Top Things For 08/20-08/26

This really is the story of my life

 

What’s up guys! Did you all have nice weekends? I most certainly did! I went to a wedding, and a vineyard, and a club for the first time! I drank for like an entire day, and danced a lot, and made new friends. Oh yeah, and turned TWENTY FIVE. Real Talk: It’s bizarre. I don’t have a full-time job, I live at home, haven’t seen many of my friends in over a year. That being said, I’m in the best shape of my life, totally off my anti-depressants, and pumped about new goals and opportunities. So in conclusion: Year of Penny Ian!

As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve made a couple tweaks to this feature. It’s no longer “This Week In…” which was fun but also voluminous and shockingly hard to research (seriously, each post took like two hours), but it’s also still present, because I think it’s good, useful information for people. SO, to compromise, it’s now “Top Things,” because everything else has “Things” in the title, and we will now only have one recommendation per category! So let’s go!

Books

My top book pick of the week is Such Wicked Intent, which is book two in the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series. You can read the book synopsis here, but basically it’s the story of a young Victor Frankenstein and his quest to master alchemy and other darker forces. It definitely looks very Young Adult, but I love the original story of Frankenstein, and I’m kind of a sucker for Alt History/ Alt Fiction. It looks like a light, fun read, and the series has pretty glowing reviews up on Goodreads, so I may give it a chance.

Comics

If you only pick up one comic book this week – which in general is completely unfathomable to me – I would have to recommend Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1. Why? Well for one thing, it’s a first issue, so there’s literally no better place to jump in. For another, it’s written by J. Michael Straczynski, the man behind like a decade of Spider-Man, and the creator of Babylon 5. So there’s that. And while the whole Before Watchmen thing has been fairly meh-received (sorry, couldn’t think of a proper adjective there), Dr. Manhattan is by far the most compelling character of the Watchmen story, in my opinion, so hopefully JMS will capture his progression from man to god, and make it interesting.

Movies

Well, the only movie coming out this week is Hit and Run, but no matter how much I love Kristen Bell (Spoiler Alert: It’s A LOT [she’s just so tiny!!]), any amount of Dax Shepard is just too much Dax Shepard. This movie looks effing awful. Let’s just all go see Dark Knight Rises again, yes?

Music

This week sees the release of Four by Bloc Party, a Post-Punk Revival band out of London and one of my personal favorite bands to listen to while running and working out. And while critics agree that their last album, Intimacy, was not their best effort, this new album is said to get back more to their roots, a la Silent Alarm – which is incredibly catchy and the main reason I love them. Watch this video, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of who they are.

Television

Well, as much as I want to tell you to watch the Fifth Season Finale of True Blood, which should feature Faeries vs. a 3,000 year old psychotic vampire, as well as shifters and vikings vs. Bill The Giant Douche, and some sort of vampire goddess manifesting herself, I can’tbecause I promised to only plug one thing in each category. So instead, I’m telling you to watch Breaking Bad, because it is just SO EFFING INTERESTING to see a mild-mannered chemistry teacher decide that he now wants to be the head of a Meth EMPIRE, and basically is no longer doing any of this crap for his family, or to make money, but just to stroke his ego and make him feel like the big man he could’ve been. He has become a major jerk who is borderline abusive and delusional and I CANNOT GET ENOUGH.

And finally on the blog, I hope to have a Sports Post from Jordan and another scintillating and delicious and generally mouth-watery food post from Griff. If not, John has a diatribe about Pop Music brewing, and I can always discuss fitness, because as I may have mentioned, I’ve become a gym rat and it’s all I can talk about and I vaguely hate how douchey I seem because of it! Anyway, thank you all for making 24 fun, and I look forward to a 25th year full of hope and promise and growing and changing and all that stuff that’s fun in fiction but hard in real life.

Peace.

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True Blood Rantings (Both Good and Bad)

So my feelings on True Blood are pretty well documented. But that was at the beginning of the season, and now here we are with just two episodes to go. And honestly, it’s like a whole new show lately. Spoilers to follow.

Increasingly, last season is feeling more like a fluke. The audience knows it was awful. The creators seem to know it was awful. Even the characters seem to know it was awful. What little happened, has been barely referenced, or flat-out contradicted. All that weird Demon Fairy Army waiting to kidnap everyone? Forget about them. They’ve gone Cirque Du Soleil/Burlesque. Lafayette has a demon inside him? Gone. Everything else? Irrelevant. This is purely good news.

