Friday, August 29, 2014

Outlander: Come for the Scotsmen, Stay for the Hand Knits

by Sara N.

It's time for your weekly dose of Outlander, because that's apparently my regular beat now.

So. How much are you loving the hand knits we're seeing every week? Feast your eyes:


Mmmmmmmmm cowls and fingerless mitts. Look, I'd never actually want to travel back to a time without penicillin, deodorant and air conditioning, but I'm drooling over these gorgeous pieces. Knitting (or "clickit," as Jamie calls it) was obviously huge in 1700s Scotland. (Although seriously, Outlander, is it too much to ask for some knitted hats next?)

This is what we knitters do: We see, we covet, we create. And it hasn't taken long at all for Outlander-inspired pieces to hit EtsyRavelry, and Pinterest, the holy trifecta of crafting. If you don't clickit yourself, hit up Etsy to order some of these delicious pieces. But if you're a knitter, take a gander at some of my favorite lookalike patterns so far:

Pin It

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Falling Into The Mirror Empire

by Kathy F.

If you read other SFF blogs or follow bloggers on twitter, you might have heard something about Kameron Hurley's latest, THE MIRROR EMPIRE. Pretty much everyone I follow has been gushing about this book for months. Now you can read it too.

Writing this review was a bit of a challenge, mostly because I really enjoyed throwing myself into this world with no knowledge other than what was in the blurb and a few "You have to read this" tweets. Trust me, this was completely done on purpose. Yes, I realize the irony that a book reviewer is stating that she refused to read any other reviews before reading this book. Some books are like that.

So what to do with this review? I think I'll do it in three stages. First, if you think that this is a book that you'd like to read, and like me, you enjoy immersing yourself into a story, I will echo my tweeple and say Yes, go read this book. It was fantastic and I want more yesterday.

Need a little bit more? With a phenomenal universe (world is not quite enough here, as the setting encompasses so much and so many possibilities), complex societies, interesting, diverse, multi-dimensional characters, action, fast-pace, this book draws you in, lets you peel back layers while exposing more secrets, and makes you want more.

Set in a world where the stars control magic and a dangerous, powerful star is on the rise for the first time in thousands of years, we follow a few different characters as they come to terms with a rising threat to their world. They all have their motivations and skills, some appear to be the villains, but nothing is strictly good or evil. It all depends on your point of view. The best villain believes that they are doing the right thing, wouldn't you agree?

Things come together and the setup for the next book was pretty damn good. I'm counting down the days.

Finally, you know I really don't do long-out, spoilerific reviews, but I will discuss a few more points after the break.

Pin It

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Girls Play More Video Games? Kinda Sorta

Image: Ars Technica
I love video games and I happen to be a girl. This is a fact that tends to make people's heads explode. Girls! Playing video games! What sorcery is this! Surely it's a sign of the downfall of society as we know it! Video games have long been seen as the realm of men with disposable income who like to swear like sailors when playing Call of Duty. Often video games aren't truly appreciated for what they also are; works of art with stories that would win Oscars if the Academy considered video games. I've laughed myself sick and bawled my eyes out while playing games. We've come a long way since the days of Space Invaders and Pong.

As everyone knows, girls playing video games are often subjected to harassment, rape threats and other abuse from the male gamer demographic and that's why a study released earlier this week made huge waves in the gaming community. The Entertainment Software Association (known for policing and providing ratings on games) issued an annual report about the state of gaming. They found that the average age of gamers is 31 and, shockingly, twice as many women are playing games now than men.

Oh, the strum und drang of it all! The wringing of hands! The threats and general outcry! WOMEN! Playing more games than MEN? HOW?!

Well, unfortunately, it isn't the news I had been hoping it was. I envisioned legions of ladies playing Bioshock: Infinite or Tomb Raider, or fragging the absolute shit out of people in Titanfall. Maybe with our increased numbers we could put an end to the abuse women gamers too often suffer. Alas, this report was a bit foggy on real hard details but it seems as if the increased numbers of women gamers are mostly those playing on mobile devices. Kim Kardashian, this is clearly your fault.

