Mr BlankTo read Justin Robinson’s Mr Blank is like following some self-deprecating, white rabbit into a sprawling, L.A. noir wonderland on a 100-m.p.h., nerd culture-fueled rollick.  Hot on the heels of Robinson’s thrilling zombie noir, Undead on Arrival, which was released just four months before, Mr Blank will keep you guessing until the very end.  

 

Star Trek Federation Box CoverStar Trek Federation: The First 150 Years is set up as a history book commissioned by the Federation, which covers the time period behind when Zefram Cochrane first invented warp drive and made contact with the Vulcans to the death of Captain James T. Kirk. A lot of familiar ground is covered in this book, including Star Trek: Enterprise, the original series (TOS), and the TOS movies, but the author thankfully doesn't give an exhaustive breakdown of every episode. Instead, the book takes episode highlights and uses them to make poignant connections between the different series, including the Star Trek series that came after. These connections were one of the highlights for me, as the author goes in and manages to smooth out a lot of the discrepancies that take place over the entire history of Trek, doing so in a manner that as Spock would say, “ . . . is only logical.”

 

The Greatest ShowdownsGandalf vs. The Balrog. Neo vs. Agent Smith. Ripley (in her Power Loader) vs. The Queen Alien. If you are even a casual geek or the occasional nibbler of the pop culture pudding, then you’re familiar with these famous face-offs. These titans of Geekdom and more can be in the fantastic new release from Titan Books, The Great Showdowns, by Scott Campbell.

 

Emerald TabletLike its characters, The Emerald Tablet achieves a balance, taking pieces of the science fiction, fantasy, and adventure genres but never skewing too far to any one point. The Emerald Tablet takes place in a new setting where Earth is linked to another planet, Potara, which is inhabited by descendents from ancient Egypt and Greece. Potara has advanced thousands of years ahead of Earth thanks to its faith-based technology provided by the Priests of Amun. In order to fulfill an ancient prophecy concerning the bearer of the mark of the Emerald Tablet, Potara is about to reconnect with Earth, but the Priests of Amun aren't the only ones with an interest in the prophecy.

 

Tower of the HandPart of the pleasure of reading any great work is talking about it with your friends, sharing your discoveries, birthing crackpot theories, and shooting them down just as quickly.

Based on that, Marc N. Kleinhenz is having a ball.  As editor of the new collection of essays Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows (Blue Buddha Press), Kleinhenz and his collaborators delve deep into the world of Westeros and draw out some amazing analyses of Martin’s epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

A video game journalist and regular contributor to the TowerOfTheHand.com website, Kleinhenz has gathered a set of essays that go far beyond the realm of typical “fan” sites, instead studying the literary aspects of the series thus far.  Wisely, with its divergence from the source material, he and his associates only obliquely reference the hit HBO series, choosing rather to go in-depth on the original source material.

Silhouettes from Popular CultureIt can be a difficult task, at times, to fly your geek flag and still be considered a member of the “legitimate grownup” world. From neon-colored and badly photoshopped Star Wars posters to gawdy and cheap-looking comic book statues, much of the merchandise and “art” in Geekdom is meant to appeal to the youngest among us and comes with an unnecessary, yet expected, amount of tackiness (free of charge). If you’re anything like me, despite your love for comic shops, you strongly resist the idea of your living space resembling these bastions of geekery where action figures (still in the box, of course) are packed floor to ceiling and furniture is built out of strategically organized long boxes. I don’t mind wearing my fanboy badge on my sleeve, in fact I take major pride in it, but one eventually reaches the age when they think to themselves, “Would Han Solo hang this on his wall?” Well, fortunately for all of us, acclaimed artist Olly Moss has now joined the ranks of geek-chic heroes Adam Levermore and QMx with his new book, Silhouettes from Popular Culture. Much like Levermore’s stylish art prints and QMx’s “discreet geek” t-shirt designs, Moss’ Silhouettes from Popular Culture is a smart, classy, and sophisticated edition to any geek’s Bat Cave without losing an ounce of the pure, unadulterated fun that makes being a fanboy so frakking cool!

 

The SkyI developed a love for art at a very young age, appreciating it on a different level than many of my peers. Do you remember as a kid you would flip through the instruction manual for your NES games like Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda, and they had that FANTASTIC artwork of all the wondrous creatures you would be encountering on your adventure? And then, you pop in the game and each of these beautiful designs is depicted as a tiny, 8-bit red or blue splotch on the screen? Friends would ask me why they'd put so much effort into these drawings if the final product isn't going to resemble it in the slightest? For me, it helped paint the picture in my head of exactly what dangers I was facing. Sure, on screen they didn't look all that special, but those images from the booklet helped paint a picture for my young mind to conjure up heroes, princesses, and assorted baddies I'd meet during my travels.


These are the thoughts that came flooding back to me as I flipped through the pages of The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy, a five-book collection showcasing the elegant and alluring artwork of Yoshitaka Amano through the first ten Final Fantasy games. Having been a Final Fantasy enthusiast since day one, I would latch onto anything FF-related I could get my grubby, little hands on. Freshman year of college I took advantage of the high-speed internet to download the FF games that had only been released in Japan.

 

The Other NormalsWhile the young adult genre has exploded in the last few years and broken boundaries regarding the intended readership, it’s still a rarity to find a young adult novel that appeals equally as well to teens and adults. Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games have all successfully made this “leap,” and now a new competitor has entered the field in the form of author Ned Vizzini’s (Be More Chill, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) The Other Normals.

 

SuperGrammar bookcoverKids today have it all: being a geek is chic and comic books are widely accepted as quality source material for major motion pictures.  As if that were not enough, comic books and comic book characters have made their way into the classroom in growing numbers.  As a shining example, students of all ages will have the opportunity to learn the rules of grammar with the help of fun and colorful superheroes and supervillains straight out of the funny pages in Scholastic’s recently released book, Super Grammar.  With the Super Grammar team as their guide, readers will join the mission to fight the “never-ending battle between good and bad grammar.”

 

Honor Harrington Rising ThunderWhile the book is yet another addition to the long-running series of military science fiction staring Honor Harrington and other principle characters of the same universe, it’s the first novel that was actually too long to be published in its original form.  Publishing company Baen made the decision that the book would be split into two installments, with A Rising Thunder being the first.  As such, while the book is long in its own right, it’s not as long as it could have been, and ends with a cliffhanger that seems a bit sloppy for my tastes.  It’s also not a book that I would recommend to someone first starting out in the series, but rather as a compliment to the rest of the series that have already been established in the “Honorverse.”

SPOILERS BELOW

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