Category: Fantasy (Page 1 of 2)

Be Hair Now: ‘Norma’ by Sofi Oksanen

normaYou might think that having magic hair that’s attuned to your emotions would be a blessing, but the titular character in Norma (by Finnish-Estonian writer Sofi Oksanen) would disagree. Norma is an ordinary woman whose hair corkscrews and kinks when she feels strong emotions, such as danger or guilt. It also happens to grow about a meter a day, causing Norma to have to constantly cut it off so that no one notices. The only person that knows Norma’s secret is her mother, Anita.

As it happens, Norma opens up on the day of Anita’s funeral. Anita has committed suicide by throwing herself in front of train, or so we’re led to believe. The first inkling Norma has that something is off is when her hair starts to corkscrew when meeting a stranger at the funeral.

While it is Norma’s name who’s on the cover, I think it’s safe to say that this book actually has three main characters. Norma, obviously, is the focus of book, but alternating chapters are in a woman named Marion’s point of view. Marion is the daughter of Anita’s best friend. Marion works for her father in the seedy underworld of the hair extension business. The third main character is Anita herself. Through video diaries that Anita has left for Norma to find, Norma finds out the history of why her hair is the way it is.

There are lots of little kinks and turns in that lead you down paths you hadn’t fathomed would happen. The sub-chapters are short so it feels as if you’re flying through; I read the first half of the book in a span of about two and a half hours. Normally, I don’t like alternating points of view, but I think it’s masterfully done in Norma. I’m invested in both Norma and Marion, so I didn’t feel impatient while reading through one or the other. On the surface this may seem like a book about hair, but it’s so much more. It’s an artful look into what would happen if your best asset was also your worst, if your blessing was also your curse.

Thor’s-day Thursday: Neil Gaiman’s ‘Norse Mythology’

norse mythologyNeil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is a welcome addition to the list of works contributing to popular culture’s growing fascination with Norse myth. Gaiman’s work, however, goes a lot farther than any super hero franchise. It’s a topic that many have difficulty reading about outside of the realms of academia, but the author’s own love of the source material shines through as Gaiman gives us a wonderful medium through which to learn about Viking deities. The book starts out very analytical, with a few textbook-esque chapters that introduce the reader to the world and the characters that Gaiman will describe in coming chapters, but this section is short and necessary, as immediately after, he jumps right into a series of mythic stories of action, drama, and a bit of comedy. The humor that Gaiman adds to the tales is not out-of-place, but instead is a bit of modern wit that feels strangely at home in this world; with moments like Thor explaining “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” Funny moments like this are the hidden virtue of the book, in my opinion.

Gaiman reintroduces readers to Odin, the “All-Father;” Thor, the hammer-wielding God of Thunder; and Loki, the God of chaos–among many others. The second story in the book (not counting the few introductory chapters) called “The Treasures of the Gods”, is probably my favorite. Loki shaves Thor’s wife’s head while they sleep, and Thor forces Loki to attempt to restore it. The result is one of the more humorous stories in the book that culminates (SPOILERS) in Thor getting his signature hammer, something that Gaiman describes as also “Loki’s fault”. The stories cover the entire range of the mythology, thorbeginning with basic origin stories and culminating in the final chapter with the story of Ragnarok, the Norse doomsday prophecy. Gaiman takes these classic tales and puts his own twist in them, writing them as if they were brand-new inventions of his mind. Norse Mythology is fantastic and, at the very least, an extremely fun read that anyone who loves fantasy of mythology (or even someone who doesn’t) should pick up and give a shot.

Three-Book Circus: Erica Recommends 3 Fantasy Picks

Okay guys, I’ve had some books on the brain lately, and if you don’t already know about them, then you should. They are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye, and Caraval by Stephanie Garber. If you’ve ever talked to me at Lemuria, then I have probably told you to read The Night Circusand if you took that advice, then you really need to know about The Crown’s Game and Caraval.