Of course, the season hasn’t been perfect. It started off with way too many plot lines. Literally, every character – and there are over a dozen – had their own, separate story (other than Bill and Eric, they teamed up). Gone are the days of lovable background characters, popping up to brighten up a show about death and sex and violence. Now, everyone needs a season-long arc, that’s mostly depressing. In my opinion, we should have had Eric and Bill off doing Vampire Things. Jason and Sookie investigating Fairy Things. Then we could have a smaller plot of the Human Supremacists fighting Supernaturals. We could still have Sam and Luna being angry vigilantes, but as they would be targeting ALL Supes, this would have been a good way to connect Alcide to the rest of the cast, instead of putting him off on his own again and again and again. In fact, done this way, the story could have also brought in Jessica, Tara, and Pam, as vampires were being killed too. The mystery of who was controlling the group could have been planted earlier, and done more subtly, and it could have been very Season One-esque – with twists and turns and a general sense of paranoia as you know that ANYONE could be behind all these awful things. And then finally, Terry’s stupid Ifrit storyline – if it had to happen – a) could have been less… “political,” if that’s the word for it, and b) could have been way cooler. We could have seen Terry and Arlene seeking help from Holly – the Wiccan – who in turn would have needed Lafayette. This ragtag group of mostly Normals could have gone on a mad-cap adventure, seeking help from Voodoo, Jesus (the spirit, not the God), and anyone else. This is kind of what happened anyway, but I would’ve liked to see them come together earlier, and resolve the plot line sooner as well. 

All that being said, recently the show has gotten very good. We resolved some plot lines, got rid of some characters, and realized that not every character needs to be in every episode. This latest didn’t feature Terry or Arlene, and only had about five seconds of Andy, LaLa, and Holly, and minimal Sam and Luna. There was no crazy Were-Grandma (aka “Ain’t No Skank” from Breaking Bad), or even any Alcide! Which, yes, I would normally consider a crime against humanity because he is SO UNBELIEVABLY FINE and frequently mostly/totally nude. But honestly I’m pretty tired of his character. For three seasons it’s just been “I’m Alcide. I hate being a werewolf. Eff this pack, eff that pack, I’m a loner with a sexy growl.” THREE. SEASONS. Enough already. 

Anyway, we’re really starting to get somewhere with all the Vampire Crap too! The destruction of the Tru Blood factories sets up an interesting new status quo for the world – which hopefully won’t be magically reset next season. Bill’s Face Heel Turn may have come out of nowhere, and be pretty out of character, but honestly “out of character” is a good thing when your character sucks ass. And random or not, it’s fun to see Eric as the moral compass of the show, and to see how Jessica reacts to her Vamp Daddy acting like her brainwashing, abusive, overly-religious Real Daddy.

Other good things: Russell, duh. His “conversion” was so obviously fake, it was about time he quit pretending. He and Steve are adorable and creepy together. Creeporable? Adoreepy? Whatever. And maybe I’m just dumb, but his plan to study Sookie’s blood rather than just drinking it all was actually not what I expected. And way more chilling. I mean, you can only die once, maybe twice on this show, but you can be cut open and healed and poked and prodded for mostly EVER, which is just creepy. 

Now, I’m not sure where the whole “Sookie being sold into vampire marriage” thing is going, or how/if it’s going to connect to the main plot. I hope it does, because plots should, in general, converge. Sookie has mostly won me over again this season, now that she’s killing vampires instead of boinking them. She goes out in the daylight again, and loves her brother, and isn’t having nasty dirt sex all over the place. Big fan. And I know a lot of people don’t like the fairy story line, and I can’t say I’m the biggest fan either, but I do really like Claude and his weird gypsy style and his “move over bitch we’re your family now, PS here’s soup, love you,” kind of energy.

Anyway, pieces are mostly in place for the finale, which looks to be/hopefully will be epic. We’ve got Bill and Eric and Jessica AND secret Luna and Sam IN the Authority, where there is also Emma the Puppy and a million craaaaaazy vampires, and some Olde Vampyr Acid Blood, and I’m sure hijinks will ensue. And in Bon Temps, Tara has MURDERED A SHERIFF, and I’m pretty sure it will rain crap down on everyone’s heads, including Jason and Sookie and LaLa et. al. 

So in conclusion, I am hella pumped for the finale, and if you were a fan but quit watching because it sucked for a while, I encourage you to catch back up on the season in time for the penultimate episode this Sunday. 

