Tuesday Reviews – April 15, 2014

Since we don’t have a podcast this week (due to Norwescon), we still wanted to share some reviews and information.

Norwescon Schedule & Guidebook

One of our favorite cons in Seattle is taking place this Easter Weekend. We’ve been going to Norwescon since 1991. We haven’t been to the con since 2011. We’re both panelists this year and you can come hear us speak about medieval medicine, horror movies and more.

Seattle Geekly’s Norwescon schedule

The Americanization of International Horror
Thu 5:00pm-6:00pm Cascade 6
From The Ring to Let Me In (Let the Right One In) to The Host, the American film market has remade international horror films for the US audience. We’ve also seen a number of international horror books translated into English. Panelists will discuss the draw of international horror and how the Americanization of it affects the original story.
Jennifer Brozek (M), Tori Centanni, Amber Clark, Shannon from Seattle Geekly

Nerding Out in the Pacific Northwest
Thu 6:00pm-7:00pm Cascade 6
Who, What, How, Why, and Where to spend your Latinum on.
Morgue Anne (M), Matt Hammond, MC-3PO of Death*Star, C0splay of Death*Star

What’s New in Games This Year?
Fri Noon-1:00pm Cascade 9
Our panelists will discuss the new hot games and maybe a few that have slipped by widespread notice, as well as new trends in games and gaming.
Shannon from Seattle Geekly (M), Jeremy Holcomb, Ryan Macklin, Dylan S.

Podcasting 101
Fri 1:00pm-2:00pm Cascade 9
What do you need to create a podcast? From the barebones, no nonsense, to podcasts with extravagant production values, there’s room for everyone out there with something to say. Come hear our podcasters talk about how they got started and how they do it.
Shannon from Seattle Geekly (M), Ryan Macklin, Chasing River, Ogre Whiteside

Medicine and Healing in Medieval Times: Wounds & Trauma
Fri 1:00pm-2:00pm Cascade 6
From cut fingers to arrow punctures to cut muscles, people had to treat wounds. Our ancestors were able to use some effective treatments as necessary. Gain some insight into how injured people were treated and survived.
Adrienne Carlson (M), Dame Ruth, Matt Hammond, Buzzy, Victoria Whitlock

Wasted Moments in Film and Television
Fri 4:00pm-5:00pm Cascade 2
What happened to the great “I am your father.” moments? Are there no good reveals left? Or has the audience just gone cold?
Shannon from Seattle Geekly (M), MC-3PO of Death*Star, C0splay of Death*Star, Fish

Blinded by Pseudoscience
Fri 6:00pm-7:00pm Cascade 3&4
From miraculous cures being suppressed by Big Pharma to proof that the earth is actually flat, charlatans and con men have been pushing nonsense for centuries in the hope of parting the credulous from their cash. Join our panelists as they discuss pseudoscience, its impact on society and how you can tell good science from bad.
Janet Freeman-Daily (M), Dame Ruth, Matt Hammond, Annie Morton

Cycle of the Horror Movie
Sat 1:00pm-2:00pm Cascade 9
Horror movies come in cycles – slasher, vampire, monster, zombie. Panelists will discuss what’s old hat, what’s current and hot, what’s up and coming, and what never goes out of style for the horror genre film.
Shannon from Seattle Geekly (M), Jennifer Brozek, Katie Cord, Eric Morgret, Mark Rahner

Guidebook App

Norwescon is using a FREE app called Guidebook this year. It’s available on almost every smart phone platform. Here’s a few screenshots to see (taken off my iPhone 4S).

You can look up schedules, make your own con schedule, look up what panels pros will be on, see restaurant info and keep track of where the GoHs will be. You can also set reminders to be at specific panels through the app.

Save paper and don’t worry about carrying around the physical schedule. To download go HERE to get the app.

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Robot Uprisings Anthology

Edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams, Robot Uprisings is an anthology that takes its theme from the singularity that is looming over the human race’s head.

The book starts off wonderfully with a short story from Scott Sigler. It’s about what would happen if you taught nanorobots to be smart. Sigler, known for his sci-fi horror books, Infected and Contagious, was a perfect author to put up front to get the reader into the mood.

Another stand-out for me was Seanan McGuire‘s “We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War”, taking creepy robot dolls to a new creep level. There are so many great authors in this anthology it’s hard to say anything, but “Get this book”. Editor Daniel H. Wilson, author of Robopocalypse, closes the book with “Small Things”, the longest story on the book, which is a kind of “Aliens” action story with out of control robots instead of Giger inspired monsters.

