Tag Archives: books

Bookstuff: Podiobooks in Print

Jack Wakes Up by Seth HarwoodI arrived home this evening to find a soggy package from Amazon.com on the front stoop. Fortunately, the cardboard box had not allowed any of the damnable rain to seep through and damage my copy of Seth Harwood‘s novel, Jack Wakes Up.

Harwood is the latest Podiobooks.com author to land a book deal and see his novel—which is still available for free in audio form at Podiobooks— in print. When the novel was released, March 16th was declared PALMS SUNDAY; Harwood’s fans (myself included) mobbed Amazon.com and pushed Jack Wakes Up to the top of the Mystery charts there.

From the back cover of Jack Wakes Up:

What does an action movie one-hit-wonder and ex-drug-addict do when he’s cleaned up, down on his luck, and running out of money?

In the three years since Jack Palms went clean—no drugs, no drinking, no life—he’s added fourteen pounds of muscle, read 83 books, and played it as straight as anyone can ask him. Now, when an old friend from L.A.calls, he hits the streets of San Francisco to help a group of Czech drug buyers make one big score, a single drug deal that he hopes will set him up for life.

But, when people start turning up dead, and an old nemesis on the police force calls, Jack finds himself with just 24 hours to track down San Francisco’s biggest drug supplier or face charges that will put him behind bars.

Only an Oscar-caliber performance will get him through this alive.

Infected by Scott SiglerThe next Podiobook to see print is Scott Sigler‘s Infected (originally titled Infection when released as a podcast novel, but changed in the print version for legal reasons). Sigler is the author of several other podcast novels, including EarthCore, Ancestor, The Rookie and Nocturnal. The last of these is—as of this writing—in progress, with Sigler releasing a new episode like clockwork every week even as he pimps the hell out of the April 1st release of Infected on Amazon.com. To quote a certain wizened old Jedi Master, “he’s more machine now than man; twisted and evil“.

How twisted is this guy? Well, he’s been putting audio versions of his novels out on the Interwebs for a couple of years now, and he’s somehow bamboozled his publisher into giving away the PDF version of Infected for free until Monday, March 31st! That’s right, if you’re not reading this from the far-flung future, you, too, can get the entire text of Infected at absolutely no cost. Nooooo! It’s the future! You’ve missed it! Go back! Go back!

Why in the name of sweet, money-lovin’, capitalism would Scott do such a thing? Because he’s not right in the head. Or maybe, just maybe, he thinks that if you like his stuff you’ll think it’s worth dropping a few bucks to get a shiny and oh-so-tangible print copy. He’s either a flaming lunatic or a freaking genius. Either way, download the PDF. What have you got to lose? Oh, and tell your friends to download the thing, too. Don’t just send them the PDF; that’s cheating, you bastard. Besides why should you make it that easy for your buddies? What have they done for you lately? They can click on the link just like you did. But tell them to do it by Monday, or they’ll be left with nothing but regrets and an empty feeling inside. Oops! Too late! The hour has passed, and that hollow feeling in your gut? Yeah, I tried to warn you about it. Now you’ll have to buy the book.

Are you still reading this? What’s that? You want a synopsis of the book before you download it for free? Fine, here you go:

Across America, a mysterious disease is turning ordinary people into raving, paranoid murderers who inflict brutal horrors on strangers, themselves, and even their own families.

Working under the government’s shroud of secrecy, CIA operative Dew Phillips crisscrosses the country trying in vain to capture a live victim. With only decomposing corpses for clues, CDC Epidemiologist Margaret Montoya races to analyze the science behind this deadly contagion. She discovers that these killers all have one thing in common — they’ve been contaminated by a bio-engineered parasite, shaped with a complexity far beyond the limits of known science.

Meanwhile Perry Dawsey — a hulking former football star now resigned to life as a cubicle-bound desk jockey — awakes one morning to find several mysterious welts growing on his body. Soon Perry finds himself acting and thinking strangely, hearing voices—he is infected.

