Category: Reviews

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TV Review: Orphan Black

A young woman stands on a subway platform. She turns to see another woman take off her shoes and coat, set down her bag, and turn around. The other woman… is her.

The other woman… steps off the subway platform into the path of an oncoming train.

That’s the first five minutes of Orphan Black, a new show on BBC America (and Space, in Canada). What follows is science fiction. Kind of.

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Book Review: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

The very first superhero fiction I ever saw was the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman show. The very first superhero fiction I ever read was a four-book series of Superman’s origins, written for kids*. I’ve been consuming superhero media for pretty much my entire life, and I’m always interested in how creators address the various superhero topics. I’ve even written a superhero novel of my own (it’s not published yet, but I’m working on that).

So, as a fan of superhero stuff, I’ve been aware of Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible for quite some time. I got an electronic copy of it about a year ago and really wanted to read it, but I’ve been busy. Lots of books to read.

Until now.

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Film Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

This review contains somewhat-moderate spoilers for Oz the Great and Powerful, though I’ll try to obfuscate them as best I can.

Like many people, my first exposure to The Wizard of Oz was the Judy Garland film. However, my second exposure was the original L. Frank Baum novel series — my local library had a bunch of them, and I read them all. Then of course there was Wicked and its sequels, and the vastly-underappreciated Return to Oz.

This year will see the release of two Oz films — Dorothy of Oz, an animated feature, and the one that came out last Friday, Oz the Great and Powerful, which I saw.

It was a film that was on a screen. That’s about how well I can explain it.

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Book Review: The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Alternate history, by its very nature, is one of the most easily-ploughable fields in genre fiction because literally all one must do is change a single historical event and then logically extrapolate the repercussions. Harry Turtledove has made a career out of doing this.

Sometimes, though, alternate history doesn’t require telling the reader what the crisis point was that got changed. Sometimes, the reader just needs to know things are different. And that’s where The Mirage by Matt Ruff begins.

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Book Review: This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong

Warning: this review contains spoilers for both the book and filmed versions of John Dies at the End. And, I mean, like in the first paragraph. So, be warned.

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While the character of John does indeed die in David Wong’s first book, John Dies at the End, when I got to the final page of the book I was rather surprised to learn that he survived the entire novel. Good thing, too, because without John, Dave and Amy and the rest of the town of Undisclosed certainly wouldn’t have survived the events of Wong’s second novel, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It.

No, really. That’s the title. And it’s an accurate one at that.

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Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an author who needs no introduction. From his graphic novel work with Sandman to his screenplays, from his amazing American Gods to his also-amazing but perhaps less-known-about (by American audiences) Neverwhere, Gaiman is known throughout the spec-fic world as a prolific author and a pretty nice guy to meet.

I was going to say something like “but not everyone knows Gaiman’s work as a children’s and young-adult author”, but that wouldn’t be accurate. So instead I’ll cut this intro short and just tell you I’m reviewing Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

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Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Every now and then, a book comes along with a great premise and solid execution that a lot of people like and recommend with great gusto. Ready Player One by Ernest Kline is such a book. And it is good — very good — except for the places where it can’t get out of its own way fast enough.

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Book Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

When I was a kid, I used to read Mad Magazine. My local grocery store carried it. I also noticed there was a competitor to Mad called Cracked, and I started buying that as well. The age of magazines eventually passed into relative obscurity, and the magazines themselves had to change or die. I don’t see much from Mad anymore, but Cracked seems to have survived the digital transition to become a website that lives in my RSS feeds and that makes me laugh every day.

So when Cracked.com senior editor David Wong released a novel called John Dies at the End, I knew it was fairly likely that I’d enjoy reading it. Thing is, I never got around to it, not until the filmed version was available on demand. I decided it would be best to read the book first.

And then I spent four days trying to figure out how to write the review.

(Warning: this review contains mature language.)

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Fan Film Review: Sonic

With the ever-decreasing cost of professional-grade digital recording, editing, and special effects equipment, filmmaking has truly come to the masses. One only need scour Vimeo or YouTube to find a great short film (and a lot of bad ones). But even three years ago, director Eddie Lebron made a hugely-popular (more than 430,000 views in 2010 alone) fan film of the video game Mega Man — and things back then cost more and were more difficult to produce.

Now, in 2013, Lebron is back with Sonic, a fan film that reimagines the colorful, cartoonish world of the iconic Sega video game.

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Film Review: TiMER

The very first film I put into my Netflix instant queue was TiMER. At the time it seemed like a cute little sci-fi film. It sat there, right at the top of my queue, for… geez, must be two years now… before I finally decided that it was time to watch it.

So I did. And now I am reviewing it for you.