Thursday, 08 September 2016 04:10

Stranger Things

If you watch only one Netflix show this year, please let it be this one. In the surprise hit of the decade, this 80s-style instant classic has swept the streaming world as the big must-see series.


A nostalgic throwback to the good old days of offbeat sci-fi thrillers, Stranger Things had me hooked from the opening scene. There's a bit of Dark Angel (the good parts with the young X5s, not the cheesy Jessica Alba parts), there's a lot of Silent Hill, and elements of The Goonies are sprinkled around like fairy dust.

The result is a strong and riveting series that captures not only the recent past but the style of storytelling that so often defined it. It's the perfect blend of funny and unsettling, dark yet whimsical humor with that classic feeling of creeping, undefinable horror lurking in every corner.

The characters are flawed, unpredictable and intriguing, with solid performances from the adults and older teens. However, the younger kids are, hands down, the highlight of the show.

These five child actors are absolutely awesome - "toothless wonder" Dustin in particular is a real gem - and have some of the most natural on-screen interactions I've ever seen. The whole group of them hit it out of the park but I doubt that anyone would disagree that young Millie Bobby Brown steals the screen as the long-suffering superpowered runaway, Eleven.

The premise, while not completely unique, is done so perfectly that you have to wonder why no one got it quite right before. It starts out eerie and intense, progressing slowly but persistently to a highly dramatic finish. Although much of the story is resolved, new questions are posed by the cliffhanger ending and a few things in particular set the stage for what everyone is hoping will be an even better second season.

Sunday, 12 June 2016 00:43

The Codex Alera

I have nothing but praise for Jim Butcher's unique and inspired fantasy epic. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, it's the single greatest story of the genre and one of the best book series of all time.


The writing style of this series is smooth, descriptive and doesn't waste a word, the level of worldbuilding is absolutely incredible, and the plots are exciting on a level that I really can't convey. As enthused as I get about many good books, I think this is the first time I've ever actually cheered out loud, jumped out of my chair and smacked said book(s) on the couch yelling "HOLY SHIT" because it's just that exciting. The story builds up and up and up to the point where you finish each book saying "well, there's no way he can top that..." and then he does.

Furies of Calderon starts out a bit slow because there's simply so much to introduce, but it picks up about halfway through and plows ahead like a runaway steamroller, getting better and better with every book, each one bigger and more mind-blowing than the last.

First Lord's Fury, the grand finale, may be the single most epic thing I've ever read. I don't think I've ever rooted for characters as hard as I did for Tavi and Kitai. Their development from the first book to the last is really something else...they're almost completely different people by the end but it feels entirely natural as you watch them grow into these amazing, powerful roles. The supporting cast is strong as well, from Tavi's best friend, Max, to the fierce and unpredictable canim.

The Aleran universe itself is gorgeous, a perfect mish-mash of pure fantasy with the influence of ancient Rome. I've read each book 2 or 3 times now and they haven't ceased to impress me. Hands down one of my top recommendations for anyone who hasn't yet had the pleasure.

Monday, 02 May 2016 00:07


There really haven't been any worthwhile science fiction shows on TV since Stargate: Atlantis went off the air, so discovering this was a wonderful surprise. I had no idea what it was about beyond the basics, or what to expect at all, really, but once it started, I couldn't stop watching.


Humans is an extremely well done sci-fi series that, for the first time in a long time, doesn't rely on the boring, obnoxious stereotypes and tropes that plague most modern TV shows. The story is well-written and solidly developed. The characters are realistic and relatable, and their progression is believable throughout. The acting is great and very natural, and there is no cheapening of the female characters to fit some teen boy's fantasy (which seems to have become the norm for most networks, especially within this genre). Every single episode ended with me clicking straight to the next one because I just had to know what came next.

imageColin Morgan in particular shines as the damaged and emotionally tortured cyborg, Leo, and the trauma of his character's life comes through in a raw, intense and beautifully heartwrenching performance that highlights just how far he's come since his Merlin days.

