THE SPECULATIVE SPECTATOR
An Eye on Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, & Everything Fantastic

Jun
12

In this post:

 

BOOK REVIEW – THE DRAGON FACTORY BY JONATHAN MABERRY

FROM NOVEL TO GRAPHIC NOVEL – GEORGE R. R. MARTIN’S FEVRE DREAM

FROM THE DUSTY SHELF: Lost, forgotten, & undiscovered treasures of the past

BOOK REVIEW – THE DRAGON FACTORY BY JONATHAN MABERRY: This is the sequel to the much renowned PATIENT SERO (reviewed in a previous post). Joe Ledger is back as the protagonist. Grace Courtland is again his counterpart/lover. The two work as task force leaders for a top secret government organization with the goal of stopping science-based terrorism. In the first book a terrorist group used a modified virus to turn Americans into zombies – a plague that could sweep the country with devastating effects. In THE DRAGON FACTORY the baddies are manipulating genetics with the goal of finally entrenching Hitler’s master race. Unfortunately, part of the plan is to use genetically altered diseases to eliminate everyone on the planet who doesn’t quite fit their ideal. Rather anti-social, that. I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, lots of great action and suspense. The Ledger/Courtland relationship takes a couple of very interesting turns. I loved the villains. In particular, a brother and sister pair of albino twins are simply sinister. The one element missing here that was so prominent in PATIENT ZERO is the emotional factor. Joe Ledger has anger. He has fear, angst, compassion. But I didn’t feel his emotion at the gut level the way I did in the first book. Maybe this is good to some degree. It may not work to take the character to that level of anxiety every time out. But I did miss it. Still, a good read. I look forward to the next in the series due out in 2012. Wish the wait wasn’t so long.

FROM NOVEL TO GRAPHIC NOVEL – GEORGE R. R. MARTIN’S FEVRE DREAM: Traditional novels revamped into graphic novels often disappoint me. Not so with FEVRE DREAM – though admittedly, at this point I’ve only read issue #1. Initially released as a comic book series by AVATAR (and soon thereafter to be compiled into a complete graphic novel), the series is written by Marin himself and thus holds true to the mood and feel of the source material. Rafa Lopez’s is dark and moody with plenty of deep blues and grays and compliments the tale wonderfully. As to the story: In a nutshell, Mark Twain meets Dracula. Okay, no, neither Mark Twain nor Vlad the Impaler make appearances, but this really is the feel of the book. The story is of vampires on a steamboat on the Mississippi during 1857. One truly expects to see Huck and Jim floating by on their raft. Dealing with such issues as slave trading, honor, and redemption, Martin has given this fantastic tail a very human heart. There are tormented vampires in search of freedom from the curse as well as the outright down and dirty variety who will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo. The two primary characters, Captain Marsh and Joshua York, develop a curious tie, which will be tested and brutalized as the series progresses. Yes, even though I’ve read the original, I’m interested in following this incarnation to its end. Very well thought out.

FROM THE DUSTY SHELF: Lost, forgotten, & undiscovered treasures of the past

True horror buffs are probably familiar with the film, some might also have read the book. We’ll begin with the movie. Rosemary’s Baby is a classic, a masterpiece. Based on Ira Levin’s novel, the story follows Rosemary (Mia Farrow) as, thanks to her husband and creepy neighbors, she progresses through her pregnancy in near isolation. Soon she discovers that something is wrong – very wrong. Yep, she’s been impregnated by the devil. For some reason this brings her down. Roman Polanski’s film, while amazing at the time, really doesn’t hold up for today’s movie-goer. Unless you’re a classic film buff and enjoy over-dramatic acting and less-than-turbo-charged pacing, you might want to pass on this one. BUT, THE BOOK. The book, though plot point for plot point identical to the film, still delivers. I was slightly amazed at how I connected with the character of Rosemary. No, in today’s society, I have a hard time thinking a woman could be so isolated as this, but her emotions seem genuine. Her fear real. The reader realizes what is happening long before Rosemary does and with this comes the car wreck syndrome. We know what’s going to happen. It’s horrible, but we can’t put the book down, can’t avert our gaze. Find this book. Pull it from the dusty shelf. Read it. Enjoy.

End just for fun, here’s the trailer from the 1968 film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otPyEsObI1M

Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome. Visit my other blog, THROUGH THOM TINTED LENSES at http://thomreese.wordpress.com

May
22

In this post:

Book Review – Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Trivia

Rise of the Apes (A new Planet of the Apes film)

Author Spotlight: Brian Lumley

Tidbits

Answer to Trivia

 

