Tag Archives: science fiction

Blu-Ray Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Edition

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut Blu-ray

About the Release:As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Star Trek franchise, this classic film has been digitally remastered in high definition with brilliant picture quality and will be presented in both Nicholas Meyer’s Director’s Edition and the original theatrical version. The Blu-ray also includes a brand-new, nearly 30-minute documentary entitled “The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan,” which details the development and production of this fan-favorite film through archival footage, photos and new interviews.

Captain Kirk’s Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th century Earth. Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on both capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN Director’s Edition Blu-ray Includes:
Blu-ray
• Director’s Edition in high definition
• Theatrical Version in high definition
• Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer (Director’s Edition & Theatrical Version)
• Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)
• Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda (Director’s Edition)
• Library Computer (Theatrical Version)
• The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan—NEW!
• Production
– Captain’s Log
– Designing Khan
– Original interviews with DeForest Kelley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalban
– Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
– James Horner: Composing Genesis
• The Star Trek Universe
– Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics
– A Novel Approach
– Starfleet Academy: The Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI
• Farewell
– A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban
• Storyboards
• Theatrical Trailer

Review:
I’m a huge fan of Star Trek, so I jumped at the change to own the Director’s Edition. It definitely doesn’t vary too much from the theatrical release. But there are some scenes that are noticeably different if you’ve seen the film multiple times, or recently. I read that there was an error on this release of a short, duplicate scene. But it must have been so short that I didn’t even notice it when I watched it the other day. And I also haven’t watched it enough to notice minute details.

I have owned this movie on blu-ray in a set of the original series movies. But this must have been the first time I watched the edited high def version. And the visual quality this time around definitely impressed me. I’m hoping the other films get similar releases – I’d love a complete collection. And I almost always prefer the Director’s Cut.

Fantasy Book Review: Valkyrie

Valkyrie by Kate O’Hearn

Synopsis:
Valkyrie: Norse Goddess. Reaper of Souls. Defender of the Weak. Not someone you want to mess with…

Freya is dreading her upcoming birthday when she’ll officially have to take up her duties as a Valkyrie. She doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the legends before her—legends including her mother and sisters. And she certainly doesn’t want anything to do with humans!

Freya thinks humans are cruel, hate-filled creatures, but as she observes their world, she begins to wonder what it would be like to make friends with the girls or laugh with the boys she sees. And what would it be like to live without the fear that she could cause someone’s death with a single touch?

Then when she’s sent on her first mission, she reaps the soul of a fallen soldier with unfinished business…business that sends her on an epic quest to the mortal world. Will Freya find the true meaning of being a human, or will she finally accept the legend she is destined to become?

Review:
Freya is a troubled young girl. She isn’t content with her job as a valkyrie and risks her life to do and experience more. She’s a very sympathetic character, even if most readers wouldn’t take the same big risk. But she’s young and impetuous and puts other’s needs before her own.

Valkyrie is an exciting and dramatic fantasy novel for young readers. Full of vibrant characters and a heart-warming story, this was a hard book to put down. The author even modeled her Loki after Tom Hiddleston’s character. The book works well as a standalone novel, but I’d love to see it as a series. I really enjoyed this take on Norse mythology in modern day.

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier author photo

“Apocalyptic Fantasy”
by Joshua Palmatier
I’ve been reading fantasy for * coughcough * number of years and in a good portion of the novels I’ve read there are hints—or sometimes even blatant references—to “the world before the Cataclysm”! It’s a common theme, one that’s basically a trope now. I think there are many reasons for this, the most obvious being that if the reader thinks this strange new world they’re reading about is connected to their own world in some way, they’re going to connect to the story more as well. But I always wondered about that Cataclysm. What could bring about such significant change? And if the Cataclysm referred to our own world, how did the disaster itself bring us from our current world to this fantasy world I’m now reading about?

This of course got me thinking . . . never a good thing. How DID the apocalypse come about? I’ve always loved reading apocalyptic novels, and yet I’d never seen a fantasy novel where the characters actually live through the apocalypse. They’re always set hundreds of years later, when the world has changed and magic has been activated or reborn somehow. (Not that there aren’t such books out there; I just never ran across them.) So why not write a fantasy novel—not sent in our world, but a true secondary world—and tell the events that led up to the apocalypse and what comes after? This, along with the conjunction of a few other ideas, such as using ley lines as a power source, birthed the “Ley” series.

