Monday, May 30, 2005

A Feast is Finished...A Dark Lord rises

George R. R. Martin has completed A Feast for Crows, the novel is now in production. Without a doubt, a great many fantasy geeks like me are rejoicing.

About an hour or two ago, I returned from the movie theater. Was I satisified? Yes. Was it as bad as I thought it would be? No, I was actually surprised, perhaps setting the expectations lower was the way to go on this particular film. Was it a perfect film? By no means, I was beginning to wonder if the film wanted to end. Of course the film in question is Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. On the whole, I left the theater feeling satisfied. Not completely, but satisfied nonetheless. Hayden Christiansen pulled of the part much better this time around and Ian McDiarmid was great and I can imagine he had quite a bit of fun.

Of course, almost no film is without flaws and there were a few glaring ones here. Padme was nothing more than a birthing chamber, she was almost a nonentity. I told Mrs. Blog o' Stuff Padme got a helluva lot dumber since the first film. There weren't enough Wookies and not enough of the planet Kashyyyk. As I said, the film's ending dragged quite a bit, much like Return of the King. It kept feeling as if it was ending, but another scene played out. I would have liked to have seen a young Han Solo somewhere in the film.

This was one of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen. By far, it was the best of the prequels, better than Return of the Jedi, and almost as good as the original Star Wars.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


I posted my review of Hammerjack by Marc D. Giller. I enjoyed the novel, with mild reservations. I couldn't help but be reminded of Snow Crash, Blade Runner, Richard K. Morgan's work and The Matrix (the first film, not so much the two sequels that should have either been one movie or not made at all) as I was reading the book. Overall, very impressive and a promising debut novel.

The weekly stash consisted of Green Lantern #1, Flash #212, Batman #640, JLA #114, OMAC #2 and The Incredible Hulk #81. All solid superhero stories. The more I read of Greg Rucka, the more I like, I think I'm going to have to get my hands on some of his novels and his Queen & Country stuff from Oni Press. I also really like what Judd Winick is doing with Batman, Peter David brought his return to the Hulk to a nice close, but of course left some unanswered questions. Green Lantern was very good, even though it was a more quick read than I would have liked.

I'm hoping to see Revenge of the Sith tomorrow, and hopefully, the crowd won't be too large.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Signings, leavings, startings, endings

Karen Traviss just signed with HarperCollins/Eos for three more books in the sequence that began with City of Pearl one of the best novels I read last year. This is great news, Traviss is writing some really exceptional novels and getting the deserved acclaim (Finalist for Locus Best First Novel and the Philip K. Dick Award). I still need to get my hands on her Star Wars Republic Commando: Hard Contact novel though.

Alan Moore has severed ties with DC Comics and is getting married - a very interesting article by Rich Johnston at Comic Book Resources.

Gabe has started up another forum.

Lastly, tonight is the 2-hour season finale of Lost, just about the best show on TV right now. The last show I was this excited to watch every week was FarScape.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Make up your own title

Geoff Johns is leaving as writer of The Flash in a couple of months. For the most part, I've been really enjoying his handling of the character, it was hard to top and probably daunting to fill the shoes of Mark Waid on the title, but Geoff offered a bit of a different take, but no less true to the character and legacy Wally West represented. Geoff did as good a job as sanely possible in bringing Hal Jordan back as Green Lantern, and I'm looking forward to the ongoing title now that Rebirth is finished up. But I will miss his storytelling on one of my favorite, if not very favorite comic book heroes.

Scott uses photoshop to let us know how he thinks Episode III stacks up against Episode I & II.

The below was nicked from Karen Traviss.

Star Wars Horoscope for Scorpio

You are a powerful character.
You tend to be possessive and lusty - which explains your greedy nature.
You feel threatened when people try to order you around or control you.
You are prone to suspicion and jealousy - but your resilience and passion get you what you want.

