2020

What a year. We had a plague which has killed 1 out of 1,000 Americans. Our daily routines have changed, and we will not return to what were before March 2020 for several months.

At least Americans got to go into space in a spaceship of own design and about 30 miles away from my home. We did this twice.

Many great people left the party this year Neil Peart, Buck Henry, Mike Resnick, Christopher Tolkein, Steve Stiles, Earl Kemp, Terry Jones, Kobe Bryant, Kirk Douglas, Freeman Dyson, James Lipton, Max von Sydow, Alfred Worden, Kenny Rogers, Brian Dennehy, Little Richard, Jerry Stiller, Dennis O’Neill, Vera Lynn, Ian Holm, Carl Reiner, Grant Imahara, John Lewis, John Saxon, Olivia de  Havilland, Wilford Brimley, Susan Ellison, Ben Cross, Chadwick Boseman, Charles R. Saunders, Diana Rigg, Terry Goodkind, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Mac Davis, Helen Reddy, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Johnny Nash, Eddie Van Halen, James Randi, Richard A. Lupoff, Sean Connery, Alex Trebeck, Dave Prowse, Ben Bova, Chuck Yeager, Dean Ing, Richard Corben, John le Carre, Phyllis Eisenstein, Charley Pride,  Jeremy Bulloch, James E. Gunn,  Philip Martin, William Link, and Dawn Wells

It was a good year for the Hugos, though it was not a good ceremony. A Memory of Empire by Arkady Martine, a novel about the perils and allure of an empire or dominant culture from some one that is outside. It was a novel about big ideas set in a big place. R.F Kuang won the Astounding Award and took the industry to task on how it treats writers form marginalized groups. Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone showed a friendship spanning over tons of time in their novella This is How You Lose the Time War.

CoNZealand, this year’s Worldcon, went virtual. There was good programming, but there were some big mistakes. The Sir Julius Vogel Awards should have been its own event and ballots and packets should have been sent to the membership. This was new situation. I hope that future Worldcons will have a virtual component. The virtual Art Show and Dealer’s Room were interesting. I do agree that the events should be done in host country’s time. Cons should do programming online during non-primetime hours at the host country.

NASFiC 2020 was also virtual. The used a different system which worked well. Its good to have options with how to do these events online. It is a pity it had to go virtual since I have never been in Ohio.

Necronomicon came to my home this year. They Necronomicon Trivia used an online platform for their contest this time. It was challenging and I came in third which gave me a virtual bronze medal (no roses sadly). Masquerade was different, a non-competitive event. I did some panels which were engaging. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me was great as usual.

Virtual is OK. I do miss seeing my fellow fans and discuss the issues of the field and fandom and just plain geeking out.

Films were scarce due to COVID, but there some good genre films. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was a fun adventure with one DC’s most chaotic characters. DC did another take in Superman: Man of Tomorrow as an animated film. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight had an odd twist, while Batman: Hush was fun. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines was great take on our favorite Amazon.Scoob appears to attempt to create the Hanna-Barbera Cinematic universe. On a Magical Night has a woman facing her past literally to help her present. Prospect is about a young girl and father looking for gems on alien world, a story which could find itself in Analog or Asimov’s. Sputnik is about an alien that comes back with a cosmonaut, a great thriller like Alien.

Parasite dominated the Oscars. It was a great story of a struggling South Korean family with great visuals. The Joker had a great performance but had some disturbing elements. Marriage Story told a painful story of a relationship that fails. The animated short Hair Love shows what a father will go through for his daughter. Jojo Rabbit was also a powerful film with a child’s view of a bad situation. 1917 one take look deserved to win for best cinematography. Little Women looked beautiful. I am surprised Uncut Gems, which had a power performance from Adam Sadler, got no recognition.

There are a few things I hope to see get Oscar nominations. The Trial of the Chicago 7 took us back to the 60s to look at events which led to our current political situation. Mank told the story of the writer of Citizen Kane. I am looking forward to seeing I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Zappa.