Is this a video game?
Where console games are concerned, men still make up an overwhelming percentage of players. They're more likely to own more than one console and devote more money to them. Women, on the other hand, seem to play more social games on their mobile devices, such as Candy Crush and the Kim Kardashian dress up game. Everyone is playing games, but not everyone is playing the same types of games.

This leads me to wonder, what counts as a video game? I don't think I'd count Candy Crush on the same level as The Last of Us but they're ranked the same in the study. That's why women beat out male gamers and why the greatest player growth has been in women over 50. Your mom isn't sitting down after a long day at work to play MarioKart but she might get in a few rounds of Angry Birds during her lunch hour. Which is more valid? I'll give you once guess what the consensus is on that one.

The study was met by a lot of hope (yay, women gamers!) a lot of scorn (ugh, women gamers!) and a lot of mocking the idea that mobile games are actually "real" games. Should they count in the grand scheme of things? What makes a console game more worthy of the term "video game"? This distinction also begins to show a troubling aspect because it's often the case that things that interest women are considered "niche" or "lesser". Women read more books than men do but, pssh, it's probably just all trashy romance novels, amirite? Not award winning literary fiction. Women play more games than men do but, bah, it's just Temple Run. Not something immersive or important like World of Warcraft. Anything liked overwhelmingly by women is always looked down upon. The worst insult you can say about something is that it's liked by teenaged girls. I can't even express how exhausting, mind-bendingly wrong that sentiment is. These are actual things I've seen or heard. A woman reading (or godforbid writing) literary fiction is just as bewildering to some men as a woman choosing to spend an afternoon playing WildStar. I know this is a shock, but women aren't this hive-minded monolithic block. We're all individuals. I know, I know, that's a lot to take in.

Lara Croft and Nathan Drake
This study isn't going to change the views of gamers and it won't change the view of the companies that make console games either. They still can't "afford" to animate women (lookin' at you, Assassin's Creed) or using them as background objects to be won, lost and objectified. Even Lara Croft, one of the most badass video game heroines of all time was almost rebooted with a gritty rape backstory because, of course, you can't be a strong woman and go raiding some tombs without having a tragic violent event in your past. Where's Nathan Drake's gritty rape backstory? Oh, that's right, he's a GUY so he doesn't need one to go steal shit from ancient cultures in the Uncharted series.

So, despite the hope in the study, women gamers are still at square one. The bottom feeder misogynists have been out in full force over this study and a few prominent female gamers have been threatened with the usual MRA hat trick of violence and rape. Trust me, don't read the comments on any article about this, you'll weep for humanity and wonder what we've done as a gender to earn such blinding, obstinate hatred. No matter what we do, we're always doing it wrong, apparently.
Pin It

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Free Is My Favorite Price

by Megan S.

via

A few of you are going to get annoyed at me for saying this so I'll just get it out of the way upfront.  I don't like paying for books because I go through novels like I'm physically addicted. If I paid for everything I read, I'd be in debt. I mean, don't get me wrong.  I don't do illegal downloads.  I just get them from the library if at all possible, even if I have to wait for months. 

So, if I can get a book on sale, I'm allllllll over it.  Who doesn't like a bargain?  That's why I flipped when I found out about a website that emails me everyday about deeply discounted book deals for any genre I'm interested in with links to my preferred sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)

Yes, boys and girls, there really is a Santa Claus Book Fairy and it's named BookBub.
Pin It

Monday, August 25, 2014

Have You Ever Miraculously Avoided a Tech Disaster?

by Sara N.

My precious
Friends, I have witnessed a miracle.

Picture the scene. I'm walking to my car with my Kindle in one hand and my purse in the other. Realizing I've left my phone inside the building, I set my burdens on the hood of my car and run back. Mission accomplished, I unlock the doors, stow my purse inside, pull out of the parking lot and proceed down the block.

And then I hear it.

SkitterrattleCLUNK.

Something black goes flying up my windshield and over the top of my car.

"Uhhhhhhh what was that?" I ask my husband.

"That looked like ... was that a Kindle?" my husband responds.

I gasp and slam on my brakes, and my husband, good egg that he is, leaps out of the car and braves oncoming traffic to pluck my beloved reading device from the middle of the busy road. I grip my steering wheel, in agony of what I'll find when it's returned to me.

My husband comes bounding back to the car.