BOOK REVIEW – PATIENT ZERO BY JONATHAN MABERRY

I’ll admit it. I’m not a big zombie guy. I know they’re in right now. I know there’s been a surge in zombie popularity. I can enjoy them occasionally; I have nothing against the concept, I’m just not on the bandwagon. As such, I put off reading Patient Zero much longer than necessary. I heard the buzz. I knew it was nominated for a Bram Stoker award. But, every time I picked it up, I set it back down and went for another book. Now that I’ve read it, I wonder why I ever hesitated. To me, one of the great joys in life is the discovery of a new superb author. (New to me at least.) Maberry is one of these. His prose grabbed me from the first page and propelled me from scene to scene in a frenzy of action and emotion. I absolutely loved this book. The protagonist, Joe Ledger, is a cop pulled into a government strike force battling zombies. These aren’t supernatural zombies, but rather the result of a man-made virus released on America as a terrorist assault. The story is timely, action-packed, and fun. But what really hooked me was the level of true human emotion expressed by the characters. Yes, in most fiction characters react emotionally to events. They might struggle with some of what they encounter, but usually they soldier forward at some superhuman level that you and I could never muster. Not so here. Yes, Joe Ledger is a hero. Yes, he performs above and beyond. He’s Jack Bauer meets the zombies. But a much deeper side of Joe – as well as the supporting cast – is revealed. He truly agonizes over the human consequences of these zombie encounters. He weeps for those infected. He grieves for the loss of humanity and shudders at the evil that would bring such a horror about intentionally. This brings the book to a whole different – and truly unexpected – level. These characters breathe, they live. Despite the impossibility of the circumstances, I can believe that these are real people. Very well written. I ran out immediately and picked up the sequel, The Dragon Factory.

Of further note: Jonathan Maberry is currently working on a Captain America miniseries for Marvel set to be released in early 2011. As well, he is writing Doom Wars (again Marvel) the next of which is available Wednesday May 26.

TRIVIA

Which classic television series has been resurrected as an audio drama radio program? A) The Green Hornet B) The Twilight Zone C) Wonder Woman D) The Outer Limits (The answer is located at the end of this post.)

RISE OF THE APES (A new Planet of the Apes film)

Contrary to popular belief, Tim Burton did not lethally damage the Planet of the Apes franchise with his lackluster 2001 remake of the 1968 classic. James Franco (Spider-Man 1, 2, & 3) has been tapped as the lead in Rise of the Apes, a prequel to the original. The little-known Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) is at the helm. The story centers around a young scientist (Franco) who uses apes as test subjects while seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The treatments are genetic in composition, and a chimp named Caesar begins to evolve both physically and mentally. Caesar first learns sign language and then actual speech. Eventually he leads an ape rebellion against humankind. It seems they’ve essentially taken elements from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (4th in the original series) and used them as a broad template for the story. Reportedly, there will be no actors in ape suits this time round. The genetically enhanced apes will be digital creations. Technologies developed for Avatar will be in use. There’s no release date yet for the film, but summer 2011 seems to be in the whispers.

And just for fun: here’s a clip from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: BRIAN LUMLEY

Brian Lumley is not a household name. He’s not Stephen King, Peter Straub, or Dean Koontz. Though, many of his books have climbed onto the bestsellers list. This Horror Writer’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner has been churning out great horror for over four decades and has a loyal following. A devoted fan of H.P. Lovecraft, Lumley’s early writings included several short stories in the Cthulhu Mythos begun by Lovecraft. He went on to write the popular Titus Crow and Psychomech stories. But it’s the Necropscope series for which he’s best known. Necroscope was meant to be a stand-alone, but its success was phenomenal and Lumley had numerous stories to tell. If you’re not familiar with the series, this is a pulp masterpiece of horror meets science fiction. Protagonist, Harry Keogh can talk to the dead. In Harry’s case this is both blessing and curse. Since Harry is their only contact to the living world, the dead are willing to do anything for him – even to the point of rising up and taking on Harry’s enemies. He learns from deceased masters, talks with victims in order to bring their killers to justice, and through dealings with the long-dead mathematical genius, Mobius, learns to teleport through time and space. He also feels their agonies and empathizes with them at a deep and troubling level. Did I mention there are vampires? Lots and lots of vampires. These are not the romanticized undead so popular today, but rather smart, vicious, cunning creatures of great strength and greater evil. As to the science fiction twist, Earth is connected, via worm hole, to another world. It’s a place of nightmares, of flying manta-like creatures, a place where people are hunted for food, where human extinction is a real possibility. It’s from this place that the vampires come. And Harry, being the hero that he is, travels through the worm hole to this nightmare world to battle these denizens of the dark. The stories are imaginative, the characters compelling, and the writing is the best of pulp. If you’ve never read Lumley, check out the first book, Necroscope. It’s a great read. (Note: Don’t let the cover stop you. All of the Necroscope books have covers worthy of the worst B-grade fiction. It’s a shame really. I think the books would sell better without a bizarre vampyric skull on every cover. But, alas, I’m not the one to make such decisions.)

TIDBITS

FOX HAS announced a midseason pickup for Terra Nova, a time travel-themed family adventure series. A lot of buzz on this:

$4 million per episode budget.

Steven Spielberg involvement.

Dinosaurs

Writers from the hit series 24

 I’m anxious to have a look.

THE PREQUEL, X-Men: First Class is scheduled to hit theaters in June 2011. Directed by Matthew Vaughn the film will examine the mutant team’s beginnings as Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) work together for the mutant community. Ah, but then they don’t see eye-to-eye, now do they?

