Sunday, March 19, 2017

Writing Update

It's days like to day, ones where I spend the time doing what I want while anxiously dreading the coming week, that I think about my original stories while keeping an eye on Deep Space Nine as it plays on a window seperate from the one I'm writing this blog post on.

Yeah, I can't seem to stop multi-tasking. My mom says I'm a master at it.

Well, it's a skill I got from my mother, so I can only blame Mom, haha.

Usually I don't like to talk about my stories since they usually fall through and fade away like "A Galaxy So Fickle" did (though it's an idea that has been archived. I would like to recycle it again). But, since this is my blog, I should really write something other than book, movie, and TV show reviews. That's all it's been for the last few months, and people read my blog, so...

Yeah, I'll write about something. I want to expand the horizons of this blog (if that makes sense), and in the future I want to write about the differences between Science-Fiction-Steampunk and Fantasy-Steampunk. But right now, I'm going to talk about my latest novel project.

Over the last couple of months, I've been working on the backbone and outline of a novel project I've submitted to Camp Nanowrimo as "The Sceptre of Raja-dûmé" (pronounced: rah-ZHah doom-may). It's about a gentleman thief named Fletcher Broome (one of those characters that have been on reserve, waiting for their story to come along).

I've been following how-to's written by K.M. Weiland (yes, the authoress of Dreamlander!) that can be found on her website www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com, and so far I kind of know where the story is going to go. But I don't exactly know what's going to happen after Fletcher gets to the sands of the Endless Desert on Dekartaal... will he wander the sands for a week before he's found, or will he run into someone right away?

I'll have to keep planning. Camp Nanowrimo April is coming up fast, so the story has to have a better background before April 1st. So, yeah...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review: Dreamlander

Dreamlander. K.M. Weiland. 2012. PenForASword Publishers. Pages: 544. [Source: Bought]

What if it were possible to live two very different lives in two separate worlds? What if the dreams we awaken from are the fading memories of that second life? What if one day we woke up in the wrong world?

~~~

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★

This book... man, what a treasure! I am so glad I stumbled upon it. I can only thank K.M. Weiland for her leading me to her story, since I've been reading and trying to follow along with her writing advice.

Immediately, I found myself connecting with Chris Redston, the main character of the story. Usually, it takes me two or more chapters to settle down and decide if I like the main character enough to want to follow them through the rest of the story. My connection with Chris was stronger than with any character than I can remember in recent memory. And that thrilled me.

Due to college, the first 25 to 40% were kind of slow, and it took me longer than I liked to get reading. But then I couldn't put it down, and I ended up eating up the rest of the novel like it was the best of Swiss chocolate. Everything was so well-rounded, and you knew what all the main players were doing when you needed to know what they were going. Usually, writers tend to follow the main character and sometimes the deuteragonist, and other important characters would pop up and strike with their plot-twisting purpose before promptly vanishing again. But not in Dreamlander.

You followed Chris, Allara, and Orias Tarn almost evenly throughout this 60-chapter story.