The Week in Pop Culture (08/06/12)

Gooooood morning cyboys and cybergirls! Hope you had a restful weekend. I spent a lot of quality time with my dog, while my family was at the hospital tending to my little brother’s broken wrist. I also got back in touch with my Papa John’s roots – and not in the good way of eating pizza, but rather making it. I already feel less ensouled than normal. Anyway, let’s get to it!

THIS. WEEK. IN….

Books

Tuesday sees the release of a new R. A. Salvatore book, “Charon’s Claw,” which concludes his Neverwinter Saga. I haven’t been reading it, but Salvatore is a huge name in the fantasy world, and this one sounds pretty legit. Read more about it here.

Comics

We’ve got a new Buffy, which has actually finally maybe started to hit its stride. It took an unbelievable amount of setup, but we’ve finally got a world where Buffy is kind of irrelevant, or unnecessary. Which means she’s got a lot of figuring out and growing up to do. About time!

There’s also a whole slew of Avengers vs. X-Men tie-ins, so definitely use your discretion. Some have been real nifty, others not so much.

Movies

This week actually has a bit of something for everyone. For the elderly people in your life who need a rom-com that speaks to their specific… issues… we have Hope Springs, which is officially the most cheesy title for a movie since Hope Floats. It stars Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carrell, and honestly it looks like cinematic Ambien.

For the action lover, there’s The Bourne Legacy, which is both thoroughly unnecessary, AND highly anticipated – at least to me. When I first heard about it, I groaned loudly and bemoaned my existence, but then when I saw the first trailer, I wet my pants. I mean Jeremy Renner has proven a more-than-capable action star, Rachel Weisz has been a HUGE crush of mine since The Mummy, Edward Freaking Norton is now in it, and it’s retained most of the supporting cast from the earlier franchise! This movie looks big and bold and pretty awesome. Here’s hoping it’s got sweet car chases, kung fu awesome-sauce, and less shaky-cam than Ultimatum.

And while I cannot in good conscience ENDORSE The Campaign for, well, anyone, I feel obligated to at least mention a movie that stars Will Ferrell, Zack Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis (my favorite), Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, and Dan Aykroyd. It’s really not my cup of tea, but that IS a pretty solid comedic cast. So if seeing a grown man punch a baby and a fat man play what looks like a really repressed gay Christian, well then go with God.

Music

This week in music, we’ve got a new album from 10 Years, if you’re into the alt-rock kind of scene. I personally find 10 Years completely palatable, but if you asked me to name a song, or even really describe their sound, I would draw a blank – even though I’ve been listening to rock radio since I was 14. I don’t know if this is a personal problem, or a reflection of the band, but it is what it is.

There’s also a new David Archuleta (a new ALBUM, not a new PERSON), so all you teenage girls that read this blog: get excited!

And I think I heard something about a new Snoop Dogg/Lion album? I’m seeing conflicting information on that one, but either way reggae is NOT my jam… mon.

Television

OK, what happened to True Blood?!? Seriously. After a season and a half of inching along at a snail’s pace through crazy-boring “plot” lines, suddenly things are kicked into high gear. The season has already resolved THREE of it’s plot lines (THREE!!), with three more episodes to go! Characters are starting to form groups, and interact with each other, and have tension and drama! It’s crazy! And these last three episodes look pretty awesome. It sounds like Sookie, Jason, Lafayette, Tara, Pam, and Jessica, as well as probably Arlene, Terry, Andy, and Holly, are gonna have some fighting to do, what with the vampire community pretty much in a civil war, and open season being called on humans. I’m actually digging Bill as a villain, and cannot WAIT to see Eric put the smackdown on SOMEONE. ANYONE at this point really.

Also, Breaking Bad. It is so tense it is giving me ulcers. Skyler has basically declared war on Walt, and while she may not have much of a plan other than “wait until cancer kills you,” at least it’s all out in the open. I’m hoping this will take her away from cowering crazy scared Skyler, and push her into like… try to kill you in your sleep Skyler, or something. Basically this season (read: show) is one giant clusterfrak waiting to happen, and I always love watching the pressure build and the pieces falling into place.

And that’s it for this week. A little light on literature, but plenty heavy on the moving picture shows, I suppose. Because, and I forgot to mention this, THE OLYMPICS are still happening and that’s really the best thing on Monday-Saturday. So, root for your countries, your favorite athletes, and feel some pride in your nation for once. Either John or I will see you back on Wednesday to talk about TV, not sure who yet. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be great. Peace.

True Blood: Season 5

If there’s anything like a holiday just for the gays, it’s the premiere of True Blood. Actually, there probably is a holiday just for the gays, but I don’t know it. Is that bad? I don’t feel bad. Should I feel bad?

