The City on the Edge of Forever is often described as the best episode of the original series of Star Trek,The review will be crossposted at my site.
The City on the Edge of Forever is often described as the best episode of the original series of Star Trek, and it’s hard to argue against that. The script, written by Sci-Fi legend Harlan Ellison, won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1968, and also the Writer’s Guild of America award of the same name. That those awards were actually for different scripts is where the comic book adaptation comes in (here is some background). As you can see, Ellison – never one to stay calm in the face of even imagined slights – famously criticized the edits done by Trek’s writers to his story, a “fatally inept treatment”. I remember discovering this after seeing Ellison doing his best ‘Andy Rooney of Sci-Fi’ in remarks on the old Sci-Fi Buzz show on the Sci-Fi channel, and being curious about what his story was like.
BlockQuoteCityEdgeForeverI no longer have to wonder, as IDW has published a faithful adaptation of one of Ellison’s drafts of the script. (spoilers possible from here) Many of the story beats are the same – Kirk and Spock must travel back to fix the timeline after a crewman screws it up – but the devil is in the details. Here, a drug-dealing crewmember is the one who mucks things up, something that probably wouldn’t have flown with Roddenberry’s vision of the future. His treatment also dealt more with the racism of the time, which was present but toned down in the TV episode. Gone, also, on TV was the fact that the Enterprise changed after the crewman escaped to the past. Ellison’s script actually has a rather badass picture of Yeoman Rand standing with the redshirts on this other ship in the changed timeline, phaser-blasting and elbow-dropping dudes to buy Spock and Kirk time to beam back down to the Guardian of Forever.
But the most intriguing change is to the end, with what happens to Edith Keeler. In this story, the crewman (this vile drug-dealing killer) attempts to save Edith from the truck while Kirk stands dumbfounded. Spock knocks the crewman away, and Edith dies as she is meant to. It provides a bit for Spock and Kirk to ponder at the end, debating how good and evil can come from the same place.
I enjoyed the book quite a bit. Scott and David Tipton ably adapted the story, and the JK Woodward art comes across as a series of paintings, expertly capturing the actors in their youth. I could’ve used some smoother transitions from scene to scene or panel, but it does the job well. Of course, this version would’ve been impossible to film at the time it was written. Too long to film, too much stuff to make. But hey, now you can see the story as Ellison meant it.
Thanks again to NetGalley for the early review copy. Pre-order your own trade at Amazon. Or check on the individual issues at your local comic shop....more
Remember how strange it was in Ocean’s Twelve when it was revealed that Danny and the boys had won because they had outsmPosted originally at my site.
Remember how strange it was in Ocean’s Twelve when it was revealed that Danny and the boys had won because they had outsmarted the bad guys off-screen? Yeah, pretty much what you have here. We begin Tarkin, by James Luceno, with an attack on a station Moff Tarkin is familiar with, so Palpatine (now the Emperor as the book is set not long after Episode 3) sends Tarkin and Vader to go check out what happened. BUT! It turns out it was a ploy to get Tarkin out there, as Rebels steal his badass stealth ship to go rampaging. It’s up to Tarkin and Vader to get it back.
Unfortunately, ‘getting it back’ mostly involves Tarkin being outsmarted at every turn, and Vader mostly being there as a threatening presence. How many of you buy a book about the bad guys on the threat that Vader might force-choke a dude? Tarkin spends most of the book getting outsmarted and relaying to Vader barely-related stories from his childhood, until the end when it’s revealed that no, I meant to lose all along. He and Palpatine had a plan to ferret out some traitors in their midst and deal a blow to the barely-formed Rebel Alliance. But we are really only told about this as an after-the-fact taunt.
Tarkin is really hard to justify. Grand Moff Tarkin was a great villain in part because of the mystery. We have the amazing Peter Cushing on screen for a few minutes, he orders a Princess tortured, snarks at Lord Vader, and blows up a whole damn planet because it makes a good example. If you are removing the air of mystery surrounding a character like that, you would do well to make them a heck of a lot more interesting than this. As always, thanks to NetGalley for the chance to check this out....more
Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King is my first book of his, and it’s great, if not ground-breaking. It follows young Prince Yarvi, who has a withered arm,Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King is my first book of his, and it’s great, if not ground-breaking. It follows young Prince Yarvi, who has a withered arm, content to step away from the throne and dive into a life of books and study. Not strong enough to fight, he hones his mind, but everything changes when his father and brother are killed and the throne is thrust back upon him. It goes from bad to worse when he is betrayed and left for dead. What follows is a quest for vengeance, and to retake the throne he didn’t even want.
