January 30, 2015 · 4:33 pm
In anticipation of the upcoming Avengers sequel, I decided to delve a bit into the comic book history of Ultron and his battles with the Avengers.
So when I saw my local library had a collected edition called “The Age of Ultron” I figured it might be a good starting point to get ready for the upcoming film.
Four-hundred or so pages and more issues than I can count later, I can only hope that Joss Whedon isn’t using this as inspiration from the upcoming film.*
*Based on the trailers I don’t think this is an issue, but you never know.
Comprising a ten issue mini-series and various one-offs featuring various parties battling against an army of Ultrons, this convoluted story drops readers in once the destruction has happened and the Earth is in the hands of our robotic Ultron overlords. As a last ditch solution, the team sends Wolverine and Sue Storm back in time to take out Hank Pym and prevent him from invented Ultron in the first place. Continue reading →
January 29, 2015 · 2:39 pm
Cemetery Girl has been languishing on my to-be-read shelf since I picked it up at a bargain book sale a couple of years ago. I’d heard some buzz about the book and was excited to get my hands on a copy of the book since my local library didn’t have a copy at the time.
I’m guessing that initial enthusiasm wore off or else I got distracted by other books either that I purchased, received as ARCs or checked out from the local library. And so it was that I was getting ready for last weekend’s World Read-athon day that I stumbled across the book in my to-be-read pile and decided maybe it was time to move it up in the rotation.
Four years ago, Tom and Abby’s 12-year-old daughter Caitlin disappeared from their local park while walking their dog. In that time, Abby and Tom have grown apart as Tom continues to follow up any lead or shred of evidence that he thinks could bring Caitlin back and Abby turns to more spiritual means to find comfort and acceptance that their daughter has vanished and may not come back. Just as Abby is ready to close the door on Caitlin’s return and Tom chases down what he feels is the promising lead they’ve had in years, Caitlin is returned, dirty, bruised and refusing to discuss where she’s been the past four years.
Caitlin’s return isn’t necessarily the happy ending that Tom imagined it would be. Her return only fuels his anger and determination to find out what happened and who took her. And Caitlin refuses to give away any answers to her parents or to the authorities. Continue reading →
January 29, 2015 · 2:09 pm
Many of Richard Matheson’s short stories and novels take a supernatural premise and make it relatable through the use of the characters and their reactions to it.
This isn’t the case with Matheson’s What Dreams May Come. The novel is Matheson’s attempt to look at what happens to us after death and while it’s interesting, I never felt like it necessarily connected with me in the same way that other Matheson novels and short stories have.
Driving home, Chris Nielsen is killed in a car accident. After his spirit lingers in our world for a bit, Chris transcends to the next level of being. While he’s content there, he misses his wife Anne and longs for the day she’ll join him on the other side. But when Ann can’t take the pain of missing Chris, she commits suicide, condemning her to a purgatory of sorts from which her spirit can’t or won’t escape. Chris decides he needs to rescue Ann and undertakes a journey to the underworld to bring her back.
There are early passages in this novel that work very well, from Chris’ initial frustration about not being able to interact with his family and friends while “stuck” on this plane of existence. And while Matheson attempts to set up the romance and deep love that Chris and Ann share, it never quite becomes as transcendent as the novel requires. Chris’ grand gesture to potentially throw away his eternal existence to “save” Ann should feel more monumental than it does.
I found myself growing frustrated with the novel at points because, as I said before, Matheson has given us stories focusing on “love that transcends the bounds of time and space” before in Somewhere in Time. And yet as unbelievable as the premise is that a man could will himself back in time to be with the woman he loves, I found it far more easy to suspend my disbelief for that premise than I did for the premise here. Part of it is that I was a bit more invested in the characters in Somewhere in Time (aka Bid Time Return) than I was in What Dreams May Come.
But even “lesser” Matheson is still enjoyable Matheson. And while I didn’t love this novel as much as some of his other works, there are still some good nuggets buried in here.
January 27, 2015 · 3:08 pm
This week, Barry and I look back at twenty years of the fourth Star Trek series, Star Trek: Voyager.
We debate things like was Seven of Nine a good idea and discuss our memories of the crew’s journey home from the Delta Quadrent.
Based on our conversation, this probably won’t be the last time we discuss Voyager on the podcast. In fact, I’m doing a Voyager re-watch and I’ve come up with at least two or three more points I should have made during this episode!
So, surf on over and tune in for episode 27 of the All Good Things Podcast.
Or you can listen right here (the episode runs about an hour and twenty minutes)’
January 27, 2015 · 1:03 pm
Time again for the Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic is the top ten books you’d like to read with a book club. I’ve been a part of a couple of books clubs and so I’m going to recommend a few books I’ve read that generated some good discussion and then some books that I’d like to read as part of a book club.
Books I’ve Read that Generated Good Discussion:
1. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.
2. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
3. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
4. The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun by Issac Asimov
5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Books I’d Like to Read As Part of a Book Club.
6. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
7. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
10. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
And an honorary mention to the graphic novel Daytripper.
January 26, 2015 · 7:48 pm
After “The Man in the Yellow Suit,” my expectations meter for The Flash was extremely high. So much so that I fully expected whatever episode led things off after a six week hiatus to disappoint me simply because I’d had so long to look forward to it.
So, imagine my surprise when mid-way through “Revenge of the Rogues” I found myself feeling like the show hadn’t missed a beat. Yes, this isn’t the same type of level of mythology episode that we got with “Yellow Suit,” but it’s an episode that is just as important to the mythology of the series and the DC television universe. In order for The Flash to work, there are going to have to be some recurring bad guys and “Revenge of the Rogues” was a nice step in establishing two recurring villains for Barry and company to face off against as the show runs its course.
