THEY GIRL THEY COULDN’T SEE fun urban fantasy

Just read a fun book by Laurence E Dahners: The Girl They Couldn’t See. A young woman learns that she can cause others not to see her, rather like The Shadow of pulp fiction days. At first just using the talent to avoid people she doesn’t like, she eventually realizes that she can use it to defend her family from mobsters. Discovering the threat is from a crime gang, she decides to take the whole gang down.

But first she must learn the limits of her talent, an activity which has problems of its own.

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GHOST IN THE SHELL Tokyo trailer & event

I just watched with great pleasure two YouTube videos for a movie I’ve long awaited, one a trailer and the other an event with the director, star, and an important supporting actor answering questions. The movie is GHOST IN THE SHELL, scheduled for release on March 31st of next year.

GITS is a sort of Japanese ROBOCOP, both featuring ideas long common in near-future and cyberpunk sci-fi. In their case their story revolves around a main character whose brain is put into a robotic body after most of their body has suffered catastrophe. As they plunge into an action-adventure story they also slowly build a new sense of who they are, rebel against those who would pigeon-hole and control them, and create a new sense of their place in the world.

GITS first appeared as a Japanese comic, then as a work of Japanese animation. It eventually inspired other books and animations in the series, and comics and animations based on similar stories. In 2008 Dreamworks bought the rights to the series and began the long process which ended in the final creation this year of the movie, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Her casting spawned critics who claimed it was “whitewashing.” Most of them seem to be Westerners. Japanese fans and the GITS creators widely approve of the choice of Johansson, already very popular as an action movie star in the East as well as the West from her roles in the Avengers movies and Luc Besson’s Lucy. Many hope the series becomes a big world-wide success rather than merely a locally Japanese one. Which may lead to a world-wide GITS franchise and business success for similar comics, animes, and movies.

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Latest & greatest WONDER WOMAN preview

The latest Wonder Woman trailer is out & it’s a doozy. I definitely will be in the theater the first hour of the first day when it comes out in June 2017.

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Just finished the latest book in the series about Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Laurell K. Hamilton has that golden touch, which can make almost anything fascinating.

But not quite everything, at least for me. This 25th book in the series has two chapter-length sex scenes and two much shorter sex scenes. I skipped them, not because they revolted me though they included multiple partners, homosexual, and S&M elements, but because erotica bores me.

It also includes lots of relationship scenes, of who likes or dislikes whom and how they navigate the difficulties. That I found more interesting, partly because most of the characters are werewolves or vampires; you may not.

Scattered throughout are several action scenes, culminating in a large-scale brawl between Anita and her allies and an army of vampires and selkie mind-slaves. Hamilton is a master of this kind of action.

Haven’t read any of this series? Then you might want to dip into the very first book and see if you like it.

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Sequel CASTAWAY ODYSSEY now available

Castaway Odyssey, sequel to Castaway Planet, is now available. I just finished it and enjoyed it immensely.

Both books are part of a whole but I felt each one was a whole in itself, ending with a satisfying resolution, not a cliffhanger.

Ryk confirms that he’s working on the third book in the trilogy. I’m looking forward to it. The characters are fully formed, their work on surviving on the planet well-realized and believable, and the story moves right along but not so break-neck as to be breathless.

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KANTOVAN VAULT now available (Spiral Wars Book 3)

One of the best space-war writers is Aussie Joel Shepherd. He gets everything right: the human side of war, military tactics, hard science, and alien biology and psychology – all in stories which move briskly along.

Now he’s released the third book in his Spiral Wars series: Kantovan Vault. It’s available as an Amazon ebook for $3.99. I believe a printed book will also soon be available.

Click on the image for a preview and to buy the book.

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Latest DARKOVER book available now

When Deborah Ross took over Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s Darkover series I lost interest, thinking Ross could never equal the feel and thrill of MZB’s books. I’m happy to admit I was wrong, as proved by the latest book in the series – Thunderlord.

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NAPOLEONIC WAR WITH DRAGONS series finale available

Naomi Novik in 2006 introduced us to her Temeraire series. It re-imagined the Napoleonic War if both sides had dragons to use as an air force.

Normally stories with dragons bore me, as they strike me as being out of sync with the rest of the ecologies shown in the stories. Plus they can fly and shoot flames from their mouths, ridiculous possibilities to an engineer who has been very involved in creating aircraft to do the same. But Novik thought out all the details so well, and presents them so vividly, that the dragons in her stories seem utterly believable.

Her dragons are also willing and willful characters, each with a personality of its own. They are primary characters in their own right; their desires and thoughts drive the stories as much as those of the humans. In the course of the series the main characters, Captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire, visit China, Africa, Australia, as well as Britain and France. We see how differently the societies treat dragons. In China, for instance, they are equal citizens with the humans, and the two species live mostly in harmony.

The latest book, League of Dragons, draws the series to a satisfying close. If you’ve not read the series I suggest you start with the first book, His Majesty’s Dragon.

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dance scene from SUCKER PUNCH

Zach Snyder‘s 2011 film Sucker Punch was a deep disappointment to me. It has a downer ending and all the action sequences are dreams or fantasies, making the victories meaningless. Still, it had some fun dance sequences (available only on the Blu-ray Extended Cut version).

Here is my favorite, performed by Carla Gugino and Oscar Isaac. It reminds me very much of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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New RING OF FIRE book available

One of my favorite series of books is the RING OF FIRE series by Eric Flint. The first book was 1632, and seems to have been intended as a one-off. It follows a group of modern-day Americans who lived within roughly ten miles of the West Virginia city of Grantville. Mid-day it was transported to 1632 in the middle of what was to become Germany, during the horrible Thirty-Years War.

Both “up-time” and “down-time” people and their situations were brought vividly to life by Flint, and they proved to be fertile ground for later books. Flint enlisted the aid of several capable authors to co-author or author follow-up books which he did not have time to write by himself. For updates and more info on the series see the Eric Flint web site.

The latest book is 1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz, by Kerryn Offord and Rick Boatright. It follows the early and middle life of Phillip Theophrastus Gribbleflotz. An alchemist and possible great-grandson of Paracelsus, he struggles to survive and in the process helps to create and grow the modern chemical industry of the 17th Century. I spent several happy evenings with the book and look forward to a sequel is there ever is one.

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