Monday, March 2, 2015

There's Something Fantastic About Wales

by Megan S.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! (That's Welsh for Happy St. David's Day.)*  It's still March 1 as I write this and I'm stuffed with griddle cakes and Welsh Rabbit,** eaten while celebrating the day with my Welsh-American mother.  My mom's family hails from the small country of rolling green hills and dramatic rocky shores that have inspired countless fantastical legends over millennia.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy's Best and Funniest Moments in Video

by Sara N.

Leonard Nimoy died today, leaving the world a little less thoughtful, a little less goofy, and a little less bright.

He was an actor, a director, a poet, a singer, and, from all appearances, a kind and thoughtful man. He came to embrace his iconic role as Spock on Star Trek, and that cool logic, gravitas, and moral calm seemed to follow him from project to project.

Nimoy was the voice of Galvatron on Transformers and the narrator on Ancient Mysteries on the History Channel. He lent his voice to two of the best Simpsons episodes ever. He played Vincent Van Gogh in the one-man show Vincent. He directed Three Men and a Baby. Most recently, he had a small but significant role on Fringe.

Oh, and he was funny. Dry, acerbic, and funny. Check out some of his best moments below, and stay for an impromptu wake in the comments.

Nimoy at his hippie-dippie craziest:

Melting our brains on Fringe:

Only one of the best Simpsons episodes ever:

Followed by one of the other best Simpsons episodes ever:

He was on The Big Bang Theory, which whatever. I guess it's a thing some people like, so good for him.

He was musical!

He hung out with Bruno Mars!

He was always a good sport!

And he was a lifelong gentleman.

Live long and prosper, everyone. Live long and prosper.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Day's Drama

Life has been a wee bit complicated as of late, so I've found myself heading to twitter and realizing that there has been great outrage upon the internets but I have no idea the cause.

Then I back away slowly and go look at cat videos.

Today, I happened upon happy net neutrality news (YAY!), but that seemed eclipsed by 2 llamas running around in Arizona. And something about dresses, but I'm going to leave that one alone.

Need some llama drama in your life, here is one (of many) videos of the international event:

If you want to know how the llamas are doing now, see here.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Winners of the 3rd Annual Stella Awards!

It's finally time! The votes have been counted! The 3rd Annual Stella Awards are ready to be presented!

This was a banner year for sci-fi/fantasy films. Marvel kept being awesome, space opera came back in vogue, and a fantasy staple ended on a high note. I am so excited to see what 2015 will bring us.

So who is going to take home the coveted Stella? Will Guardians of the Galaxy sweep the awards? What actor and actress will win it all? You have to go under the cut to see the thrilling results, voted on by YOU!

It is with great excitement that I give you... THE WINNERS OF THE 2015 3RD ANNUAL STELLA AWARDS!!!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Stellar Interstellar Tunes

by Sara N.

Stellar Four is bringing you some stellar interstellar tunes today.

Outer Space Dog from Etsy seller Curious Portraits
This week, performance art group Public Service Broadcasting released its album The Race For Space, which tells the story of the American/Soviet competition for extraterrestrial superiority that raged from 1957 to 1972. The British duo, J. Willgoose Esq. and Wrigglesworth, layered actual news broadcasts and astronaut transmissions from this time period with electronica dance beats. From the NPR article on the project:
From song to song, this tapestry of source material narrates each chapter chronologically, placing the listener inside the drama of the moment — propelled by futuristic Kraftwerk-meets-Aphex Twin-meets-Daft Punk sounds suitable for a laser show at the local planetarium.
Yes, please. The above-mentioned NPR article has much more information, plus audio files from the album to stream.

If this has whetted your appetite for space-themed tunes, I've listed some of my favorites below:

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Gung Hay Fat Choy

by Megan S.

I spotted the tiniest lion this weekend, animated by two children who couldn't have been more than eight years old.
In the next two weeks, San Francisco will continue to fill with dragons and lions (oh my!), bringing luck and good fortune as a part of the Chinese lunar new year. The celebrations mark the start of the Year of the Ram.* The annual festivities have been celebrated in my hometown since the 1860s, only a few years after California's statehood, and the 2015 events began this past Thursday.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Quick Reads: Once Upon a Fairy Tale

Every now and then I grab one of the limited-time deals where you get a bunch of stories/novellas/novels for a shockingly low price (usually in the 99 cent to $2 range). This doesn't mean that I like all of the stories contained in the "special". However, I usually buy them because they have a story from a favorite author or series, or just one that I've wanted to try for a while, so the minimal investment is worth it.