Never mind. I’m here to talk about True Blood, which – contrary to popular belief – is (sometimes) more than just sexy times. True Blood is also something of a case study in diminishing returns. The first season was, by my reckoning, fantastic. There was one central plot, around which the other plots revolved. It was simple: a serial killer is loose in Bon Temps, killing women who have had congress with the beast. Sookie is targeted, and seeks refuge in Bill. Jason’s girlfriends keep dying, and he is targeted by the police. Sure, there was a lot of other stuff going on – Bill’s punishment (aka Jessica), Jason and Amy kidnapping a vampire, Tara getting exorcised, etc. But there was, in general, a really tight focus. There was some really strong music, and a number of truly moving scenes – Sookie eating pie after her gran’s funeral sticks out as the best moment of the entire series for me. I liked how Merlotte’s was a central hub for the cast. Most of the cast works there (Sam, Tara, Sookie, Amy, Arlene, Terry, Lafayette), or is involved with someone who works there (Bill, Jason, Rene), or is investigating a murder there (Andy, Bud). It gave a lot of opportunities for characters to interact organically, and check in on everyone in one fell swoop. Yes, it was cheesy at times, and the romance moved way too fast, but it was a very good season, a blood-drenched, sexy murder mystery soap opera.

Seasons two and three were still good, although less so. The second season split the cast and the action in half for most of the time. Sookie, Eric, Bill, and Jason (and sometimes Hoyt and Jessica) were in Dallas attempting to infiltrate a violent Christian military camp (I guess that’s how best to describe it?), while Tara, Sam, Lafayette, and Andy held the fort in Bon Temps, dealing with a supernatural sex cult. Michelle Forbes was great that season, and the increased screen time for Eric was an obvious plus.

Season three brought us Russell, the vampire King of Mississippi, who was a fantastic villain. He was campy and over the top to the extreme. But he was also delightfully evil, and brought a sense of fun back to the show after a year of depressing arcs. In general there was too much vampire politicking, and the cast began to feel a bit bloated. Sam had almost nothing to do, and Tara’s arc was so mind-numbingly soul-crushingly dark, that I hoped she would die the True Death sevenfold. Then all of a sudden there were werepanthers who were also in-bred meth heads? And somehow Jason was involved? But by and large the season was solid, and we got tons of Alcide (actor Joe Manganiello) who is by-and-large the hottest thing I have ever seen, and a fairly compelling character with actual, you know, morals. Plus the mystery of Sookie’s powers deepened, with the fairy revelation being both a bit of a let-down, and still pretty cool. I have no idea how that works. Don’t ask me.

Season four, however, was bad. While the jump in the future was interesting, and made it look as though the show might shake things up, it ultimately mattered very little. Sam found a shifter girlfriend who, while being very attractive, added little to the show. Eric got amnesia and finally got with Sookie, but he was so childlike it was kind of creepy instead of steamy. Bill was a jealous bitch, again. Tara was a lesbian? A really pissed off lesbian? Who had no reason at all to be on the show God I hate her why won’t she just die. And of course there was a really terrible scene where all the vampires put on black Matrix leather and walk in slow motion to blow up a building. It was… the worst thing. I mean it. It was terrible. Cliché. Cheesy. Bad. BUT THEY SHOT TARA IN THE FACE THANK GOD YES.

So, finally on to the premiere of Season 5. In general, I liked it. It set up all the plot threads for the season, and boy are there a lot of them. You’ve got Bill and Eric on the run, which would have been great on its own, but look! More vampire politics! Yay. I don’t know why the show continues to shove this in our faces, when it is exactly no one’s favorite thing. Oh and speaking of fan-hate, Tara’s alive! As a vampire. Even though she hates them. So, chances are we’ll get to see EVEN MORE of Tara being angry. Thank God for that! (*Inserts gun into mouth, cries, realizes there’s more to life than television, cries more, buys tickets for Magic Mike, smiles, moves on*) Let’s see, what else… Sam watched some werewolf cannibalism, so there’s that… Alcide is either going to have to step up as pack master, or get killed, which could actually be interesting considering his disdain for wolves as a whole. Plus he doesn’t know Sookie killed Debbie, yet. How will that affect their relationship? Will they HAVE a relationship, with Sam taken and Bill and Eric on the run? Will Sookie go for a man with a body temperature? Does she deserve one? What else… Jason is in love with Jessica and Hoyt is mad at him. And while I like Jessica and Hoyt (and Arlene and Terry and Andy) they all just work so much better as background characters. I don’t need to see all their plot lines every episode. Just check in on their ridiculous little side-quests every other episode or so, and devote more time to a central plot. Like, say, the resurrection of the strongest vampire “alive,” who has a serious axe to grind with all the main characters?