"I'm afraid to look," I tell him. "How bad?"

He's momentarily silent as he looks it over. I'm picturing a shattered screen, a case cracked down the middle, an expensive lightweight brick.

"It's ... it's OK," he says, wondering warming his voice. "It works. It's changing pages. It's only a little scuffed on the bottom corner."

Behold, the carnage.
I reach for my reading companion and smooth my fingers down its almost entirely unblemished sides. I flip through an experimental few pages of "The Magician's Land" to satisfy myself that it is, in fact, in perfect working order. And it is.

So. That's my technology miracle for the summer. Hats off to Amazon for making one heck of a product that survived a short flight and a hard fall — case-less, no less.

How about you, readers? Ever had a device you thought for sure was a goner, only to find it defying the odds?
Pin It

Friday, August 22, 2014

Outlander and the Female Gaze

by Sara N.

We've been gifted with two episodes of Outlander so far. Is it too early to draw conclusions? I say no, let's conclude away: Outlander is, so far, employing an explicitly female gaze.

This shouldn't be a surprise since its main character is Claire Randall, who falls through time and drives the story through her fish-out-of-water experiences. Her frustration and powerlessness at being a woman in the 1700s, a time when women carry little value, make up a great deal of the first book and, presumably, the first season.

Not only does the show employ a female protagonist, but so far, it seems to be filmed for the non-male gaze. And here's why that's notable.


So. I've written before about the idea of the prevailing male gaze in our film and television entertainment. Suggested by feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey in the 1970s, it's a theory that says (and I'm hugely simplifying here), filmmakers assume that the viewing audience is male and heterosexual, and they create images to please that heterosexual male gaze. As such, women are treated as sexual objects, designed to be looked at by an appreciative male audience. This is why you have, say, Alice Eve stripping to her skivvies for no reason in Star Trek Into Darkness while shots of Benedict Cumberbatch showering and Chris Pine sans pants were removed from the the film. Those making the editing decisions assumed the audience wanted to see an unclad woman, but the sight of an unclad man would make them uncomfortable.

This is obviously hogwash. But it's pervasive hogwash. And it's why the two episodes of Outlander that we've seen so far have raised my eyebrows.

Sure, we saw actress Caitriona Balfe's goodies on screen in the first two episodes. In the pilot, she has a sex scene that shows her naked breasts and butt. The butt shot lingers a bit, but her breasts are in motion and mostly obscured by her partner, as opposed to being the centerpiece of the scene.

In episode 2, Claire's breasts are seen briefly in a scene in which she's getting dressed in 18th century garb. But the point of that scene, as I read it, was the stripping down of 20th century Claire to make her over into an 18th century woman. We see the cumbersome layers that are fitted to her body, which sharply contrast the simple dresses she wore in the 1940s. The morning light is almost harsh on her skin, and again, she's moving and active, and the camera doesn't linger on her naked chest.

Now, compare Claire's brief moments of undress with the episode 2 scene of Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). In it, he doffs his shirt so Claire can clean a shoulder wound. He remains shirtless for the whole scene, complete with flashbacks, while the glow of the fire bathes him in a warm, mellow light. Certainly, a bare male chest doesn't carry the same titillation factor that a bare female chest does, but it's definite eye candy that's explicitly on display. Jamie becomes the object of a desiring, sexual gaze in a way that could perhaps be off-putting to a straight male viewer.



Compare that to Game of Thrones. (A quick interjection: People keep comparing these two shows, and I don't really know why. Both are historical and based on popular, dense novels with hints of magic in them, but that's really where the similarities stop. Yet here I am, about to do the same thing.) Anyway, in GoT, when you've got a woman in a sex scene, she's probably pretty openly displaying her assets, and the camera is caressing those curves. Many, many women are nude for the purpose of set decoration, only there to be looked at. Yet you don't see the same types of shots for the male members of the cast. (The word "member" here is intentional.)

In addition, I'm curious what this could mean for straight male viewership. Will Jamie's fire-kissed pecs scare off men? Much has been written about the alleged struggle to recruit male viewers who are turned off by the whiff of romance surrounding the show. Will the lack of base T&A combined with handsome, shirtless Jamie be an extra hindrance to male viewers? I hope not; I, for one, don't think that straight guys are such neanderthals that they need naked boobies to tune in. A compelling story and intriguing characters should be enough for us all, men and women alike. 