Just Mercy made clear message about the state of American Justice. VHYes was innovative way to tell a story as an overwritten video tape. The Hunt had some great action sequences, but I am not sure what they were trying to say in the film. CRSHD showed the perils of dating in the social media era. Crescendo had Israeli and Palestinian musicians learning to work as an orchestra. Alice is aboutan abandoned wife and mother who will do anything to make ends meet. The Ghost of Peter Sellers was about a disastrous film shoot due to a star who lost confidence in the film. Shirley was subtle thriller about a writer, her work, and a couple she befriends. Palm Springs was a great take on the time loop film. We learned how to fight the good fight in John Lewis: Good Trouble. Vivarium was an odd look at suburbia. Booksellers looked at the world of book dealers and lovers of books. At the Video Store showed the rise and struggle of independent video store. 18 to Party a group of teens in the 1980s face life while waiting to get into a club and UFOs. Enola showed another Holmes taking on the world. My Comic Book Country showed the role of the comic book shop in pop culture.

I caught up on a lot of old films. The Conversation told a powerful and quiet story about surveillance. The Ascent showed the brutality of the Russian front during World War II. A Taste of Cherry shows a man looking for help but may found another solution to his problem. Braindead was disturbing but an engaging horror film. Hard Boiled was a frantic action film. Paris is Burning looked at the Ball culture in New York and let us share in the fun. Gold Rush showed the pioneer Charlie Chaplin. Flight of Dragons was a forgotten fantasy gem. Zodiac was an intense film by a great film maker. Auto Focus tried to solve the mystery of Bob Crane’s death. The Bad and the Beautiful told a story of old Hollywood some of which is still relevant. Gary Cooper is man whose past catches up with him Man of the West. Vagabond tells the story of someone who needed more help than she got. There were some funny bits in the parody bio pic Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Please Stand By is a quest story with the love of Star Trek mixed in. Monte Carlo was a fun teen rom com in the sun. Gimme Shelter showed us the Rolling Stones in 1969. I finally saw the power of The Elephant Man.  

Before the lockdown I got to see some anime in the theater. In Weathering with You was about young people trying to face the future on their own terms. My Hero Academia: Heroes Risings gets our young heroes into a fix and take it head on. Ride Your Wave was a tragic love story that gave you the feels. Lupin III: Fujiko Mine’s Lie showed a new side of our favorite femme fatale. Lupin III: The First was a good old red jacket adventure. A Whisker Away is about a troubled girl who is turned to a cat by a trickster cat, can she save her humanity before itis too late. Thanks to the studios, Fathom Events, and Netflix.

I stayed with the same shows this year: The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, and Black Lightning. Arrow ended with a great post Crisis story. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD with a fab trip through time.  The second season of Altered Carbon continues to ask questions about identity. The Magicians combined a heist and musical and started a new world at its end. The Good Place found an answer to one of the biggest questions of all time.  Locke and Key was a great adaptation of a comic with great visuals and scares. She-Ra: Princess of Power made an enemy into a friend at its conclusion. I saw the 4th season of Veronica Mars which was powerful but sad. The Rocinante’s crew face different challenges in the fifth season of The Expanse. Titans was superheroes with a small budget was engaging. The Doom Patrol showed misfits doing their best when the world is stacked against them. Stargirl rises to the occasion to save family and friends. Harley Quinn looks for her place in the DC Universe and causes chaos along the way. The Haunting of Bly Manor was a great look into the work of Henry James. Swamp Thing did a great take on the Earth Elemental. Emily in Paris was a nice trip to the great city. Primal has a man and his dinosaur partner face a hostile world. Star Trek: Picard fixed the ending of the last TNG film. Star Trek: The Lower Decks showed the other parts of Starfleet. Star Trek: Discovery tries to bring back the Federation in the 32nd century. I followed The Mandalorian and his charge through the galaxy. Lovecraft Country made us look at our painful past and maybe understand our present. The Doctor had to face the Master and new information about herself in this year’s Doctor Who.

I stuck with Fire Force, Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld, and My Hero Academia. Carole and Tuesday made great music. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind concluded the team’s fight against the boss in Italy. Ad Astra was a great YA SF story. Wave, Listen to Me follows a young women budding career as a radio host. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is a worthy sequel to Inuyasha. I need to go back and finish Deca-Dence, which had some great ideas.

