Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Review: Lost Souls

Introduction
Lost Souls is the fourth book in

image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu
image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series and takes places two years after Dead and Alive. Unaware of the existence of Victor’s clone Carson and Michael married, moved to San Francisco and had a daughter named Scout.

They work as private investigators and had forgotten all about Victor Frankenstein until Deucalion has a hunch that Victor is still alive and seeks them out to finish what they started in New Orleans.

Now that they are parents Michael and Carson are reluctant to help him until he convinces them to join him.

In the two years since Victor’s clone was released he has taken the name Victor Leben , alias Victor Immaculate, and set up shop in the small town of Rainbow Falls, Montana where he plans to take over the town and use it as a strong hold for his larger campaign of wiping out all humans.

The Good
This time around Victor’s goal is more brutal than just enslaving all of human via his creations and really drives home how demented he is for his omnicidal mission. I also liked the introduction of the nano brain probe that rendered people completely docile and also the introduction of builders who are every bit as scary as they are beautiful.

I was surprised to see Erika Five, who has taken the last name Swedenborg, and Jocko make appearances in this book, but overall they are a welcome addition to the cast of characters.

The Bad
While I liked this book overall I did have issues with it. First after the events of Dead and Alive I couldn’t help feeling this book was a little on the anticlimactic side. Also I wasn’t a big fan of Nummy and Mr. Lyss’s story line at all. It could have been omitted entirely and you wouldn’t notice it.

I get that Nummy is supposed to extremely mentally challenged but he was just too dumb to live and I felt myself sympathizing with Mr. Lyss over his frustrations with Nummy.

Second, I didn’t particularly think the addition of Agent Frost and Dagget from the FBI added anything to the story line except for filling pages. Sure they know something isn’t right in Rainbow Falls but they have zero clue as to the true nature of the problem and are more likely to hinder Carson and Michael than to help them.

The Verdict
Overall if you’ve like the series so far then checkout this one.

A Love Letter to Sci-Fi&Fantasy

image by wemedge via sxc.hu
image by wemedge via sxc.hu

The “Star” Wars

So tell me which do you prefer and why? Stark Trek or Star Wars? Having watched both the original trilogy and the sequels I was not impressed with Lucas’s work. While enjoyable if you grew up on a steady diet of kung fu movies, and anime where the characters can wipe out entire galaxies with one attack, Jedis are weak sauce.

Moreover all Lucas did was rip off Asian mysticism and the larger culture. The Jedi are just Samurais, the Sith are ninjas, and the Force is a rehash of the concept of chi/ki. Love Yoda while I do, dude is a straight rip off of every wizen kung fu master ever.

And the conflict with the evil empire is nothing but Feudal Japan set in space. I do give Lucas credit where it’s due for creating a fun and engaging universe, but I don’t get what others find so special about it.

I always found Star Trek to be the superior franchise, save the original series which I couldn’t stomach because of its campiness and Shatner’s hammy acting, but I respect what Roddenberry was able to do with the series re: diversity and civil rights.

Prophets of Sci-Fi
One of the things I love about science fiction is the exploration it allows for. Thanks to authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Sir Cannon Doyle, Asimov, Heinlein and others much of the technology we have today exists because they dreamed it up. The internet wouldn’t exist if Clarke hadn’t proposed and then help design geostationary satellites. It was Orwell that dreamed up CCTV and the concept of the modern surveillance state in 1948.

While we still don’t have hover cars or light sabers, the leaps seen in technology in my life time alone are staggering. We’ve went from commodore 64s to tablet PCs, from the Atari 2600 to the PS4, from cell phones the size of a bread box to those that fit in the palm of your hand, all in less than thirty years.

Not bad all things considered. though it’d be sweet to zip around in a TARDIS. Who knows maybe one day a fan will build one like the physicist who designed a theoretical warp drive.

Deeper Questions
While enjoyable, when done well science fiction asks us to explore questions like what does it mean to be alive? What is the nature of reality? How do we live together without wiping each other out? Yeah the technology is cool but it is the exploration of these philosophical questions that keeps me engaged and coming back for more.