~~~

So his life was careening toward a dead end.
So he was using work as an excuse to run away. 
At least it was safe. At least it was sane. Mostly.

~~~

I loved the genre of this story so much. I went in thinking it was a high fantasy and wondering exactly what the glowing device was in Chris' hand on the cover. But then it quickly occurred to me, when Chris became more and more immersed in the "dream world" - the world Chris would go to when he fell asleep - that it was high fantasy mixed with steampunk. And I love steampunk just as much as fantasy and science fiction.

K.M. Weiland's writing voice was so smooth that it didn't distract me from the story. The dream world and the countries of Lael and Koraud felt so real that I could see myself navigating the streets as if I was following Chris as he went about. I didn't want to leave when Chris left.

I felt fear and connected with the events of the story when I was introduced to the protesters and eventual terrorists/rebels who joined with the bad guys. Nateros (I think that was how it was spelled) echoed with so many things that are happening today, in reality, and it took my breath away, because she was able to make it believable.

This is definitely a book I would like to get in physical format when and if she makes a sequel for it (because I've heard she's been considering it...). And I definitely want to read it again someday. Great job, K.M.!

There was so much I felt when reading this story, but there's no possible way I would be able to put it all down!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Oz the Great and Powerful

When this movie came out, I was mildly intrigued, but by the way they had the commercials laid out, I got the impression that three women in the commercial were fighting over Oz and that the whole movie was soaked with too much magic. It was one of those commercials that ended up being too vague, and I came to the conclusion that my family wouldn't ever be interested in watching it, so I went and forgot about it, since I didn't have the money to go and buy the DVD.

Yesterday, I stumbled across it on Netflix. I was bored and I wanted to watch something other than another episode of Forensic Files. So a click later, I found myself plummeting into Nostalgia Lake.

When I was younger, I had an insatiable appetite for anything meteorological or tornado-related. This was fuelled by The Wizard of Oz, due to the tornado at the beginning of the movie. Of course, every time the tornado was to come on screen, I would rush to my bedroom and gather up my blankies and my stuffies before I went back to the movie. I keep saying that my fascination with tornadoes is rather morbid, and it hasn't changed at all. I haven't watched The Wizard of Oz in years, not since I had to do a review on it in English class over the summer when my teacher sent me a link to it online. We used to have it on VHS, but our machine went and died when I was 13/14 years old and we had to clear out all our VHS tapes since we couldn't get our hands on another machine (I wish we hadn't).

Despite my apprehension on it, Oz the Great and Powerful turned out to be a lot better than I could have ever expected.

Netflix's synopsis, "He's an amateur magician and a con man, but all of Oz expects him to save the day. He should have booked Vegas", doesn't do the movie justice, leading me to believe if those at Netflix really know what they're doing when they write up the synopsi for their movies. Oz deserves a better synopsis, because it was so much more and the last sentence of the synopsis leads me to believe that the writer had inserted their own opinion into it.

Because Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambrose Diggs, or "Oz" as everyone knows him as, is a magician who was a part of a travelling circus, and he seemed to be doing pretty well despite the fact that he was playing with the hearts of several women at the same time, and that he was so skilled with his tricks that he made it look like he could perform miracles.

He was so convincing, he inadvertently duped a young, wheelchair-bound girl into thinking he could heal her so she could walk again.

Of course, that becomes the least of his worries when it turns out he flirted with the wrong woman and ended up enraging the circus' strongman. He vacates his mobile headquarters as fast as he can, managed to escape out a trapdoor in the floor moments before his head can be torn off by the strongman, and tears across the circus grounds until he comes across a hot air balloon, which he takes from its handler, claiming all the while that he owned 50% of it.

Making it into the air, he does a little jig before he notices that everyone in the circus, everyone who had come to watch him make his escape, is now running away, screaming at the top of their lungs. Confused, he turns around to look at what sent them running and is struck speechless. All he can manage to do is gasp as he takes in the massive twisting column of air writhing towards him. It only takes him a moment before he realizes that he's stuck in the air and that he's heading right towards certain death. In frustration, he screams as he is sucked in, his dreams of grandeur slipping from his fingers as death stares him in the face.

Inside the tornado, he's faced with death again and again as debris slams into the basket of the air balloon again and again. He faces off against the circus organ as it plays a haunting melody. But then it seems to all end as he reaches a point in the tornado that indicates that it's not what it seems. For a moment, Oz is totally weightless. It's gone strangely calm and debris has suddenly stopped trying to kill him.

But it's only calm for a moment, a moment that's only long enough for him to grab his top hat before he's sent reeling up the rest of the funnel cloud.

Beware of the tornadoes in Kansas, because there's a 50% chance that they're portals to another world.

This was a very well written movie. I got to know the main character rather well in the first five to ten minutes, well enough that I would get second-hand embarrassment whenever he flirted with women or did something that I had a feeling would cost him further down the road (the yellow brick road, haha). I usually don't come across movies written this well, and this was such a treat.

This movie was not predictable in the slightest, something I thought it would be since all I could remember from the trailer were three women in opposition of each other for some reason, a reason I assumed was because of Oz. I was proven wrong when the first person he meets in Oz is Theodora - who I assumed was the Good Witch who would wind up giving Dorothy her ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz. You can tell how long it's been since I watched that movie, since the good witch who gave Dorothy her ruby slippers was named Glinda, not Theodora.

I immediately began to suspect who Theodora was when Evanora, her older sister, made her believe that Oz had played her, and she began to cry and her cheeks burned when her tears touched them. My suspicions were soon confirmed when Evanora, who had revealed herself as the wicked witch who killed the sisters' father, turned her into the Wicked Witch of the West. Apparently, if deep down you are wicked and you cry, the hot water in your tears will burn you. Because that's what ultimately ends her in The Wizard of Oz. I thought it was a weakness all three sisters shared, but Glinda had tears gathering in the corners of her eyes, and she wasn't burning.

I guess the thing that thrilled me the most about this movie was they had me completely fooled on who exactly was the real bad guy until it they were revealed. I saw Evanora as guardian of Emerald City and concerned older sister who only wanted to protect Theodora when she saw that she was smitten with Oz. I fully believed that Glinda was the wicked witch who killed their father until it was revealed that it was actually Evanora who did it!

Then I thought Evanora was the one who would eventually transform into the Wicked Witch of the West, because her whole getup was green and black. But yet again I was proven wrong.

Oz was a cleverly written main character. I didn't like that he was a heartbreaker, but he was put through a rigorous Path to Redemption character arc that turned him into a kind-hearted man in the end. I thought there was a clever point of juxtaposition when he couldn't heal the girl's legs back in Kansas, but ended up being able to fix the China Doll's legs with glue in China Town. That occurred to me as I lay in bed last night, revelling in the excellent story telling the movie had.

One thing I don't get though - Evanora was killed at the end of the movie, so she's not the witch who was crushed under Dorothy's house when she came to Oz. So who was the witch who was crushed under the house? Who was the original owner of the Ruby Slippers? Did Glinda, Evanora, and Theodora have another sister? Or was it a cousin? According to the The Wizard of Oz the witch crushed under the house was, in fact, the Wicked Witch of the West's sister, the Wicked Witch of the East. So who exactly is this sister?

  • The transition from black and white to colour when Oz goes to Oz was a nice touch.


I'll definitely want to show this to my kids when I have them and when they're old enough to understand the story. Because they're definitely going to grow up watching The Wizard of Oz. It's movies like these that make me look forward to the days where I'll be saddled with the responsibility of being a mom.

And this is a movie I definitely want to watch again.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fractured

Fractured. Rae Elliott. 2014/2015. Smashwords. ebook. [Source: Bought]

An android slave named Lough seeks to return to his previous life as a powerful human king.

But Lough begins to question that goal when what's left of his human heart is inspired by the royal family he serves. Lough is in awe of Queen Darphina, a selfless mother who would face death in order to protect her children. Lough befriends young prince Fenton, who seeks to liberate his oppressed people from the tyranny of his father, the King.

As Prince Fenton is about to come of age, the blood-thirsty and power-hungry king plots against his heir to the throne. But the queen overhears his plans. (Synopsis shortened. Full synopsis here.)

