Monthly Archives: April 2012

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Some great looking books here – many I will be trying to find and read.  This is escapist fare – no literary Booker prizes probably – just fun and fast reads.  Hope you enjoy the list!

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012.

Summer is almost here, and that means one thing: Escape! Everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, humans will be fleeing their buildings and shedding their protective outer garments, even as the sun grows hotter and more intense. But for some of us, simply fleeing to large bodies of water isn’t enough — we need to escape into stories.

And there’s no greater summer beach reading than a really imaginative, cool adventure story. That’s why we’ve compiled this ultimate list of genre books, that are out now or coming this summer, which make great companions on your voyage to the beach.

Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the books we’re excited about this summer – we’ve picked ones that we think will make good escapist reading for your plane rides and long summer days lazing around.

Top image: Detail from Caliban’s War cover art by Daniel Dociu.


Out Now:

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline(Arrow)

We loved this fun novel, out now in paperback, where high school kids in a dystopian future try to transform their lives — and save the world — by finding the ultimate easter egg in their favorite immersive game world.

Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik(Del Rey)

This is the latest novel in Novik’s beloved Temeraire series, an alternate history in which the Napoleonic Wars are fought with dragons. Needless to say, the dragons alter the balance of power in the world, and the fate of the Americas is quite different from what it was in our reality. That’s what this novel explores, as the great dragon Temeraire and his captain Laurence go on a desperate mission to the Incan empire — where they discover a dragon culture unlike any they’ve ever seen before.

Arctic Rising, by Tobias Buckell(Tor)

We gave a rave review to this eco-thriller about the war that comes after global warming. Full of unlikely allies, and even more unlikely spies, this is a terrific exercise in worldbuilding where bestselling author Buckell imagines the geopolitics of a world where the Arctic Ocean opens up new trade route — and creates strange new cultures in the process. Smart escapism, and perfect to bring to the beaches on the Arctic shore.

Fair Coin, by E.C. Meyers (Pyr Books)

There’s a reason why we called this book “pure crack.” It’s a fast-paced, weird adventure about alternate realities and what happens to the fabric of reality when your wishes come true. If you want your mind blown this summer, pick up a copy of this book.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson(Margaret K. McElderry Books)

In this young adult novel, award-winning author Hopkinson tells the story of Scotch, a mixed-race kid dealing with normal high school problems of fitting in and figuring out who she is — until her skin starts exuding a weird black substance, and her brother disappears. What is the “chaos” that’s taking over her city, and can she stop it before everything is swallowed up like her brother was?


May:

Deadlocked, by Charlaine Harris(Ace)

It’s the twelfth Sookie Stackhouse novel, and our intrepid heroine has to juggle a murder mystery (who is that dead person on Eric’s lawn?) while dealing with Eric’s current taste for the blood of a younger woman. The perfect novel for vacation reading.

2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson(Orbit)

Robinson’s already given us a view of terraforming Mars — now he gives us a whole solar system, three hundred years into the future. An unexpected death leads Swan Er Hong, who once designed worlds, into a plot that could wind up destroying them instead. And the fallout could force humanity to face up to both its past and its future. This looks like Robinson’s most thrilling book in years.

The Killing Moon, by NK Jemisin(Orbit)

The author of the acclaimed Inheritance Trilogy goes High Fantasy with the first book in the Dreamblood duology. You can check out our review, in which we call it “a great tale of magic, religion and war, but also a story of all the hard lessons and choices growing up entails.”

The Drowned Cities, by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)

Bacigalupi returns to the world of Ship Breaker, for another post-apocalyptic environmental thriller that, by all accounts, is even more intense. Mahlia and Mouse escape from the drowned cities into the jungle, but their peace is shattered when they find a wounded “half man” — a bioengineered war beast named Tool — and face a tough decision.

The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin, by Walter Mosley (Tor)

The author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins novels returns to science fiction, with two short novels published as a flip book. He’s cooked up two fascinating thought experiments that also double as page-turning thrillers. In one, the Demigod Prometheus — who’s been chained since he brought fire to humanity — finally escapes and comes to present-day Earth. In the other, scientists creating a new kind of animatronics for movies discover something that could transform the human race.


June:

Blackout, by Mira Grant (Orbit)

The final chapter in the Newsflesh trilogy, the saga of the zombie uprising and the new-media people who attempt to chronicle it. And this time, the revelations are faster and more insane than ever. It’s not too late to subscribe to this post-apocalyptic RSS feed, before the zombies get to you. Read the first chapter here.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Existence, by David Brin (Tor)

The award-winning hard science fiction author brings us another great near-future story about how technology transforms the world. And this time, he’s dealing with global communication and telepresence — and the ways everything changes when we discover an alien artifact that just wants to help us communicate. Expect a ride that’s both thrilling and mindbending.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Redshirts, by John Scalzi (Tor)

This is the Scalzi novel we’ve all been waiting for — one in which his wry wit and his clever insights into human weirdness could be deployed to the absolute best effect. It’s an insanely meta tale of the starship Intrepid, where ensigns and other cannon fodder always seem to die on away missions, while the senior officers survive — but then one ensign starts to discover the truth about the Intrepid’s true nature.

Caliban’s War, by James SA Corey(Orbit)

The sequel to Leviathan Wakeswhich we called “as close as you’ll get to a Hollywood blockbuster in book form.” This time, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are dealing with an alien invasion, an “alien protomolecule” wreaking havoc on Venus, and a missing child. And the missing child may just be the most challenging of the three.