The other thing I love about sci-fi is it provides a construct upon which to question social norms and values. Growing up in the 90s the X-men was one of my favorite cartoons, however it wasn’t until I was older I got the subtext of the series. The Mutants were proxies for marginalized groups in our society. While the conflict between Professor X and Magneto represented to two approaches to gaining civil rights: Integration/pacifism and segregation/militarism.
Girl Power
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was another favorite from my childhood. The way Whedon took the metaphor of high school as hell and made it literal, while being witty and irreverent, made my geeky heart swoon.

Buffy, and to larger extent Faith, are exactly the type of girls I love. Strong, independent without being a bitch about it, intelligent, and sexy. And I would be remiss if didn’t mention the fabulous Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenburg.

Excuse me for fan-boying but her character arc was one of the best of all times. Second only to Prince Vegeta’s, in terms of depth and enjoyment. The moment she becomes Dark Willow still takes my breath away to this day.

While the season ended with her being defeated with the power of “wuv,” Whedon gets a pass for his otherwise flawless execution.

Charmed was another guilty pleasure of mine, granted they used the monster of the week formula perfected by Buffy, the thing that differentiated from other shows in the genre was the research that went into the world building while Constance M. Berg was with the show runner.

As someone who studied magic and the larger occult, before settling on being an agnostic atheism, it was nice to see they paid attention to the little things. Like the difference between a hex and a curse, or that spells had to be recited at the proper time to have optimum effect. However Shannen Doherty’s departure started the long decline of the show and by the end it had gone from so bad it’s funny to plain bad.

The show closest in tone and theme since it went off the air is Supernatural. The thing best about the show is the chemistry between the siblings which drives the show. However much like Charmed when Eric Kripke left the show at the end of the fifth season it nose dived into recycling the same plots and villains.

I mean you can only slay so many demons before it gets boring, and if the Winchester boys died one more time only to be brought back I was going to lose it.

One of the best series to this day was First Wave. Sure alien invasion stories had been done before but not set to Nostradamus’ quatrains complimented with the conspiracy theories of protagonist Cade Foster’s side kick “Crazy”Eddie Nabulous.

And of course I can’t forget The X-Files. Beside Star Trek:TNG it was one of the few shows my dad and I watched together. Like the other shows listed in its hey day The-X Files was a joy to watch, when I wasn’t wetting myself in terror.

Conclusions
Though I’ve grown up and work replaces the time spent enjoying shows I haven’t lost my love for science fiction and Fantasy. It just takes more to catch and keep my attention. Like everyone else my attention span has shortened, so memo to the other writers out there: get to the point and make it interesting.

This doesn’t mean you have to create something new. Put a new spin on an old trope and you’re in business. But first and foremost don’t pander to us.

We’re smart enough to know an orc or vampire when see one and for the love of the flying spaghetti monster stop with this paranormal romance crap already.

So what things about Sci-Fi /Fantasy do you love/hate?

I Need a Queero

 

Have you ever read a story and put it down because you couldn’t stand how spineless the protagonists was? I don’t know about you but if the characters never stand up for themselves and constantly play the victim it’s an instant deal breaker for me.

Whenever I write fiction I always try to have strong characters. Now this doesn’t mean they never stumble or go through dark times. No, when they go up against obstacles they grit their teeth, bear down and overcome it. When people read my work I want them to leave inspired and empowered.

So often I read stories or see movies about LGBTQ characters who are just punching bags for the world. They just sit there and take the abuse dished out to them. Just once it’d be nice to see a story where they fought back.

I don’t mean only in the literal sense, because often that’s impossible when you’re being bullied by multiple people. But they can still turn the tables some other way. They could tell their parents or school officials if they’re kids, or contact the police. And if none of those work they could pursue legal action. The point is to be proactive. Do something, anything, but sit there and continue to take it.

I understand that for many people coming up LGBTQ was hard and they still have emotional baggage that bleeds into their work, but the cumulative affect of this is that it tells the younger generation they are worthless and don’t matter. Fuck that shit.

You don’t have to populate your stories with super heroes or Adonises for them to be strong characters. The greatest strength we have is the will to get back up again, no matter how many times life knocks us down. Just give me one character who demonstrates this and I’m happy. Why can’t we have more theses?

Agree or disagree? Leave your comment below.