Bleh with Barry

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Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi/Fantasy’ Category

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past Opens tomorrow, and guess who’s excited? I freely admit that I let my nerd flag wave when it comes to the X-Men. They are my favorite. Here, you see the shirt that I will be wearing when I watch it tomorrow night. Look forward to my post on the movie soon. 🙂

Till then.

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Written by barryr22

May 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Sunday, I was having a conversation with friends about the recent collecting of X-Men costumes from DOFP into the Smithsonian. We were contemplating why they would do this even before the movie had been released. The conclusion I came to was that this comic arc is one of the most famous within the X-Men franchise both on film and in the comics, especially. While the decision to put them in this prestigious museum seems a little strange, I think that it makes sense in this way. However, this collecting does not keep me from being a little apprehensive about the upcoming film and wondering what the theater will hold for me as I watch the film Friday.

The Good:

Bryan Singer coming back to direct the film leaves me with hope that he will be kind to the comic book mythos and the dynamic of the team as he aptly showed in X2.

The Days of Future Past story arc also makes me hopeful because it is so compelling that it seems like it would be very difficult to mess up.

The Magnetos and Xaviers are wonderful all the way around. I love Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender. All are extremely talented and bring it when it comes to these characters.

Peter Dinklage gives us the potential for a compelling villain as his acting on Game of Thrones and other movies / television show us. He is great and hopefully will bring something to the character of Trask, instead of being the flat character we have seen in previous movies (yes, Trask has been there but not in a prominent way).

The Apprehensions:

Large casts scare the crap out of me. While Singer has been shown to handle expansive amounts of people before, I walk into any large ensemble movie with a hint of skepticism and preparedness.

Certain cast members have never done anything for me, and they are being brought back into this one… Yes, I’m looking at Storm and Rogue, whom I love mind you, but the performances from Berry and Paquin leave much to be desired. Yeah…

The Wolverine-centric nature that the narrative is seeming to follow. I understand that they have to have a character that can span time as Kitty Pride did in the original (long story about the actual DOFP story arc), but as most of you know, I’ve never been a fan of Wolverine because his character just seems flat to me as far what he is. I find him to be one of the least interesting characters within their world. As such, I always cringe a little when he is the focal character… Although, I do really love Jackman as the character.

My final worry is that this will be a setup movie purely for X-Men: Apocalypse. While I have been wanting them to bring Apocalypse into the franchise for a while (and hopefully Mr. Sinister as well because yeah… *fanboy squee here*), I don’t want them to shortchange this story to build toward the next. If they do, I will be sad.

Overall, I hope that the movie does great because I always want everything that involves these my favorite comic book characters to do well. I am holding out hope that this will capture both the energy of the First Class franchise while calling us back to the powerful storytelling that the original movie series had for us (apart from X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand which we hope were a collective hallucination that never occurred). Here’s hoping. You’ll all have to tell me what you think about it when you see it. I’ll be sure to let you guys know. 🙂

An Interesting Aspect of Patrick Stewart

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So I’m posting this because I was on IMDB the other day and found out something really interesting / fun about my favorite starship captain Patrick Stewart. While reading the trivia about him, I discovered that he “Is a self-confessed huge Reba McEntire fan” (IMDB). Not only was I surprised, but I additionally laughed really hard. However, this laughing was not directed at Stewart per say, but at the fact that those who are objects of fanboy obsession are fanboys themselves in their own right. This makes me respect Stewart that much more because it humanizes him in a way that I believe those that obsess over him can understand (I’m not saying that I obsess over him… I really enjoy him on TNG and American Dad). So with all of this said, I leave you with a video from Reba (and Kelly Clarkson that Stewart might not enjoy… but oh well, I just don’t know).

Written by barryr22

August 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm

[Guest Post] Literary Worth in Genre Fiction

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Today’s blogpost comes to us from B. J. Keeton, who writes adamantly on his blog professorbeej.com and continues to work on his fantasy / science fiction and steampunk series. By day, he is a mild-mannered college professor in Tennessee, and at night when the world isn’t watching, he tweets, writes and many other things…which I know a lot of you also do. Now, let’s lend our ears and support as he tells you all a little more about his awesome series that he’s about to publish (with our help of course). So without further ado, Mr. Keeton. 