Now, I wasn’t a huge Prison Break fan (I think I stopped after season one) so seeing Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell sharing screen time again wasn’t as much a hook for me as it may have been for some. What was the hook was watching how these two played off each other, with Miller chewing every bit of scenery that he could at Captain Cold and Purcell’s work as Heat Wave. One of many great scenes was the torching of the priceless painting so that our two villains could go after the Flash and take him out once and for all. It’s at that point that these two went from thorns in the Flash’s side to out and out super villains (for lack of a better term). Continue reading →
January 26, 2015 · 1:13 pm
It’s the start of a new week and time for Musing Mondays, hosted by Should Be Reading.
For this week’s installment, I decided to look at the random question that asks the following:
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Give a list of 4 books you read last year that you’d recommend to others — and why.
1. The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters — I suppose it’s cheating since I’m recommending three books in one, but I liked all the trilogy so much that it’s hard to recommend one without recommending them all. With a meteor heading toward Earth and the prediction of the end of life as we know it, would solving a murder still be a priority or necessary? Detective Hank Palace thinks so and he continues to try and close cases, even as the world descends into chaos around him. A lot of what I like about this trilogy comes from Hank Palace and his struggle as the end of the world looms large. But there’s also a palatable sense of foreboding and futility that Winters puts into these novels. It’s a series of books that I’ve thought about a bit after reading them.
2. My Real Children by Jo Walton — Part character study, part alternate history, My Real Children is a compulsively readable novel that looks at what Patricia Cowan’s life could have been like based on a single decision. There are positives and negatives to each timeline and the choices that Patricia makes in each. There are also some fascinating glimpses of alternate history thrown in for good measure, all adding up to a reading experience that I enjoyed a great deal and hope that others will as well.
3. Lock In by John Scalzi — I’m a big Scalzi fan and have been since I read Old Man’s War. He won the Hugo a couple of years ago for Redshirts and while that was good, I think this one is better. In fact, I’d say it’s one of his best, doing what great science-fiction does by examining on and commenting on what makes us human and what that means. The book reminded a lot of Issac Asimov’s Bailey and Daneel novels and is at the top of my list for the Hugo Award this year.
4. Big Little Lies by Liam Moriarity — Sometimes you just want to recommend something that was a lot of fun to read. And that’s the case with Big Little Lies. Something tragic happened on trivia night at Piriwee Public. We get a glimpse of it early in the book and then spend the next 250 pages setting up how and why it happened and the implications of it. This is a book that kept me guessing as to what the final twist would be and was just a lot of fun to read and enjoy the ride.
January 25, 2015 · 12:50 pm
Yesterday was National Readathon Day.
And while I couldn’t devote the entire day to reading, I was able to set aside a couple of hours to relaxing and enjoying a couple of good books. Over the course of my personal read-a-thon, I streamed a couple of classical music playlists designed for readers from Amazon Prime and read the following:
Prince of Fools by by Mark Lawrence
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Farris
Started and Finished:
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Cemetery Girl by David J. Bell
The Pocket Wife by Susan J. Crawford
Did anyone else participate in the read-a-thon? If so, what did you read?
January 25, 2015 · 12:43 pm
Don Tillman has decided that it’s time to get married. There’s only one problem — he hasn’t found that special someone just yet. But Don won’t let a small item like that stand in his way and he begins the Wife Project, an elaborate questionnaire that will allow him to screen potential candidates based on their suitability.
What Don didn’t count on was his best friend sending Rosie his way. On the surface, Rosie doesn’t meet the criteria Don has set out for a potential date, much less a wife. But working together to track down Rosie’s biological father, something is stirring between Rosie and Don, even if they both won’t admit it or aren’t necessarily willing (at least at first) to embrace it.
Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project reads a bit like a “lost” episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon and Penny fell in love instead of Penny and Leonard. Told from the perspective of Don, we’re allowed inside the thoughts and feelings Don experiences and his slow change over the course of the novel. Like Sheldon, Don has rigid rules for his life that he follows and it’s a fascinating journey to see him want to change some of the structure of his life in order to include Rosie.
There’s also a subplot about Don’s best friend, a womanizer who borrows Don’s database of women and is seen taking them out on dates — even the ones Don felt weren’t suitable candidates for his project. Don’s friend keeps a map with pins in each country of a woman he’s seduced, despite being married. Readers may pick up on what’s going on with the best friend sooner than Don does, but that isn’t a bad thing. It’s just one more insight into Don’s character and world-view.
January 23, 2015 · 4:39 pm
The X-Files: Year Zero
Between Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files and news that Fox is getting ready to re-open The X-Files, my interest in one of my favorite shows has been renewed. I’ve read a couple of the season ten installments of this new comic series and felt they were hit or miss. So I approached this collection of the five-issue series focusing on the establishment of the famous X-Files with an open mind.
As Mulder and Scully look into a case in the current time-line, we’re given flashes back to the beginnings of the case and the two FBI agents assigned to investigate it. It’s a fairly entertaining, well told little story that checks a lot of boxes for continuity fan and is full of Easter eggs for long-time obsessive fans of the show. But if you’re not a huge fan or dropped out around the time Mulder left the show, you’ll still be able to jump into this one and enjoy what’s going on here (unlike some of the stories from year 10 that require you to be more than passingly familiar with the mythology from the later seasons of the show).
Of the recent X-Files comics, I have to admit this is my favorite of the bunch, simply because it’s a stand alone story. I’m not sure I’d necessarily pick up a whole series of stories set in the early days of the X-Files but I’d be interested enough to read one or two more stories featuring these new characters. Continue reading →