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Goth Chick News: The King Kong vs Godzilla of Movie Remakes

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image006It’s probably time for me to cave and stop complaining about present day remakes of classic (or at least older) films.

Things have just gone far too far.

According to several movie sites, upwards of 50 (yes, five-zero) movies remakes / reboots have been green-lighted for production between 2013 and 2016. These movies make bank, and there’s no use trying to stop Hollywood by crying foul that they’re defacing original works of art by replacing effect makeup and animatronics with CGI.

Blasphemous as it may sound, CGI can indeed take films that were somewhat “conceptual” 30 years ago, and make them insanely realistic today. That’s not to say this is better, just different.

And success had landed all along the spectrum; with blockbusters like Star Trek at one end, whose reboot was admittedly cool and embraced by the fans, to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, whose high-tech remake was spectacularly rejected by fans (rightly so) and which slunk off into obscurity in favor of the low tech but brilliant original.

Sometime more just isn’t better.

Which brings us, in a rather convoluted way, to today’s topic.

During the Legendary Pictures panel at San Diego Comic-Con last Saturday, the production company announced plans to bring King Kong back to the multiplex in the form of a prequel.

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Taking Five Worlds Before Breakfast: The Pleasures of EVE Conquests

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Eve Conquests-smallI have a real weakness for board games, and especially large-scale space strategy games. It’s one thing to punch that Pop-O-Matic bubble and move your little green marker around a Trouble board; it’s something else entirely to stealthily assemble an unstoppable fleet and launch them en masse towards the unsuspecting alien armada in orbit around Sirius. Ah, I get a thrill just thinking about it.

Sometimes a great space game will sneak up on me. It’s not my fault – I can barely keep up with all the fantasy books that show up at Barnes & Noble every week. I’ve totally given up on keeping track of new sci-fi board games.

This one snuck up on me at the Games Plus Spring Auction back in March. I’m sitting there in the front row, minding my own business, when the auctioneer suddenly hefts this big heavy box unto his shoulder, says something like “EVE Conquests, a strategy game set in the world of EVE Online. Opening bid: one dollar,” and starts the bidding.

So I blink a couple of times, and think, what the heck is this thing? I thought EVE Online was an online game? Oooooo, it looks cool, whatever it is. And heavy. Like it’s packed with beautiful starship miniatures and mounted boards and strange artifacts of alien civilizations… I want it. I shall bid on it.

Well, not for long I won’t. Twenty seconds after the bidding started, it moved well out of my price range and remained there for some time. Screw this, I thought. I can find a cheaper copy online. Famous last words.

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A Look at the Latest Incarnation: Dungeons & Dragons 5.0

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 | Posted by Jon Sprunk

D&D Monster Manual Fifth Edition-smallWith Wizards of the Coast gearing up to release their latest incarnation of Dungeons and Dragons, it took me back to 1978, when I first encountered the game.

I was eight years old, browsing a hobby shop in Ohio with my family, when I saw this blue box with a picture of a dragon sitting on a pile of gold and jewels on the front cover. A warrior and a wizard were preparing to attack. What was this???

I took a better look and then promptly asked my father to buy it for me. His first reaction was a bit negative, telling my brother (who now wanted the game, too) and me that Dungeons and Dragons was for college students and we wouldn’t understand it. But the more he explained the concept, the more I wanted to play. Finally, he agreed, and we went home with it.

Shortly afterward, we ran our very first D&D session. My brother and I were the players, and Dad was our first dungeon master. I remember I played a fighter named Brandon the Bold, and my brother played a magic-user. (No fancy titles like Wizard or Mage for us!)

Together, we delved into the crumbling catacombs under a sorcerer’s tower, where we encountered goblins, animated skeletons, and a clan of pirates operating out of the ruins. Much evil was conquered and a bit of treasure won, and finally we emerged from the catacombs victorious.

We were hooked.

It wasn’t long before I had recruited my friends and was DMing games for them. Over the next few years, I created new worlds, original dungeons, and complete campaign storylines with which to entertain my victims…. er, players. And it’s continued for more than thirty years to today.