Coming very soon: Tomorrow You Kill, the first in a series of audio dramas by Thom Reese and published by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books. Keep an eye out for it at all of the usual book-selling sites such as Amazon, Border, Barnes & Noble, as well as at the publisher’s site http://www.speakingvolumes.us/

 

ANSWER TO TRIVIA: Which classic television series has been resurrected as an audio drama radio program?

Answer: The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas hosted by Stacy Keach and featuring well-known performers such as Jason Alexander, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Jane Seymour can be heard on XM channel 163 and on Sirius Satellite Radio. Episodes are also available on CD and through download. Overall they’re pretty cool, but the music is canned and instead of taking a chance with original stories they simply redo old television episodes in the audio format. Still fun if you’re a fan of the show, but not spectacular.

Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome. Visit my other blog, THROUGH THOM TINTED LENSES at http://thomreese.wordpress.com

May
07

In this post:

Tomorrow You Kill Audio Script

Book Review: Wolf’s Gambit (W.D. Gagliani)

Trivia

Free Comic Book Day Recap

Classic Clip: Trilogy of Terror

From the Dusty Shelf: A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs)

Tidbits

Answer to Trivia

 

As some of you may know, I was writer/producer for 21st Century Audio Theatre, a weekly audio drama radio show aired in Las Vegas. Beginning this month and continuing throughout the year, Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books will be releasing several of my audio dramas. These are fully-produced, original contemporary productions featuring full casts, sound effects, and music unique to each story. As such, I thought it might be fun to post a portion of one of the scripts for your reading pleasure. The first to be released will be Tomorrow You Kill, the story of a lonely woman and a mysterious online “friend” who just might drive her to murder, insanity, or worse. The following is the opening scene. Enjoy.

 

 

TOMORROW YOU KILL

By Thom Reese

SCENE 1

SFX: footsteps to coffee pot

SFX: coffee pouring into cup

SFX: sugar scooping then stirring (under dialogue)

GLENDA:     (waking up) (sipping coffee) (yawns) Why am I so tired? You’d think I didn’t sleep at all last night.

SFX: footsteps back to computer

SFX: Glenda sitting down & scooting chair up to the computer

SFX: keyboarding (under dialogue as Glenda is on computer)

GLENDA:     (sips coffee) Now, let’s see what the inbox has for us this morning. Spam. Spam. Another forward from some woman named Rubi. If all of those chain emails really worked, she’d be a billionaire. More spam. Doesn’t anyone send legitimate messages these days? Wait. What’s this one? “Tomorrow you kill,” sent by… How do you say that? Selbstovna (Selbst-oh-vna). Hmph! Odd name. Is that German? Russian? (sighs) Probably just some sort of prank. I’ll just delete it.

SFX: mouse click

GLENDA:     There. Now I think I’ll…

SFX: incoming mail sound

GLENDA:     What’s… Huh. Another one. “Tomorrow you kill.” How strange. I’ll just delete it and…

SFX: mouse click followed immediately by incoming mail sound

GLENDA:     Well, this is getting annoying. Who is this “Selbstovna” person? “Tomorrow you kill.” Obviously, he can’t mean murder. That would be ridiculous. It’s probably just some killer sale or some nonsense like that. I’ll just delete again.

SFX: mouse click followed immediately by incoming mail sound

GLENDA:     Now, this is ridiculous. “Tomorrow you kill.” Okay, Mr. Selbstovna. You win. I’ll open your little email. But, this had better not be a virus. There are places to report people like you.

SFX: mouse click

VOICE:         In case you were wondering, you do not know me the way you think you do.

GLENDA:     Hmm. Strange. (speaking as she types) What do you mean by “tomorrow you kill?”

SFX: mouse click followed immediately by incoming mail sound

VOICE:         Let’s call it an invitation.

GLENDA:     What type of invitation?

SFX: mouse click followed immediately by incoming mail sound

VOICE:          An invitation to kill, of course.

GLENDA:     Kill what? Kill who?

SFX: mouse click followed immediately by incoming mail sound

VOICE:         Kill me, dear lady. Tomorrow you will kill me.

SFX: opening theme/credits

The entire audio drama Tomorrow You Kill will be available within the next few weeks from Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books. More details to follow.

 

Book Review – Wolf’s Gambit by W.D. Gagliani: I’ll admit it, after the first few chapters, I wasn’t yet hooked. I set this book down, read a couple of others, and then came back to it. Maybe I hadn’t been in the right mood. Maybe I just needed to allow myself to embrace the reality set forth within the pages. I felt the concept, a paramilitary troop of werewolf assassins with a werewolf cop hot on their tails, might better be served in a graphic novel. But then I allowed myself to enjoy the story. And I did enjoy it. The protagonist, Detective Nick Lupo (yeah, I know –  Lupo, just roll with it), clicked with me at some point in the first third of the book. He had typical cop struggles, typical werewolf struggles, typical girlfriend struggles. Nothing was inherently original, but when lumped together he became a compelling character. The pacing is quick. It’s an easy read, lots of action. It’s not a top-of-the-heap must-read, but it is fun. This is a good one to throw in your back pocket and read between bites of your Big Mac.