Star wars character you are most like: Han Solo

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Books & Comics

There are two books, well actually probably more, but two right now that are really piquing my interest. One of the books is on the shelves in the US right now, the other will hit UK shelves in August, with a US release late '05 or early '06. The first is Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. The book is generating good buzz and some positive reviews. It is an Epic Fantasy in one volume, something relatively rare in the Epic Fantasy market nowadays. The requisite book blurbs are from writers like Orson Scott Card and David Farland, and good reviews from Publisher's Weekly and the usually anti-fantasy Kirkus. Here's a breif blurb of what the book is about:

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

The other book is Vellum, by Hal Duncan. On his Night Shade Books Message Board he describes the book thusly:

It's 2017 and angels walk the earth, beings that were human once, now unkin, remade by the ancient machine-code language of reality itself. Now, with the very book in which reality is written lost somewhere in the Vellum - the vast realm of eternity on which our world is just a scratch - the unkin are gathering for war.

On one side there's Metatron and his Covenant of angels, out to create Heaven on Earth even if it means an apocalypse to clear the way. On the other, there's the splinter-groups of ancient gods still hungry for the power that was once theirs, bitter enough to destroy the world if they can't rule it. And caught in the middle of it all are a handful of refuseniks still young enough to remember what it's like to be human... and to want to stay that way.

Again, Rick Kleffel has interesting things to say about the book. Squid enthusiast and fantastic writer Jeff VanDerMeer thinks highly of the book as well. Vellum is the first of a duology, available now in the UK through PanMacmillan and sometime in the future from Del Rey.

It is the middle of the month, so as always, DC Comics lets the world know what they are offering in a few months, specifically in August and some later. CBR has the full rundown and cover images. Aside from my normal pull, here's what caught my eye:
  • I am mildly interested in the inter-Bat crossover between Detective Comics and Batman, I liked what Andersen Gabrych was doing in Detective Comics before the War Games mess. However, this is strange since it cuts David Lapham's 12 part saga in Detective 3/4 into the story. This makes very little sense to me, and I haven't seen any kind of explanation from DC.
  • DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories looks like a bunch of Silver-Age fun. I've got the original Superman Red/Superman Blue in a Superman compilation.
  • At one point, I was interested in the Alex Ross/Jim Kreuger Justice mini-series, but my interest has waned. I thought their Earth X series for Marvel was OK, if overrated. Justice, on one hand, looks like Super Friends fan fiction, on the other, it could by plain old superhero fun.
  • Great Ozymandius! Watchmen: The Absolute Edition ain't cheap at $75, but I'll probably still pick it up. This is actually not shipping until October
  • A hardcover of V for Vendetta is also being solicited now for sale in September, with a couple of extras.
  • DC Direct gives another excuse for uber-hype machine Mark Millar to espouse how great he is and how much better he could make Superman by putting out a Elseworlds/Red Son figure.

On the Marvel side of things, Peter David and Mike Wieringo really seem to get Spider-man, something that may not be said of the other people handling his comic book adventures as of late.

Last, but not least, I'm probably one of the last people to post this one, Darth Vader's Blog. I actually got caught up in the thing for too much time yesterday.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Traveler

A review copy of The Traveler arrived yestereday, written by the unconventially named John Twelve Hawks. His breif author bio simply states: "John Twelve Hawks lives off the grid." Intriguing. This book sounds pretty cool, too. The premise, from the publisher:

Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are two young men living just beneath the glittering surface of life in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the brothers have been shaped by stories that their father was a Traveler–one of an elite group of prophets able to attain pure enlightenment. The Corrigans, who may have inherited their father’s gifts, have always lived “off the grid”—that is, invisible to the intricate surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern world.

...When Maya is summoned to Prague by her ailing father, she learns that Gabriel and Michael have just been located in California. The brothers may represent the last surviving Travelers, and are in desperate need of protection....a colossal battle looms that will reveal a secret history of our time.

This sounds almost Matrix-like, and Science Fictional with the "hidden world," but it is not being published by Random House's SF imprints (Bantam or Del Rey). Rather, Random House is publishing it under their general fiction Doubleday imprint. I'm sure there is a whole rant about that, regardless, the story of a behind the scenes faction controlling our world seems pretty cool. I'm looking forward to reading this one, the on sale date is June 28th, but as I said, I've got an advance reading copy, so I don't have to wait.