So, will Outlander continue to prioritize a non-straight male gaze in upcoming episodes? I can't wait to find out.

If you'd like to read Laura Mulvey's original essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," you can find it here
Pin It

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Things

I've been needing some good, happy news. Then, what should appear on my "Most Popular" list on Netflix?


COSMOS season one, narrated by the incomparable Neil deGrasse Tyson and inspired by Carl Sagan's groundbreaking series, is taking me on a journey of the imagination through space and time and I love every second.

I can listen to "We are made of star stuff" over and over again.

If you have not watched it yet, I highly recommend it.

You can find out more about the series here.

I also found a new installment of FOX AND WILLOW. Created by Allison Pang and Irma "Aimo" Ahmed, this fairytale-inspired webcomic follows a princess on the run and her fox companion. Nothing is ever as it seems, and I love as we slowly peel back all of the layers, uncovering even more. It's fabulous and if you haven't read it yet, you need to visit here.

Note: Some panels are not really safe for work. You've been warned!

What's making you happy this week?

Pin It

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Where's Gamora?

I think we can all agree that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is basically the best movie ever made. We can't stop listening to the soundtrack (currently #1 on the Billboard charts!), we can't stop looking at Groot and Rocket fan art and we certainly can't stop buying Guardians merchandise. I am sure there are a bunch of designers toiling away at Marvel to bring us a dancing baby Groot just in time for Christmas.

Guardians of the Galaxy is also a massive leap forward for women in comics. The script was written by a woman, over 44% of the opening week audience were women and it had an amazing female character that wasn't just a lifeless love interest or sex kitten eye candy. Gamora was intelligent, noble and interesting. Frankly, she's kinda out of Star Lord's league. Despite the massive outpouring of fan devotion and attention, Gamora has been very noticeably absent from almost all of Guardians of the Galaxy's merchandise.

Marvel, what the hell?

If you're looking for Gamora, you are shit out of luck. She has a Lego toy and a Funko Pop figure but that's literally about it. She isn't on the t-shirts or the marketing materials, you won't find her on pencil cases or comic books. Suddenly, the team has become just a group of men (and a tree). Gamora's villainous sister, Nebula, is also completely missing. Thankfully, I'm not the only one who has noticed this. There's been a Twitter campaign recently asking Marvel and Disney #wheresgamora. Neither company has made a statement yet about the woeful exclusion of our favorite asskicking Guardian. Where are Marvel and Disney making it so hard for me to give them my money? It's like they don't even want it. Is my dollar less good because it comes from a woman?
The company that HAS made a statement is a store for children's clothing called The Children's Place. A concerned mother emailed them about the lack of Guardians merch for girls and how the boy's t-shirt didn't feature Gamora at all. The store replied basically saying that since it's boy merch, they excluded her. Because boys can't like Gamora? Because it's somehow less masculine to include a female character on a shirt for boys?
Here's a fundamental problem about being a woman. We're told and expected to be able to emphasize with male characters. We are forced to be able to relate to male characters because so often there are no female characters for us to latch onto. We grow up with books and films that are male-centric but the same isn't said of boys. Boys don't have to relate to women characters at all and some men act like it's a deep and bitter insult to even be asked to. It's a hugely toxic attitude and it leads to bullshit like a company blithely saying that a boy shirt can't have a girl character on it.

I am getting really tired of banging my head against a wall about these issues. Marvel, Disney, where is Gamora?!
Pin It

Monday, August 18, 2014

Halloween Cometh

by Megan S.

Flying Dragon Platter
I, like the rest of the Stellar Four ladies, like to keep Halloween in my heart year round, so I've been waiting with baited breath for this year's new creepy decor.  I've been checking Pottery Barn's website practically everyday for their latest goodies and they're finally here!  Oh, you guys, I want so many things.  Number one on the list is the most awesome cake stand EVER.   Thank goodness my birthday is just around the corner, because I think I might just be getting it from the most wonderful mother in the world...

