Friday B-Movie Pick: Blade: Trinity

Blade: Trinity
Long before the Black Panther movie, there was the Blade Trilogy staring Wesley Snipes. A series based on the Marvel’s Blade character. A half breed Vampire, who can withstand sunlight, thus the nickname, “Day Walker.” Watch the first one, ignore the second, and then enjoy the 2004 trilogy wrap up. The third and final Blade film, and a good B-Movie to boot. Not only is Snipes a cold, hard, bad-ass in this movie (as he is in all the Blade films), the director made some interesting casting choices. Blade is assisted in this film by two other Vampire Hunters, played by Ryan Reynolds, and Jessica Biel. My take on Reynolds character is this could have been a post college Van Wilder who made some really bad life choices. Jessica Biel doesn’t talk much, but seriously, she doesn’t have to. Comninic Purcell is the chief bad guy, but supporting villains played by Parker Posey and John Michael Higgins just add moments of joy for anyone who has seen Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Parker Posey even has a nice serious dramatic scene. There is even an actress best known for her work in the American Pie movies. I kept waiting for her to talk about double clicking her mouse. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.

B-Movie Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Black Panther

Black Panther
There are reasons the Marvel superhero movies make money hand over fist. The built in fan base of nerds is nice, but they are actually producing good actions stories with some serious star power (Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker for example). The conflict within the royal family is sort of stuff that old Billy S. was writing to put paying butts in seats of the Globe Theater. Like DC’s Wonder Woman, this movie was a labor of love and it showed. The set and costume designing were outstanding and the action scenes were top notch. Plus this film took the formula for a good James Bond Movie to heart. The better the villain, the better the movie. Michael B. Jordan, as the unknown member of the royal family coming home to stir up trouble, was fornicating excellent. Right up to his final scene, he just owned the total bad assness of his character.

Friday B-Movie Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets
Luc Besson had a lot of fun bringing one of his favorite childhood comics to the big screen, and it show. This is a fun film. Awesome special effects, visually stunning, and gloriously true to the pulp origins of the original comic. The weak of part of the film is the two lead characters, who gave it a good try, but just didn’t nail the chemistry needed. Still worth the popcorn and rental, especially if you have a nice big screen with a good sound system.

Friday-Movie Archive

Monday Book Pick: A Night in the Lonesome October

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Going back to a 2024 pick. A classic by the late Grandmaster Roger Zelazny. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack’s involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it’s hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called “The Count” and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, a broom flying witch named Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Dective and his sidekick; and Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelazny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahn Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Guns of Avalon

The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
The second book in the Amber series. Two sets of five books, plus a fist full of short stories and an amazing amount of fan fiction. Prince Corwin has escaped the Dungeon his brother Eric threw him, with the help of the family madman Dworkin. Revenge, and the throne, are what he is after. First he has to go to Avalon, and of course is sidetracked by Lorraine (name of the land and the woman). He does manage to finally get to Avalon and get what he wanted there. Not without complications, including his extremely deadly brother Benedict, another family member named Dara, and the ominous Black Road. This series are amazingly well written, and this volume includes some insight from a guard in the Castle Amber dungeon named Roger.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Passengers

Passengers
A good solid SciFi film that combines a psychologic thriller with a love story, and throws in a locked box mystery for flavor. The setting is a colony ship taking 5000 colonists to another planet. Since the trip is 120 years long, so everybody, including the crew is in cyro-stasis. The fun starts when the ship takes some damage the automated systems cannot handle. One of the first glitches is waking a passenger up 90 years early. Yup, for the first chunk of the movie, it’s all Chris Pratt, and an android bartender. He spends a year trying to figure out what’s going on, and slowing losing it from the isolation. Add in Jennifer Lawrence’s character for reasons I’m not going to give away, and now you have the romance part. When things go start really wrong, from the accumulating damage over the previous two years, toss in a crew member waking up. He doesn’t live long, damage from multiple failures in his stasis pod, but it gives the passengers the access they need to save the ship, and the 5000 other passengers, literally at the last possible moment. It’s not great, but solidly acted and well crafted.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: There Will Be Dragons

There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo
This is the first book in John Ringo’s four book Council Wars series. He wanted to to a science based fantasy series. So this series is set in a far future, in a technological utopia. People live for centuries, they can transform themselves into mermaids, whales, humanoids capable of flight, unicorns, etc. Prety much limited by imagination. There are also fantasy creatures created by genetic engineering and nanotechnology, including dragons and Elves. The Elves were designed as ultra-efficient combat troops. Pro-tip, do no screw with the Elves. Of course, things are no perfect in a Ringo utopia. The human population is shrinking, mainly because raising kids is a chore, and a twenty year commitment. The closest thing to a government is a “Council” that have control over “Mother”, the massive AI that controls the planet, and makes the utopia possible. The Council disagrees with how to handle this problem, so one side decides to kill the rest of the Council in order to gain control. The attempt failed, and the resulting conflict between the Council members sucks up all the available power, reducing the rest of the humanity to pre-industrial levels. Mother still enforces her basic protocols, absorbing all energy higher than low pressure steam. Ringo achieves what S.M. Stirling did in his “Dies the Fire” series, by evoking Clarke’s Third Law. I’ve recently reread the series. It’s a fun read. Check it out.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Tom Swift and his Flying Lab