The fate of the human race may well depend on the bloody war Perry must now wage with his own body, because the parasites want something from him, something that goes beyond mere murder.

What I’m Reading (February 2008 Edition)

Bloginatrix Lorelle van Fossen issued another of her blog challenges earlier this week: Blog about what you are reading, what you like to read, and why. I hesitated to take up the challenge because we’ve been talking about books and such a lot over at The Secret Lair, but then J.C. Hutchins took up the call and I thought I’d be a good little clone and follow suit.

What I’m Reading
Blood and Rust by S. A. SwiniarskiBlood and Rust by S.A. Swiniarski is actually two previously-published horror novels collected in one volume. Both stories are set in Cleveland, Ohio, but in different eras.

Raven, set in the present, is the story of a man who wakes up in a storm drain with no memory of how he got there or who he is. His investigation into the events leading up to his awakening reveal the horrible truth: somehow, in the last few days, he has become a vampire.

The Flesh, The Blood and The Fire is set in the late 1930s, after Safety Director Eliot Ness failed to capture the Cleveland Torso Murderer, a notorious serial killer who left more than a dozen decapitated, mutilated corpses in his wake. From the back cover text: …one Cleveland cop refused to give up the case. And his search led him down a bloody trail from the depths of the city’s shantytowns to the inner citadels of industrial power to the darkest parts of the human soul…

Swiniarski, who publishes science fiction novels under the name S. Andrew Swann, is a local author and Chris Miller (persuasive fellow that he is) talked me into buying Forests of the Night, the first book in Swann’s Moreau series (which now has four volumes) last winter. Looking at Swann’s bibliography, I realized that I’d read another of his books, The Dragons of the Cuyahoga, several years ago; so after finishing Forests of the Night I grabbed the sequel to Dragons: The Dwarves of Whiskey Island. Both were fun reads; enough so that I thought it might be worth giving his horror a try.

Spook Country by William GibsonSome people might consider this cheating, as I’m listening to Spook Country by William Gibson on CD, but I’m not going to argue the merits of listening to an unabridged audio production versus reading the actual text; I’m just going to enjoy the damn book.

The first Gibson novel I ever “read” was Virtual Light way back in the days when books on CD were a novelty but books on cassette were abundant at the local library and I was still driving a hand-me-down ’77 Mercury Marquis (ride-engineered by Lincoln-Mercury). My 30-minute commute to and from work was the perfect time to catch up on my reading, and I would go to the library check out any of the Recorded Books audiobooks if Frank Muller was the narrator. Unfortunately, Frank Muller was severely injured in a motorcycle accident several years ago and is no longer able to narrate; Spook Country is narrated by Robertson Dean. I’ve only listened to about 10 minutes of the first disc, so I can’t render even a partial review at this time, except to say that Dean seems like a good narrator.

Skein of Shadows by The Wandering MenSkein of Shadows by The Wandering Men is a book I’ve mentioned here before. At last year’s Con on the Cob I interviewed one of the authors, Brannon Hollingsworth, then pre-ordered a signed copy. The book arrived in the mail just before I went on The Great December Information Detoxification and I had every intention of reading it while on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As usual, I managed to get distracted by a host of other stuff and I find myself just over halfway through the book.

Skein of Shadows is five short works, each by a different author, that tell a single story. I really enjoyed “Vendetta”, “Fiend Fighter” and “Seaborn Sentinel” (by Nathan Ellsworth, Davis Riddle and Brannon Hall, respectively), but “The Bonds That Bind Us” by Corey Blankenship feels disconnected and has really slowed me down, to the point where I don’t look forward to picking the book up and continuing where I left off. This is unfortunate, because I’m very curious about the final story in the book, Brannon Hollingsworth’s “Tenet’s Tale”.

I Am America (And So Can You!)I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert is one of those rare books—along with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction—for which I’ll break my “no hardcovers” rule; the books just work better as hardcovers. Plus it was a Christmas gift.