Also, I really like to blow s#&% up. * grin *

The premise is that, in this secondary world, society has evolved around using the ley lines in a way not unlike how we use electricity. Rather than having the society rooted in some kind of medieval setting, I decided that the world should be more advanced. So, imagine New York City or London, but instead of electricity, everything is being powered by the magic of the ley lines. Light, heat, transportation, etc.—all of it controlled by the Prime Wielders and their closely guarded Nexus. And the Wielders are controlled by the Baron, who’s using the Nexus and the advantages of the ley to rule the Baronial Plains with an iron fist. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, of course. But the main point is that I wanted to write a novel where the reader experiences what the fantasy world was like BEFORE the Cataclysm that changed it. And then I wanted to explore what the world was like afterwards with the survivors. These are those two novels—SHATTERING THE LEY and THREADING THE NEEDLE. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the Cataclysm that so many fantasy novels refer to, here’s your chance.


Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of Threading the Needle by K. Eason for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 15. I’ll draw a name on July 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua Palmatier

Box Review: Bam Box – June 2016

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The Bam Box was founded in 2015 by Bloof, the same team of geeks, comic book lovers and pop culture collectors that started ComiconAuction.com. We love collecting. We love the thrill of it, the mystery of it and especially that feeling you get when you have a collectible in your hands that you are really excited about. So we set out to bring something different to everyone.

There are some great subscription boxes on the market, but we felt there was still something missing. We went to the drawing board with the goal of creating the box we would want to show up on our doorstep. After a lot of ideas and prototypes we arrived at the Bam Box. From the design of the box to the items inside to the instant winners we send out, we accomplished what we wanted to do: give you the subscription box we would be jealous of.”

Cost: 1 month plan starts at $24.99 plus $7.99 s/h

*SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

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The box comes with a half sheet, full-color information on what’s in the box.
This month’s theme was 1980s!

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Retro Sunglasses (Retail $9.99?) – Totally tubular sunglasses. These are hysterical. I’m definitely saving them for any 80s parties.

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EXCLUSIVE Truffle Shuffle Pin (Retail ?) – Everyone loves the Goonies! This an item with a possible 1-Up, but I actually like my standard color version better.

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Back to the Future Prop Replica License Plate (Retail $19.95 on Amazon) – Subscribers could have received the original or Back to the Future 2 license plate. I got the “futuristic” one from 2015. The original may be more recognizable. But as a fan of the movies, I knew what this was right away. Very cool.

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Original Pencil Sketches! (Retail N/A) – This is one of the coolest items in the box. I completely unique and original sketch from one of several 80s cartoons! I received Alvin and the Chipmunks. I would have loved any of the ones listed on the sheet, but my niece may be stealing this from me as she loves Alvin now.

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EXCLUSIVE Rocky Davies Signed Ghostbusters Print (Retail $10-20?) – Most will receive this print, but 500 will receive a 1-Up of the “Ecto Cooler” variant. Slimer is looking pretty awesome.

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Ralph Macchio Signed Karate Kid Print (Retail $20?) – And rounding out this choice box is an iconic scene signed by the original Karate Kid himself! I just met Billy Zabka a couple years ago, so this is great!

Summary: This was a Most Triumphant box of 80s goodies. Several items were great exclusives. And the sunglasses were a great accessory addition. I love how different this box is. If you are into unique prints and autographed items, this box doesn’t disappoint.

Next month’s theme is GALACTIC… and look at the awesome mash-up of series possibilities. Can’t wait!

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Box Review: Marvel Collector Corps – June 2016 – Women of Power

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This is the 8th box from Collector Corps and the theme was Women of Power! The Marvel Collector Corps offers these boxes starting at $25 plus s/h.

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Each box comes with an exclusive badge and pin.

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And now a card detailing the contents of the box with a look at early concepts.

