Friday, February 28, 2014

12 Shows We Wish Were Returning Instead of Heroes

by Sara N.

Did you hear the super exciting news, you guys? Heroes is coming back to NBC! How pumped are you?


Yep, me too. I enjoyed the first season of Heroes as much as any proper geek did. "Company Man" still stands out as a fantastic hour of television, and there are times when I'm standing in my kitchen and I think about Claire jamming her hand down the garbage disposal. It still makes me shudder.

The show had a few problems in its first season — I never understood the Ali Larter/twin in the mirror storyline, TBH — but it was still a lot of fun. The second season was ... not so good. I was completely checked out by season three (Mohinder turns into a bug?) and have heard rumors that there was a season four, but I refuse to confirm or deny that by looking it up.

So imagine my grunt of indifference when NBC announced on Monday that it was bringing the show back as Heroes Reborn for a 13-episode run in 2015.

To borrow from Arrested Development: "Really? Her?" In the universe of TV shows, you pick freaking Heroes to resurrect from the dead? I'm not opposed to resurrections; I'll tune in for the return of 24, in part because I'd like to know what Jack Bauer's been up to for the last few years and in part because Chloe is a goth hacker now (!!!). But Heroes??

Think of all the far more worthy shows that are ripe for a revisitation. I've come up with a dozen here; I'm sure you can add many more to the list.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Adventuring with Martha Wells

Today the wildly talented Martha Wells is here to answer a few questions. Her second Emilie book, EMILIE & THE SKY WORLD is out March 4 from Strange Chemistry. Book 1, EMILIE & THE HOLLOW WORLD was one of my favorite books from last year. A rousing Verne-esque adventure with a young capable lead, this was the book I wanted to read when I was a child. I immediately bought the kids their own copy. 

In her newest adventure, Emilie takes to the skies and deals with family as well as a new menace.

The blurbage: "When Emilie and Daniel arrive in Silk Harbor, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of the Marlendes, warns them that she's observed something strange and potentially deadly in the sky, a disruption in an upper air aether current. But as the Marlendes investigate further, they realize it's a ship from another aetheric plane. It may be just a friendly explorer, or something far more sinister, but they will have to take an airship into the dangerous air currents to find out. Emilie joins the expedition and finds herself deep in personal entanglements, with an angry uncle, an interfering brother, and an estranged mother to worry about - not to mention a lost family of explorers, the strange landscapes of the upper air, and the deadly menace that inhabits the sky world."

This series remains one of my favorites, not just Young Adult, one of my favorite series period. I find Emilie completely refreshing. She is capable but not infallible. She has a lot of baggage, but we get to see her work through it. This is also a series that does not rely on romance, which is a nice change.

Now on to the interview!

KF: Thank you so much for joining us!

MW: Thanks for interviewing me!

KF: The first and second Emilie books both felt so much like the childhood fantasies I had after reading Verne and Wells or watching movies based on their books. I always wanted them to add more girls to the mix. Butt-kicking girls. Did you have similar thoughts when you were a child?

MW: Yes, I did. Growing up in the 70s, it wasn't easy to find children's books that had swashbuckling adventures with female protagonists, and that's what I really wanted to read. That's why I started reading more adult SF/F so early, where writers like Andre Norton did write adventure stories with women main characters. I also loved those old movies, like the 1958 "From Earth to the Moon" which would show up on TV occasionally, but the female characters were either absent or were just accessories to the male characters.

KF: What were some of your influences? Did you consciously want to write about strong female characters or was that just the story that developed (or both)?

MW: Big influences for me were writers like Barbara Hambly, Judith Tarr, Tanith Lee, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, and Phyllis Gotlieb, so I think I just naturally leaned in that direction.

KF: You've tackled an iconic character, Princess Leia, any other famous characters or worlds you would like to visit as a writer?
MW: I'd really like to write some Doctor Who, but even though I'm a fan of the series (I started watching back in the Tom Baker days when the episodes were rerun on PBS) the canon is huge and I'm not sure I know it in enough detail to tackle it.