So, ultimately as I said, I liked the episode. I wish we could have had more than just set-up for everything, but I’m sure we’ll get something this week. I wish Tara could have died and stayed dead. I hope Reverend Newlin does more than just stalk Jason. I want to see how his church reacts to his turn, and how he reacts to that. I want to see a weird buddy-cop/fugitive movie with Bill and Eric. I want Lafayette to go back to being sassy and fabulous. I want Sam to do something interesting for once. But things were set up pretty nicely, and I’m intrigued enough to continue through the season. Plus, you know, naked hotties.

For the Week of June 7th

What’s up guys! Welcome to another edition of “This Week In…” – my weekly column that breaks down the big things happening across the Pop Culture spectrum this week. The first week of the month is always crowded, which means there might just be something for everyone. So sit back, relax, and keep your arms and legs inside the carpet at all times.

Music

Well guys, according to Metacritic and Wikipedia, there are a TON of new music releases out this week. But unless you’re a fan of Alan Jackson or Bobby Brown, there really isn’t much out that I’ve actually heard of. Which – granted – doesn’t mean a whole lot, but still. The only two releases that even remotely piqued my interest were from punk (ish?) rock bands The Hives and The Melvins.

The Hives are from Sweden, which I try not to hold against anyone, but having lived in and loved Norway, I make no promises. They are most famous for this song, which was basically a flash in the pan for most people. I enjoy them, but really only in small doses.

And then there’s The Melvins, who formed in 1983. That’s basically thirty years ago guys. Thirty. Years. This week will see their NINETEENTH studio album release. NINETEEN. What. I have no opinions on them at all, but WOW. That is a LOT of music.

Movies

I love when two very different movies come out the same week. In some ways they’re competing (what with resources being fixed for the average movie-goer), but at the same time, they are clearly going after audiences that rarely overlap. This week, the two major releases are Madagascar III: The Reckoning Europe’s Most Wanted. I enjoyed the first Madagascar movie, despite my overall opinion that it’s just too… big… What I mean by that is really hard to explain, unless you’ve seen that episode of The O.C. where Summer starts dating a rip-off version of Seth, whose comedy is described as “big.” The Madagascar franchise has increasingly gone that way, by hiring more and more big name actors, devoting more time to lemurs dancing, and now – in the single most obnoxious trailer I have ever seen – Chris Rock. I swear, I’m only excited about this movie coming out so that that trailer will die.

I am vastly, categorically, geometrically, INFINITELY more excited about Prometheus, a sort of pseudo-prequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal ‘Alien.’ This is Scott’s first return to the franchise he started, and his first return to science fiction since the even more seminal ‘Blade Runner.’ Oh, and did I mention that it’s written by Damon Lindelof – co-creator of LOST? And if that wasn’t enough, Charlize Theron is there for the men and Michael Fassbender is there for the women/gays. Guys. I am freaking out over this.

Television

Monday – Eureka is back after a couple weeks off! I recently caught up on this series (finally), and by that I mean I watched four seasons in like five days. It isn’t perfect, and there are a lot of things I’d have done differently, but you can’t argue that it’s entertaining and generally light, with flashes of brilliance and a TON of heart. Tonight’s episode feature my uber nerd-crush Felicia Day, and the team’s attempts to pull her out of the “Matrix” she’s trapped in. If that isn’t your jam, you can always watch the beginning of a new season of Hell’s Kitchen, or a new episode of the fantastically awful Teen Wolf.

Tuesday – TNT kicks off its lackluster summer programming with Rizzoli & Isles, which is somehow starting its third season? Do people love not-so-subtle lesbian overtones that much? And speaking of overtones, there’s also the start of Franklin and Bash. Which is just so bad y’all. It’s not even laughably bad like Teen Wolf. It’s just awful, and there’s no enjoyment to be had from it. So please don’t. There’s also MORE Hell’s Kitchen, and the return of Tosh.0, which has started relying even more – let that soak in – on gimmicks like fashion. W/e.

Wednesday – Duets. Which should really be called “Totally NOT The Voice, How Could You Say That???” Also new eps of Royal Pains and zzzzzzz look I’m sleeping because I’m bored already.

