Thursday, July 29, 2010

[TRAILER] Sucker Punch

I usually do not invest a lot of interest in movies, but sometimes I can't help myself and fall in love at first glance. Two days ago I posted the posters from the upcoming, seriously conceptional flick Sucker Punch. BUT what is better than posters is the actual trailer. As you can see this won't be a meaningful film and it may not even be a story that makes sense, but what I can tell you is that it will be pure fun.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

[Review] The Unincorporated Man by Dani & Eytan Kollin

Title: The Unincorporated Man
Series: The Unincorporated Man book 1
Author: Dani & Eytan Kollin
Genre: Science Fiction
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Tor (1st ed 2009)

Reviewer: Ove Jansson

Order From: Tor | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok
The incredible has happened. A billionaire businessman from our time, frozen in secret in the early 21st century, is discovered in the far future and resurrected, given health and a vigorous younger body. He awakens into a civilization in which every individual is formed into a legal corporation at birth, and spends many years trying to attain control over their own life by getting a majority of his or her own shares. Life extension has made life very long indeed.

Justin Cord is the only unincorporated man in the world, a true stranger in this strange land. Justin survived because he is tough and smart. He cannot accept only part ownership of himself, even if that places him in conflict with a civilization that extends outside the solar system to the Oort Cloud.

The Unincorporated Man is a provocative social/political/economic novel that people will be arguing about for decades.


The protagonist of this novel is Justin Cord a man frozen in time who wakes up three hundred years later to a changed world.

The Authors

Dani Kollin lives in Los Angeles, California. Eytan Kollin lives in Pasadena, California. They are brothers, and this is their first novel.

World building

The world created by the Kollin brothers is a high concept one. It centers around personal incorporation in quite an innovative way but the main issue in the book is about freedom, and one man's wish for freedom in a world where everyone is taught something else from early years. In reality I think personal incorporation on a global level would be a hard sell but it is still interesting to explore.

That Virtual Reality lead to a collapse of society feels very real and the way it is represented is scary.

There are some surprises in there about the world I can't really describe without spoiling it but there are loose ends in there I hope will be pursued in the sequel.

The world building is well executed and believable to some extent.

The Plot

Justin was born before personal incorporation so he is the first unincorporated man and it is anathema to him to become incorporated. An operative named Hektor from the biggest corporation in the world becomes his antagonist as he realizes this could shake up the 'perfect' society they have.

The rest of the book is about how Hektor tries to get Justin to incorporate. He blackmails, threatens Justin's friends and loved ones etc.

The plot works for me but it feels like it is missing something.


It is refreshing to read a book where both the protagonist and the antagonist think they are good even if Justin sometimes thinks he should be wrong because it would make his life easier.

Every good story should have a love interest and this one has a good one with the usual obstacles and a few new ones specific to the society.

In general the characters are easy to like, you can't say they are to perfect but they certainly are special.

My View

I am impressed with The Unincorporated Man as a high concept debut novel. It's captivating and the whole concept of personal incorporation is intriguing and I had no problem liking the characters. This reminds me somewhat of A. E. van Vogt's Tyranopolis. If you like a big high concept idea this is a book for you.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, July 26, 2010

[MOVIE] Sucker Punch

I was browsing the interwebs, WHEN I came across the words 'Alice in Wonderland, but with machine guns' and was entranced by the Zack Snyder 2011 project [already post-production].

According to Wikipedia, which is quoting Zack Snyder, SUCKER PUNCH is:

Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of Baby Doll (Browning), who is trying to hide from the pain caused by her evil stepfather and lobotomy. She ends up in mental institution and while there she starts to imagine alternative reality. She plans to escape from that imaginary world but to do that she needs to steal five objects before she is caught by a vile man. She has 5 days to escape before being lobotomized. In order to cope with the situation, she enters the hyper-real world of her imagination, and the lines between reality and dream begin to blur. She is joined with friends who are inmates from the institution. Lessons learned in the said fantasy world could help the girls escape their real-world fate.
It also helps that the characters are life-sized hormonal wet dreams. Not mine, but I appreciate the aesthetic eroticism. Here are four from six posters [as the missing two did not catch my fancy].

Friday, July 23, 2010

[NEWS] Wizard's Tower Press opens for business

Good news keep sprouting and I am happy to inform that pretty soon, you cn too open the doors to the past and acquire books long reduced to entries in library catalogues. You will have the chance to experience the rare, woolly Mammoth [yeah, not the smartest comparison, but still]. And the evil scientist to give you the opportunity is Wizard's Tower Press.  READ ON!

