Jun 29, 2011

Second excerpt from Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law

Tor has released a second excerpt from Sanderson's upcoming Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law. Chapter 2 can be read here.

Jun 28, 2011

Cover art for Hannu Rajaniemi's The Fractal Prince

The Quantum Thief has been getting some very big praising and is high on my "to read" list. Here is the cover for the US edition of its sequel, The Fractal Prince. And just like the first book, it looks positively gorgeous!

Jun 26, 2011

Cover art for Philip K. Dick's Adjustment Team

The artwork for Philip Dick's Adjustment Team - volume two of Subterranean's new project to collect his short stories. Looks a little... ugly...

Jun 24, 2011

Game of Thrones casting call: Natalie Dormer is Margaery Tyrell

From Entertainment Weekly.

Tudors star Natalie Dormer will play the part of Margaery Tyrell in Season 2 of Game of Thrones. Although appropriate for the part, it is strange to me that hey would cast a relatively familiar actress for it, considering Margaery is barely in the second book. Perhaps her role will be slightly larger in the show?

The first image of Martin Freeman as Bilbo

From Entertainment Weekly.

”He fits the ears, and he’s got some very nice feet,” Jackson says of his Bilbo. ”I think he’s got the biggest hobbit feet we’ve had so far. They’re a little bit hard to walk in, but he’s managed to figure out the perfect hobbit gait.”

Cute. And there are some dwarves in the background too!

Jun 23, 2011

More News on HBO's American Gods

Mad Hatter sheds some more light on the upcoming HBO show American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman's book.

First and foremost Neil mentioned that the first season of the HBO adaptation of American Gods will be comprised of the whole of the novel. Given that it has been discussed that there are plans for 6 seasons Neil will be providing a lot more information. The idea that the “Monarch of the Glen” being made part of the series seems likely as well. Plus Neil said there are at least two more stories about Shadow’s time in Europe that take place after Monarch and before the events of the planned sequel to American Gods. Neil briefly discussed the shorts and seemed interested in getting to them sooner than later. He also brought up what he calls “The American Gods Sequel Box,” which includes Bigfoot, a possible appearance by Jesus, and a tiny town in Florida founded by Spiritualist in the 20s comprised of lots of tarot reading shops. It is apparently a real thing.

Sounds good to me. Plus, Gaiman has worked in TV before, so if he is in control of the project the way Martin is with Game of Thrones, it should turn out to be a really good show.

Jun 22, 2011

An excerpt from Vernor Vinge's Children of the Sky

Once upon a time, I read a book called Fire Upon the Deep, by a guy named Vernor Vinge that I'd never heard of before in my life. The book was mind-blowingly awesome, even translated in Bulgarian, and since then I've kept an eye on Vinge. So I was really happy when Tor announced a sequel to Fire, titled Children of the Sky.

Here is an excerpt from the book, and here is the blurb:

Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them.

While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power…and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed.

I am definitely doing a reread of Fire Upon the Deep soon. I'm really excited about this one!

Jun 20, 2011

Game of Thrones Index

Considering the ridiculous number of posts on this blog that are dedicated to HBO's Game of Thrones, I decided to make an index containing all the material on the Codex.

Episode reviews:

Episode 1 - Winter is Coming
Episode 2 - The Kingsroad
Episode 3 - Lord Snow
Episode 4 - Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things
Episode 5 - The Wolf and the Lion
Episode 6 - A Golden Crown
Episode 7 - You Win or You Die
Episode 8 - The Pointy End
Episode 9 - Baelor
Episode 10 - Fire and Blood


, here, here, here, here, here, and here

Episode Previews and clips:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3 and here
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 9
Episode 10

House previews:

House Stark

Houses Targaryen, Lannister and Baratheon

Character profiles:

Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish

Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, Catelyn Stark, Jon Snow, Bran and Robb Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, Khal Drogo, and Robert Baratheon


In Production
The Artisans: Buster Reeves, Simon Brindle, Richard Roberts, and Maisie Williams
An Invitation to Westeros


Here, here, here, here, here, and here


Episode titles and release dates

A Sad review...

and George Martin's reply to it

Whoa... That was a s*itload of posts. I am slightly disturbed by myself...

