books

An Exclusive Interview with Michael J. Martinez (Author of the “MJ-12” Series)

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Photo by Anna Martinez

A few weeks ago, the third (and final) book in the MJ-12 series, MJ-12: Endgame, was released (and you can check out my review of it here). It’s a super good, super satisfying conclusion to the series and I fully recommend anyone who’s a fan of superheroes, spies, alternate histories, or speculative fiction check it out. Recently, I got the chance to ask Michael J. Martinez (author of the MJ-12 series and the Daedalus trilogy) some questions related to the MJ-12 series, his inspiration behind it, his process of writing it, and his thoughts and feelings related to certain characters and events that happened throughout the book. NOTE: About 2/3 of the way through the interview, a few of the questions ventured into spoiler territory. Those questions have been clearly marked with a large block of texts that indicates when the spoilers begin and end. If you haven’t finished MJ-12: Endgame, I highly suggest you skip past that section until you’ve read the book.  (more…)

REVIEW: “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic #1”

mst3k-issue1-coverIn news that should surprise absolutely no one, Mystery Science Theater 3000 makes for a really funny, really enjoyable, and really good comic. Written by a team of writers that includes series creator Joel Hodgson, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic features Jonah Heston, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo being forced into the pages of public domain comics by Kinga Forrester and her lackey, Max. To survive these trips into those comics, Jonah and the ‘bots must riff their way through them.

MST3K as you’ve never seen it before! The riffing hilarity of Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes to comics when Kinga Forrester pairs her Kingachrome Liquid Medium with her latest invention –the Bubbulat-R! Jonah Heston, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo find themselves thrust into the 2-D world of public domain comics, with riffing as their only defense! Created for comics by Joel Hodgson! The hit Netflix show has come to comics! Variant cover by longtime MST3K DVD artist Steve Vance!

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“MJ-12: Endgame” (by Michael J. Martinez) is a satisfying conclusion to the MJ-12 series.

mj-12 endgameWhat do you do when you’ve written a stellar first book of a series and an even better second book? You write a satisfying conclusion that blows both of the previous books out of the water and delivers everything fans of the series could want! I’m pleased to report that this is exactly what Michael J. Martinez did with MJ-12: Endgame, the third and final book in the MJ-12 series.

Josef Stalin is dead. In the aftermath, the Soviet Union is thrown into crisis, giving former secret police chief Laverentiy Beria exactly the opening he needs. Beria’s plan is to secretly place his country’s Variants―ordinary people mysteriously embued with strange, superhuman powers―into the very highest levels of leadership, where he can use them to stage a government coup and seize control of the USSR.

America’s response comes from its intelligence communities, including the American Variants recruited for the top-secret MAJESTIC-12 program, who are suddenly thrown into their most dangerous and important assignment yet. From the halls of the Kremlin to the battlefields of Korea, superpowered covert agents face off to determine the future of the planet―a future their very existence may ultimately threaten.

(This review may contain minor spoilers for the book – great efforts have been taken to remain as spoiler-free as possible, but you’ve been warned nonetheless)  (more…)

“Rose” and “The Christmas Invasion” Round Out the First Wave of “Doctor Who: The Target Collection” With Enjoyable Stories

target collection - rose and christmas invasionI already reviewed the last two titles in the revamped line of Target Books Novelizations of Doctor Who episodes, so I figured I’d go ahead and review the first two titles in the line. Like The Day of the Doctor and Twice Upon a TimeRose (by Russel T. Davies, based on his script) and The Christmas Invasion (by Jenny T. Colgan, based on a script by Russel T. Davies) are novelizations of two episodes from the 2005 revived series of Doctor Who. Both episodes were written by Russel T. Davies and both novelizations follow the same plot as the episodes, but with added embellishments and asides.