Wizard’s Tower is a not a traditional publishing company. We do not generally buy new works, but rather concentrate on making out-of-print works available once more as e-books, and helping other small presses exploit the e-book market. Our interests are solely in the areas of science fiction, fantasy and related markets.

We are interested in hearing from you if:

* You are an author with out-of-print works you would like to make available as e-books.
* You own a small press and are interested in getting into the e-book market but feel you need help.
*You manage an author’s estate and are interested in making that author’s work available as e-books.

We will also publish a small number of limited-print-run anthologies with a view to encouraging diversity in the science fiction and fantasy field. Preference will be given to the following:

* Local author anthologies (particularly from South-West England or Wales)
* Anthologies of work by women writers
* Anthologies of work by LGBT writers
* Anthologies of work by people from specific cultural or ethnic backgrounds
* Anthologies of work translated into English from other languages

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Weird Revival

People. I am quite sure that you love diversity, oddity and even lunacy. I am sure that you want the whole down-the-rabbit-hole experience and you cheer Lovecraft [he wrote weird too]. I am also certain that you want more weirdness in your life an Paul Jessup wants to bring the weirdness to YOU with The Weird Revival.  

We aim to use this money to promote, publicize, and get the word out about weird books. We're strange people, and we like our stories slippery, bizarre, confounding and surreal. It's hard finding such books that are great to read and to ponder of, and we aim to build a community of weird book lovers.

We plan on getting the word out with bumper stickers, t-shirts, a website with reviews and a weird book club, we plan on talking and promoting publishers who publish the weird and writers who write it. Maybe even throw in a podcast or two, or three, or four or something. Who knows? We want to turn readers into evangelistic surreal preachers of the strange. The weirder the books, the better.

Let the revival commence!

What this money goes towards- 
Buying a web domain and host and prepay it for five years 
Hiring a graphic designer to do logos and other promotional utilities 
Buying advertisements in magazines for the website to promote it and the weird 
Getting the word out, getting the word out

We will also be looking for volunteers once the site gets up and going, to help spread the word and do reviews. In about a year, I'm hoping to not only pay people to help us out, but also start moving towards publishing weird works ourselves.

Will you please help? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

[Free Reading] The Choir Boats by Daniel Rabuzzi

I wish I had the pleasure to praise The Choir Boats the way my fellow reviewers have last year. If so many good words come from enough people, then there is an element of truth to them. So trust me when I say that you need to go and support Daniel by just going Wowio [HERE] and download it for free. That's right, for free. Easy support. But here is what Daniel says:

"My debut fantasy novel The Choir Boats (ChiZine Publications, Toronto, 2009) is featured as Wowio's July Book of the Month. During July 2010 only, the e-book version is FREE here

Reviewers describe it as “Gulliver’s Travels crossed with The Golden Compass and a dollop of Pride and Prejudice,” and "a muscular, Napoleonic-era fantasy that, like Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series, will appeal to both adult and young adult readers." The Choir Boats was selected by January Magazine as a Top Ten YA Novel for 2009. 

This special edition of the novel includes bonus illustrations by Deborah A. Mills. It's also DRM-free, so it can be read on any device compatible with PDFs, and shared with friends just like a regular book."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

REVIEW: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Book 1 of The Dresden Files series
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Orbit; UK edition (1 Sep 2005)
ISBN-10: 1841493988
ISBN-13: 978-1841493985
Reviewer: Cara
Copy: Bought online

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does – and not just because he’s the only one who does it. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they come to him for answers. Because the everyday world is not as ‘everyday’ as it seems. It’s actually full of strange and supernatural things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a – well, whatever it is the police are having trouble with this time.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s where things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Storm Front is the first in The Dresden files, a series based on Harry Dresden’s adventures as a wizard Private Investigator in modern day Chicago. The series is now at twelve books, with number thirteen due for release in 2011.

Take one Private Detective, add some self-deprecating humour, a measure of cynicism, a good amount of personal honour, and mix well with plenty of magical ability. The result is Harry Dresden, star of the show. Trading heavily on the tradition of hard-bitten American PI’s, Jim Butcher brings us a dark detective novel in the vein of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane et al. Only in this book, we have magic to add another dimension to the genre.

Harry Dresden is the only wizard PI in the Chicago area and, in a world where supernatural beings live alongside humans, albeit under the radar, he should be a busy man. But he is not and the resulting lack of finances adds to his problems. For he is under the watchful eye of the White Council, on a kind of probation supervised by the Warden, Morgan, who is watching and waiting for Harry to step out of line so he can kill him. Although a bit of a loner, Harry has a few allies… there is Karrin Murphy, director of Special Investigations at the Chicago Police Department, who calls him in to consult on a particularly gruesome double murder, the central plot in Storm Front. There is also Bob, a spirit of air who lives in a specially prepared skull in Harry’s basement who remembers things, like spells and is rather keen on sex - possibly because he can't get any, being a spirit! To complicate things further, Harry has an unfortunate effect on technology… nothing works when he is around, so no computers, high-tech gadgets, or even a reliable electrical supply. Harry is an old school detective, but one who has strong magical abilities.