I Am America is one of those books that can easily be read in little bits over the course of a few months, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. The humor is an extension of what Colbert does Monday through Thursday on The Colbert Report, complete with margin notes that duplicate the ironic bullet points on “The Wørd”.

What I Like To Read (and Why)

  • Science Fiction – No surprise there. As a child of Star Wars I tend to prefer the more fantastical sci-fi to the hard stuff. I’m in the definite majority minority of people who prefer Kevin J. Anderson’s Star Wars novels to those written by Timothy Zahn. Speaking of Anderson, I also like the Dune stuff he’s written with Brian Herbert, which is probably cause for the hardcore Frank Herbert fans to burn me as a heretic.
  • Fantasy – Again, this isn’t a big shocker. I think the first fantasy novel I read was Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb, which I picked up thinking it would help me beat The Curse of the Azure Bonds game for my Apple //GS. No such luck. Not long after that I started reading the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series also falls into this category, as do the Harry Potter novels, which I loved to the last (more than I can say about Dark Tower, unfortunately).
  • Mystery/Thriller – It’s probably not fair to lump these two genres together into one, but when you’re writing your own list you should feel more than free to separate them. I read plenty of Agatha Christie (and before that Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon) in my youth, but I don’t read much in the way of pure mystery anymore. Instead, I go for stuff like the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
  • Horror – I read plenty of Stephen King, Robin Cook and Dean Koontz in my post-adolescent years, and I do enjoy a good vampire novel now and again (though most of those probably fall into the Fantasy genre). I read most of a Lovecraft short story collection last year, but H.P. can be a difficult slog.
  • Non-Fiction – Every once in a while I pick up a random non-fiction tome, such as Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey—The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World or Daniel Schorr’s Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism. Come to think of it, NPR seems to drive a lot of my non-fiction reading.
  • Chuck Palahniuk – I have no idea what genre this guy writes in, but I love it.

You can always see what I’m reading (as well as what I plan to read and what I’ve recently read) over at GoodReads.com.

The Secret Library (The Secret Lair Episode 0002)

The second episode of The Secret Lair is available for immediate download. If you’re using one of those newfangled podcatchers (like iTunes), the dang thing may have done all the hard work for you; all you’ve got to do is listen. Why, in my day, we had to download files by FTP from a command prompt over a 2400-baud connection and we had to manually set the file type to binary and we liked it! You kids are soft! Soft, I tell you!

Before you had all these fancy Internets and your high-definition television sets and such, we got all of our information from two places: whores and books. Since the boys over at The Secret Lair ain’t whores (yet), they’ve decided to open The Secret Library, an online discussion group that combines the newfangled whizbangery of the Internets with the blood, sweat and good old-fashioned elbow grease of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press.

So listen to the episode, webalate yourself to Amazon.com or get off your ass and go to your local bookstore or libraryIt’s like a bookstore where all the books are free; perfect for all you left-leaning liberal Pinko wingnuts. and get yourself a copy of Fatherland by Robert Harris. Read all the words, then join in the discussion over at The Secret Lair’s official online community or The Secret Library BookReads group.

Don’t make me tell you again.

Bookstuff: Room to Read

The International House of Johnson, despite its impressive moniker, is not a grand palatial estate. It is, in fact, a three-bedroom, one-and-three-quarter bath, split-level ranch with approximately 1,100 square feet of living spaceI think. My recollection of the months leading up to and immediately following April 2001, when the International House of Johnson was purchased, is somewhat hazy; it is entirely improbable that our Realtor drugged or hypnotized me, but I have no other (interesting) explanation of my inability to dredge up the particulars of the sale from the nigh-infallible storage system that is my memory.. Laura and I have claimed the master bedroom and the second doubles as both Kyle’s room and our guest room. The third bedroom has been converted into an office, as has the family room; the former is used by Laura, the latter by me and the catsRosie and Gil, to the best of my knowledge, don’t perform any clerical work in the office we share. Rather, it is the site of their food and water dishes as well as their litter boxes. My office is their cafeteria and restroom..