I recently read ONCE UPON A FAIRY TALE, a collection of 11 short romance stories that is on sale for 99 cents. When I first heard of this collection, I wanted it because it had a short story set in Jeannie Lin's Gunpowder Chronicles series. I really liked Gunpowder Alchemy, can't wait for book 2, and I have a feeling that I'm going to be a completest where this series is concerned, so this collection was absolutely a must for me. I enjoyed "The Warlord and the Nightingale," based on the Nightingale tale and set in feudal Japan. It has an automaton creator, a beautiful courtesan with a lovely voice, and a mad ruler. It left me wanting more and really looking forward to Clockwork Samurai.

As a bonus, I also had fun with some of the other stories. They are all quick reads and none required you to be caught up on any series. 

Nadia Lee's "A Happily Ever After of Her Own" had a modern woman with a talent for slipping into fairy tales on trial for messing up Beast's happy ending. They then have to team up to set things right.

"Braided Silk" by Ella Drake was a sci fi Rapunzel that veered into insta-lust too much for me at first, but altogether made sense by the end and I liked it well enough. 

Sela Carsen's "Runespell" had a man cursed to be a polar bear at night, an evil ex, and a historian mixed up in it all. 

Jennifer Blackstream's "What Big Teeth You Have" gave a different spin on Red Riding Hood, complete with vampires, witches, werewolves and other creatures. The world in that story is one that I'll want to revisit. 

There were some that I didn't enjoy as much. "Kiss That Frog" by Cate Rowan was sweet, but really had no tension or danger. I do like my HEAs, but that one was achieved a little too easily. I kind of liked "Snow's Salvation" by Cate Dean, but it felt too much like other stories I've read that try to twist Snow White into a badass. The others did not grab me at first, so I will try them again later.

Overall, though, at 99 cents, this collection was still a bargain. I would have easily paid that just for the Nightingale story, so everything else was a bonus. I also ended up adding some books to my to read list. 

[received a review copy]
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Star Wars Rebels or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Star Wars Again

Here’s a confession for you. When I was in middle school, I was THE BIGGEST Star Wars fan ever. I lived and breathed Star Wars. I watched the movies almost every weekend, I owned ever single book, I knew all the bizarre trivia. To my great shame I saw The Phantom Menace not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES in the theaters. I handwrote a 400+ page fanfiction in the Star Wars universe on college ruled loose leaf paper with my best friend at the time. From 6th to 8th grade, all I did was Star Wars.

Unfortunately, it made my life a complete living hell in school. I moved around a fair amount as a child and I started 6th grade in a brand new place with brand new braces and a brand new terrible haircut. I was screwed. I was also the youngest in my grade, due to skipping half a grade before we moved. Once they got wind of what a giant nerd I was, I was a goner. It was blood in the water and middle school kids are great whites. I suffered some of the worst bullying of my life there so when we moved again at the beginning of 9th grade, I decided to completely do away with the number one thing that made me a target: Star Wars.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last week! Vote for the Third Annual Stella Awards!

Guess what's on Sunday? The Oscars! But screw them, the best movie awards this year are the Stellas! There's one more week to vote on the best science fiction and fantasy films from 2014. Time to make sure your voice is heard!

You can vote RIGHT HERE for the Stella Awards! To refresh your memory, the nominees are below.

Best Picture of the Year
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow

Best Director 
James Gunn - Guardians of the Galaxy
Christopher Nolan - Interstellar
Peter Jackson - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Chris Pratt (Peter Quill) - Guardians of the Galaxy
Chris Evans (Captain America) - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
James McAvoy (Professor X) - X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chris Pratt (Emmet Brickowski) - The Lego Movie
Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Zoe Saldana (Gamora) - Guardians of the Galaxy
Emily Blunt (Sergeant Rita Vrataski) - Edge of Tomorrow
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent) - Maleficent
Anne Hathaway (Amelia Brand) - Interstellar
Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow) - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Lee Pace (Thranduil) - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier) - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer) - Guardians of the Galaxy
Will Arnett (Batman) - The Lego Movie
Anthony Mackie (Falcon) - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Karen Gillan (Nebula) - Guardians of the Galaxy
Natalie Dormer (Cressida) - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Jessica Chastain (Murph) - Interstellar
Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde) - X-Men: Days of Future Past
Jena Malone (Johanna Mason) - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Best Animated Feature
The Lego Movie
Big Hero 6
How To Train Your Dragon 2
The Book of Life

Best Special Effects
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Best Ensemble Cast
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
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Friday, February 13, 2015

My Bloody Valentine: The Best Heart Horror in Sci Fi/Fantasy

by Sara N.

Friday the 13th will roll over into Valentine's Day at midnight, so let's eschew mushy V-Day posts this year in favor of celebrating the creepiest, goriest, grossest scenes involving hearts in sci fi/fantasy.

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