            “You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.

You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”

― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

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The Night Circus is hands down one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. With a story that travels between New York and England and everywhere in between, it twists and turns with a nonlinear time line that will keep the reader guessing about what is to come, and what is even real. There is a dark challenge that is being played out in the beautiful black and white tents of Le Cirque des Rêves, unbeknownst to the audience—and most of the cast. Celia and Marco are tangled in a game that neither of them quite knows the rules, let alone how to win. As they play this dangerous game of illustrious illusions, the web of those affected reaches further than they can possibly imagine and there will be consequences. Morgenstern spins a story of bowler hats, charmed umbrellas, boys reading in apple trees, and a garden made of ice. In this nocturnal world of black and white, you will find the most vivid and colorful characters and writing.

 

“For the winner of the game, there would be unimaginable power.

For the defeated, desolate oblivion.

The Crown’s Game was not one to lose.”

― Evelyn Skye, The Crown’s Game

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The Crown’s Game was pitched to me as being like The Night Circus, but initially I was skeptical. I had yet to find a book that I would have put in the same category as The Night Circus, but indeed this book is. Set in a fantastical Imperial Russia full of rich historic details (thanks to Skye’s degree in Slavic language and her love for Russian history), the book presents a dark and beautiful world. Russia is trapped between the Ottomans on one side and the Kazakhs on the other, so the tsar has only one option: to initiate the Crown’s Game, where the only two enchanters will duel for the position of Imperial Enchanter, protector and adviser to the tsar. This dangerous game traps Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha. As the story is spun, these characters must navigate tense political situations, love, loss, and betrayal with the knowledge that they will have to die if either of the others wins. Skye’s beautiful imagery and writing brings the magic right off the page. The Crown’s Game is full of sparkling magic with a healthy dose of dark Russian folklore. Read it now so that you will be ready for the sequel that comes out in May 2017.

 

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”

― Stephanie Garber, Caravel

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Caraval, which comes out today (Tuesday, January 31) has been sitting on the advance reading copy shelf, just begging me to read it for months. So, last week as I was procrastinating reading other books, I started Caraval. I finished in less than twenty-four hours (this includes the 8 hours of work). I knew within the first 40 pages that I was going to love it. The Caraval is not only a once-a-year performance, but also a dream that Scarlett has been dreaming since her Grandmother told her and her sister, Tella, about it when they were children. Now seeing the Caraval is suddenly an option, and a dangerous one at that. Will seeing the Caraval be the escape they have been looking for from their abusive father, or will it just be giving themselves over to another dangerous and powerful man? With the help of a mysterious sailor that seems to have secret motives, Scarlett enters into the magical world of the Caraval. You can either watch or play, but remember that they will try to make you believe it is real, although it is just a game. Garber spins a story that drags you in with the first page and doesn’t let go through all the twist and turns, betrayals and alliances. You will not rest until you reach the very end. Keep your eyes out January 2017.

The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern was Lemuria’s September 2011 First Editions Club selection. A signed first edition of the book can be found here.

“For the ones who dream of stranger worlds”

In V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magicthere is more than one London. In fact, there are four: magic-less and ordinary Grey London; vibrant and thriving Red London; cold and cruel White London; and mysterious and powerful Black London, each with its own society and level of magic. The various worlds have been sealed off from each other for centuries, and only Antari, blood magicians, have the ability to travel between them.

Kell, a privileged traveler from Red London, is one of only two known blood magicians. He’s been moving between worlds for years, delivering the messages of monarchy and secretly harboring trinkets from each London. But when Kell ends up accidently smuggling an object that brings more danger than luck, he finds himself trying to evade the hands of the other traveler, a White London Antari who will stop at nothing to steal power away from Kell.

While on the run, Kell meets Lila Bard, a poor thief from Grey London who longs for freedom and adventure. After saving each other’s lives, the two team up, traveling between Londons to battle the dark magic that’s threatening all of their worlds.