In most respects, the International House of Johnson is the perfect size for two adults, one toddler and two cats. When I want to read, however, the compactness presents something of a problem. There are really only five places within the walls that I can comfortably read: the master bedroom, the living room, my office, and…well, I’ll get to the other two in a bit, but first I want to explain why I don’t do all of my reading in the other three locations.

The Master Bedroom

The master bedroom at the International House of Johnson is gloriously appointed with a queen-sized Select Comfort bedMy Sleep Number tends to be in the area of 55 to 65., two night tables, two dressers, two laundry hampers, and no chairs.

The lack of chairs doesn’t present a problem for bedtime reading, but I’m not particularly fond of lying down while reading during the day, so the master bedroom—while great for sleeping and other nocturnal activities—isn’t the ideal location for daytime or early evening reading.

The Living Room

One of the first things we did upon moving into the International House of Johnson was…well, that’s beside the point, but eventually we purchased two new sofas, both of which feature a recliner on each end. Laura and I sit at opposite ends of the north-south sofa when we watch television, while the east-west sofa is generally only used when we have guests.

My southside recliner is a very nice place to read; just yesterday, while my young apprentice napped and Laura was out shopping, I finished Robert R. McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour there while sipping Lipton Instant Raspberry Iced Tea.

Unfortunately, if the television is on, I can’t read in my southside recliner. Whether the television is tuned to The Backyardigans, CSI or Eureka, I am almost entirely incapable of the maintaining focus necessary to ignore the boob tube and concentrate on the printed words marching across the page of a novel. The television is not only a distraction when it is on, but the twenty-plus hours of pre-recorded shows and movies on the TiVo are a temptation even when the idiot box is turned off (not to mention the siren call of the Xbox).

The Office

Formerly the family room, my office features a fireplace in one corner and a large, three-paned window that looks out on Laura’s rose garden. It should be a cozy den to which I can retreat for some peaceful solitude when I want to read. Should be, and would be but for a few minor drawbacks:

  1. First and foremost, I share the room with the cats. Take a cozy office family room, add a bowl of cat food, a watering dish and two litter boxes (not to mention two cats) and it becomes something entirely different. The fact that there’s nowhere in the room one can sit and be more than four feet from a litter box is a problem in and of itself; the carpeted floor onto which the cats scatter or track the litter (and food) is another issue all together.
  2. Second, my office is adjacent to the laundry room. The very small laundry room. Laura does a very good job with space management inside the laundry room, but there’s just no room to set up an ironing board in there. Sometimes, the ironing board gets hauled into the living room when it’s needed, but more often than not it is set up in my office.
  3. Finally, there is the matter of the crawlspace. The crawlspace is accessed through the laundry room, which is accessed through my office. Thanks to Laura’s space management in the laundry room, it can be a bit of a chore to get to the crawlspace on a regular basis. Thus, my office serves as a sort of storage purgatory; a place where Christmas decorations and baby clothes linger in cardboard boxes and Rubbermaid containers until I get off my ass, shuffle around the contents of the laundry room so I can get to the crawlspace, and put it all away. This, as you may have gathered, is my own damn fault; more a product of laziness than any true necessity.

Reading Rooms

If a man can’t read in his living room, his office or his bedroom, where can he go? That’s where those other two rooms enter into the picture: the master and guest bathrooms.

Now, I understand that there’s a certain amount of ickiness associated with reading in the bathroom (not that it’s ever hurt the publishers of the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series), but I’ve been in plenty of bathrooms that are furnished with a magazine rack, and I often find a copy of The Plain Dealer in the restroom at work, so clearly the practice is not entirely outside the realm of social acceptability.

