Friday, January 27, 2012


by Douglas Adams, published in 1979.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

My Thoughts

Do not read this book unless you are in the mood for silly. If you are not in the mood for silly, you will find it incredibly stupid. On the other hand, if you are in the mood for silly, you will find it refreshingly fun and clever.

I'm not going to go into much detail, because a large part of the fun is about the surprises in the plot, and I don't want to ruin them for you if you haven't read it. At the beginning, I thought, "This is funny. I wonder where the author got this idea." At the middle, I thought, "This is crazy! Where does the author get these plots?" By the end, I thought, "How the heck does the author come up with this stuff? I need to be this creative." 

Normally, I am annoyed when the plot of a story is interrupted by anything, but I look forward to every time the Hitchhiker's Guide goes off on a tangent about how to mix a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, or how custom-made luxury planet building began. 

Arthur Dent stays remarkably sane after being taken off his planet, learning it has been destroyed, listening to Vogon poetry and discovering the answer to life, the universe, and everything. He is a little bit sarcastic, which I appreciate, and a good choice of character for the story to follow, for he brings a little sanity to the tale (if only a little). 

I don't think I'd re-read this book, because I generally enjoy more substance, but it was a lot of fun, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a light sci-fi read.

This post is inspired by the Little Red Reviewer's SciFi Not-a-Challenge for the month of January.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


by Richard Adams, published in 1972.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Fleeing the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their ancestral home, a band of rabbits encounters harrowing trials posed by predators and hostile warrens — driven only by their vision to create a perfect society in a mysterious promised land known to them as Watership Down. First published in 1972 to world-wide rave reviews and now a modern classic, this is a powerful tale about the destructive impact of our society on nature — written in the same vein as Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

My thoughts

I don't agree that this story is all about the "destructive impact of our society on nature," although many of the elements certainly point to that. But I found it first and foremost a thoroughly enjoyable adventure tale.

The story starts out with a young rabbit, Fiver, telling his brother Hazel that he has had a vision of something horrible happening to their warren, and they must leave immediately. Hazel, having learned from past experiences that his brother's visions come true, decides to leave the warren against their chief rabbit's orders with as many rabbits as will come with them. Thus begins a long journey in search of a home, full of peril and adventure.

Each rabbit has their own distinct personality, and the author does a wonderful job of making them seem "human" and at the same time showing the differences between a human and a rabbit society. I love how the rabbits have their own language and legends. On their journey, they run into predators like foxes and dogs, make some unlikely friends, solve disputes among themselves, and most interestingly, they come across several other warrens that operate much differently than what they are used to.

Even though I generally prefer human to animal characters, I really enjoyed this story, and recommend it for anyone looking for a classic fantasy read, cleverly told.

This post is inspired by the Little Red Reviewer's SciFi Not-a-Challenge for the month of January.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Top 10 TV Countdown - Recap

Thanks you for reading and commenting on my Top 10 TV Countdown series! Here is a recap of my top 10 favourite genre TV shows at this time:

1. Doctor Who
2. Firefly
3. Stargate SG-1
4. Warehouse 13
5. Chuck
6. Fringe
7. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
8. Merlin
9. Sanctuary
10. Eureka

"But why wasn't ________ on your top 10 list?" you ask? Well, I'm glad you are wondering that, because here are a few shows that didn't make it onto my list and why:

Great characters. Tantalizing and mysterious plot that kept you moving on to the next episode and the next (if you were watching it on DVD like I was, anyway.) Wonderfully entertaining. The reason it didn't make my top 10 was because I didn't like the ending, and that makes me like a show a lot less. However, that being said, if I was to re-do my Top 10 list at this time, I would probably put Lost in Sanctuary's place, because recently I stopped watching Sanctuary as it has gotten boring for me.

Battlestar Galactica
This is another show with great characters and great plot. Top notch sci-fi space journey. However, one of the things I considered in making my top 10 list was if I would recommend a show to someone else or not, and I would not recommend BSG to everyone because of the adult content. I really don't think sex scenes add anything to a show, and I think so many more people would watch them if they were left out. I also hated the ending. It got weird and didn't tie everything together like I thought it should have.

Interesting take on superheroes in America story. I enjoyed the first two seasons, but then they just weren't as good.

Unlike a lot of Joss Whedon fans who disliked this show, I really enjoyed it. I think it would probably be my #11.