First off, Victoria Schwab has such a talent for creating captivating settings that make you feel, rather than just see, where things are taking place. I love the various Londons with their distinct cultures, languages, and magic. You can tell that Schwab put a lot of effort into building the worlds, and I like the way they play off of one another. Schwab’s writing is also engaging and sucks the reader in from the start. The fast-pace plot and unique setting had me desperately turning pages to find out what was going to happen next.

The magic system in this story is also really fascinating. Most people with magic can control a particular element or maybe even a few. However, magicians like Kell have additional abilities, such as opening doors to other worlds. While I really enjoyed reading about the magic in this book, I wished it had been showcased more. There were also times when it felt like magic could have been used to solve problems more quickly. However, I liked the diversity of how magic is used in the worlds and the importance of balance between man and magic. I feel that this book was mostly about introducing the basics of how magic works, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the magic system in the next books of this trilogy.

While I enjoyed the magic and the setting, the characters were probably the best part about the story. Kell’s powers and cryptic past kept me wanting to know more about him; and feisty Lila, with her knack for pickpocketing and her well-timed sassiness, was a character that I couldn’t help but root for. I found myself appreciating her and Kell’s relationship and how they progressed throughout the story. I was also very intrigued by the mysterious White traveler Holland. I’m excited to learn more about him as the story continues.

Overall, A Darker Shade of Magic had me staying up late into the night in an effort to finish it. If you enjoy alternate universes, magical men in fabulous coats, and cross-dressing thieves, then pick up this excellent fantasy read. The sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, was just released last month, and I can’t wait to tear into it and continue the adventure.

2015, I’d like to kiss you on the mouth.

dbdb37f2-a00d-4114-b5d6-1e42a0bc65cfThis year was a doozy. I consumed everything from nonfiction about animal consciousness to the modern classic Fates and Furies by Lemuria’s new best friend, Lauren Groff. I can’t even get into the second paragraph without telling you that The Godfather was hands down my favorite read of the year. You can read my blog about it here. I had the chance to sit down and talk to Garth Risk Hallberg about his meteoric rise in the literary world. Jon Meacham made me cry.

I personally made the move from the hub that is Lemuria’s front desk to the quieter fiction room, where I now am elbows deep in the mechanics of our First Editions Club; and am coincidentally even more in love with fiction than I was before. My TBR pile has skyrocketed from about 10 books to roughly 30 on my bedside table. It’s getting out of control and I love it.

[Sidebar: This year, I fell even more in love with graphic novelsNimona surprised us all by making one of the short-lists for the National Book Award, and we were so pleased to see it get the recognition that it deserves. Go Noelle Stevenson! You rule!]

As a bookstore, we were able to be on the forefront of some of the most influential books of 2015 (see: Between the World and Me– when we passed that advance reader copy around, the rumblings were already beginning). Literary giants Salman Rushdie, John Irving, and Harper Lee put out new/very, very old works to (mostly) thunderous applause, and debut novelists absolutely stunned and shook up the book world. (My Sunshine Away, anyone? I have never seen the entire staff band behind a book like that before. We were/are obsessed.) Kent Haruf’s last book was published; it was perfect, and our hearts ache in his absence.

We marched through another Christmas, wrapping and reading and recommending and eating enough cookies to make us sick. We hired fresh new faces, we said goodbye to old friends, we cleaned up scraggly, hairy sections of the store and made them shiny and new. We had the privilege of having a hand in Mississippi’s first ever book festival. We heaved in the GIANT new Annie Leibovitz book, and spent a few days putting off work so that we could all flip through it. In short, this year has been anything but uneventful; it’s been an adventure. So here’s to 2016 absolutely knocking 2015 out of the park.

Read on, guys.

