On My Shelves: Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University

I've watched a lot of Pixar's output over the years, and never been disappointed, but for various reasons I'd missed both of these when they came out; Monsters, Inc. because of budget and timing constraints (and I never had a copy around the house to watch when I was at leisure later), and Monsters University because, well, it was a follow-on and I didn't see a point in watching it without having watched the first one. However, I've finally been able to watch them, courtesy of my friend Eric Palmer, and thus can review them! Both films [ Continue reading... ]

On Writing: The Maintenance of Belief

Anyone heavily involved in SF/F fandom will have encountered something that shattered their "WSOD" – Willing Suspension of Disbelief – and kicked them out of their immersion in the story to say, in one way or another "What the heck? That made no SENSE!" As an author, of course, I have to be very sensitive to this; I don't want my readers cranking along happily and then suddenly having their train of thought derailed. This is not, of course, something it's possible to avoid in a universal fashion; things that won't bother 99% of readers will [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Doctor Strange

Well, technically "soon to be on my shelves" since the movie hasn't been released to video yet!      Capsule summary: A near-perfect adaptation of the origin of Doctor Strange, updated without losing what made it work in the first place. Excellent acting, fine pacing, and clever scripting make this one of the better Marvel offerings, with only a few relatively minor flaws marring what is otherwise a stellar work. Cumberbatch was made to play Doctor Strange, continuing an amazing streak of beautiful casting decisions by Marvel. I look forward [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 28

This is probably the last snippet I will post. Let's look in on Simon... -----   Chapter 28.      "Fictional powers can be made real," Laila Canning repeated slowly. Her sharp brown eyes studied Oasis as though the redheaded woman was a specimen on her dissection table. "How certain are you of this?" "Between ninety-five and a hundred percent sure," Oasis said. "I mean, Wu Kung already demonstrated he's going totally beyond the normal limits of the Arena and he can do that talk-to-animals thing that no one does, as far as we [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 27

It was time we got some answers about what Vindatri wanted... -----   Chapter 27.      "Your words tantalize me, my friends," Orphan said as DuQuesne was still trying to wrap his mind around this latest revelation. "It is clear – it has, in truth, always been clear – that there is some great mystery surrounding Doctor DuQuesne, and his compatriots Wu Kung and Oasis and, I believe, Maria-Susanna. I have to believe it also has to do with Wu Kung's extraordinary performance in the recent Challenge. "It seems that these connections now [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 26

Something had Oasis frightened... -----   Chapter 26.      "Doctor Alexander Fairchild," repeated Simon, studying Oasis closely. The Hyperion-born woman was still not entirely herself; the strain showed in the stiffness of her arm as she reached out for the water-pitcher and poured herself a glass. She drank, looked aimlessly around the conference room that Simon had chosen when they had returned – in haste – to the Embassy. "Yes," she said finally. The name finally clicked. "Masaka. That was the name of the Hyperion AI that [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 25

There's another group we need to look in on... -----   Chapter 25.      Dajzail ripple-walked from the airlock down the ramp; Alztanza himself waited there, holding his fighting-claws rigid in salute. "Guard not," he said to Alztanza, who immediately relaxed his stance. "It is good to see you again, 'Tanza." The Fleet Master clattered a smile at him and they briefly clasped claws. "And you, Daj. How was your journey?" "Well enough, though it took me homeyears, it seemed, to extricate myself from the Embassy. I have selected [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 24

It's Ariane's turn to find out what's waiting for her... -----   Chapter 24.      Ariane stumbled to a halt, mouth dropping open, eyes wider than they had been since she was a child. The old man – who didn't look so old now, to a girl ten years older – smiled broadly at her and held his arms wide. "Hey there, racer girl!" I thought I was prepared. Boy, was I wrong, a part of her thought. That part, Captain Ariane Austin, Leader, knew perfectly well that this was – had to be – just an unexpected guise of Orphan's mysterious [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 23

Vindatri had separated them... -----   Chapter 23.      DuQuesne stared narrowly at the man before him. He knew the patrician, lined face, the graying hair that had once been brown, the sharp brown eyes looking levelly into his own, the half-smile of the lecturer and scientist so familiar to him. "I had expected to end up talking with myself," he said finally. "Not you, Professor Bryson." Clearly this couldn't be the man he looked like; this had to be one of Vindatri's guises. At the same time, it was almost impossible to think of [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 22

Even long journeys come to an end... -----   Chapter 22.      Wu Kung found himself feeling an incredibly rare tinge of apprehension, as well as awe, staring at the thing that had just become visible through the mists of the Arena's Deeps. Silhouetted against a backdrop of dull crimson clouds, it was black as night, an angular shape of incomprehensible vastness. An ebony stitching of criss-cross darkness that looked like monstrous girders, great arching curves with hints of fluted, organic shapes rising about a central assemblage of [ Continue reading... ]