Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mr Darcy and...alternate reality...and ZOMBIES!

What woman in her right literary mind didn't fall head over heels for Mr. D. I did! Our fascination was cemented by the famous showcasing of our communal, international passion in the Bridget Jones novels. Mr. D rules!

Well, this week has been the SF-ification of Pride and Prejudice, it seems. First, I watched LOST IN AUSTEN, which has the cute premise of sending a modern-day gal obsessed with P&P right into P&P Land. Plot mayhem ensues as her presence, and Lizzie's absence, cause things to go way off the canon. Will the 21st century gal be able to love a Regency male? Rent it and find out. I got it from Netflix. It's enjoyable, although the latter third sort of gets slightly wearying. The ending works nicely. And the guy who plays Mr. Darcy does a decent job, too. He's no Colin Firth in the role, but who is?

~
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."



Today, I came across a featured book at the Sony Reader bookstore: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. That one is just begging for a Monster by Mail treatment, doncha think?

You can read the opening pages at amazon.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heads Up on Higashi No Eden, a Terrific New Futuristic Anime with Religious Elements


"The King has come to save us from the dark! Who could ever doubt? We have faith!"
--quoted "Scripture" from opening theme of Higashi No Eden


Well, futuristic being a couple years on (2011). Higashi No Eden translates to Eden of the East, and since we quickly head to Japan during the first episode, there ya go.

Here's the plot summary from Anime News Network:

On November 22, 2010 ten missiles strike Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be called as "Careless Monday," does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, 3 months later... Saki Morimi is a young woman currently in the United States of America on her graduation trip. But just when she is in front of the White House, Washington DC, she gets into trouble, and only the unexpected intervention of one of her fellow countrymen saves her. However, this man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, is a complete mystery. He appears to have lost his memory. and he is stark naked, except for the gun he holds in one hand, and the mobile phone he's holding with the other hand. A phone that is charged with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash.


It only recently premiered on Japanese telly, but I've watched three episodes online and this is a high-quality anime that has that Bourne Identity vibe (ie, main character has had his memory wiped, however it seems he did it willingly to himself. Mebbe.) However, there is a gentler quality to Akira than there was to Jason B, which makes him likable, even winsome. There are moments when the artist(s) capture a particular look by making minor adjustments to the features that really affects how we perceive him. Very well done.

What the viewer might covet most--or be most interested in at first--is this neat special cellphone that essentially gets whatever the user wants done and done RIGHT AWAY (but it is fingerprint-keyed to a particular user). Want a car, a boat, a person killed? Done.

Of particular interest to me is how the religious element is developed. We see twelve "messiahs" hinted at (the main character is called this, and he's only the number IX of XII). We see psalms-like "verses" or prayers in the opening sequence. We hear Saki talk about how Japan needs to help itself in episode one. We know there have been terrorist attacks, and by a later episode, it's clear that Akira may have committed an atrocity (or not, who's to say just yet, I'm guessing). He even calls himself a terrorist in his amnesiac state. The voice that answers the wondrous cell phone is a "judge" (Juiz) and the XII are the "Chosen" or the "selected ones." If there is to be an EDEN in the East, then are these "messiahs" supposed to bring it to fruition via acts of violence? How are they chosen? Who foots the humonmgous bill? Who is their "God"?

The animation is terrific. The voice actors do a very good job. There is a certain romantically appealing chemistry in the blossoming friendship of the lead characters. It's got a mystery-thriller vibe with a bit of sci-fi, some odd, possibly religious/cult-based well-funded organization/conspiracy, and a bit of manga-ish humor tossed in to keep it from being suffocatingly paranoid and tense. Clues are given, and it's fun making theories about what is the deal with the phones, the huge bank account, the immediate wish-fulfillment, the danger, the murders, the implications of the religious elements, etc. Images that will recall 9/11 purposely are rather haunting. There is something very, very dark afoot, and it's a great hook.

The opening theme song is FALLING DOWN by Oasis, and man, is that a terrific song. The opening itself is a delight to watch. See it here.

The episodes are up at Youtube (in parts) and entire episodes can be found (subbed, not dubbed) at AnimeFreak.tv, where I caught them.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adam Lambert and MAD WORLD Made The Mir Cry!

I was NOT enjoying watching AMERICAN IDOL tonight with hubby. Some really nowhere performances.

Then, my fave from day one, Adam Lambert (I also like Allison Iraheta and, probably third best, Danny G) comes on and starts singing one of my very favorite songs (and if this preference weren't proof of my innate melancholia, I dunno what is), MAD WORLD, written by Tears for Fears' Roland Orzabal adn released in 1982--the year I met my hubby. It was later covered gorgeously--improving on the original--by Gary Jules. Ah, that minimalist piano and moody cello. A rainy day song...lie in bed and brood about life. You may have heard it used to perfection in the film DONNIE DARKO. Well, as soon as I realized what Adam was singing, I ran--literally RAN with arms flailing--to turn off the lights and raise the TV volume.

He rocked it like mad. I was crying. CRYING. The only AI performance that ever made me cry. The moody lighting, the quiver on the word "nervous". Loved it. (I would have preferred going low for the final words, back to the downlow gloom, but he went high. S'okay. Adam's the bomb.) He's been so consistently interesting and excellent, we may be getting us the first gay American Idol first place winner. (Clay Aiken came in second, after Ruben, if ya recall.)