 

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‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’ by Salman Rushdie

So I’ve never read “magical realism” before, and that’s a term I hear applied to Salman Rushdie’s new book Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights  often. Is it a book with a realistic setting except with a few splashes of magic? I’ll go look it up….

And I’m back. Ok, so the term “magical realism” originated around the 1950’s to describe an art style that depicted supernatural elements in a mundane way. But when the term is applied to literature, it means pretty much what I guessed above. I have also come across the term “urban fantasy”, and that’s somehow a completely different thing? So just how broadly does this term apply? I thought of Harry Potter as a fantasy book, but given the definitions I’ve seen, does this make it technically magical realism?

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Now I’m hopelessly confused. If there’s anyone out there who can explain this to me, please come to Lemuria and help a bookseller out.

Enough about genre, let’s get to the story!

twoyearseightmonthsrushdieRushdie’s new novel is narrated by beings 1000 years after the events of the story, and so you don’t get any up close, personal accounts of the characters, but distant recollections of events. Since I enjoy reading history books, I felt right at home with this. I feel like some readers might find this point of view a bit dry, since in fantasy we’re used to knowing the minds of our hero. But give the story time, it’ll grow on you.

Basically, there is another reality called Peristan which is inhabited by supernatural beings called the jinn, who occasionally slip into our world to cause chaos or bless humans. Long ago, a jinn named Dunia fell for a mortal man, and together they had a ton of kids over the span of two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. (Which makes a total of 1,001 nights, in case you didn’t catch the reference.) Dunia’s lover eventually died, and Dunia returned to Peristan, and left all of her kids behind.

Kitab_al-Bulhan_---_devils_talkingSkip ahead to years later, and random people all around the world begin to realize they have strange abilities (a gardener begins to levitate at will, a baby can detect the inner corruption of others, etc.). Of course these people are not random, and as descendants of Dunia they will be the only hope to face an oncoming war upon earth by the dark jinn.

This book is full of references to Arabic mythology (which is so much fun to do further research on while you read this book!) and pop culture. There’s also a lot of underlying themes about migration, religion, and science. The writing style is also so tongue-in- cheek that it does not feel pretentious, but rather hilarious in parts.

I’m in the midst of my senior year in college, and I definitely needed some nice fantasy to escape into. Except, this didn’t feel like pure escapism, like I was doing mindless fun reading; starting Rushdie’s book made me feel like I was stumbling onto something huge and grand.

Mitchell’s chilling new novel ‘Slade House’ reminds us why he’s awesome

6819Lawrence Norfolk was at Lemuria for his release of John Saturnall’s Feast in September 2012. Norfolk and a few Lemurians were chatting about how many authors start off from foggy obscurity—like J K Rowling–writing novels on the napkins of their dayjobs. Norfolk spoke of David Mitchell in the same mythic proportions.  He told the booksellers that he was one of the first readers of Mitchell’s Ghostwritten, and was among the first to realize that Ghostwritten was much more than short stories; rather, it is a novel with a contiguous plot told through subtly connected narratives.

“Everyone of these pages deserves and demands to be read and re-read. Ghostwritten is an astonishing debut.”- Lawrence Norfolk’s Ghostwritten promotion.

Mitchell has become a master since Norfolk was asked to blurb Ghostwritten. The advance reader copies of Ghostwritten have become a collector’s item with a heavy price tag.


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“Grief’s an amputation, but hope’s incurable haemophilia: you bleed and bleed and bleed. Like Schrödinger’s cat but with a box you can never get open.” – overheard at the Fox and Hounds concerning a friend’s disappearance near Slade House

Mitchell’s new novel, Slade House, proves to me that he is capable of creating entire worlds. Just as Tolkien enamored the post-war world in his immersive creation of Middle Earth, or how Rowling immersed an entire generation of the world’s youth in Hogwarts—Slade House returns us to Mitchell’s immersive world of atemporality. Atemporals are people (or entities) that are able to transcend the bonds of a physical body. They are capable of a range of powers that would make both Sith and Jedi envious.

