Tag Archives: science fiction

John Barnes – Classic Heinlein Science Fiction

I’ve been talking up a book called Directive 51, and it’s sequel, a post-apocalypse novel, with eerie links to what’s going on now in some areas. Anyway, It was by John Barnes. I had never read him before (he’s SF), and found the book in the uncatalogued section of the library where they shove a few romance, mystery and SF PBs. They do shelve some. Another one of his I found later on the shelf in PB form. Apparently Directive 51 didn’t rate enough to make it to cataloguing or they no longer do any PBs. I read the second novel in the series and was in love. Then I read The Return by Buzz Aldrin and JB. Great story. Next it’s A Million Open Doors, a novel of the Thousand Cultures, which I am almost through. I discovered, after reading all of them, and ascribing what I found to various other things, that his books are very warm-hearted, and cozy. They make you believe in people, in hope. That people are basically good, a few bad apples, and that companions, and comaraderie are an important part of a satisfying life. I have a few more in the stack, and will be reading as many as I can find. I find him a sort of SF Nevil Shute, whose belief in humanity simply poured through his novels. I wish I had “discovered” him many years ago..

Found two more books in the Thousand Cultures series (A MIllion Open Doors), so I will be happy. I figured out, as I finished that book, that what he does is take a group of people, disparate, but basically good, most of them, and take them on a voyage of self-discovery through various ingenious means, and sends them out at the end, new and improved versions, stronger and more understanding of the world and people. In this last one, he never really explained how the culture in which the hero lived worked, but did describe the new culture, but on the hero’s terms, through his eyes and conversations – we discovered how it worked as he did. Then when he went home, (and that’s another story), he saw what made up his culture, and why it was there, and what it gave to others or not. He never tells you things directly, but leads you on a voyage of discovery along with the characters. In the Daybreak series, you had to learn how to adapt, how it happened, why, etc., the same as everyone else. No cheating. The major reviewers kept comparing him to Heinlein. Classic SF, done right. I have no trouble recommending him to anyone who likes SF at all, and even though this one was hard to understand at first, you still “get it.” So far the ones I’ve read start off slowly, since you are working your way through understanding of everything and the world-building, etc. Then suddenly it creeps up on you and it hugs you back.


Review: Daybreak Zero

Daybreak Zero
Daybreak Zero by John Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to Directive 51, and I think it was even better than the first. It built on the foundation of what happened in the first book, and the people that were the main characters, and delves into why and how it might have happened, adding some twists and turns in that area, and brought the two factions to the brink of war, with other influences and dangers creeping in, such as the castles, and the outsiders. Pueblo remained the center of action, and this one was scarier, a little torture, a little spookier, and a real study into how people might work, function, and use their strengths, ad to what ends some will go to get or continue in power, and others will withstand the pull, and stand by their principles, even if they have different results. It’s grittier, larger, and I still want more. You don’t ned zombies to make it a scary world. You just need a bunch of people who are ingrained and indoctrinated with a meme. This one is still like the first, full of details on governments, how they function, and on strategies, and how large scale problems may be solved, like the mysterious EMP pulses that attack whenever a strong radio signal is sent out. Who is ending them and from where? The characters are the strong part, real people, with real ideals, and real weak points. But yet is uplifting, in a Postman sort of way, with the idea that hope, or the belief that the world is working again, albeit differently is all that is needed to jump start regular people into doing things, and that from such small starts, come bigger results.

View all my reviews

Review: The Games

The Games
The Games by Ted Kosmatka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really good book – reminded me in a way of Masello’s The Bestiary. The basic premise is that a group of scientists, in the near future, are working on building, from the genetic code, a hybrid animal that will compete in a new feature of the Olympic games, the Arena – these non-human hybrids, one from each country, will fight to the death until only one is standing, and the honor and glory of the best bio-engineering goes to the winner. The game is held in the city of the last winner. The U.S. has been the winner for the past three games, all that has been held. The Games are overseen by a board, and by a board within each country. The U.S. board is pleased that they have been winning, but last time they barely squeaked by. So they decide to bypass the head of the genetic research department, without his knowledge, and ask a computer to design a new animal. What comes out of the mind of the mad genius who built the computer, and the computer’s soft logic programing, is awesome and scary. Terrifying, horrifying, and plausible, it is a stay up all night reading to the end kind of book. Swift paced, not big on characters, but the plot is good, and I thoroughly enjoyed this look into bio-ethics.