That said, I do have my own personal rules as to what I will and will not read in the bathroom:

  1. Books I own. If I purchased it, chances are I’ll read at least part of it in the bathroom. I don’t generally disclose this when loaning my books to other people, but perhaps I should in the future.
  2. Books I’ve borrowed. Under no circumstances do I read borrowed books in the bathroom. This is one reason it takes me so long to read borrowed books.
  3. Library books. I waffled on this one for quite a while, but with the due date for The Wolf’s Hour looming and several hundred pages yet to read, I decided that I would allow myself to read library books in the bathroom. I have a feeling that being read in my bathroom is fairly mild compared to the unpleasant things that have been done to most library books.

Reading in the bathroom is not without its difficulties. Aside from the obvious desire to maintain a certain degree of hygiene, there is also the problem of blood vessels: after about twenty minutes of reading with my elbows firmly planted just above my knees, both of my feet fall asleep, resulting in a few minutes of post-bathroom pins and needles and the need to “walk it off”.

Perhaps one day I will devise an alternative solution to sharing my office with Rosie and Gil, enabling me to reclaim the space and make it truly my own again. Until (and probably well beyond) that day, the Reading Rooms will remain open.

Essay Questions

  1. Where do you do most of your reading?
  2. Do you have a special place set aside just for reading? What type of environment makes for a relaxing, satisfying reading experience?
  3. Do you read in the bathroom? If so, what are your personal bathroom reading rules?

Bookstuff: Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday

Transformers: Ghosts of YesterdayTransformers: Ghosts of Yesterday by Alan Dean Foster is “[t]he story you must read—before Transformers rockets to the big screen!” Until I saw the book on the shelves of my local independent bookseller, I hadn’t been aware that there were prerequisites to seeing Michael Bay’s big screen treatment of my favorite childhood transforming-robot toys, ((I’m still waiting for the announcement that John McTiernan (Die Hard) will be directing the GoBots movie. Any day now…)) but I certainly didn’t want to show up at the theater bright-eyed with cash in hand only to be turned away at the box office due to my own ill-preparedness.

I think Paramount and Dreamworks dropped the ball on this; in all the Transformers pre-release hype—trailers, GM and Burger King tie-in commercials—there’s not a single indication that the audience needs to read a book before they can watch the movie. I can only imagine the scene that will play out over and over, all across the country (if not the world) tomorrow evening:

“One for Transformers, please.”

“Have you read Ghosts of Yesterday?”

“What?”

Ghosts of Yesterday; it’s the official prequel to the blockbuster film. Have you read it?”

“No, I—”

“Sorry, no one sees the movie until they read the book. Next, please!”

“Wait a minute! I want to see Transformers!”

“Sorry, kid. Rules is rules. You gotta read the book. Step aside, please. Don’t make me call security.”

The real tragedy is that Ghosts of Yesterday isn’t an especially good book. The story revolves around a top-secret space mission that coincides with the 1969 launch of Apollo 11, the not-at-all-secret space mission that first put a man on the moon. ((You know, if you believe in that sort of thing.)) While the world watches Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin make their historic voyage to a Hollywood soundstage Earth’s only satellite, a secret government agency known as Sector Seven covertly launches Ghost One, an experimental spaceship derived from alien technology. The source of the technology is “The Ice Man”, a giant mechanoid being, one of two alien artifacts held in secret by the United States government.

During its maiden voyage, Ghost One encounters an unexpected phenomenon on the far side of the sun: a wormhole that transports the ship and its crew to an unknown area of outer space, where they encounter two warring factions of sentient mechanical beings who have been exploring the vast reaches of the universe in search of a lucrative merchandising deal.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the powers-that-be decide to move The Ice Man from the frozen Arctic wastes to balmy Arizona, where there’s absolutely no chance he’ll thaw and wreak havoc on humanity; I mean, just put that thought right out of your head, it’s all perfectly safe. Unfortunately, it’s 1969, and no one’s thought to end the Cold War just yet. The Russians, perhaps a little annoyed that we’re about to beat them to a soundstage in Hollywood the moon, arrange for a little accident en route to Arizona.