*Cough*

So, anywho, I think you'll love a number of the pieces too.  Here are my faves.
Pin It

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Talent for Villainy

by the Ladies of Stellar Four

As we near the end of your stay at Camp Supervillain, we come to the moment that either terrifies you, sealing your doom as you quiver, a deer in the light of the oncoming truck, or like the proverbial butterfly spreading its wings, promotes you to the loftiest heights. Be sure you are a Monarch. They're poisonous.

It's time for our annual talent show. We'll share some of the past performances of our illustrious staff, as well as a performance from a rival villain academy, in the hopes of inspiring you. Do not disappoint.

Dr. Doofenshmirtz tells us about life in Gimmelshtump.


Loki shows off some moves (a man of many personas). Take notes in how to work a crowd.

Ursula sings and convinces her victim to make a deal. Expertly done.

The Academy of Villains dance crew. Precision and style.

Pin It

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hello Mother, Hello Father


Sending letters home is an integral part of the camp experience. Sharing triumphs and defeats with your parental units, guardians, or shadowy government agencies that control your every move, is encouraged.

Note: All mail may be monitored.

Dear Parental Units,

It's a lot hotter in the volcano than I thought it would be. I earned my own Mini-Me, but my night raid on the Superhero camp did not quite go according to plan. This is the last time I let you send me anywhere with bargain basement materials.

Dr. Evil keeps measuring my head and muttering about freaking laser beams. I'm told to "zip it" whenever I ask about his plans.

If you have any urgent job I could undertake at home, now would be a good time to pick me up.



Hello Shadow Bureaucrat who serves as a parental figure. Hello cryptocracy responsible for my existence.

Here I am a Camp Supervillain. They say it isn't worth complaining as we'll have some productive time in the lab when it stops acid raining.

You remember (or can access her NSA file) Joey Spivey?  She ran afoul with camp counselor Poison Ivy.  She said Ivy's flytrap was no prize winner.  The next day, Joey found toxic mushrooms in her mediocre stroganoff dinner.

All the counselors hate the neighboring camp, so Ursula's put something in the superheroes' water supply to cause stomach cramp. Counselor Lex Luthor says he doesn't want to me to be a pushover. I think that's why he blew up my stuffed toy, Grover.

Now, I don't wish to alarm you, but I think my bunkmate has the Harpy Bird Flu. And Trudy Crenshon? She's been "unfortunately, unintentionally shifted into another dimension."

Take me home, I fear what might become of me. Take me home. Can't you see they're out to get me? Don't leave m...


Dear Lord and Lady Stuffington,

I was assured upon my departure for this godforsaken place that you had wired the funds to the appropriate sources and that I would be placed in Asgaard.

My mentor, for lack of a better term, is Dr. Doofenshmirtz.

So far I have learned that you should not place self-destruct buttons on the bottom of your robot's foot, that life in Gimmelshtump makes Barkley's Preparatory for Ambitious Children look like Disneyland, and that there's a platypus with a mean right hook.

Did you know that here they send animals after you to stop your plans? Animals. WITH HATS.

On the upside, Love Handel has been booked for the duration and have provided a life soundtrack for the week.


Dear Mother and Father,

I was assigned to Asgaard, as we planned. Mom, that acquisition of funds from the other camper was a stroke of genius that I know I will have to repay. With the tools I learn today, I will be assured of a prosperous tomorrow.

I seem to be quite adept at Master Loki's shape-changing ability.

So adept, that I plan to impersonate Loki himself and pay a visit to the lovely Poison Ivy.

P.S. It so happens that Master Loki does an impeccable impersonation of Poison Ivy. I'm told my hair will grow back and that the green tinge to my skin won't last more than a year. Tops.


Dear Bank That Oversees My Trust Fund,

I am writing this obligatory note to inform you of how your most recent disbursement of funds has been allocated, as I know that you are required to keep track of expenditures after the shocking and untimely death of my parents in that completely unexpected hot air balloon accident. (Who could have predicted that the basket would have a weak spot on the bottom AND that the ropes securing it to the balloon would be so badly frayed AND that the the balloon would spring a massive leak AND that the gas tank would erupt so unexpectedly? Certainly not I.)