View all my reviews

Review: Directive 51

Directive 51
Directive 51 by John Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a densely packed techno thriller. It is the first book in a trilogy, so not all questions are answered. It reminds me in many ways of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 40 Days of Rain. It is densely populated with a large cast of characters, from the people who helped bring about this end of civilization, called the Daybreakers, to the politicians and government types that make up the DC world. Most of the book is focused on the government – how it reacts, what department’s do, succession questions, policies, and procedures. I found it one of the most fascinating books I have read since the Jump 225 trilogy a number of years ago.

I felt, unlike some, that his cast of characters, although none perfect, showed humanity, and it was his attention to minute detail that brought the book alive for me – like the TV reporter following the Republican challenger around the campaign tour in the last week of the election just as Daybreak hits. He is hired by an elderly lady, who has a big rambling old house, and a friend with a printing press, for food and lodging, and to become the National Affairs editor of the new paper newspaper that she is starting up (the novel takes place an unidentified time in the near future -about 15-20 years), and he thinks about the job, wonders if he can find a fedora and maybe one with a hatband to stick a press card in it. A humorous aside, one of many, that shows the characters in a few brush strokes (although we knew him earlier as a brilliant TV journalist/cameraman), – the mention of the hat and press card shows that he understands the long history of journalism and the proud nature of it, and that the news must go on. I found many such small details to bring the book alive. Even throw-away characters had character. And some showed up again when you didn’t expect them to.

It is the story of a meme, one that seems to have no head – no person directing it’s activities, although maybe a large group, but it is self-replicating, found through systemic semiotic analysis that looks at patterns that emerge from nowhere, and unlike fads, seems to have a purpose, to grow, and subsume other splinter groups/ideas into it’s message. It is very hard to understand at times – the whole meme structure of it is explained in non-layman’s terms and again for us newbies, but it is exciting. I read until 3am, and then I still didn’t want to quit. It is somewhat dry at times, like KSR’s trilogy, but it also scary, plausible to me, and has great consequences for our lives, our political systems, and humanity itself. Having watched internet memes come along and grow in ever increasing numbers, I see how this book took that idea, fresh two years ago, and created this book from it. Two years ago, you only really heard of memes in an academic setting. Today they are part of the cyber vocabulary. Worth the time to read, IMO. Professional reviewers made comparisons to Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, and I find it apt – the picture not so much of the mechanics of what happens, but the people themselves. I found it exceptional and one of the best I have read in several years. I have done an inter-library loan for book two, Daybreak Zero, since our libraries around here don’t have it.