It’s not a terrible story, but it felt empty to me. Maybe Transformers—perfectly suited to toys and comic books and animated television series—just don’t translate well to the realm of pure prose. Foster makes almost no effort to describe the giant robots, other than to say that they’re giant robots. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that if you’re reading the book you know what a Transformer looks like so there’s no point in wasting words describing them. And while the story certainly sets the stage for the movie, it really doesn’t accomplish much of anything else. The human characters, for the most part, are just sketches with little opportunity for any true development; of the Transformers themselves, only the Decepticon Starscream and the Autobots Optimus Prime and Bumblebee get much in the way of “face time”, but they’re in constant battle with one another and the only part of their characters that really comes across is the fact that they’d like to destroy their enemies.

I’m glad I read the book, if only because now I’ll be able to stride proudly up to the box office and say, “One for Transformers, please, my good ticketmonger! I have completed the required reading and am fully prepared to enjoy an evening of motion picture entertainment!”

Non Sequitur: Vuelva a la Biblioteca!

I’m back in good graces with my local library, so I’ve been a multimedia fiend for the past couple of weeks. Here’s a list of the audio, video and printified goodness that I’ve enjoyed recently or will be enjoying shortly:

  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Read by Lenny Henry. Gaiman’s follow up to American Gods focuses on African and West Indian deities. Anansi Boys has a much more sympathetic main character (Fat Charlie), and the world felt much more fleshed out than the stark landscapes of American Gods. Top-notch narration by British comedian Lenny Henry adds even more flavor to the rich story.
  • Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. Read by Lee Adams. I’m a little over halfway through this quirky tale of lust, revenge and the general decline of basic civility, but I’m enjoying it quite a lot. The main character is a bit of a nutjob, which makes her difficult to sympathize with at times.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Read by Simon Prebble. This will take a good chunk of time to get through, and it doesn’t help that it was Laura, not me, who checked it out of the library. I haven’t started listening to Jonathan Strange just yet; I’ll begin as soon as I finish Nature Girl, if Laura will let me.
  • M:I:III, also known as Mission: Impossible III, starring the actor formerly known as Mr. Nicole Kidman. I heard rumors that Tom’s talkshow antics really hurt this movie’s box office performance. I’d dismiss those rumors as whiny excuse-making, except for one thing: M:I:III is the best of the series. It’s got tons of over-the-top action, lots of super-cool spy gadgetry, and Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a damn good villain. I only wish I’d had the option to get a widescreen copy, as the pan-and-scan on the fullscreen version is practically painful at times.
  • The first season of Sledge Hammer! starring David Rasche. Sometimes the things that we thought were funny and cool two decades ago should be relegated to fond memories and not revisited on DVD. Sledge Hammer! doesn’t seem anywhere near as funny today as I remember it being. I got a few chuckles out of it, but the show feels incredibly dated today.
  • Date Movie starring Alyson Hannigan. Date Movie — along with its even more inane cousin, Epic Movie — are proof-positive that the writers (or some subset of the writers) of Scary Movie have shot their collective wad. Alyson Hannigan barely (and I do mean barely) makes this unfunny parody worth watching.
  • Smokin’ Aces starring a whole bunch of folks.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman. The only ink-and-paper title on the list. I’m only a few pages into this tale of heroes and villains of the super variety. I like what I’ve read so far.

Moviestuff: Adaptations.

I knew I was forgetting a few things in yesterday’s Geekstuff post, so here are some tidbits about upcoming movie adaptations of comic books, graphic novels and cartoons.

Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday, by Alan Dean Foster, is the “official prequel” to the upcoming Transformers live-action movie. I’ve got mixed expectations for the movie and I generally avoid movie tie-in books like the plague (ditto for comic book tie-in novelsA recent exception was Devin Grayson’s Inheritance, a novel set in the DC Universe. Unlike the handful of other comic book tie-in novels I’ve read, this one managed to make the jump from panels to prose pretty well.); on the other hand, I’ve enjoyed some of Foster’s earlier novels (particularly his Spellsinger series) and I do loves me some transforming robots. When a bookstore gift card was dropped in my lap earlier this week, I decided to give the novel a look.