Please note for your records that I am currently enrolled at a summer camp for like-minded youth, where I am learning skills that will be beneficial to me in the future. I have been assigned to Dr. Evil's volcano cabin, where we were awakened at dawn on our first day for a ritualistic shaving of our — actually, I believe that aspect of the ritual is meant to be kept a secret. Suffice it to say, our cabin has experienced a number of bonding experiences that will lead to spirited competition in later years when we begin to compete with our old chums for global supremacy.

While at camp, I have enjoyed my lessons in archery, ransom note composition, and manipulating global currency exchanges. (Side note: I believe I can offer you some advice for your future dealings with certain Eastern European bankers.) In addition, I have come to believe that a gray jumpsuit is the outfit of the future. I recommend adopting them as your corporate uniform immediately.

I hope this is enough explanation for how I have allocated the trust funds you provided me, and I look forward to seeing you again at the annual Thanksgiving shareholders meeting/ward of the bank dinner.

Cordially,
F. Jones

Pin It

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Evil Arts & Crafts

by the Ladies of Stellar Four

Costumes


Any super villain worth their volcano lair will tell you that a costume is essential for proper goody-two-shoes fighting. Here at Supervillain Summer Camp, you'll learn the basics of fashion! You'll master everything from learning to sew, to making patterns and designing your own outfits that will strike fear in the hearts of superheroes everywhere. You'll also be taught the finer points of makeup's uses so you can take your look from henchman to head villain in charge!

Drama

Developing acting chops will aid your villainy in many unexpected ways. From gaining the confidence and gravitas to give that gloating speech to your soon to be doomed hero, to using improv to help you always roll with the punches. During this activity, you'll learn all the rules of acting, improv and comedy. At the end of the summer, we'll perform Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's most villainous play.

Video Production

Prefer a more elegant and insidious way to bend the minds of your victims? Learn how to manipulate the media and television-viewing public through subliminal messages and propaganda. Create viral videos, with extra credit if they contain actual viruses.

Lanyards


Here at Supervillain Summer Camp, we'll teach you how to take a lanyard, that summer camp arts and craft staple, and make it actually useful for both offense and defense. We'll teach you how to embed small, bead-like explosives into your handmade lanyards so your enemies, those do-gooders, will unknowingly wear the means of their demise around their necks. (Classes on the infiltration skills necessary to lure your enemies into wearing your hand-crafted jewelry will be tomorrow afternoon, as is the workshop on timed remote explosives.) And if you prefer to make lanyard for your own benefit, we'll teach you how to reinforce a lanyard's tensile strength to accommodate the weight of a KA-BAR knife or small Glock.
Pin It

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Supervillain Counselors & Lairs

by the Ladies of Stellar Four

Now that you've arrived, it is time for lair assignments. Headed by our expert staff, your counselors are not relegated to mere bed checks. They are your mentors, your instructors, and above all else, your adversaries. Trust them as you would trust each other.

Asgaard - Loki

Experience the magnetic draw of Loki as well as observe strategies for intergalactic warfare, negotiation and familial discord. Most importantly, you will learn how to become more popular than your heroic counterpart. The palatial setting and enigmatic persona of your leader will make you the envy of other campers. Be prepared for retaliation at all times.

Creepy Castle - Dracula

For villains with a penchant for the supernatural, Castle Dracula affords ambiance, Renfields and Igors upon request, a fully stocked dungeon, frequent lightning storms, and for the budding Frankensteins a laboratory complete with spare parts and roof access. Learn the powers of hypnosis, flight, transforming into mist, shadows bats and wolves, and how to build your own undead army. Sparkles will not be tolerated.

Blossom St. Turkish Baths - Poison Ivy

The lush accommodations in Ivy's cabin are the perfect for the botanically inclined li'l villains.  PLEASE NOTE: we recommend campers with severe plant-based allergies chose other locations. Remember the motto, personal safety first!

The campers that do stay with Ivy are in for a treat.  The counselor specializes in home-grown neurotoxins and her award-winning class "Attractive Nuisance: How to use color to gain the attention of your mark" is always standing room only.

Pin It

Welcome to Camp Supervillain

by the Ladies of Stellar Four



Welcome to Supervillain Summer Camp, future supervillains and masters of mayhem!