View all my reviews

Review: Earth Unaware

Earth Unaware
Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although this is shelved in the adult section, as the pre-cursor to Ender’s Game, a YA book, I put it in that category. The plot revolves around what happened in the beginning – when the first alien ship is noticed as a blip on the radar when a young person manning the Eye – the station that keeps track of possible debris and rock chunks that might damage them. She likes to look beyond the ecliptic, and sees, way out there, past the Kuiper Belt where they are mining, a shape, moving fast. So she alerts the ship’s Captain. The El Cavador, owned and operated by a South American family family, had just docked with another small band of ships, the Italians, and traded goods, and socialized, but now it is time to get back to work mining the asteroid, and sending the ore back to Luna in fast ships that carry the ore, but can accelerate and deccelerate at levels that would kill a person. Victor, the ship’s apprentice, but genius engineer, is summoned to the Captain’s cabin and told that his best friend n the ship is being sent to the Italian ship – they have seen love blossoming between the two, although the kids themselves aren’t aware of it yet, and although they are only second cousins, such love is forbidden, and would lower their status – they are determined to keep the gene line clean out that far, and are obsessed with keeping to the rules. If his friend Janda had stayed, now that they were made aware of their feelings it would be awkward, since everyone would look down on them, and if word got out, cause the ship to be shunned. So they send her off – not to be zogged (married to a new ship’s crew person), but to stay there for two years until she is of marriageable age, and then pick whomever she chooses, or chooses elsewhere. Victor, or Vico as he is known, feels the loss greatly and throws himself into his work, wanting to leave the ship due to the embarrassment he feels, even though nothing had happened, and they themselves were unaware of it. But then Janda’s little sister, Edimar, a talented new apprentice to her father in the Eye, spots the ship, tells Vico, so he can see if it is real before running to the captain. She should go to her father, but is afraid he will laugh it off, and she feels it poses a high level of danger to the ship and others. A plan is devised to try and warn a few other ships in the area, but things go wrong. First there is a mining ship, far out beyond their usual mining grounds of the Asteroid Belt, on a secret mission to test a new device that will allow them to mine rocks faster, and which bumps them from the rock, causing damage to their communications and power, and the presence of a pod that has shot off from the big ship and is entering when they think the Italians are going – they were going to try and rendezvous with them again to warn them. And thus follows the beginnings of the first Formic War. An excellent book, just the right amount of adventure, even with teens populating it, to find favor among adults and teens alike. Solid SF, cool aliens, from a master of it. Waiting for the next installment.

View all my reviews

Review: Angelmass

Angelmass by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really different, but solidly written SF book – one of the best I’ve read recently. Characters you care about. Plots within plots, and some really unique ideas, but at the heart, a classic SF story. The Pax rules the known galaxies. An earth born initiative, they rule through a government that is increasingly being controlled by adjutors, glorified accountants/bean counters who want to squeeze every last dime out of everything they do, and try and make sure than all projects are cost-effective. Jereko, a scientist and academic, is plucked from obscurity, briefly trained, and in a wonderfully crafted bit of subterfuge, they manage to drop him in a pod in the air space of a rogue colony that broke off from the Pax thousands of years before. They want information on the “angels” that the Empyreans wear. The angels are said to keep them from doing bad things. All senators must wear them and incidents of greed, corruption, bribery, have gone done to almost zero. So Jereko is snuck into the colony through a land based agent already planted during peace talks between the Pax and Empyreans. Also bouncing around is Chandris, a young grifter, who keeps bumping into Jereko. Together, with a nice assortment of fellow conspirators, they set off to discover who/what the angels are, what is Angelmass, the black hole that emits these angels, and how to achieve peace. No easy feat. Fun, entertaining, and I hope that he writes again in this universe.

View all my reviews

Review: 01-01-00

01-01-00 by R.J. Pineiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, although written for the millennium, still is a good book. Since we have a newly calculated doomsday theory ready for us this winter, I thought it would be fun to drag this one out of the box and read it. It was sparked by a 01.01.00 marketing campaign, but the author is good, and keeps it to strictly a computer/SF/Mayan thriller. As the millennium approaches, a computer virus starts attacking virtually all computers across the wold, shutting them down at the same time each night, starting about 20 days before the millennium, for 20 seconds, and each succeeding day one second less – a countdown. Meanwhile, astronomers in Chile have found a signal coming from a planet in a nearby system that appears to be real – a SETI-type signal. And someone wants to learn what is at the ned of the computer virus, and or how to control or stop it, thus making themselves extremely rich and powerful, so they follow the FBI computer analyst who is trying to figure out what it means.. So begins the frantic search for clues, locations, and eventually tying together all the loose threads in the middle of the Yucatan. A bit touchy feely at the end, but then it is a millennium book. I enjoyed it, and found the chase to be good, some interesting characters, with some gruesome scenes of death.