With the publisher stating "this stunningly suspenseful first novel, reminiscent of George Orwell and Philip Pullman," I've got some pretty high hopes, as 1984 is a book I consider one of the best 5 or 10 ever written (that I've read), and I absolutely loved Pullman's His Dark Materials. Doubleday is expecting some really good things, too, with a dedicated Web site and supplemental Web sites of the characters or places in the novel: now has a page of trailers for forthcoming movies. It's probably been there a while, I just realized it today, and linked there is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which looks to be very good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Music & Gods

In general, music, like many other things, is 90% crap. I tend to fluctuate with my musical preferences and degree with which I seek out new music. With the summer coming up, and the big concerts coming around, now is as good a time as any for me to "get back into" music as it were. Next month I'll be seeing Judas Priest and Queensryche and later in the summer I'm going to Ozzfest. I've never seen Priest or Queensryche, but I've been a fan of both bands for a while. I happen to think Priest's Painkiller is one of the best metal albums of the 90s, one of those rare albums without a clunker of a song. And I listened to Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime so many times on tape, my tape wore out. Mindcrime was one of the very first CDs I purchased when I finally got a CD-player.

As for Ozzfest, even though the guys in Black Sabbath are pretty old, they are probably one of my top 5 bands, ever. Metal and Hard Rock started with Sabbath and I don't think that type of music would sound the way it does without the early music of Sabbath. I've seen Iron Maiden twice and again, an older bunch of guys, but still one of the 2 or 3 best live acts I have seen. I've been getting into Shadows Fall and I'm looking forward to seeing Jersey native Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society. BLS's newest song, Suicide Messiah has a great riff. The other band on the first stage I like is Mudvayne. The second stage is headlined by Rob Zombie, who I saw with Ozzy a couple of years ago. Most of the other bands on the second stage I've heard once or twice and haven't really formed an opinion, positive or negative.

A band I've been hearing a few times the past week on local hard rock/metal station 89.5 WSOU is Nightwish, and I am really liking them. I think I need to acquire some of their music.

Two bands I would really like to see tour together are Shinedown and Godsmack. I've seen Godsmack twice, and I'm kicking myself for NOT seeing Shinedown this past Christmas at the Starland Ballroom.

On a non-music note, I have to say, Mrs. Blog o' Stuff is the best. She has always supported and indulged just about every hobby, fancy and form of geekery I get myself worked up about. Anyway, Monday marked, cumulatively speaking, 10 years together for us. As I've blogged before, I've been really looking forward to the PS2 game, God of War. Well, super-cool-hottie wife that she is, she got the game for me. It is absolutely amazing. It is fun, amazingly rendered and the difficulty is just about right, at least for now. All told, a very cool game.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Watch out for the stairs Mrs. Lockhart!

Another great episode of Family Guy last night, what Peter changes himself into as a Wonder Twin is After two episodes, it seems as if Seth MacFarlane and crew are picking up right where they left off with the quick and sometimes crass humor. American Dad on the other hand was forced and not really funny at all.

DC Comics has a new logo. I guess I can understand why, that whole "marketing synergy" thing.

On a good note, DC is strongly promoting the Starman series. The series ran 80 issues, with a couple of side miniseries and a crossover miniseries with Batman & Hellboy. The series finished up a few years ago, and DC finally just published the final trade in the series very recently. I have the first trade and and really enjoyed it. Writer James Robinson created one of the more enduring superheros of the 90s with this series and a lot of people feel his Starman is the only good thing to come out of Zero Hour, the sort of sequel/clean up of Crisis on Infinite Earths . I want to get the rest of the series but I'm not sure if I want the easy trade route or if I want to purchase the individual issues. The main reason for the individual issues are the fantastic covers by Tony Harris who is of course, is the artist on one of the best series on the shelves right now, Ex Machina. I've seen people selling the 80-run issue on eBay a couple of times, heck I've been outbid on at least one occasion.

