Friday, July 31, 2009

Trailer - Dorian Gray

This movie looks interesting, like it might have a decent fantasy/thriller vibe. Anyone read the original Oscar Wilde story it was based on?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Review: Enchanters by David Bryan Russell

Environmentalist fiction has a way of creating two reactions in me: sudden interest and eye-rolling irritation. David Bryan Russell’s Enchanters manages to bring a little of both, leaving me with a few mixed opinions. Enchanters follows Glys Erlendson, a teenager vacationing with her family in Norway. She has a powerful connection to the environment, but only when she encounters something strange in the wilderness of Norway does she begin to understand why. Glys is no ordinary human being; she is one of the Enchanters, a magic people who live in a world parallel to our own. She has heard the Call and must make a decision: ignore it and face the consequences, or leave humanity forever and join the magic world of the Enchanters. And her decision will lead her on an adventure through a mystical world of light and darkness and mythical creatures made real. Russell has developed an interesting merger between environmental issues and “wardrobe world” fantasies (I’m coining the term to refer to secondary worlds that are accessed through our own, taking its name from C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia). I personally enjoy stories that try to connect the existence and power of magic in such secondary worlds to the conditions of our own world, because it establishes an exceptional limitation on magic. Further development of this world, however, would create a fuller experience within Russell's novel, but future projects may benefit from a more epic scope. One of the “rules” of Russell’s world is that Enchanters cannot kill, and using that as a hindrance to characters in an epic setting could create some interesting situations. Enchanters’ flaws are unfortunately related to its strengths. While the magic and the secondary world Russell has created are fascinating, the environmentalist message is a tad heavy handed. The characters of the secondary world have a particular distaste for humanity despite the fact that many of them were once human themselves. This wouldn’t be an issue if humanity as a whole were unconcerned with environmental issues, but humanity is and always has been a species of grey. Glys hardly offers any support for humanity, and instead accepts the negative viewpoint of her fellow Enchanters with little question--there are scant moments where she actually questions her Enchanter brethren. While I understand the position, I think someone who has only just recently become one of these magic-using environmentalist should have something to say for humanity’s finer points. Other issues stemmed from the format of the book, which reads somewhat like a collection of separate stories than a novel with a single plot. Perhaps that was the intention, though. I think the novel could have benefited from being about only one of the stories presented, because the relationships between the characters sometimes felt forced, rather than smooth and logical. Of course, Russell does a fine job of keeping the visuals of the world stimulating, which draws one away from some of the minor flaws inherent in the text. Overall, Enchanters is an interesting and easy read, with curious creatures and characters, and a unique take on the “wardrobe world” theme. Stylistically it is sound, and my eyes want to thank Freya Publishing for using a reasonably sized typeface. Those who enjoy environmental fiction will find Enchanters to be a refreshing change in scenery, despite its heavy approach to its environmental message. Those who don’t might enjoy the non-epic nature of this fantasy. A good way to look at it is to refer to Enchanters as a fun fantasy, something that contains within its pages the makings of a serious tale and the awe-inspiring visuals that have made fantasy a fascinating and escapist genre for so long. You can find out more about Enchanters at Freya Publishing’s website. Enchanters is also available on Amazon and Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon had a copy the last time I was there. Your local bookstore can likely get you a copy as well, so feel free to order them to get you a copy!

Diablo Cody is a fangirl...

Just watch how starstruck she gets over Stan Lee at Comic-Con. I'd probably do the same thing. [H/T Awards Daily]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: The House of the Stag by Kage Baker

Every once in a while you come across a book that raises the bar, that blows the competition out of the water. Some years back, that book was Harry Potter (or books, to be more accurate); now, Kage Baker’s The House of the Stag has done what few books can ever do. The House of the Stag is a modern fairytale that chronicles the struggle of a young man after his people, the Yendri, are invaded by a barbaric, horseback-riding people called the Riders. As his people are rounded up and killed or turned into slaves, a strange figure appears called the Star, who takes on the role of a prophet. But Gard refuses to accept the “sit and do nothing” stance of the Star and takes matters into his own hands. When his actions get him accused as a murderer by his own people, he finds himself exiled and flung out into the wider, more dangerous world beyond. There he discovers new cultures and customs, and important information about his past, all while vowing to gain the power and influence he needs to destroy the Riders once and for all and free his people forever. Baker’s novel is an astonishing fantasy tale, with rich detail, fantastic world building, enjoyable, complex characters, and a unique postmodern structure that is as readily aware of its fairytale roots as it is of its emotionally impacted literary attention to issues of (post)colonialism, slavery, and racism. That’s a mouthful, for sure, but The House of the Stag deserves such long-winded praise. This book influenced me so much that I actually used it for a second senior thesis during my final quarter at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I now regret having never read anything else by Ms. Baker, because her writing is impeccable, her characters are realistically flawed, and her world is stunning in its design. You can’t ask for much more in a stand alone fantasy novel. The most difficult thing about reviewing this book is trying to find the cons of Baker’s story. I loved the book from start to finish, which leaves me with only one complaint: the chapters are too long. A pointless complaint? Yes, but to say that any book is perfect is to tell a lie. The House of the Stag is not a perfect novel, but it is certainly close. The House of the Stag is the kind of novel for anyone who wants something more in their fantasy. This is not your typical tale of elves and magic, talking animals. It’s a modernized fairytale replete with the escapist power of epic fantasy. As such, lovers of virtually any kind of fantasy should enjoy The House of the Stag. Baker’s book is, in my opinion, a one of a kind fantasy treat. If you’d like to learn more about The House of the Stag, check out Tor’s website. More information about Kage Baker can be found on her website. The House of the Stag is also available on Amazon and just about anywhere with a hardback fantasy section. Find it, read it, love it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Giveaway! First 3 Books of Janny Wurts' "The Wars of Light and Shadow" Series!

