Monday, February 15, 2010

Smallville - "Absolute Justice"




Could I have possibly asked for anything more?!? (Well, yes, I could have asked for Green Lantern to actually show up in costume, but I'll consider that my own little fanboy nitpick being a GL fan.) But seriously, JSA history is all there. It amuses me that it has to be practically shifted to the 80's to work timewise, but it's there. And best of all, it's wide open for more in the future.

Plus, they ended up doing what the JSA is supposed to be: an inspiration to the next generation on how to become the heroes they should be.

And the looks!! Hawkman, Stargirl and Doctor Fate all look perfect, and this from the show that swears "No tights, no flights"!!! Doctor Fate is a character that they could have easily wimped out on and given their usual "modern, more realistic look" to by just using his amulet, but they went all the way-- the full length costume, the mask, the cape, the works! And all the promos didn't prepare me for Doctor Fate's eyes. Just awesome.

Michael Shanks pulled off Hawkman perfectly-- his lowering his voice made me completely separate him from Danielle Jackson, and he had Hawkman's current attitude down perfect. I mean come on, that smile he gave Icicle right before he brought his mace down on him? I honestly had no idea if he was going to take just the helmet of Icicle's head.

And as if this wasn't enough, we get the return of the Martian Manhunter, with a glimpse of his full-on costume as well, and Checkmate too.

It's moments like these that make watching this show SO worth it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith #1 - #3 by John Jackson Miller


These eBooks were a first for me: They're the first eBooks I actually read as eBooks. (All the others I've read were dead-tree reprints.) My new phone handles pdf files, so while it was a bit of a strain on my eyes, I was now able to take an eBook around with me and read it on the sofa, in the bathroom, in line at the grocery, etc. It's really opened my mind and made me more agreeable to the format.

The story itself is just what I was hoping for. This eBook series tells how the Sith colony we met in Christie Golden's book Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi - Omen got started. I found an entire Sith culture to be a fascinating concept, and this series fueled my interest in how that society got its start.

I originally was only interested in these books because they tie into the Fate of the Jedi series, but it also ties into the newest Star Wars book Crosscurrent by Paul S. Kemp. I was borderline on whether I wanted to read that book or not, and this eBook series made up my mind for me, and now I'm very much looking forward to reading it. So as a cross-promotion goes, it definitely worked on me.

The series can be downloaded for free at

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Galactica 1980 #2 - #4

SPOILER LEVEL: Medium - High

Remember when you were a kid and ABC ran commercials for the upcoming premiere of Galactica 1980? And it was full of shots of the Cylons blowing up the Hollywood sign and buildings? And how exciting it felt, that not only was Battlestar Galactica coming back, but promising such incredible big things for what Galactica finding Earth would mean?

And remember what a let-down it was to see the actual episode and realize that all that stuff with the Cylons was just a 60-second "simulation" created by Dr. Zee?

This comic series delivers on that promise. Big time. If you ever, ever, ever liked the original Battlestar Galactica, you owe it to yourself to read this mini-series.

I have a few fanboy quibbles with it-- mostly NuBSGisms creeping into it, such as Adama being referred to as "Bill" and the occasional "Gods Dammit, what the frak?!?" But everything else about it is so well done that I can forgive those.

The story has a very definite ending, one that's full of promise and potential for plenty more stories. And just when I thought it was over, the comic closes with "To Be Continued In Galactica 1981." I don't know if it's a joke or it's serious, but my gods, I hope it's true.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt


I love books by Jack McDevitt. I first discovered his work when I was visiting Derek, where he'd left a copy of Eternity Road in his bathroom and I got hooked into it. Luckily he was kind enough to loan it to me... that or he just didn't want me to take up residence in his bathroom. Either way, I've loved McDevitt's books ever since.

Infinity Beach takes place approximately 1000 years from now. Mankind has reached out for the stars, and successfully colonized eight new worlds, and has sent expeditions to seek out new life and new civilizations...