I did not read much in new comics regularly outside of Doctor Who’s comic from the magazine. I did love Dr. Nnedi Okorafor’s Laguardia. The story deals with issues of immigration we are facing today and demands to be animated. Paper Girls finished its story about friendship and time travel. Monstress has Makia making hard decisions and continues its incredible story. Mooncakes is about a also a story of family and friendship with warm and friendly art which also asks to be animated. Die is an interesting story of a D&D like game becoming real and how it effects its players. The Wicked+The Divine is about old deities in our world. I need to read the rest of the series. It was interesting reading the Flash Gordon finalists for the Retro Hugos. I also had fun going through the DC and Marvel digital archives through their online services, though they are interesting gaps.

Sarah Gailey took us to a magical LA where Ivy Gamble investigates a murder at school in Magic for Liars. Max Gladstone sends a Silicon Valley CEO to deep space in the middle of a power struggle in Empress of Forever. Aliens come the U.S. Virgin Islands and form a complicated relationship with the locals in Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson. I learned about heralds and horses in Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen. Dark forces try to prevent New York from gaining sentience in N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. Olaf Stapeldon looks at dog becoming sentient in a plausible way in Sirius. John Scalzi concluded in the Interdependency series with The Last Emperox. Two twins separated by a continent must discover their connection before others do in Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge is a YA adventure in a seaside town where a young man finds great power and needs to figure what to do with it. We follow January’s coming of age story while being pursued by those who wish to exploit her in Alix E, Harrow’s The Ten Thousands Doors of January. An AI who loves cats tries to help a young teenage girl in trouble in Catfishing on the Catnet. A sister, descended from fox spirits, joins the Space Force to clear her brother of a crime in Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl. Two sisters must stop the boundary breakdown between 2 worlds in Fran Wilde’s Riverland. Oliver must fulfill a task set by his town in T. Kingfisher’s Minor Mage. Oak continues to maneuver in the world of fairy in The Wicked King. Gideon is forced to postpone her escape from the Ninth House to serve Harrohawk in a mysterious world of intrigue in Tasmyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth. An American submarine (circa 1944) is sent to a future world to fight a war in A.E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull’s The Winged Man. Rick Urquhart is on the run on Mars in Leigh Brackett’s Shadow Over Mars. Two young girls promised their father to stay of mischief while he is away, soon they drink a potion and turn into kangaroos and eventually turn back into humans and rescue their father from a tyrant in Eric Linklater’s The Wind of the Moon. Tade Thompson creates a complex world of aliens, telepathy, and politics in his Wormwood Trilogy. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi follows a brother and sister with incredible power as they face a hostile world and how they might change it. Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for A New Day tells how the world was effected by a plague and gathering are banned. Princess Sun must make name for herself in battle in Kate Elliot’s Unconquerable Sun. David Gerrold has young people helping colonize a new world in Hella. Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future demands that we work on the world’s problems and offers possible solutions. Three sisters face their own issues and a world hostile towards witches like them in Alix E. Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches. Cory Doctorow warns of the power of nation state using our technology against us while a young woman finds what side she is on in Attack Surface. The residents of Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children go to help one of their own in a Universal-like horror world in Seanan McGuire’s Come Tumbling Down.

I stuck with the same podcasts this year with The Inglorious Treksperts, Fatman Beyond, Radio Free Skaro, Verity, Mission Log, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Anime Addicts Anonymous, Starship Sofa, Escape Pod, and The Best Movies Never Made. Galactic Suburbia ended a great run. I started listening to local fans and a friend on Full Frontal Nerdity. I have also joined

I plan to check out some short fiction in the Lady Business recommendation spread sheet.

Hugo, my dog, is doing well. I have gotten back into a groove riding my bike. I hope I can keep up with it next year.

I did not do as many reviews as I wanted. I need to work on discipline. At this time, I have not done my Worldcon report. I need to focus on that next month. As always, I will work on balancing fan writing, reading, media watching, podcasting, and con work.

As always, thanks to those who made the year as fun as it was. This I list would be long and I would forget someone.

2021 we hope will be better. On January 20, there will be a more stable and kinder government in power. As I said earlier COVID is still with us, but we seem to see the end of this current situation. There will be spots of beauty here and there. We will all need to look for that.