KF: What interested you about writing Young Adult? How was that experience different from writing adult books?
MW: I wanted to write the kind of book I really wanted to read when I was younger. I basically approached it just the same way as I do my adult books, except Emilie was much younger and less experienced than the characters I usually write. I'd never written a character's first adventure before, and I wanted to do that with her.

KF: The Emilie books have a lot of great action scenes. How do you approach action scenes - does it just flow, do you do a lot of research, do you act out any fights?
MW: I've done research on sword fighting and knife fighting, and some martial arts, and I watch a lot of fight choreography. Also I've been writing them for about twenty years now, so the experience really helps.

KF: This book touches on more of the societal issues than book 1 for me, and I felt that it worked well happening in this book because Emilie has had the horrible experience with her family and the supportive experience with the Marlendes to compare. Did you always intend to have Emilie explore her feelings and anger in this book? 
MW: Yes, once I knew I was going to write a second book I definitely wanted to continue that theme and have her explore her feelings about what had happened, and to confront some members of her family about their behavior. I wanted to try to deal with it realistically, but also try to give the character and the reader some closure. (That's something we often don't get in real life, so it's nice to be able to show it in a story.)

KF: Emilie has been to the center of the world and into the sky, where might she go next?
MW: I'm really not sure. The way her world is structured, there are a ton of possibilities.

KF: What projects do you have on the horizon?
MW: I've been working on the last of four novellas set in the world of The Books of the Raksura, and those will be coming out in a paperback collection and in ebook later this year and next year. After that I have a new book idea I'm anxious to start working on.

KF: Sherlock, Buffy, Firefly or Doctor Who?

MW: I like all four, though probably Doctor Who is my favorite right now. I also like Elementary and Sleepy Hollow a lot.

KF: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

EMILIE & THE SKY WORLD  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

EMILIE & THE HOLLOW WORLD Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

In case you were curious, the Leia book: RAZOR'S EDGE: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

Martha Wells:
website: http://www.marthawells.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/marthawells1
tumblr: http://marthawells.tumblr.com/

Strange Chemistry: http://strangechemistrybooks.com/

[received an ARC to review]
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kaiju Krazy


The long-awaited Godzilla trailer came out yesterday, which sent the internet into an excited tizzy not seen since... well, last week when the internet saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy (man, it is going to be one hell of a summer for films!). The trailer had everything you could want from a Godzilla movie and more; destruction, devastation and a plucky member of humanity to set things right. Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame is that plucky human, though he looks and sounds rather tormented in the trailer. While the draw of the film is obviously Godzilla himself (herself?), there are rumors that other famous beasties like Rodan may show up too. If that turns out to be true, my father's head will explode. Rodan is his favorite kaiju.

Kaiju. I've been seeing that word thrown around a whole lot lately. Despite growing up watching really bad Japanese monster movies, I hadn't heard the word until Pacific Rim blew up. Now everything is a kaiju. Godzilla is a kaiju. Are the ants in Them! kaiju? Are the graboids from Tremors kaiju? Probably. If you're a giant monster bent on destroying some cities and killing some people, you're a kaiju.

I'm starting to feel like kaiju are the new zombies. That isn't a bad thing though. If you're anything like me, you're suffering from some extreme zombie fatigue. I feel like kaiju could become as legitimized as zombies have become. Zombies used to be a solid B level movie villain and it's only recently that they've become much more, thanks to the success of The Walking Dead. Vampires had their moment with Interview With The Vampire. Pacific Rim has definitely raised the awareness level of kaiju, but if this Godzilla movie is half as cool as the trailer seems, they might be the next fad dominating the theaters.

I'm suddenly perfectly okay with that. Of course, the logical end to all of this would be zombie kaiju. Maybe for Pacific Rim 2?

Are you excited for more kaiju movies or do you think they'll always be b-grade movie monsters? 
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ouija Wear For You and Your Gear

by Megan S.


This Ouija Board tee from Torrid is one of my very favorite t-shirts.  I get compliments every time I wear the top based on the famous tool used to communicate with the dead.  Seriously.  Complete strangers stop me on the street to tell me how much they like it... and now that I type that out, it doesn't sound like much of a selling point.  Anyway.  Where was I?  Oh, right.  It's great shirt.  Unfortunately for you, it's all sold out. 

