Friday, December 30, 2011

Sometimes While Dreaming

Marcie Lynn Tentchoff's Sometimes While Dreaming is a poetry collection that explores dreamworlds through fantasy, science fiction, and some horror.  The volume is a delightful one, with some thought-provoking pieces, and numerous amusing ones as well.  I especially enjoyed the recurring images of sea and the use of selkies.  

In Tentchoff's collection, dreamscapes rub up against our world, and much of what is of most interest to me is the space in between the two — which she explores masterfully in Sometimes While Dreaming.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sucker Punch

I watched Sucker Punch on the plane on the way back from Australia earlier this month.  That's not the ideal format for the film, I think, as it looks like something more suited to a bigger screen.  That didn't really matter much, as it's not normally the sort of movie I'd like, being a lot like watching a video game being played out for parts of the action.  I'm not much of a gamer myself, and get especially bored watching others play.  If I have to be involved with a video game, I'd rather be the player.  So, movies that look like video games don't generally appeal to me much.

That said, Sucker Punch had something to its story that I kind of liked.  I really enjoyed the ending, with the realization that came over Baby about what she needed to do to make the story work out.  It made the film more worth watching for me.  And, I did like the story embedded in a story, with yet one more layer embedded in that.  This sort of structure is usually a fun one for me.

I did think the little blurb, however, was a bit overflown, referring to the film as "epic fantasy."  It's more gaming and fantasy, I'd say.  If it had been labeled such, I probably wouldn't have watched it.  But overall, it was a good enough film to pass the time on the long flight.  (Not something I'd want to pay to watch, though.)

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Magazines and Journals

Since I've been back from Shanghai, I've gotten to catch up on some magazines and journals that were delivered to my house in Singapore while I was away.  It's been great — a lot of good reading comes in the mail when I am gone for three months!

I've gotten to catch up on Scifaikuest (Aug 2011 — Nov should be coming soon), Illumen (Autumn 2011), Sounds of the Night, Star*Line, Psychic Meatloaf, Aofie's Kiss, and Beyond Centauri.  I'm starting on some back issues now.

I really miss these 'zines while I am away.  I think I might have to stock up on some back issues to take with me on my next 3-month stint.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Defenders, Philip K. Dick

I picked up a free copy of The Defenders for my Kindle.  I am really glad the book is offered in this format, and that I got my hands on it and got to read the story.

The Defenders is a thought-provoking piece about the human-robot and human-human (interracial, international, etc.) relationships.  It's got a classic sci-fi  feel to it, with themes that are common in the genre.  But, as always, Dick's writing is what is special.  He is masterful.

If you have a Kindle, this is a good free piece to pick up.  I enjoyed it, and can recommend it wholeheartedly.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Place of the Lion

The Place of the Lion, by Charles Williams, is one wild ride of a book.  It's heady stuff, addressing ideas of classical philosophy in a fantastic setting.

I have read several Charles Williams novels over the years (and hope to finish the rest that I have on my shelf before much longer).  He's always fairly heavy in the ideas department.  The Place of the Lion is all about Ideas, too — in the Platonic sense.  It made for quite an engaging read, as Williams puts the stories together well.

I am not sure if it is just because of my preconceived ideas about Williams (and his work on Authurian romance), but I'm always struck by an element of romance in his fiction.  This is especially true of The Place of the Lion, and it makes for quite an uplifting (and challenging) read.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It's unbelievable to me that in all of my reading/viewing from October, I didn't get to read/view a single work of sci-fi or fantasy.  That's a rare occurrence for me.

I did get a few big projects wrapped up.  And I've been overloaded with "the real world" for weeks now.  I am ready to get into some real out-of-this-worldly writing and movies.  I hope to be back on track with reviews of speculative fiction, poetry, and movies in the upcoming weeks.

...'cos it's kinda scary in "the real world"!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Library Thing

I just came across Library Thing recently when I found that one of my books was listed there.  I don't know yet how much I will like it in the long run, but for now, it seems like a really nice website.  Think of it as social networking that is all about books.  In that sense, it is the only sort of social networking that really appeals to me at all!

You can check out my Library Thing profile here, and while you're there, see if it's someplace you'd like to join too.

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Friday, September 30, 2011


I recently finished reading Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, one of the titles on my Fill in the Gaps list.  It took me a little longer to get into the book than I expected, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.  It was a fun read overall, though the beginning didn't suck me in quite like I expected it to do.

The writing is good, the story is a fun one, and it is well set into a specific tradition (fantasy world for bibliophiles).  The main character, Meggie, becomes a little more lovable over the course of the read, though she didn't grab me right away.  Having finished the book, Fenoglio, Farid, and Dustfinger actually remain my favorite characters, and perhaps Elinor.

I have not seen the movie, and been told by several people that I would not like it as much as you normally would expect me to like a fantasy/bibliophile movie.  I guess that is part of why I didn't run out to see it, and part of why it took me so long to get around to reading the book.  I am glad I read it, even though I'm not exactly running out to buy the next book in the series.  Not that it was bad, just that it I'm satisfied with this one.

