Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of books, movies, music, and maybe even games.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I’m a week late with this one. Sorry! The Schlock Mercenary colorist, Travis Walton, is heading to San Diego Comic Con, and I needed to restore the buffer a bit so he could color far enough ahead to get a vacation. Yes, the depth of my buffer dictates the maximum depth of HIS buffer. This is what tyranny looks like…

Moving on.

You will believe an ape can fire a carbine while riding a horseI loved this film. It had a big hurdle to clear, because I’m familiar with the television series, and if that is canon in this setting, the humans eventually lose and they all become slaves. That meant that I sat down expecting a war in which the humans lose, laying groundwork for the setting us old-timers are familiar with.

I don’t mean to suggest that this is where the film makers have to go. They can do their own thing. Maybe they’re planning to eventually create a serial called “Planet of the Apes, Moon of the Humans” or some such. Or maybe they’re going to do a crossover with H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” and the apes all evolve into hairless, toga-clad wimps while the humans retreat underground and become morlochs. Seriously, they can do what they want. But I brought baggage to this movie, and they knew it, and folks, they were totally ready for me. Saw me coming, even. Continue reading Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Martian, by Andy Weir

I picked up The Martian on the strength of Annalee Newitz‘s review of it on io9, and realized after reading the excerpt that the author, Andy Weir, was a webcartoonist at one point (Casey & Andy, back to haunt him!), and also happened to be an old friend of Sandra’s.

Look, I’m not in the habit of reading books just because they were written by an ex-webtooningfriend-of-a-friend , even if the “of-a-friend” friend is my best friend ever. I’m in the habit of reading books that I think I’ll like, and based on the excerpt I was pretty sure I’d like this one.

Holy crap.

The Martian is, bar none, the best hard science fiction I’ve ever read. I don’t know what Andy Weir’s background is, or who helped him with some of this research, but every bit of science in this book with which I had passing familiarity passed with flying colors. The pieces I wasn’t sure about? Well, Andy sold me on them. The potentially boring bits (exploring the chemistry of hydrazine, for instance, which isn’t at all boring if you have a sense of the energies involved, but I digress) were covered entertainingly, and on the few occasions where I decided to skim I only skimmed for a couple of paragraphs because I could tell a bad thing was going to happen and oh crap I’m so tense and…

Holy crap.

Folks, this is hard science fiction, and it’s a thriller, and it’s brilliant.

What’s it about? Man gets stranded on Mars, lost and left for dead in an emergency mission-abort event. Based on the mission specs, he can probably survive for six months. The next landing isn’t for years, and it’s 3,000 kilometers away besides.

I plowed through it yesterday, and while the book has some flaws and shortcomings (the first POV-shift from the 1st-person journal format was jarring, and could have been telegraphed better, but I DON’T CARE) none of them are show-stoppers.

It released this week. I’d love to see Andy’s career take off, and I have no doubt that this is the right launch vehicle for it (pun unavoidable.) Buying the book this week is the best way for you to support a new author, and if you like hard science fiction (note: Schlock Mercenary isn’t really hard science fiction, though I’m tickled that some of you call it that)The Martian by Andy Weir delivers the goods.

Movie Review: BloodRayne

Okay, let’s start with my instructions to you: no matter how enticing I may make this film sound, do NOT spend money on it. Don’t see it in the theater, and don’t rent it. Buying the DVD would be a crime against humanity. For that matter, don’t bother seeing it for FREE, either. Spending your TIME on this film is a crime against your employer, your family, and the Baby New Year. You would be better off using an hour and thirty-four minutes eating junk food and watching Weather Channel repeats you’ve accidentally TIVO’d.

I’m serious. If I find out that you went and saw this film after I told you not to, I’ll phone your friends up and tell them to go to your house and pour ants in your bed. And when you wake up screaming, covered in ants, you’ll think “at least I’m not still watching BloodRayne.” long-winded rant behind the cut