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

 

SW X-Wing Mercy KillIt’s been several years since there was a novel in the X-Wing series, the last taking place well before the introduction of the Yuuzhan Vong or peace with the Galactic Empire.  Now, more than 35 years after their last adventure (in an X-Wing novel, that is), the members of Wraith Squadron return to the pages of Aaron Allston in this brand new, and enjoyable, read.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

Torn in TwoWithin the first page of the book, I was immediately captivated by author Brit Sigh's use of the English language to describe a scene. In Torn in Two, he has crafted a psychological thriller full of twists and turns.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

The Dark Knight Rises bookIn my experience, there’s a strange phenomenon surrounding official movie novelizations. If they’re well written, they can actually exceed the quality of the film itself. (Don’t believe me? Check out the official movie novelizations of the Star Wars prequels!) This usually has to do with the talent of the writer and their ability to enhance characters and a story that comes attached to numerous limitations. Novelist Greg Cox may be slightly hampered by some of the unrepairable plot holes in his official adaption of The Dark Knight Rises, he but still manages to enhance the plot of Nolan’s final Batman chapter to a level that is sure to thrill and satisfy fans of the recently released film.

 

Wing CommanderIt’s been a long time since a book covering the Wing Commander franchise has been released, and, in fact, this one still hasn’t really been released.  Pilgrim Truth is the conclusion to a trilogy of books by Peter Telep that are based off of the Wing Commander film from 1999 and was denied release on its original date of 2000.  Because of license agreements and the publishing contracts, the novel maintained a limbo status for over a decade until the author finally got permission in late 2011 to release it (and his manuscript notes) to the official fan website, Wing Commander CIC (www.wcnews.com).  Because I’m a bit of a “wingnut,” and having waited a significant amount of time to read this piece, I delved right into it . . . and really wish I hadn’t.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

Christian Bale coverWith the The Dark Knight Rises now in theaters, Batman is, once again, nearly unescapable, whether via television promos, billboards, or movie tie-ins. Obviously, this also means that the brooding Christian Bale, this generation's Bruce Wayne, is just as present and may have many geeks out there wondering what it takes to portray Wayne, what Bale is like in person, and how he rose to the level where he was chosen to play one of the most iconic and recognized superheroes of all time. If you find yourself wondering about the Bale behind the Batman, I suggest you check out BenBella Books’  Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman by Harrison Cheung and Nicola Pittam, which tells the story of Cheung’s exciting and disturbing adventure during the years he spent as Bale’s publicist, marketer, and personal assistant. While Cheung’s account may leave Bale fans (the proper term is “Baleheads” - thanks, Harrison!) unsure how they feel about their beloved movie star, I can assure you that this book will shock you, make you laugh out loud, and forever change the way you view Hollywood, celebrities, and Mr. Bale himself.

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