Book Review of “Reviver”

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Promotional cover image of Seth Patrick’s 2013 novel “Reviver.” Note: Not the original cover or title.

I probably wouldn’t even have read Seth Patrick’s novel Reviver (2013), but I noticed on the back cover a small review by SF author Neal Asher. I’m familiar with Asher’s work and even share the Table of Contents with him in a recent SciFi anthology, so naturally I was intrigued.

A few weeks back, I was at the local branch of my little public library, and although I was already reading two books, found myself stuck there with my books and my beloved laptop still at home. So I started wandering the stacks. This library is small enough not to differentiate between general fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, so they are all intermixed. I was randomly strolling through, occasionally picking up and reading the summaries of various novels, when I happened upon “Reviver” and noticed Asher’s name on the back cover. I figured, what the heck.

This is Seth Patrick’s very first novel, and I can only imagine he went through quite a few iterations before he arrived at the final product I consumed. It was a terrific mix of horror, mystery, and a hint of speculative fiction. I know there are purists who detest that sort of thing, but I never was one for the extreme blood, guts, and gore of modern horror. Yes, there is graphic imagery in the novel, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and the psychological horror totally hooked me.

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Review of Joanna Maciejewska’s Short Story “Black Eyes, Luminous Monsters”

springSince I’ve received my copy of The Cloaked Press science fiction anthology Spring Into SciFi 2019, which features my short story “The Recall,” I started reading some of the other stories. The first one was “Black Eyes, Luminous Monsters” by Joanna Maciejewska.

Okay, I hated the title but loved the story. We are taken into a world at war, but it is between the human colonists on the planet and a strange and highly lethal alien biomass called “The Anomaly.” Trapped in a bunker, a medic named Kyara is tending to a wounded and likely dying soldier when the Anomaly attacks. The only way to escape is to retreat to the evac zone, but the biomass grabs Kyara and she knows she has only seconds to live.

The humans have a single defense, beings called Stabilizers or “Stabs” which have the ability to combat the Anomaly. The problem is that the Stabs are just as dangerous, and spending any time in the presence of one could also be deadly. During the fight between the Anomaly and the Stab, Kyara passes out, sure that she’s about to die.

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Film Review: Men in Black International (2019)

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Promotional Poster for the 2019 film “Men in Black International”

The other day, my wife suggested that “the guys” should go see a movie together, so a few hours ago, my two sons, my grandson, and I saw Men in Black International (2019). I’m a huge fan of the 1997 original starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, though I’ve shied away from the sequels. I probably wouldn’t have seen “International,” at least in the theater, but that was my grandson Landon’s choice, and it was nice for we “guys” to get together the day before Father’s Day.

In a word, the movie was “okay”. It was a decent way to kill a couple of hours (running time is 1 hour, 38 minutes, but there were a ton of trailers beforehand) but nothing spectacular. In fact, I had a tough time getting into the film in spite of action, shooting, explosions, and aliens.

This is a story that starts with a little girl named Molly (Fandeiya Flory) whose parents encounter an alien and are “neuralized” by two MIB agents when she’s about eight. Molly, whose memory remains intact, helps a cute little alien escape, which turns out to be important later in the story. She spends the next twenty years trying to find out about the mysterious agency the men came from so she can join.

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Review of Brian MacGowan’s Short Story “The Package”

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Scene from the 2014 military SciFi movie “Edge of Tomorrow” starring Tom Cruise

Once again, I decided to read and review a short story from the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology World War Four (2019). My story “Joey” is included in the anthology, and on this blog, I’ve previously reviewed three of the other short stories (for obvious reasons, I can’t review them on Amazon).

Today we visit “The Package” by Brian MacGowan. It’s a military SciFi thriller describing the conflict between the fictional Northern Free States (NFS) and the United Alliance (UA), sort of a civil war scenario as far as I can tell.

An elite team of commandos, led by Sgt. Rick Harrington invades a UA stronghold because they have intel stating that previously stolen UA encryption codes are hidden in the facility. The op is to get in, get the codes, and then evac.

The military action and heroism depicted is first-rate, but I may have missed something in the story line. The codes were initially taken by an NFS ambassador over a year ago as the story starts. Harrington’s Hellhounds quickly find two things. The first is that there’s no human resistance at all as they enter, and the second is one nearly impenetrable security door that doesn’t have any right to be there.

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Book Review: “Red Mars”

red mars

Cover image for Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel “Red Mars.”

When reading author Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1992 Nebula award-winning novel Red Mars, I made a decision I rarely consider. I stopped reading before I finished. Yes, it was that dull.

The book is actually the first in the Mars Trilogy describing the colonization, terraforming, and the final result of turning the fourth planet into an Earth-like environment over several centuries.

So what was so dull about the novel? I mean, the first part deals with passion, jealousy, and murder, so you’d think it would be exciting.