Years ago I became acquainted with author Janny Wurts when I read the fantastic series she wrote with Raymond Feist (my favorite of the Riftwar Saga), so when Voyager Books contacted me and offered to let me giveaway a few of her books-- I jumped at the chance. And now, I have the first three books of "The Wars of Light and Shadow" series by Janny Wurts to giveaway to one lucky winner. The Curse of the Mistwraith The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith's stranglehold: Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light. Arithon and Lysaer soon find that they are inescapably bound to a series of events dictated by their own deepest convictions. Yet as the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven know well, there is more at stake than one battle with the Mistwraith: between them the half-brothers hold the balance of the world—its harmony and its future—in their hands. The Ships of Merior The half-brothers Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light, have defeated the Mistwraith and dispersed the fogs that smothered Athera's skies. But their victory comes at a high price: the Mistwraith has set them at odds under a powerful curse of vengeance. The two princes are locked in deadly enmity, with the fates of nations and the balance of the world's mystical powers entangled in their feud. Arithon, forced out of hiding, finds himself hounded by Lysaer and his mighty army. He must take to his natural element—the seas—in order to evade pursuit and steal the initiative. However, his efforts are impeded by outside magical factions, not to mention a drunken prophet sent to safeguard his life, but who seems determined to wreck his cause by misadventure. The Warhost of Vastmark Tricked once more by his wily half-brother, Lysaer, Lord of Light, arrives at the tiny harbor town of Merior to find that Arithon's ship yards have been abandoned and meticulously destroyed, and that the Master of Shadow has disappeared as if into thin air. Meanwhile Arithon and the Mad Prophet Dakar are traveling on foot through the treacherous Kelhorn Mountains towards the Vastmark clans, there to raise further support for his cause. But raising a warhost is a costly business. Is it mere coincidence that Princess Talith—Lysaer's beautiful, headstrong wife—is taken captive and held for a vast ransom by a master brigand? The forces of light and shadow circle and feint, drawing ever closer to a huge conflict. And in the background the Fellowship of Seven Sorcerers and the Koriani Enchantresses watch and plan, and wait. Sounds like some great summer reading doesn't it? If you'd like to get your hands on all THREE of these books, simply enter your information into the form provided on the page and I will pick a winner by Wednesday August 12th. Please include your address-- I promise I will delete all entries after the contest has ended and will not use your personal information for any purpose other than making sure the prizes get to the winner. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck! **Contest Closed**

Smallville Unveils New Superman Suit

According to SciFi Wire this will be Clark Kent's new Superman attire... Are they serious? This costume looks so uncool. I really hope they don't keep it purple.

"Blood Water" by Dean Vincent Carter

Posted by Harry Markov: daydream

Title: "Blood Water" Author: Dean Vincent Carter Pages: 256 Genre: Horror, YA Standalone/Series: Standalone Publisher: Random House What you should expect: “Blood Water” is labelled as teen horror and manages to stay true to its nature. As with all YA literature I have read recently I felt dissatisfaction with myself for not being able to connect with the novel, despite it being in one of my favorite genres. I do hold the view that this is an excellent title for those inexperienced with the genre as well as for the undeveloped minds of younger teens. Pros: What made my day about this novel were the gore and death count, which were served with an unapologetic generosity. I find this quite ballsy, since we are talking YA fiction, and in that train of thought kudos to the author for not holding back and inflicting the readers the dreaded PG-13 rating. Cons: While gore is great, I never felt like “Blood Water” tried figuring new uses to horror’s shack of tools and in that regard I am quite a picky reader. My introduction to horror came when I was still in preschool and after that I have only fuelled my phobia of poorly lit spaces, so this makes me quite prepared for almost everything. “Blood Water” remained simplistic in order to cater to its intended audience, which alas didn’t bring me the satisfaction I hoped I would receive in taking this novel. The Summary: Considering sparse length, 256 pages, and its fast-paced and straight-forward nature “Blood Water” doesn’t require a detailed summary on my behalf. Sophistication in terms of plot is not the novels prerogative, so I see the book blurb fit to give the novel’s idea in a nutshell. They're all dead now. I am the last one. Dr Morrow can't identify the 'thing' he found living in the lake but he knows it's dangerous ...then it goes missing ...Caught in the flood that is devastating the town, brothers Sean and James stumble across Morrow and the carnage left at his lab. The missing specimen is some kind of deadly parasite that moves from person to person, destroying its hosts in disgusting, gory ways. The death toll will rise along with the waters unless the brothers can track down the homicidal specimen and find a way to destroy it. The Characters: “Blood Water” is told in third person point of view and divides between Dr. Morrow, Sean and the parasitic snail. When I look at the characters I see an interesting progression in quality and dimensions from Dr. Morrow to Sean and then to the parasiste. Dr. Morrow for me embodies the dictionary description of unhealthy but good natured curiosity in the name of science. He carries the responsibility for giving the deadly parasite enough consciousness and self awareness to give undertakers a busy week, but only after he realizes his grave mistake does he try to undo the damage. Staying true to numerous scenarios in this vein he fails and this costs him his life. A bit more interesting is Sean in the regard that the author has chosen the character to be without a definite identity. Perhaps I may have read the novel wrong, but I didn't pick any cues about his exact age other that he attends school, his appearence or any special area of interest other than his participation in a marathon. This, in most cases, speaks of lacking characterization. However here I think this is done with a strategic purpose so that the reader can better identify himself with the protagonist and experience the thrill ride in this horror story. The lack of details about the character allow the reader to fill in the blank with their own personal traits far easier and thus appreciate the novel better. Perhaps the best innovation Carter does is including the thoughts of the parasite. Considering the fact that it is sentient, possesses bodies and copies its hosts’ behavior it’s logical to ask what it aims to achieve. I found much satisfaction, glimpsing that for the parasite its adamant he remembers his past. The possession business with deadly side effects is part of its nature, the same way the snake doesn't feel compassion for its prey, but then again in a sense it has a human mind frame to a point as it grasps concepts such as right, wrong and conquering the world. Story: There are certainly some strengths to this tale as it combines the inherent fear of humans towards insects and lower organisms like arachnids with the also so horrifying idea of becoming a nursery for their larvae, a concept turning The Thing and the Alien series into classics. Despite its inability to affect me enough as to scare me, I think “Dead Water” has found the balance between two types of horror. One, there is the horror founded in the unknown, since the protagonists had no initial idea, who happened to be the parasite’s host at any time. Then there is the horror of knowing the exact moment and the exact way your end will come and then watch it unfold helplessly The thing about this novel that saddens me is that if it was taken and developed as an adult book and was meatier at 370-400 pages all of these things would have worked better. In its current form perhaps it will serve well for its intended audience, but for me it lacked appeal and felt stripped. If I have received this book for my 13th birthday, then my opinion would have leaned more on gushing out praise. Verdict: Buy it for you children, not for yourselves. :)

"Where the Wild Things Are" Trailer and Featurette

I wasn't even aware that Maurice Sendak's classic book was being made into a movie, much less one directed by Spike Jonze. Not sure what to make of it yet. Here's a trailer from the movie and below that a featurette with Sendak and Jonze. Definitely worth checking out. Thanks to Ain't it Cool News for posting the featurette.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review: Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson

In Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock the 22nd Century looks quite different than our world of today, but not in the way you would imagine.