“When you die, your soul crosses the dusk between life and the blank sea. The journey takes forty-nine days, but there’s no wifi there, so to speak. So, no messages can be sent.” – Fred Pink interview at Fox and Hounds, just a block away from Slade Alley

Slade House is a return to the same eternal tug of war between the vampiric Anchorites and the psychosetaric telepaths that walk the shaded path. The prose within Slade House is doubly chilling and entrancing. The plot is an Escharian labyrinth: relentlessly moving forward but inevitably returning in circular motions. The story gains velocity through Mitchell’s agile cultural awareness and maneuverable wit.mcescher

“This is all getting a bit too Da’vinci Code.”- overheard at Fox and Hounds

bone-clocksThe most appealing thing about Slade House is that it’s a great place to start reading Mitchell. It’s a quick read, and much more approachable than The Bone Clocks. If you’re new to the author, pick this book up and introduce yourself to one of the developing legends of contemporary fiction. Let Slade House give you chills like any good ghost story should.

51w0Vx1mLOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_If you’re returning to reading Mitchell, get yourself excited for the return of enigmatic figures such as Enomoto and Marinus. Take another look at The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet for some extra Slade House goodies.

 

If you’re a scaredy-cat, this isn’t the book for you. The pages will give you unavoidable goosebumps. This is a ghost story perfect for a spooky Halloween read.

Magic Beans for Escape Artists

relaxing-waters3-oDo you tape beautiful, exotic vistas to your cubicle wall, and wish you were floating on your back in the blue of the Mediterranean? And when the bossman comes round asking for you to work Saturday and Sunday while demanding more TPS reports, do you desire escapism? Fear not comrade! I have some magic beans to sell you. Save yourself a bruising imprint of QWERTY on your head and lose yourself in some good science fiction.

I’ll be the honest Magic Bean Merchant and go ahead and tell you that each of these three beans will produce their own beanstalks that will reach up far beyond the clouded mundaneness of your typical workday.

Also, I’ll be straightforward, there are giants atop the beanstalk. But these giants are not of the Odyssian-cannibal-club swinging-loincloth wearing ilk; rather, they are the profound, contemporary giants of today’s science fiction genre. Neil Stephenson stands atop the tallest stalk I refer to as ‘hard science fiction.’ Atop the beanstalk of fantasy resides the elusive B. Catling, sitting in stoic repose. And lastly, atop the beanstalk of magical realism, beckons the largest giant of all—Haruki Murakami.

moon4Think you can climb the highest beanstalk? Go ahead, limber up the legs of your science bound brain and prepare the ascent of Neil Stephenson’s SevenEves. I determine that SevenEves belongs in the ‘hard science fiction’ subgenre, because of Stephenson’s ability to convince his reader that every single thing happening within this epic is entirely possible and could happen in the real world…well, if some mysterious force were to destroy the moon and the subsequent fallout of moonrocks threatened the complete annihilation of humanity. SevenEves is steeped in physics and engineering lessons. For the first few weeks I was getting into this novel, I relentlessly dreamed (or in some cases had nightmares) that I was haphazardly floating around on the International Space Station trying figure out how to do things like pour dangerous chemicals into beakers in Zero-G to save the human race.

Seveneves_Book_CoverI recommend SevenEves to hard science fiction enthusiasts because Stephenson has mastered his form in this novel in a way that is so immersive and science-y that it would make Michael Crichton blush. Climb aboard if you have the time to devote to this novel, because it is exceedingly dense—but if you are fit to the task you will be directly portal’d to a different time and place that is much more titillating than the real world.