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Spider-Gwen Tshirt (Retail $10) – While I’m glad they went with something other than a POP-looking character, I would have preferred a Ms Marvel or Captain Marvel shirt. And is it just me, or does Gwen’s face look alien-like?

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Civil War II #1 Comic Variant (Retail $5.99) – I’m excited to read Civil War II! I usually wait for graphic novels, but I’m happy to get any comic variant.

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She-Hulk Marvel Mystery Mini (Retail $9+)

Captain Marvel Marvel Mystery Mini (Retail $9) – I don’t have many of these mini figs, only the ones I get in the Collector Corps boxes. But I love these two choices. I only wish they were full-size POPs!

Marvel Collector Corps

EXCLUSIVE Squirrel Girl Funko POP! (Retail ?) – This is easily one of my new favorite POPs! I love Squirrel Girl. And this is an awesome design, complete with a little squirrel friend!

Summary: What a great theme?! I was incredibly excited for this box – and was really happy with the choice of the exclusive POP! The shirt could have been a bit cooler, but I’m just happy it’s not black again.

Next month’s theme is Spider-Man! I’ll be ordering an extra box for my nephew!

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Enemy: On The Bones of The Gods

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Excerpt from Enemy: On The Bones of the Gods by K. Eason
Copyright 2016 K. Eason, Published by 47 North, Seattle

Smoke collected on the belly of the storm. It rose up in slim fingers above the tree line, coiled into a fist when it cleared the ridge. Hung there and spread against the underbelly of the clouds like oil across water.

If a man stood just so, facing into the wind, he might imagine that it was the forest burning. Except this was the wrong season for natural fires. Too cold, too wet, snow underfoot and more waiting overhead. It was the wrong smell, too, for burning trees. The wind brought a firepit stink, flesh and charcoal and dung. Village smells, which most days meant sure shelter, with a storm on the way.

Then that man would peer skyward and consider the clouds, and give thanks to his ancestors that the village was so near and that he had a sackful of tradables to buy his welcome. Snowhare skins, soft and white. A fine rack of antlers he’d taken off a bull elk that had broken through the snow-crust upslope a day ago, weak and furious and an easy mark for arrows.

Good fortune, Veiko had thought then. Meat and hide, horn and hooves. Worth the extra day spent above the trees while the storm gathered. Worth the weight on the hike down. A stranger did not walk into an Alvir village unchallenged, from the forest, looking like Veiko did. A stranger came by the road, with goods and hands on clear display, his axe on his hip and bow slung on his back.

Except on that road now, there was a column of soldiers jogging toward the crease in the hills, and the smoke, and the village. Their collective breath streamed out behind them like steam off a boiling pot. The standard-bearer’s flag clung sullenly to its pole, wrapped tight against the gusts. Illhari legion, armed and armored and moving fast.

Now Veiko wondered if he’d caught the elk’s unluck. Failed to appease its spirit. Because that was not village smoke collecting there above the trees. Nor was that the smell of village cookfires.
Charred meat. Charred wood. The smell of raiding.

Had Veiko not found that elk, he might have been in the village when the raiders came, and it might be his meat stinking on the wind. He shivered. Perhaps it was not unluck the elk had given him. Perhaps its spirit had repaid him in kind: saved him from a trap and slow death in return for relief from the same.
Beside him, Helgi heaved a deep-chested whine. Protest. Query. Distress, maybe, at the smoke-reek and the movement on the road. Veiko dropped a quick hand to the dog’s head. Glanced sidelong and found Logi halfway out of his crouch, ears up and curious. Logi knew roads meant villages, people, new things, and warm sleeping.

But not that village, not now. Even if he might find walls still standing, or some shelter, the legion wouldn’t welcome him. Tall, pale foreigner, with village houses burned and people dead, no, they would—what was the Dvergiri word for it?—detain him. And likely shoot his dogs. Maybe throw him in chains after and sell him in the city. He’d heard his elders’ tales about Illhari justice. Best he get as far from the road as he could, as soon as he could. There were other villages. Let the raiders come for him, if they felt brave. Let them try to find him at all.