Farscape was a lot of fun too. It would be my #12.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It was entertaining, but I don't think I'd re-watch it, possibly because I just don't connect with Buffy as a main character. She kind of annoyed me a lot (sorry, Buffy fans!).

Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: Universe
I love both of these shows, but I already had one Stargate show in my Top 10 and wanted to leave room for variety.

Older shows like Star Trek, Lost in Space, X-Files, The Twilight Zone
I am relatively young and only started watching genre TV in my late teens. I didn't grow up on these shows like many of you; though I did grow up watching old shows my parents owned on VHS like Hogan's Heroes, Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, and Newhart (all fabulous shows, of course, but not genre). So with all the newer shows out there, I just haven't made time to go back and watch some of the old classics.

So... is there a show not on my top 10 list that you think should be? A show on my list that you think shouldn't be? Tell me about it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

TOP 10 TV Countdown - #1: DOCTOR WHO

"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect... but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey... stuff." 
-- the 10th Doctor

You guessed it. Doctor Who gets the number 1 spot in my countdown, for oh so many reasons.

If you are not familiar with the show, Doctor Who is about a time traveler who calls himself the Doctor. He travels to different planets and times in his time machine/spaceship called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), watching over the time vortex and saving worlds from disaster. In his travels he has made great friends and great enemies. Though he doesn't look it, he is very old. He is also very lonely, so he brings along companions to travel with him.

I am a relatively new Doctor Who fan. I started watching the new series (the 9th Doctor) with my dad when I was still in high school and it was airing on CBC. I had never heard of the show before. I was immediately captivated by the wonderful story lines, the loveable characters, the terrifying villains, and the mysterious Doctor.

Time travel is difficult to do well, but I assert that Doctor Who does do it well. A whole race of extinct time lords whose job was to watch over the time vortex is an intriguing idea. That the Doctor is the last surviving member of this race makes him all the more special.

I love that the Doctor can regenerate. This is a neat trick thought up by the show's creators that allows it to last for years and years, as Doctor Who doesn't rely on a sole actor to carry it. Though I was a little sad about this with the passing of the 10th Doctor, who has been my favourite so far. I am enjoying the twists and turns of the new series, the Doctor's quirkiness, Amy's brashness and Rory's awesomeness, but I still miss the flavour of series 1-4, which was very different. Oh well, that's what DVD re-watching is for.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Who's your Doctor? Do you have a favourite companion or favourite enemy? Do share in the comments.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Looking Forward to 2012: Books and Movies

We've looked back at 2011--now it is time to look forward to 2012 and get excited about some upcoming releases. Huge welcome and thanks to SQT from over at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews, who is our guest blogger today! I am looking forward to so many of these, in particular Insurgent and "The Avengers."

2012 looks to be a great year for genre, especially as far as movies are concerned. How can you not be excited when you have a movie schedule that includes both "The Avengers" and "The Dark Night Rises?" Needless to say, this was a fairly easy list to compile. I do have to acknowledge, however, that my book list is incomplete since I really couldn't find any publication lists that go beyond June of this year. So the book list is my "Most Anticipated for the First Six Months of 2012." I look forward to adding to it later...


Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
DAW Hardcover
February 7, 2012
448 pages

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, "The last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat," just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God's justice. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the Lion-Shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Dyachenko
Tor Books
February 28, 2012
336 pages

Reaching far beyond sword and sorcery, The Scar is a story of two people torn by disaster, their descent into despair, and their reemergence through love and courage. Sergey and Marina Dyachenko mix dramatic scenes with romance, action and wit, in a style both direct and lyrical. Written with a sure artistic hand, The Scar is the story of a man driven by his own feverish demons to find redemption and the woman who just might save him.

Egert is a brash, confident member of the elite guards and an egotistical philanderer. But after he kills an innocent student in a duel, a mysterious man known as “The Wanderer” challenges Egert and slashes his face with his sword, leaving Egert with a scar that comes to symbolize his cowardice. Unable to end his suffering by his own hand, Egert embarks on an odyssey to undo the curse and the horrible damage he has caused, which can only be repaired by a painful journey down a long and harrowing path.

Doubletake: A Cal Leandros Novel by Rob Thurman
March 6, 2012
352 pages

Half-human/half-monster Cal Leandros knows that family is a pain. But now that pain belongs to his half-brother, Niko. Niko’s shady father is in town, and he needs a big favor. Even worse is the reunion being held by the devious Puck race — including the Leandros’ friend, Robin — featuring a lottery that no Puck wants to win.

