Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: "Night Film" by Marisha Pessl

If you're reading this site, I think you might understand the feeling I'm about to put in front of you. Imagine something you really enjoy, something that isn't perhaps your main area of interest or employment, but it's a pretty deep interest nonetheless. One day, you're doing what you do, and you trip up on something really bizarre and definitely related. It stops being an interest, it ceases its existence as a hobby, and becomes a little more all-consuming. It may only happen for a short time, but you probably know this encompassing feeling pretty well from time to time.

Night Film is that feeling.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Big Brother Power Rankings: Finale Recap

The finale of Big Brother was last night, and, given the final three, there weren't really any surprises.

Thursday Threesome: Marvel Now!

These days I will read comics from any source. From the blockbuster Marvel and DC books to alternative stuff from Vertigo and Image to self published stuff funded on Kickstarter. If it's good, I'll read it. Deep down though, I'm a lifelong Marvel guy. I cut my teeth on Spider-Man during the Clone Saga and haven't missed an issue since. I delved further into the universe on the back of Heroes Return picking up The Avengers, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Iron Man. I resisted X-Men for a very long time but finally succumbed during Schism. I now read almost the entire Marvel line.

This may be a big call, but I think this current crop of books launched during Marvel Now! is some of the highest quality I've read in 20 years of reading from the House of Ideas.

Marvel Now is, of course, in response to DC's New 52 relaunch. Same kind of idea, just a little less harsh. Instead of rebooting the whole universe from scratch Marvel kept their universe and history intact and simply launched a bunch of new series which made great jumping on points for new readers. While we still had an Iron Man, Thor, Hulk (etc) series they were fresh new takes on the characters with great new creative teams.

I've now set myself the difficult task of picking my favourite three ongoings of the line.

Who made the cut? Let's find out in this week's Thursday Threesome.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Transition By Iain Banks

In June this year the world lost author Iain Banks to cancer just before his final book hit the stands. I felt an overwhelming sadness as I read peoples’ thoughts and feelings on his passing. Iain wrote wonderful novels for the sci-fi/fantasy world, but also fiction novels exploring politics and culture. He went so far as to separate his pure sci-fi works from his more accessible novels by using the name Iain M Banks for his sci-fi books.

I read the final interview ever conducted with Iain and in it he said that his new book was about a man with cancer (he started writing before he knew he also had cancer and was dying) and that although he was very proud of this book he would have liked to go out with a sprawling sci-fi/fantasy epic like Transition.

I read Transition some years back after having a chat to a work colleague and discovering the book on my desk the next day with a blue post-it note on it saying "You have to read this!"

The book was fantastic in so many ways and not so great in others and in tribute to Iain, the day after his death I picked it up for a re-read. It’s been hard to find the right words but I’ve tried my best. Follow me below the cut for a review of Transition; Iain Banks' beautifully crafted final sci-fi/fantasy epic.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

DC Comics New 52 - Stryder's Weekly Top 5

Villain's Month continues in the DCU this week with another crop of comic books that have been "taken over" by the bad guys!  Which dastardly fiends made the best (worst?) impression on this mild-mannered comic fan?  I'm so glad you asked!

Every title this week was released on September 11, 2013...

Riddler #1 - "I do take pleasure in the small things."

The Riddler takes over Batman #23.2 to enact one of his mind-bending schemes!  The quizzical criminal leaves clues to confound even the Caped Crusader!  However, with Batman (and the rest of the heroes) "dead" who can possibly compete? 

This issue tells the tale of the Riddler breaking into his old office at Wayne Enterprises (he worked for Bruce's uncle Philip Kane back in the day as we recently learned in "Zero Year").  His plan begins, of course, with riddles!  Not satisfied with leaving just one clue, Riddler has FIVE confusing questions for us!  I managed to solve two of them pretty easily, but after that it got a little trickier...guess I'm no Batman!  Regardless, great issue and a really entertaining take on one of my favourite denizens of Arkham Asylum!  Nice!

Riddle me this, reader:  What other 4 Villain's Month titles did I choose this week?  The answer is just a JUMP away!