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Into the Tomb: The Adventures of Captain Marvel, Chapter Eleven: Valley of Death

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 | Posted by Thomas Parker

Captain Marvel Chapter Eleven - poster-smallAh, the excitement in the theater is palpable as we near the end of our journey and today’s eleventh chapter in The Adventures of Captain Marvel, “Valley of Death,” begins to flicker across the screen. Because the seats are largely filled with sweaty elementary school children, something else is palpable too — whew! Baths and showers are definitely called for when you get home, kids…

Today’s title cards summarizing Chapter Ten will, as always, enlighten the enlightenable and confuse the confusable. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.) “Malcolm — Is shipwrecked on a reef off the coast of Siam.” “Captain Marvel — Rescues Malcolm’s party and the crew from the S.S. Carfax.” “Betty — Is left aboard ship by the Scorpion.” Now it’s time for the word we’ve come to know so well, though I’m sure only a few of you remember exactly what the letters mean. Me? Of course I know… but, uh, we’ve no time to waste with trivia… Shazam!

A flashback to the previous cliffhanger puts us with Billy and the unconscious Betty on board the sinking Carfax (and if the title card says it’s the Carfax, that’s good enough for me). As the ship goes down and water pours into Betty’s cabin, Billy gets himself and Betty off the doomed vessel (a judicious cut ensures that we don’t quite see how) and manages to swim to shore with the buoyant secretary in tow. It’s a good thing he decided to skip band camp last summer and take those swimming lessons at the YMCA.

Once on dry ground, Betty relates how an unknown assailant struck her from behind. “Why would anyone want to kill you?” Billy asks. “He must have been after my section of the map; he took my handbag,” Betty replies. Everyone seems satisfied with this explanation. This is 1941 and it won’t do to entertain the idea that the Scorpion just wanted the purse. But what of the map? It wasn’t in the bag — “It’s in a waterproof envelope pinned inside my jacket.” At this news, Bentley looks like a kid who wanted the big new Hot Wheels set for Christmas and instead got one of those last-resort toys that isn’t even really a toy, like a grip-strengthener.

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Ancient Worlds: Argonauts vs The Giant Robot

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

talos3ng4If you saw the 1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts, you probably remember this scene. It’s classic Harryhausen: stop-animation work that was looks cartoonish now, but was state-of-the-art at the time.

Like some of the other episodes in this movie (Skeleton battle!) you may have thought that this was all Hollywood. But Talos, the gigantic bronze guardian of Crete, was described in the Argonautica as well. Apollonius tells his readers that Talos was the last of the race of Bronze (mythical predecessors of modern humans), and that Zeus had set him to guarding Crete as a favor to his lover Europa. Since he was made entirely of metal, he was completely invulnerable, except for one spot on his heel where a thin membrane of skin covered his vein.

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Future Treasures: Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Falling Sky Rajan Khanna-smallRajan Khanna has had a pretty impressive career as a short story writer, with appearances in anthologies like The Way of the Wizard and Dead Man’s Hand, and in magazines such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, GUD, and Shimmer. If his name is familiar, it could also be because he’s a blogger for Tor. com and has done podcasts for Podcastle, Lightspeed, and Pseudopod.

For his first novel, he spins a tale of a post-apocalyptic North America filled with zeppelins, a plague-ravaged populace, and an air city ruled by pirates. I don’t know about you, but he had me at “pirate air city.” I put my advance order in today.

Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he’s ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters — whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.

Falling Sky will be published by Pyr Books on October 7, 2014. It is 259 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Chris McGrath. Learn more at Rajan Khanna’s website here.

Gonji: Fortress of Lost Worlds by T. C. Rypel

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_2924853GW8NECCJBack in January, I reviewed the first three books of T. C. Rypel’s Gonji series. Though thirty-odd years old, the books are exemplars of what heroic fantasy should be: exciting, wildly inventive, well-written, and — above all — starring a heroic protagonist. Exiled half-caste samurai Gonji Sabatake, try as he might, is unable to avoid fighting evil or behaving courageously. This stuff is why I still read S&S.

While the first three books (actually, one big book chopped into three parts by the original publisher, Zebra) are a complete story, they are also the introduction to a much wider and wilder tale. Gonji’s adventures start anew in Fortress of Lost Worlds (1985), republished this past May by Wildside Press. The fifth book, A Hungering of Wolves, should be rereleased pretty soon by Wildside as well.

At the end of the previous book, Deathwind of Vedun, Gonji left his surviving companions in order to pursue the werewolf, Simon Sardonis. He had been told years before by a Shinto priest that his destiny lay with something or someone called the Deathwind, which he discovered to be Simon. But driven by his own fears and burdens, Simon wants little to do with the Easterner and cares even less for their supposed entwined fate, so he keeps moving to prevent Gonji from finding him.

Fortress of Lost Worlds’ main story picks up two years into Gonji’s trek to find Simon. He and his party of soldiers have been savaged and chased to the feet of the Pyrenees by an unknown band he calls the Dark Company. As his last companion is lost in the frigid night, the samurai makes his escape into caverns in the mountainside. While the caves possess magical properties that both warm the nearly frozen warrior and his horse and fill their bellies, they turn out also to have occupants: ogres.