Having run out of oil a century earlier, the world has since gone through a series of catastrophic events, including plagues and infertility, that have dramatically turned back the clock on technological development. Wars have shifted the landscape of America which now encompasses Canada (known as Athabaska) and the country is still embroiled in an ongoing war against the Dutch.

 Julian Comstock, the nephew of the sitting president Deklan Comstock, lives in a kind of exile in Athabaska after the President conspires to murder his father. The Comstock line has become the hereditary line of leaders in America and Julian lives almost as royalty. He befriends a commoner by the name of Adam Hazzard, who is an outcast due to the fact that his father belongs to a sect that believes in a religion devoted to the use of snake handling. And it is the mannerly, gentle Adam who narrates Julian's rise to prominence and his fight against the Dominion Church.

 Despite the name of the book, "Julian Comstock" is really the story of Adam Hazzard. Julian's easy manner has allowed Adam the opportunity to become Julian's best friend despite their differences in station. Adam and Julian are swept up in the war in Labrador when Julian's uncle, showing increasing mental instability, decides to shove Julian to the war front in an effort to see him killed in battle. Instead, Julian distinguishes himself in battle, and soon rallying cries of "Julian Conquerer" follow in his wake thanks in part to a series of stories written by Adam that describe his heroism. Julian, for his part, wants nothing to do with war or leadership, and would rather study the "Secular Ancients" and discuss philosophy.

 "Julian Comstock" is an incredibly hard book to describe in a few short paragraphs because it is so complex. It isn't just a war story--far from it. At first I thought the book might go into a fairly preachy, political realm because allusions were made to the long-term effects of global warming and the evils (according to Julian) of religion, but the story was far deeper than that. Society has regressed to the mores of 19th Century America thanks to the loss of modern technology. The turbulence of the time known as the Efflorescence of Oil, which lead the the False Tribulation (what the people of the time thought was the apocalypse) led to rise of a heavy-handed church known as the Dominion as people sought religion as a refuge against plagues of disease and infertility. Society has also reverted to a rigid class structure in which bonded-landsmen are essentially slaves to the aristocratic class.

 All of these elements are woven into clever storytelling with Adam as the narrator. He follows Julian's exploits while he pursues his own career as a journalist and writes the story of both their lives. The narration is the humorous, genteel and sometimes naive view that Adam has of events as they unfold. He is an unwavering friend to Julian even when he honestly admits Julian's shortcomings. Robert Charles Wilson is an incredible writer who looks at the weakness of men without passing judgement. He never takes the easy way out by condemning war, society or religion, but rather looks at how man shapes and reacts to the world around him. "Julian Comstock" is a funny and philosophical book that never strays from its measured pace. An impressive bit of writing that will have me scanning the shelves of the local bookstore for anything else written by Robert Charles Wilson. Very highly recommended.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Can't Force Chemistry, But You Can Follow a Formula

I was watching "Warehouse 13" last night (still don't think it's going to last very long) and like I mentioned in my review of the show, the partnership of the two main characters seems contrived to do nothing more than generate sexual tension-- and it's not really working. Chemistry is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to casting a new show and a series can live or die on how well the actors interact with each other. In fact, I'd argue good, or lucky, casting can overcome a weak script much of the time. But I've noticed a trend among the shows I watch; male-female partnerships and the funny/crazy sidekick. A couple examples.... Chuck, a cute series about a computer geek who unwittingly comes into possession of a vital government secrets, finds himself being protected by an oh-so-hot CIA agent. Of course Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski)-- our hot secret agent-- and Chuck (Zachari Levi) have feelings for each other that must be denied due to the dangerous nature of their circumstances (or so Sarah often insists) and the show goes through the predictable cycle of the characters getting together and breaking up. The saving grace here is the addition of another CIA agent played by Adam Baldwin. The eye-rolling cynicism of his character keeps the show from getting too cute. Burn Notice, another spy action-comedy, follows Chuck's pattern in an almost textbook fashion. In this case the main character, Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) is a spy who was "burned," --essentially blacklisted. He's stuck in Miami trying to figure who burned him and get his life back. Helping him is a former girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar) who, of course, still has feelings for him. They get together, but Michael pushes her away so he can remain focused on what he's trying to do. Like "Chuck," there is another partner in the mix (played by the great Bruce Campbell) who acts as a comedic foil between the two lead characters. Fringe, probably my favorite of the newer shows, hasn't yet gone for the obvious sexual tension angle-- but it's always a possibility since it has the male/female leads. But it does follow "Chuck" and "Burn Notice" in that it has a main trio of characters. FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) stumbles across something known as "The Pattern" in the course of an investigation of mysterious events and seeks the help of scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) who worked in the area of "fringe" science. The only problem is that Walter has been institutionalized for 17 years and is more than a little crazy. Enter Walter's son Peter (Joshua Jackson) who is brought in by Olivia to work with, and control, Walter. No romance has developed yet, and I'm hoping they keep it at an "X-Files" type distance, but the possibility is there... Not every show I watch follows this trend to the detail, but you can see it's a pretty popular dynamic. Shows like Bones deviate a little from the pattern in that you have a whole cast of "quirky" characters, but they're definitely going for sexual tension on that show. Pushing Daisies (I could cry that this has been cancelled) was an extremely original show-- and yet it too followed the format. Castle almost follows the same arrangement with its two leads, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, but lacks a full-time sidekick to give it the full formula treatment-- but Castle's mom (Susan Sullivan) seems determined to fill that role. And you gotta hand it to Fillion, he does his charming best to make the chemistry seem genuine and darned if it doesn't work. I don't know if it's the fact that the formula is becoming obvious or if it's a lack of chemistry, but "Warehouse 13" seems to be trying awfully hard to following in the footsteps of these other shows and not quite finding its way. Maybe it's time to bring back the old school same-sex buddy system-- the current versions all seem to feature brothers ("Prison Break, "Numbers," "Supernatural"-- does Hollywood have any original ideas?) with the exception of "Psych". I miss the old Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid type partnerships. Who knows. Given the Hollywood love of recycling TV shows, maybe they'll remake CHiPs. I shouldn't say that out loud....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mini-Reviews