All in all a great read, if you’re looking for some pleasurable reading material.

Robot Uprisings
Daniel H. Wilson & John Joseph Adams
Vintage Original Books
496 pages
April 8, 2014
Paperback or eBook

lovecraft

I encountered the writings of H.P. Lovecraft when I was right on the line between childhood and young adolescence, at a time when I knew I should at least pretend that I wasn’t scared of the dark and things that go bump in the night but, if I was being totally honest about it, really I still was. The first story I read was “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and the impact it had on me was amplified by the fact that almost immediately after reading it I was more or less obligated to go swimming in very cold, very dark, very deep salt water. Summer camp. What are you going to do?

After that introduction I devoured everything I could find by Lovecraft. Any trip to a used book store started with a visit to the “L” shelf of the horror section to see if there was a collection that had a story I hadn’t read before. Once I had finished with everything I could find by Lovecraft, I branched out to Mythos related stories by other authors but I found the vast majority of them to be somewhat disappointing. Even the stories written by Lovecraft’s contemporaries were, for me, missing some element that his stories had, and the more modern stories seemed to be even more lacking. Because of that experience, it was with a little reluctance that I started on the Lovecraft’s Monsters anthology. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. It is an entirely enjoyable read.

For the most part, the stories in Lovecraft’s Monsters don’t try to emulate Lovecraft’s style which is, I think, part of why they are so
successful. They cover a range of genres from traditional horror, to steampunk, to hard boiled detective, among others and a range of time periods as well. There are stories told from the perspective of the monsters, innocent bystanders and hardened investigators. There are strong roots in the established Mythos but the authors have really taken Lovecraft’s creations to new places and used them in new ways.

The book may be a little hard to follow for people not steeped in Lovecraft lore, but for Mythos devotees I would highly recommend picking it up.

Lovecraft’s Monsters
Edited by Ellen Datlow
Tachyon Publications
432 pages
April 15, 2014
Paperback or eBook

dis1

Disney Magical World

I’ve gotten hooked on a Nintendo 3DS game, called Disney Magical World this past week and have put more than 30 hours into the game so far. DMW takes a lot of addictive game play models from other addictive games like Tiny Death Star, Animal Crossing and Diner Dash, all while immersing you in Castleton, a Disneyland type town you live in.

I’ve been a Disney fan ever since I was little, and have loved going to Disneyland quite a few times. In DSW you get to practically live in Disneyland, run a cafe, do favors and quests, all while schmoozing with iconic Disney characters like, Donald Duck, Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Chip & Dale and of course, Mickey himself.

The basis of gameplay is that you collect “Stickers” to unlock other quests, new recipes for clothes and furniture, and to upgrade your cafe. There are small fairy tale zones that hold a series of quests from easy to hard. Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin need your help with their worlds. Your mission in these worlds are to rid them of ghosts with the magic you carry in your wand. The 100 Acre Wood world is essentially your farm to grow ingredients for your cafe menu. You can also gain money if you stick to a theme for your cafe. If everything is Alice in Wonderland based, when you throw a party, you’ll get more revenue than if your theme were mixed. The parties serve as a way to get income as well as being able to take your picture with the party’s Disney Guest. I’ve had a few parties with Stitch, Pooh Bear, Rabbit and Piglet. I’m not sure what the final goal of the game is, but I don’t really care, since it’s so fun.

Resource gathering, crafting fishing and farming is what you’ll do everyday in this game. I can’t recommend this game for EVERYONE, due to the game seeming slightly skewed toward a female audience, with the tailoring of party dresses, wigs and other accessories. Streetpass and the internet allow you to collect guests who will stay awhile in your town and you can collect special Disney character cards, which is it’s own addiction.

Disney Magical World is available on the Nintendo eShop or in stores for around $30.

Monday Reviews – April 7, 2014

An apocalypse, some slaves and a sexed-up zombie round out my book reviews today.

The_End_is_Nigh

The End is Nigh edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey

If you’re a long time listener of Seattle Geekly, you know I’m not that big of a fan of short stories. My view is that you barely get into a story when a short story ends. Not everything is explained or dealt with, so I’ve always felt cheated by short stories. The End is Nigh, Volume 1 of The Apocalypse Triptych has changed my views on short story collections. Not only were the stories written by some of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy/horror authors, but the way that Adams and Howey are doing the triptych has me intrigued. There will be two other volumes in the triptych, entitled The End is Now and The End Has Come in which some of the same authors in The End is Nigh will extend their pre-apocalyptic stories. Maybe it’s cheating getting trilogies of short stories, but if the stories in Nigh are any indication, the entire triptych will be worth picking up.