Nightshifted, by Cassie Alexander(St. Martin’s)

This is the debut novel that a whopping 50 agents turned down — and then it got a fantastic book deal, after multiple publishers fought over it. It’s easy to see why: Alexander, a nurse in real life, writes a fun, breezy novel about a nurse who goes to work in a clinic where the patients aren’t human. And she stumbles on a centuries-old supernatural feud that no amount of Fentanyl may be able to solve.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds (Ace)

What if you want a real epic this summer? One which spans 10,000 years of future history and deals with huge, unimaginably cosmic ideas? There’s pretty much only one author who’s going to give it to you: Reynolds, who starts a whole new saga with the Poseidon’s Children series. It starts 150 years in the future, when Africa is the world’s dominant technological and political power — but everything changes when Geoffrey Akinya discovers a strange secret on the Moon. Huge, mind-bending stuff ahead.


July

Team Human, by Justine Larbalestier and Sara Rees Brennan (Harper Teen)

This is the one to thrust into the hands of all your friends who are still into Twilight. The tagline “Friends don’t let friends date vampires” is enough to hook almost anybody. How would you keep your best friend from dating a vampire who’s inexplicably hanging out in high school?

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Dust Girl, by Sarah Zettel (Random House Young Readers)

Could this be your new fairytale obsession? Set in the dustbowl town of Slow Run, Kansas, Dust Girl follows Callie, a young girl whose mother goes missing in a dust storm — and then she receives a series of cryptic clues to search for her mother in the Golden Hills of California. Soon enough, she’s caught between warring fae factions.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

The Apocalypse Codex, by Charles Stross (Ace)

Stross returns to his Laundry Files universe for a fourth outing, in which an American televangelist with miraculous healing powers becomes uncomfortably close to the British Prime Minister. And the agent who’s sent to investigate could cause a bigger disaster than the one she’s supposed to be preventing, if Bob can’t keep her in check. Could this be the time Bob fails to save the world?

Jack Glass, by Adam Roberts(Gollancz)

Britain’s best-kept secret is back, with a weird take on the locked-room mystery, drawing on Golden Age science fiction. This time around, the reader knows that Jack is the killer from the first page — but the solution to the mystery of the three murders will still be a shocking surprise. While all your friends are reading regular murder mysteries, you can blow their minds with this one.

Dark Companion, by Marta Acosta(Tor)

Acosta returns with a cool new take on the “sinister boarding school” story — Jane Williams goes to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy on a scholarship, and finally has a group of friends and a sexy new love interest, the headmistress’ son. But then she starts to notice ominous signs — including the recent suicide of a teacher and the mystery of the fate of the previous scholarship student, whose place she took. Expect a supernatural, disturbing take on class issues, plus a page-turning mystery.


August:

vN: The First Machine Dynasty, by Madeleine Ashby (Angry Robot)

Ridley Scott’s followup to Blade Runner may never actually happen — but in the meantime, there’s this thought-provoking, eerie tale of self-replicating von Neumann (“vN”) robots in a near-future Earth. Amy just wants to be just like regular human girls, even though she’s actually a humanoid robot, capable of growing to adulthood much more quickly — and then she discovers that not only is she different from humans, she’s also not like any other robots. It’s a mile-a-minute thriller, that also manages to pack in tons of fascinating discussions about artificial consciousness.

Zero Point, by Neal Asher (Tor UK)

Actually we’re not sure when this is coming out in the United States — but fingers crossed. Meanwhile, it’s a legal import. It’s the sequel to last year’s The Depature. The Committee has been vanquished and its robot enforcers lay dormant — but the ruthless Serene Galahad is ready to step into the power vacuum, taking control of the Committee’s remaining infrastructure. Meanwhile, whatever trashed the Earth is still out there — and it’s hurtling towards Mars. Space adventure as only Asher can deliver it.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

In War Times, by Kathleen Ann Goonan (Tor)

The author of Queen City Jazz returns with a mind-bending alternate history that sounds like the strangest thriller ever. Sam is a young enlisted man in 1941, whose older brother is killed in Pearl Harbor. During World War II, Sam invents a device that will remove the human race’s capacity for war itself, and he’s seduced into giving the plans to a mysterious woman. And the device works — although the world is transformed in ways that are difficult to predict. The novel goes all the way up to the 1960s, when Sam and the mysterious spy have to team up to stop the Kennedy Assassination. This is the long-awaited paperback edition of this novel, which came out in hardcover in 2007.

Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

Blackwood, by Gwenda Bond(Strange Chemistry)

Bond’s debut YA novel explores the mystery of Roanoake, the lost colony, in a whole new way — as a pair of 17-year-olds in the present day discover that they may hold the key to bringing the missing colonists back. It’s got a teen romance, a supernatural mystery, and some insane surprises that will no doubt keep you flipping pages.