~~~

Rating: 

When I bought this book off of Kindle, I was excited. It was the first Science Fantasy with an android in it I had yet to come across, and I was thrilled. And an android that used to be human? A corrupt human? How juicy is that?!

As a note: I classify this as a 'Science Fantasy' due to the fact that there are heavy science fiction elements in this story, yet it's set in a distinctly fantasy-like setting, with a monarchal government system and elements like poor citizens of the kingdom who use horses as a main mode of transportation.

In all honesty, the synopsis lead me to believe that Lough was going to be the main focus of the story, but it quickly became apparent that the attention was to be divided between Lough (whose name is pronounced like the word 'low' and does not rhyme with word 'bough' like I thought), the queen, and her children. Not that I minded, I was just caught off guard.

The only problems I had with the story was that it didn't feel like it focused on Lough desiring to be who he once was in the way that the synopsis lead me to believe. I thought he would dwell on the desire to be the powerful king he had been, despite the gaping holes in his memory, a lot longer than he had. And the only other thing that had me pursing my lips in a careful mix of uncertainty and doubt was the fact that the main inciting incident didn't seem to occur until halfway into the story.

I loved the world-building, though. That was my favourite part. I was immediately sucked in in the first chapter. I found myself falling into a world of fantasy that was delightfully free of any apparent magic - world of fantasy mixed with science fiction that successfully brought together my two favourite genres. There were elements of dystopia, because of how the king treated his people, but it distinctly didn't feel like a dystopia, for which I am glad - I don't like dystopia. There's only so much depressive themes in a story that I can take before I can't take it anymore.