We have a week of activities designed to fully explore your potential for evil, cunning, leadership and gadgetry. Under the tutelage of your illustrious counselors, you will create doomsday machines, explore international negotiations, participate in a coup (or two), excel in advanced scheming, and of course the real game, surviving the machinations of your fellow campers and staff.

As you may be aware, the Superhero Camp is across the lake...of fire. You are required to cause as much trouble as possible as well as take notes on response times and techniques. Today's camper is tomorrow's nemesis.

Camp uniforms and bedding will be provided in accordance to your assigned lair. Henchmen, Igors, robot servants and Renfields are already in your assigned lairs. We suggest you pack the following:


The Art of War by Sun Tzu

"Conflict is an inevitable part of life," and we at Supervillain camp embrace this concept wholeheartedly. Studied by politicians and CEOs as well as military leaders, this book is essential reading for all campers.


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If there's any skill a successful supervillain needs, it's how to charm the pants off your target in order to get what you need.  Whether it's gathering henchmen or getting the appropriate zoning laws changed so they can build their crystal palace-styled lair in the middle of suburbia, campers will be using the tactics learned in this 80 year old book still in print today.

Pin It

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kilts. And More Kilts. And Then More Kilts.

by Sara N.

I've had kilts on the brain this week. It's all because of Jamie Fraser, of course.


Millions of readers have fallen headlong into the world Diana Gabaldon created with her epic time travel/action/romance/fantasy/war series featuring fallen-through-time heroine Claire Randall, who finds herself transported from post-WWII Scotland to Scotland in the 1700s. And I suspect millions more fans are about to discover this sexy adventure series when Outlander premieres on Starz this Saturday.

Here's my prediction: It's going to be big, and kilt frenzy is going to be even bigger.

But how will actor Sam Heughan in his tartan stack up against other famous kilt-wearers? Let's take a look.

Pin It

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Iron Night Winner



And the winner of M.L. Brennan's IRON NIGHT is Susan!

Thanks for entering, and thank you so much to Brennan for the giveaway! Be sure to get caught up on books 1-2 so that you are ready for TAINTED BLOOD in November.

Links for M. L. Brennan:
website: http://mlbrennan.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/BrennanML
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mlbrennanfortscottbooks

GENERATION V  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound
IRON NIGHT  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound
Pre-order TAINTED BLOOD (out November 4) Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound
Pin It

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Joint Review: BROKEN SOULS

by Meghan B. & Kathy F.


The latest Eric Carter book by Stephen Blackmoore is out and we could not wait to read it. BROKEN SOULS is a noir urban fantasy with a cohesive and logical magic system, scary-ass gods and monsters, plenty of action, phenomenal characters, and a lead who can never catch a break (nor would we want him to). If it's wrong to enjoy a fictional character's misery this much, we don't want to be right.

Eric's life is already in the crapper from page 1. His sister and best friend are dead. His ex hates him. Oh, and he's married to Santa Muerte, an Aztec death goddess. That's sure to end well. It takes almost no time before someone new wants him dead, he drags some new allies into his shitstorm of a life, has dealings with the exes, and makes lots of things go boom.

For fans of Blackmoore's CITY OF THE LOST, Gabriela is back in town. Didn't read that one? First, she is so freaking awesome this review almost became the lovesong of Gabriela. Second, go fix that and read Blackmoore's other books. Gabriela has power and a ton of common sense, unfortunately, you need two metric tons to avoid getting caught up in Eric's troubles. She's built up a pretty good life for herself and isn't without a social conscience. She also isn't above killing people in horrible ways when it has to happen. A very layered character. We just want more.

The sophomore effort in a series can be tricky, but BROKEN SOULS doesn't fall into a slump. We can't wait for book 3.

BROKEN SOULS Mysterious Galaxy | RiverRun Books | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

Read on for our chat about this most amazing read, and tell us your thoughts on the book. Warning, there are a few spoilers ahead.

Pin It

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guest Post: Stephen Blackmoore, Instrument of Fate

Stephen Blackmoore's BROKEN SOULS, book 2 in the Eric Carter series, is out today! To say I was merely looking forward to this book is a massive understatement. It also did not disappoint. 