Review: Article 5

Article 5
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid dystopian book about a moral militia. There was a war – that’s about all we know. Nothing was nuked it seemed, and most systems were n place, but the president had created the Federal Bureau of Reformation, thinking to crack down on dissidents and create a strong, moral society. He issued a set of moral statutes, which included the Church of America as the official religion, books and other media are banned, families are a man, woman, and child(ren), traditional male and female roles should be observed, and the one at the heart of this story, Article 5, where children of an unwed parent are not considered citizens and should be taken to reform schools. The books opens on a normal day, Ember and 2 of her friends are sitting around in their school uniforms, doing their homework, when a peremptory knock at the door scares them all. It is the MM (Moral Militia) as they call the soldiers behind their backs that enforce the Articles. They drag away Ember’s mother for having a child out of wedlock (she’s a bit of a free spirit), and take Ember too, although in a different van. They are rough, and hit and shove and kick them when they try and resist and ask why. One of the soldiers is the guy she had been in love with, who had lived next door to her most of her life, and whom she had sent away to join the army, thinking it was for the best. It wasn’t, as the book unfolds. Ember is sent to a reform school run by the Sisters of Salvation, a strict order of women who believe in taking these bits of “trash” and making them into little models of decorum. Right away Ember wants to escape – not only for herself, but for her mother, whom she fears for. Her mother she feels can’t take care of herself, and needs her. And so ensues a tight, never stop action story of Ember, and her search for her mother, and the soldier, Chase, who had been there when they were taken away. The book doesn’t allow much of a deep glimpse into Ember – who she is, what she wants, besides her frantic and frankly obsessive need to find her mother (she is seventeen). We aren’t drawn into her world, but sit on the outside, watching her behavior unfold. And Chase – his character is more complex, and there are moments when we see what’s beneath the surface. I love dystopian books, and what kept me from loving this one, was that Ember was not, to me, a truly likable character. She was sort of one-dimensional – all she could think about was her mother’s safety – to the detriment of her own and other’s safety. Now up to a point that is natural, but when confronted with as many dangerous situations, and major changes in her life and around her, you’d think she would think of other things. The other thing I would have wished for is more depth to the Articles – why and how did they come into being – why did everyone just bow down and do it. What had the war done that made them concede to this form of crackdown – curfews, originally fines for infringements of the articles, but later just take the offenders away and they are never seen again? There is a resistance, but who big is it – can it actually do anything? Some of that may be answered if there is a second book. No promo for one, but who knows. Interesting story, as it overly dramatizes some of the far right moral majority in this country already.

View all my reviews

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summer

Another wild and wacky one from IO9.  If I had the gas money, and the time, it would be fun if you had the right companion to visit some of these places.  Take a gander through the list…

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summer.

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summer

We’ve already told you all about the movies you can look forward to this summer, the TV shows you can watch, and the books andcomics you can read. But what if, when summer strikes, you’re itching to hit to road? We have roadside attractions, unusual museums, and significant spots from science and science fiction from all across the US and Canada for the ultimate scifi road trip.

Top image of the Forevertron (sadly in the snow) from Wikimedia Commons.

Some of these places might be on the way to other vacation spots you plan to hit this summer, or maybe you’re just looking for some new travel destinations. Here are a handful of tourist attractions, first heading from East to West along the southern United States, then heading from West to East along the northern US and Canada:

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summerStarting way out on the East Coast, our first roadside attraction is the Giant Squid inGlover’s Harbor, Newfoundland, a life-sized model of a squid that landed in the harbor in 1878 and is the largest giant squid on record. As we travel down into New England, we can swing by theInternational Cryptozoology Museumin Portland, Maine, a tiny but unique collection of cryptid paraphernalia and lore. Rocket enthusiasts may want to head throughWarren, New Hampshire, where a genuine Redstone Rocket sits in the town square. It’s the same kind of rocket that hurled Alan Shepard, a Warren native, into space. Horror fans may prefer to drive straight down to Providence, Rhode Island, home of HP Lovecraft. Take aself-guided Lovecraftian tour through the city, hitting such hotspots as the Providence Athenæum, Brown University’s John Hay Library (which holds the largest collection of Lovecraft manuscripts as well as a few books bound in human skin), and the Lovecraft Memorial. Serious steampunks might prefer East Greenwich, Rhode Island, home of theNew England Wireless and Steam Museum for a collection of bona fide steam engines and the world’s oldest surviving wireless station. Then it’s off to New York City for a trip through the American Museum of Natural History, and perhaps, if you’re a very big fan of both Nikola Tesla and modern ruins, to Shoreham, Long Island, to view the remains of Tesla’sWardenclyffe Tower. (Sadly, you can’t tour the building, so be sure that the trip is worth the summer traffic along the Long Island Expressway.)

Giant Squid photo by Robert Hiscock.

Warminster, Pennsylvania, is home to the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum, where the largest human centrifuge ever built resides. This is where the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, astronauts trained, and where some of the early computers from the American space age still live. A little further down the road is Philadelphia, where you can visit the Mütter Museum and its collection of medical oddities, including Einstein’s brain. Cut over to Dover, Delaware, to see the Hulkish Miles the Monster at the Dover International Speedway. Then head for Silver Spring, Maryland, and the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where you can see some of their numerous anatomical specimens, as well as some gruesome exhibits on Civil War medicine — all for free. Washington, DC, also has its share of free museums, notably the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. If you want to visit some of the larger artifacts of human aeronautics and spaceflight, check out the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in nearby Chantilly, Virginia. And if you want to see spacecraft that are still in use, you can watch a private sector launch at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia.

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summerIf you make it to Natural Bridge, Virginia, you can visit the eponymous“Natty B,” a natural limestone formation, before seeking out one of Mark Cline’s more bizarre attractions. Sadly, Dinosaur Kingdom (where you can see statues of Confederate-controlled dinosaurs eating Union soldiers) and the Haunted Monster Museum are closed this year due to a major fire, but FoamHenge and the local ghost tours are still there for your entertainment.

Dinosaur Kingdom photo by Robert Kimberly.