Also by Gagliani: Wolf’s Trap, Wolf’s Bluff

And just for fun a transformation scene from the 1981 werewolf classic, The Howling

 

Trivia: The term cyber was first coined on what TV show? A) Star Trek B) Flash Gordon C) Dr. Who D) Mr. Terrific

(The correct answer is given at the end of this post.)

 Free Comic Book Day Recap

Each year the comic book industry rolls out a plethora of offerings free to the public. Their hope is to spur interest in new projects and reignite enthusiasm about existing fare. It’s always fun, and it’s a great opportunity to grab a quick peek at what’s happening on the comic book scene. So, this past Saturday I dutifully trekked over to my local comic book outlet and picked up a small mountain of titles. Here are some quick thoughts/micro reviews for a few of these:

Artifacts (Top Cow): “Separately, 13 Artifacts guide the fate of the universe. Together 13 Artifacts will end the universe.” Great concept. Stjepan Sejic’s art is crisp and compelling. The Free Comic Book Day offering doesn’t so much tell a story as introduces the characters. I’m looking forward to the July release of the actual series. This one looks good.

Radical Comics: This book previews four titles from Radical, Driving for the Dead, The Rising, After Dark, and Time Bomb. Of the four, Driving for the Dead and Time Bomb garnered my curiosity. In Driving, protagonist, Alabaster Graves, drives a hearse for special cases – such as vampires, zombies, etc. Cool concept. In Time Bomb a strike force is sent back in time 24 hours to stop a doomsday weapon before it can be detonated, but – oops! – they wind up back in Hitler’s Germany instead. Hate it when that happens. I must say, all four Radical titles have amazing art. Worth a look-see.

The Tick (NEC): A new black & white series featuring The Tick. If you’re not familiar with the Tick, pick it up. Lots of super hero-spoof fun. Great endearing character.

Red 5: Publisher Red 5 released a volume showcasing three series. The first, Atomic Robo failed to excite me, but  NeoZoic has some real Land of the Lost-style potential, and Box 13 registers fairly strong on my spy-meets-sci-fi radar.

Dark Horse: Over the past 20 years, Dark Horse has emerged as a powerhouse in the comics industry, but I can’t say I’m excited about either of this year’s offerings, Doctor Solar and Magnus. Yawners both.

Origins of Siege (Marvel): Story by comic guru Brian Michael Bendis and art by Lucio Parrillo, this title brings you into the world of Siege, the latest in Marvel’s seemingly endless run of must-read cross-over from title-to-title-to-title series. That said, good writing. Good concept. Marvel is still the leader in the industry.

Del Rey Showcase: This year Del Rey roles out comic book adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the classic Stephen King /Peter Straub novel The Talisman, and a new series staring Dean Kootz’s quirky Odd Thomas character. I could get into all of these, though I do find that comic book adaptations of traditional novels usually fall short of the mark. Still, Odd Thomas is a great character, and an apt choice as a comic book protagonist. If done right, this could be one to watch.

 Fearless Dawn (Asylum Press): She’s cute, spunky, and addicted to action. Dawn blindly hurls herself into ridiculous bouts of danger and by some inexplicable means comes away unscathed. Seems fun. Could be interesting to see where they go with the character.

Classic Clip: Does anyone remember the 1970’s made-for-TV movie, Trilogy of Terror? Cheesy? Yes! But a riot none-the-less. Here’s a fun little scene featuring the infamous crazed doll. (Chucky eat your heart out.)

 

The Dusty Shelf: Lost, forgotten, & undiscovered treasures of the past

Edgar Rice Burroughs will always be best known as the creator of Tarzan. Though not as well known, another of his creations, John Carter of Mars, is probably as compelling a character. A Princess of Mars (1912) is the first of eleven books in Burroughs Martian series. At under two hundred pages, it’s a tight, quick read with action on nearly every page. John Carter is a civil war soldier transported to Mars where he immediately finds more than a handful of trouble and action (not to mention, a beautiful princess in need of rescue). The writing is straightforward pulp at its best. Carter isn’t a deeply flawed character as we might see today. He’s more of the classic hero. I’m not sure if even Kryptonite could harm him, but due to the lesser gravity of Mars, he is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Aside from this, I find it exciting how well a century-old science fiction novel can hold up, given the unprecedented technological and societal changes which have taken place in the time since its conception. That the story doesn’t feel so dated as to be dismissed outright says a lot about Burroughs’ skill as a writer. The Martian culture painted here is rich and true. The characters breathe. The history of the civilization is believable and well thought out. Very rarely did I find myself pulled from the reality of the tale by elements that seemed dated or unreal to a twenty-first century reader. Burroughs even envisioned a GPS (Global Positioning System) with direction-finding capabilities. He called the thing a compass, but hey, we still call those contraptions we carry around phones, even though they do three times as much as a Star Trek tricorder. This is a excellent read and if you’re looking for a good old-fashioned sci-fi romp, well worth the time.

Of further note… A big budget theatrical version of A Princess of Mars titled John Carter of Mars staring Taylor Kitsch, Thomas Haden Church, Willem Dafoe, and Lynn Collins is in production and set for a 2012 release. It’s being compared to Avitar in terms of production and special effects. I’ll say it right now. This is on my must-see list.

