Monday Book Pick: There Will Be Dragons

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

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

Friday B-Movie Pick: A New Leaf

January 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Humor, Movies 

A New Leaf
We’re venturing back to 1971 for this interesting twist on the RomCom genre. Walther Matthau plays a New City City socialite who finds himself in the horrible position of being poor. It’s not some evil twist of fate that caused this, he just lived beyond his means at a rapid pace. His butler suggests an alternative solution to honorable suicide, find a rich woman and marry her. Matthau’s character takes this a step further and plans to murder his wife so he go back to his life of a rich bachelor. Enter Henrietta Lowell, played by Elaine May (who also wrote and directed the movie), a very rich, and socially clueless, young woman with no living family. This film has fine acting, but May’s over the top portrayal of the nearly helpless (except in her chosen field of biology) is a comedic high point. Matthau’s character, Henry, quickly wins her heart, gets married, goes on the honeymoon, and secures his financial security. All that is left is to kill Henrietta. When moving into his new wife’s mansion and estate, Henry finds the staff has been robbing his nearsighted wife blind, all with the help of her lawyer. This offends Henry’s principles, and fires the staff (at gunpoint when needed), and replaces with with a honest and reliable staff. Shortly after that, when Henrietta is about to drown and make his dreams come true, Henry finds that he would miss his wife, who truly loves him, and saves her. A delightful comedy with really first rate acting.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Tom Swift and his Flying Lab

January 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

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

Friday B-Movie Pick: The Legend of Tarzan

January 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies 

The Legend of Tarzan
I was expecting yet another Tarzan origin story, so I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Chronologically, it takes place after the first two books. Tarzan is living in London, he has his title, lands, and is married to the love of his life, Jane Porter. Meanwhile, bad things are happening in the Belgian Congo (which is historically accurate), and Tarzan goes to investigate. Jane is not being left behind, so adventure follows. Really good cast on this. Margo Robbie as Jane, Samuel L. Jackson as an actual historical figure (who kicked ass, and took names), and Christoph Waltz being excellent as the bad guy.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Best of the ‘B’ Movies

December 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies 

Best of the ‘B’s.

It’s the Last Friday of the Year, so I’m going to to back and pick a film from each year that aspires to be a B Movie.

2008 Gotta go with Oblivion, winner of the 1994 Best Fantasy/Horror film at the Houston International Film Festival.
2009 Bubba Ho-Tep, Bruce Campbell seals the deal for this pick.
2010 Tough choice, but I’m going with Confessions Of An Action Star
2011 Black Belt Jones staring the late, great Jim Kelly
2012 Digital Assassin. This low budget, poorly written Turkey dreams of being a “B” movie.
2013 National Lampoon’s The Legend of Awesomest Maximus. Another tough choice.
2014 Sands of Oblivion
2015 The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Friday B-Movie Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: The Muppet Christmas Carol

December 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies 

The Muppets: A Christmas Carol
It’s Christmas, so let’s go with a humorous take on a classic. Kermit plays Bob Cratchet and, of course, Miss Piggy plays Emily Cratchet. Complete with two Pig girls and two Frog boys as children. Gonzo the Great plays the narrator, Charles Dickens. He actually plays it straight for the most part. What really makes this movie though is an excellent performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge. Rizzo the Rat as Dicken’s sidekick is pure value add, from a Muppet perspective.

Friday B-Movie Pick

Monday Book Pick: Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners

December 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

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

700,000 Rednecks

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Country, Music 

Sunday SciFi: Jim Baen and Baen Books

December 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Science Fiction, Sunday SciFi 

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.

Friday B-Movie Pick: The Nice Guys

November 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies 

The Nice Guys
Los Angles. The 1970’s. Cars, the porn industry, “Big Oil”, government corruption, and two working stiffs trying to make a living. One beats people up for a living, the other is a cheap detective trying to earn a living for him and his 13 year old daughter. The daughter ends up driving him around a lot, which is safer than letting her drunk dad drive. You are going to have some L.A. Confidential flashbacks here. Mainly because of Russell Crowe (he beats people up in both movies, mostly people who deserve a good beating), and Kim Basinger. In all, a fun movie with humor mixed with violence. Worth the rental and the popcorn.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

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