In 1958, the US Air Force accidentally dropped a Mark 6 nuclear bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Although the fissible core thankfully didn’t drop with the bomb, the Mark 6 did create a large enough explosion to form a mushroom cloud and a crater. You can visit the Atomic Bomb Crater, although it’s pretty swampy, as well as see the bomb fragments at the Florence Museum of Art, Science, and History in nearby Florence.

Orlando has its draws, not least of which is the giant replica of a certain school of wizardry, but not far off is Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the Kennedy Space Center, which offers tours and even lunches with NASA astronauts. Moving from the scientific to the post-apocalyptic, stop off in Dewy Rose, Georgia, for a peek at the Georgia Guidestones, the mysterious stone tablets inscribed with messages for post-cataclysm survivors — and perhaps something more. Then head for more tactile space porn at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where you’ll encounter a bevy of rockets, capsules, simulators, spacesuits and other memorabilia. Be sure to wave hello to the full-scale model of the Saturn V rocket while you’re there.

If you take only one cave tour on your trip, Cascade Caverns in Boerne, Texas is a classic, and not just because Patrick Swayze visited it in Father Hood. Then drive north to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where you can visit the Museum of Osteology and the more than 300 skeletons — modern and prehistoric, human and non-human — it has on display. (There’s a Dinosaur World in Glen Rose, TX, between Boerne and Oklahoma City, but the operators have creationist leanings.)

For something a bit less scientific, point your headlights toward Roswell, New Mexico. You won’t get a tour of Area 51, but you can stay at the Little A’Le’Inn (or at least grab lunch and peruse the gift shop) and visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center for a hefty dose of alien conspiracy theory. Then take another scientific palette cleanser inAlbuquerque, New Mexico at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. You can then travel through the northern part of Arizona and take a gander at the Grand Canyon, but if you haven’t sufficiently sated your Cold War fears, you can go south and tour theTitan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, ArizonaLas Vegas, Nevada, offers yet more atomic tourism at its Atomic Testing Museum. Tragically, you can’t then take a tour of a life-sized model of the Enterprise, because such a thing does not exist.

You’ll have to take a less than direct route if you want to wave at the Cabazon Dinosaursalong Interstate 10 in Cabazon, California (another creationist-backed dino-park, but one with enormous model dinosaurs). But you can appease the ghost of Charles Darwin with a trip to La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. LA is also home to the Museum of Death, a stunning tribute to the macabre. Just don’t bring small children or folks who are squeamish about serial killers, funeral preparations, and taxidermy. For a more hallucinatory museum experience, there’s Culver City, California‘s Museum of Jurassic Technology. It is not a place to be explained, but experienced.

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summerOn the way to the Bay Area, consider stopping off at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, both for its aquatic exhibits and its appearance as the Cetacean Institute in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Then enjoy some of San Francisco‘s many museums, such as theCalifornia Academy of Sciences, theExploratorium, and the local branch ofRipley’s Believe it or Not! You can also wander around the Presidio, have your picture taken with the Yoda Fountain, and imagine that you’re attending Starfleet Academy. Perhaps you’ll also get a chance to partake in an io9 meetup.

Photo of Yoda Fountain by Lee Bennett.

Aviation buffs may want to take a detour to McMinnville, Oregon, to ogle Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Between hitting bookstores inPortland, you can check out the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, a celebration of all things, well, peculiar. Come for the alien autopsy, stay for the ice cream topped with bugs.

Seattle, Washington, is a must-visit destination, since it houses the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame inside the city’s EMP Museum. The scifi gallery is set to reopen this summer and houses an incredible collection of television and movie memorabilia, including Forrest Ackerman’s personal collection, in addition to rotating exhibits. You can also seek out the Fremont Troll before checking out Everett, Washington‘s comical, flying saucer-themed public art piece, “Landing Zone.”

Take a science fiction road trip for a weird and wonderful summerNext, it’s back into Canada, to the city ofVulcan, Alberta. The town has embraced the fact that it shares a name with the Star Trek aliens, building Vulcan Tourismaround all things Trek. The central showpiece is a large replica of the Enterprise overlooking the highway. If you have eight hours to spare (each way), you can drive up to St. Paul, Alberta, where you’ll find the world’s first UFO Landing Pad, which has thus far proven better at attracting tourists than extraterrestrials.

Photo of the Vulcan Enterprise by Al Hunt.

Back in the US, Dickinson, North Dakota, houses the Dakota Dinosaur Museum. Unlike its creationist cousins, this museum places an emphasis on fossils and minerals. Then it’s on toSt. Paul, Minnesota, for the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, also known as the “Quackery Hall of Fame.” After that, you can cruise over to Poland, Wisconsin, to check out one man’s personal UFO Landing Port, or go straight to Sumpter, Wisconsin, where you’ll find Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron, the world’s largest scrap metal sculpture, which includes Thomas Edison dynamos, the decontamination chamber from the Apollo 11 spacecraft, and other technological odds and ends in its design.

Grab some grub at the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, Illinois, where you’ll dine in the shadow of the Gemini Giant, a looming statue of a spaceman. Then trek several hours south to Metropolis, IllinoisHome of Superman. Tour the Superman Museum, and have your picture taken the with Man of Steel statue. If you happen to be there June 7th-10th, you can take part in the city’s annual Superman Celebration. There are more superheroes to be found in Elkhart, Indiana, at the Hall of Heroes Museum, which boasts a collection of more than 10,000 pieces of superhero memorabilia on top of 55,000 comic books. As a bonus, it looks like the Hall of Justice from Superfriends.

