On My Shelves: Dragon Age II

  While I had enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins (and its DLC add-ons) immensely (see my prior review), things I had heard about Dragon Age II made me somewhat reluctant to get it; the most weighty of these being that unlike the prior game, Dragon Age II limited you to a single character, not to the several different choices of character (classes of Rogue, Warrior, Mage and species of Elf, Dwarf, and Human, with Dwarves unable to become Mages, and other choices of social class creating multiple combinations of character type, each of which had [ Continue reading... ]

On My (Virtual) Shelves: GrrlPower

Sydney: "Inverse Ninja! Inverse Ninja!" Vehemence: "… Heed your genre-savvy protégé, Colonel; the main event is indeed about to start."   A webcomic by Dave Barrack that started back in 2010, GrrlPower updates twice a week. A superhero comic, it focuses on a predominantly female cast and is specifically centered on the mystery and (mis)adventures of Sydney Scoville, a rail-thin, ADHD (medicated, and the medication isn't strong enough), genius ultra-geek girl in a world where comics aren't the only place where you'll see [ Continue reading... ]

The Craft of Writing: When I Ignore Science

Writing science fiction – especially hard science fiction, where you're expected to keep to what modern science believes is possible, rather than inventing force fields, lightswords, faster-than-light-drives, or other accoutrements of space opera – is a demanding task. It's not necessarily harder than writing, say, good epic fantasy; they're both equally difficult, in my view, just with different areas of difficulty. It does, however, have external demands that other types of speculative fiction don't really have to worry about. In my "day [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Disney’s Aladdin

The Disney Corporation has produced many animated films over the years, ranging from the old classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  (wow, not available?) to newer films like The Black Cauldron, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and many others, some very good, some… not so good.   One of my favorites of all is Aladdin.   The basic plot of this Disney version of the old classic is probably very well known. Street-rat Aladdin (with his sidekick monkey Abu) encounters the runaway princess Jasmine and has a few [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Superman

  "That man won't quit as long as he can still draw a breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am!"      The Man of Tomorrow. The Last Son of Krypton. The Man of Steel. [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer."   Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the biggest media phenomena of its generation, and probably the single largest reason for the explosion in popularity of urban fantasy in the last few decades. While it has many ancestors (including the original movie, which [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: My Top Ten Videogame Music Selections

As I have mentioned more than once, when writing I usually listen to music. I look for music that inspires and shapes my imagination, often becoming themes for events or characters or settings. As the technology has progressed, I have found that video games often provide some surprisingly inspirational themes. Here, then, are my top ten favorite pieces of music from various video games!   Silent the Universe: Star Ocean 2 Opening Theme. Composed by Motoi Sakuraba, this beautiful piece of music opens the game with a deep-space object [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Kill La Kill

  "In Heaven's stead, we smite clothing!"      A grim avenger appears at Honnouji Academy. Their father was murdered, the only clue the weapon embedded in Isshin Matoi's chest – half of an immense pair of red-metal scissors or shears, and whispers of a connection to the leader of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council of Honnouji, Satsuki Kiryūin. Armed with nothing but an unbendable will, the half-scissor as a sword, and startling combat skill, this lone mysterious figure swears they will confront the super-powered Council and tear the [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Secret Identity

  Clark Kent is a teenage boy living in Picketsville, Kansas, a boy who has dreams of being a writer, and a well-developed ability to endure the constant teasing – both well-meaning and malicious – that comes with being named after the secret identity of the most famous superhero of all time. For he lives in our world, or one very like it, where there are no superhuman beings, only stories of them. But one night, while camping alone, he awakens to find himself actually floating in midair. He can fly. He has super-strength, and [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Shadow

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"      In 1930, Street and Smith's Detective Story Hour began featuring a sinister-sounding narrator who identified himself only as "The Shadow". Somewhat to the publisher's surprise, The Shadow was so distinctive that listeners started asking for "The Shadow" magazine rather than "Detective Story". Not being foolish, they immediately began publication of such a magazine, featuring a fleshed-out version of the character who had previously been little more than a voice with an [ Continue reading... ]