Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

dragonlanceDragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Directed by Will Meugniot. Featuring the Voices of Keifer Sutherland, Lucy Lawless, Michael Rosenbaum, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Marsden, Rino Romano.

During one of the classic episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, while Mike and the ‘Bots are watching the conclusion of the delightfully weird and wretched 1960’s Coleman Francis masterpiece The Skydivers, Mike abruptly remarks: “I don’t know guys. I still like this movie better than Top Gun. A lot better.”

So I will say this about the recent animated film adaptation of Dragons of Autumn Twilight: “I still like this movie better than the 2000 Dungeons & Dragons movie. A lot better.”

Be warned: these will be the last friendly words you are likely to hear in this review.

If Wizards of the Coast, the current owners of the Dungeons & Dragons media franchise, had serious intentions of starting a successful line of direct-to-video animated films based on the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels, they couldn’t have done a finer job of slicing themselves off at the knees with a broadsword than this disaster of a movie. The DVD came out in January, and the reason you probably haven’t heard much about it until now is because so many people are trying to abide by “If you can’t say anything nice…” Or else the film immediately slipped their memory after seeing it. Both concepts make sense.

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Who knew?

Saturday, June 27th, 2009 | Posted by Soyka

Courtesy of Locus comes this link to, of all places, Penthouse, an article about Geek Love. Don’t get too excited, this is rated PG-13, despite its source.

Who knew being a geek was a way to meet cool chicks? Yet another thing I lived too long past to know existed. Back in my day, geekdom meant girls didn’t want anything to do with you. And, really, scroll down to the picture of the guys dressed up like Ghostbusters…maybe my ideas of sex appeal are just outdated.

The Truthiness of Legends

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 | Posted by James Enge

Not about myth this week, exactly, but legend–the sort of myth that begins as historical fact.

I was googling randomly to escape the weariness of my days and nights and I ran across the Wikipedia entry on Gráinne Ní Mháille (a.k.a. Grace O’Malley, a.k.a. the Pirate Queen of Ireland).

An account is given of the queen’s encounter with a certain Tudor pretender to the throne of Ireland.

[Legend meets punchline after the jump.]

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A Fine and Private Place after almost 50 years

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

a-fine-and-private-place1A Fine and Private Place
Peter S. Beagle (Viking, 1960)

Peter S. Beagle wrote his first novel, A Fine and Private Place, fifty years ago at the age of nineteen. Which really annoys me because the book is so blasted good, making me aware that, although I was a skilled nineteen-year-old in my day, there was no conceivable way I could have crafted at that age a work as beautiful and knowledgeable about life, death, and love as A Fine and Private Place.

And Beagle’s greatest work, the traditional fantasy classic The Last Unicorn, still lay ahead of him.

I’ll try not to take this all personally and just feel glad we have A Fine and Private Place around… and still in-print, a minor miracle considering how fast our culture embraces new and tosses everything else into the dustbin.

A Fine and Private Place is one of the masterpieces of contemporary fantasy, and only the long shadow cast by The Last Unicorn keeps it from getting more notice. The tale occurs almost exclusively within an enormous graveyard, features ghosts and a talking raven, but it isn’t a horror story or even a dark fantasy, but a gentle and often sorrowful look at the difficulties of love and the realities of death, neither of which work out the way any person living or dead might expect.

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SF Site reviews Black Gate 13

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 | Posted by John ONeill

Sherwood Smith – who has reviewed virtually every issue of Black Gate – offers her usual detailed and thorough critique, this time at the SF Site:

The Face in the Sea” by John C Hocking

Hocking’s story begins like a fragment from the middle of a Norse saga. We are at sea with the narrator Brand, taking ship after having rescued Asdia, daughter of Thorgeir Broadshield. Hocking hints at sparks between Brand and Asdir with the same economy one finds in the sagas as the action swiftly rises to disaster in the form of Einar’s dragon-ship chasing by magical means, aided by the evil Skorri…  a smashing action tale with strong evocation of northern myth.

The issue ends powerfully with Mark Sumner’s “The Naturalist, Part III: St. George and the Antriders.”

I believe a reader could catch up fairly rapidly, but to get the full impact, one really ought to read the earlier installments in Issues 10 and 11. This is a novel — complex, beautifully written in the idiom and cadence of the 1830s, but the horrifying battle against the alien antriders is so terrifying there is no danger of the reader finding the pace slow. Mr. Brown, a naturalist, is the narrator; the story is told in his journal as he follows Captain Valamont and his soldiers around, trying to investigate — and then escape — the invading antriders. Sumner brings the story to an elegiac close.. with an exquisite twist. This is a bravura story, well worth appearing in book form.

You can find the full review at www.sfsite.com/06b/bg298.htm.