In Mansfield, Ohio, you can pay homage to Elektro, the walking, talking robot built by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in the 1930s, at his current home, the Mansfield Memorial Museum. Then we finish up back in Pennsylvania, hitting the Center for PostNatural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which focuses on human interventions in natural development, including the cutting edge of biotech.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and there are plenty of educational and oddball attractions we’ve left out (plus, several swaths of the continent left unexplored). What are your favorite scientific, science fictional, and fantastical destinations? Tell us your summer scifi plans.

Contact Lauren Davis:

RELATED STORIES

DISCUSSION THREADS

In Charleston, SC there’s the USS Yorktown. Worth seeing if only to imagine it being Bay-ed or Emmerich-ed. In addition, There are some ridiculously old and cool churches/graveyards, including the open air market with its awful history. I mention these because it’s an older, cleaner version of New Orleans with some extremely cool stuff. I’d say First Baptist is the place to see because it’s roof was blown off in Hugo and it survived. Or you could head out to John’s island and see the Angel Oak.

Savannah is the Charleston of Georgia, basically the same description as above. Enough almost paranormal stuff to make it worthwhile.

If you were to follow the river back up the state inland from the Atlantic, you’d get to the Tallulah Gorge. Famous for being traversed by one of the Wallendas I believe, and for the filming site of Deliverance. You can also go to Lake Rabun and, if you’re a diver check out the houses and towns flooded when the lake was created.

If you were to follow I-16 from Savannah to Macon, then head North on 75 towards Atlanta. Exit on the eastern side of 75 starting around exit 212 and follow state roads North and you are smack in the middle of the film locations for the Walking Dead. Or to be true to the comic, from Macon go to Albany and find the town called West Point. The quarry is in Norcross.

Other places could be to drive Denver to Vegas on I-70, so that you can trace Stu et al’s journey in The Stand.

Fripp Island, SC film location for The Jungle Book, Forrest Gump, and maybe maybe Platoon.

Edited by Not_too_Xavi at 04/29/12 9:51 AM
promoted by Lauren Davis

Review: Death Sentence

Death Sentence
Death Sentence by Alexander Gordon Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this third installment in the Escape from Furnace series, our boy Alex has been caught at the end of the last book in his attempt to break-out of the ultra impenatrable fortress in the ground, called Furnace. Evil things and evil experiments lurk in these dark and dank levels below ground, unsanctioned by those above, although he was tried and convicted of a murder he never committed, so all is not well up “there.” So alex is in the clutches of the evil warden again – this time he will be turned into one of the soulless black suits as they are called – the warden’s soldiers. He starts undergoing treatments that change his body physically and psychological torture aimed at breaking his spirit and burying who he is, and allowing him to become a soulless man of the future. He becomes much stronger, super strong, and is taller, bulging muscles, and a black poison, called the nectar, is what allows the black suits to retain their power and strength, as well as filling them with anger and hatred of those around them. What happens in this book is that some still believe he can be saved, and that freedom is possible, and so we are led on an action-packed, never let you catch your breath journey through Alex’s transformation, and subsequent events. The book should close the story, but it doesn’t. Another book is awaiting us, sometime this year, to hopefully finish this series, and allow Alex some peace, after all the horrors he has endured. Not for the faint at heart, this is a somewhat violent and gruesome book, but boys will like it, and some girls. I’m 55 and I liked it. Not great for me, but then I want more than just action, although the author does well with his characters over the course of the series – making them dimensional, real. But this is not a happy world, and not all survive. Difficult, life-altering decisions have to be made. Three and a half stars.

View all my reviews

Review: Ripple

Ripple
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A slight book, decent, but I’ve read better. Not much to sink your teeth into, and slightly forgettable. Lexi is a young girl, who starts out the book with a new school year, where once again her one-time friends will shun her and even bully her, because they think in some way she was responsible for the death of her boyfriend, two years ago. And she herself thinks that way, and is reluctant to allow others close so that not only can she punish herelf with guilt by being lonely, but also protect them from herself – the boys. But one boy, someone from her old clique, keeps trying to connect with her. Which could be dangerous if she allows it. She’s a siren. On her 16th birthday, she lured her boyfriend to the ocean, where she sang and swam until he was dead. Up until then, she had no idea that she was a siren, as her mother had died when she was young and never told her. It manifests on the 16th birthday usually. It’s a curse from long ago. So she goes every night to a lake, to swim and sing, which make her feel better – if she doesn’t, she gets ill, full of pain. And she doesn’t sleep. She swims 8-9 hours a night. From dusk til dawn. In the winter it can be up ti 12 hours a night. The book is filled with her reluctance to allow Cole to get close to her, and a new guy who thinks he can help her, and her enemies/friends, who once they figure out that she loved her boyfriend and is devastated by his death (they don’ t know the full story), want to have her back in their circle. The characters, once again, aren’t fully developed, and the basic plot, while interesting, gets tangled into something else by the end. The big final “battle” just didn’t fit into the book for me. So I gave it 3 1/2. What could have been a great character study of a lonely girl, forced by circumstance to swim every night for eternity, or until she takes her own life like her mother did, just became another teen drama.

View all my reviews

33 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies that Could Rock Your Summer

Here are some great SF/Fantasy fare for the summer.  Oh how I envy my eighteen year old’s job at the local movie theater, which gets all the major movies and some small ones:  she gets free movies, as many as she wants, with .50 large popcorn and .50 large drink.  She goes to tons.  Sees most of the ones out there.  Whaaaaa!

33 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies that Could Rock Your Summer.