Game of Thrones Episode 10 - Fire and Blood

I was very anxious to see this episode. Fire and Blood, the finale to the first season of what might easily be the most ambitious fantasy project since Jackson's Lord of the Rings. So many things could have gone wrong in this one, but I am happy to say they didn't.

The episode doesn't focus on any one line in particular, instead spreading evenly on all of them. Everyone gets the perfect amount of screen time, and many lines from the second season start here. Actually, a number of little details that happen in A Clash of Kings are shown here.

There are only two new scenes - a short conversation between Catelyn and Jaime that showcases Coster-Waldau's talent that was left unused for most of the season; and a weirdly random monologue of Maester Pycelle's disguised as a post-coital lecture given to Ros (Esme Bianco whose presence in the show is a total enigma to me).

Of course, the strongest scenes are in the Daenerys line. The interaction between her and Drogo is heartbreaking, while Mirri Maz Duur is slightly more dignified than in the book, and her venom is rather downplayed.

And then, of course, there is the finale, which - while differing slightly from the book in terms of... uh... hair - is superb in every possible aspect, including its sparse use of special effects.

So, that's it. Season 1 of Game of Thrones is done, and we are left with ten episodes of brilliant success. The show had its ups and downs, but its downs are easily dismissable, while its ups are on par with HBO's best. They did justice to an amazing book that looked to me impossible to translate properly into the TV medium, and I have rarely been so happy to be proven wrong.

I have no idea how I am going to survive the wait for Season 2...

Season 1: 9/10

Jun 18, 2011

Brandon Sanderson wins the David Gemmell Legend award

So, Brandon Sanderson won the DGLA 2011 for best novel with his Way of Kings. Congrats to him, even if I have severe reservations where this particular award is concerned. The other winners and coverage of the event could be found here.

The cover of David Wingrove's Daylight on Iron Mountain

After the gorgeous cover of the first part of Wingrove restarted, revamped and reimagined Chung Kuo series, here is the second one. It looks even better than Son Of Heaven, if that is even possible. I am still to start reading the first book, but I have very fond memories of the original series, so I am hoping this project polishes the rough edges.

Jun 17, 2011

Exciting Hal Duncan news

Hal Duncan posted on his blog about his forthcoming poetry collection Songs For the Devil and Death. The collection is coming in July for those of you, interested in his unorthodox writing. I know I am.

In other news, Duncan has signed a deal with Lethe Press for a collection of his short stories. No further info for now, but I'll keep you posted.

Excerpt from Brandon Sanderson's The Allow of Law

Tor has released the prologue and first chapter of Brandon Sanderson's upcoming Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law.

We are very excited to offer this excerpt from Brandon Sanderson’s fourth and latest Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law, out November 8th from Tor Books!

Tor.com will be releasing six excerpts in all from The Alloy of Law as the weeks go on, along with sweepstakes, news, and other fun stuff, so keep checking back!

You can keep track of the excerpts by bookmarking this page, or by visiting our Brandon Sanderson Master Index.

It seems good, although you can't really get much from so little text. To read the excerpt, click here.

Jun 14, 2011

Terry Pratchett has started the process of assisted suicide

From Guardian:

Sir Terry Pratchett, the fantasy writer who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008, said yesterday he had started the formal process that could lead to his own assisted suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.

Pratchett, whose BBC2 film about the subject of assisted suicide is to be shown on BBC2 tomorrow, revealed he had been sent the consent forms requesting a suicide by the clinic and planned to sign them imminently.

"The only thing stopping me [signing them] is that I have made this film and I have a bloody book to finish," he said during a question-and-answer session following a screening at the Sheffield documentary festival Doc/Fest.

He said that he decided to start the process after making the film Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, which shows the moment of death of a motor neurone sufferer, millionaire hotel owner Peter Smedley.

Pratchett, the creator of the Discworld novels who was 60 when he was diagnosed, said his decision to start the formal process did not necessarily mean he was going to take his own life.

