With last Friday consumed with the Kindle upload of Suspended Bridges, this week’s Round-up is actually for the previous 14 days. The upload went well, and while this new collection isn’t sci-fi or horror or any of my other tangents of weirdness, I’m pleased it is now up and I can move on to another project. The next item on my agenda is publishing The House on Lake Tacit, which is a large lit novel. I know, I know, this doesn’t fit into the Poets of the Dead Society theme, but this falls into the category of “anything else I feel like talking about.” So, with that announcement out of the way, here’s what I read and watched since we last communicated:
Legend of the Dawn (2012) JR Wright
And yes, I know, I really do know, this doesn’t fit the theme either. But I feel it is a good idea to read out of genre. It works as a mental palette cleanser, for me anyway. And this pre-Western (I consider anything with a setting prior to 1870 an anteWestern) definitely cleared the mind of mutants, aliens, demons, and all the other unfriendlies I typically read. Wright’s novel reads a bit like a McMurtry, not a Lonesome Dove McMurtry, more like Streets of Laredo. Wright does have McMurtry’s propensity of killing off characters, and doing so suddenly and brutally. No character is safe from the harsh life in the upper-Mississippi river frontier of the 1840’s. A fun, quick read, and just what I needed.
West of Paradise (2014) Marcy Hatch
Since this is a time travel novel it does fit into the sci-fi theme. I have this strange thing going on with random connections. I will admit to not reading blurbs (I hate writing them, hence I dislike reading them), so the plot and setting of my reading material is always a first-page mystery. Here we have people going back in time, to the old-West of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1881 to be specific (though Tombstone makes an appearance later). I enjoyed this foray into the West, with the requisite bank/train robbers, bounty hunters, U.S. marshals, and other assorted L’Amour-esque characters. Male lead character Jack is a time traveler who decided to stay in the West and become a bounty hunter, chasing a femme fatale who shot him when he foiled a train heist. Female lead Katherine, another time traveler (five years after Jack), just happens to look exactly like the dastardly Alanna McCleod, the shooter Jack has been searching for. Ah, so we can see how this complicates matters when Jack sees Katherine. Enjoyable, with diverse settings, including 1880’s Boston, and plenty of old-West flavor. While this isn’t going to rock the world of a sci-fi purist (or probably a traditional Western lover), it is light, with the obligatory romance, and the mandatory comeuppance of the evil-doers. Hatch has set it up for a sequel, though, to my knowledge, that has yet to be published.
Children of the After: Awakening (2013) Jeremy Laszlo
And now, back to the regularly scheduled post-apoc mayhem. Awakening is book one of Laszlo’s 4 book series about three siblings trying to survive in a devastated world. Jack, Samantha, and Will have been isolated in a vault for months and have no idea what has befallen the world. When lack of food forces them to emerge from their sanctuary, they find their home town of Chicago has been torched and deserted. Having no idea what has happened, they set out to find answers. The story is a bit slow, but the destroyed world is vividly depicted. The three lead characters are well-drawn, and Laszlo spends a substantial amount of time in his characters’ heads, letting each tell a part of the story. The psychological elements of young people trying to cope with a world in ruins are well done, and most importantly they are believable. The bond between the three siblings is also the glue which holds this story together. I cared for each of them, and didn’t want to see them come to harm. After reading the aforementioned Legend of the Dawn, I had fears of arbitrary character-killings. This is a good story, and I can understand why it has over 700 reviews. It’s also free, which does help, but I’ve read enough freebies to know that free isn’t going to get you 700+ reviews. Only a well-written story can do that.
Unnamed Novel by Unnamed Author
Knowing firsthand how much work goes into writing a novel, and how hard it is to get any exposure for said novel, has I read I try to find something good or worthwhile in everything, especially those indie-toilers with limited resources. However, every once in a while, something comes across my Kindle which is so bad I cannot find even the smallest piece to redeem it. I won’t name the novel or the author, as it serves no purpose other than to open a can of electrified worms better left buried in the bayou. Let’s just say this particular sci-fi novel had bad characters, a rehashed Borg-like plot, and enough stupidity to make James Rollins look like a potential Pulitzer winner. Writing a novel isn’t easy, but sometimes reading one can be even more difficult.
Okay, there’s the reading selections for the past two weeks. As I’ve said before, with the arrival of spring my reading time has been curtailed. I have watched a couple of new (and old) things recently. Here’s a brief rundown:
In the Heart of the Sea
I’d say a giant man-hating mutant whale fits the Poets theme. I enjoyed this Moby-Dick background tale. I might even reread Melville’s overly-long novel, or perhaps re-watch the Gregory Peck film. I do need to have a good revisit with the Patrick Stewart version, because it is always good to see a non-Picard, non-Shakespearean Stewart doing his commanding thing. But this new version of the misanthropic cetacean is pretty good. Chris Hemsworth is his squinty-eyed, rock-chinned self, and Cillian Murphy continues his career of Judson Scott lookalike. Entertaining, hey I enjoy being entertained, what can I say? And I might just read Nathaniel Philbrick’s book about Essex.
Carrying on my randomness, prior to In the Heart of the Sea, I’d no memory of seeing Cillian Murphy in anything (though after an IMDB search, I had seen him in 28 Days Later, granted that was over a decade ago and back when I was in a less than focused mental state). So, by the luck of whatever DVD was sitting on top of the stack, I watched back-to-back Murphy movies. Strange how this works, because the same thing happened with Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek being the other one). Inception has a great premise, which of course brought up memories of Brainstorm and the semi-truck off the cliff scene. But I digress (which will be the title of my never-to-be-written autobiography). Who wouldn’t want to be able to play an active part of his/her own dreams, or even run-amuck in other peoples’ dreams? At times confusing, like most dreams, and like certain other Christopher Nolan films, I still liked the movie. I decided not to try to make sense of everything, because any attempt to do so, would either make me feel an idiot or a psychopath. Dreams are dreams, and Inception is Nolan, ‘nuff said.
Since Inception got me in a throwback mood, what better movie to revisit than this classic? Love this flick, even thirty-plus years later. And yes there are more detail plot holes than a Dan Brown novel, but I don’t care. I don’t care how cheesy the special effects are, like the HK-Arial jerking itself around, or the Bass-Rankin stop-action of the 800 series endoskeleton, or the fact that somehow not one, but two!!! AMC Gremlins make an appearance. Watching a film like this can almost make me think I’m 13 again, and briefly forget I’m closer to 50 than 30. A ground breaking film, and while not perfect, it’ll always be close enough for me.
Well that’s enough for this week. Next time look for a few thoughts on iZombie and Ascension. Along with whatever I happen to read and watch in the next few days.
Cheers folks, have an awesome weekend