Tidbits:

Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5) is set to star in a Syfy original movie 51, about reporters trapped in a top-secret Air Force Base with multitudes of antisocial aliens.

Sony announced that the studio will be “enhancing” the film Green Hornet to 3D. The original release date of late December will be pushed back into February. I know 3D is the latest craze, but does everything have to go that route?

 The series finale of Lost has now been extended to 2 ½ hours and will air on May 23rd. As this show is known for convoluted plots, the cast may never escape the island – or the finale. I’m thinking they might run into Gilligan and the gang.

Answer to Trivia: The term cyber was first coined on Dr. Who.

Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome. Visit my other blog, THROUGH THOM TINTED LENSES at http://thomreese.wordpress.com

 

Apr
17

IN THIS POST:

Ideas for Seth Grahame-Smith

A Game of Thrones on HBO

Answer to Trivia

Classic Clip: Sssssss

Book Review – Cursed by Jeremy Shipp

Audio Book Review – The Ruby Dice by Catherine Asaro

The Gift (The Entire short film causing a stir in Hollywood)

Tidbits

 

Book Title ideas for Seth Graham Smith: Seth Grahame-Smith has made a name for himself with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer. I thought it’d be fun to offer ideas for future works. Tell me what you think of these suggestions:

Of Mice and Demons

Great Expectations and Werewolves

Crime and Punishment and Chick Flicks (Oh, right, they’re synonymous!)

Raising Serial Killers for Dummies

The Iliad and Sasquatch

Marvel team-up: Spider-Man and Jane Austin and Zombies

Men are from Mars, Godzilla is from Humankind Tampering with Things better Left Alone

 

A Game of Thrones on HBO: George R. R. Martin’s fantasy masterpiece is set to invade your living room in 2011. HBO ordered the pilot but before they’d sent it off for testing, there was such a swell of enthusiasm from fans of the book series that the network went ahead and ordered a full season. If you’re not familiar with the book – the first in a series entitled A Song of Ice and Fire – Martin has created a fantastic world of political intrigue, warring clans, diabolical plots peppered with the likes of dragons and walking dead. Think, The Tudors meets Lord of the Rings. There are four books thus far, and a fifth – supposedly – in the works. Though Martin keeps pushing back the release date. These tales feature some of the most well crafted characters I’ve ever encountered. I can honestly say the character of Tyrion Lannister, played in the HBO series by Peter Dinklage (Threshold, Death at a Funeral), is one of my favorites in all of literature. As well, Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The Hitcher) plays Eddard Stark, the king’s hand (chief advisor) and the central character of the story. If they do this right, it could be an amazing series.

Books in this series include: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows

Answer to Last Week’s Trivia: the 2009 novel, Dracula the Un-Dead was written by Dacre Stoker. In relation to author Bram Stoker, he is the A) great grandson B) great grand-nephew C) fifth generation cousin D) no relation

And the correct answer: B) Great grand-nephew. In writing the manuscript Dacre Stoker utilized his great uncle’s hand written notes to bring forth character back stories and plot threads cut from the original classic.

 

Classic Clip: Sssssss: Anyone remember the 1973 horror film, Sssssss? In a nutshell, mad scientist turns his daughter’s boyfriend into a snake. Fun, gross, and silly. Check out the trailer. It’s about as campy as Adam West’s Batman.

And now check out a clip from the transformation.

Book Review – Cursed by Jeremy Shipp: This book is bold. A finalist for the 2009 Bram Stoker award, Cursed defies convention. It’s at once sparse, thought provoking, creepy, ridiculous, and compelling. The protagonist, Nick, is a compulsive list writer, and thus Shipp populates the prose with lists. It seems an odd choice at first, but works as an effective device in drawing the reader into Nick’s bizarre and, yes, cursed world. Each of the primary characters has a unique depth and quirkiness specific to that individual. I particularly liked the character of Cicely and her seemingly endless substitutions for the word water. Snowman blood or Yeti tears anyone? Very clever. The supernatural aspects of the book build gradually, drawing the reader in page-by-page. Soon I was wondering just what was happening to these people. Were they truly cursed? Were they simply insane? And what was the deal with this strange antagonist, Pete? Is he just some random guy, the devil, God? Very well crafted. This is one of those rare and precious books that ended far too soon. I will read it again.

Also by Shipp: Vacation

Audio Book Review – The Ruby Dice by Catherine Asaro: This is political science fiction. There are three major powers in the universe: the Eubians, the Skolians, and Earth’s alliance. Earth is essentially the Switzerland of the bunch, sitting back, avoiding conflict, and getting rich off of the other two powers as they go about their five hundred-year war. But Earth is not central to this work which centers on the rulers of the Eubian and Skolian empires. Both rulers, Jabriol (Eubian) and Kelric (Skolian) desire peace. Each also hides a deep personal secret, which, if uncovered, could bring about the end of all they have worked for. In particular Jabriol’s need to hide his Skolian parentage and shield his telepathic mind from the cruel and scathing minds of the Eubians makes his life nearly unbearable and instigates a strong emotional connection with the reader. This book gets off to a slow start. As with any other-worldly piece, it takes the reader some time to acclimate to the species involved, the politics of these worlds, the dynamics of the people. But once I’d worked through this labyrinth – perhaps the first third of the book – I got into the rhythm of the story and went along for the ride. The story builds to a very strong – though, very political – conclusion, and I truly was uncertain how things would resolve. A note on the audio book version: I was not sold on the choice of Suzanne Toren as the narrator. It’s not that she’s unskilled or that her reading lacked emotion or pace. The issue, to me, was that both point-of-view characters were male. Regardless the gender of the author, I always find the best choice is to match the gender of the narrator with that of the primary POV character. It just feels more natural and allows me to better give myself over to the reality of the book. That said, this is an enjoyable book. Not a masterpiece. Not a must-read. But, I was gradually drawn into this universe and might just return for another visit via another of Asaro’s novels.