(Also, please, please PLEASE! Will someone read this one? After having finished it I crave, no, I NEED, to have someone to talk to concerning SevenEves. After the end I’ve been gasping for further pontification. For instance: I want to tell you that [if I were a character in this epic] I would be a Neolander (Red) Aidan Beta that retreated to Beringia in order to re-seed Terra Firma with gen-mod grapes [that haven’t been robbed of sweetness by epigenessis] and make new Earth’s first wine vineyard…and protect the whole shindig from those barbaric diggers and dastardly blue Teclans with the crack of my nano-bot composite bull whip.)

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The newest stalk, the stalk of fantasy is one climbed only by the most adventuring escapists. This beanstalk is comprised of B. Catling’s first and only published work: The Vorrh. Six or seven plots within The Vorrh revolve and twist around each other. The deadfall switching of narrative voicing and character arcs keeps readers 9781101873786_custom-a1fc95829af43f8bd45cc87a903b4e69253ea0e5-s400-c85on their toes. This mechanic forces the reader to keep guessing what lies at the center of the mystical Vorrh, which is a place hidden in the most remote reaches of Africa where ‘gods walk’ and is even referred to by some as a ‘garden of Eden.’ If the fantasy beanstalk is the one you want to surmount, prepare yourself for The Vorrh and expect to enter the minds of an indigenous tribesman/assassin wielding a talisman-enchanted post WWI rifle, of a lusty Cyclops raised by robots and imprisoned in a mysterious basement, and lastly prepare yourself to visit The Vorrh, being a composite of captured beauty that will send your heart racing and captured terror that will keep your heart skipping.

61S4qiYiwTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The last bean I offer you will actually split into two parallel stalks. So, climb one, climb the other, or if you are an exceptionally strong escape artist—Ironman your way up the middle of both at the same time. The legendary king, master of the magical realists’ universe stands at the top, straddling both stalks with his style and enormous narrative gait. He is no other than Haruki Murakami, and the stalks are respectively Kafka on the Shore and IQ84.

So, being the astute Murakami fanboy I seem to be, I gotta tell you these books will blow your mind so bad that you’ll be scraping brains from your wallpaper for weeks. Both are set in real world Japan, and begin tragically trapped by a serendipitous sense of realism, but as the novels evolve, Japanese 1q84jpg-a30943ff751f88f9mysticism will rise up from the darkest cracks of unexplored Tokyo and entrance you with plot arcs that will leave your jaw dangling with a loss for words.

If ultra-femenist, ice-pick wielding, super assassins and powerful, corrupt cults are your type of thing, pick up IQ84. If coming of age stories, libraries, shadow walking, leeches raining from the heavens, and a cast of talking cats are more your thing, pick up Kafka on the Shore.

Don’t feel trapped by mediocrity my friend. Thousands of alternate realities await you on the shelves of Lemuria if none of these beanstalks fit your escapist ambitions. Drop by, grab a Lemurian and demand that they help you escape reality.

But, ask for me if any of these magic beans have particularly sparked your curiosity. I’m eager to set you on a steadfast route out of your cubicle. Godspeed, my escape artist comrades!

Cline the Conqueror

Ernest Cline is one of many riding the wave after the dam broke open on nerd culture in America; and he is riding it higher than almost anyone. He is currently sitting near the top- not because he tried to blend his particular tastes into a mainstream-friendly book with a few cultural references sprinkled about, but because he unscrewed the top of the salt shaker and drowned us in them. He demands a cursory knowledge of video games, anime, John Hughes movies, Rush songs, Call of Duty, Star Wars and arguing with strangers on message boards. The more you know about any of these, the more easter eggs and snarky jokes you will get (and he gives more than you will see in a one hundred different books).