The Yankees finally won a couple of games, two shutouts. What is most surprising is Kevin Brown pitched one of those games. There's talk of a possible payout to get rid of Giambi, which would make me, and any other smart Yankee fan happy. The Chicago White Sox continue to be the suprise team/story of the year. This is a good thing as one of their best pitchers, Mark Buehrle, along with Mark Mulder and Matt Morris of the Cardinals have been my best pitchers, helping me sustain 2nd place in my Fantasy Baseball league. Outside of Ichiro, I think most of my offense is performing a bit above their average, though a couple of guys like JD Drew and Mike Lowell haven't picked up their slack yet. If all continues as is, I'll be a happy owner for the better part of this season.

I finished up Walter Hunt's second Dark Wing novel over the weekend, The Dark Path and jumped right into the third, The Dark Ascent. On the whole this is entertaining, epic space opera. Hunt set the world about 300 years in the future, mankind has come into contact with a couple of alien races, most notably the Zor, a winged people who are similarly advanced. As a People, the Zor are strongly informed on living their lives by a Mythic religion. The first book was very good as it was discussed in the SFFWorld SF Book Club in June 2003 , the second, The Dark Path, picked up the ball almost a hundred years later, with the humans and Zor living with each other, some more begrudgingly than others, and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I am very happy I acquired the 2nd and 3rd books at the same time. This series, after two books, leaves me wanting to find out what happens next. I like the future setting, and Hunt has created a very interesting race in the Zor. Though this has all the trappings of Space Opera/Science Fiction, there is a nice Epic feel to it as well. Good reading, all told.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Interview with E.E. Knight

Not much to say right now, except for posting my interview with E.E. Knight, author of The Vampire Earth novels - Way of the Wolf, Choice of the Cat, and Tale of the Thunderbolt. The fourth book, Valentine's Rising publishes at the end of the year, as does his Dragon Champion novel, first in the Age of Fire sequence.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Griffins & Black Gate

Family Guy Sunday night was funny. Sure some of the earlier episodes were better, and some were not as good, but overall the episode delivered and the last 10 minutes or so were the best. I liked the opening scene when Peter rattled off the laundry list of shows Fox has started and canceled since Family Guy was canned. I do take offense to Firefly and Greg the Bunny though - two shows that were just hampered by erratic scheduling and being too different. Hopefully this is an indication that Seth McFarlane hasn't lost his touch. American Dad was much better than the pilot episode, it didn't feel nearly as forced.

I've just about read through the latest issue of Black Gate magazine, Issue #7/Fall 2004 to be precise, and it is another solid issue. For me, Todd McAulty's story, Amnesty, is the stand-out. A solid, well-told story that doesn't give the reader much understanding of what is going on initially, as the characters reference the world we live in intermittently with the realm in which they are inhabiting. After a bit, (and this isn't a spoiler, really) it becomes clear these people are in Hell. McAulty does not reveal why these people are in Hell until the reader is able to make a judgement about these characters in the story. This was a great example of keeping the reader guessing, something McAulty does well throughout the story. His vision of Hell is a synthesis of what has been done before and his own vision. I really enjoyed his story There's a Hole in October in the Spring 2003 issue, too. I'm looking forward reading more stories by him. Wonder if he's got a novel in him, I'd like to see what he can do in a longer story.

As for the remaining content I read in issue #7, Judith Berman's Poison Well was an intriguing blend of fantasy and mystery, while Holly Phillips's Luck of the Gods was a nice, eerie story. I've also been following the Charles R. Tanner's classic Tumithak saga over the past couple of issues and the latest, Tumithak of the Towers of Fire is another nice, pulpy addition to the saga of a future Earth. In terms of setting, Tanner's imagined world is part HG Wells Time Machine future and Vancian Dying Earth. Supposedly Tanner's son is putting together a book containing the three known Tumithak stories plus an unpublished one. In the nonfiction Claude Lalumière provides a nice overview of Mike Mignola's Hellboy. Based on Lalumière's article and my enjoyment of Christopher Golden's Wildwood Road, I eventually hope to get my hands on Golden's Hellboy Novels.

Overall, John O'Neill puts together a great magazine whose only shortcoming is the large amount of time between issues. It is also tough to find in my area, none of the local comic shops stock it, and only once did I see an issue in any of the Borders or Barnes & Nobles in my area. Clarkesworld Books, has all the issues and I may be hitting them up for some of the older issues I missed.