The Gift: Director Carl Erik Rinsch’s sci-fi short, The Gift, has created a bit of a stir in Tinsel Town. Several studios(including Warner Bros and Fox) are clamoring for the rights to expand this bite-sized gem into a feature-length film. It’s a cool concept, a robot on the run with a mysterious gift. But really needs to be fleshed out if they’re looking at ninety minutes or better. Check it out for yourself.

Tidbits:

Watchman scribe Alex Tse has been tabbed to pen the film version of John Twelve Hawks sci-fi book series, The Forth Realm, a classic good vs. evil tale involving Orwellian government oversight.

Word has it Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) will helm the 2012 Marvel mega-film, The Avengers. Neither Whedon or Marvel has come out and said it’s a done deal, but they’re in negotiations. I wonder if they’ll resurrect Whedon’s Dr. Horrible as the villain of the film.

Watch out Tokyo. Warner Bros. has a new Godzilla film is in the works. It’s slated for a 2012 release. The studio is promising a high-budget production which captures the spirit of this classic franchise.

B-Movie filmmakers take note: Ray Garton’s Lot Lizards was just released on audio book. A lot lizard is hooker who works highway truck stops. This particular batch of lot lizards are vampires. I think you get the gist.

Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome. Visit my other blog, THROUGH THOM TINTED LENSES at http://thomreese.wordpress.com

Apr
08

In This Post:

Weird Tales, Seven Decades of Terror

Bram Stoker Award Winners Announced

Splice – Trailer

Review – Dead Snow (DVD)

Trivia

Tidbits

 

From the Dusty Bookshelf

Weird Tales, Seven Decades of Terror: This book is a treasure. Yes, I know, novels are much more popular than short story anthologies, but even if you haven’t read a short story since that Edgar Allan Poe piece in high school English, try to put your hands on a copy of this book. Let me back up a hair. Weird Tales magazine first launched in 1923. As the title implies, it deals with weird fiction. The stories are fantasies, science fiction, horror. It’s pure pulp, and wonderfully so. Conan the Barbarian made his debut in this magazine. Throughout the decades, Weird Tales ebbed and flowed, ceasing publication on more than one occasion, but always resurrecting like the legendary phoenix. It’s still in existence to this day – and, yes, I’m a subscriber. Seven Decades of Terror was released in 1997 and features four stories from each decade of the magazine’s publication. Featuring authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and Brian Lumley, I can honestly say that not one story in this book disappointed. I wish they’d release a second volume. If you’re at all into speculative fiction, this one’s for you. Enjoy the experience. FYI, this book is out of print. There are still copies out there, I found some on amazon.com. But the supply is not endless. Get one now while you still have the opportunity.

Bram Stoker Award Winners Announced

Each year the Horror Writers Association honors the best in horror literature. If you’re looking for something new in quality horror, check out this year’s winners.

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
AUDREY’S DOOR by Sarah Langan (Harper)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
THE LUCID DREAMING by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
“In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss (POSTSCRIPTS #18)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
HE IS LEGEND edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
A TASTE OF TENDERLOIN by Gene O’Neill (Apex Book Company)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
WRITERS WORKSHOP OF HORROR by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)

Superior Achievement in POETRY
CHIMERIC MACHINES by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)

 

Splice – Trailer: Low budget. Independent sci-fi. Human cloning gone awry. Adrien Brody. A hit at Sundance. What’s not to like? Check out the trailer.

 

Review – Dead Snow (on DVD): Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Yes, it’s a foreign film (Norwegian). Yes, there are subtitles. I know this is a turn-off for a lot of horror buffs. But, let’s be honest. It’s a zombie movie. Without speaking a single nano-syllable of the language, without ever setting foot on planet earth prior to popping the film into my DVD player, I could have still ignored the subtitles altogether without missing a single plot point. “Rrrrrrr,” “Grrrrrr,” and frantic terrified screams transcend any language barrier.

Now, was the film entertaining?

A few thoughts on that:

I’m getting to the point where all zombie movies are created equal – maybe. Certainly, they all have the same plot. It’s the end of the world. Zombies shuffle through every street, through every shopping mall, and into every bedroom. There are only a handful of survivors, and these are slowly picked off throughout the film. I admit I’m hitting my threshold.

