On My Shelves: Spider-Man: Homecoming

This movie (plus small segments in Captain America: Civil War) represents the third depiction of Marvel's flagship hero Spider-Man in fifteen years. The first, starting in 2002, was Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3. Andrew Garfield rebooted the role in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Now Tom Holland takes up the webslinging role. Unlike the prior two incarnations, this version of Spider-Man doesn't bother us with the origin story. In that, I think the movie does depend on the viewer having [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Delirium Brief

In the prior Laundry Files novel, The Nightmare Stacks, the UK was invaded by a desperate army of super-Nazi magic-wielding Elves. Fortunately, the army was defeated when the innocent young vampire (er, sorry, PHANG) agent captured the heart of the Elven Princess and the two of them defeated her Evil Stepmother and Evil Overlord Father, thus making her the All-Highest. Of course, all this troperiffic goodness was filtered through the twisted nature of the Laundryverse, but still, it was surprisingly upbeat; eldritch horrors notwithstanding, [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror

Lawrence Watt-Evans has been one of my favorite authors for years, and I've liked many of his books. I've previously reviewed his first entry in the Tom Derringer series; it's good to finally see the next of Tom's adventures.   The Tom Derringer series takes place in a world superficially like our own in the late 1800s – but one in which "Adventurers" of the pulp sort are a real thing, where there are mysterious cities of gold, ancient cursed temples, hidden worlds of unknown races of men, and so on. Tom himself is the son of a [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Nightmare Stacks

  Alex Schwartz used to be a programmer for an investment banking group, basically dedicated to finding new, more effective, more profitable, ways to analyze financial data and guide investments. His was a six-figure salary, the vision of ever-increasing bonuses, and a life mostly constrained by in-house geekery and a lot of pressure. Then he programmed something a little too elegant and complex, and summoned something from the mathematical beyond that lurks just beyond the edge of everyone's normal reach in the Laundryverse. That [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Here’s the detailed drawing…

... of the image partially seen on the cover of Princess Holy Aura! Original by Morinekozion, of course!   [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Dragonball Super

I have previously reviewed Dragonball and Dragonball Z (http://grandcentralarena.com/on-my-shelves-dragonballdragonball-z/), which in a nutshell I described as "the Skylark series of anime and manga. It has much of the same cheerful, full-speed-ahead energy, the same innocence of the protagonists, the same fairly simple, blunt-instrument approach to moral problems… and the same incredibly-escalating powerscale. It may not be the BEST of its kind, and perhaps many of the pieces were there beforehand, but it was the one that put them all together [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Wonder Woman

(technically it WILL be On My Shelves but was On The Screen) I recently had the opportunity to see the new Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot. This means I get to post a review of something that ISN'T ten years out of date! Short and unspoilery: This is what the DC-Cinematic universe has been waiting for, a movie with a superheroic main character who's allowed to be – who insists on being – a Super Hero, one whose conflicts stem from idealism versus the real world's limits, and that refuses to accept the real world's [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Annihilation Score

Dominique "Mo" O'Brien is a combat epistemologist, expert violinist, and field agent for The Laundry, the same ultra-top-secret bureaucracy that Bob Howard works for. In fact, Mo is married to Bob. Their marriage has had… stresses on it. All Mo has to deal with is her eldritch violin trying to either seduce her or control her (it's hard to say which), being suddenly assigned to run a brand-new division of law enforcement, having to work with Bob's fearsome ex Mhari, the sudden outbreak of superheroes (and villains) popping up everywhere, the [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Persona 5

"We will definitely take your heart!"   The Persona series of JRPGs, the most successful component of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, is simultaneously unique in its approach, and at the same time something of a perfect distillation of what makes console JRPGs work. I have previously reviewed Persona 3 and Persona 4, as well as Persona 4 Arena, a fighting game spinoff of 4 which had startlingly deep story and character elements. Those prior experiences set a terribly high bar for the sequel to clear. It succeeded. Like its [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: RUSH

"In the constellation of Cygnus there lurks/A mysterious, invisible force:/The black hole of Cygnus X-1…"   Many are the rock bands that emerged from the 1970s; few are those who survived the decades since. Even fewer are those that impressed me, not with one or two songs, but with entire ALBUMS that I would collect and listen to most of. My usual music-listening habits involve picking one or two songs out of an entire band's career that I like, which is why I rarely will say I like a given band. But there is one huge exception: the [ Continue reading... ]