Cover art by Falon Yates

As an English major in college, I was taught how to read and appreciate literature. I was taught how to recognize.  literary worth–how narrative pacing and structure, character development, and thematic depth all added up to make a text great.

As an English teacher, I try to do the same for my students. I want them to be able to get as much from literature as possible.

As an author, however, I can’t help but find the idea of so-called literary worth a little overwhelming. In a move totally and completely unlike James Joyce, I did not set out to write something great.

I wrote Birthright because I wanted to tell a good story. A fun little sci-fi/fantasy story that people would want to read.

And if folks find literary worth in it, all the better!

But what I find interesting is that as I’ve done this blog tour to promote the Birthright Kickstarter, I’ve begun noticing a few things I didn’t intend to notice. I started thinking about themes and deeper issues present in the novel, and I have to admit that I surprised myself.

I mean, Birthright is genre fiction. There’s no doubt about it. There are laser guns, technomages, fiery swords, hyperspace travel, and ten-thousand-year-old former gods.

Ulysses, this is not.

So why then, in my guest post for BioBreak, did I end the article like this?

I want to explore the real-world implications of [humanity playing the roles of gods, and] not just [through] the creation of artificial intelligence like in I, Robot or virtual reality like in Neuromancer, but full-on synthetic universes made of real-as-you-and-me organic matter. I want to explore the question that when the very foundation of your reality is both [natural] and created, is there even a distinction anymore?

Genre fiction isn’t supposed to be that heavy, is it? I mean, I didn’t set out to write a SF/F trilogy that dealt with humanity grasping at divinity. Yet I somehow managed to.

According to an editor I worked with earlier in the year, though, that’s exactly what good genre fiction does. She said that “SF is at its best when it tilts and expands” the reader’s worldview and understanding.

I would add something to that, though. In addition to tilting and expanding, it must also be interesting and engaging. In genre fiction, storytelling is paramount. All the worldview tilting and expanding the writer can muster is for naught if the story is lackluster.

And I think that’s where Birthright shines. Because as an author, I put the story first.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Birthright is great (though it is pretty darn good, if you ask me), and I’m not saying it will ever be a literary classic. What I am saying, though, is that it’s a prime example of how genre fiction can tell a good, fun story without the overbearing weight of literary worth hanging over its head like the Sword of Damocles.

And to me, that’s what makes genre fiction great–not that it must have worth, but that it can.

B.J. Keeton is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Birthright, the first book in The Technomage Archive series. He is is a writer, blogger, and teacher. When he isn’t trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he writes science fiction, watches an obscene amount of genre television, and is always on the lookout for new ways to integrate pop culture into the classroom. B.J. lives in a small town in Tennessee with his wife and a neighborhood of stray cats, and he blogs about pop culture, geek media, and awesomeness at www.professorbeej.com.

Written by barryr22

July 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

“The Hobbit” Trailer Out… It Makes me Wants It Now… The Precious

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As the title of this post suggests, I am excited about the arrival of “The Hobbit” this December 14th. I’m sure that I will find myself at some midnight showing or other wherein I will be drawn into Peter Jackson’s version of  J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth once again. Although this trailer is only two and a half minutes long, there are a couple of portions that give me goosebumps of excitement as I listen and watch them. I hope you will find similar moments too.

From the dwarves’ singing to Gollum asking what a Baggins is, I feel like Jackson is going to do justice with these films much as he did with the LOTR franchise. I anxiously await this movie to see the world of the Hobbits come alive again on the big screen.

Written by barryr22

June 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

True Blood Season 5: Hopes and Thoughts about What is Yet to Be

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I usually create one of these posts before the premiere of HBO’s True Blood, and I figure that this year should not be any different than others. I love the Southern Vampire Mysteries and the subsequent television show, which makes me speculate about what might or might not happen. I link you to my “True Blood Post-Mortem of Season 4” to catch you up on my thoughts about the last season. So without further ado, I give you my thoughts and hopes about season 5 (*SPOILERS* from this point on).