Tom Swift and His Flying Lab by Victor Appleton II
Let’s go back to 1954 for the first in the rebooted YA science series. The Tom Swift Jr. books are a spinoff from the earlier Tom Swift juvenile science based adventures. In the original Tom Swift books (first published in 1910), the young inventor was pushing the science of the day, with his motorcycle, airship, and airplane. So the science bar had to be raised in the mid 1950s. Tom Swift Jr., starts his adventures with an atomic powered VTOL aircraft that includes a full set of science labs, a kitchen for their cook, Texan “Chow” Winkler, and a smaller set of aircraft (jet and helicopter) in a hanger bay. Good fun, with a definite Cold War setting.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by John Ringo and Larry Correia
Oliver Chadwick Gardenier is back. Seattle got a bit “too hot” for him (How was he to know that elf chick was only 40?), so for his sins, he is sent to New Orleans. Vampires, werewolves, and giant naked mole rats. Oh my! As fans of the series know, the job of the MCB is to keep knowledge of monsters and the “supernatural” from the public. This is a problem in New Orleans, since most of the locals already know that “HooDoo” is real. There are enough outbreaks of zombies and ghouls that cemeteries in New Orleans are built with fences and locked gates. Then there is the full moon. Things get really weird then, and very, very dangerous for Monster Hunters. Like any John Ringo book, the action scenes are very well done. It is the little touches that had me giggling through this book. Like the male bonding sessions with Chad and Milo (Milo is on the roof the car, trying to pick off zombies on a golf course, and Chad is rocking the car…something my own asshole of a brother would do (love ya Fred, but don’t try to deny this). There is a also the Cajun member of “Team Hoodoo” that things monsters make good eating. That includes the afore mentioned giant naked mole rat. Monster Hunting in New Orleans is different that what fans of the series have come to expect. For one thing, the MCB publishes a supermarket rag of the local events. Think “plausible denial.” Team Hoodoo are local celebrities, and yes, Chad uses that to get laid. Their “landlord” is a local drug gang, who makes sure nobody bothers the building or their cars. Those drug dealers are out on the streets, at night. Zombies and vampires are bad for business. In all a fun read. The only downside is that there is one more book in this series (The memoirs of Oliver Chadwick Gardenier), and it isn’t out yet.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Sunday SciFi: Jim Baen and Baen Books

JC Carlton has a really nice Jim Baen tribute article.   Well worth the read.

I’m a fan of Baen Books.  I like hard SciFi and adventure.  Andrew Liptak notes in his article on Jim Baen, that “the type of fiction that Baen was most interested in: adventurous, escapist, and fun.”   I pay my money to be entertained.  I don’t need lectures on social justice, and the evils of capitalism. I get more than enough of that just from living in New England.

Thomas Disch, author of The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World, doesn’t share my opinion.  I read his book, which I liked. Mr. Disch however didn’t like any Science Fiction with the slightest politically conservative leaning.  He also wasn’t too fond of female authors either.  He targeted Baen specifically for catering stories for conservative fans.  I think a more accurate description would be that Jim Baen didn’t discriminate against authors with a politically conservative viewpoint, as other publishing companies did. There are authors who only deal with Baen, because of the open hostility shown at some other publishing houses to any author who didn’t toe the progressive leftist line. Jim Baen didn’t care about your politics, he cared if you could write good adventure stories.  Case in point, Eric Flint.  Eric Flint is one of the top selling authors at Baen, both in number of books, and number of books sold.  He was also an editor at Baen for a while.  He as also worked for the Socialist Workers Party. Mr. Flint is a well educated historian, who paid for grad school by working as a longshoreman.  He has also co-authored books with Charles E. Gannon, David Weber, and Tom Kratman.

Baen was also an early pioneer in using the Internet as a way to reach their readers.  The Baen Bar forums were up and running before most publishing houses knew there was an Internet.  Baen also was one of the first publishing houses to sell ebooks.  They also bucked the trend, by refusing to put DRM (“copy protection”) on their ebooks.  Jim Baen went by  the novel notion that his customers were not crooks, and actually wanted the authors of the books they read to be successful, and write more books.    Jim Baen went as far to put out CDs (included with hardcover purchases, as well as available online), with a complete catalog of an given author’s work.  All without any encryption, and in multiple e-reader formats.

I did some research into the e-book market, and the Baen approach, for a graduate marketing class.  The problem, as stated by Eric Flint, wasn’t people stealing your books. The problem was that people don’t know about your books.   Baen Books found that when they put out an e-book as a free download on their site, sales rose.  Not only for that book, but for the entire author’s catalog that was still in print.

Jim Baen loved his work, and knew that if you gave the fans a good ripping yarn of high adventure, and didn’t consider them criminals, he could spend more time working on content than running the business.