 

33 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies that Could Rock Your Summer

This year’s summer movies just won’t let up. There’s Joss Whedon’s Avengers, Chris Nolan’s third Batman film, and Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to space horror. Plus maybe a dozen other movies that look like they could be totally fantastic. Here’s our complete list of 32 movies coming out between now and September — including superheroes, aliens, time travel and the end of the world!

Minor spoilers ahead…

The Sound of My Voice (April 27)
The Sundance 2011 hit finally reaches theaters. It’s an artsy tale about a cult founded by a woman who claims to be from the future, from Another Earth co-writer and star Brit Marling. Like Another Earth, this is a very character-focused, intimate story with a huge science fiction backdrop.

The Raven (April 27)
There’s a serial killer who’s killing people according to the works of pioneering horror author Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) — and only Poe can stop him. Quoth the Raven: WTF! Only really notable because it’s the closest we’ll ever get to the show about Poe being a detective that failed to get on the air last year.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (April 27)
The latest stop-motion animated movie from the makers of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, and it’s easily as good as their earlier works. It’s honestly much better if you think of it as being called Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists, the title of the book and the U.K. version. Basically, pirates and Charles Darwin, in Victorian England.


May

The Avengers (May 4)
The culmination of four years of Marvel superhero movies, this film brings Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk and S.H.I.E.L.D. together to fight Loki and his alien army. By all accounts, director Joss Whedon brings together this huge spandex mish-mash with surprising grace, and delivers a nice, craftsmanlike film. We can’t wait.

Dark Shadows (May 11)
Tim Burton reunites with Johnny Depp for their 500th collaboration — a remake of the 1966-1971 soap opera featuring vampire Barnabas Collins, who wakes up in the early 1970s. Judging from the trailers, Burton has gone all-out comedy with this version, which could turn out to be an excellent choice — if he can recapture the old Beetlejuice spirit. Fingers crossed.

Battleship (May 18)
Already out in the UK, and getting mixed reviews. It’s a movie based on a board game, in which aliens come down to Earth and imprison a bunch of naval vessels inside a dome, causing them to play a deadly game… of Battleship. By all accounts, it’s pretty similar to the Michael Bay Transformersfilms, so if you liked those, you’ll like this.

Hysteria (May 18)
A romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator. Hugh Dancy plays a doctor in Victorian England who’s torn between the staid values of the medical establishment and his progressive new ideas. And then he gets a job working with a specialist who treats women with “hysteria,” and develops an electrifying new treatment. Meanwhile, he becomes entranced with his partner’s daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who’s a budding feminist.

Lovely Molly (May 18)
A woman moves into her dead father’s house, and starts being haunted by painful memories — and that’s before a malevolent presence starts targeting her. By all accounts, this is a nice change from the usual “haunted house” movies, because Molly is working class (she’s a trucker’s wife and mall cleaning woman) and she’s also recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, and desperately trying to stay sober.

Chernobyl Diaries (May 25)
The latest Oren Peli horror film isn’t, strictly speaking, “found footage” — although it still has a very DIY feel to it. Six young people take an “extreme” tour of Pripyat, a town that’s been deserted since that famous 1980s nuclear disaster. Except that they get trapped there, and maybe it’s not quite as deserted as they’d thought… because something is hunting them.

Men in Black 3 (May 25)
Will Smith is back as Agent J, and this time he has to travel back to the 1960s to save his partner (Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin) from being killed in the past by an alien (Jemaine Clement). On the plus side, the time travel element should open up some new storylines. Plus there’s Emma Thompson. On the minus side, they apparently had no script during some of the production, and it was kind of a mess. But it could still be fun.


June

Piranha 3DD (June 1)
This was supposed to come out last summer, wasn’t it? This sequel to Piranha 3D has the jokiest title of any movie this year, which also explains succinctly the main reason why anybody will want to see this monster fish epic. You can’t blame a movie for knowing its audience.

Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)
The second of the year’s Snow White movies could actually benefit from the failure of Mirror Mirror. This one features a more “badass” Snow White, played by Twilight’s Kristen Stewart (yes, I know). And the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) teaches Snow White the art of war, so she and her dwarves can overthrow the Queen (Charlize Theron). Dwarves include Nick Frost and Bob Hoskins, which is automatic win.

Prometheus (June 8)
Even in a summer with The Avengers andThe Dark Knight Rises, this might be the most hotly awaited film for science fiction fans. Sir Ridley Scott returns to science fiction, and to the world of 1979’s Alien, for a horrifying, unsettling new adventure. Every frame that we’ve seen from this movie thus far looks like it could be your favorite new artwork, and it also looks like it brings a massive new ambition to expanding the universe we glimpsed in Alien.

Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8)
It’s that quirky indie comedy about three magazine employees who go to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking someone to go back in time with him. “I have only done this once before,” the ad warns. Based on an actual newspaper ad that caused an internet sensation back in 2005. The trailer looks pretty great and clever, in that “quirky indie” way.

The Woman in the Fifth (June 15)
Ethan Hawke stars in the adaptation of a novel about a writer and professor who goes to live in Paris, then falls on hard times and gets ensnared in some dirty business. It’s basically your standard “Ethan Hawke goes to Paris” movie that we’ve all seen before — except that it also turns into a freaky ghost story, at least judging from the novel.

Extraterrestrial (June 15)
Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo is back, with another weird little science fiction movie. Sadly, it’s not the one he was planning to make about the guy who builds a ramp to jump his car onto a UFO. But it does have aliens — basically, a guy has a one-night stand with a woman who’s out of his league, and just when things are getting awkward, aliens invade and everybody has to stay indoors. This movie hits select theaters in the U.S. (including your town, if you register via Tugg.com) on June 15.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter(June 22)
Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch) returns to vampires — with a strange alt-history take in which Abraham Lincoln not only freed the slaves, he slew the vamps as well. It’s written by Seth Grahame-Smith, based on his book of the same name. With Bekmambetov involved, the action should at least look pretty sweet.