...and found nothing. Zip. Nada. Bupkiss. No alien civilizations, no ruins of dead alien civilizations, no small fuzzy animals, no insects, no plants, no microbes, no nothing.

And as a result, mankind has gotten bored with the whole process of even looking and is slowly drawing back in to the "Nine Worlds." Humanity has all the room and resources they need. They've become content with what they have, and don't really see the need to keep looking for something new.

Enter our hero, Kim Brandywine, whose sister was on the final deep-space ship that searched for alien life and then disappeared immediately after returning home from it. Kim begins to try and learn what happened to her sister, and the story is off and running.

Well, off and casually strolling, more like. At first it seems like the story is taking a while to really go anywhere, and then I realized, that's the point. Humanity has become so content with what they have that they're in absolutely no hurry to find out anything new. The starships are designed not just like luxury yachts, but like luxury houses, with balconies and "terraces" and plush carpeting and kitchens stocked with wine and cheese... and my God, do people eat a lot of wine and cheese in this book. Need to review some important stolen documents? Okay, let's break out the wine and cheese and get comfortable while we're going over them. Even Kim's main confidant, who supports her and is with her every step of the way, still repeatedly stops and asks her "Are you sure you want to do this? What's the point?" McDevitt does an incredible job of building a world that is slowly decaying but is enjoying themselves so much that they don't even see it. Not out of debauchery, not out of a lack or morality or greed or selfishness... just out of quiet, contented disinterest.

Finally Kim begins to get some answers, and in doing so starts rubbing her society the wrong way, because she's not content to leave things as they are. She wants to know more, and all anyone else is willing to tell her is "let it go." But needing to know what really happened to her sister on that last mission leads her to needing to know what they might have found, and if humanity really is alone after all.

And from there, the book truly is off and running.

I won't get into any more details from there, and if you're interested in reading the book based on what I've written, I recommend you not read the back cover either. It tells you the major plot points from pages 228, 232, and 334 out of a 510 page book. The back cover of a book should never, IMNSHO, never give you specifics about what happens beyond the main premise. As a rule, I'd stick to only describing anything that happens in the first fifth of the book, since that's usually the set-up. But I digress.

Infinity Beach is a great look at humanity, our strengths and our failings, and about what happens when our dreams fall asleep and what it takes to wake them up again. And best of all, it made me think, which is exactly what a great book should do.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dollhouse, season two


Well, that was a fun ride! The elements I liked best about the first season was how far the Dollhouse reached, the implication of how much of the world might already be in their control, and
the implication (from "Epitaph One") that it was all going to go to hell and take the world with it.

And this season didn't disappoint. After one or two simple episodes, it felt like this show jumped into the fast lane of showing us how the Imprint technology was being abused, and it never slowed down. I'm not a big fan of science fiction that acts like "this could be really happening somewhere and you just don't know about it"... I prefer a story that changes the world and shows us how society then has to deal with it. And while Dollhouse only gave us a two-episode glimpse at how it affected the world, it told a great story of showing how the world slid down into it.

I'm not sure how I feel about the big reveal of who was behind it all-- on some level it feels like a stretch, but when I stop and look back on it a lot of little things do make more sense now. I guess I'm just disappointed because that was such a likable character-- but that was the point, I was supposed to feel betrayed.

I know some people have said they feel this season was too rushed, but I think this show has benefited from only being two 13-epsiode seasons-- I think it made for some tight story telling where you really couldn't wait to find out what happened next, with no wimp-outs. Great job!

Star Trek - Inception by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison


This is a great character-driven book, focusing on a young Commander James T. Kirk's time with Carol Marcus, and Spock's time with Leila Kalomi (from the episode "This Side of Paradise").