As Cal tries to keep both Niko and Robin from paying the ultimate price for their kin, a horrific reminder from Cal’s own past arrives to remind him that blood is thicker than water — and that’s why it’s so much more fun to spill.

Sworn in Steel: A Tale of the Kin by Douglas Hulick
Roc, April 3, 2012
432 pages

Second book in an action-packed edgy fantasy series about thieves. It's been three months since Drothe killed a legend, burned down a portion of the imperial capital, and found himself unexpectedly elevated into the ranks of the criminal elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince in the underworld, he's learning just how good he used to have it.

With barely the beginnings of an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one up and dies on him, all signs point to Drothe as being the hand behind the knife. As members of the Kin begin choosing sides - mostly against him - for what looks to be another impending war in the streets, Drothe is approached by a man. A man who not only has the solution to Drothe's most pressing problem, but also an offer that's hard for the new Prince to refuse: an offer of redemption. The only problem is, the offer isn't for him.

Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire's long-standing enemy, with
an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out fast.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Publisher: Angry Robot
Date: April 24, 2012
320 pages

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

Still in her early twenties, she's foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.

Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can't save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she'll have to try.

The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Date: 4/24/2012
Pages: 324

A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it’s a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It’s been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history. At first, suspicion falls on atheists more militant than the secular authorities. But when the target list expands to include the godless, it becomes evident that something very old has risen from the ashes. Old and very, very dangerous. . .

Tricked by Kevin Hearne
Publisher: Random House
Date: April 24, 2012
384 pages

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegan Books
May 1, 2012
496 pages

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: 576

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.


John Carter

The Hunger Games

The Avengers

Snow White and the Huntsman

The Dark Knight Rises



2012 looks like it is going to be a great year for us geeks! What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Being Tough and Admitting Failure

When I submitted a first story to my writers' critique group, I was so excited. The story was perfect. I had amazed myself with my own creative genius. The plot was flawless, and the characters honed and three-dimensional. (Do I hear some laughing in the background? That's okay. I'm laughing too.)

Then my crit partners proceeded to tear it apart, and showed me exactly what was wrong with my poor story, and how blind I had become in the excitement of putting words down on the page.

I have since learned that in order to be a member of a writing workshop you have to learn to be tough. You have to admit that your first draft has failed and let others point that out to you. You also have to accept that failure is okay, and that it's part of the process of getting to the perfect story.

I love being a member of a critique group. Having someone tell you exactly what is wrong with your story hurts at first, yes, but it is incredibly valuable to the writing process. I get so close to my story that I have trouble seeing its faults, and I need someone to point them out to me. I have become a much better writer by getting critiqued.

If you are not part of a critique group or workshop, consider joining one as a goal for 2012. There are plenty of online groups if you don't know of any close to you. It takes being tough and admitting failure, but it's worth it.

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Check out some of the other blogs below participating in this event!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 10 TV Countdown - #2: FIREFLY

"First rule of battle, little one... don't ever let them know where you are." -- Zoe
"'Course, there're other schools of thought." -- Zoe

Cowboys. In. Space. Seriously, need I say more?

This is one of my favourite shows of all time. It's hilarious. It's sad. It's got drama, action, romance, mystery. It's sci-fi. I love, love, love the characters. 

Now, I hate it when people say "What? You haven't seen _______?? Well, you're just not a sci-fi fan until you have," because come on, you can't be expected to watch every single show under the sun. However, I am sorely tempted to say exactly that about this show, because it's so good. But I'll simply say that if you haven't seen this show, check it out, and you will probably love it.

Firefly follows a crew of travelers aboard a Firefly-class ship called Serenity as they travel to unknown regions of the galaxy, running from various agents and factions out to get them. Joss Whedon, the creator of Firefly, described the show as "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things."

I could spend paragraphs describing each of the awesome characters, but I'll let you discover them for yourself if you haven't already. I love the chemistry between them and Captain Mal's protectiveness over them as though they were a family.

I can only complain about two things in this show: 1) That it only lasted one season, and 2) The inclusion of Inara's character. She is the only one that I don't like, and I really think the show could have done without her. Her occupation as a "dignified" prostitute just makes me uncomfortable. However, she does provide a romantic interest for Mal, which is something.

Seen Firefly? Love it? Haven't seen it but want to? Do share your thoughts and feel free to commiserate on its short-livedness and celebrate the fact that it got a movie sequel.