Take care.

Micro Reviews September 2020

Monte Carlo (Theatrical Film) – Well film and a fun story set in title city.

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer – Enola Holmes’ mother disappears and she does not want to go to the school her oldest brother wants to send her. She goes to London, makes it on her own, and saves a young noble. A good mystery.

Enola (Theatrical Film) – A good adaptation though I could have done without the school scenes. I hope Ms. Brown gets to be in future adaptations.

My Comic Book Shop Country (Documentary Film) – The story of comic book shops. The film maker focuses on shops all over the country including one shop that had to shut down. The film shows how stores play a part in the modern culture.

Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliot – Princess Sun is trying to make a name for herself. She is a good warrior with a good team. Sun soon find herself in the middle of intrigue, but it give her the chance to standout. A lot of action and engaging plot.

Micro Reviews August 2020

The Wormwood Trilogy by Tade Thompson – An alien artifact comes to town in Nigeria called Rosewater. This artifact seems to have healing abilities. It also allows some humans to have telepathic abilities. Political forces have to deal with what is happening in Rosewater. There is a great look at first contact story. They aliens are well designed and there are interesting takes in dealing with them.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi – Ella and Kev are African American have incredible powers. They have face the painful issues their country does not want to deal with. An important eye opening novella.

Doom Patrol (TV Series) – A great adaptation of the comics with parts from Grant Morrison’s run.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker – In the future due to past crisis, large gatherings are banned. Musician Luce Cannon and music promoter Rosemary Laws try to bring back live performances. The story is a bit close to home right now. The story reminds one of the energy of being a in group enjoying art.

Vivarium (Theatrical Film) – A couple are trapped in a subdivision with no way out. Interesting thought I do not like the ending.

At the Video Store (Documentary Film) – The rise of the home video store and the struggle of the independent video stores to survive. The film makes case on why these stores are still important.

18 to Party – A group of teens in small town in the 80s wait to get in a club. They have an interesting talk about life and the UFOs seen in their area. A great cast and one hopes they have a great future.

Sputnik (Theatrical Film) – reviewed in the September Event Horizon.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (Animated Feature) -I did not like a change they made, but the production values were good.

Star Trek: Lower Decks (Animated TV Series) – I like the Tendi and Rutherford plots more than the Mariner and Boimier ones. Animation looks great. Will check out the next season.

Batman: Hush (Animated Feature) – A fun Batman adventure.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (Animated Feature) – A great take on Wonder Woman. I like the inclusion and the plot with Vanessa since she was a favorite of mine in the comics.

Man of the West (Theatrical Film) – In the west, a man’s past catches up with him. He gets tied up with a relatives gang. Can he and the woman who is with him get out of this alive?

The Elephant Man (Theatrical Film) – John Hurt is incredible to act under the make up. We all deserve dignity.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Theatrical Film) – A parody documentary of country music star’s life. The sink pulling worked for me. The rest of it was OK.

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (Animated Film) – reviewed in the September Event Horizon.

Micro Reviews July 2020

John Lewis: Good Trouble (Theatrical Film) – A great documentary about a great man.

The Wind of the Moon by Eric Linklater (Retro Hugo Finalist) -Two young girls promised their father to stay of mischief while he is away. They drink a potion and turn into kangaroos and hang out at zoo. They eventually turn back into humans and rescue their father from a tyrant. It was fun and some great situations.

Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans (Graphic Novel) (Hugo Finalist) – In 1991, a group of teenagers disappeared for 2 years while playing a Role Playing Game. One did not come back. Twenty-five years later they go back to the world they went to and fight for their lives. This was intriguing set up for the story. The characters have to deal with the trauma they had as kids and face it again as adults. I want to see more of the series.

LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colors by James Devlin (Graphic Novel) (Hugo Finalist) – In the future,  aliens live on Earth. Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka is leaving Nigeria and going to live with her grandmother in New York. She also smuggles a sentient plant. She finds herself in a fight for justice for humans and aliens. The art in this is beautiful and demands to be animated. The story deals with issues of immigration we are facing today.

Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Graphic Novel) (Hugo Finalist) -The story of Makia Halfwolf continues as finds more information about her background. War seems inevitable and Makia will have to decide which side she is on. Another great installment of the breath taking series. The art continues to bring incredible images of this world. There is a lot of exposition in this volume which is engaging.

Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Graphic Novel) (Hugo Finalist) – Teen witch Nova Huang helps her friend Tam Lang, a werewolf from sinister forces. It is a story about family and friendship. The art has a warm and friendly feel. This also asks to be animated.

Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang (Graphic Novel) (Hugo Finalist) – The final chapter of the adventures of 4 teenage girls from 1987 who are caught in a time war and travel backward and forward in time. This was a great wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey story. This also a great story of friendship and how strong those bonds can be.

The Conversation (Theatrical Film) – A professional surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience. A masterpiece in suspense.

Palm Springs (Theatrical Film) – Three people are cut in a time loop. A great take on a established story. I like how Sarah takes charge of her situation.

Wave, Listen to Me (Anime TV Series) – A waitress does a dramatic over the air radio show. There are some interesting stories and you want Minare, the waitress, to succeed in her new career.

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Graphic Novel) (Hugo Finalist) – Laura gets involved with the Pantheon who are incarnation of old deities. The Pantheon has existed for a long time in different forms. This has very detailed art style particularly with fashion. The concluding volume was nominated. I did not have time to read the other volumes so I read the first. This is an intriguing series and I want to read all the volumes.

Buck Rogers: “Hollow Planetoid”, by Dick Calkins (Graphic Story) (Retro Hugo Finalist) – Buck disappears on a mission and Wilma Deering tries to find him. This was a daily strip. This is fine from action adventure point of view. It had a very liberal interpretation of science. Some parts did not age well

Donald Duck: “The Mad Chemist”, by Carl Barks (Graphic Story) (Retro Hugo Finalist) -Donald gets a bonk on the head and becomes a super genius. He invents a powerful explosive called duckmite and travels to the Moon. This is a fun romp with Donald and the nephews.

Flash Gordon: “Battle for Tropica” and “Triumph in Tropica” by Alex Raymond (Graphic Story) (Retro Hugo Finalist) – This was a Sunday strip. Flash is trying to liberate the nation of Tropica from a dictator. There are a lot of twists and action along the way. Its surprising the story is divided into 2 parts when it seems to be a big story. The second part is better since it reaches a conclusion to the fate of Tropica.

The Spirit: “For the Love of Clara Defoe”, by Manly Wade Wellman, Lou Fine and Don Komisarow (Graphic Story) (Retro Hugo Finalist) – A down on his luck actor is brought to do a play with an old flame. Ellen Dolan is trying out for the play and her father asks the Spirit to keep an eye on her. There is mayhem and mischief which the Spirit sorts out. This is a good mystery, but there is no fantastic element in the story.

Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk”, by Jerry Siegel, Ira Yarbrough, and Joe Shuster (Graphic Story) (Retro Hugo Finalist) – A mysterious little man is stirring up trouble in Metropolis. His magical abilities maybe a match for Superman’s powers/ Can the Man of Tomorrow stop this mischievous imp. This was the origin of one Superman’s greatest adversaries and rated as one of the greatest Superman stories in 1988. Although Mr. Mxyztplk’s look has been changed over the year’s, the team behind the DC Animated Universe used the design in this issue to portray the character in Superman: The Animated Series.

Taste of Cherry (Theatrical Film) – A man drives around looking for someone to help. A bit tedious though there is a pay off at the end.

Braindead (Theatrical Film) – An over the top horror film set in New Zealand. There are some nice bits and great start for Peter Jackson.

Micro Reviews June 2020

Stargirl (TV Series) – A nice girl rises to to occasion to save her family and friends. I know this character is based on Geoff John’s sister and the show feel like a labor of love. The early episodes challenge me since her step father seems obstructionist. Look forward to more.