The main plot deals with Carol & Leila's project (yes, they know each other here, but it plays out alright) dealing with protesters who fear that mankind has become too dependant on technology-- but really, that's just the window dressing. The real story here is seeing how much in love Kirk & Carol are, and how their separate dreams and goals are destined to take them in different directions. And of course, as the title would suggest, how Carol comes to be pregnant with Kirk's son David.

A worthwhile read and a wonderful break from all the massive post-Destiny continuity books!

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan


I think, along with the series finale "Daybreak" and the battle scenes from "Exodus Part 2," this may be my favorite installment of the new Battlestar Galactica.

I get that the original BSG mini-series was going with the perspective of what it would be like to really be there, to not know what was going on and yet still have to make life-or-death decisions accordingly. But man, this version just made so much more sense. It really tied everything together and made it sing.

I think there's so much more to be gained storywise from being able to see both perspectives. To see into the head or who you're fighting. I think the first 7 or so episodes of Southern Cross suffer from the same thing-- once you start seeing things from the perspective of the Robotech Masters, it starts getting interesting. "The Plan" works in the same way-- seeing why the Cylons are doing what they're doing, seeing them do it, and seeing how it affects them and the changes it brings to their culture really helps the whole show make a lot more sense.

This is a great note for Galactica to go out on.

Star Trek: Phase II "Blood and Fire, Part Two"


I don't know if it was the long wait between Parts 1 & 2, but I just didn't enjoy this part as much as I did Part 1. It was well made of course, meeting up to New Voyages/Phase II's usual high standards... but it just felt slow, like it was dragging on. I can't find what the exact running time was, but I felt like it could have been edited a little tighter than it was.

The ending was moving, the effects were incredible, the acting was very good... but the finished project just felt sluggish.

V: To Conquer the Throne by Tim Sullivan


Watching the new V made me want to see a story from the classic V. I never got past the first chapter of this book when it first came out, so I figured I'd read it now.

I rather enjoyed it this time. Tim Sullivan's writing style isn't great, but it's very British in this book, which fit it rather well. I found if I took the attitude that I was reading a Target Books novilisation of a 1980's BBC production of V, I liked it even better. Ah, if only it had used single quotes for dialogue and British spellings!

The lead woman is an American living in England, which doesn't work at all. She's as American as Perpigillium Brown. In fact, I started picturing Nicola Bryant playing her after a while. But the book does get into how the Visitors were trying to win over the people of England, and what a difficult challenge that is when faced with fierce British patriotism. It also uses it as an opportunity to talk about the IRA, and the friction between them and the English Resistance despite the common threat of the Visitors.

Even though it was set during V: The Series, the book still plays itself as if it's taking place during the original mini-series, and I feel that made for a better book. All in all this was a worthwhile read and just what I was in the mood for.



Well, there's probably not much I can say about this movie that everyone else hasn't already said. I've never seen "Dances with Wolves," so the story being "Dances with Smurfs" doesn't bother me. I really got into it, both visually and storywise. Seeing the humans destroying so much of Pandora really did make me misty-eyed.

This was also the first movie I ever saw in IMAX, which was much better than the Greensburg Carmike 15. MUCH better. Much, much MUCH better.

Star Trek: Mirror Universe - The Sorrows of Empire by David Mack


I loved the original short novel version of this in the Mirror Universe collection Glass Empires, so I was willing to give this expanded version a try. I'm very glad I did. Besides still being a compelling read, I think it fleshes Emperor Spock out in a much needed way. I remember after the first version came out, people were saying on the Psi-Phi boards that it seemed too cruel of Spock to deliberately allow the Empire to fall. I disagreed because this wasn't our universe's Spock, this was the Mirror Spock we were talking about, who came from a brutal universe. And this version shows it very well, as Emperor Spock does some very brutal things for what he believes will be for the greater good of the galaxy as a whole.

Personally, I love the idea that everything we've seen in the DS9 Mirror Universe has all been part of Spock's "Seldon Plan." I really hope David Mack gets the opportunity to expand on this and write the second book he wants to write to show how it will all come together.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I've never actually read the original book, so I figured I would for Christmas.