Brave (June 22)
Pixar hopefully returns to form after Cars 2, with the story of Merida, a princess who defies an age-old custom and unleashes chaos on the kingdom. Everything we’ve seen thus far on this film looks totally gorgeous, including some beautiful shots of the Scottish countryside. Seeing Pixar tackle fairytales, and a female lead character, should be ultra-rewarding. Plus Kevin McKidd voices Lord MacGuffin and his son, the Young MacGuffin.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (June 22)
It’s Melancholia, only it’s a fun romantic comedy. Steve Carrel stars as a guy who connects with a young woman (Keira Knightley) and searches for his childhood sweetheart, before an asteroid destroys the world. The trailer is pretty hilarious, especially the bit where Patton Oswalt explains that the impending doom of the planet means that women will sleep with him without worrying about diseases — or even whether you’re related to them.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 28)
So yeah, nobody was especially impressed with the first G.I. Joe. But the good news is, this time around it’s directed by Jon M. Chu, who created the insane dance-superhero webseries The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Plus it looks like this film picks up right where the first one left off, with the evil Zartan impersonating the U.S. President — and a movie about an evil president is always welcome.


July

The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
A mere five years after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy concluded, Spidey’s being rebooted — but at least the new director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) seems likely to bring a very different feel than Raimi. And non-organic web-shooters and non-CG swinging seem like an improvement. Plus a more quippy Peter Parker. The trailers we’ve seen so far look surprisingly cool. And yet, do we need a new Spidey origin? Especially one which focuses so much on the mystery of Peter Parker’s parents? We’ll see.

Ted (July 13)
The Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane directs his first big-screen movie. Mark Wahlberg plays John, who wished for his teddy bear to come to life when he was a kid. Now, John’s a grown-up — and his sentient teddy bear is still following him around, hindering his attempts to have a normal life. Mila Kunis plays the love interest, and MacFarlane voices the teddy bear.

Red Lights (July 13)
It’s pretty much your standard “paranormal investigators butt heads with a man who claims to be a psychic” movie — except that the paranormal investigators are Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy. And the psychic is played by Robert De Niro. Sadly, we called it “this year’s biggest Sundance letdown.” Apparently it’s De Niro’s “Not the bees” movie.

The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
The third movie in Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this one features Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane. By the look of things, we’ll be seeing an older, less assured Batman, and a Gotham that’s gotten complacent after eight years of peace after the death of Harvey Dent. We’ve already seen a football field implode, and it sounds like that’s just the beginning of the insanity.

Ruby Sparks (July 25)
A young writer struggles with writers’ block, until he starts inventing his ideal woman so he can write about her… until one day, she appears in the flesh in his apartment, apparently called into being by the force of his imagination. From the directors of Little Miss Sunshine, this film looks pretty fascinating. (Thanks to nekowrites for the reminder!)

Neighborhood Watch (July 27)
A zany comedy in which Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn are suburban dads who join a neighborhood watch group to get some excitement — only to find themselves the only line of defense against an alien invasion. More importantly, though, the film features The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade in a major role. And it’s apparently trying for aGhostbusters vibe. Fingers crossed!


August

Total Recall (August 3)
Colin Farrell stars in this quasi-remake of the 1990 Schwarzenegger classic, in which the hero never goes to Mars. By all accounts, Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard) is trying to get closer to the Philip K. Dick source material, and delve more into the weirdness of not knowing who you really are. At the very least, let’s hope there’s some good action sequences in a cool-looking future dystopia.

The Awakening (August 10)
This movie came out in the U.K. last fall, but it’s finally getting a U.S. release. It’s another “supernatural debunker confronts real supernatural phenomena” film — except that it’s set in 1921 and the debunker is a woman, Florence Cartwright (Rebecca Hall). It’s gotten some good reviews, and the heroine wears an awesome Captain Jack Harkness coat.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (August 15)
The creeptastic Disney movie about a childless couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) who write down their wish for a child and bury it in the yard… and then their dream child shows up, already aged 10. From an idea by Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet Zappa. It honestly looks kind of disturbing, but it’s clearly trying to be heartwarming — and maybe it’ll be cooler than the trailers look.

ParaNorman (August 17)
In the latest stop-motion animated film from the studio behind Coraline, Norman can speak with the dead — which comes in handy after zombies start attacking. He also has to save his town from an ancient witch’s curse.

The Apparition (August 24)
A supernatural presence gets unleashed during a college parapsychology experiment, and starts haunting a young couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan.) They have to call on a supernatural expert — played by Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton — to help deal with it. But it may already be too late to save them! The combination of “college parapsychology experiment” and “Draco Malfoy, ghost hunter” seems like a promising one.

7500 (August 31)
Get these motherfuckin’ ghosts off this motherfuckin’ plane! Seriously, if Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t at least get a cameo where he says that, we’ll feel cheated. Basically, in this film, Jason Stackhouse is on a flight over the Pacific when a supernatural presence invades the plane. Director Takashi Shimizu previously made seven of the Grudge movies.