But, this film – like any good zombie flick – was hysterical. For one thing, its Nazi zombies. Yeah, talk about the ultimate bad guy. This film is over-the-top ludicrous and proud of it. Stealing some Monty Python thunder, one of the characters – fearing that he’s been infected by a bite to the forearm – takes a chainsaw to the offending arm leaving only a bloody stub. (It’s just a flesh wound!) He suffers little ill-effect and continues on till bitten yet again – in a much more sensitive place. Yep. Silly. Gross. Fun. I might have actually enjoyed it more than Zombieland. The effects are cheesy, the cast confused and hysterical with fear. It hits all of the obligatory clichés. Yeah, I’m getting burned out on the zombie sub-genre, but this was an entertaining 90 minutes.

Trivia:

Last post’s trivia: A 1910 version of Frankenstein is considered to be the first ever horror film. Who produced the film? A) Orson Wells B) Cecil Demille C) Charlie Chaplin D) Thomas Edison. The correct answer is Thomas Edison. Check out the entire classic film below.

This week’s Trivia: the 2009 novel, Dracula the Un-Dead was written by Dacre Stoker. In relation to author Bram Stoker, he is the A) great grandson B) great grandnephew C) fifth generation cousin D) no relation

(Post your answer as a comment. The correct answer will be given in the next posting. The winner will receive a coveted antimatter ghost prize. Though they can’t be seen or touched in this dimension they make great conversation starters in trans-dimensional journeys.)

 

Tidbits: Horror guru, Douglas Clegg (Isis, The Harrow House series) has a new offering on the horizon. Neverland will be available in trade paperback April 13, 2010. On the Marvel movie front, he auditioned to play Captain America, but Sebastian Stan (Hot Tub Time Machine) was given the role of Cap’s sidekick, Bucky Barnes, in the upcoming feature film. Speaking of Marvel, comic book icon, Stan Lee, is partnering with Archie Comics – no, I’m not kidding – on a project titled, Super Seven. Stan will himself be a character in the series, directing a gaggle of stranded aliens in how to become super heroes. I’m a big Stan Lee fan, but, um, wow.

Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome. Visit my other blog, THROUGH THOM TINTED LENSES at http://thomreese.wordpress.com

Mar
30

In this post:

Greetings

Tennant reprises the role

Who’s Your Doctor?

Conan 2011

Trivia

Review of Already Dead by Charlie Huston

Tidbits

Thank you for stopping by to check out THE SPECULATIVE SPECTATOR. This first post is a bit of a trial balloon. I’ll be playing around with format and content, trying to get a feel for what you, the reader, would like to see. That said, your feedback is invaluable. I’ll be looking at books, TV shows, movies, audio books, comic books. Anything that falls under the “speculative” umbrella is fair game. We’ll do trivia, revisit classics, and look at what’s on the horizon. As well, I plan to feature author interviews and profiles, cool links, and other surprises. I hope you stop by often. Thanks again for giving a read.

 Thom

David Tennant reprises his role as the tenth Doctor: Okay, don’t get too excited. It’s not quite what you think. Well, yes, fine, be excited – I am. No, it’s not the much rumored Dr. Who movie featuring Tennant and Billie Piper. That seems to be on hold because writer/producer Russell T. Davis doesn’t want to interrupt the continuity of the series, now staring Matt Smith. But, a quick thought on that…

Piper’s character, Rose, was left in an alternate dimension with Tennant’s doppelganger. A story could easily be formulated using this duplicate doctor which would never need intersect or conflict with events of the series. Just a thought for Russell.

Anyway, where was I? Oh. Got it. David Tennant has reprised his role as the tenth doctor in “Dead Air,” a BBC audio drama released on March 4, 2010. A floating radio station lost at sea, a lost recording, an eerie message from beyond: “Hello. I’m The Doctor. And, if you can hear this, then one of us is going to die.” I have a feeling this could be good.

 Who’s Your Doctor? While we’re on the topic of Dr. Who, I thought it’d be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of the two most popular actors to play the character over the show’s forty-plus year history. Of course, I’m talking about Tom Baker and David Tennant.

Tom Baker, who carried the role from 1974 through 1981, is widely considered the first great Doctor, elevating the show from obscurity. It’s quite possible that if not for Baker, Americans may never have become aware of the series.

More recently, David Tennant helmed the Tardis into a rating blockbuster, boasting twelve million viewers per episode. Again – twelve million! Stateside, that’s a number reserved for the likes of CSI and Grey’s Anatomy, not quirky sci-fi fare. And this from a country with a population less than a third that of the US. Put another way, this would be comparable to a US show getting forty million viewers per week. And no show has even come within a galaxy of hitting that number.

Tom Baker’s Doctor gave us Sarah Jane Smith, and her spin-off series The Sarah Jane Smith Adventures (albeit, the series came nearly thirty years after Baker’s exit and on the heals of Sarah Jane’s appearance in a Tennant episode).

David Tennant’s Doctor spurred the hit spin-off Tourchwood.

Tom Baker defeated the Daleks.

So did David Tennant – and they’re still the most annoying aliens ever to invade the cosmos!

Tom Baker gave us K-9 and Jelly Babies.

David Tennant can actually – more or less – control where the Tardis is going.