I thoroughly enjoyed Storm Front. It has a distinct noir-ish feel, lifted by some very dark humour. Harry is the principle protagonist, everything is told from his point of view in the first person. This gives us good insight into Harry’s motivations and especially his personal code of honour. And while he is a prickly character, it is not hard to like Harry who has plenty of attitude and a tendency to wind people up! He is working alongside the Chicago PD to find out who killed a leading gangster’s henchman and his regular escort by magically exploding their hearts from the inside. His investigations lead him to make an enemy of Bianca, a vampire madam, and also of Johnny Marcone, Chicago’s crime boss. With the suspended death sentence hanging over him from the White Council, Harry has to tread very carefully indeed if he is to solve the murders, knowing that they were committed by a powerful mage tapping into the blackest magic.

It is fair to say that Harry survives this adventure, as there are 12 more books in The Dresden Files series, but how he does this… well I would recommend you read Storm Front to find out for yourself! If you like dark humour, a good whodunit and lots of magic you will not be disappointed. On the strength of Storm Front, I have order the next 2 books in the series and I look forward to reading more about Harry Dresden.

Rating 8/10

Saturday, July 10, 2010

[Introduction Post] SFF Masterworks

Is anyone surprised that I have taken on yet another project? I am writing to you from the edges of the Internet, where I'm residing at the time being. You can easily find me on Twitter, where I am most active, but on certain days at best. However, I have come to the decision to crawl back from the unknown and help publicize a few projects I have committed myself to.

First stop is the SFF Masterworks reading project. I am as usual late to the party. The site has gone live ages ago with ten posts already live and multiple introductory posts done by prominent bloggers such as Patrick [Stomping on Yeti], Michael [The Mad Hatter], Amanda [Floor to Ceiling Books], Adelle [Un:Bound]. And if that has not convinced you we mean business, we have the infamous squirrel talker Larry on our side.

Now that I have your attention, let's answer the most logical question: What is our mission statement? Well, for one, it's good to know the foundations of your favorite genre and you do so with the novels that defined or redefined that genre. However, we would also like to evaluate each entry and establish whether these novels can still be considered Masterworks even after the decade that has passed after the compilation of these lists. It is all subjective of course, but I consider it an interesting idea, seeing how publishing has swelled in these recent years.

So yeah, stick around.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

REVIEW: Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey
Book 7 of the Terre D'Ange series
Book 1 of Moirin's Trilogy

Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (21 Jan 2010)
ISBN-10: 0575093579
ISBN-13: 978-0575093577

Decades ago a sacred oath was broken. And as it broke, the magic held by the oldest tribe in Alba was shattered. Their power over the natural world lost, their gift of foretelling gone, now only small magics are left to Moirin and her people: the ability to conceal themselves from sight, and a skill to coax plants to grow.

But Moirin also has strange gods in her life, who hint at another part of her heritage. While Moirin's mother is of the tribe, her father was a priest dedicated to the service of Naamah - the goddess of desire - and as Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood it becomes clear that an unexpected destiny is unfolding at her feet.

Moirin's path lies across the ocean, past the elaborate dazzle and intrigue-filled courts of Terre D'Ange and up into the unknown land of the Ch'in. But, even gifted as she is, how can her destiny be linked with that of the blind-folded Ch'in warrior princess, and how can Moirin's small gifts ever hope to stand against the power of a vengeful, ambitious mage?

Magic is at work, war is looming, and the fates of nations hang in the balance... and if she is to find her destiny, Moirin must find her way through it all...

Naamah's Kiss is the first of a new trilogy by Jacqueline Carey, set in the same world as her previous two trilogies, Kushiel’s Legacy (Phaedre’s story) and Treason’s Heir (Imriel’s story). This world is geographically similar to ours, but the cultures are noticeably different. Terre D’Ange is at the heart of all the novels, with it’s unique religious culture, “Love as thou wilt” being the central tenet, and is located in what we know as France. Alba (Britain) is where Moirin and her tribe, the Maghuin Dhonn, originate. While you do not have to have read the previous 6 books to understand Naamah's Kiss, knowing the details of what has gone before helps put Moirin’s experiences into context. The very first book, Kushiels’ Dart, explains the theology behind the D’Angeline religion and how desire and love are ingrained into the Terre D’Ange society and culture. Political intrigue also plays a major role throughout the series, something Jacqueline Carey does very well. As one would expect of a society that embraces all facets of sexuality, these are adult novels, with graphic scenes that serve to reveal characters’ motivations and actions rather than just titillate.