Doctor Who: Rose (by Russel T. Davies)
In a lair somewhere beneath central London, a malevolent alien intelligence is plotting the end of humanity. Shop window dummies that can move – and kill – are taking up key positions, ready to strike. Rose Tyler, an ordinary Londoner, is working her shift in a department store, unaware that this is the most important day of her life. She’s about to meet the only man who understands the true nature of the threat facing Earth, a stranger who will open her eyes to all the wonder and terror of the universe – a traveller in time and space known as the Doctor.

Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion (by Jenny T. Colgan)
Earth is under attack by power-hungry aliens. This is no time for the Doctor to be out of action. When a British space probe is intercepted by a sinister alien vessel on the eve of Christmas, it marks the beginning of an audacious invasion of the Earth by the Sycorax – horrifying marauders from beyond the stars. Within hours, a third of humanity stands on the brink of death with not a single shot fired. Our planet needs a champion – but the Doctor is not fit for service. He’s just regenerated, delirious in a new body and a dressing gown. Forced into his battered shoes is his friend, Rose Tyler, a girl from a London council estate. Will she save the world from this nightmare before Christmas – or see it destroyed?

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Titan’s Doctor Who: “The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1” More Mediocre Than Exciting

Doctor Who - The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor 001 - Tenth Doctor Special-000aTitan Comics, publisher of the Doctor Who comics, have started their special miniseries leading to the launch of the ongoing 13th Doctor title: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more mediocre than exciting really, and a lot of that comes down to the way they’ve marketed the miniseries. Issue 1 of Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor is written by James Peaty and illustrated by Iolanda Zanfardino (with colors by Dijjo Lima) and features a short story involving the Tenth Doctor, Cindy, and Gabby, as well as featuring a small backup story from the creative team behind the 13th Doctor title (Jody Houser and Rachael Stott (and colors by Enrica Eren Angiolini))

The first of three stand-alone stories featuring the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor – each issue contains a serialised short from the creative team behind the new Thirteenth Doctor ongoing series.

The Tenth Doctor has his work cut out when he encounters a lost spaceship… whose crew are being absorbed by mysterious ghostly creatures! Everything is not as it seems, however, especially when disturbing facts about the crew come to light!

Note: there may be spoilers for this comic below so read at your own risk.  (more…)

The “Doctor Who: Target Collection” Bursts Back on the Scene With the Amazing “Day of the Doctor” and “Twice Upon a Time” Novelizations

target novels day of the doctor and twice upon a timeBack in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, nearly every serial from the classic run of Doctor Who was novelized in one way or another through a range of books published by Target Books. That practice was discontinued when the show returned in 2005, mainly due to how readily available various home video formats were. It’s a shame because many of those classic novelizations ended up being better than the televised versions (mainly because a novel doesn’t have the budget constraints of a science fiction show made on a shoestring budget in the mid-1970s). Then, just a few months ago, BBC Books decided to revive the range for a brief five-book run. Like the old range, they brought back the writers of some of the episodes while mixing it adaptations from other writers. The books adapted for this new range were Rose by Russell T. Davies (the writer of the episode), The Christmas Invasion by Jenny T. Colgan (based on a script by Russell T. Davies), The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat (the writer of the episode), and Twice Upon a Time by Paul Cornell (based on a script by Steven Moffat). This review, however, will be focusing on the latter two books: The Day of the Doctor and Twice Upon a Time.

Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor (by Steven Moffat): When the entire universe is at stake, three different Doctors will unite to save it. The Tenth Doctor is hunting shape-shifting Zygons in Elizabethan England. The Eleventh is investigating a rift in space-time in the present day. And one other – the man they used to be but never speak of – is fighting the Daleks in the darkest days of the Time War. Driven by demons and despair, this battle-scarred Doctor is set to take a devastating decision that will threaten the survival of the entire universe… a decision that not even a Time Lord can take alone. On this day, the Doctor’s different incarnations will come together to save the Earth… to save the universe… and to save his soul.