A Happy Ending To A Short Tale About Prejudice

Monday, June 22nd, 2009 | Posted by Judith Berman

I am somewhat embarrassed to confess that until now, I had never read a Discworld novel. It’s happened before: I’m bandwagon-phobic and when books and series become popular, a voice I’m often not even conscious of starts harumphing, “It can’t be any good. It certainly can’t be as good as everyone says it is.” The Harumpher was busy for years on the subject of Patrick O’Brian, despite his series being recommended to me by many people of impeccable taste whom I knew were undoubtedly right. Yes, I know it is a character flaw to act against one’s own best interests.

Living in the Great Arabian Book Desert, without the means to (as some people do) rent space in a container for a huge yearly shipment of books from Amazon.com, I’ve had to shove the Harumpher into a corner with a gag in her mouth. I was so happy to find a free (!!) copy of Master and Commander on the paperback exchange shelf at my son’s school. Those people on the bandwagon were right! The book is brilliant. So now I’m going to have to shell out $15 or $20 for a used paperback copy of #2, which I might even be able to find here. Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic (all British editions here) showed up on the same shelf and I took it for my son whom I knew had read and enjoyed all of Pratchett’s kid books. But then I opened it up and found Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser practically on page 1. I was immediately drawn in by the mix of satire, broad humor, and complex intertextual engagement with the entire sword and sorcery tradition.

OK. OK, you guys have all read the whole series, probably. I’ve largely avoided humorous fantasy (although I enjoy humor in adventure fantasy, a different animal to my eye). This just seems smarter, by which I think I probably mean that it is serious at its heart. Or maybe it’s just because I, like Pratchett, prefer Lieber to Howard, or Dunsany, for that matter, although those and many other authors are in there too…. Anyway, it makes me happy that now I have two whole long series to look forward to.

Locus reviews Black Gate 13

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 | Posted by John ONeill

The June issue of Locus, the Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field, contains this review from Contributing Editor Rich Horton, in his Locus Looks at Short Fiction column:

Black Gate‘s Spring issue is as ever stuffed with entertaining adventure fantasy, the best story this time being the longest, “St. George and the Antriders,” Mark Sumner’s concluding tale in a series about marauding antriders in an alternate 19th century Central America. Here Mr. Brown and the resourceful landowner Miss Marlowe lead a band of refugees back to the capital city where they find the corrupt governorship of the territory as menacing as the antriders.

Recommended Stories (all magazines, June)

“St. George and the Antriders,” Mark Sumner (Black Gate Spring ’09)

No online link, but Locus is available at finer bookstores everywhere, and you can buy single copies at www.locusmag.com.

Bradbury, Bo Derek, Libraries and the hell with the Internet

Saturday, June 20th, 2009 | Posted by Soyka

Today’s New York Times has a short piece, including an audio clip, on Ray Bradbury. While it is ostensibly about his affection for public libraries and his efforts to keep them open now that funding cutbacks resulting from California’s budget crisis threatens their existence, it also contains two interesting tidbits, one which you probably already know and one which you probably don’t:

1. Bradbury and Bo Derek are buddies.
2. Bradbury hates the Internet.

While the first has nothing to do with libraries, the second does. And, at 89, Bradbury looks very much like the crotchety old man he is in proclaiming the Internet a waste of time.

Comparative Monstrology

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 | Posted by James Enge

You know that you’re an argumentative person when you feel the impulse to argue with something you agree with. This happens to me on an daily, or even hourly, basis. Today’s case in point is a slice from China Miéville’s recent and (justly) much-linked post, “Five Reasons Why Tolkien Rocks”:

“For those of us who regret the hegemony of the Classicists’ Classics, the chewy Anglo-Saxonisms of Mirkwood and its surrounds are a vindication. We always knew these other gods and monsters were cooler.”

This, of course, is the sound of my ox being gored… by my own damn ox: I’m a big fan of both mythologies (and others besides).

[Monstrous quibbling beyond the jump.]

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Kelly’s Coffee & Fudge & Overdue Fees

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

nuhead0_r1_c1Bill Ward has done some exploring in the library recently, inspiring me to drop in my own thoughts about some changes I’ve noticed recently in the public book-lending sphere.

I hadn’t taken a trip to the Beverly Hills Library for a few months. When I walked in last time I made an immediate turn to the right to head into the Periodicals Room and check on the latest issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Except the Periodicals Room no longer perched next to the front entrance of the faux-Moorish main library building. Instead there was a Kelly’s Coffee & Fudge, looking as if someone had lifted it off the airport concourse and dropped it next to the Reference Desk. For a moment, I wondered if I had gone into Barnes & Noble by mistake, instead of the public library.

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