It has to be Robinson’s writing style. Even during “the action,” the presentation and characters were about as thrilling as watching grass grow (especially in early March in Idaho). The story is told through the points of view of several of the 100 initial colonists of the red planet, but their lives, even aboard a spacecraft and on the surface of Mars, is so ordinary. I didn’t particularly like or relate to any of them.

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Film Review: “Serenity” (2005)

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Poster for the 2005 film “Serenity”

I’d heard of the television show Firefly for some time, so when I got the chance to rent the entire series from my local public library a number of years ago, I jumped at the chance. Needless to say, it was magnificent, a sort of science fiction meets western theme, with sinister, bloated government conspiracy thrown in. Joss Whedon not only created a (rather short-lived) legend, but unwittingly presented the world with an anthem for the libertarian party (which is very much what Whedon isn’t).

Firefly, we hardly knew ye.

Yesterday, again at the public library, I happened to chance upon the “epilogue” of the too soon canceled classic, Serenity (2005), and no, not the 2019 film currently in theaters by the same name which I have no intention of seeing.

[Yes, I know this violates the credo of the pundits at the much vaunted File 770, at least as applied to award-winning science fiction writer Robert Silverberg, that you shouldn’t sample SF/F that’s older than ten years, but so be it.]

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Lepers: A Short Story Review

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Author Keyan Bowes – image found at bigpulp.com – No photo credit given

I became aware of author Keyan Bowes‘s short story Lepers when I received it as part of the latest newsletter from Mysterion Magazine.

Since I’m interested in having at least one of my short stories published by that periodical, I thought it might be a good idea to see what they think is acceptable fare.

Oh, Mysterion is:

…an ezine of Christian-themed speculative fiction edited and published by the husband and wife team of Donald S. Crankshaw and Kristin Janz. We seek quality speculative fiction with Christian characters, themes, or cosmology. Join us as we rediscover the mysteries of the faith!

Lepers is a little over a thousand words long, qualifying it for something just a tad longer than flash fiction. It chronicles the brief encounter between Vijay and his former friend Raj, who he was told had died while studying abroad, but in fact, has become something like a zombie.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi – A DVD Review

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Promotional poster for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I finally got around to seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi on DVD. I checked it out from my local public library because, if I ended up hating the film, I could say that I didn’t waste a penny on it, or give up my hard-earned bucks to Disney.

I have to admit that I didn’t have the best attitude as I slipped the disc into my PC’s DVD player, because J.J. Abrams went on record as saying anyone who didn’t like “Last Jedi” were threatened by women, as if there could be no other possible reason for not liking the film. Both director Rian Johnson and producer Kathleen Kennedy have gotten some heat as well, but in the latter’s case, it was mostly over the Han Solo movie, which I am surprised to find is still playing at some local theaters.

Since “Jedi” has been out for roughly seven months now, I’ll assume almost everybody (besides me) has seen it long ago and I’ll load my review with spoilers.

First off, the obviously stupid/disappointing stuff.

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The Pilot Episode of “Supergirl” : A Retro Review

supergirlNow that the television series Supergirl has moved to the CW from CBS, giving it a second chance at life and a second season, I thought I’d dust off my review of the series pilot, which I wrote last year for another blog.

I hadn’t originally intended on watching the pilot episode of Supergirl starring Melissa Benoist in the title role, but it was online, it was free, so I figured, what the heck. I didn’t expect to like it all that much, but I was curious how CBS was going to adapt decades of Superman and Supergirl canon. My reaction is mixed.

I’ve read a few of the other reviews of the pilot, both before and after I saw the episode, and they range from “good but not perfect” to “triumph for everyone wanting a strong female hero for a change”. You can see examples at Yahoo News, IGN, The Mary Sue, and The Los Angeles Times.

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Review of the Graphic Novel “V for Vendetta”

vI’m repurposing another review I posted sometime back on another blog.

When I wrote this review, I hadn’t yet seen the film V for Vendetta (2005) starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving but I just finished Alan Moore’s and David Lloyd’s graphic novel (originally a ten-issue comic book series) and thought, given the wide use of the Guy Fawkes mask by “hacktavist” group Anonymous and some protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement (which is worn in both the comic book and film versions of the story by the main character), that it was high time to look at the source material for these modern, real-life responses to what we think of as oppression in our world.

The original comic book series was developed and published in 1985 by writer Alan Moore, a self-proclaimed anarchist, and artist David Lloyd. Essentially it is one in a long series of dystopian dramas set in the near future (the late 1990s in the comic book series), this time in England. A nuclear war has destroyed much of the developed nations of the world but left England untouched, at least directly. In response to the war, a totalitarian government has come to power, styled after the Nazis, and has seized total control of the country. Much like Orwell’s 1984, omnipresent government surveillance observes the public, while a propaganda campaign continually feeds the citizens the usual “the government is on your side” messages, underscored by threats for thinking otherwise. Headed by “the Leader” who uses organizations called “Nose,” “Ear,” and “Mouth” as detection and communication conduits, and an information system called “Fate,” every aspect of an individual’s life is monitored and controlled.

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