Zack Snyder, who directed the brilliant, beautiful and brutal movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300, has apparently been tapped to helm“[T]apped to helm” is officially part of the Hollywood vernacular, it seems. another movie adaptation: Alan Moore’s Watchmen.The likelihood of Alan Moore’s name appearing anywhere on screen is slim to none, as Moore wants nothing to do with his works being adapted to film. Thanks to tricksy comic book companies like DC taking ownership of the works their artists produce, several of Moore’s graphic novels — most notably V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell — have been turned into movies without his consent. I thought 300 was a fantastic movie, but is about a stylistically removed from Watchmen as you can get; it will be interesting to see what Snyder does with a graphic novel whose fans are sharply divided as to whether it can (or even should) ever be properly adapted to film. It’s been a while since I read Watchmen, but I think Bruce Davison (Lathe of Heaven, X-Men) is well-suited to the role of Dan Dreiberg, AKA Nite Owl.

I had a copy of the new, extended cut of Fantastic Four in my hands twice a couple of days ago, but ultimately left it in the store. It seems that “Ultimate Collector’s Limited Edition” DVD — which came in a round tin that won’t sit nicely with the other DVDs on my shelf — isn’t quite as ultimateCome on, Twentieth Century Fox, get with the program. Once you’ve released an “ultimate” version, there should be no more versions. The word has a meaning; look it up! as one might expect, as the new release contains twenty minutes of previously unreleased footage and a second disc, undoubtedly jam-packed with new special features. Tempted though I was by this new version, I realized that those twenty minutes are far more likely to contain scenes of Johnny and Ben bickering than an extended battle sequence with Dr. Doom. I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually, as special DVD features are like a kind of crack to me.

I’d say something about the Wachowski Brothers’ live-action adaptation of Speed Racer, but I’ve never actually watched the cartoon. If you’re the enterprising sort, you may be able to find a photo of Speed’s car, the Mach 5, on the Internets, perhaps even here somewhere.

Geekstuff: May 2007 Roundup

One of these days I’m going to write another real blog entry, but for now a little of the stuff that’s currently flipping my geek switch will have to suffice.

Star Wars Roleplaying Game. My copy of the core rulebook for the new “Saga Edition” has been shipped from Amazon and should arrive in a few days. I’m looking forward to digging into this one, as from most accounts the changes made by Wizards of the Coast make for faster, more cinematic gameplay than was possible using previous editions. Ken Newquist has posted a review on SciFi.com and more thoughts in two separate Nuketown posts.

Game Night. On the 29th, Chris Miller, Miscellaneous G™ and I got together intending to play Primetime Adventures, the roleplaying game in which players create a television series then roleplay episodes of the same. We got a little carried away during the creation phase and before we ever got around to deciding who our major protagonists would be we had outlined the major story arc for season one leading up to and including the cliffhanger season finale. I’m not sure whether we’re going to pull it back into Primetime Adventures or take it in another direction, but it was three solid hours of a very interesting creative vibe and we could all see a lot of potential in the end result.

Habeas Corpses by Wm. Mark Simmons. I bought this book at the airport in Oklahoma City because I didn’t relish the idea of three hours on two planes with nothing to read. Had I realized that Habeas Corpses is the third book in a series, I definitely would have bought something else. As it was, I was in a bit of a hurry and the cover doesn’t in any way indicate that it’s part of a seriesNot that I saw anything on the cover but cleavage and bare midriff., so I put my money on the counter and rushed to my gate. It’s a decent read that involves, vampires, werewolves, Native American tribal spirits and Nazis. I would give it a wholehearted recommendation except for one thing: the puns. I could understand giving the protagonist a propensity for punnery, but it seems like every one of Simmons’ characters spews puns left and right and after a while it just gets annoying and detracts from the story.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth. This is quite simply the best movie I’ve seen in recent memory. Over the past few evenings, Laura and I have been watching Pan’s Labyrinth with director Guillermo del Toro’s audio commentary. It’s clear that this project was a labor of love for del Toro, and his commentary explores everything from mythical elements in the story to how scenes were lit to how Doug Jones’ faun makeup changes during the course of the film. Unfortunately, del Toro has a voice that puts Laura to sleep after about fifteen minutes, so it’s taking us a bit longer than usual to get through the commentary track.