I really loved this story and I'm so glad I chose to sit down and read it during my Christmas break. It's so refreshing to come across a story like this and not be bowled over by profanity and inappropriate scenes.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Agatha Christie. 1920. William Morrow Paperbacks. Pages: 230 (plus an extra scene). [Source: Bought]

Who poisoned wealthy Emily Inglethorp and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary - from the heiress's fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary. Making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective is on the case.


~~~

Rating: 

Although I finished this novel on New Years Eve, this review comes a couple days too late and doesn't count towards the Back to the Classics challenge I participated in last year. Unfortunately, I went to college, and the course load didn't let me pick it up other than to move it around my dorm room.

I have mixed feelings about this mystery, I guess I'm still getting used to Agatha Christie's style, but I found this mystery to be rather long-winded. I get that this was the first book of her Hercule Poirot series and that she was basically introducing her character in this book, but there were some things that irked me.

Silly me, I found myself introducing myself to Agatha Christie through the tenth book in her Hercule Poirot series, Murder On the Orient Express. So it came as quite a shock when I began to read The Mysterious Affair at Styles and I found the story had been written in first-person - since the other had been written in third. I guess this is what I disliked the most about this book, because I came in expecting to follow Poirot around and instead found myself following this guy around whose last name was not 'Poirot'.

All in all, I did enjoy this novel, even though the time it took for me to finish reading this (which was 4 months) made it feel like the mystery had stretched on forever. I enjoyed the mystery because you couldn't tell who was the murderer until the very end. And the true murderer of Emily Inglethorp came as quite the shock to me. I never saw it coming!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Deep Space Nine: Episode 1 "Emissary"

For the longest time, DS9 was not available on Netflix, and I had to be content with buying as many episodes I could with whatever iTunes money I could get my hands on. My mother isn't a big fan of DS9. She says it's because of the format of the story - that it happens on a space station and not on a starship - that she doesn't like it - and because she doesn't like it, I couldn't hope for her to buy any of the seasons of the show. I honestly was prepared to start buying it for myself once I went to college. Thankfully, Netflix finally made it available for Canadian viewers and I didn't have to dish out any of what precious little money I have.

I'm reviewing the two parter pilot of DS9 for the 2017 Sci-Fi Experience, because I'm a sci-fi nerd, and Star Trek is one of my favourite sci-fi giants. I'm doing this for fun, and not for money, just saying.

DS9 opens in the midst of a terrifying battle between the Federation and the invading Borg. This episode begins during The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds", after Captain Jean-Luc Picard was kidnapped by the Borg and assimilated so they could take over the Federation. In the subsequent battle, the ship the main character of the episodes - Benjamin Sisko - served on was destroyed and he ended up losing his wife.

I know the real reason why my mother doesn't like DS9 - it's because the series takes a lot of time to focus on the Bajoran's religion and faith in "the Prophets", inter-dimensional alien beings who don't perceive time like people in the normal universe do. I like the series because it involves the Romulans a lot more than The Next Generation did, and they play more of a friendly role towards the end of the series where they're allies with the Federation.

This episode felt like a satisfying introduction to a series that lasted as long as this one did. The beginning was terribly sad, but it quickly gave way to a fascinating side of Star Trek that I look forward to seeing through to the end.

Some notes:

- DS9 starts out differently than the other shows. It starts out in the middle of the conflict between the Federation and the Borg at Wolf 359.

-Why the heck would they go into battle with ships laden with civilians? Wouldn't it be more logical to drop the civilians off before going to battle? Send the ships without civilians in first!

2017 Sci-Fi Experience


2017 Sci-Fi Experience
Host: Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up here)
December 2016 - January 2017
Goal: Review as much of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as I can; review my copy of The Transformers: All Hail Optimus comic omnibus, and read my copy of Star Trek - Green Lantern: The Spectrum War again.

Honestly, I totally forgot that this was coming up - all thanks to college - so that leaves me with only a month to appreciate what has come to be my all time favourite genre of fiction ever. Thankfully, I remembered, and this is my chance to breathe life back into my blog, since my studies have prevented me from posting here. :3

"Reviews":