JacketArmada was a real pleasure to read. It explods off the launch pad into a blazing fast novel of space ship battles with some really heart-felt moments. Cline makes no effort to hide where this book is headed from page one: we’re about to fight some filthy squids in space. Ernest Cline will be (and is) the first one to let us know that he, more than most, understands that this trope to be all too familiar. But if it is so familiar to us all, maybe there is a reason for that. Maybe all this violence in video games does rub off on us. Maybe we should be hoping that it does.  (No spoilers, so I can’t explain why)

I think this second effort by Ernest Cline has a few weak spots, but the straight-as-an-arrow plotline is forgotten as soon as you step into the first space ship. All of the sarcasm and witty dialogue that got our attention in Ready Player One (Cline’s first novel) is front and center here. The nerd culture explosion of movies, games, and music will be there as only Ernest Cline can deliver. 

giphyThis swell in the popularity of fan-based culture can be attributed to a lot of different things, the internet being at the top of this list, but there is another reason. People finally realized that the kids spending hundreds of dollars to create a cosplay of that one alien in the background of that one scene in Star Trek are the same people that will empty their bank accounts into new, exciting content. Spend some money on this crowd and they will spend money on you. This has lead to a huge expansion in the attention big studios are giving nerd-centered projects that reward the big-budget glossy paint job so well.

Ernest Clines’ first book Ready Player One is now in the very capable hands of Mr. Steven Spielberg. If the release of this movie is as big as I think it is going to be, then Ernest Clines’ spot on the throne of contemporary nerd-hood will be set until someone sees fit to challenge him (via a head to head game of Joust probably).

Jupiter Ascending: The best action film you can imagine? NOPE

Jupiter Ascending: The best action film you can imagine? NOPE

One thing I know, and I know it well: we nerds are a fickle bunch. We don’t want to be tricked with special effects to patch up a weak plot (I’m looking at you, Jupiter Rising) and we will scream at the top of our caps lock keys to let everyone know about it. Lord help he who leaves a plot hole; in other words, don’t mess with time travel- it usually won’t work out well for you. Green screens look like green screens, period. Cameos are fun, but like special effects, you can’t just substitute Stan Lee making a pun in place of a little character development. Do I need to mention that we are an impatient bunch? Just ask George Martin (or Rothfuss or Lucas or Tool for that matter). If you follow these complicated, difficult rules then you still might fail and we will offer no sympathy for 10 years. After 10 years you will get invited to a couple comic cons and become a “cult classic.” For those that walk through the flame of the message boards and battle the mighty comic-con panels your reward shall be fans as far as the eye can see.

y9uuetrI hope you find this new swing in pop culture as exciting as I do. Come celebrate this nerd pride with us tonight at 5:00 in our .dot.com building and meet Ernest Cline himself. We’ll be the ones in the corner selling copies of Armada, Ready Player One, awesome merch, and quoting The Breakfast Club or arguing with you about the over use of the eagles in The Lord of the Rings. We would love to nerd out with you.

Alex + Ada = ?

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If you’ve missed it, comic books have grown up over the last decade. It’s no longer the world of caped crusaders and villains with daddy issues. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good arch nemesis like the next guy, but more and more I find myself turning to comic books for the same thing I find in a novel. But with pictures.

Alex+Ada_1_1-525x364The landscape of Alex + Ada is a familiar trope. It’s the future and artificial intelligence has been achieved but with disastrous results. The robots rebelled (eg iRobot, Bladerunner, Battlestar Galactica etc.) and are now, for safety’s sake, reduced to the I.Q.s of a fancy toaster.

Alex, a single man in his late-twenties/early thirties faces everything we all do when single at that age–nervous family members. In order to assuage his loneliness, Alex’s grandmother buys him a companion-bot for his birthday–a woman with Prime Intelligence who can keep him company. Ada is a few crayons short of a box; she looks human enough, but is unable to make any original decisions.

But Prime Intelligence robots can be jailbroken.

Alex+Ada_1_3-525x335The story jack-knifes into a world of hackers and government officials. Of unlikely romance. Of insatiable sci-fi drama. What at first seems to be a predictable story is anything but.

Alex + Ada is a wonderful romp into a not-too-distant future that is uncannily familiar and questions what makes us human.

 

[Vol. 2 is now a available!] 

 

 

 

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