Deeplight by by Frances Hardinge (Lodestar Finalist) – Hark finds something incredible and everyone wants it. Can Hark save his best friend turning into a monster? A story of a coastal city where the ocean plays a big role. Interesting.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Hugo Finalist) – January is a girl growing up in a Vermont mansion owed by her father’s employer Mr. Locke. Her father collects rare objects for Mr. Locke. He disappears on a job, and January becomes Locke’s ward. January finds a book which leads her on journey about her parents’ past. Locke and his associates will try to prevent her from finding the truth. This is a coming of age story for January. She will push herself beyond her limits to find the truth. The main antagonist had a reasonable (but wrong) motive to stop her.

Catfishing on the Catnet by Naomi Kritzer (Lodestar Finalist) – An AI sets up a social media site to help people. They help Steph a girl in trouble. A sequel to Krtizer’s short story about an AI that helps people in exchange for cat pictures. The AI is kind and wants to help Steph and her friends. More please.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Lodestar Finalist) – Min is descended from fox spirits. Her older brother joins the Space Force. Her brother is accused of deserting his post. Min sneaks out and tries to clear her brother. It is a great YA space opera that should be animated.

Hard Bolied (Theatrical Film) – An insane action film with a crazy ending at a hospital. Wild and fun.

Riverland by Fran Wilde (Lodestar Finalist) – Eleanor and Mike are sisters who find themselves in a world after their father breaks a magic object. Can they stop the disaster that will come if they cannot maintain the boundary between worlds. It is great story about family and sticking together to solve a problem.

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher (Lodestar Finalist) – Oliver is a minor mage who is given a task by his town. The story is about doing your best no matter what.

The Wicked King by Holly Black (Lodestar Finalist) – Oak continues to maneuver in the world of fairy. Some things works and other do not. I want to read the conclusion of this series.

Paris is Burning (Theatrical Film) – A documentary of the New York Ball culture. It shows people having fun and let us share in that fun.

Shirley (Theatrical Film) – A fictional story about Shirley Jackson befriending a young couple while writing a story. The film shows the complexity of Jackson and shows her working on her fiction. In this weird year I hopes it gets some Oscar nod.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Hugo Finalist) – Gideon was raised on the Ninth House to be a swordsman. She has been wishing to escape this life. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, the Ninth House necromancer and Reverend Daughter, pressures Gideon to serve her and takes her to a meeting of all the houses. Harrowhark is looking for the resources to save the Ninth House and needs Gideon to help her. Representatives from the other houses are murdered. Can Gideon and Harrowhark find what they need and avoid being killed. Gideon and Harrowhark do not like each other. They must find a way to work together to get what they want. This story is set on a planet and there is space travel, I would call this Gothic science fiction. This book is part of a trilogy and its a great beginning with some interesting twists.   

The Winged Man by A.E. van Vogt (Retro Hugo Finalist) – A US submarine get transferred to a future world. The crew gets involved into a local war. Some good twists, just an OK story.

The Gold Rush (Theatrical Film) – Charlie Chaplin’s tramp is trying to strike it rich in Alaska. A comedy with a lot of complex stunts and effects. A classic.

Shadow Over Mars by Leigh Brackett (Retro Hugo Finalist) – Rick Urquhart is on the run on Mars. Can he stay free of the Terran Exploitations Company? What is his role in the future of Mars. A great action adventure story set on Mars.

Micro Reviews May 2020

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (Hugo Finalist)– An alchemist sets a grand scheme in motion. He creates a set of twins and puts them in families on opposite sides of the United States. Roger is master of language and story. His twin sister Dodger is master of math. They discover each other and keep in touch. Can they figure out what is going on before they lose control of their fate? This is a story of family and taking control of one’s life.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Hugo Finalist) – Ambassador Mahit Dzmare is sent to represent Dsel Station in the Teixcalaanli Empire. Her predecessor died under mysterious circumstances. Mahit’s people can back up themselves, but her predecessor did not send an update for several years and there is a problem with that profile. She and her Teixcalaanli assistant Three Seagrass are thrown into a world of intrigue. Without her predecessor’s experience, Mahit must depend on her own extensive knowledge of the Teixcalaanli. Can she protect her people and survive in this hostile world which she does admire? There is a lot going on. One is awed by the power of the Teixcalaanli Empire and yet at the same time see its weaknesses.

Booksellers (Theatrical Film) – A documentary about book selling and book collections. This about the love of books and the business behind it. So much fun if you love books.