In anticipation of today, I asked if Blackmoore would like to visit Stellar Four for a guest post or interview. Happily, he agreed, so I decided to ask for a little favor. See, I am not just a fan of his books, I also look forward to his hilariously creepy horoscopes* on Twitter. I asked if he would gaze deep into the stars and tell us our fates. Apparently the appropriate sacrifices to the Elder Gods were made, because here they are, in their terrifying glory. I thank you and curse you, Blackmoore!

Man. You do ONE little horoscope and... okay, you do almost ONE year's worth of horoscopes on Twitter and everybody wants you to tell them their future.

I AM A SERIOUS ARTISTE, PEOPLE. 

Which I think might actually be some kind of artisanal cheese or new Starbucks coffee drink. I'm really not sure.

ANYWAY, the fine ladies at Stellar Four have requested that I use my stunning and totally 100% ACCURATE (for a given definition of "accurate") predictions to help them navigate the highways and byways and sideways and upways and whateverways of life.

BEHOLD THE POWER OF PROPHECY WITH THESE HANDCRAFTED, BESPOKE FATES!

LEO (MEGHAN): You will be pressed into service as a bridesmaid for the wedding of the century between every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 25 and Grinthos The Formidable, Queen Of The Netherhells, Devourer of Hope, Enslaver Of All, and She Who Will Destroy The Sun. But don't worry, her brother Prahalix The Obscene, He Of The Strange Appendages, is makin' eyes at you. Remember to catch that bouquet!

VIRGO (MEGAN): Today you will learn the true meaning of friendship. It is to lay waste to the world with your army of murderous unicorns, goring and trampling, spreading terror, mayhem, and glitter across the land, devouring the corpses of your enemies in an orgy of blood. I have no idea what that has to do with friendship, but I don't understand the Care Bears, either.

ARIES (SARA): You will finally solve the greatest obstacle to time travel when you combine all types of verb tenses into the single indicasubjunctiditionalpastpluperfect but since its version of "to be" is willamareiswerewillwasbewereing it will rapidly fall into disuse, dooming mankind to forever experience moments one second at a time from past to future.

SAGITTARIUS (KATHY): Today after a desperate battle with a dark lord deep within the city's infrastructure for which you are clearly not prepared for you will be confronted with a terrible truth, pushing you ever deeper toward the dark side until you succumb and accept your destiny. Bozo The Clown is your father.

THE STARS HAVE SPOKEN! 

Stephen Blackmoore


*Note: I often write it first as horrorscope. Totally fits.

How did the four of us react to our fates? 

Megan threw glitter over the blessed words, hefted her mighty sword and proclaimed, "About damn time!"

Sara went back in time and cross-stitched the words so that they may live on in infamy upon her wall. She also saved JFK and killed Hitler, but that's a tale for another day.

As Meghan's career goals have always involved a top spot in the inner circle of the apocalypse, today's prediction is welcome news. She has also spent the last five years building an immunity to iocane powder. Watch your tea, Prahalix!

After accepting my fate as Bozo Jr, I now will undertake a quest to retrieve my sire from the clown side, or perish in the attempt. Also, I am framing this entire post.
Pin It

Monday, August 4, 2014

Because Zombies

By Megan S.


We don't know much about iZombie, The CW's latest show from the man behind Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas, but the snippets that have surfaced from Comic-Con sound pretty fun and campy. We've learned that ever since the morning after a life altering* party, Liv Moore's tried to hide the fact that she's now a zombie.  She drops out of medical school and starts working in a morgue where the brains are brought right to her slab.  She may not have to tip the delivery guy/coroner, but her dinner does come with a hefty price.  She inherits some of the memories and traits of the person she's feasting on.  So, with the help of a few new confidants, Liv does what any undead with a [probably rotting] heart of gold does, she attempts to catch a killer and set things right.

The only question I have is why is she trying to keep it a secret?
Pin It

Friday, August 1, 2014

Rocket's Buddies: Our Favorite Raccoons

by Sara N.

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet? I have not, but I'm really looking forward to meeting Rocket, the foul-mouthed, crotch-grabbing raccoon-like creature voiced by Bradley Cooper. He's one of the crew of intergalactic misfits, but he's far from the first raccoon to appear prominently in our pop culture multiverse. Keep reading for a list of other notables furry bandits.




Pin It