The stories are not your “run of the mill” pre-apocalyptic stories that you’re used to. The story by Seanan McGuire entitled Spores has got to be one of the creepiest stories I’ve read. The story is about fungus spores that can eat through anything or anyone. It ends satisfactorily, but will be one of the stories continued in The End is Now, making it even creepier in my opinion since I’m not sure where it’ll be going.

Another stand-out was BRING HER TO ME by Ben H. Winters, which is a very bizarre, cult-y story about people who can hear what their god is telling them. Of course not everyone can hear, so that person has to be dealt with. I can’t wait to see where this’ll be going as well.

So even if you aren’t typically a fan of short stories, really do pick this up. If you love apocalypse stories, pick this up. Actually no matter what you like, pick this up…seriously.

The End is Nigh (The Apocalypse Triptych, Volume 1)
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
362 pages
March 1, 2014
Paperback or eBook

bloodiron

Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk

Blood and Iron is the first in The Book of Black Earth series by Jon Sprunk. It’s a kind of mash-up of sorcery, the HBO series Rome with a little of Ridley Scott‘s Gladiator thrown in. The book follows Horace, who has been taken captive by Akeshia, the magic ruled enemy country to become a slave. People from his home aren’t proficient with magic, so it’s a surprise when Horace uses magic to save his master and fellow slaves from a devastating storm. He’s then taken to the queen of Akeshia, and thrown into a foreign world of politics, magic and survival. Along the way, Horace meets Jirom, a fellow slave and former gladiator, and Alyra a spy from his home country, who together may throw Akeshia into even more turmoil.

The action scenes in Blood and Iron are written to perfection. The entire book I was seeing scenes in my head as if this was a movie I was watching rather than a book I was reading. By no means is this a typical “fish out of water” story. Sprunk through Horace, Jirom and Alyra crafts a wonderful story that doesn’t give you all the answers but leads you on to see what will happen. Many characters that they encounter are two-faced and that adds to the intrigue of the book.

I’m not sure how long this new series will go on, but you can bet that I’ll be reading them.

Blood and Iron (The Book of the Black Earth, Part 1)
Jon Sprunk
PYR Books
427 pages
March 11, 2014
Paperback or eBook

beachblood

Beach Blanket Bloodbath by Mark Henry

I’ve been a fan of Amanda Feral, author Mark Henry’s salacious undead heroine, since 2008′s Happy Hour of the Damned. Since then she’s been in two more books, Battle of the Network Zombies (2010) and Road Trip of the Living Dead (2011) and now a fourth ‘book’, well novella, entitled Beach Blanket Bloodbath. Amanda is a zombie who ‘lives’ in Seattle along with were-creatures, vampires, and unsuspecting humans. Amanda is the type of friend that you love to have over, but not to be in public with, in case she talks, because anything she says will be completely inappropriate, albeit funny.

In Beach Blanket Bloodbath, Amanda takes an unscheduled road trip to the ocean beaches of Washington state to track down a drug thief who has hopped on a cruise ship headed for California. Along with Wendy, her best zombie pal, and Gil a gay vampire, they set their sights on Las Felicitas and get caught up in a murder in the small town.

It’s been 3 years since the last Amanda Feral book and I was famished! Henry’s books have always struck the lowest of my senses of humor. When I first played Cards Against Humanity, I thought they’d be like the Amanda novels. Turns out they are waaaaay tamer than what I had expected. Maybe Henry should look into dirtying those up for the more depraved of us.

The Feral books are a mash-up of South Park, Workaholics and The Devil Wears Prada mixed in to a gay friendly atmosphere that just hits me the right way. “Guilty pleasure” doesn’t even cover these. Warped, licentious, perverted pleasure may be closer. It’s been too long Amanda, and even if I have to wait another three years to read about your exploits, I’ll be here hoping that Mark Henry stays the debauched writer I know he can be. You are a sick, sick man Mark, and I love that about you!

Beach Blanket Bloodbath (Amanda Feral book 4)
Mark Henry
Independently Published
136 pages
April 4, 2014
eBook format only