Lucky for you, however, there're other awesome spirit board clothes and accessories over on Etsy.  I've put together a collection in case you too wish to be accosted by strange people telling you how awesome you are (again, that doesn't sound as appealing as it actually is.)
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Monday, February 24, 2014

If the Olympic Games Took Place in Fantastical Lands

by Sara N.

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games came to an end on Sunday with all of the pomp and spectacle and parading and silly costumes that are required of such an event. And now begins the two-year wait for the next round of televised superhuman battles to make us feel like lazy slobs on our couches.


In the meantime, let's ponder what it would be like if the Olympics took place in some of our favorite fantastical lands.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

SciFi Street Art Makes A Statement

by Megan S.


I find street art with a political message fascinating.  The mix of symbolism, pop-culture, activism, and sometimes illegal activities make for a potent combination. We don't have much of it here in San Francisco, so I'm always excited when I come across a neat piece online.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy influenced pieces with you all today.  Tell me what you think in the comments.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Marvel May Rule on the Big Screen, But DC Beats Them on the Small Screen

How A Racoon Beat The Shit Out Of Superman

If you're anything like me and you spend about twenty six hours on the internet every day, you may have seen the awesome looking new trailer for Marvel's latest film, The Guardians of the Galaxy. It looks exciting and hilarious. Marvel has always set the bar high and almost always hits those expectations out of the park, so this looks like it's going to be deeply made of win and awesome. Here, let me post it for you if you haven't seen it, because oh my god. OH MY GOD.

Marvel is stepping out of their Avengers comfort zone with this new franchise. You won't see Tony Stark or Loki pop up here. They are tangently related (mainly through Thanos, the big bad for Marvel's Phase 2 in the films) but this is really it's own universe. The fact that it looks like it's been giving as much loving care as the Avengers is especially heartening. I've got a good feeling about this one.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's The Halfway Point!

Hello everyone! Just Meghan B here to let you know that there's only a FEW DAYS left to vote for the 2nd Annual Stella Awards! Since the Oscars and Emmys won't recognize our favorite sci-fi and fantasy films, we're going to! The Stellas will be posted on March 3rd, so make sure you get your votes in! Some of the categories are currently tied, so your vote could tip the balance in favor of your favorites!

Under the cut you'll see a list of this years nominees and the link to vote, but before I get to that, I wanted to ask how you think we're doing with the Stellas? Are there any categories you'd like to see or ones that should be removed? We almost went for "Best Special Effects" but felt very "eh" about it. Also, after some films (*coughPacificRimcough*) were recognized in every category, we're thinking of also adding "best ensemble cast" next year as well. That's right folks, we're already thinking about next year's award show! (Hint, Guardians of the Galaxy looks like it's gonna be BIG in the awards next year!)

So please let us know in comments what YOU would like to see from the Stella Awards, and don't forget to vote! I'll see you on the red carpet on March 3rd!

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Monday, February 17, 2014

A Rant on the Latest SFF Drama

by Kathy F.


Misogyny is alive and thriving at publishing house Macmillan if this science fiction forum post from their Associate Director of Contracts Sean P. Fodera is any indication.  His sexist, childish rant about one of our favorite authors, Mary Robinette Kowal surfaced this weekend thanks to the Daily Dot and The Bulletin Petition and I was almost speechless.

I say almost speechless because, really, the only word that accurately encapsulated all of my thoughts and feelings was...

fuck.
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Women Destroy Everything

Happy Valentine's Day!

Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about something awesome and not depressing.

Since you're reading this blog, I have a feeling you like science fiction. I also have a feeling you may be a woman, or you may enjoy reading women writers. If these things sound like you, then have I got an awesome Kickstarter for your awesome face!

Lightspeed Magazine, one of the premier online magazines for original science fiction and fantasy, has just hit over $40,000 for their Kickstarter to print an issue of their magazine with stories and editing done only by women. If that doesn't make you stand up and shout, I don't know what's wrong with you.

"Women Destroy Science Fiction" was based off a rant posted on the internet (of course) blaming women for the downfall of traditionally male-centric science fiction. Lightspeed has gone on to show that women are amazing writers and are making science fiction better. Nothing shows that better than the outpouring of support for the Kickstarter.

