white screen, crepping among gravestones, shadowy figures in the mist.


Look upon the faces of Frankenstein, the incarnations that have come to represent more than a character, but an archetype. Here, the classic Karloff. In his stead, the features reworked around the faces of Glen Strange and Bela Lugosi. There, Frankenstein reimagined by Hammer films first as Christopher Lee's twisted image, then again the almost bestial David Prowse interpretation. And of course, there's DeNiro, the mutilated, tortured visage of fury and vengeance.

Most recently, of course Dean Koontz has dragged the poor creature into the 21st century. In his new series, which I believe now spans two novels, biotech tycoon Victor Helios (actually Victor Frankenstein) wants to create a new race, raised in pods, programmed without the flaws of humanity. This new version, steps into the bright light of science, ripping the legend away from its dark roots.

Which returns us to the question...have we outgrown the monster. He is now a scientific oddity, a children's cereal, a cardboard cut out to use on halloween with no real effect, with no real meaning. If so, how sad. For me? I'm going to watch Karloff again and enjoy one of the greatest performances ever given.

Monday, February 05, 2007

11 Least Intimidating Movie Villians Ever

First, I must confess I stole this post. Due credit goes to Jim Faith over at The Phat Phree. But I'm going to reprint the list here since I thought it was kind of funny. COLUMNS 11 LEAST INTIMIDATING MOVIE VILLAINS by: JIM FATH In honor of the much hyped and not nearly as enjoyed Superbowl this weekend, this week's Ulitimate 11 is dedicated to the impotent Villians who have failed to instill any amount of fear in us. So here is your list. The Ultimate 11 Least Intimidating Movie Villains Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace Even if this guy didn't look like he should be posing in a thong on a Myrtle Beach post card from 1986, and even if he wasn't played by a guy named "Mark Pillow", he would still be one of the lamest bad guys of all time. He's just as strong as Superman. Shares the same genes. That's scary. Oh, but there's one catch: He's fucking solar powered! That's right. This guys unstoppable. Between 6:30am and 7pm. Unless you just pull the drapes. Then he's helpless. Garbage. Nothing as The Nothing in The Neverending Story Hey. You know what would have made a scarier villain in this movie than "The Nothing"?... "The Something". I understand that budgets can get a little tight, but making your primary antagonist a formless entity is just plain cheap by any standard. Atreyu's horse was so bored by the middle of this movie that he elected to sink into the Swamps of Sadness rather than see how it ended. I envied Artax. Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode II and III Nice job Lucas. Way to take the most fantastically imposing and dreaded figure of our collective youth and fill his iconic suit with a rat-tail-sporting, whiney bitch who looks like he should be in the band "O Town". How am I supposed to be scared re-watching the original trilogy knowing that it's that half-melted little boy-toy in there? James Earl Jones' voice fills that costume out better. Christ. David Bowie as The Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth Director: David, this just isn't working. I'm just not buying you as a terrifying, wicked villain right now. Do you have any ideas? Bowie: "Well, I guess we could put more glitter on me." Director: "Good. That could work." Bowie: "And I suppose I could playfully fondle a few more of these smallish crystal orbs while I sing a song that I wrote called 'Magic Dance'." Director: "Sounds great. I've already got goose bumps! Action!" The Daleks as a Slow Moving File Cabinet from "Dr. Who" One of the most popular villains to ever appear on the Dr. Who series, these lumbering vending machines are about as scary as an ATM. Ok... An ATM armed with what looks to be a plunger and a Hair dryer. EX-TER-MI-NATE!" "OH MY GOD! IT'S THE DALEK'S! Everybody walk away" a Tiny Doll as Chucky in Child's Play Oh No! Chucky's loose again! We're dead for sure this time! Unless we...get up on a chair. If you get murdered by a Cabbage Patch Kid, you deserve it. Martin Kove as John Kreese in Karate Kid I, II and III We'll look past the ass-whooping you took at the beginning of Karate Kid II from the four-foot-three, eighty-year-old man who used to run Al's Diner on Happy Days. Everyone has an off day. But the bottom line is, you can't have a perm and expect people to fear you. Mercy is for the weak, but hot rollers are for straight up pussies. Demi Moore as Madison Lee in Charlie's Angel's 2 Full Throttle I don't know what it was that didn't work for Demi in this role. It might have been that she never changed her facial expression throughout this movie. Every scene she looks like she's having a conversation about politics with Ashton. She must have been the only one on the set who read the script. Megatron as Megatron in Transformers: The Movie Not only did he transform into a gun, he transformed into a crappy, bitch-sized gun. A Walther P-38. If you're gonna be a gun how about at least being one from Post World War II? I suppose when your most loyal soldier is a fucking tape deck, this sort of shoddiness is to be expected. Samuel L. Jackson as "Mr. Glass" in Unbreakable The only thing more feeble than the plots to M. Night Shyamalan's movies is Samuel L. Jackson in this movie that pits an indestructible Bruce Willis against a comic book collector who's femurs break when the wind blows. The fact that M. Night used one of our favorite badasses in this frail role is bad enough, but giving him that haircut was Unforgivable. John Travolta as Any Bad Guy in Broken Arrow, Battlefield Earth, The Punisher, Swordfish, Face Off and Look Who's Talking Now. Stop it John Travolta. Just stop it. You're not a good villain. Look at these movies! What more proof do you need? We graciously allowed you to come back into our lives and the public eye when Tarantino decided to cast you because he has a soft spot for cheesy, 70's pop culture and Welcome Back Kotter, and this is how you repay us? For shame, John Travolta. Honorable Mention: Terence Stamp as General Zod in Superman 2 He didn't make the list because... well neither of us go a week without, at some point, telling girls to "Kneel Before Zod". But he is mentioned because he was roughly a foot an a half shorter than Ursa his first in command. Plus he looks like a Bee Gee. So there you have it folks. The Undebatable 11 Worst Villains in cinematic history. So here's where you go ahead and waste everyone's time by spouting off your unfounded and barely literate alternatives. Who wants to be the first to point out that we didn't mention Arnold Schwarzanagger in Batman and Robin? You're move. Remember, I didn't write this. SQT :)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Is the SuperBowl Over Yet???