The Possession (August 31)
Previously known as Dybbuk Box, this movie has been delayed for ages and ages. And yes, it’s a welcome addition to the tiny genre of “Jewish horror,” alongside that Odette Yustman movie a couple years ago. A young girl buys a box at a yard sale, unaware the box holds a malevolent presence. This August, Yiddish is the language of terror. This film features Jeffrey Dean Morgan, so you can pretend it’s aSupernatural prequel.

Sources: Film-Releases.com, The-Numbers.com, Entertainment Weekly.

Contact Charlie Jane Anders:

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally (I read this before Lost Voices), a book I can sink my teeth into, a Garth Nix’s Lireal/Sabriel, or Kristin Cashore’s Fire/Graceling. It is a meaty book of action, thrills, romance, characters big and small, and plenty of mystery and deep seated lore that surrounds our title character, Elisa. She is a princess born with the Godstone in her navel -a sign that comes about once every hundred years, although she knows little about it’s heritage or what it means, just that she is special and she has a service to perform. She is to be married to a king in the neighboring country in return for her safety, and her father will commit troops to the war that is coming. But the journey is hard, and dangerous, and when they arrive, things are not as they seem. She finds out more about her purpose, and adventures ensue that will change the fate of the nation. Plenty of twists and turns, lore of the Godstone, and wonderful complete drawings of even the most minor characters makes this a great book, a pleasure to read, and one that makes you shout Yes! when you are done. A gold mine that only comes about once in a blue moon. Satisfying, and left with perhaps a sequel to go? My words can’t do it justice, so read some of the other reviews – they are glowing. This is a writer to watch out for. This isn’t some tossed off first book in a series by a newbie author. This is a fully fledged stand-alone novel that shows great maturity from the author, IMO. Happy Days. I will have to buy this one.

View all my reviews

Review: Lost Voices

Lost Voices
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

There are few books that I don’t finish – I will try on most,even though it’s a slog at times, hoping that all will come together in the end, or that a series is planned that might make up for some deficiencies (you have to spread some of the deeper stuff through out the series), but this one I gave up on after about 15 minutes. I tried, I really did. I read other parts of the book, but just couldn’t get past what I found to be a juvenile, simplistic approach to writing and characterization. The plot was okay – young girls, discarded by the families and society, end up as sort of vengeful mermaid/sirens, but it just didn’t catch. The protagonist lived with her drunk uncle who tried to rape her and she fell of the cliff – it wasn’t even a suicide. And all of a sudden, (unexplained then, and I think even later), she was a mermaid – the only explanation was that sad girls do when they jump into water (even that part isn’t clear). They aren’t pleasant, none of them, and no truly sympathetic character arises, even our heroine. There are babies who are discarded humans, who are larvae as they call them, that cry at the outskirts of the group – they can’t kill each other or harm them, so they ignore them, and taunt them. And these helpless “babies” are abandoned humans once. And now they are condemned to live forever (not long, since they often get eaten by orcas – said with glee), and since mermaids always stay the same age as when they died, they can’t grow to be regular mermaids. Unpleasantness abounds, and so little development of the mythos/lore of the mermaid siren. Just plain old teen nastiness and petty jealousy. The leader is bi-polar, and it just stuck in my gut and I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. I had to quit.

View all my reviews

Review: Carrier of the Mark

Carrier of the Mark
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is I assume the first book in a series. It is about a young girl, who after her mother’s death has been moving all over the place with her Dad as he seeks to forget the hurt. They land in a small town in Ireland, when he gets a job as the manager of the local yacht club. She seems to enjoy the differences, and attends a public school in town, where she immediately meets the girl who will become her best friend. From the very first day there is a boy, who everyone says is trouble, that catches her eye, as she does his. There seems to be an instantaneous connection. The gossip is that he and his twin sister, their older brother and their guardian are “different”, perhaps strange, and that odd things are told about the house they own, going back hundreds of years. As the story progresses, she learns that she is drawn to Adam so strongly because of a fate stretching back millennia, and that there is more to all of them that meets the eye. A nice romance, some interesting, but typical teenagers, not as well drawn as I would like – not full fledged personalities, more type-cast. And the story is somewhat slight, but the setting is lovely, and the twist unusual, and fits in with the whole Ireland thing. Good, not great, IMO, but should satisfy all but the most discriminating teens.

View all my reviews

Review: The Shattering

The Shattering
The Shattering by Karen Healey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This gem of a book (really I give it 4 1/2 stars), is by a New Zealand author. It’s part teen coping with life, part teen coping with grieving the loss of a brother, and part mystery/paranormal. Told from the viewpoints of three teens who start off as either old friends, or new ones, who become fast friends by the end. All have older brothers who unexpectedly committed suicide, and one of them notices a pattern as he compares notes with one of the others, and the two of them bring the main character, Keri, on board. They discover that a number of first born sons with siblings have all committed suicide, under specific conditions within the past 10-12 years, and set out to discover who and why. A serial killer? What they find is far different from what they expected, but the book is charming, and has some good insights into personalities. I identified a few traits of myself in Keri, ones that I hadn’t really thought about before. I too try hard to think about and prepare for bad things to happen. It has a charming South Island NZ seaside town setting, with a Samoan, a Maori, and a white teen cast as the main characters – representative of NZ culture. But their cultural differences don’t really matter, and are there merely as colorful details. The book is slight, but draws you into it’s cleverly woven web of suspicions, spying and sleuthing. Sort of a modern day version of Nancy Drew, but with a Samoan computer spreadshhet genius boy, a cute male Japanese exchange student, a popular teen, and a girl who prepares for the worst, every day. Great characters, well drawn, add to this mystery. A nice, satisfying way to spend an evening.

View all my reviews