The only negative reviews that I've seen seem to be from MTV generation types who want everything handed to them right away and can't handle shows with a more classic feel, where the story slowly unfolds. Humans is the sort of cerebral character-driven sci-fi show that we used to get in the 90s / early 00s, not a fast-paced Hollywood style thriller, and it's perfect.

What I love most about the first season is that it's only 8 episodes long, but so much happens. The pacing isn't rushed at all and yet it packs a lot in. Things simply come together here and there, slowly, in ways that you're not expecting. I haven't been this engaged in a "real world" sci-fi series since The 4400. There's a distinct Crichton-esque feel to it and I'm looking forward to Season 2 more than anything else on TV right now.

Sunday, 17 April 2016 05:42

Sci-Fi Literature

As I barrel towards the closing page of the first manuscript in a space opera tetralogy that I started writing several years ago, I'd like to make note of some of my personal favorites of the genre. While I was outlining my own series, a childhood friend (and fellow sci-fi geek) was kind enough to give me his entire collection. Reading those many, many classics gave me a whole new understanding of science fiction literature and helped me to develop both my ideas and style in far greater detail. So in recognition of that, here's a list of "the best sci-fi books ever according to me."

Hyperion by Dan Simmons
A riveting journey across space and time as an unlikely group of pilgrims sets out on a dangerous and likely fatal mission in search of a creature that will either grant their most desperate wishes or tear them apart. Beautifully written, deeply disturbing and wildly creative. The second half, The Fall of Hyperion is intriguing as well but not quite on the same level.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
A future war story that spans the cosmos, told from the perspective of a single soldier during his thousand-plus years of service as he experiences massive jumps in humanity's social and physical evolution due to relativistic effects caused by near light-speed travel back and forth from the front lines.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi
As much as I enjoyed The Forever War, this one is even better due, in large part, to the humor that it's written with. The main characters are a bunch of sarcastic, bitchy, washed up old fogeys who volunteer for military service and are subsequently transplanted into brand new super soldier bodies. Said bodies are green with silver blood and come with a neural interface called "BrainPal" (or nicknamed "asshole" by an impressive number of those serving). Although it's got it's dramatic moments, this book is primarily funny, exciting and whimsical, and I actually laughed myself to tears while reading certain parts of it on the train (drawing several "she's batshit crazy" stares). The ending leaves me wanting much more than the single short novel we got.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Blindsight by Peter Watts

Robot series by Isaac Asimov

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton













Wednesday, 13 April 2016 02:39

Gary Tonge

This incredible artist's Vision Afar series offers some of the most breathtaking futuristic vistas you'll ever see. Looking at any of his colorful, sweeping sci-fi panoramas is enough to trigger months of creative writing and endless fantasies of far-off worlds.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 05:47

The Imperial Radch Series

It's hard to review these books as the trilogy they were marketed as because the difference in substance, quality and story from one to the next is confusingly drastic.

imageAncillary Justice was a winner through and through. Ann Leckie burst onto the sci-fi scene with an intensely engaging, powerful and refreshingly creative space opera that follows the remaining fragment of a warship called Justice of Toren, embodied by its one surviving "ancillary," who is on the run and going by the name of Breq.

In Leckie's bleak vision of the future, the Radch empire considers itself the pinnacle of civilization and makes a habit of spreading its so-called sophistication far and wide by "annexing" (a.k.a. invading, slaughtering, enslaving and assimilating) lesser cultures. A shocking number of their unfortunate victims are converted to ancillaries, which means they're physically killed and implanted with Radchaai technology that links their bodies and minds to the will of warships' artificial intelligence. In essence, they're brutally converted into zombie super soldiers that act as humanoid extensions of the spaceship, and Leckie's description of it all is both intriguing as hell and immensely disturbing.

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About Me

I'm an enthusiastic writer and artist who spends too much time lost in her own imagination. I work as an editor and photographer and am obsessed with ancient mythology, space travel, and little glass and stone trinkets.

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