She is the central character in Naamah's Kiss and indeed the trilogy itself. Born to the declining Maghuin Dhonn tribe, she lives a sheltered childhood with her mother in the wilds of Alba, learning the ways of her people and absorbing the energy of her natural surroundings. As she grows to maturity and meets her best friend, Cillian, we learn how her father, a D’Angeline priest, has given her the gift of desire… the Naamah's Kiss of the title. Moirin, like the others of her tribe, carries “the diadh-anam, the spirit spark of the Great Bear Herself” and it is this that guides her choices in life and ultimately her destiny.

Circumstances cause Moirin to leave Alba for Terre D’Ange where she is encouraged to explore the D’Angeline side of her heritage. She has magical abilities which she tries to use for good despite other peoples’ less altruistic guidance. Here Moirin matures and learns much more about who she is and her supernatural abilities. When she encounters Master Lo Feng, he becomes her teacher and mentor and nurtures her magical abilities while tutoring her in The Way, his life philosophy, which is similar to what we know as the Tao. Ultimately she travels to Master Lo’s homeland, Ch’in.

Moirin was an interesting character, with her strong belief in the power of her diadh-anam, her magical abilities and the gift of desire. She is initially naïve and overly trusting but matures through experience, learning valuable lessons from all those around her. Sometimes, however, I felt she was just a bit too good to be true and was occasionally irritated by her. Despite this, I always wanted her to succeed both in her adventures and in her relationships. She is an easy character to warm to as there is little malice within her, but she is no pushover either as she can be both physically and emotionally strong when required.

This is the story of a woman’s destiny and her search to discover who she really is. Naamah's Kiss is the first in a trilogy and covers Moirin’s early life up to around her early 20’s. We follow her from Alba to Terre D’Ange to Ch’in, where she becomes involved in the tragedy of the blindfolded warrior princess, Snow Tiger. Other than saying that there is a wonderful dragon here, I cannot relate much more without risking spoilers, which would be unfair. Yes, this is a ‘woman on a quest to find her destiny’ plot, but it is also so much more than a clichéd fantasy theme. With Jacqueline Carey’s wonderfully descriptive writing and imaginative world, Naamah's Kiss becomes a rewarding experience as Moirin’s life story unfolds.

If you are familiar with Jacqueline Carey’s earlier Kushiel novels, you will know that sexuality in all it’s forms is a principle theme throughout. Naamah's Kiss is different in that it is destiny that drives Moirin more than her desire. She is no Phaedre who used her sexuality to achieve her goals and whose depth of desire was an integral part of who she was as a person. Moirin is less complicated sexually and instead has magical abilities which enhance her character. This fits with the series progression, as Phaedre was fully in control of her darkest sexual desires, whereas Imriel was tormented by both his sexual nature and his experience of abuse. Moirin is more led by her emotional, romantic desires, however, as Naamah's Kiss covers only the first third of her life, this may well change in the next book Naamah’s Curse.

I really enjoyed the descriptive writing in this book, something I feel Jacqueline Carey does very well. She captures emotions and atmosphere in such a way that you can almost feel the tension or excitement of the situation. In Naamah's Kiss she explores three very different cultures and how they affect Moirin’s personal development is handled sensitively and with care. Secondary characters are also well drawn and have sufficient depth to allow the reader to build an affinity with them as well as with Moirin.

Much as I love Jacqueline Carey, I admit I was disappointed in Naamah's Kiss. I was hoping it would be as dark as the previous trilogies, particularly Kushiel’s Legacy, but it wasn’t. This could possibly be because it is the story of Moirin’s childhood and early adult life, where she her sexuality grows and develops in a positive and life-affirming fashion.

The religion, society and culture of Terre D’Ange has fascinated me since I first read Kushiel’s Dart and, for me, too little time was spent here before Moirin set sail for Ch’in. We see Terre D’Ange through her eyes, and although some background information is scattered throughout, I found this part of the book relied on the reader being already familiar with it. I hope that Moirin will return to Terre D’Ange before the conclusion of the trilogy, and indeed, there are strong hints of unfinished business with Raphael de Mereliot, which is enough to keep me reading the series.

Despite my high expectations not being reached, I enjoyed Naamah's Kiss, and look forward to finding out where Moirin’s diadh-anam will lead her next. She is a fascinating character who I believe will continue to learn from her unusual experiences while remaining grounded by the strong traditions of her Maghuin Dhonn heritage.

Rating 7/10
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