AI redeemed itself in those last few minutes for the previous ho-humness.

In case you're curious, here are links and the lyrics to hear MAD WORLD:

Gary Jules' take on it--better than TforFears' even. Watch it with FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST visuals, if ya want.

Mad World
by Tears for Fears


All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

SF Cover Art Contest and a Prayer Request for Baby Max

I'll ask for the prayer first, since it's more important than a contest. Marcy Rockwell (speculative poet and editor over at MINDFLIGHTS.COM) has a new baby-yay!--who has a heart defect--:(--and I'm asking for healing prayers on Max Gerard's behalf. Thanks. Visit Marcy's journal for updates and info and a pic of wee Max G.

Now, the contest:

If you create speculative art (ie, fantasy art or science fiction art) and think you have created or want to create something that fits the guidelines/needs of MINDFLIGHTS MAGAZINE, please consider entering. No entry fee. First prize is $50.00 and we also offer cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd places and any Honorable Mentions selected.

The Rules and deadline can be found here.

If you have a pal who is an amateur SF artist (or pro who may be interested), pass the word along.

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Ebook for a Buck: WINTERBIRTH

Throughout April, you can download a fantasy novel by Brian Ruckley for a dollar: WINTERBIRTH. PW gave the novel a starred review, and here's a snippet of it:

Scottish author Ruckley's outstanding fantasy debut, the first installment of the Godless World trilogy, introduces a sprawling realm abandoned by the gods after two races united to destroy a third. The peoples left behind struggle with centuries-old prejudices and unresolved conflicts that threaten to destroy them all. The start of winter is traditionally a time of celebration, but when the elflike Kyrinin and religious fanatics called Inkallim interrupt the festivities at Castle Kolglas with a masterfully planned attack, the bloodshed is just the first move in an apocalyptic war that won't end until the world itself is unmade...(Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Available on Kindle, Sony Reader, and from booksonboard.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Marcher Lord Press' Newest Three Books of Christian SF

Jeff Gerke of MARCHER LORD PRESS has announced the next three books are out, including "a far-future SF, a mind powers fantasy, and a near-future dystopia with assault gunships." Here's his summary of them--and a bonus available for buyers during the first week of April:

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson is a thrilling fantasy about a young hero and heroine who are discovering their abilities to "bloodvoice"--to communicate telepathically.

It is a land literally divided into Darkness and Light, and mystery surrounds both sides. Achan, a young stray (worse than a slave) is hearing strange voices in his head, and Vrell, a girl disguising herself as a boy to avoid a forced marriage, is trying to learn to block out the voices pressing into her mind.

Meanwhile, strong men with foul agendas seek them both. And a strange new voice, higher than them all, calls to Achan. Deceptions will be unveiled, foes will be found out, and identities long hidden will be exposed. No longer will they be...By Darkness Hid.

Library Journal calls By Darkness Hid a "thoroughly entertaining and smart tale" and gives it the coveted "highly recommended" stamp of approval.

Starfire by Stuart Vaughn Stockton is as original as it is alien. This science fiction thriller takes you to a world where saurians--dinosaur-like beings who speak and use advanced technolgoy--wage war against one another and seek to control devastating weaponry left over by an ancient civilization.

Rathe is a saurn from a low caste, whose only hope of bettering himself is through the combat ring. On his first mission with his new military squad, he is thrust in the middle of a destiny larger than he could ever imagine.

Torn between his desire to protect a small saurin in his charge and the counsel of a prophet representing a God he doesn't believe in, Rathe is forced to make a horrible choice, one in which he will cause suffering no matter what he chooses.

Starfire is utterly unpredictable and irresistably engaging. As Christian fantasy novelist Donita K. Paul says, "I was thoroughly enmeshed in this out-of-this-world world!"

The Dark Man by Marc Schooley is difficult to classify. It is equal parts near-future adventure, dystopian America, spiritual and psychological thriller, and romantic espionage spy drama.

And also helicopter gunships. And a building that talks. And a screaming banshee. Plus bombs, disguises, Ferris wheels, and a mysterious wooden puzzle box.

It's a Christian Twilight Zone that is impossible to put down--or forget.

Charles Graves is a master of disguise who infiltrates the final cells of the underground church--and brings them down. But this futuristic Saul of Tarsus has his own Damascus Road experience, and suddenly he must help the very ones he sought to exterminate.

If only his dead brother would leave him alone. And the talking wood-block puzzle.

The Dark Man is intense psychodrama with masterful writing and deep Christian thoughtfulness.

By the time you read this, all three of these incredible new novels will be available for purchase.

BONUS: If you buy one or more of these books within the first week of April, you will receive a free download of the PDF versions of the book(s) you purchased. While you're waiting for the novels to arrive in your mailbox, you can begin reading them right away. And when the hard copies actually arrive with their beautiful covers, you'll want to crack them open and read them all over again!


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tonight's LIFE ON MARS series finale

Okay. When Sam turned to Gene said, "Dad..."--I just about howled myself off the couch.

Cute ending, and given the cancellation, I guess they had to give us something suitable in short order. They could have done much worse. Or just copied the original. I'm glad they did something different. And, yes, I was singing along to "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters." The last shot...trippy, and very, very right. A giant 70's loafer step for mankind. On Mars. Yesssss.

Can I say I'm very happy Sam didn't go splat this time?

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