View all my reviews

Review: Haze

Haze by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is really a nice straightforward SF book – no crazy unpronounceable names, jut good fun. Major Keir Roget’s assignment, working for the FSA as a Federation Security Agent (the Federation is a Chinese controlled government that took control after America imploded, with help from the Mormons, who wanted to spread their control, and two wars for Confederations later), is to go down through the “haze” surrounding the planet they call Haze, and find out what is there – nothing penetrates that shield, if it is a shield. They want to know if there are aliens there, Thomists, a branch of the Federation that broke away about 2000 years ago and have not been heard from since, or it’s just a barren planet with a weird shield. The book is balanced for mot of it with flashbacks to a couple of earlier assignments that affected him deeply – one was an assignment, deep under cover, where he was surprised and almost killed when an assignment went south. The other was in St. George, Utah, what was left of the main Mormon countryside – Salt Lake is a nuke bed. They had held on to the area, even though the Federation imposed high water tariffs, and high costs for shipping in supplies. He was there ostensibly as a water monitor – to see if there were any suspicious drains on the water, either for usage or hydro-electric power. Water on earth was in short supply, although the Chinese in Hong Kong did alright. But really he was there to check on the town – what might be going on – what happened to the previous scout sent -was he murdered or just had an accident as was claimed. The town and the inhabitants began to affect him as he saw what they felt, what they did to make it work, and how he started to like them. He bought, at one point, a picture of a dachshund named Hildegarde, that was an important reference point for him throughout the book. This background stuff is important, as it made me who he is and affected his choices and actions. As he descended through what turned out to be millions of tiny spheres, on three levels, and was almost killed, he sort of crash landed in an area near the sea, and began to walk toward what he thought might be habitation, as he found some trails. He didn’t know what happned to the other four agents who had gone down in pods with him. The rest of the story is about his experiences on Haze, how he questions what he sees, begins to understand, tries to report back, but was brushed aside, and what the true goals of the federation were. A really good 4 1/2 star SF book – the first I had read by this author. Will be looking for more. Any errors in the accuracy of my summary are due to the fact that I read it almost a week ago, and thus most of it is a haze. 😉

View all my reviews

Review: The Ice Limit

The Ice Limit
The Ice Limit by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another read through of the great Preston/Child novel (earlier in their careers), Ice Limit. A rousing adventure of Cape Horn, just north of the roaring 60s and the ice limit, where the warmer sea meets the Antarctic seas, and new ice is formed. A geologist who hunts meteorites finds one in the ice on a small island in the group of islands off the southern tip of Chile. Something happens and he dies, but a native to the area stumbles upon his equipment, sells it, and word gets back to a billionaire who specializes in rare pieces, like battling dinosaur skeletons and a whole pyramid, and he enlists the help of the geologist’s ex-partner,and famed meteorite hunter, Sam McFarlane, to track this thing down and get it back to New York. He brings in EES, Effective Engineering Solutions, which appears in other Preston/Child books, and they devise a scheme to get what they think is a 10,000 lb meteorite onto a retrofitted tanker and back up to the states, all under the watchful eyes of the Chilean government. What they are doing is technically not illegal, since they are mining “ore,” and have a permit, but still, the government would be reluctant to let such a find out of the country. What follows are the efforts to design and fit the tanker to make it hold the meteorite, camouflage it to some extent, get down to the island in the middle of winter in the southern seas, and retrieve it. But things don’t go as planned, even though EES has never failed to devise a solution to the largest of engineering problems. But this one is different, and it’s a wild ride to the finish. Great thriller, if a tad technical. Some interesting characters. I recall Eli Glinn from previous books and enjoyed him and his company. He is portrayed a little more in depth in this one and a little differently than the others, but still, it’s quite the exciting race as they try and fool an almost insane Chilean navy Commandante, ride out some of the worst weather anywhere, and move an enormous ‘rock” that proves to be more than it looks.

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.


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.


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.


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!


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: