Snowpiercer: The Best Science Fiction Film of the Year (that Hollywood wanted to fail)

snowpiercer_ver20_xlgIf you’re a fan of film, especially science fiction and film, you may have heard of this low budget “art” film, Snowpiercer. Describing it as an art film may insinuate this dystopian action-suspense film carries with it an air of pretension, but give me a moment here. Based on a French graphic novel, a South Korean director assuming the big chair, and featuring an international cast including Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Kang-ho Song, and Ah-sung Ko, Snowpiercer could be one of the most outstanding films of the year. Terrifying, daring, and compelling, this stunning work of science fiction, hailed by critics and science fiction fans, was initially released in eight theatres.

Yes. Eight. As in, not ten.

What. The Hell?!

At the end of this review, this dark tale—in its own way—offers you, the moviegoer, a happy ending. So read on. Continue reading

Edge of Tomorrow: Concerning Tom Cruise, Pacific Rim, and Something Original

Last Thursday, Pip and I went to see Edge of Tomorrow, currently playing in theatres. This is the latest summer blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise in what may are calling a sci-fi spin on Groundhog Day. One look at the trailer might make you think that, but there’s also some influences of Starship Troopers, Aliens, and even a nod to D-Day.

hr_Edge_of_Tomorrow_9Yes, the Allies’ Invasion of Normandy. In a Tom Cruise summer science fiction blockbuster.

Edge of Tomorrow, based off the novel and manga, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, follows Public Relations officer Major William Cage. Tom Cruise’s Cage is the Tom Cruise we know very well—very polished, brilliant smile, and slick in his approach and handling of situations thrown at him. He’s the “face” of the war against Mimics, alien invaders who seem to have an uncanny ability to predict exactly what the United European Forces unleash on the battlefield. This Tom Cruise graces the movie with its presence…

…for about ten minutes.

Much like Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Cruise’s Major Cage is suddenly thrown a curve that lands him in the middle of battle, something his Public Relations job allows him to avoid. After finding himself on the wrong end of a taser, he wakes up at Heathrow Airport, the training camp for the United European Armed Forces. Strapped into an exo-suit, Cage joins J Company in a massive amphibious landing happening on the western coast of France. Led by the inspiring “Full Metal Bitch” Rita Vrataski (played by Emily Blunt), Cage stumbles through the battle only to find himself out of ammo and facing a Mimic up close and personal. The monster leaps on top of him, but (more out of futility and desperation than heroism) Cage takes the alien (and himself) out of commission with a landmine sandwiched between them… Continue reading

Balticon 48: The Return to Hunt Valley and Revenge of #GymCon

Last year, Pip and I were not in attendance at Balticon, the premier weekend of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. We had been given Featured Guest status at Up in the Æther (now called Steamtopia) so we figured after years (a decade for me!) of attending Balticon, it was time for a change of pace. Detroit was a fantastic town with awesome people, and it was a good weekend all around…

…but yes, it was weird not being in Hunt Valley, Maryland, on Memorial Day Weekend.

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This year, Pip and I are excited to be returning. Unlike other literary events, Balticon offers a track specific to New Media (blogging, podcasting, Facebook, etc.), originally started up by Paul Fischer back in 2005. From that single panel on what a podcast is, the New Media track (which covers production, fan discussions, and live recordings) grew, even earning the nickname “The Other Balticon” which I think is a bit unfair as some of the most talented people — not just the writers, but the creative artists that also speak on the track — I’ve met are all on this track. Over the years, though, Balticon’s amazing staff have integrated the New Media track with other tracks; and this year’s 48th incarnation of the event promises to be a fantastic time!

Here’s where you can find me this weekend… Continue reading

RavenCon 2014: A Homecoming in April (Hail, Hydra…)

This week has been one temptation after another to rant a bit on topics ranging between Game of Thrones to pretentious nitwits in steampunk, but I have chosen a different direction for my weeks blogpost:

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That’s right — RavenCon! Finally, after years of trying to make my hometown event happen, I am finally coming back to the weekend in April that I helped kick off seven years ago alongside Con Chair Michael Pederson. I, for one, am looking forward to the weekend!

It’s been a little frustrating not being able to make it, mainly on account of things like the lack of a day job; but after balancing the books and making sure the numbers weren’t misleading me, I can finally come back to my hometown (the second time within the month!) and enjoy some good old-fashioned geekery alongside such terrific people like Bill Blume, Gail Z. Martin, Michael A. Ventrella, the Geek Radio Daily crew, and Guest of Honor (and all around great lady!) Elizabeth Bear!

Want to know where I will be this weekend? Continue reading

Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Nick Kelly on Crossing the Line and How Far to Cross It

Today on the blog, I host the kind of writer that is truly metal. No, really—he is metal. He’s a musician. He’s a security expert. He’s a health professional. AND…he’s a writer. If you’re a listener to The Shared Desk, you recognize the name: Nick Kelly. Fellow comic book geek. Fellow movie buff. Fellow cybersecurity believer. As he and I have shared opinions on just how far to go in your writing, I encouraged him to share his thoughts with you on the boundaries and just how far you can push them.

Nick, welcome to my blog. The stage is yours.

IMG_4643“Remember, honey, these aren’t your normal readers. Tone down the gore.”

Words of wisdom from my blushing bride and co-author, Stacia D. Kelly. I don’t remember the first time she told me this, but she’s repeated that comment several times while we were writing Ichi together. Our shared story is an urban fantasy featuring a 1,000 year old samurai demon hunter and a D.C. homicide cop.

When I’m not collaborating with her, I write a series of dystopian cyberpunk featuring a hitman and lots and lots of psychotic robots. I may have a contest among my readers to see who can most accurately report the body count.

That raises the ultimate question – How much is too much? Continue reading

Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Tamela J. Ritter Asks What She Should Be Reading

Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to the Endless Possibilities Blog Tour. Two weeks remain, and today I’m so happy to welcome to my corner of the Interwebz Tamela J. Ritter. Tamela came to me and asked what I’d like to feature on my blog, and of course I mentioned Science Fiction and Fantasy. Turns out that Tamela is on the lookout for something new to read, and is asking you for some suggestions with an emphasis on characters and character development.

You know, Tamela—I can recommend a pair of secret agents set in a steampunk world


Hi, my name is Tamela J. Ritter and I am a sci-fi/fantasy n00b. 

Lavery_Maiss_Auras--What I Imagine I look like readingI was supposed to come here and talk about writing, about creating and producing fiction. Instead, if Tee doesn’t mind, I’d like to use this space to talk about reading and consuming fiction. And also, hopefully gather some recommendations from you all. Continue reading

Lightning Strikes Twice: THE JANUS AFFAIR on Goodreads’ 2012 Choice Awards

As you have probably caught on TwitterFacebook, and the official website of the Ministry, our repeat appearance in the book readers’ social network, Goodreads, has been the subject of conversation. The first round was comprised of selections from title activity and reviews, and the second round included write-in nominations with the original nominees. This is not new territory for Pip and me as Phoenix Rising landed the eighth top slot for Best Science Fiction of 2011, but still…

We asked for your votes.

We watched the deadlines come and go.

And this week, you all made it official — The Janus Affair is a Finalist for Best Science Fiction of 2012.

Goodreads and its community of readers have spoken and here is (by author, in alphabetical order) their Top Ten Best Science Fiction of 2012: Continue reading

Set your pocket watches! New Steampunk Fiction coming soon…

Contrary to popular belief that steampunk is dead, and thinking that maybe you missed the recent announcement on The Shared Desk or the Ministry website, I wanted to bring the news and the official launch date for the next project from Imagine That! Studios

10 April 2012

 

Continue reading

The Goodreads 2011 Choice Awards (or How Much I Love Gravy at Thanksgiving)

Phoenix Rising, available in bookstores everywhere!This month, on Twitter, Facebook, on the podcast, and even at the official website of the Ministry, we’ve been talking up the recent accolade from the book readers’ social network, Goodreads. The first round was comprised of selections from Goodreads, based on activity and reviews. The second round included write-in nominations. Both were voted on by members of the Goodreads network.

Today, it’s official — Phoenix Rising is a Finalist for Best Science Fiction of 2011.

Goodreads and its community of readers have spoken and here is (by author, in alphabetical order) their Top Ten Best Science Fiction of 2011:

  • Ann Aguirre, Aftermath
  • Ilona Andrews, Silver Shark
  • Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris, Phoenix Rising
  • Earnest Cline, Ready Player One
  • James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes
  • Hillary Jordan, When She Woke
  • Stephen King, 11/22/63
  • China Miéville, Embassytown
  • Rob Thurman, Basilisk
  • Daniel H. Wilson, Robopocalypse

Continue reading

Sucker Punch: The Title Says It All

[WARNING: While this review does not contain spoilers, the Comments do. You have been warned. Now...read on...]

Director and Writer Zack Snyder can really make a beautiful movie. Snyder set his own style with films like 300 and Watchmen, but has also come under fire for making movies that lack depth or are very “comic book” in their almost balletic approach to graphic violence. When you consider his last two films were pulling from (wait for it!) graphic novels, it makes you want to bitch slap critics. Perhaps this is why critics (and perhaps, some moviegoers) have been overly critical of Snyder’s latest film, Sucker Punch.

On reading some of these reviews, though, I have to ask “Did you see the same film as I did?” I not only loved Sucker Punch, I am here to tell you that missing this on the big screen would be a crime. It is original. It is surprising. It is intelligent.

What is isn’t is what the critics are making it out to be: Geekboy Titillation.

Now there’s no denying it: Snyder covers all of the bases in this flick. Sucker Punch offers up zombies, steampunk, dragons,  WWII bombers, and katana swordfights. And yes, all of the gunfire and swordplay is happening with women who all just happen to be hot. Continue reading