Over the last decade, I’ve been involved in my fair share of crafty pursuits. Embroidery, cross-stitch, quilting . . . then more cross-stitch, with instructions entirely in Japanese. My brief forays into crochet and knitting, however, were fairly frustrating attempts that resulting in unrecognizable blobs of tangled wool and scarves with ungainly stretch marks reaching to my knees. There is something architectural about manipulating loose strings into 3D objects that run circles around my mental powers.
So much of the end-of-the-world literature I read focuses on circumstances that, if not entirely fictional to begin with (say zombies or vampires or alien invasion), are at least comfortably removed from the reality we know today. Not so much with The Water Knife, in which we find ourselves knee-deep in a Climate Change Apocalypse that is made extra creepy by the increasing numbers of drought-related headlines we are currently seeing. You know the ones . . . ”California Unveils Sharp Cuts in Water for Agriculture,” “California Drought Resurrects Population Growth Concerns,” “More Historic Water Cuts for Farmers,” . . . and so on.
I am a long-time X-Files fan and an equally rabid supporter of pretty much everything Gillian Anderson has ever tackled in her career. (Bleak House! Great Expectations! Hannibal!) I was very intrigued to see she had tried her hand at writing a book . . . especially since this was something other than the standard career memoir, behind-the-scenes tell-all, or other non-fiction fare. I was equally nervous about the chances that this would turn out to be a worthwhile read, so it was reassuring to see that Ms. Anderson worked with Jeff Rovin, a collaborative veteran of the thriller genre with Tom Clancy’s Op-Center Series, from the very earliest stages of the story development.
In my review for Storm Siren, the first book in Mary Weber’s Storm Siren series, I noted that its primary strength was the main character, Nym. I loved her intelligence, wit, and strength of will. She struggled to find her place in a world where those of her kind were feared, killed, and sold into slavery. She struggled internally with powers she couldn’t control, and that put innocent people around her at risk. She suffered from self-loathing and guilt. At the close of the Storm Siren, she had learned some degree of control over her powers, forged more than one close relationship, and begun to see herself as something more than just a weapon to be wielded by others.
The first page in Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion is a rogues gallery lineup of adorable characters: Zigzag, the ball cap-wearing bunny; Fuzzball, a green and widely grinning fuzz ball; Pingpong, the penguin with the ursine appetite; Foxface, the fox; Whaley, the whale; and Grizzler, the independent bear.
And, of course, there is Anna Banana, the leader of the pack, stuffed animal orchestra conductor, and culinary teacher extraordinaire.
If there was one book out there that I knew I was way behind in reading, it was Ready Player One. Every conversation I’ve had about geeky books over the last year has included the question, “Have you read Ready Player One yet?!” followed immediately by the statement, “You need to read it RIGHT NOW!”
Okay, people, I heard you. And, boy, were you right . . .
Stick your head out pretty much anywhere in the internet these days, and you’re going to get whacked with some form of commentary attempting to be smart, funny, and satirical. Memes, tweets, blogs, posts, likes . . . everything on the internet serves the person trying to get a laugh and draw some attention. Interesting target for laughs pops up on your radar? You can have your entire social media arsenal engaged and destroying the mark in less time than it takes to order a latte.
So, it’s refreshing to find someone out there willing to put the time and effort into planning, editing, and crafting an honest-to-goodness, hold-it-in-your-hands, hard-copy publication. The creators of The Devastator, a series of satirical magazines on a wide range of pop culture topics, are doing just that. Founders Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows have corralled a massive group of wildly talented contributors from the wide world of comedy writing and editing, mixed them together with an equally strong group of artists and illustrators, and are serving up one heck of a cocktail menu of humor.
In the first volume of Rat Queens, we met Betty, Dee, Hannah, and Violet, who are . . . well, the Rat Queens. We sympathized with their financial woes, dating missteps, and on-the-job frustrations. We cleaned up after their bar fights, battled assassins and trolls, and magically treated their limb-severing, mortal wounds. As you do.
UPDATE (as of 5/6/15): STOP THE PRESSES! Marko Kloos is going to be writing “at least” a fourth installment to the Frontlines series, so ignore every mention of “trilogy” below. I hereby revoke my sad good-bye to Andrew Grayson and company. Pestering for a release date to start in 3, 2, 1 . . .
SPOILER WARNING: I am going to do my best to avoid specific spoilers in the paragraphs that follow, however, I am going to be discussing the resolution of the Frontlinestrilogy story arc, which will inevitably get a bit too spoilery for some, I’m sure.
In 2007, Marc Cushman, screenwriter, television and film producer and director, and author, set out - with the help of a mountain of research material provided by Gene Roddenberry and Robert H. Justman - to write the definitive story of the making of Star Trek: The Original Series. What originally started as a single volume quickly swelled into a series of books, one devoted to each season the show aired. The third and final book in this series chronicles a lame-duck season of television, one that saw the loss of a desirous time slot, dwindling budgets, struggles over script writing, and a pinnacle of frustration between the showrunners and network executives ultimately overseeing production.