That sets the stage for Gonji’s monster-filled journey from the mountains to the town of Barbaso. He’d been warned that evil was loose in the valley, but having decided to travel to Toledo to settle an old debt, the straightest route lay through the valley, and Barbaso.

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Why Must Han Solo Die?

Monday, July 28th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

han soloLast week, I made the prediction that Han Solo will die in the new Star Wars film. I have no evidence; it’s just a theory based on a confluence of random speculations and gut instinct. Here I’ll lay out, in no particular order, some of the thoughts that led me to posit this guess.

My premise begins with the knowledge that Han apparently plays a fairly major role in the plot, given that Harrison Ford’s recent injury shut down the entire production schedule for two weeks (an indication that his is much more than just a “cameo,” which easily could have been filmed around, with some scenes rescheduled for later in the shoot).

Observation #1

Some critics decried the rescue of Han from Jabba in the first act of Return of the Jedi as a cop-out, contending that his death would have provided a dramatic catalyst for the other characters. Of course, Lucas wasn’t going to go there (he’s George Lucas, not Joss Whedon); even Han’s blindness following his release from carbonite was temporary. Such characters in traditional heroes’ tales often suffer a permanent physical loss, such as blindness, that is compensated for by new wisdom or insight. Han’s blindness wore off pretty fast, and by the end of the movie he was back to being good ol’ Han Solo, the wise-cracking pirate with a heart of gold. So maybe J.J. Abrams and company will want to make a big end for the character this time out.

Observation #2

For all we know, Harrison Ford — who just turned 72 this month — stipulated that while he’d gladly reprise the role that made him famous, it would be just this once, and that he didn’t want to be running around playing a space pirate at 75. Even if he made no such stipulation, the age of the actor is a big factor. Which leads me to…

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New Treasures: The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil

Monday, July 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Great Glass Sea Josh Weil-smallIn his first novel, acclaimed short story writer Josh Weil draws on tales of Slavic folklore to tell the story of two brothers in a near-future dystopian Russia. Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton, said “The Great Glass Sea is our world made uncanny; the Russian countryside of folktale and literature turned darkly luminous, menacing, and brittle.” Sounds promising to me.

Twins Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. Living on their uncle’s farm after the death of their father, the boys once spent their days helping farmers in fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle’s tales. Years later, they labor together at the Oranzheria, a sea of glass erected over acres of cropland and lit by space mirrors that ensnare the denizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight. Now the twins have only work in common — stalwart Yarik married with children, oppressed by the burden of responsibility; dreamer Dima living alone with his mother, wistfully planning the brothers’ return to their uncle’s land.

But an encounter with the Oranzerhia’s billionaire owner changes their lives forever and soon both men find themselves poster boys for opposing ideologies that threaten to destroy not only the lives of those they love but the love that has bonded them since birth.

Josh Weil is the author of the the novella collection The New Valley, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and a “5 Under 35″ Award from the National Book Foundation. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, Agni and One Story. He lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

The Great Glass Sea was published by Grove Press on July 1, 2014. It is 474 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition.

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Is Coming Back – Good or Bad?

Monday, July 28th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Sherlock_LegoAs a screen presence, Sherlock Holmes was essentially a dormant property from the nineties until 2009. Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula  was a hot script in 1999, with Christopher Columbus set to direct. But screenwriter Michael Valle died unexpectedly and Columbus went on to make some movies with a bunch of kid wizards in a pig school or something like that.

In 2009, Robert Downey Jr. breathed new life into the great detective in the global smash, Sherlock Holmes (worldwide gross: over a half a billion dollars! The sequel did even better).

Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat, writers on the successful Doctor Who series, decided to bring Holmes back to television, but with a twist: the setting would be modern day London. It was a HUGE success, artistically and commercially.

With references to the original stories by Doyle all over the place, including updatings of the original tales (the pilot, A Study in Pink, was a retelling of the first story, A Study in Scarlet), it was a fresh take on an old subject. And with Benedict Cumberbatch playing an obnoxious, young Holmes and likeable everyman Martin Freeman as his trusty sidekick, Watson, the three-episode series was a hit in the UK, America, and all over the world.

Season two was just as good, updating The Hound of the Baskervilles and turning The Woman, Irene Adler, into a dominatrix. Personally, after season two ended, Sherlock was one of my top five all-time favorite shows and even in a battle with Justified for the top spot.

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