As I've mentioned before, I do reviews for the Sacramento Book Review. The reviews for that publication have to be 200 words or less so I haven't been posting them to this site because I always intend to go back and flesh out the reviews-- which I have been terrible about doing. So I'm going to post some of the reviews I have already done-- in their brief glory, so I can at least get something up in a half-way timely fashion. Undone by Rachel Caine Cassiel was a Djinn, one of the most powerful beings in the universe, until she was cast out by her master and forced to live as a human. She takes refuge with the Weather Wardens who supply her with the power she needs to stay alive. Cassiel earns her keep by working with Earth Warden Manny Rocha and soon finds herself under attack and caught in the middle of the ongoing battles and alliances between the Wardens and the Djinn. Cassiel soon learns that while human flesh is weak, human emotions and entanglements are not. "Undone" is the first book in a new series by Rachel Caine that continues the story of the Weather Wardens from a whole new perspective. Like most paranormal fiction "Undone" is fast paced yet still manages to finds layers to each character. Cassiel’s transformation from Djinn to human is convincing and Caine never resorts to heavy-handed sex or violence to keep the reader’s attention. Readers will get the most out of "Undone" if they are already acquainted with the Weather Warden series while existing fans ought to love this new addition. A Flash of Hex by Jess Battis Tess Corday is an Occult Special Investigator for CORE, an agency that investigates crimes of a paranormal nature. This time Tess and her partner Derrick are called in to examine a series of murders in which each of the victims have two things in common: an addiction to a vicious new drug called Hextacy and parents who are powerful mages. But it isn’t until Tess gets further into the case that she finds out that she has a personal connection the killer. Taking its cues from CSI "A Flash of Hex" is at its best when the characters are looking at the minutiae of a crime. Author Jess Battis has created a credible mix of science and magic and the book’s strength is it’s detail-oriented nature. The main weakness of the story is the main character. Tess is likable in a blunt way, but never seems like a heroine who is a credible step ahead of the villain. The secondary characters are likable, though maybe a bit too abundant. "A Flash of Hex" feels like a book that tries to take the genre seriously but falls into the trap of being slightly cliché. Some flaws, but entertaining overall. Ghost Ocean by S. M. Peters Following in the footsteps of her dead father, Te Evangeline is a paranormal investigator, though she isn’t sure she believes in the supernatural. But the city of St. Ives isn’t like anywhere else in the world; it’s a prison to creatures of the Old World and they are being set free, and Te can no longer pretend the boogeyman isn’t real. "Ghost Ocean" is the second book by author S.M. Peters and ambitiously tries to formulate a story that encompasses ancient myths from all over the world. Peter’s style is heavy on allusion and metaphor, which makes the plot frustrating to nail down. A lot of characters are introduced, from an albino woman with a thousand lives to an invisible man who may be trying to rule the world, but none are really fleshed out. Monsters appear, then disappear. Characters die, but don’t die. The story moves from obscure scenes to even more obscure action. There are some interesting ideas and terrifying creatures and sometimes the story gains enough traction that it seems like it could reach a satisfying conclusion. But ultimately it’s weighted down by too many ideas and not enough clarity. Myth-Chief by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye After retiring from M.Y.T.H Inc., Skeeve the magician, and problem-solver, decides to come out of retirement and set up his own business. Unfortunately for Skeeve, his former associates are not entirely happy with this development and he ends up making a wager with his old mentor Aahz over the next two customers that walk in the door: whomever makes the most money wins the contest and takes over leadership of M.Y.T.H. Inc. Recently deceased author Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures series lives on in the hands of Jody Lynn Nye. Still full of puns, imps, dragons and pervects (not to be mistaken with perverts), Skeeve and Aahz end up competing directly against each other as their clients fight for control of the throne of a small vacation dimension. The change in authorship will likely disappoint longstanding fans of the series as the character interactions, storylines and development are significantly different in "Myth-Chief" than in earlier books. However, newcomers can easily slip into the story and may enjoy the lighthearted silliness of the book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giveaway! "Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates" by Brian Lumley

I'm baaaack! And I bring gifts! Thanks to Tor Books I have a copy of Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates: and Other Tales From the Lost Years. Harry Keogh, the first Necroscope, is arguably Brian Lumley’s greatest creation. In the Necroscope series, readers saw Harry learn to use his powers to talk with the dead and travel instantaneously to any point in space and time. They saw him take arms against the evil, twisted, metamorphic alien vampires who sought to feed off humans and enslave mankind. They saw him suffer a great personal loss and then recover his family, and later his humanity, through a new love. And they saw Harry wage the grimmest battle of his life—against the vampire he himself was becoming! Even after Harry’s story was done, Brian Lumley continued to write books about Harry’s legacy—the other Necroscopes who inherited his weird talents. But Harry himself would not go quietly into that darkness that lies beyond an author’s imagination . . . and now Brian Lumley has written three new novellas about Harry and his supernatural adventures, which are published for the first time in the United States in Harry and the Pirates. Doesn't that sound great? To enter, just enter the field below and I will randomly pick a winner by Tuesday August 4th. Make sure you fill out all the fields or I cannot accept the entry. Please no multiple entries at the same address-- I will disqualify those entrants as well. Open everywhere. Good luck! **Contest Closed**

Winner! "Nebula Awards Showcase" and "Gamer Fantastic"

I have randomly picked a winner for my latest short story contest featuring the "Nebula Awards Showcase 2009" and "Gamer Fantastic" and the winner is-- Carrie Beduhn: Grand Rapids MI Congrats Carrie! As you can probably guess from this post, I'm back from vacation and ready to get back to blogging. Be on the lookout for some new giveaways to get the week started! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vacation!

Yaa! I get to go to the beach for a couple of days! It's my anniversary and my husband is taking me to my favorite place in the world. The beach! Have a good weekend everyone and I'll be back by Monday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TV Show Review: Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is the first new show of the inexplicably newly-christened SyFy Channel, and it took two episodes for me to come up with an opinion on the show. I'm not sure whether I like it or not. Okay. I didn't say it was a good opinion. What's holding me up on coming to firm conclusion on "Warehouse 13" is that I'm trying to sort out how derivative it is of other shows. The first episode introduces us to Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly), Secret Service agents that come to the attention of a mysterious woman, Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) who is in charge of Warehouse 13-- "a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota that houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. Government,"-- who pulls them off of their assignment to protect the president so they can hunt down various supernatural artifacts that need to be stored in the Warehouse that is the foundation for the show. The problems with the show pretty much start right there. The thing with "Warehouse 13" is that it's been done before and I would argue that it's been done better. Back in 2004 Noah Wyle starred in the first of The Librarian movies in which he hunts down supernatural artifacts and stores them in the Library. Helping Wyle in the "Librarian" movies is Jane Curtain at her grumpy best and the ever-stammering Bob Newhart. Having watched, and enjoyed "The Librarian" movies, it's impossible not to see how "Warehouse 13" takes the plot of "The Librarian" and tweaks it just enough to try to make it something else. Additionally, "Warehouse 13" chooses to go the route of pairing up two good looking agents of different sexes in the hope of generating some sexual tension. This is certainly nothing new-- ever since Scully and Mulder, every TV show featuring government agents has been looking for the same magic. Right now you can flip through everything from Fringe, and Chuck to Bones to see some variation on this theme. Maybe that's not a bad thing, but as someone who grew up on shows like Starsky and Hutch (the TV show-- not the heinous movie of the same name) and Cagney & Lacey I miss the normal camaraderie of the old police shows in which you have partners of the same gender who simply do their jobs and watch their friend's back. Right from the start "Warehouse 13" had seemed destined to rub me the wrong way. It immediately struck me as derivative of "The Librarian." I automatically started comparing the characters of one show to the other and finding "Warehouse 13" wanting-- how on earth can Saul Rubinek (Artie Nielson) hope to compare to Bob Newhart? The first episode even finds the team looking for an relic that could come right out of "The Librarian," in this case, a comb infused with the spirit of Lucrezia Borgia. I watched two episodes and I'm still somewhat undecided. The show is a copycat in my opinion. I still don't understand why it would be plausible to pull two initially-unwilling Secret Service agents off of their assignment to protect the President so they can hunt down mythical artifacts-- which is clearly just a convenient plot device-- and there's really no attempt to make it seem logical. The guest stars even seem as if they're slumming. The second episode features Tricia Helfer in what is becoming her standard cast-iron-b**ch role in which she spends most of her time talking through her teeth-- though she does lighten up before the episode ends. So, with all the things I've listed against the show, how can I remain undecided? Two words, Eddie McClintock. I like McClintock's portrayal of Pete Lattimer. He's the one thing that make me give the show a chance to grow on me. McClintock seems like he's having fun and it shows. The character is occasionally off-the-wall and brings much needed levity to a show that doesn't quite seem to know what it is yet. While Kelly strives to be the stereotypically tough, analytical Federal agent and Rubinek goes for the curmudgeon award, McClintock embraces the character and simply has a good time. It's infectious. At this point I can't give the show a hearty, or even a half-hearted recommendation but I will give it chance to find its way. Everything about the show is going to have to lose the clichéd feel to have any hope of finding an audience-- and I hope it does. I'd like to see McClintock hang around for awhile, though, if I'm being honest, the odds aren't too good...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Giveaway! "Wireless" by Charles Stross

Thanks to Ace Books I have a copy of Wireless by Charles Stross to offer for giveaway. Book Description Prolific novelist Stross pauses to collect short stories that have not (yet) been stitched up into his longer work. Stories that move the U.S.–U.S.S.R. conflict onto a massive disk in another galaxy (Locus Award–winner Missile Gap), offer a spam-filter solution to the Fermi paradox (MAXOS) and suggest clever bargains with the devil in a newly frozen Scotland (Snowball's Chance) demonstrate Stross's ability to crisscross genres, blending SF, fantasy, horror and espionage. He also pays homage to his literary forebears, combining Lovecraft and the Iran-Contra scandal (The Colder War) and bringing in Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould as characters. Though individual pieces are well-done and deservedly popular, the collection has an overall sense of early drafts and reworkings of other pieces, as with Trunk and Disorderly, a P.G. Wodehouse–on–Mars test run for 2008's Saturn's Children. To enter, just enter your information into the form below and it will be automatically sent to me. Fill out all the fields or I cannot accept the entry. If you make a mistake on the entry (wrong name, address etc,) just send me an email at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know and I'll make sure the entry is still good. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Contest ends Wednesday July 29th. **Contest Closed**

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Guest Review! A Drop of Red by Chris Marie Green

A BLOODY GOOD TIME...
Hollywood stuntwoman turned vampire hunter Dawn Madison is tired to the bone and beyond. With her comrades in arms, she managed to wipe out the Los Angeles vampire Underground. And in doing so, she uncovered not only her own dark family heritage but also a terrible truth about the man she loves. Now she's determined to find the next vampire lair, thinking it will help her to make sense out of what her life has become. Luckily, when it comes to the undead, there's always work to do. When a new Underground is found in England, Dawn and a crack vampire-hunting team are dispatched to carry the fight from the flash and dash of Los Angeles to the seemingly staid and stolid streets of London. Dawn knows by now how deceiving appearances can be--and she is about to find out that it's not only the beautiful people of Hollywood who are willing to bargain with evil...
drey's thoughts: A Drop of Red is my introduction to Chris Marie Green's Vampire Babylon series. The other books in the series are Night Rising, Midnight Reign, and Break of Dawn. Not having read the other books, I was hesitant to pick this one up. But, Theresa from Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' News & Reviews had sent this to me to review--and I somehow ended in a vampire mood--so I picked it up. The first thing I'll mention is that you don't really need to read the first 3 books prior to this. Sure, it would have been nice, but Chris Marie Green does a good job explaining some of the characters' history together (& by "some" I mean Dawn & Costin). She doesn't take up half the book doing it, either, so even if I'm not getting some of the cracks flying around, that's ok. On with the story! Apparently there are vamps in London. Who'd've thunk? And, not only are they in London, they've got a super-secret hidey-hole. From whence they lure unsuspecting dinner. And if you think that's all there is, you're wrong. Oh, so wrong. They're recruiting. From a posh girl's boarding school. Where all the rich-but-don't-have-time-for-you parents put their daughters to get an education while they're off doing whatever it is that makes them money (or spend it). And the vamps are wily, selectively choosing their crop from this plethora of rich, spoiled, girls. The current crop is five--Violet, Della, Blanche, Polly, and Noreen. They can mind-talk, and their appetites are only growing stronger. And like all teenage girls who roam together, these five girls think they rule the roost. Especiallythem. And so they push the boundaries, never thinking of the consequences. Until Blanche "goes home". And Della starts wondering. A Drop of Red is tightly-written, alternating between the girls and their mentor, and Dawn and her team. I can't pinpoint why, exactly, but I got more into the girls' story than Dawn's, for some reason. And this one doesn't wrap everything up nicely for you. Hopefully book #5 will reveal more about the London Underground... Title: A Drop of Red Author: Chris Marie Green ISBN-10: 0441016812 ISBN-13: 978-0441016815 Paperback: 324 pages Publisher: Ace, 2009

Guest Review! The Lost Fleet: Relentless by Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Relentless by Jack Campbell - guest review by Jim Haley When I reviewed the fourth book in this series, Valiant, I mentioned that this was not really a great place to start the series and that I’d recommend starting with the first book and going through them in order. And while I’d still recommend that for lots of reasons, Jack Campbell has made a lot of attempts to make Relentless (book 5 in this series) as easy to approach for newcomers as it is for veterans. He starts by giving a flashback at the very beginning of the book, showing the reader for the first time how John Geary (the hero of the story) went down with his original ship, and what it was like for him when he first woke up centuries later. This turns out to be a nightmare that John wakes up from, but it lets any reader get caught up on how Geary wound up in his present situation. Between that and some early conversations between John Geary and his command staff and crew, it’s all the reminder I needed to feel like I was back up to speed and ready to see what was next for this fleet of starships trying to fight their way home through enemy territory. Right away we’re told that the fleet is only a few jumps/star systems away from Alliance space (home). That sets a tone of immediacy that never lets up throughout the book. I was constantly wondering, will this be the book where they arrive home? But first John Geary has to deal with two major issues. The first is the conspirator within the fleet who has been acting against him since the very beginning of this series. When one of the co-conspirators leaves behind a message in the case of his untimely death, it leads Geary through a maze of intrigue leading to a Captain he hadn’t suspected. But ultimately, he has prepared the capture of the conspirator well, knowing how crafty the conspirator has been in the past in anticipating any contingencies. Even though I felt the reveal of the traitor wasn’t a big enough shock (basically it’s a character that has only been mentioned once before) I thought the plan that Geary put in place and then executed to catch them in the act was well done and kept me on the edge of my seat. But more so than even that, was the revelation that the Syndics (the human enemy they have been fighting this whole time) have a backup fleet – about the same size as Geary’s original fleet (before it was reduced to where it is now after all the fighting they’ve done against the Syndic primary fleet through books 1-4). This was an unexpected twist, and one I had no idea how Geary would be able to overcome these odds. And that’s where I’ll leave you hanging as well. Will John Geary sacrifice the rest of the fleet to ensure the safety of the Dauntless, the flagship and perhaps the key to winning the entire war (for it carries a Hypernet key which allows the Alliance access to the hypernet gates in Syndic territory – instant access to any Syndic planet for the rest of the Alliance fleet)? Or can he pull another trick out of his hat and beat the Syndic backup fleet? And what of the alien threat that the Syndic backup fleet was keeping at bay? And will Geary actually get any of his ships home? As I’ve said before, this is Space Opera (with a Military angle) at its best, and I highly recommend the series to anyone who enjoyed the recent Battlestar Galactica series or the Master & Commander movie.

Guest reviewer Jim Haley is a regular contributor to the Star Wars fan site www.njoe.com. His regular weekly column is featured each Friday, featuring news and reviews of non-Star Wars books by Star Wars authors, as well as other media tie-in fiction. His latest column, a review of The New Space Opera 2 can be found here. (hotlink: http://www.njoe.com/2009/07/03/a-galaxy-not-so-far-away-vol-12-the-new-space-opera-2/ )

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Artist Corner: Chris McGrath

Posted by Harry Markov

For this week’s Artist Corner I have someone real special, who has touched million of urban fantasy readers. I present to you Chris McGrath, the cover artist behind the instantly recognized Dresden Files covers as well as covers for authors like Vicki Pettersson and C.E. Murphy. With him I prod in a new direction aimed at the not-so-much-known niche of cover art and I hope you guys are satisfied with the end result.

Harry Markov: Hello and thank you for accepting my invitation. Having you here would be a major treat for my readers, since you provide UF readers with some of the best covers in the industry. So let’s start with the essentials. What was the first encounter with the visual arts to stir you in that particular direction? CM: Actually I had no intention of doing that sort of cover art. Not that I didn’t like it, it’s just that I didn’t know much about the genre and it was still just starting to take off at the time I came in. I was doing a sci fi series for Roc at the time and the art director thought the “noir” style that I had would work well for the Dresden Files “Dead Beat” cover. But I don’t think either one of us had a totally clear vision as to how it would look in the end. When I had finished the cover I felt that it had been a turning point for me as an illustrator and really finding myself as an artist. The next cover I did was Night Life by Rob Thurman. After that I was pretty locked down as an Urban Fantasy guy. HM: Another tradition with the “Artist Corner” is to share something a bit more personal, so that all nosy about the person behind the artist can be satisfied. Who is Chris McGrath in the daily routine? CM: Nothing special really. I work at home so I can control my schedule a bit. I live in Manhattan so that's always fun (and helps with UF covers). I usually go to bed around 3am, wake up at around 10 or 11am. Go out for a cup of coffee, then sit down to work. I usually take a break before dinner and play my guitar for a couple of hours, then around 7pm I work a little more. I can’t really complain I guess HM: Who are the artists and photographers that inspired and influenced you the most? CM: My painting teacher Steve Assael was a huge influence on me as well as Dorian Vallejo. But there is a huge list. I’m traditionally trained as a realist painter, so I like a lot of the 19th century painters. Odd Nerdrum is a modern favorite of mine. Sci Fi guys, I really like Enki Bilal, Frazatta, Dorian Vallejo and so on.. I do like photography but I can’t really pick any one in paticular. Maybe Bresson. HM: So the essence of your work involves a great mastery over Photoshop and other programs from that caliber. What I want also to know is, whether you shoot the picture material for the covers yourself as well? CM: Yes. I shoot everything. Even when I was oil painting I still shot all of my own reference. It’s the way I was trained. I’m not really that good with photoshop in the traditional sense. I learned it by myself by just trying to get it to work the way I would do my oil paintings. The process is the same and so are the rules. HM: Doing covers for fantasy books must mean that you are also a fan of the genre in some of its aspects the least. What attracts you to the out of the ordinary and fantasy? Different people find something entirely unique for themselves and I always like hearing a new answer on the subject. CM: I’m actually more of a science fiction fan. My three favorite books are Dune, Hyperion, and Veniss Underground. As far as Fantasy books, I do love the Elric series. I like this sort of stuff because visually it’s creative and in a lot of ways it’s more believable than regular action or supspense fiction. I can never buy into the mainstream action books because I live in this world and I know how things work and how rediculious those plots are. But when you move it all into a far fetched world, it becomes much more believable because it’s an unfamilar setting. HM: Do you have to read the manuscripts you receive to get an idea what the best possible cover might be, inclining that you have full creative freedom over the process or do you have to abide already set down standards and vision o the publishers? CM: it’s a mix. A lot of the times I just get an outline. Sometimes a manuscript. Some companies have more control over the cover than others. Every publisher seems to have their own rituals as to how they work and get things out, but there definitely are a lot of people involved quite a bit. HM: Another completely customary question would be about your work process. How much does it usually take to complete a piece from start to finish and what’s your way of doing things? CM: Finish time really varies on the project. Sci Fi stuff generally takes longer. The most difficult part is the sketch phase and planning. If I do that well, I have less trouble but quite often there is a bit of a struggle. Plus I’m really hard on myself and things always seem to be a disaster as I’m working on them. But Sketches can take a week sometimes. HM: In the same line of thought, provided you are the photographer as well, how does a typical photo shoot go for you? Bringing in humans as an aspect of your work certainly contributes its unexpected bumps and turns to the whole process. Does it take long to achieve the image you require or is it strictly individual? CM: It’s funny, everyone I know who does photoshoots and has been doing them for 10 years or more still has days where everything goes wrong. There is a lot to try and control and get right. And trying to get what you need from a model can be hard too. That's why you’ll see a lot of the same models on book covers in the stores. If you find one that is good and you know you’ll get what you want from them, they get used a lot. It’s tough getting a good model. HM: Since your job requirement and description basically demands achieving maximum realism for a very otherworldly concept, how do you manage to layer the magical elements into your compositions? Do you get to shoot against Hollywood’s beloved green screen? CM: A lot of stuff is made up or pieced together and repainted the way a lot of concept guys work. But it’s all painted in Photoshop. HM: Speaking of compositions, where do you get your inspiration from? What brings out new ideas for compositions and covers? CM: Sometimes the story dictates that sort of thing. When you begin to establish the main elements of the concept a rhythm begins to become apparent and sometimes you just follow through with that instinctively. Other times a movie or something like that will give me an idea. HM: Also to rewind a bit, how did you get involved in the cover art making business in the first place? Your profession is extremely interesting and a small niche, so there has to be an interesting story behind your involvement with it. CM: When I was around 12 years old I saw Frazetta’s work and that pretty much inspired me to go into doing book covers. It is a long story, but to sum it up: I finished college in 1995 and really didn’t have a portfolio finished. I was kind of into doing the fine art thing at the time and it distracted me a bit from the sci fi stuff. Plus there were a lot of other things going on in my life. Becoming an artist is not always a reality for family members to support. But I pushed on because I really couldn’t do anything else. While I worked on my portfolio I gave guitar lessons to make money. In 1999 the industry really seemed like it was headed for more digital stuff so a friend introduced me to photoshop. I didn’t want to get involved with it but soon I began to like it. In 2001 the art director at ACE books gave me my first job doing an oil painting of all things. I had showed her my digital portfolio and I had one traditional painting in the back,. I’m suspicious that my friend Dorian had called her and said to make sure that the job she gave me was done in oil not PS. At that time digital was still “evil” to painters. The cover is on my website still. Entitled “the King”. But that was my only traditional cover. The other weird thing about that cover is that I started it the morning of sept.11th. so it has a erie vibe to me. From there work was slow. I started at 3 covers my first year. 6 my second. Maybe 10 or 12 my third. And in 2004 after I did Dead Beat I did around 16 covers. It started looking good but It wasn’t really full time until late 2005. HM:As a final question, what are your future plans? Would you deviate from what you do right now and pursue different projects and if so, can you share? CM: that's a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately and I really don’t know yet. The publishing world is changing and it’s not getting any bigger. I would love to continue to do covers full time but I don’t really see that happening. Unless book sales pick up or it shifts into something else. I don’t really want to do full time concept work and I’m not sure if I want to do traditional fine art either. I honestly don’t know where things are headed but you never know. I would be happy just doing sci fi stuff.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Graphic Novel Review: Waltz With Bashir by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

Reading Waltz With Bashir has been an interesting experience. Initially I was under the impression that it was a graphic novel based on a live-action movie, but as I came to learn more of the graphic novel's history I realized that this is a direct film-to-book translation of an animated piece. Each panel is captured from the film and given English dialogue. Despite my general dislike for book adaptations of movies, Waltz With Bashir actually works, because as a graphic novel it is as visually stimulating as a film might be and had an immense impact on me as a reader. Waltz With Bashir follows a man named Folman, one of the authors, actually, who has begun having strange and terrible dreams related to his involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War. But he can't remember anything from the war beyond vague details and sets out to unravel the pieces to finally achieve some semblance of piece in his sleep. In doing so, however, he begins to discover things about himself and the war that he would much rather forget. Waltz With Bashir is clearly an emotional piece, and it successfully strikes home the feeling of regret and terror that comes with war, and especially with particularly bloody ones. While the story never fully completes itself--Folman never recalls his past in its entirety--Waltz With Bashir does give us a detailed glimpse into the world of a modern day soldier in the Middle East. Particularly touching, for me, were the last few pages of the book, which showed real pictures from the events described by Folman in his memories. These are, to say the least, disturbing precisely because they are real images, not doctored or staged photos--at least, I assume they're not staged. The vast majority of us in the U.S. and other Western countries have not experienced the darker aspects of war, and probably never will. Waltz With Bashir, however, is a graphic novel that wants us to see these things; it wants to pull us out of our comfort zones to relay reality. Already I am a fan of this piece. While the artwork has a tendency to be a tad simplistic, the merger of real backgrounds with drawn figures is a welcome change from the more typical styles of comic art. And while Waltz With Bashir may not be science fiction or fantasy, I think readers here will enjoy not only the movie, but this graphic novel, because it manages to do what few graphic novels have done successfully: tell a self-contained, deep, and detailed story that is aware of the psychological conditions of its characters. This one is definitely worth picking up!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Graphic Novel Review: Welcome to the Jungle (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher and Ardian Syaf