According to Dignitas, 70% of people who sign the forms do not go through with taking their own lives.

I find this news very sad. It is in a way a good thing that we live in a time where such a step is possible, and people suffering from things like Alzheimer should have the option to go with dignity if they so choose, but it is incredibly tragic that such a great voice in literature is to fade away in such a manner. I can only pray that Terry Pratchett has many good years ahead of him, before the sickness starts taking its toll.

Jun 13, 2011

American Gods on HBO in 2013

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions is set to produce an open-ended series, American Gods, for HBO, based on Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel, while the company’s next project, Major Matt Mason, is in talks with Robert Zemeckis to direct in 3D, Playtone partner Gary Goetzman told The Hollywood Reporter.

The series-in-development, revolving around the question “are you a god if no one believes in you?” is executive produced by Goetzman and Hanks, with Bob Richardson, and Gaiman on board as executive producer and writer.

Now slated for six seasons, each season will be of 10-12, hour-long episodes with a budget of around $35-40 million per season, targeted to debut on the cable powerhouse in 2013 at the earliest.

Rich in religious folklore that spanned millennia and featuring deities from Greek and Nordic mythology, and even the Judeo-Christian monotheistic God making an appearance, in the contemporary U.S., American Gods will be effects-heavy to do justice to the awe-inspiring power of the divine beings. “There are some crazy things in there. We’ll probably be doing more effects in there than it’s been done on a television series,” said Goetzman.

I am not sure I'm terribly excited about this. American Gods is not a book that could sustain even two, let alone six seasons of a well made TV show. Then again, the setting is compelling enough that HBO might simply decide to use only fragments of the story and make their own with Neil Gaiman's characters. Which, if you think about it, would not be such a bad thing. Still, it's a project that could easily turn very, very wrong.

Incidentally, this is the cover of the Spanish hardcover edition of the book. Pretty awesome, eh?

Game of Thrones, Episode 10 preview

Added scenes with Catelyn and Jaime. Oh goodie!

Game of Thrones, Episode 9 - Baelor

Episode 9 is the penultimate chapter in the first season of Game of Thrones, and it really does feel like the threshold to the ending. Dealing mainly with the battle between Robb Stark and the Lannisters in the North, Baelor has a magnificent scene between Tyrion, Bronn and the newly introduced Shae (Sibel Kekilli) which doesn't feature in the book, but serves to build all three characters to a degree I have rarely seen achieved in a single scene. Shae herself seems to me vastly different from her original literary form, and I was originally put off by her face, but after the aforementioned scene Kekilli seems more than appropriate for this new image.

Another great addition to the cast is David Bradley as the old Lord Walder Frey, guardian of the Twins at the crossing of the Trident. True, the actor is quite a lot younger than the character is supposed to be, but he has such a strong aura of Mean Old Man that he is just perfect for the role.

The episode also brings Daenerys' line to its final stage. Drogo's sickness isn't properly explained though, and for someone who hasn't read the book, the impression would be that Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou) either failed to heal him with her poultice, or intentionally poisoned him. Other than that, the Dothraki scenes are magnificent and emotionally charged, and I can't wait to see the season finale with Daenerys.

If I have a complaint, that would be the incredibly cheap way in which HBO avoided the budget issue with the battle between Robb's and Tywin Lannister's troops. I don't want to spoil it, but it is almost comical.

Other than that though, Baelor is a gorgeous episode, easily among the best in the season. With more than a few dramatic moments - the long awaited ending scene included - it smoothly guides us into the season finale next week. If Fire and Blood can keep that quality up, the first season of Game of Thrones will have been arguably the best fantasy ever to appear on the TV screen.

Jun 12, 2011

The White Luck Warrior - R. Scott Bakker

After the relative disappointment that The Judging Eye turned out to be (if only in comparison with the original Prince of Nothing trilogy), it took me a while to actually get into The White Luck Warrior. Part of it was fear of another disappointment, one that would cement the realization that even Bakker could not keep the quality and measure to his own high standards. Another part was the fact that the book was big, and in recent times it's been getting progressively hard for me to start large volumes, little reading time that I have.