Though they only asked for $5,000, the fund has gone on to bust through all of their stretch goals. Not satisfied with just destroying science fiction, they are also going on to release women-only issued that will destroy horror and fantasy.

There are twenty seven hours left in the Women Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter. For the low price of $5 (less than a latte!) you can get all three special destroy editions AND three extra issues of Lightspeed magazine. You need this. Get in on the ground floor, give some hard working women your money and enjoy some AWESOME fiction.

Didn't you hear me? TWENTY SEVEN HOURS! Kickstarter uses Amazon for check out, this is literally the EASIEST thing you can buy in the world. Go do it. Five bucks. Give yourself your own Valentine's Day gift.
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Have you been to Plasticland?

Besides cats and porn, the internet was made for window shopping. I recently discovered Plasticland, "Purveyors of Kitsch Curiosities & Retro Clothing" and found several items for my want list.

Bags, jewelry, shoes, books, clothes, there is a lot to peruse. My favorite, though, has to be their collections. Mod Octopods, The New Victorians, Sirens & Sailors, Bone Collector - yes, please!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ariel Tattooed Tote - the only problem is how would I keep the girlchild from stealing it?

Retro Mermaid Cardigan - I might have a tiny addiction to sweaters. I want this for the collection.

Jolly Roger Skull Knee Socks - to help keep the legs warm & cute this winter

Poe Lunch Box - need I say more?

Nevermore Raven Bookends - my shelves need these.

Velvet Sugar Skull Kiss Lock Purse - I might have started drooling when I saw it.
Antiqued Octopus Stud Earrings - you can't have enough octopus jewelry.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Supernatural Boyfriends Rock

by Sara N.

As my esteemed colleague Megan has pointed out, there are many things about supernatural entities that make them unsuitable as boyfriends. I'll admit that she's right on target with many of her points. (Plus she forgot another drawback: the crippling ennui that comes from eternal life. How can your lovah get excited about your first date, first kiss, first anything when he personally witnessed the fall of the Roman empire and the dawn of the industrial revolution?)

However, I think Megan was a little hasty to dismiss all supernaturals as possible romantic partners. You can find some shining examples among the otherworldly throng who would be well worth pursuing. Check out my list and let me know if you consider these guys romance-worthy.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Supernatural Boyfriends Suck

by Megan S.


Nothing gets our blood pumping like a sexy supernatural.  Weres, vamps, sorcerers, we love 'em all.  But there's something we never talk about. It's the proverbial 500lb gorilla in the middle of the room* we all ignore. Well, no longer, kids.  You better brace yourself 'cause I'm about to speak the truth.

Supernaturals make the WORST boyfriends and I'm not talking about the whole "my life is danger because I love you" thing that always seems to happen.  I mean the everyday crap that makes a healthy and happy relationship impossible.  Don't believe me?  See for yourself...

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Monday, February 10, 2014

'Shipwreck: The Results Are In

by Megan S.


Last week, after JK Rowling said Harry Potter's Hermione and Ron shouldn't have been together, I asked you which fictional couples you absolutely hated the most and the results are in!  We have two awful pairings, one based on lack of chemistry and the other on general ickiness.  Did you pick the winners?

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Friday, February 7, 2014

12 SF/F Outfits We Wish Our Olympians Were Wearing Tonight

by Sara N.

Friends, we need to talk about the outfits our American athletes are wearing in the opening ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics tonight. They are ... oh, what's the word I'm looking for? 

Ah, yes. ABOMINABLE.



Just look at them! Let's forget about the white sweatpants for a second. (But seriously, white sweatpants.) We need to talk about the cardigans. They are AWFUL. They look like the winner of an ugly Christmas sweater competition mated with the contents of a Michael's craft store clearance section on July 5. Stephen Colbert would look at this and ask them to take it down a notch. (Even more baffling, they are sold out at Ralph Lauren. Inasmuch as this hideous nightmare cardigan cost $595, it makes the whole affair that much more confusing.)

