Book Review: The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko (Translated by Liv Bliss)

11 Jan The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

Sergei Lukyanenko’s name gained popular recognition outside of his native Russia with the translations of his fantasy/horror novels, Night Watch and Day Watch, and their equally successful film adaptations and remakes. It’s not surprising then to see reader interest in translations of his other work, including his science fiction.

However, when it comes to The Genome, diving in simply due to author recognition is not advised. This is a novel where it pays to know not just the author and plot, but also a little about its style and designs. Lukyanenko intended The Genome to be playful, encoding in the final pages a hidden message that translates as: “This novel is a parody of space opera and cyberpunk. The author values your sense of humor.” Continue reading

Awards Eligibility: Our Stuff and All the Stuff We Covered in One Handy Place of Awesome

9 Jan The Hugo Award

It’s that time of year.  Awards Season.  For us, that mostly means the Hugo Awards.  And since everyone is posting their eligibility posts, we decided we’d do one, too.  But instead of just telling you where we’re eligible, we’re going to do that and tell you about the cool stuff and peoples we talked to throughout the year who are eligible for something, too.  If we missed anything, let us know!

Note:  to nominate works for the Hugos, you need a membership to this year’s Worldcon in Spokane by Jan. 31st. Full memberships are $140 until Jan. 31st. Supporting memberships (i.e., non-attending; mostly just for those that want to nominate and vote) are $40. If you were registered for last year’s Worldcon in London, you can nominate works for 2015, but you won’t be able to vote w/o at least a supporting membership. If you’re not attending, do consider getting a supporting membership so you can vote for your favorite sf/f stuff. It’s definitely worth it. Thanks to Gareth Kavanagh for the reminder.

So, here goes: Continue reading

Video Game Review: Civilization: Beyond Earth (2014)

31 Dec be_box1

At the end of all of the Civilization games, one of the classic winning endings is not to conquer the rest of the world or overawe the other civilizations with alliances and treaties; rather, it is to build a ship and send it to the stars. What would happen when that ship reaches its destination?  In the Mid 1990’s, Sid Meier, creator of the Civilization franchise, explored that in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, a turn-based strategy game with a transhumanist narrative, contacting and, in one of the win conditions, joining with Planet. It is probably the biggest budget videogame to ever explore transhumanism and science fiction, and one of the few to meld an external narrative into a strategy game.

Now, Civilization: Beyond Earth treads into those waters again. Created by Firaxis, Beyond Earth takes the chassis of the Civilization V engine, with its one-unit-per-hex design, and transplants it onto an alien planet. Continue reading

The Disquieting Guest: On “As Above, As Below” (2014) and Theatrical Horror in 2014

30 Dec as above so below international poster

I didn’t get the chance to read as many books or watch as many films as I would like this year, and so any ruminations on my part about what might or might not constitute the best of the year should be taken with a Dead Sea’s worth of salt.

My impression is that by and large, this has not been a stellar year for horror movies in the theatres. The box office returns tend to confirm that perception, which leads to Scott Mendelson’s gloomy appraisal of the situation here. But what needs to be factored in, regarding horror’s relatively poor showing in terms of numbers, is how few of this year’s films are actually any good. Compounding the problem is the fact that the two recent movies receiving the most glowing acclaim — Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook — have received criminally minimal distribution. Last I heard, The Babadook, which by all accounts is absolutely terrifying and would be leading my Best-Of list had I been able to see it, has only played in a single theatre in all of Canada. I hope to catch both of these films in 2015, but as I have yet to see them, I can’t say anything else about them in the context of this column other than express my anticipation. And here, have a trailer. Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

25 Dec

Before the day ends, we want to say a very happy holidays to all of you.

Thanks for listening and/or reading, voting for us during the Hugo Awards bonanza, supporting the World SF Tour, and for being awesome!

If you don’t hear from us before 2015, have a great New Year. Next year, we’re all about women in sf/f. It’s going to be an amazing year!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. Keep your robots close and let your dragons fly free (or something corny like that)!

248. Ernest Saves Christmas (1988) — A Holiday Special Torture Cinema “Adventure”

24 Dec

Bad driving, failed children’s television, and Varney, oh my!  Shaun, Julia, Mike, Rachael, Paul, and David join forces for this very special holiday edition of Torture Cinema, featuring the listener-selected flick, Ernest Saves Christmas (1988).  We watched it so you don’t have to suffer through it for Christmas (because you were totally going to do that, right?).  What more could you ask for?

We hope you enjoy the episode, and have a great holiday, whatever you may celebrate!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 24 — Download (MP3)

Ernest Saves Christmas

Show Notes:

Our new intro music is “Time Flux” by Revolution Void (CC BY 3.0).

That’s all, folks!  Thanks for listening.  See you next week.

Book Review: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlepig by Tad Williams

24 Dec th_b_williams_gentlepig-187x300

On Christmas Eve, certain classes of people have to work, whether they like it or not.  Gas Station Attendants. Grocery store stockers. Clerks at electronics stores for those last minute purchases.

And angels. Specifically, angels whose job it is to deal with the souls of the recently departed. Angels like Bobby Dollar.  What looks like a relatively routine death soon becomes trickier, as the recently departed soul seems ready to consign himself to Bobby’s opposite number. You see, the late Petar Vesić was a werewolf, and he thinks that the things he did, the horrors he committed, are not forgivable. While Bobby’s opposite number in the Demon hierarchy is willing to call things a day and a win for his team, Bobby is not so easily swayed. A bargain is struck with the soul of Peter to see to the matter of the recently departed’s son. A bargain that is going to have Bobby call upon the help of a certain werepig friend of his… Continue reading

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