Now I feel slightly silly for waiting so long, but better late than later. I have been denying myself one of the best fantasy novels in recent years.


The Aspect-Emperor's Great Ordeal marches on the Istyuli Plains, bound for ancient Kuniuri. In front of them the Sranc mob, more and more clans combining and running back, to turn into a Horde that would end up dwarfing the great army of Men. Varalt Sorweel, the young King of conquered Sakarpus, is trying to come to terms with the fact that the goddess Yatwer has chosen him to be her weapon against the Aspect-Emperor, hiding his face from the man's dread Dunyain gaze and that of his uncanny children, and positioning him in ever greater positions of power.

Meanwhile, the Skin Eaters continue their journey for ancient Sauglish and its fabled Library, where the Wizard Achamian hopes to find the secret location of Ishual - the ancient citadel of the Dunyain, the birth-place of Anasurimbor Kellhus. Mimara, daughter of the woman who left him for divinity, is struggling with the gift she has - the Judging Eye - and the knowledge that it reveals to her every time it opens, as well as her doubts about the old Wizard's mission.

And in Momemn, capital of the New Empire, the Holy Empress Esmenet is struggling to hold everything together. Assailed by Fanayal ab Kascamandri, the Bandit Padirajah and his Kianene rebels, Psatma Nannaferi, the Mother-Supreme of the Cult of Yatwer, the threat of civil war and the possible machinations of Maithanet, the Shriah of the Thousand Temples, she is blind to the biggest threat of all - her own little son Kelmomas, whose blood-thirsty manipulation threatens to destroy everything she cares about.

And the White Luck Warrior follows a path already trodden, an instrument of circumstances that will inevitably deliver him at the right moment in time and space where the Aspect-Emperor could be killed. But his journey has first taken him to Momemn...

The White Luck Warrior is split into those three lines, with multiple view-points in each one. The Ordeal is seen through Sorweel's POV and my favorite bird's eye view, which Bakker proved to be magnificent at in the original trilogy. The Slog of Slogs is told through Mimara and Achamion's perspectives, while the Momemn line is split into multiple sections - each of its chapters starts with a short scene with the White Luck Warrior, written in italic, and told in a very Gene Wolfean style - due to the man's divine nature - following his inexorable progress towards the death of Anasurimbor Kellhus. Other major POVs are Esmenet and little Kelmomas', as well as the Zeumi sorcerer Malowebi, sent to live among the Kianene rebels to determine whether they are worth Zeum's help.

After The Judging Eye seemed to do nothing but set the new stage and spend half of its length in Moria - pardon, Cil'Aujas - the second part of The Aspect-Emperor propels the plot forward. Unlike with The Prince of Nothing, entire major story-lines end in this novel, leaving many characters' future open for speculation. Of the major POVs, it is Sorweel's that sees the most development. This was the character I hated the most in the first book, as he represented all that is unholy in Steven Erikson's writing, come to Bakker's work as a spreading of cancer. Not so in The White Luck Warrior. Instead of continuing feeling super sorry for himself, the young "Horse-King" actually grows up, his doubts no longer directed at the measure of his worth as a human being, but at his conflicting passions and loyalties where his monstrous enemy and even more monstrous patroness are concerned.

Description of epic battles and sorcerous displays has always been one of Bakker's strongest points, and he more than delivers in both aspects. The Ordeal faces multitudes of Sranc so vast as to obscure the horizon - a plague that does not dwindle even when hundreds of thousands of the abominations are destroyed by the army's four Schools. Where sorcery is concerned, nothing leaves quite as big an impression as the Swayali witches and their gloriously beautiful Grandmistress Anasurimbor Serwa. Kellhus has invented special clothing for his Schools - billows that allow protection against Chorae - and wearing those, the witches are described as flowers of light blooming in the sky. The words used to paint their glory resonated so well with me, at times I felt I was the sole focus of Bakker's writing.