I did think there were some fairly interesting parts, and that it probes into some fun concepts for exploration.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I received this announcement from Apex Books recently, and thought I'd pass the word along to other science fiction/fantasy readers here:

APEXOLOGY:Science Fiction and Fantasy
1. The study of literature-based artifacts left by the authors and editors of Apex Publications, particularly of science fiction and fantastical nature
2. An anthology of science fiction and fantasy containing mind-bending, entertaining ideas.
Contained within are eighteen stories to showcase the unique talents that Apex has published and employed in the past six years. Apexology: Science Fiction and Fantasy contains work from award winners, legends, and New York Time bestsellers.
Apexology: Science Fiction and Fantasy is available now in ePub, Mobi (i.e. Kindle) and PDF formats for one low price at!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Voices of the Elders

My third poetry collection is due out in February 2012 from Sam's Dot Publishing.  Entitled Voices of the Elders, it is the second in the series that began with Under the Ash earlier this year.

Both of my earlier poetry collections, Under the Ash and Cyborg Chimera, were also published with Sam's Dot.  You can order them online at the Sam's Dot book store.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Blu-rays

The new Blu-rays of the entire Star Wars saga are coming out soon, with some nice changes/updates to them.

AND... there will be about 40 hours' worth of bonus material!  yipeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

One of Our Thursdays is Missing

I can't remember exactly when I first came across Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, but I do remember that I read it out of order, reading Lost in a Good Book before I came across The Eyre Affair.  I immediately fell in love with the series, and have read every one of the books almost upon their release since I got started on it.

I didn't do a good job keeping up with things over the last few months, though, and only knew of the release of One of Our Thursdays is Missing when a friend (one whom I introduced to the series) pointed it out to me in the library.  We borrowed it and 3 of us made our way through it before the due date.

The first two books in the series are still my favorite (and I really liked his first in what seems to be another series, Shades of Grey), but this one is a good read too.  There are some really funny sections, and I really liked the character Sprockett.  I thought the little commentary on the RealWorld at the end of the book was nicely done too.

Overall, it's hard to beat a good Jasper Fforde read... at least, in my book.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

X-Men: First Class

I just got back from a rather late showing of X-Men:  First Class.  It was not my favorite of the X-Men movies, but that's OK, because I like the X-Men movies a whole lot better than a lot of the other stuff that is out there for viewing.

It was fun to see the beginnings of the Xavier and Magneto characters.  Seeing the development of the various characters and their powers has always been one of the most fun aspects of the X-Men movies.  I liked the character of Charles, and thought Erik interesting.   I didn't quite like seeing the young Mystique because, well, she lost her mystique.  Instead, she was all just teenage angst and insecurities.  Ugh.  I like the full-grown Mystique of the earlier movies.

The very brief appearance by Wolverine was fun, but of course, I missed him greatly in the rest of the movie.  Even so, it was a fun show to catch.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Batman Begins

I caught Batman Begins on TV the other day.  It seems that it's one that I missed when it was in the cinema.  It was not too bad, though I liked The Dark Knight better.  (It was on after Batman Begins, actually, but it was getting late and I didn't want to stay up and watch it again.)  It was, however, better than some of the earlier Batman films that kind of turned me off of the series for a while.  I thought Liam Neeson was a pretty good choice for casting, and enjoyed watching his character.

With Green Lantern and X-Men out this summer, this channel on StarHub is showing a lot of "comic book movies" over the next few weeks.  I don't know if I'll have much time to catch many more of them, but I did enjoy this one.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Super 8

I saw Super 8 today, the first sci-fi movie I've gotten to see in a while.  Funny thing was that, though I liked it, it wasn't so much for the sci-fi elements that I enjoyed it.  I liked the picture it presented of small town USA in the late 70s.  It was fun watching that, getting transported back to my childhood, I guess you could say — well, except for the alien who invaded that small town, of course.

Still, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours this afternoon.  I was pretty amused by it all.  I thought it tapped into something about that time and place in history and, for what it's worth, I think the alien and zombies formed an important part of tapping into it.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bionic Man

Oh wow.  The first bionic man to become so as the result of voluntary amputation.  Amazing stuff!

And, on another note, three new impressive hires for The Hobbit.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Xenia 2011

slivers of you
pieces of me
     imperfectly made
of faces
not clearly seen

Watch for Xenia in Shanghai this summer....

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chinese Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing

I found a site with a nice run-down of the science fiction and fantasy scene in China here.  It's good to see the English-language introduction to the Chinese science fiction scene.  I'm not sure why I've never come across this site before!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

I just got home from a long train trip.  I was thinking during part of the ride on the express rail service about Atlas Shrugged, especially thinking about it from the perspective of science fiction.  When I got home, I searched and found this article on the same topic.  It's a pretty good read, so I thought it worth linking here.