I'm familiar with Butcher's Dresden Files, but I've never read any of the books. Reading the graphic novel, thus, became my first Dresden experience, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. Welcome to the Jungle follows none other than the infamous Harry Dresden, sorcerer extraordinaire turned mystical detective, as he takes on yet another case: a brutal murder at the Chicago zoo with too many unanswered questions for the poor Chicago PD to handle; that's why they've called Dresden, because his specialty is with the supernatural. As Dresden investigates, he starts to learn that there's far more to this case than meets the eye, beyond the typical otherworldly things. The more he digs, the more he comes to realize that he's dealing with forces greater than his own, forces that could kill him if he's not too careful. Welcome to the Jungle is a fairly stand-alone tale. One doesn't need to have read any of the Dresden books to get a clear picture of who Harry Dresden is or what he does. This might mean that fans of the novels may find this graphic novel a tad redundant, but I understand the reason for trying to make this graphically visualized addition to a popular series separate from the books--it is touching on a new market, and leaving them high and dry would be comparable to career suicide. That said, there is much to be admired about Welcome to the Jungle. The artwork is fairly standard as far as American comics are concerned, with a glossy, bright coloration and American-style structuring of characters. I'm not a big fan of American-style comic art, but it seems to work particularly well for Dresden. He has that ruggedness that American comics tend to demonstrate both in character and build. My only criticism of the artwork, and with the characterization, is the stereotyping of women in this piece, something I would have thought had gone out of style years ago. The story is nothing to get excited about, but I suppose that Welcome to the Jungle is less about the complexity of plot and character development, and more about the injection of noir elements to produce a grungy, updated fantastic detective story. It seems to work, though a deeper plot could have helped pull things out from the "shock-and-awe" jumps that existed in the plot. My biggest issue with Welcome to the Jungle (which, by the way, is the name of a song by an rather popular 80s rock band) is the way the dialogue is structured. Much of the story is told through Dresden's internal thoughts, which might not be a problem except where his thoughts point out the glaringly obvious. In novel form, these sorts of thoughts would certainly work well to establish Dresden's voice, but here it is irritating. We can see most of the detail in the image; telling us about such things in Dresden's mind is redundant. Overall, I think current fans of the novels would enjoy Welcome to the Jungle. While it is far from perfect, it doesn't lack in interesting elements, and would have much to offer people who are already familiar with Butcher's fiction. New readers might not enjoy it nearly as much, but I suppose that depends on your tastes in graphic novels/comics. As it is, Welcome to the Jungle is an entertaining read.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Free Stuff!

~Quick list of giveaways for you all to check out~ My friend & contributing reviewer Jim Haley has a copy of The New Space Opera, including stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Sean Williams, up for giveaway. Lauren over at Shooting Stars Mag has an interview with author Alex Bell and a copy of Jasmyn up for grabs. Book Junkie has her Hot Summer Nights Part Two contest up. Lots of prizes being awarded here. SciFi Chick's contest featuring Tanya Huff's The Enchantment Emporium is almost up, so be sure to get your entries in quick. She also has 5 copies of Laura Resnick's The Purifying Fire for 5 lucky winners too. SciFi Guy also has 5 copies of The Purifying Fire, as well as 5 copies of Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey AND 3 set of Carey's Felix Castor series. He also has a copy of The Highwayman by Michelle Hauf for grabs. The Clarity of Night blog has a really cool short story contest going on. Write 250 words and win yourself a $50 gift card from Amazon. Debbie's World of Books has 5 copies of One Scream Away by Kate Brady for those of you who like some suspense.

Winners! "Conspirator" by C.J. Cherryh and "Warbreaker" by Brandon Sanderson

Sorry for the late announcements, but I have the winners of my overdue contests. The winner of "Conspirator" by C. J. Cherryh is Michelle G and the winner of my second copy of "Warbreaker" by Brandon Sanderson is Fokxxy Congrats to both of you! Thanks everyone for your patience while I try to get back on track.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Getting Back on Schedule...

Whew! Family can take it out of you can't they? I had my nephew staying with me for the last few days because he hasn't been getting along with his parents. He decided to go live with my brother in Missouri and that kind of set off a chain of events that ended up with him needing to stay at my house for a little bit. I thought I'd get back on track yesterday after I put him on a plane, but he missed his connecting flight in Minnesota (thanks to some unhelpful personnel who sent him to the wrong gate). So I was scrambling yesterday to calm down a panicked teenager and coordinate things so my brother could pick him up on the other end. My poor brother-- he had to drive 8 hours, unexpectedly, to pick up my nephew yesterday. I don't think they got home until 2:00 am. Anyway... Today has been catch-up day. Do the grocery shopping, go to the gym, etc. I still need to announce the winners to two overdue contests, so I will get those up soon-- and get them mailed off. And, of course, try to get back to normal blogging. Thanks for understanding.

Friday, July 03, 2009

We Interrupt This Program....

Got some minor family drama going on. Nothing major (no hospitals involved), but I need to take a few days off. Happy 4th everyone.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Short Story Giveaway! *Contest Closed*

It's that time again..Time to pass on some short stories. Thanks to Penguin Books I've got some short stories to pass on to a lucky winner. Nebula Awards Showcase 2009, Edited by Ellen Datlow Michael Chabon, Michael Moorcock, Karen Joy Fowler, and more: “The pulse of modern science fiction.”(New York Times Book Review) This annual tradition from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America collects the best of the year’s stories, as well as essays and commentary on the current state of the genre and predictions of future science fiction and fantasy films, art, and more. This year’s award-winning authors include Michael Chabon, Karen Joy Fowler, Ted Chiang, and Nancy Kress, plus 2008 Grand Master Michael Moorcock. and Gamer Fantastic, Edited by Martin H. Greenburg and Kerrie Hughes Let the games begin! These thirteen original stories by veterans of the fantasy realms take role-playing games and universes to a whole new level. From a teenager who finds a better future in virtual reality; to a private investigator hired to find a dying man’s grandson in the midst of a virtual reality theme park; from a person gifted with the power to pull things out of books into the real world; to a psychologist using fantasy role-playing to heal his patients; from a gaming convention where the real winners may not be who they seem to be; to a multi-layered role-playing game that leads participants from reality to reality and games within games—these imaginative and fascinating new tales will captivate both lovers of original fantasy and anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of role-playing games. I'm changing my entry format. Sadly, I have had too hard a time getting a hold of some winners lately and I'd like to avoid that in the future. Just enter your info in the form below and the entry will be sent to me automatically. I will randomly pick a winner by Thursday July 16th. Be sure to leave a valid address--if you win I will mail the books right off. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck! **Contest Closed**

Is There a Twelve Step Program For This?

It's official. I'm a computer junkie. My internet was down all day today. Something about a car.. and an accident.. I don't know the details. I called three times to see when the internet would be restored. To my credit, they said I was much nicer than most people who were calling. I literally don't know what to do with myself when I don't have computer access. At least I didn't drag my kids to Starbucks so I could log on. I would have done that tomorrow...