There are two things that prevent The White Luck Warrior from being the perfect fantasy. One is the Mimara/Achamian story-line. It is just too devoid of events, too steeped in despair and drug-warped misery, as all the Skin Eaters slowly succumb to the lull of the mystical Qirri that the Nonman Incariol dispenses every night. At some point those chapters become almost unbearably hard to plod through, and even though the ending to that line more than pays off, less pages could have been spent on it, either leaving them for other lines, or making the book itself shorter.

The one true element I could not stand though, is Anasurimbor Kelmomas. I don't mind that he is a deranged little Stewie, and honestly, if he were only that, he would just spice things up in Momemn. But no, he has to be a Wesley as well! Bakker gives the little abortion an inordinate amount of plot-influence, spinning the entire Momemn line on the juvenile evil genius machinations, and every time something disastrous happened because of him, it made me cringe. There is this syndrome in some fantasy novels, that I can't describe properly. It is when events just turn bad in a bad way that you hate, not because you are attached to certain characters, but just because it's bad and not right. I know that those of you who have shared the feeling - the syndrome has been more than abundant in latter Malazan novels - will know exactly what I mean, and I apologize to the rest if I am unclear. Well, Kelmomas and his argh-inducing plot-direction are exactly that, and in a bad way. I do hope he has a less prominent role in the last book - I mean, he already fraked up everything that could be fraked up...

But despite that one ugly Anasurimbor tumor, The White Luck Warrior is superb. It is Bakker at his best, easily comparable with The Warrior Prophet in terms of quality. The story progresses toward the inevitable battle with Golgotterath, and The Unholy Consult promises to be an epic conclusion to The Aspect-Emperor. The writer himself has promised to basically shatter our world with that one, so I can only wait and hope.


Jun 8, 2011

And just like that - a new Michael Swanwick novel

Somehow Michael Swanwick managed to publish a book without me hearing anything about it. I am slightly disturbed by the lapse, but whatever. Now, I've always been somewhat reserved towards Swanwick's novels, whereas his short stories are nothing short of brilliant. Dancing With Bears however deals with Darger and Surplus - the two conmen from The Dog Said Bow-Wow, The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport and Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play - and those three stories are among the best I've ever read. Not to mention the amazing steampunk/biopunk postapocalyptic world their adventures are set in. So I have high hopes fir this one.

Here's the blurb:

Dancing With Bears follows the adventures of notorious con-men Darger and Surplus: They've lied and cheated their way onto the caravan that is delivering a priceless gift from the Caliph of Baghdad to the Duke of Muscovy. The only thing harder than the journey to Muscovy is their arrival in Muscovy. An audience with the Duke seems impossible to obtain, and Darger and Surplus quickly become entangled in a morass of deceit and revolution. The only thing more dangerous than the convoluted political web surrounding Darger and Surplus is the gift itself, the Pearls of Byzantium, and Zoesophia, the governess sworn to protect their virtue.

Jun 7, 2011

Game of Thrones, Episode 9 preview

The big battles come. Now we'll find out whether HBO has the muscle to pull them off.

Jun 6, 2011

Game of Thrones, Episode 8 - The Pointy End

The new episode finally pushes the plot ahead, and pushes it big time. By making quick jumps ahead and dispensing with all the logistics of travel, The Pointy End sees the effects of Ned Stark's attempt at revealing the truth of Joffrey's parentage spread throughout the Realm. Rob Stark calls the banners and the North begins marching on King's Landing, but the twin armies of Tywin and Jaime Lannister are barring the way. Arya is a runaway, her future uncertain, while Sansa is held hostage by the Queen, to be used as a leverage against the Starks. And on the other side of the sea, events are set in motion that would set Daenerys on her journey towards her destiny.

The Pointy End is among the best episodes in the season so far. All the major players see enough screen time, and the changes - like the missing Brynden Tully, the reason for Drogo's wound and the completely erased mini-arc with Jon's attempt at running away from the wall - actually strengthen the plot. Tyrion's savages are adorable, Bronn proves to be just as cool as he originally promised to be, and even Cersei's constant constipation is somehow appropriate for her scenes. The star of the episode however is Richard Madden. His Robb Stark shows more backbone and determination than even the book gave him, and the interaction with his mother is beautifully subtle (not in small measure due to Michelle Fairley's superb acting).