1) Tara’s Death– Honestly, Tara has lost favor with me from the first season version of her, and if you’ve kept up with the seasons till now, you know that she filled Eric’s place getting blasted by Debbie Pelt. At the end, Sookie sat holding her dying body and screaming for someone. While they are leading the audience to believe that she’s dead (and personally, it wouldn’t bother me if she was), I don’t think that they’ll actually kill her. I’m more inclined to believe that either shaman Lafayette or one of Sookie’s vampire beaus will save her before she actually fades to black. Do I really care with what happens with her after this? Not really. . .however, I feel that things will still be happening.

2) The Authority coming into the picture– At the end of last season, Nan Flanagan found herself fired for the witch debacle and wanted to enlist Bill and Eric to help her fight against them. However, they killed her and her constituents without a second thought. Still, from the previews and promo videos, it appears that we will meet the Authority in the form of Christopher Meloni, Christopher Heyerdahl, and others. I’m kind of excited to see them since they have been a main focus surrounding the ruling parties of vampires in the series. Vampire hierarchy in novels, television shows, etc. is always something that intrigues me.

3) Werewolf Stuff– As anyone reading this will know, book 5 Dead as a Doornail deals a lot with shapeshifters and werewolves. In my opinion, I think that some of this stuff will come to pass because Alcide is set up to become the new leader of the were pack of Shreveport. I’m a fan of Alcide, but with the emphasis on the vampires, I think that this will become a footnote plot point… yeah…

4) Sam and Luna– This story line should be the most stable in the long run to me. However, I feel like some unpleasantness is going to occur thanks to Marcus’s death… Yeah… I love Janina Gavankar too… So it helps that this story involves her.

5) Eric and Pam’s relationship– From one of the promo videos, I worried about this aspect of the show the most simply because Eric was blaming Pam for unearthing Russell Edgington (which I will get to in a second). Their relationship was on the rocks at the end of the last episode of season 5, but I figured that this would be worked out pretty quickly, yet this turn of events has me thinking that Pam, my favorite character if you don’t know, might die… I’ve said it many times before, but if Pam dies, I will quit watching the show… Yeah.

6) Russell Edgington arises– This might be the favorite thing to happen at the end of the last season. Russell was unearthed, but we don’t know by whom (hence the Pam thing in the promos). With Dennis O’Hare as the delightfully demented vampire of 3000, I’m excited to see him return, which will allow the character to grow yet again. It will be awesome!!!! AWESOME!!!!

7) Off-Bookedness– What excites me and scares me the most about this season deals with the fact that they are going to be almost, if not completely, off book. While it’s been a while since I read the fifth book, I’ve realized since the second season that things are moving away from this canon text. However, I find that this is not necessarily a bad thing. With new thrills and  changes around the bend, I like not being able to see what is coming.

So there you have it, some of the things that I’m excited about for season 5. While I know not all of them will come true, here’s hoping that my radar is right on and at least some of this will happen. If not, I may have to hang these posts up… and frankly, I like talking about vampires, the show, and the books too much to do that. 😉

Review of Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One)

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I recently had a Twitter conversation with author B. J. Keeton (@professorbeej on twitter. . .you should follow him if you don’t) and expressed how hard it is for me to write a review of anything because I feel like I can be a little too critical at times. I also told him that this is the reason why I hadn’t already written a review of his and Austin King’s Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One), and honestly, this is true. I have started and stopped writing my review several times, and each time, I have thought that I might be being a bit too hypercritical. However, as I have let the thoughts sit, I know that I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading it, and although the first part isn’t perfect, I really enjoyed it. Now, I’m going to tell you why as briefly, succinctly, and honestly as possible.

First the novel’s blurb:

NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL (PART ONE) is the first volume of a serialized steampunk fantasy novel that started as an experiment and came out of the authors’ desire to do something new and interesting with ebook technology, while also dealing with a wide variety of narrative goodies–from airships to demon possession.

