Category Archives: SciFi

Blu-Ray Review: Captain Marvel

CAPTAIN MARVEL [Blu-ray]

Review:
When “Vers”crashes to Earth (in the mid-’90s), she begins searching for answers to her strange flashes of memories of a life she doesn’t remember. But the Skrull are also on earth and can appear as anyone. Vers teams up with a young Nick Fury to find a piece of technology before the Skrull can steal it.

As a huge Captain Marvel fan, I had very high hopes for this movie. I’m usually disappointed when the whole movie is given away in the trailers. And I try to stay away from spoilers (not fan theories though). Thankfully, they still had a few surprises for me. Some a little predictable, but still fun. But there was a big twist I didn’t see coming. Some comic fans may not like one of the bigger changes made to Captain Marvel lore, but I enjoyed it.

The cast was fantastic. Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Samuel L Jackson have great chemistry. And Ben Mendelsohn and Annette Bening were exceptional in their roles. I only wish Agent Coulson had more screen time! The story was an origin story and a prequel. But the story was layered with a good plot and fun easter eggs. It’s definitely action-packed as well and loaded with humor and feel-good moments.

Captain Marvel is an inspiring woman. She has had to work harder to get to where she’s at – and never gives up. She has a sense of humor and can still be vulnerable – even though she’s one of the most powerful superheroes in the MCU. It’s no wonder she has become one of my all-time favorites.
There’s a lot packed into this powerful and inspiring movie. And I look forward to seeing it again.

Bonus Clips:

Author Guest Post: M.C. Planck’ Dave Duncan Tribute

M.C. Planck joins SciFiChick.com today in honor of his latest release, Black Harvest (out tomorrow), and to offer a tribute to author Dave Duncan.

AN UNDER-APPRECIATED AUTHOR

Dave Duncan recently passed away, at the ripe old age of 85 and just days after he’d finished his last manuscript. This was a loss to the SF&F literary world, and also to me personally. Dave gave me a very nice quote for my first novel, The Kassa Gambit, after having declined to give me a quote on an early version of my fantasy epic Sword of the Bright Lady. He had complained that Sword of the Bright Lady was much too slow, and of course, as a veteran and talented author, he was completely correct. I cut out a third of the novel and promptly sold the series to Pyr. His one sentence of advice was worth more than gold to an unknown and beginning writer who had emailed him out of the blue, and yet still less cherished than his praise.

So I’d like to spend this space talking about my favourite books of his and why you should read them even though you’ve probably never heard of them. I think they deserve a lot more exposure than they’ve received, and I think you’ll like them if you give them a try.

Hero!

This SF novel exhibits Duncan’s fantastic talent for convention-wrecking at its best. He takes every standard trope of “young hero saves the world from space invaders” stories and flips them so hard they shatter. I can’t even describe the plot without spoiling it a dozen times (except to say I borrowed a few parts for The Kassa Gambit – it’s okay, Dave had so much going on in this book no one will even notice). Along the way he creates a completely believable futuristic society, hard-science beam weapons, intensely sympathetic characters, and powerful moral dilemmas.

Reaver Road & The Hunter’s Haunt

These two short fantasy novels are framed by Omar, trader of tales, perhaps a god or perhaps just a wandering orator, sticking his nose into terribly interesting situations. They also almost made me give up writing, as Dave’s command of voice is so accomplished that I worried I could never reach such a bar. The Hunter’s Haunt alternates chapters as stories told by different characters, and each one is distinct and compelling. It’s one thing to get a line of dialogue right and sell a scene; Dave does it for whole chapters at a time, for half a dozen different voices, while carrying off a plot so tight it’s water-proof.

The Seventh Sword

A story about a modern engineer who goes to a fantasy world at the behest of a god and winds up changing the world at sword-point. This is literally the plot of Sword of the Bright Lady, and yet Dave’s book couldn’t be more different than mine (and everyone else who has written this genre). For one thing, he put his engineer on the other side – against the guys making gunpowder. It is also a world with distinct ranks – a common feature of fantasy games though very rare in fantasy novels – and yet again completely different than how I handled it. I will always be amazed that we could both write a fantasy series whose plot and most unique feature could be described in exactly the same words and yet create such totally different stories. But I suspect a lot of authors feel the same way, especially after reading Hero!

A Man of his Word & A Handful of Men

Stable-boy falls in love with princess. A story we’ve all heard before, but again Dave sets it in a world that looks like a fantasy game but feels like a real place, with characters that are living people instead of archetypes. The best thing about this series is there are eight thick book’s worth, so you don’t have to come up for air for a good long time. The magic system is also unique, fascinating, and deeper than expected.

The King’s Blades & The King’s Daggers

These are a series of short fantasy novels set in the same world. Again Dave has taken a classic trope – knights sworn to serve their king – and turned it over to discover the often horrifying moving parts underneath, like flipping a shiny beetle on its back only to be faced with a multitude of hairy clawed legs. I think The King’s Daggers stories are supposed to be YA, but Dave was simply incapable of writing without addressing adult responsibilities and concerns. My nephews loved them anyway.

Dave wrote sixty novels before the end (doubly impressive considering he only started when he was 50). These are my favourites; I hope you find some of your own.
__________________________________________________________

About the Author:
M.C. Planck is the author of the science fiction novel The Kassa Gambit, and the World of Prime fantasy series of novels.

After a nearly-transient childhood, Mike hitchhiked across the country and ran out of money in Arizona. So he stayed there for thirty years, raising dogs, getting a degree in philosophy, and founding a scientific instrument company. Having read virtually everything by the old masters of SF&F, he decided he was ready to write. A decade later, he was actually ready and relieved to find that writing novels is easier than writing software, as a single punctuation error won’t cause your audience to explode and die. When he ran out of dogs, he moved to Australia to raise his daughter with kangaroos.

The Batman Four Film Collection in 4K

Own Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack on June 4. Own the Four Film Collection on September 17.

Batman 4K Blu Ray
The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.

Batman Returns 4K Blu Ray
When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.

Batman Forever 4K Blu Ray
Batman must battle former district attorney Harvey Dent, who is now Two-Face and Edward Nygma, The Riddler with help from an amorous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin.

Batman & Robin 4K Blu Ray
Batman and Robin try to keep their relationship together even as they must stop Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing Gotham City.

Review:
These are the Batman movies that I grew up with. I remember loving Michael Keaton as Batman, and he’s still my favorite to this day – by far. And Jack Nicholson was a fantastic Joker. These remastered films look great. I loved the nostalgic feel. And while Batman Forever and Batman & Robin still have a cheese factor, I can appreciate the 90s comicbook style of the films. These are certainly a bit more fun and goofy than the more recent Batman films that are mostly dark, action films.

Re-watching these iconic Batman films is a lot of fun. And now having them in my collection, I’ll be able to introduce them to my nieces and nephew when they’re a bit older.

Received in May

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

DVD/Blu Rays:
Batman 4K Blu Ray
Batman Returns 4K Blu Ray
Batman Forever 4K Blu Ray
Batman & Robin 4K Blu Ray

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox

Ace:
Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Daw:
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason
Master of the World by Edward Willett

Del Rey:
The Nobody People by Bob Proehl
The Princess Beard by Kevin Hearne
The Soul of Power by Callie Bates
Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher
Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

Disney Hyperion / Freeform:
First Day of Groot! by Brendan Deneen
City of Beasts by Corrie Wang
The Camelot Code: Geeks and the Holy Grail by Mari Mancusi
SleepWakers: Sam Saves the Night by Shari Simpson
Spider-Man: Far From Home: Peter and Ned’s Ultimate Travel Journal by Preeti Chhibber
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
War of the Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Escape from the Isle of the Lost by Melissa De la Cruz
Serafina and the Seven Stars by Robert Beatty

First Second:
Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Captain’s Oath by Christopher L. Bennett

Macmillan Teen / Feiwel and Friends / FSG / Roaring Brook Press / Imprint:
Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland
All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney
The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu
The Chosen by Taran Matharu

Pyr:
Black Harvest by M. C. Planck

Simon and Schuster / Skybound / Atria:
Across the Void by S. K. Vaughn

Simon and Schuster Children’s / Aladdin / Simon Pulse:
Titans by Kate O’Hearn
Containment by Caryn Lix

Subterranean Press:
Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard
Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire
Reading Backwards by John Crowley

TCK Publishing:
The Channeler: A Future Forewarned: The Continuum Series, Book 1 by Jenna Ryan

Tor:
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
A Chain Across the Dawn by Drew Williams
Made Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma
The Killing Light by Myke Cole
Starship Repo by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Tor Teen:
Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Star Trek: The Original Series: The Captain’s Oath

Star Trek: The Original Series: The Captain’s Oath by Christopher L. Bennett

Synopsis:
The saga of James T. Kirk’s historic command of the U.S.S. Enterprise is known throughout the galaxy. But one part of the legend has barely been touched upon until now: the story of Kirk’s first starship command and the remarkable achievements by which Starfleet’s youngest captain earned the right to succeed Christopher Pike as the commander of the famous Enterprise. From his early battles with the Klingons to the rescue of endangered civilizations, Kirk grapples with difficult questions: Is he a warrior or a peacemaker? Should he obey regulations or trust his instincts? This thrilling novel illustrates the events and choices that would shape James T. Kirk into one of the most renowned captains in Starfleet history.

Review:
The Captain’s Oath is told from two timelines: when Kirk is first assigned to the Enterprise and his time as captain of the Sacagawea just prior to the Enterprise. The novel jumps back and forth between the 2 timelines, but it’s easy to follow. Some of the crew of the Enterprise doubt their new, young captain. And their mission to diffuse a conflict will test Kirk. And in the past, Kirk has tough decisions to make about the Prime Directive and the fate of an entire race.

While the two unconnected storylines seem a bit strange, it just tells an overall story about Kirk and the man he is. This complex and engaging read. And there are plenty of mystery, suspense, and moral quandaries. Kirk is the one who doesn’t believe in no-win scenarios, but he is faced with several. He’s a rule follower, so it’s always fun to see him bend the rules and give us opportunities to think about what we would do in his place. I always enjoy these “missing years” novels, and this is no exception. TOS fans will definitely want to pick up this one.

SciFi Book Review: Firefly: The Magnificent Nine

Firefly: The Magnificent Nine by James Lovegrove

Synopsis:
An old flame of Jayne Cobb’s, Temperance McCloud, sends a message to Serenity, begging him for help. She lives on the arid, far-flung world of Tethys, and bandits are trying to overrun her town to gain control of their water supply: the only thing standing between its people and dustbowl ruin. Jayne tries to persuade the Serenity crew to join the fight, but it is only when he offers Vera, his favorite gun, as collateral that Mal realizes he’s serious.

When the Serenity crew land at a hardscrabble desert outpost called Coogan’s Bluff, they discover two things: an outlaw gang with an almost fanatical devotion to their leader who will stop at nothing to get what they want, and that Temperance is singlehandedly raising a teenage daughter, born less than a year after Temperance and Jayne broke up. A daughter by the name of Jane McCloud.

Review:
The Magnificent Nine is set after the tv series, but before the movie Serenity. So, the full crew is all here. And this certainly feels like an episode of Firefly and definitely a classic Western. The crew of the Serenity race to help a small town fight off a gang. Jayne has a special history with one of the residents who requests his help, and her daughter happens to be named after him.

This latest Firefly novel is a lot of fun. Besides the crew that we already know and love, there are several interesting new characters. The main villain has an interesting backstory with a bit of mystery. This story has plenty of dangerous villains, suspense, and humor. And a bit of poignant heartwarming drama rounds it out. The flashbacks help move along the current story. And the climactic finale doesn’t disappoint. I love that the series is continuing in novels. And this latest installment is a great addition.

SciFi Book Review: The Kingdom

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Synopsis:
Welcome to the Kingdom… where “Happily Ever After” isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom™ is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species—formerly extinct—roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty—and what it truly means to be human.

Review:
Ana is a bioengineered human, created to be a real Disney-like princess for The Kingdom. She is allowed certain privileges, but then begins to have thoughts and longings beyond her programming. But during a trial, lawyers will try to prove whether or not she is capable of murder.

The Kingdom is a Westworld version of Disneyland. People can visit for an escape into fantasy and see animals that might otherwise be extinct. The story is told from two separate points in time: the “present” as Ana and The Kingdom is on trial for murder and the past as Ana grows beyond her programming and even falls in love. I was captured from the start. The story is full of suspense, mystery, and drama. It’s inspired and beautifully written. I thoroughly enjoyed this surprising YA novel.

SciFi Book Review: This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Synopsis:
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Review:
Cat has been surviving in a harsh, plague-ridden world for years. And when a young soldier arrives, Cat doesn’t trust him at all, even when he says he knew her father. When she discovers that she is the key to unlocking the cure, Cat and Cole embark on a dangerous trek to her father’s lab in hopes of saving humanity.

This Mortal Coil is the first in a apocalyptic trilogy. The plague in this novel causes humans to turn feral and zombie-like and eventually explode, causing the infection to spread further. As a unique twist, a temporary cure for the plague is to cannibalize and infected person before they rupture. It’s disturbing, but the darkest part about the story. The danger and suspense is non-stop. With a bit of romance, and a lot of fun plot twists – this impressive debut is was very hard to put down. I will definitely read the next installment soon.