So, the end draws near and everything is set for the grand finale. Two more weeks and we'll know if the hype was worth it.

Jun 5, 2011

Movies: X-men: First Class

I am a HUGE X-men fan. For various reasons this has always been the comic book series that I have loved the most, even if at times writers turn it into a disgusting soap opera. There is just something that draws me back every time. So when it was announced that an X-men movie is in the making, I was beside myself with excitement. It was the year 2000, and I was a lot younger, but it was also more than that. The super hero movie was nowhere near the huge budgets and blockbuster status that it now has, and after a few horrible Batmans, it was considered bad taste to even call it cinema.

Enter Brian Singer and his original X-men. The approach he had chosen was unique. Instead of gaudy suits and flamboyant action scenes, Singer had gotten to the core of what makes that particular series good, and the movie was more a social drama than a superhero action. Of course, it didn't lack in the latter regard either, and the end result was mind blowing. The fact that it took a major crap-fest like Wolverine to actually ruin the franchise, speaks of its inherent quality.

When they announced X-men: First Class, I was nowhere nearly as excited as I had been 11 years ago. I've seen too many comic book movies now, not all of them bad, and the 60's setting seemed a bit too far from the roots of the series. But then I heard that it will be a true prequel to the original trilogy, and not a reboot - as is so fashionable these days - and thought there might be some potential there. Then the cast was announced. Then the trailers started appearing.

And I was sold.

X-men: First Class is different from the original trilogy. Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass) has created a campier, more comic-book feeling movie than Brian Singer's sombre realism, and even with all the implausibility and plot holes that entails, it actually works great. The 60's setting on the other hand fails, in my view, as there is very little actual 60's feel to it, but the Cuban missile crisis plot would not work without it, and in the few instances where it does have the feel, it is great, so I can't really criticize it.

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has just graduated from Oxford when he meets the young CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne). She is after an elite group called The Hellfire Club and run by the mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), and she believes that Xavier could help her, even though at first she doesn't know that he is a mutant himself. With the CIA's help he finds another mutant - the concentration camp survivor Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) who is after Shaw to avenge the murder of his mother - and together they form a team of young mutants in order to stop the Hellfire Club.

It's a typical Origin story, but unlike many movies of that sort, First Class doesn't waste most of its time origining. We already know who those people are, what they will become in the future. So Vaughn gives us an actual adventure which just happens to be their first one.

The two main characters are wonderful and the actors are perfect matches for the roles. McAvoy's Xavier is a lot more arrogant and cocky than Patrick Stewart's in the original trilogy, still having all his ideals intact and untested. He has supreme confidence in his powers, as well as his ability to help mutants and reach out to humans for peaceful coexistence. Fassbender's Erik is also not the Magneto that we know. Nowhere near as fanatic and without the hypocrisy and duplicity that mar Ian McKellen's character, he is a troubled and angry young man who is hunting for his mother's killer, not realizing what his anger is shaping him into.

Meanwhile, Kevin Bacon's Shaw is an evil beta version for Magneto's ideals (he even goes as far as to unwillingly provide him with his famous helmet). It is not a complex role, but Bacon is charming in his unapologetic evilness, while being smug and overconfident at the same time. Perfectly in tune with the unrealistic early comic book feel that First Class goes for.

The rest of the characters are the usual serving of heroes and rogues. Only one is memorable enough to warrant her own paragraph, and that is Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) - Charles' shapeshifting sort-of-sister who slowly comes to terms with the way she looks and the fact that she will never be accepted by anyone until she accepts herself. Her disappointment with Xavier and her subsequent infatuation with Erik are among the best storylines in First Class. Sadly, Lawrence's appearance - her face specifically - seems weirdly inappropriate to the character, but that might be just me.