Flight of Dragons (TV Film) – A man is transported to a world as a dragon. He has to help save the world from an evil wizard. This was based on a book by Gordon Dickson. This was animated film by Rankin-Bass. John Ritter, Harry Morgan, James Earl Jones, James Gregory, and Victor Buono provide voices. It was a great quest film that should have been shown in a theater.

CRSHD (Theatrical Film) – We follow three college students going to a Crush party. This dating and love in the age of social media. It is complicated yet one can still find intimacy.

Crescendo (Theatrical Film) – A conductor tries to put together an Israeli-Palestinian orchestra for a special peace performance. Can his musicians overcome their own prejudices in order to perform? It forces people to face there prejudices and deal with a complicated problem. Their only chance of success is the common language of music. There are no easy answers, but some hope.

Scoob (Theatrical Film) – This an attempt to create the Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe. Scooby and Shaggy team up with the new Blue Falcon to stop Dick Dastradly’s latest scheme. Fun and odd in some places. They make Blue Falcon a goof and Dynomutt super competent. Still worth checking out. Maybe we can get a Jonny Quest film?

Harley Quinn (Animated TV Series) – A fun does of Harley madness. Great use of characters. More seasons please.

Teen Titans (TV Show) – It is budget version of the Teen Titans. I wish they could let Beast Boy change into more animals. That aside, a good adaptation on the DC book of the 80s. Look forward to more seasons.

Alice (Theatrical Film) – Alice’s husband has left her and her son. She discovers her husband has left her deep in debt and may lose her apartment. In order to pay off this debt she becomes an escort. We see how she deals with the job and dealing with her husbands abandonment. Well made. Everyone gets what they deserved in the end.

On a Magical Night (Theatrical Film) – A woman reveals her infidelity to her husband and then goes to a hotel across the street to figure out where to do next. She gets visitors from the past that help understand her current situation. A good relationship story told with an fantasy twist.

The Ghost of Peter Sellers (Theatrical Film) – This is a documentary of the making of Ghost of the Noonday Sun. This was a pirate film starring Peter Sellers and directed by Peter Medak. Peter Sellers looses confidence in the film and tries to to sabotage the film. The film talks to all involved. It was bizarre how far Sellers went to get out of the film. I am surprised they did not release the film. The studio did not wish to show it and took the hit.

Micro Reviews April 2020

(Trying to catchup)

Zodiac (Theatrical Film) – I decided to see this due to an obscure Star Trek reference in the film. Very intense.

The City We Became by N.K Jemisin – Dark forces try to stop New York gaining sentience through its human avatars (each representing a borough). It great look at New York and cities. I want to read more in this trilogy.

Auto Focus (Theatrical Film) – The life and death of Bob Crane. This was interesting since I did not know there was a suspect for his murder. I thought it was interesting that film did not buy the rights to Hogan’s Heroes theme song.

Sirius by Olaf Stapledon (Retro Hugos) – Sirius is a dong that become sentient through a procedure. One follows his life. We get into Sirius thoughts. He is an intelligent being in a world without him in mind. A very thoughtful novel.

Micro Reviews March 2020

March 2020

Vagabond (Theatrical Film) – The story of a young woman who is found dead by the side of a road. Her story is told by others who met her. Well filmed. Not sure what Varda was trying to say with the film, but its compelling.

The Ascent (Theatrical Film) – A pair of Soviet soldiers try to find supplies and refuge in a village. Everything goes wrong. A very well mad, but bleak film.

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (Readers’ Group Choice) – Talia is selected to be a Herald and serve the queen. This allows her to escape a bleak life in her village. A Companion  (a pure white horse) picks her and takes her to the capitol. A great first book which sets up the world. Great pacing.

Prospect (Theatrical Film) – A girl and her father got to a planet to prospect gems. They have to wear spacesuits to work in the hostile environment. Things go wrong and the girl most find a way to leave the planet on her own. This has an Analog feel. The writers seem to get the science right and there is a lot of tension. Great SF from an indie film.

Veronica Mars season 4 – Veronica’s fight continues. If this is the end of our heroine’s story, it is a good end.