The story of NIMBUS: A STEAMPUNK NOVEL follows Jude Finley, a new recruit aboard the Gangly Dirigible, an airship that extracts water from rainclouds. Having only lived above the Skyline for a year, Jude is still getting used to the way things work in the world above the clouds. While working aboard the airship, Jude and his friends uncover a secret which may or may not help them against a growing uprising that could spell doom for everyone on the planet.

Meanwhile, Demetrius Rucca, wheelchair-bound son of a prominent religious leader, begins recruiting followers for his own subversive cause. As allegiances are sworn to him and his followers grow, he begins to discover the new powers that lie within him. This power could be the salvation Demetrius is looking for–or it could be the destruction of the known world. (From Amazon)

About the Authors:

AUSTIN KING has written plays, poems, novels, and short fiction, but he spends most of his time making sure his credentials sound more impressive than they really are.

B.J. KEETON is a writer, blogger, and teacher. When he isn’t trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he writes science fiction, watches an obscene amount of genre television, and is always on the lookout for new ways to integrate pop culture into the classroom. He lives in a small town in Tennessee with his wife and a neighborhood of stray cats. You can find more free fiction by B.J. Keeton at http://www.professorbeej.com. (Amazon as well)

Both of these guys are awesome as well!

The Good

The characters– Both Jude Finley and Demetrius Rucca are fully fleshed out characters that I find to be completely believable. While both characters are interesting in their own right, Jude takes up the mantle of our main hero as he manages his life aboard the Gangly Dirigible and is confronted by increasingly difficult situations up until his cliffhanger. Rucca (as he is referred to throughout the novel) lives the life of a highborn crippled man, and it becomes obvious quickly that this has affected him as he literally takes to the skies to rid himself of his existence. Moreover, each has another hidden layer that surfaces as the story continues. . .

The story– It’s original and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but moreover, it puts a new spin on the steampunk genre, which can be dry for me at times. From the beginning, the readers are shown the importance of water and how difficult it is to gather in turn through Jude’s story. With Rucca, we are brought into the problems of someone stuck in his own skin, feeling the limitations and hoping to be able to bypass them somehow. And. . .AND it has demon possession which will serve as a huge plot device within the remaining parts. . .I find this to be really awesome.

The Concept of Serialization–They’re releasing the novel in four parts on Amazon, but they’re also releasing it chapter by chapter on Keeton’s blog professorbeej.com. I’ve oftentimes thought of how interesting it would be to read something serially, like the Victorians once did (and others… I know that too). This indulges my fancy and allows me to see how it would function. Also, I think that this is a brilliant way to build suspense, especially with the overall strength of the writing. It makes the overall premise great.

The Not So Good

Imbalance with alternating plots early on– While the writing and the story were really, really strong overall, I found myself at times feeling like the alternating chapters between Jude and Rucca’s points of view were a bit uneven in terms of their overall pacing and interest level. This occurs mainly toward the beginning and slowly begins to work itself out as both plot lines amp up in terms of action. Give it the first few chapters, and I assure you that you will be drawn in (that’s why I make this point).

Awkward phrasing at points– Although this doesn’t happen that often, there were a few times in this section of the novel that I was left scratching my head at the connection of ideas in a sentence or at just the structure of a sentence. For example, at one point there is discussion about a character that has been damaged by the fog: “His fingers, hands, and arms were also damaged. Muscle tissue and, like the spot on his right hand, even bone showed through.” I understand what was meant to be said here within the context of the larger scene; however, it took me reading this passage a few times to get the exact meaning. These types of issues occurred very infrequently, which shows you that the copy editing / proofreading was done with great care and attention to detail.

Overall— 4 of 5 Stars

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is provocative, the concept is interesting, and the characters, especially the main ones, are well written. I enjoyed it thoroughly and anxiously await the second part to know what happened to both our hero and the budding villain. Honestly, it is pretty fantastic for only 2.99 at the Amazon Kindle Store. Go out and get it today!