I like the comments there about Rand's own views on sci-fi, and the idea of considering her masterpiece as a work within the genre.  Fun stuff.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011


I recently picked up a cheap DVD of the movie Splice.  It's not amongst the greatest shows I've ever seen, but still, it made for an interesting way to pass an evening, and left me with some things to think about.

The film is that sci-fi/horror mix that seems to work well for provoking some thought, especially when it comes to questions surrounding the ethical issues of contemporary technology.  If you think Frankenstein, you'll not be far off here.   A whole lot of the elements in Splice will bring that old classic to mind — everything from the idea of hubris to the parent-child relationship that develops between a scientist and his/her "creation."  And of course, central to both tales, there's the whole horrible situation of men creating monsters, not only by their tampering with science, but through their not knowing how to properly nurture the beings brought to life.

If you like engaging these kind of issues, you'll probably like Splice.  It's a little cheesy in some parts, and I'm not crazy about the ending, but there's enough there to provoke thought to make it worth the couple of hours it takes to watch.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

A Couple of Short Stories

Over at my China-related blog, Tai Shan, I've recently posted some thoughts on a couple of Chinese sci-fi short stories.  You can take a look at my responses to Yang Ping's "Wizard World" and Han Song's "The Wheel of Samsara."

The two pieces are quite different from one another, but they give you a bit of an idea of the sort of work coming out of China's growing sci-fi scene today. Both stories are available online — links to them can be found at the posts linked above.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tomorrow When the War Began

While not exactly the sort of speculative book that I usually review here, John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began does address a sort of interesting "what if" question that somehow mirrors the possibilities for what the world could become in the foreseeable future, even as it reflects on the hard questions that we should be asking ourselves today.

Set in Australia, the tale of the teenagers who find themselves in very unexpected, very unpleasant circumstances after a week camping in the bush is one that is pretty engaging.  The characters are, for the most part, fairly believable young adults.  There were places here and there where I thought the young female narrator didn't quite sound like a girl of her age, but it wasn't as troubling as it is in some books.  Instead, it made me feel that she was an extraordinary girl — or, more appropriately, a pretty normal girl who rose to the challenges of the extraordinary circumstances in which she found herself.

The book is pretty much a page-turner.  I read through it much more quickly than I expected too, and found myself thinking about it when I had to put it down and go to attend to real life.  I liked the way some hard questions were addressed by Ellie.  The narrative style drew me in almost from the beginning.

It's easy to see why Tomorrow When the War Began won so many awards over the years.  I've not read any of the subsequent books in the series, but it seems they have garnered their share of recognition too.  Makes me think it's probably worth picking them up as well, when I see them.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ChemICKal Reactions

Karen L. Newman is a chemist and a poet.  In her poetry, she specializes in the writing of horror poetry.  ChemICKal Reactions brings these two roles together, presenting a whole alphabet of chemistry gone wrong.

The poems are fun to read through.  I found myself smiling at the gruesomeness of some of the possibilities presented, and cringing at others.  To get both reactions within a book that has a fairly narrow range to the premises of each poem is quite a feat.  When I started reading, I first thought, "Isn't this going to get monotonous, dealing with one chemical after another?"  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book didn't generate that feel at all.  It's a good indicator of the extent of Newman's imagination that she can make the device work over and over in the collection without it getting into something of a rut.  I am impressed.

As a sort of a side note, I read the volume in its Kindle edition.  Sometimes poetry doesn't look very nice on the Kindle, but ChemICKal Reactions is formatted to handle the device pretty well.   It is one of the better jobs I've seen done with poetry books formatted for the device.  I'm pleased to see it, and hope it means good things are coming in poetry for the ebook reader.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

What do you get if you mix a little of On the Road with The Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore and Symbols?  I think American Gods does a pretty good job of exploring that possibility.

It took me a while to get into the reading of American Gods, but that might have had more to do with me than with Gaiman's writing.  Gaiman always tells a good tale, and he is always funny and entertaining.  American Gods is certainly no exception.

The story is fairly convoluted, and you never seem to be able to be 100% sure that you know quite what's going on.  In that way, the book allows you to sympathize with the protagonist, Shadow, because he's forever being led to places and into situations that he can't be quite sure he gets.  He just does what he has to do anyway, and things sort of fall into place in his mind as he goes along.  That's something of a metaphor for the reading experience with this book.  Do things seem a little confusing?  Well, just keep on reading and it will fall into place.

I really enjoyed Gaiman's telling of travels across the US.  The way the travels were woven into the narrative, and the sense of place was built up, was a fun way to make the story work.

The version of the book that I read is Gaiman's preferred version of the text, as per an author's note at the beginning of the book.  I don't know how it compares to other versions out there, but I think you can see signs in the one I read of a sort of careful — maybe even obsessive — attention to the little things that bring the land and the characters to life.  I don't know if I would've been quite as aware of it without that note at the beginning, but the effect of that careful plotting out of all the little things is a good one.

As with any Gaiman novel, this one is worth getting your hands on.

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