He took a handful of Logi’s scruff. “No.” He winced. Days since he’d used his voice. “Wait.”
Logi sighed and dropped his chin onto his paws. Helgi chuffed and settled back to his belly. And the three of them waited, part of the snowscape, until the last trooper bobbed out of sight.

Snowdenaelikk had just rolled the last of her jenja, lit it, and blown the first smoke that didn’t stink like destruction, when Briel’s sending came. A cascade of jumbled impressions crowded into her skull. A svartjagr’s vantage, above the tree line and moving fast: dizzy twist of tree and ground, a flash of

two legs
color, the hollow-gut swerve and there, a
clutch

trio of troopers, marching ragged up the path above Davni. One
trailed

wounded/prey
behind the others, who
pecked

kept heads together. Two male, one female. And because Briel remembered her training: an eyeblink’s focus on the weapons. Plain legion blades, still sheathed. Short javelins in a sling on the larger man’s back. Crossbow on the woman’s. The night-and-blood diamond pattern on the tunics. They were from Cardik’s garrison, that was no surprise. But to arrive at this toadshit village already, this fast—Laughing God, that was.

The sending ended, and the blindness came. Price of a svartjagr’s sending, yeah, count it out in heartbeats. No need for panic. Listen to the sizzle where her jenja had landed, smell the sweet and spice. She thought about trying to find it, pat-pat in the snow. Salvage something of it. Swore instead and crouched, her hands flat to the wall of the ruined temple. Cold stone, slick moss, a dead Alvir god’s face roughing her palms. She waited for the sunrise stages of vision, black to grey to, well, more grey, in the shadowless pre-blizzard twilight. This wasn’t so different than the cave-dark of Below, without witchfire.

Overhead, a whisper of wings and tail. A thump as Briel found a perch in what remained of the temple’s rafters. Soot sifted down from the impact, fresh stinging insult to offended eyes.

Snow blinked tears and blur as her vision crept back. “Fuck, Briel. Kill me someday, won’t you, if you send when I need to see.”

Briel hissed. One of her three primary utterances. Big talker, Briel.

Snow squinted up, scanned the rafters. Stone building, this one, the corpse of a temple gutted during the Purge. The walls still stood, moss- grown on the north sides, the tough mountain spine-vines on the rest. Most of the roof had spilled down between them. The thatch had gone first, collapsed and left a rib cage of crossbeams. Briel’s hide matched the wood’s greasy black. Invisible until she dipped her long neck and stared down at Snow. In the twilight, the svartjagr’s eyes glowed like embers. Like the village had when the last of the fires sputtered to ash. She and Drasan had picked through the wreckage, expecting the odd bit of surviving silver and coin. Instead, they’d found all the wealth you’d expect in an Alvir village on a caravan route, wealth no raiders would have left behind.


Courtesy of 47North, I have a copy of Enemy: On The Bones of the Gods by K. Eason for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 15. I’ll draw a name on July 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Excerpt and Giveaway: Enemy: On The Bones of The Gods

Fantasy Book Review: The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Synopsis:
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself.

Review:
The premise sounds a lot like the tv show, The Librarians, so I had to check this out. But instead of artifacts, this library is strictly for books – from alternate realities. Irene has to train a new recruit on a difficult first mission that takes a detour for which neither are prepared.

The Invisible Library is an inspired novel with plenty of mystery, magic, and humor. I’m hoping this is just a start of a long series, as it has so much potential. From vibrant characters to unique and mysterious worlds – book lovers will enjoy this highly enjoyable story. This story centers on a fantasy world of magic where mythological creatures are real. Events build to a big and surprising finale with plenty of excitement. And I look forward to the next adventure.

Fantasy Book Review: Bright Blaze of Magic

Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Synopsis:
As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families–and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

Review:
Bright Blaze of Magic is the final installment in the Black Blade trilogy. The events in the first two novels have built to the big showdown with Victor Draconi and his lust for power and control.

Lila is a strong, fun character. She has grown a lot, yet is still a thief at heart. This is a fantastic conclusion to this exciting, YA fantasy series. With plenty of magic, colorful characters, humor, and a bit of romance – this is a fast-paced read that doesn’t disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from a talented author who knows how to write strong female heroines with an edge.