Still, at times the movie isn't quite there. Perhaps we've reached the point where the superhero visuals just don't work anymore, or maybe the action just isn't good enough. It isn't really bad either, but it looks slightly uninspired, except for Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and his "evil Nightcrawler" fighting techniques, as well as some of Erik's brutalities. Most of it is fairly predictable too. The effects are gorgeous though, and a few scenes are just jaw-dropping (the submarine scene for example, and yes - there is actually more of it in the movie than in the trailer, if you could believe that!). It's just that we've seen most of it before.

Also, more than a few characters - like Riptide (Alex Gonzales), Havok (Lucas Till), Angel (Zoe Kravitz) or Darwin (Edi Gathegi) - just feel unnecessary, as if added only for the visuals (not surprisingly three of those are super attractive). Still, I am happy that the screenwriters kept their mutation in check, and didn't present us with too many characters to handle in a single movie. Apart from the ones listed above, everyone gets decent screen time and as much development as the scrip has allowed, thus saving First Class from the feeling of fanboy mutant-fest that tainted X-men 2 for example.

In the end, X-men: First Class might suffer from the modern comic book movie syndrome, but it is a good comic book movie. Lacking the ironic punch of the first Iron Man for example, it relies on the main duo's chemistry and their superb acting, and the gambit pays off. There are plot holes and there is also bad acting from some of the minor characters, and there is also the could-you-have-been-more-obvious horribleness of the "Mutant and proud!" line, but as a whole, I liked First Class quite a bit more than I've liked any comic book movie in years. It doesn't reach the effect of the original X-men and even though it's a lot better objectively, it can't replace The Last Stand in my heart, but it is way better than both X-men 2 and the unfortunate abortion that was Wolverine. So if there is even a little fanboy in you, or you just like quality summer popcorn movies, do yourself a favor, and go see it.

Plus, Wolverine's cameo is PRICELESS!!


P.S. There is no scene after the credits. Just fyi.

Jun 2, 2011

A new R. Scott Bakker interview by a trio of bloggers

Pat, Adam and Larry have done an interview with Scott Bakker, and the first part of it is up on Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. My favorite part:

- Speaking of THE UNHOLY CONSULT, what can you tell us about the final volume of The Aspect-Emperor?

Completing it will certainly be a tremendous relief, simply because it’ll allow me to finally talk about so many things I’ve kept bottled up for so many years. I’m not sure whether The Second Apocalypse will be anything more than a cult success, commercially speaking, but when you live with a story as long as I have, it becomes a kind of yardstick, something almost religious in its demands. I am very, very happy with how the tale has come along–thanks, in large part, to some important lessons I learned along the way. My brother and I used to pine and daydream about this back in our D&D days, so to see it rendered, every bit as epic as we hoped, and as profound and lyrically beautiful as I could make it... well, that’s just way, way cool.
It feels scriptural, in my imagination at least.

Now, at the top of the sixth inning, the bases are loaded and I need to hit the ball out of the park. So what I want to say is that The Unholy Consult is where most of the burning questions will be revealed. I write books that many people love to hate: my hope is that after this latest set of reveals, the series will have earned their grudging respect as something genuinely unique and daring.

Most of the interview deals with things other than The Aspect-Emperor series, but it is still very interesting. Make sure to check it out.

Jun 1, 2011

Some news about The Hobbit movies

The names of the two Hobbit movies are now known - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will hit theaters on 14 December 2012, while The Hobbit: There And Back Again is due 13 December 2013. Meanwhile, Peter Jackson addressed some questions. Apparently, Orlando Bloom is on board now (let's hope it's just a cameo, please God, let it only be cameo!), and as for the White Council and the attack on Dol Goldur:
“I’m not going to say just what and when, but I will confirm that both the White Council and Dol Guldur will feature in the movies. And not just in one scene either. Just how to visualise it has been a challenge, but fortunately Alan Lee and John Howe went crazy with ideas, and it should look pretty cool.

“In fact to celebrate the start of these 20 questions, I’ll show you an exclusive photo of the White Council planning the attack on Dol Guldur! Even if you don’t want to be hit with spoilers, you should still take a look. For the first image of Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel brandishing an array of fearsome Elvish weapons, CLICK HERE!”