Anyway, I started thinking about all of outfits that would've been better to put our athletes in for tonight's Parade of Nations. Here are 12 costumes from sci fi/fantasy that I'd much rather see. They're not all red, white and blue, but that's OK. There's nothing wrong with a little mystery or a bright pop of color, right?
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Showing Some LEGO Love



Tomorrow The LEGO Movie opens and the entire family can't wait to see it. It looks like a ton of fun, and Batman and Wonder Woman are in it, so yay.

LEGOs are a fixture in the house. The kids love to build and create, the videogames are lots of fun, the kids get into the LEGO books (such as this one) and I always seem to find them on the floor in the dark. With my bare feet.

OK, the last one isn't so great, but overall, I have lots of adoration for the mighty LEGO bricks.

Recently discovered while shopping at Toys R Us for a birthday present: BrickStix. They are reusable stickers and decals that you can put on your bricks. They had several different packs, all $5.99, with themes such as Comics, WWII, Zombies, Town, and Medieval. I really like the Comic pack that had dry-erase compatible stickers. This feels like the perfect present for a LEGO happy kid. It's not something they would probably pick out - I know mine would always go for new bricks first - but once he figured out that he could make new characters, or put together his own LEGO comic with his own words, oh yeah, he would dig that.

You can find more packs on The BrickStix site.

Read on for more LEGO-inspired goodies.
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Must Not See TV

Recently, it was announced that the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods, was no longer being developed for HBO. THANK GOD. While this doesn't mean it may never show up on TV, the process has been greatly delayed. I'm so happy I could throw confetti.

"But Meghan," you ask, "you're a ginormious Neil Gaiman fangirl. Wouldn't you love to see American Gods on TV?" to which I have to answer "Hell no!".  American Gods is a beautiful, strange, complicated novel and being thrown haphazardly on TV would ruin it. I always wince when I see a beloved book being made into movies and TV shows. Sometimes it works out well (the Harry Potter movies are classics) and sometimes it's just a major disaster (I'm looking at you, World War Z). TV can be even more of a death knell for a good book series. The Dresden Files, much beloved by urban fantasy readers, had just a single season as a poorly made show on the SyFy network while Game of Thrones, that grimdark fantasy darling, has gone on to be a smash hit on HBO.

It's a total crapshoot. I'm tired of seeing some of my favorite books ruined on the big (or small) screen. Here are five book series that should never, ever be watered down and made into TV shows (and two series that would excel on screen!).
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February Read-Along: CINDER

Yesterday I saw Meghan tweet about buying a book. A book that I have been meaning to read for a long time. And wouldn't you know it, the eBook was on sale for $2.99. You know what this means.

It's read-along time.

CINDER (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

"Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future."

Sci fi and fairytales. Can I get a hell yeah?

This is a Young Adult novel, however, even folks who are iffy on YA have raved about this book, so I think we have a winner.

If you're in, grab a copy from your favorite eBook retailer - it is still $2.99 (at least in the US, crossing fingers it is on sale for others) Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Or a print version from your favorite indie Indiebound

Or library it, as you will.

We'll reconvene at the end of the month to discuss.

Happy reading!
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Monday, February 3, 2014

'Shipwrecks: Which Fictional Pairing Should Go Up In Flames?

by Megan S.


Well, this is awkward.  JK Rowling admitted in an interview recently that, if she could do it all over again, Hermione would have ended up with Harry instead of Ron in the beloved Harry Potter series, thus sinking one of the most popular 'ships in the history of 'shipping.* The cold-hearted author would have our poor ginger relegated to living the rest of his days in the drafty attic of his parents' Burrow, alone and unloved, with an elderly Pigwidgeon as his only companion.  (Alright, so she didn't actually say that last bit, but you get the picture.)

Far be it from me to criticize,** but I'm pretty sure there are countless other couplings that should go up in flames way before Romione so I took to Twitter this weekend to ask which pairings people hated the most.  And boy, you guys didn't disappoint.  I narrowed the nominations to my top ten favorites and divided them into two categories: "no chemistry" and "eww, gross."  Now you get to vote on which is the worst.  Feel free to write your most persuasive argument in the comments after submitting your answer in the embedded poll.  I'll announce the winners (or should I say losers?) next week.

(Drum roll please!)

Here are your worst fictional pairings...

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