I think what really stood out to me the most is the feeling of time passing that the book conveys. With each Spirit you get the feeling of spending an entire Christmas day with them, which I don't think ever really sunk in with any of the film versions I've seen. (And along those lines, I was also amazed to see how faithful the Muppet Christmas Carol was to the original book!)

I could have really used an appendix to help out with all the cultural references, since so many of them are over a century old now. But that didn't really stop my enjoyment of the book overall.

Doctor Who "The End of Time"


Wow. A great swan song for the 10th Doctor. A clever way to bring back the Master and have it still be John Simms, major stuff with the Time Lords, and a wonderful closing retrospective of the 10th Doctor's entire run. I don't think any Doctor has ever gotten such a big send-off.

The only part that didn't really work for me was the big climax of the Doctor trying to decide if he shoot the Master or Rassilon (!!!) using Wilf's normal old human gun. I didn't much see the point-- either one could just regenerate, and that's assuming they were normal Time Lords. As it is, they were Super-Master and freakin' Rassilon. (And speaking of the Super-Master, it bugs me when they bring in new powers out of the blue, but since it was obviously meant to be a side effect of the Master's resurrection going wrong, I could handle it.)

I LOVED getting a taste of the Time Lords' part in the Time War, and the image of Gallifrey itself filling Earth's sky. Speculating on who Mysterious Time Lady was with everyone was also a lot of fun.

Farewell, David Tennant. It was a great run. Thanks for staying around for four years worth of stories.

And last but definitely not least, major kudos to BBC America for airing them here in the US just 1 day after they aired in the UK!

V (2009)


Well, it's better than V: The Series, but not as good as V: The Final Battle, and not in the same league as the original V mini-series. The fanboy in me likes the mothership design and that they're still using the original Visitor alphabet. And it is an enjoyable drama.


When everyone was raving about the pilot episode before it aired, someone said how this new version was perfect, because it took away all the cheese of the original and left everything that was cool. Well, let's ignore the fact that I love Sci-Fi Cheese for a moment, and just look at the most important part they took away: the moral that fascism can happen here.

By taking this element away and turning it into a conspiracy story, the story is actually more boring. "Aliens have been living among us!" Ho-hum... seen that story a million times before.

Amy makes a point that today, the threat is from terrorists, and you never know who they are among us. So by telling the story from this angle, it plays on the true fears of real people today for a more timely drama. Which makes sense. But the point Kenneth Johnson was making in the original V was to never forget that it could happen here. When V first came on, it was 1983, forty years World War II and Nazi Germany. V brought the lessons of that time home to me in a way that no history class ever could.

And how did the Visitors of 1983 establish their hold on the world? By painting the scientist community as terrorists. Let's ignore the parallel between the scientists and the Jews for a moment-- my point here is that the Visitors used that fear of terrorism to set themselves up as the fascist rulers of America and the world.

This is a message that we all NEED to hear in the post 9-11 world. And by taking the opposite approach, ABC's V is in fact becoming the kind of propaganda that allows fascism to take hold, as opposed to shining a light on it and rooting it out like Kenneth Johnson's V did. And by deciding to call the Visitors "The V's" (which isn't even grammatically accurate) the show actually co-opts the symbol of resistance and turns into the symbol of the oppressors.

Now, I'm not saying that ABC's V is doing all this deliberately. I think it's more that they felt the point of the old series didn't need to apply to the new series, and they simply feel this is a good way to tell a modern drama.

And it has been an enjoyable drama. But that's all it is. And if they weren't going to keep the moral to V, then I feel they would have been better off to call the show something else and avoid the direct comparison to the old show, and taking the meaning out of a symbol that has stood for resisting oppression for 60 years.

Playing Ketchup!

I have a lot of reviews planned today, going back to November of last year. Stuff I've been wanting to write about but just haven't made time for. Time to open the flood gates!