Joining Yarvi are a cast of odd crooks and malcontents, forming an uneasy alliance while fleeing captivity. Undoubtedly a YA novel, it’s not nearly as dark some of Abercrombie’s other work from what I’ve seen, but the book serves as a great palate cleanser between heavier reads. There’s action and humor and twists you may or may not see coming....more
I think the Hellboy comics are going to be something I read in trades. I love reading the story arcs all at once, and going back over and over to checI think the Hellboy comics are going to be something I read in trades. I love reading the story arcs all at once, and going back over and over to check out the art. As an aside, if you haven't checked out Mignola's concept art for Disney's Atlantis yet, go see it. Really cool stuff.
I find myself in a tough place, reviewing these. If I try to explain the story, it would take the fun out of it just a bit. Creepy puppet show versions of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley, Hellboy's half-brothers, the princes of Hell fleeing before him, the army that would be commanded by HB's red right hand...suffice it to say there's tons of cool stuff to see. And if it doesn't tell a super-cohesive story, well, I can forgive him that as the art is amazing. Mignola, with colorist Dave Stewart, can evoke so much from a single panel. Love it.
It might seem like an odd combination, Hellboy getting the cutesy 'Itty Bitty' treatment, but if you enjoy HB and want to get your younger ones in earIt might seem like an odd combination, Hellboy getting the cutesy 'Itty Bitty' treatment, but if you enjoy HB and want to get your younger ones in early, this is a good way. The bright, simple shapes are indeed cute, reminding me a bit of the Powerpuff Girls. Art Baltazar and Franco do a solid job with the art and stories, most of which are a few pages long and have simple kid-friendly jokes (Johann sneezes himself out of his suit, jokes about Roger's underwear, and so on)....more
I keep an eye out on NetGalley for books that may some day interest my kids, and I became curious about Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen FoxleeI keep an eye out on NetGalley for books that may some day interest my kids, and I became curious about Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee when I saw it was one of the most requested books on the site. What I found was a fast-paced reimagining of the Snow Queen story that the intended audience will love, but doesn't quite reach the level of all-ages classic.
Ophelia is the sort of quirky girl that is the star of books like these - she has asthma, she pulls on her braids when nervous, and she has no time for fantasy. She's all about science. That is contrasted with the story of the Boy, whose name was taken for safekeeping when he was picked as the child of prophecy to take down the evil Snow Queen. Giant owls, magic swords, eternal winters - you know the drill. He has to find the 'One Other' to help him, and if you are like me you already know where this is going. But for the 9 to 12 year old set, it should work.
As I was reading this, I kept thinking that it felt a lot like one of Gaiman's adult tales edited down to be palatable to 10 year olds. I don't mean that as a negative. I can see easing your kids into Neil's more brain-melting works by starting here. I'd probably consider this 3 stars for adults, but 4 for kids....more
What, is this some sort of repeat? Nope! I got a copy of a totally different adaptation of the 47 Ronin story via NetGalley, this time drawn by Stan SWhat, is this some sort of repeat? Nope! I got a copy of a totally different adaptation of the 47 Ronin story via NetGalley, this time drawn by Stan Sakai (of Usagi Yojimbo fame). I won't rehash the gist of the story but I will say I enjoyed this version quite a bit more. It's written by Mike Richardson, with editorial assistance by Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub, and the prose here seems clearer, with fewer abrupt shifts into stereotypical 'shouty Samurai' the previous version I read had. The team included a few more character moments and a bit more insight into the pain and suffering the 47 endured while waiting for their vengeance, and it makes all the difference. Definitely well worth the time and effort (the link above is to the forthcoming collection, due out on March 4th)....more
Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson, is a spin through a dystopian world where an event (the Calamity) has given a smalThis review appears at my website.
Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson, is a spin through a dystopian world where an event (the Calamity) has given a small number of humans super powers. The problem is, they are ALL evil. Even though not all 'Epics' are equal in power, there are enough that they pretty much carved the world up into chunks they rule with impunity. It's in this world that we see our protagonist, David. He witnessed Steelheart, now ruler of a large swath of the former United States centered around what once was Chicago, kill his father. David's dad was one of the Faithful, who believed that with villains around, heroes would come. His father died for that belief...but not before he wounded Steelheart. David is the only one who knows what happened that day, having escaped the purge by Steelheart that followed, and he's trained himself for years to hunt the villain down and kill him.
To make that happen, David finds and worms his way into a group called the Reckoners. Normal humans who hunt down and kill Epics by studying their weaknesses. Every Epic has one, of course, and it's their most guarded secret. Our hero believes he's the only one who can figure out Steelheart's weakness, since he was there on the one day he was hurt.
This book was quite a bit of fun, even if you're not into comic books. Steelheart is an obvious 'evil Superman' stand-in, though comic fans might feel Black Adam is a closer fit. The world is interesting, I'm very curious about the Calamity and what caused it, why all heroes go bad, and the fate of one of the characters left at the end. The supporting characters (the typical band of misfit rebels of the Reckoners) don't get far beyond basic characterization, but for a YA novel, that's not the end of the world. The action is fun, and as a whole I was engaged enough that the plot twists worked on me. 4 of 5 stars. Definitely want to know what happens next. Steelheart is $4.99 as of now on the Kindle and Nook....more
A solid, enjoyable Star Wars book. Doesn't try to go too far off what made this universe fun. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy. Full review cA solid, enjoyable Star Wars book. Doesn't try to go too far off what made this universe fun. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy. Full review coming a bit later....more
**spoiler alert** Chalk this one up as a win for the Hellboy movie franchise! I enjoyed both movies (and eagerly await a third, hint hint guys) so whe**spoiler alert** Chalk this one up as a win for the Hellboy movie franchise! I enjoyed both movies (and eagerly await a third, hint hint guys) so when this popped up on NetGalley, it was a no-brainer to check out. (Spoilers from here on) The Midnight Circus deals with young Hellboy at the BPRD. He's still not sure he fits in there, and one night, after overhearing Bruttenholm arguing with another man about the danger he represents, he runs away. He encounters The Midnight Circus, and from here his story parallel's the one in Pinocchio, if Pinocchio was even more dark and twisted than the original tale. The demonic circus tries to relate his true purpose to Hellboy, and in trying to escape he gets caught up in a whale, hunted by the ghosts of child murderers, and attacked by evil circus animals.
Mike Mignola is at his creepy best here, and frequent collaborator Duncan Fegredo's art is fantastic. He contrasts the usual stylized grimdark Hellboy style with sunnier panels from the Pinocchio tale Hellboy read. You really get to see how and why our young hero begins to see Professor Bruttenholm not just as his caretaker but a father figure. If you enjoyed the movies or other Hellboy comics, or simply like a bit of horror now again, check it out....more
Got this one as a review copy from NetGalley, and it’s a bit better than the last one (Crucible). It’s about, as you might guess, ObCall it 3.5 stars.
Got this one as a review copy from NetGalley, and it’s a bit better than the last one (Crucible). It’s about, as you might guess, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he tries to watch over the infant Luke. It’s framed by Obi-Wan’s attempts to recreate the meditation Yoda showed him in order to speak to Qui-Gon. The rest of the story plays out much like a western, with the Sandpeople taking the role of the (possibly not so) evil Indians, the black-hatted head of the local militia/neighborhood watch/cattle baron trying to wipe them out, and the simple, honest townsfolk caught in the middle. There’s even a potential love interest for our Jedi Master taking the Miss Kitty spot, though not in a space bordello.
That woman is the real driving force of the story – Annileen runs the general store/saloon in these parts, having taken it over when her husband passed. Both she and her daughter take a shine to the mysterious stranger, moreso when he time and again steps in to try and smooth over an argument or defuse a dangerous situation. The resolution of the main plot gets a little jumbly and scattered, but the story is worth reading if you like Obi-Wan, and want to learn about what he did to keep busy after setting up shop to watch Luke. John Jackson Miller does a solid job making the idea of people living on Tatooine make sense. The book is out today, if it sounds like something you’d enjoy. It’s one of the better SW EU books I’ve read recently.