Tom Baker’s engaging smile and devil-may-care romp through time and space became the yardstick by which all future incarnations would be compared. He was witty, charming, gregarious, and just plain fun.

David Tennant sprinted across the screen, rushing through mayhem, quipping incomprehensible babble. He fleshed out the character, allowing a range of emotions never before seen in the role. He brimmed with fun and mischief, with a dogged sense of righteousness peppered with insatiable curiosity.

So, who was the greatest Doctor of all time? You tell me. What’s your take, Baker, Tennant? Undecided? Take a look at this clips.

Conan 2011: No, Arnold isn’t making a come-back, but Robert E. Howard’s fierce Cimmerian is set to hit the silver screen in 2011. Shooting began in February under the direction of Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Former Baywatch hunk, Jason Momoa, landed the title role (hope he’s spent some serious time in the gym). Personally, I was hoping for a beefed up Sean Bean or possibly Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But, hey, they didn’t ask for my opinion. Though, both Mickey Rourke and Ron Perlman were considered as the brutish Cimmerian’s father, latest word is that Perlman plays the part. I’m guessing he’s left the red make-up and sawed-off horns at home. Incidentally, Perlman is the voice of Conan in the video game. Of course, they’re keeping plot details buried deep in a Hyborian vault, but the bare bones of it is that Conan sets out to right a great wrong done his people. It’s unknown if the script is based on any of the Robert E. Howard stories, but it doesn’t ring a bell as one of Howards works. (Why no filmmaker has ever gone to the vast store of original Conan source material is beyond me, but who am I to complain?) Stephen Lang (Avatar) has been cast as Khalar Singh, Conan’s entirely anti-social and rather troublesome nemesis. Am I excited? By Crom, of course I am! Though the Jason Momoa casting scares me a bit. I’m just not familiar enough with the guy’s work to get behind the choice. Let’s hope he’s the next Hugh Jackman and delivers a break-out performance with a classic character.

 Oh, and while we’re on the subject: Check out these original tales of Conan by Robert E. Howard in trade paperback. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, The Bloody Crown of Conan (Conan of Cimmeria, Book 2), The Conquering Sword of Conan (Conan of Cimmeria, Book 3) If your only familiar with the steely-eyed Cimmerian through the comics or movies, you may want to give these gems a read. These are the original Conan stories, faithfully represented in the order in which Howard wrote them. Some were never before published, others were partial manuscripts. These volumes feature never-before-seen outlines, notes, untitled drafts and synopsis. Very cool. Great reads.

 Trivia: A 1910 version of Frankenstein is considered to be the first ever horror film. Who produced the film? A) Orson Wells B) Cecil Demille C) Charlie Chaplin D) Thomas Edison (Post your answer as a comment. The correct answer will be given in the next posting.)

 Audio Book Review – Already Dead by Charlie Huston: New York is rife with vampires, about 4,000 of them at least. But still, in a population of 8 million humans, they’re seriously outnumbered. Hence, they’ve formed clans, coalitions. There are mobster vampire groups, fascists vamps, even a vampire gay and lesbian coalition. Perhaps the strangest group is the vampire wanna-be vegans. Comic enthusiast might recognize author Charlie Huston for his contributions to Marvel’s Moon Knight series, but Already Dead is a different animal. In this offering, Huston’s vampire “handy man,” Joe Pitt, is sent to track down a missing socialite and a “carrier” zombie. Yep, strange bedfellows to be sure. Pitt isn’t quite a detective, he’s not exactly a mob-style enforcer, he’s more of a rogue vampire attempting to remain under the radar. The New York clans, after all, don’t much like the independent types. There’s plenty of plot twists and surprises. It’s fast paced, and even when I thought the story meandered from its central theme, I found that Huston was skillfully leading me straight into yet another primary plot point. I recommend the audio book version because reader extraordinaire, Scott Brick, embraces his inner Bogart, enhancing the noir meets B-horror flick tone of the story, and bringing it to a new level. It’s campy, fun, grotesque, and more than a little tongue-in-cheek. It’s got language and gore, and is not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy off-beat horror mixed with a good noir flavor, this one’s worth a listen. Surprisingly good.

Also in the series: My Dead Body, Every Last Drop, Half the Blood of Brooklyn, No Dominion

Tidbits: He played Johnny Storm in Fantastic 4, now Chris Evans has been tapped to play Captain America in three Cap movies, the first of which is due out in July 2011. As well, he’ll reprise the role in The Avengers (beside Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, and Chris Hemsworth) in 2012. James Callis (Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica) is joining the cast of Eureka. Director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust) wants to do an HBO TV series based on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic books. Gaiman likes the idea. But, has anyone talked to HBO about this yet? It seems the Depp/Burton Dark Shadows film is being pushed back yet again. The odd-ball duo had earlier announced that they’d begin work on this gothic cult classic as soon as they rapped on Alice in Wonderland, but now Depp is squeezing in another film prior to Dark Shadows. They still plan to film this year, but…? Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter recently hit the book shelves. The title alone makes this one a must read. AMC has ordered a pilot for Walking Dead, a proposed apocalyptic zombie television series based on the Image comic books by Robert Kirkman.

Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome.

Mar
30

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.