October 23, 2013: Upcoming Movie Releases to Look Forward to! Or not!

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ABOUT TIME

Release Date: November 1, 2013

What it’s about: A guy travels through time in search of the perfect relationship.

What it’s got working for it: It’s a comedy!

What’s it’s got going against it:  A romantic comedy. 🙁

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ENDER’S GAME

Release Date: November 1, 2013

What it’s about: Young Ender Wiggin enters Battle School to train and prepare for conflict against an alien threat.

What it’s got working for it: Looks great.  And it’s based on a great book.

What’s it’s got going against it: Not to give away a huge spoiler, but the revelation that makes this book so great would undermine a big screen treatment.

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FREE BIRDS

Release Date: November 1, 2013

What it’s about: Two turkeys travel back in time to get turkey taken off the Thanksgiving menu.

What it’s got working for it: A mighty off-the-wall premise.

What’s it’s got going against it: A run-of-the-mill trailer that does it no favors.

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LAST VEGAS

Release Date: November 1, 2013

What it’s about: Four old friends return to Vegas to relive their glory days.

What it’s got working for it:  Solid cast.

What’s it’s got going against it: The gags look as old as the characters. The Hangover on downers?

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THOR: THE DARK WORLD 

Release Date: November 8, 2013

What it’s about: The God of Thunder battles to save Earth and The Nine Realms.

What it’s got working for it: The first movie had potential but never really delivered.  This one seems to have even more going for it including terrific visuals, a promising trailer, and a potential Thor-Loki alliance!

What’s it’s got going against it: I had high hopes for the original but was seriously underwhelmed.  What’s the saying?  Second time’s the charm?

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THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Release Date: November 15, 2013

What it’s about:  Chronicling the rise and fall of Wall Street insider Jordan Belfort.

What it’s got working for it: Directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Terrence Winter, based on the best-selling memoir.

What’s it’s got going against it: Why do I want to see a movie about this douchebag?

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DELIVERY MAN

Release Date: November 22, 2013

What it’s about: A man discovers he fathered 533 children through sperm donations and embarks on a journey of self-discovery…and fatherhood.

What it’s got working for it: The premise is certainly original.

What’s it’s got going against it: After a while, all Vince Vaughn comedies into one giant ball of big screen mediocrity.

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FROZEN

Release Date: November 22, 2013

What it’s about: A gang of misfits set out on a quest to confront the Snow Queen responsible for trapping their kingdom in eternal winter.

What it’s got working for it: Tangled did well for Disney.

What’s it’s got going against it: As Akemi put it after watching the trailer “It looks very for kids.”.  Seems like a movie an adult would endure instead of enjoy.

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THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

Release Date: November 22, 2013

What it’s about: Katniss Everdeen returns home after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games, but a rebellion is simmering…

What it’s got working for it: Second big screen installment of the hugely popular book series.

What’s it’s got going against it: I preferred the original when it was called Battle Royale.

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 OLD BOY

Release Date: November 27, 2013

What it’s about: An advertising executive sets out to find the individual responsible for kidnapping him and keeping him captive for 20 years.

What it’s got working for it: Based on a fantastic South Korean movie by the same name.

What’s it’s got going against it: Hollywood.  Expect a watered down version of the original – and it’s shocking twist.

July 21, 2013: A 17 (actually, 21) Question Science Fiction Book Meme!

The gang at http://www.sfsignal.com/ have launched another one of those irresistible SF-themed memes, what they’re calling a ” 17-question science fiction book meme for a lazy Sunday”.  I wrestled over a few of my responses, struggling with the relative worthiness of some of the titles, and finally decided to solve the problem by adding four extra questions to the meme (17 to 20) to round it out to an even twenty.  Er, plus one.

What follows are my responses.  Answer as many of the following as you can, in the comments section of this blog and over here: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/07/a-17-question-science-fiction-book-meme/#more-79721.  They’d love to read your feeback!

1. My favorite alien invasion book or series is…?

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The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley

It’s not an alien invasion story in the traditional sense of the term but an alien invasion does precipitate the events leading up to another (indirect) alien invasion in this thoroughly engaging novel about cloning, restored memories, and a mysterious radio signal from distant space.

2. My favorite alternate history book or series is…?

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Watchmen by Alan Moore.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Alt. History scifi and yet, Alan Moore’s non-linear, iconoclastic take on the superhero genre stands out as one of my favorite works crossing several genres.

3. My favorite cyberpunk book or series is…?

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Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Okay, it includes enough cyberpunk elements for me to make it my selection in this category.  A twisty, turny, scifi thriller with plenty of humor and suspense.

4. My favorite Dystopian book or series is…?

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Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Unrelentingly grim yet possessed of a spirit and hope embodied by its determined protagonist.  I’d recommend it over the similar-themed, better-known The Road.