I’ve been staring at thie text entry box for this review for days, at various times. Gaiman’s books can be deeply affecting, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is no different. I’m even having trouble re-reading it to do the review as I am feeling what happens to the young protagonist a bit too deeply.
The book begins in the normal world, with the protagonist, now a grown man, driving around aimlessly until he ends up in the neighborhood he grew up in. His house is gone, but the one next door, where the Hempstock women lived, that’s still there. He begins to remember things long forgotten, a time when his quiet world was nearly torn apart by a dead gem miner, an evil spirit, and it ends with a sacrifice to save him. What makes the book affect me so much, I think, is that the evil is rarely attacking directly. It’s working claws into the hero’s sister, his father, and you feel that much more for him.
The story is classic Gaiman, with children who aren’t children, and the fantastic lurking just at the edge of the real. That he can build a world like this in such a short book (and it’s pretty darn short) is always impressive to me.
The 47 Ronin adapts a classic Japanese story of Bushido, the Samurai code of honor. This particular adaptation is in graphic novel form, having been wThe 47 Ronin adapts a classic Japanese story of Bushido, the Samurai code of honor. This particular adaptation is in graphic novel form, having been written by Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima handling the art duties. It follows the tale of a group of samurai, disgraced and left leaderless after their lord had assaulted a court official in Edo castle and committed seppuku. The samurai, believing that their lord had borne great offense from this official, set out on a plan for revenge.
The art and writing are both spare, perhaps too much so. It seems less like a smoothly-flowing story and more of a series of standalone panels. It doesn't flow, to my eye. The emotion shifts from one panel to the next are jarring. On one hand it will feel like true Japanese writing, but then the next panel will feel like a somewhat rough translation. I'll actually be quite curious to see the movie version that Keanu Reeves is starring in (I know, I know) this winter. It's due out around Christmas, and other than Keanu, has a solid cast of Japanese actors, including Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim, Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai), and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Pearl Harbor, many others). I mean, it's hard to beat the look of samurai on the big screen, and an adaptation with a bit more energy could be epic....more
Read it in advance of the movie, since my son is dying to see it. Another fun ride, and the twist at the end caught me by surprise. It will be interesRead it in advance of the movie, since my son is dying to see it. Another fun ride, and the twist at the end caught me by surprise. It will be interesting to see how they recover from the changes made in the first movie with the new adaptation....more
Abaddon’s Gate is the third book in James S. A Corey’s Expanse series, and it kicks a whole heck of a lot of ass. James Holden is haunted –4.5 Stars.
Abaddon’s Gate is the third book in James S. A Corey’s Expanse series, and it kicks a whole heck of a lot of ass. James Holden is haunted – literally. Miller is dead, but that doesn’t stop the detective from appearing to Holden again and again, each time speaking nonsense, or possibly a warning, to him. Despite that, things couldn’t get much better for his plucky crew. They are flush with cash after some successful freelance missions, they have a ship that’s been refit and repaired better than it was before, and they can keep out of the political mire that from the events.
It all changes when Mars wants their ship back and brings considerable legal muscle to bear. Holden has to deal, and it lands him exactly where he doesn’t want to be, heading straight for the gate built by the alien protomolecule (remember that?). Where it leads and the consequences of it all are vast, and could decide the fate of humanity.
We get a few new POV characters – a Methodist pastor among many religious leaders heading out to the gate to try and make sense of it, and a woman with an axe to grind with Holden and the crew. It’s kind of funny, since I’ve traveled in many of the same internet circles with Ty Franck (one half of the James S. A Corey pseudonym) I know exactly where the pastor character comes from and why certain areas are mentioned. I enjoyed the book immensely, even if Bobbie Draper’s absence was noted. This book could be considered a trilogy’s end, but they’ve got more stories to tell in this world, and let’s just say the ending is ‘open’ to it. Highly recommended.
Read a galley copy. Just...blah. No vibrancy from the characters, little real excitement. Seems to owe a lot to the Jedi Knight video games, maybe jusRead a galley copy. Just...blah. No vibrancy from the characters, little real excitement. Seems to owe a lot to the Jedi Knight video games, maybe just go play those again....more
Not too bad. Like any anthology, some good reads, some stinkers. Relied to much on linking every Dax host back to people we knew from the various seriNot too bad. Like any anthology, some good reads, some stinkers. Relied to much on linking every Dax host back to people we knew from the various series....more