The Book Was Better Podcast Episode 60 : Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (with guest host Xavier Rubetzki Noonan!)

This week we face down the fearsome fingers of Freddy Krueger as we read the audaciously meta novelization Wes Craven’s New Nightmare!

 As Wes and the original cast return to make a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie they are haunted by Freddy as he seeps into the real world, and as author David Bergantino writes his movie adaptation HE TOO is haunted by Freddy who is seeping into the real world. And as Xavier from Something Something Joystick and I record this episode are we too plagued by inexplicable nightmares? This is one of the most unique novelizations we’ve ever read!

You can download it right now from the official site!

Or why not subscribe to us on iTunes, like our Facebook page, and join the discussion in our friendly Facebook group!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: Theatre of the Gods by Matt Suddain

As someone who enjoys big, bombastic science fiction space operas, I've been waiting for a long time for Matt Suddain's Theatre of the Gods, which I first heard of ages ago and was able to read an advance copy of recently even though I'm unaware of any United States release date for it. Theatre of the Gods is indeed ambitious and expansive, with a very unique narration and narrative structure, but ultimately falls underneath its own weight and becomes a little messy and haphazard.

The story, in three parts, involves an explorer on a ship with an incredibly differing group of people as a crew. There's a space Pope they're fighting. Some creature called "The Sweety." It's almost pointless to try and derive an overarching plot from this, because part of the ambitiousness of this book is the small mini-tangents that the book and the crew go off on before what ends up being a semi-epic confrontation right at the end.

The downside to the book is, unfortunately, the scope and ambitiousness. With so many moving parts and so much going on, it's very difficult to keep tied together from time to time, and the narration (which I could not stop hearing in the voice of Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale) is interesting enough to almost pull you out of the proceedings a bit. With such an epic scope, it ends up being a little frustrating for things to not go the way one might expect in terms of a more linear narrative. A lot about this book is just difficult, and not in a good way.

My issues with Theatre of the Gods is ultimately one of too much in one place. Suddain is clearly a very talented writer, and I will almost definitely try out another one of his books, but I wish I had proceeded with more caution on this one on a whole, as it ultimately left me cold and frustrated.

Kickstart the Week: Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters Anthology

Unless your name is Luke Milton, Pacific Rim was probably your thing. I laughed at the supermarket last week when I saw that there was an official movie novelization for the movie, but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't want to read about a lot of large monsters wreaking having and laying waste on society at large.

Enter Kaiju Rising. Ragnarok Publications is looking at trying to crowdfund an anthology of fiction based around the concept in Pacific Rim. This isn't some fly-by-night venture, either - they're looking to pay a professional rate to the writers, get some cool artwork, and do this thing right. I'm impressed with what they're trying to do anyway, and it turns out that they've already got some great writers signed on already, including James Lovegrove, Peter Clines, Larry Correia, and Jonathan Wood. Stretch goals include more art, more stories, more's pretty solid.

Most of the time, this feels more like a cash in, Asylum-style action. Considering the pedigree and resume of those involved with this piece, I think we have a winner here. Looking forward to hopefully getting this one funded.

SNAFU: A Realtime Cooperative Party Game with a Twist!

At Gen Con 2013 I had the chance to play SNAFU, Frank Alberts' fast-paced, 60-second, realtime card-trading party game with a twist… each player has a role card that prevents them from easily trading cards.

We had a lot of laughs during the game as we were trying to trade cards using our T-Rex arms, robot voices, and slow motion effects.

Since then two big things have happened.

FPcast! The Fruitless Pursuits Podcast for September 16th: Potterless!

This week Luke, Jacinta, and first-timer Suzanne, battle it out on such topics as the freshly announced Potterverse films, Avengers 2 story rumours, Jurassic Park 4, guerilla Disney film Escape from Tomorrow, Scarlett Johansson’s cinematic nude debut, Karl Urban’s buddy cop/robot show, and Saints Row IV! Plus ghosts, creepy marketing, Tom Hiddleston and MORE!

Download here! (Click to stream, right-click to download!)

And why not subscribe to us on iTunes or discuss the episode in our Facebook group!