5. My favorite Golden-Age sf book or series is…?

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Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

When I was a kid, my mother encouraged me to read by buying me a bunch of classic SF – Asimov, Ellison, Niven – but my favorite was Arthur C. Clarke,  and Childhood’s End is my favorite Arthur C. Clarke book.  A race of mysterious extraterrestrials visit Earth.  They bring an end to war, poverty, disease, and help usher in a golden age of peace and prosperity.  But what future plans do these alien, dubbed The Overlords, have for humanity?

6. My favorite hard sf book or series is…?

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House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

I could have just as easily placed this novel in the space opera category and Iain M. Banks’s Culture series here as the works of both authors share common elements: breathtaking narratives spanning the universe peopled with colorful characters, fantastic alien races,  and mind-bending technologies. Big, brilliant ideas.

7. My favorite military sf book or series is…?

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Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

Not only my favorite military SF book or one of my favorite SF books in general but one of my very favorite books.  Period.  Every person I’ve recommended this novel to has become a John Scalzi fan.

8. My favorite near-future book or series is…?

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The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon.

Maybe a bit of a cheat in that it may not have enough scifi elements to please the average SF enthusiast, but it’s got enough – the near future setting and medical breakthroughs – for me to include this poignant, inspiring, beautifully written novel here.

9. My favorite post-apocalyptic book or series is…?

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The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

A “far down the road” post-apocalyptic science fiction novel in the guise of a fantasy novel chock full of allegory, literary allusions, and elusive subtext.  A challenging read, but well worth the time and effort.

10. My favorite robot/android book or series is…?

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In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker.

Not robot or androids per se but immortal cyborgs, employees of The Company, charged with the task of traveling back in time in order to locate and safeguard (read: hide) artifacts and valuable items for sale in the 24th century (when/where they will be discovered). Complications arise when our heroine, Mendoza, falls in love with a 16th century Englishman.  And mortal no less!

11. My favorite space opera book or series is…

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Iain M Banks’ Culture series.

Grand, brilliant, staggeringly inventive and, yes, operatic, the Culture Series stands out as a marvelous literary accomplishment.

12. My favorite steampunk book or series is…?

1The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes

A washed-up illusionist and his imposing assistant battle to save London from dark forces in Jonathan Barnes’ witty, macabre, and all-out-bizarre novel.  There are surprises a plenty in a book in which no one can be trusted, least of all our narrator.

13. My favorite superhero book or series is…?

1The Superior Foes of Spiderman by Nick Spencer

Hmmm.  Though.  This changes week to week but, right now, coming off a highly entertaining first issue, this is the series I’m most excited about.

14. My favorite time travel book or series is…?

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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

An exceptional treatment of time dilation makes this one the runaway winner in this category.

15. My favorite young adult sf book or series is…?

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Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

A seminal work of science fiction whose appeal extends well beyond young adult readers, this coming-of-age tale is set at a Battle School where, amid the training, the games, and the youthful interrelations, not all is as it seems…

16. My favorite zombie book or series is…?

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Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Before The Walking Dead television series became a breakout hit, there was the comic book series – smarter, grimmer and far more character-driven than the show.

17. My favorite ship-based sf book or series is…?

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The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson

Having grown up on ship-based science fiction (and worked on a ship-based SF series for two years), I couldn’t help but include this category – and this delightfully engaging novel centered on a shocking shipboard mystery.

18. My favorite New Wave sf book or series is…?

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Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch

If we’re going to have a Golden Age category, I only think it fair we include a New Wave category as well and, as much as I loved Flowers for Algernon, Camp Concentration gets the nod here.  His refusal to enlist in military service lands our protagonist, a poet and pacifist, in a prison whose inmates are subjected to bizarre, brain-altering experiments.

19. My favorite Future Tech sf book or series is…?

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Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover

Science fiction AND fantasy.  Heroes Die offers the best of both worlds in a rip-roaring adventure that explores the effects of developed entertainment technology on eager consumers – and, in turn, the media conglomerates calling the shots.

20. My favorite Otherworldly sf book or series is…?

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Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

By “otherworldly”, I mean a story that takes place on a planet other than Earth – like, for instance, the colony world setting of this novel that gets taken over by the power mad former crew of a spaceship who use technological and physical enhancements to transform themselves into gods.  Fans of Stargate, take note!

21. The 3 books at the top of my sf/f/h to-be-read pile are…?

Okay.  One of each…

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The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

One of my favorite SF writers.  He’s not all that prolific but his work is consistently great.

1Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

If you like your fantasy dark, darkly humorous, and action-packed, then look no further than the works of Joe Abercrombie.

1A Terror by Jeffrey Ford.

A new release by one of the most wildly imaginative authors writing today.

Okay, those were my answers.  Let’s see yours!