Thursday-Saturday – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sunday – Sunday. Thank you, TV gods, for Sunday. We’ve got the season 5 finale of Mad Men. The show has always had phenomenal finales, and I’m sure this one won’t disappoint. Will we see Peggy again? Will Don make it a year without cheating? How will the firm move past the shocking Event of last night? Will Betty, inspired by a sudden upsurge in motherly ability, lose those last 20 lbs? Will Pete ever come clean about his affair with Rory Gilmore? I DON’T KNOW so watch.

And then of course, there’s True Blood. Ah True Blood. Waiting for me with open, overly-muscled and/or puncture-wound-ridden arms. Willing and eager to fill the void left in my week – and my heart – after Game of Thrones ended (spectacularly btw). Will the return of Russell revitalize the show, and return the delightfully campy mood of season three? Will the return of Reverend Newlin bring back the high quality of season two? Will the death of Tara free the show from her bad acting and overly-depressing storylines and incoherent actions? Will the inclusion of The Authority be sufficiently menacing, and catalyze action, or will it only serve to bog us down in EVEN MORE boring vampire politics? Only time will tell, but I’m hopeful.

Comics

DC Comics – Action Comics kicks off its “summer storyline” with Clark being hunted by Earth’s foremost hunter, looking for the ultimate game – aliens. More controversially, we’ll also be getting the first of the Watchmen prequels. These were met with intensely violent fan reaction, in the adorable way that only Internet/comic nerds can muster. I have no doubt however, that these will be blockbuster titles despite/because of that, and I truly believe the company has thrown its best talent at the challenge. And then Animal Man continues its apparently phenomenal run that I totally promise I will definitely read someday soon for realz.

Image – Morning Glories #19! The last issue was – as always – epic, revealing, interesting, and confusing. As Season One/Year One draws to a close (I think) this year, the book should be moving to some sort of momentous reveals, questions, cliffhangers, and shakeups in the status quo. So do yourselves a favor and get the trades and Marathon Mode this beast.

Marvel – Most “importantly,” we have a new installment in the Avengers vs. X-Men saga, with Issue #5, the end of Act One. So far the story has been pretttttty boring, so maybe moving into a new act will help? Maybe? Fingers crossed? There’s also a SLEW of tie-ins, and the always satisfying X-Factor

Books

And finally, books! This week has two releases I could get excited about. From Sword and Laser:

Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon’s Children) by Alastair Reynolds
The first of three novels in a series called ‘Poseiden’s Children’ set at different points over 11,000 years of future history. Blue Remembered Earth focuses on an industrialized Africa as humanity settles the rest of the Solar system.

 Alastair Reynolds is a time-tested author, both of novels and on io9.com, a sci-fi/fantasy blog I read daily. This book interests me because it sees Africa as the center of the world, rather than America or China or Russia or India. It’s a refreshing change, and the idea of looking at different points, rather than telling one long story, is also pretty cool.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

If you’re a fan of Star Trek, you know what the term “redshirts” means. If not, allow me to explain. In the early days of Star Trek, the crew would encounter some new Space Mystery each week. They would invariably send down a team to investigate. Since the show was about the officers on the bridge, they couldn’t just send some grunts with actual, you know, qualifications down there, so they would send the bridge crew. The captain, the first mate, the head doctor. The people that run everything. I’m pretty sure this is bad leadership. Anyway, once down there, there would always be some fighting. Since the show is, again, about these people they can’t die. So how do you show that The Stakes are REAL? You bring along some nobody (in a red shirt), and kill them. Every. Episode. And so the term “Redshirt” was born. Redshirt: aka Cannon-Fodder.

Anyway, I like that this book plays with the idea, and shows some characters getting genre-savvy. I’m very interested in this one guys.

And finally, if you’re like me and enjoy the Sword and Laser podcast/video show, they/we are reading “Tigana” this June. I haven’t bought it yet, because I’m still in denial that May is over and that I failed to finish “Hyperion” on time, but I’m sure I’ll get over that soon as Summer Boredom sets in. So, won’t you read it with me? You can find all the pertinent information on http://www.swordandlaser.com

And that’s it for today! Come back on Wednesday when I discuss Comics! Not sure if I’ll be discussing the DC Universe’s newest/oldest gay hero, Green Lantern (not the one you’re thinking of), or the Watchmen Prequels, but I guess we’ll see huh? And then on Friday we should get a post from Will on movies! And, if you’re lucky, I may just review Snow White and the Huntsman, which yes, I saw on yes, opening night. Peace!