Geekstuff: The Birthday Rundown

Well, I’ve been thirty-four years old for a week now and I’ve gotta say I’m liking it so far. There are times when being an adult is all about socks and shirts and ties, oil changes and mortgage payments, but I’m happy to say that my family and friends know that I’m still all about the books, comics, toys and games. Apart from a very nice polo shirt from my mother-in-law, most of my birthday bounty would have been eagerly received by seventeen-year-old me.

  • LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for the Xbox, from my young apprentice. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.
  • The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler, from Laura.
  • A Boba Fett t-shirt, also from Laura.
  • The Ultimate Fantastic Four trade paperbacks volumes 1-5, from Miscellaneous G™.
  • Three Hellboy comics signed by Mike Mignola, from Chris.
  • A green FlyTech Dragonfly, from my sister-in-law and her family. A remote-controlled ornithopter! How cool is that?
  • A musical Batman card from my elder, bigger little sister.
  • Filthy lucre from my parents, mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law, which I used to buy:
    • 18 by Moby (CD)
    • Play by Moby (CD)
    • Hellboy: Sword of Storms (DVD)
    • Dune: Extended Edition (DVD)
    • Blade Runner: Director’s Cut (DVD)
    • Pan’s Labyrinth (DVD)
  • Last but not least, pumpkin pie from my grandparents-in-law. Yes, it’s more of a fall pie. I don’t care. I will eat it now and then, I will eat it anywhen!

[EDIT: I forgot a couple of things!]

  • Police Squad! The Complete Series on DVD, from the Wiitalas. Police Squad! didn’t succeed as a television series (a shame, because it’s hilarious), but it eventually evolved into three Naked Gun movies.
  • Spamalot Original Cast Recording, also from the Wiitalas. Laura and I saw Spamalot last year, and it was fantastic. My favorite song is probably “The Song That Goes Like This”, but they’re all good.
  • The first season of Arrested Development on DVD, from my sister and her boyfriend. Despite several people telling me I should have been watching this show when it was originally on the air, I’ve never seen it. I’m probably directly responsible for its cancellation.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, also from my sister and her boyfriend. I’m not sure, but I think this book has something to do with that “fourth meal” I’ve been hearing about at Taco Bell.

Are my friends and family not awesome? Yes. Yes they are. They made me a very happy birthday boy.

Bookstuff: Ancestor

Ancestor, the popular podcast novel by Scott Sigler is now available in print at Amazon.com. When Sigler originally released the novel in serialized audio form, it had an audience of over 30,000 listeners, including me. I got started a little late, but quickly caught up and—like so many other “ancest-whores”—found myself waiting very impatiently for Scott to release the next chapter.

Ancestor is best described as a blend of science-fiction and horror. Scientists attempting to create an animal whose organs can be transplanted into human beings inadvertently create a pack of monstrosities whose ravenous hunger leads them on a killing spree that leaves the snow-covered ground of a remote island in Lake Superior soaked with human blood. It’s exactly the type of story you’d expect to see featured on The Most Dangerous Night of Television, SciFi Channel’s weekly Saturday night monster movie marathon.

Ancestor is the second of Scott Sigler’s novels to see print; Earthcore (also originally presented as a podcast novel) is also available at Amazon.com. All four of Scott’s novels (including Infection and The Rookie) are currently available for free in audio form.