The Hunt (Theatrical Film) – Hmm. Great action. I am not sure what they were aiming at with this.

Lupin III: Fujiko Mine Lie (Theatrical Film) – Continuing the series focusing on the gang. Fujiko protects a boy from assassins. Great action and a nice look at our favorite femme fatale .

This month was crazy. I may have missed things and I will update this as needed.

Micro Reviews February 2020

Catching up.

February 2020

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull – Aliens come to the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is a complicated relationship. Some get along but if something goes wrong it can be catastrophic. Engaging and a great first contact story.

Marriage Story (Theatrical Film) – A painful look at a complicated situation. Well acted but not sure I would want to re-watch.

Jojo Rabbit (Theatrical Film) – Seeing the horrors of World War II through the eyes of a young boy. Scarlett Johansson is great as a strong mother raising her son during a bad situation. Great use of  classic tunes in German. The film takes a disturbing situation, acknowledges it, but is able to insert humor in a good way.

Locke and Key (TV series) – A great adaptation of the comic. Well cast and some great scares. I want more!

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (Theatrical Film) – A great adventure with an agent of chaos who is trying to figure out who they are after getting out of a bad relationship. A great action film. More Birds of Prey and Harley.

VHYes (Theatrical Film) – A quirky film about boys overwriting their parents’ wedding video, and we see what they taped. There is some good jokes here and a reminder of the goofy TV of the 80s. And a surprise. Fun.

Ride Your Wave (Theatrical Anime Film) – A young woman dates a fireman who is also a surfer. Something unfortunate happens and she deals with it. It is like Ghost at the beach. Great animation with water. It is a great love story.

The Bad and the Beautiful (Theatrical Film) – A story of Hollywood. A producer helps and hurts his friends in the film industry. I am surprised they could say “sex” in an American film from 1952.

Altered Carbon season 2 – A great continuation of the series. Great exploration of the big idea in the story.

Vagabond (Theatrical Film) – The story of a young woman who is found dead by the side of a road. Her story is told by others who met her. Well filmed. Not sure what Varda was trying to say with the film, but its compelling.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Theatrical Anime Film) – Our young heroes to be are sent to isolated island to act as the island’s local heroes. Unfortunately, a bunch of villains need to get something from the island and they cut off the island communication and transport. Class 1A does the right things to fight the villains and protect the populace.

I also read a lot of SFFH short fiction. I talk about it here.

 

 

 

Micro reviews -January 2020

I used to these on my personal website hosted on Earthlink. Last year Earthlink decided to get out out of the website hosting business. So now I will try to do it here. I hope I can do this regularly.

January 2020

Uncut Gems (Theatrical Film) – This is a well made film about a self destructive man. I do not like Howard and I would like be near him.

Carole and Tuesday (Anime TV Series) – Two young women work their way in the pop music scene on Mars. I like the characters are well developed. Even those who appear antagonistic to our protagonists. I do question why this is set in the future on Mars. It could have been set

1917 (Theatrical Film) – The one shot look was interesting. What should get more attention is the production design(they should win the Oscar) for the depiction of No Man’s Land.

Just Mercy (Theatrical Film) – The fight for truth is celebrated here. The stakes are people’s live and Bryan Stevenson faces scary obstacles in doing his job.

Little Women (Theatrical Film) – A film about growing up under challenging circumstances. Families are crazy, but hopefully things can work out and they will have your back when the going gets tough. Always fun to see a writer go through their process.

The Mandalorian (TV Series) – A lone hero themed Star Wars story. I am hoping Sabine from Rebels gets show up sometime in the future.

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone – A Silicon Valley CEO is transported to deep space in the middle of a struggle for power. It is interesting with great action and characters.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey – Ivy Gamble is asked to investigate a murder at the school her twin sister works at. This is world like our except magic exists and here we see how works in Los Angeles. Ivy has to work on her first murder while facing the ghosts of her past. A great look at a magical school in America and complex relationships.

Star Trek: Picard (TV Series) – Something is going with the Romulans and artificial life forms. Can Picard figure it out? I am engaged.

Parasite (Theatrical Film) – A fun film that takes a dark turn but does not lose the audience. Worthy of all the accolades it is getting.