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time (by Paul Cornell): Still reeling from his encounter with the Cybermen, the First Doctor stumbles through the bitter Antarctic wind, resisting the approaching regeneration with all his strength. But as he fights his way through the snowdrifts, he comes across the familiar shape of a blue police box, and a mysterious figure who introduces himself as the Doctor… Thrown together at their most vulnerable moments, the two Doctors must discover why the snowflakes are suspended in the sky, why a First World War Captain has been lifted from his time stream moments before his death, and who is the mysterious Glass Woman who knows their true name. The Doctor is reunited with Bill, but is she all she seems? And can he hold out against the coming regeneration?

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In Defense of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

cursed child defenseThe Tony Awards aired this past weekend,  and the internet is abuzz about the winner of the Best New Play award: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There’s been a bit of controversy as a result of its win, particularly from the Harry Potter fandom, so, I figured now is as good a time as any to mount a defense for the play. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play borne out of a collaboration between Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne, and director John Tiffany. It’s advertised as the official eighth chapter in the Harry Potter series and tells the story of Harry’s middle child, Albus Severus, and his experiences as he attends Hogwarts and fights to escape the shadows of his father’s past glories. The script for the show was initially published in July of 2016, and to say there was some controversy directly afterward would be an understatement. While the majority of critics in London adored the show and praised it for its script, acting, design elements, etc, fans were noticeably more divided, if not downright negative towards it. It’s been criticized as “bad fanfiction with a silly story”, “totally out of character”, “inconsistent with the books and the universe that Rowling wrote”, amongst others. I disagree with most of those points, and I’m gonna explain why. It’s worth noting that there will be total spoilers for the play throughout this. You’ve been warned.  (more…)

A Tale of Three ‘Shada’s (Doctor Who – “Shada” review)

A Tale of Three ShadasShada. The long lost adventure from famed sci-fi writer Douglas Adams. Over the years since its aborted filming, the adventure has undergone no less than three separate adaptations. The question is: which Shada is the ultimate Shada? With the release of another version of the story, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure that out, so let’s break it down in a Tale of Three ‘Shada’s. Originally written by famed author – and one-time Doctor Who script editor – Douglas Adams, Shada follows the Doctor and Romana, his Time Lady companion, as they investigate a mysterious summons from an old friend of the Doctor, Cambridge Professor Chronotis, and work to thwart the plans of the evil Skagra – a man seeking the Professor, and a book he possesses, for his own evil ends. Their adventure will take them from 1970s Earth to a mysterious Time Lord prison planet that nobody can remember: Shada. Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada. For this review, we’re gonna be looking at three particular adaptations of Shada: the 2003 BBC-i/Big Finish Productions webcast/audio adaptation, the 2012 novelization (by Gareth Roberts), and the 2017 BBC animated reconstruction.  (more…)

“Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery” is a Game Full of Potential that Misses the Mark (Beta-Review)

Screenshot_20180123-181634Portkey Games and Warner Bros. recently released an early access/beta version of the upcoming mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Set in the decade before Harry Potter attended Hogwarts, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery allows players to create their own characters and experience life as a student at Hogwarts while living their own adventure – featuring a new story set in the universe of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World – and encountering familiar characters along the way, such as Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, and more. The game is the mobile game equivalent of a touch-and-click adventure where players tap various items on the screen to advance the story forward while collecting experience and other materials all under the confines of an energy meter system.

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SCRIPT REVIEW: Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” is a Truly Remarkable Play with a Script That’s Bogged Down With Too Many Stage Directions

5517*NOTE: THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE SCRIPT, ONLY*
As part of my Directing class in school, I’ve had to some plays in preparation for the scene work that’s to come later in the semester. One of those plays was Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun. Nominated for four Tony Awards – including Best New Play, A Raisin in the Sun details the lives of the Younger family, an African American family living in Chicago in the 1950s. Set on Chicago’s South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband’s insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust, and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration.  (more…)