Good. Now go read a book. A good book. Then wait, and go see the movie adaptation coming out in December...an adaptation that I have heard NOTHING about but it has Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliot AND Ian McShane...so I mean, HEY! I am talking about The Golden Compass, the first of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy. I have not read a lot of books for 'younger' readers since I WAS actually a younger reader. But having a friend who is a teacher AND an avid reader of sci fi and fantasy, means I get wind of books I would have not otherwise picked up. She went on and on about this series. And she was right to do so. I love books marketed for the pre teens and teens that does not assume they are stupid. Eragon is a good example of that attitude. Pullman expects a lot of his readers. Nothing is 'simplified' for age. I never once felt I was reading a book geared to the younger set like I did when I tried to read Harry Potter. It is only because we have a young heroine, do we get the correlation. This trilogy is a winding and dark and complicated tale of parallel worlds. Below is a bit of the synopsis from the Random House site: The Golden Compass forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set partly in the world we know. The third moves between many worlds. In The Golden Compass, readers meet for the first time 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Jordan College in Oxford, England. It quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own - nor is her world. In Lyra's world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar. This is a world in which science, theology and magic are closely intertwined. These ideas are of little concern to Lyra, who at the outset of the story, spends most of her time with her friend Roger, a kitchen boy. Together, they share a carefree existence scampering across the roofs of the college, racing through the streets of Oxford, or waging war with the other children in town. But that life changes forever when Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, prevent an assassination attempt on her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. The book pulls you in right away. Lyra is an engaging character and her Oxford is a tantalizing magical version of the one we know here, on this earth. Throughout the books, we travel all around the world and you can SEE the place he is talking about, especially if you have been there or know your geography, but it is always just that bit off, just not quite what we know here. There is another book about Lyra out too that I just noticed. I will have to go pick that up, or go see if my teacher friend has it already.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Beware of Stepford Wives

I can think of no creature that is more dangerous to the well being of humanity than the Stepford Wife. These insidious beings slip into our culture and our collective conscience when we're not looking; creating all kinds of unrealistic expectations between men and women and fomenting strife. I don't know how or why these fembots were created, but they need to be destroyed before they do more harm . How do you recognize a Stepford Wife you ask? Excellent question. In days past any women who emulated the string pearled perfection of June Cleaver would be immediately suspect. But times are not so clear anymore. I would suggest, however, that any woman resembling Roseanne Barr in looks or general attitude is definitely not a Stepford Wife. Today's Stepford Wife will undoubtedly start as the picture of the model wife, cheerfully cooking dinner and raising spotless children. Behind closed doors I fear this is not the truth. See, the Stepford Wife is no longer the man-pleasing creation we once thought. Oh no, they have developed beyond their previous technology and have motives all her own now. I believe it is their ultimate desire to emasculate the men they snare into their trap. They will lure men in with their youth and winsome beauty and once they have made their husbands believe all is well, they will turn into income sucking shrews like Victoria Beckham. Who then begin to lose their human-like appearance as they leech the soul out of their husbands for commercial gain. There are also future generations of Stepford Wives in training that men need to also be wary of. Fortunately, Paris Hilton's computer brain had a major malfunction before she became completely operative; though she has managed to confound some of the less intelligent men out there. Even without full functionability, these robots can still damage a weak man. But vigilance is needed if we are to prevent further creations like Katie Holmes who managed to turn an unwitting Tom Cruises brain to mush in record time. It can happen that fast. So I implore you men out there, be careful. If a clean looking Lindsay Lohan type asks you for a date, tread carefully my friends. If she cooks flawless meals and cleans house while wearing lingerie, be very very scared. This warning may save your life. As I am sure you already know, the White House is lost. So we must look to ourselves for protection. Be vigilant, by very vigilant.