Spoiler Free Review: The Fiends of Nightmaria (6th Bauchelain and Korbal Broach Novella) by Steve Erikson (Subterranean Press, 2016)
Bonkers, absurd, silly, fantasy comedy, this time poking fun at dungeon crawls and the often times ridiculous politics of genre fantasy novels… amongst the other usual targets. Sharply written, but did I mention silly, absurd fun? Plus, the Subpress Edition has great artwork.
(Only Slightly) Longer Review:
The king is dead, long live King Bauchelain the First, crowned by the newly en-cassocked Grand Bishop Korbal Broach. Both are, of course, ably assisted in the running of the Kingdom of Farrog by their slowly unravelling manservant, Emancipor Reese.
Another Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (dir. Zack Snyder, 2016)
This one by me.
Not as bad as you have been led to believe, but not the greatest film ever. A Batman focused film that serves to make you hate Superman even more, launches the DC cinematic universe, and make you wish that they had just made a Wonder Woman film and left the men in tights at home. It looks pretty though.
If online reviews and reports are to be believed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the worst films ever made, is a travesty of modern film making, superhero films, and storytelling, and that the entire cast and crew would have been better staying in bed and drinking Mai Tais. Nerds, geeks, comic fans, and film critics have been bizarrely united in their hatred and vitriol concerning this film. Let me be among the first to say that I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that sometimes things on the internet are exaggerated and that their reportage can lean toward hyperbole. BvS will never be my favourite superhero film, but it wasn’t that bad and I have definitely seen far worse (Ghost Rider/Green Lantern/Batman and Robin/Man of Steel). I know that I have already posted my friend’s review of the film, but clearly I think that my opinion is far more important.
Spoiler Free Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (dir. Zack Snyder, 2016)
Guest Review by C Cooper
So three years after Man of Steel, and what feels like an eternity after announcing Batman vs Superman, the DC Universe has finally arrived. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this as I was distinctly underwhelmed by MoS and thought The Dark Knight Rises was dreadfully paced, overlong, and incomprehensible at times. I also took a gamble by going with my wife whose only real exposure to Batman was watching me play Arkham Knight on the Xbox, and that Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain were the definitive Lois and Clark. My expectations were pretty low for the film considering the negative press, but I hoped that the overwhelming hostility from critics was based on what they wanted the movie to be rather than how good it actually is. The trailers hadn’t helped much either – could there be anything about the film not actually spoiled? If this seems like an overlong preamble, all I can say is that it is pretty reflective of the movie.
Image above shamelessly stolen from Mark Lawrence’s Blog
History Repeating: A Return of Violent Machismo to Fantasy and Science Fiction
At the 35th Annual Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) in Orlando, March 2014, Stephen R. Donaldson, as a guest on a discussion panel, raised a concern about the apparent rise of violence, nihilism, cynicism, and darkness in modern genre fantasy writing. In particular he singled out what is most commonly referred to as ‘grimdark’, a sub-genre of fantasy popularised and exemplified by authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and George R.R. Martin. Although I should mention that he did not explicitly name those authors.
The common (mis)understanding of grimdark is that it is fantasy writing that eschews the tropes of hero, heroic quest and the simplistic morality of good winning out over evil, in favour of a much darker, more cynical fantasy world which is generally graphically and explicitly violent, morally bankrupt (or at the least deeply flawed), and celebrates the dirt, darkness and grittiness of the world. Heroic characters are replaced by violent, sociopathic, immoral or amoral protagonists, who are not so much anti-heroes as villains but on a side less villainous than the other. Good and evil have been replaced by evil and slightly less evil. In many ways a fairly accurate rendering of what the news presents us with on a daily basis, on the hour, every hour.
Worldbuilding and the Malazan Book of the … Feminist?
At the heart of a significant proportion of fantasy is the diegetic reality, the setting itself, the diegesis or storyworld. It is one of the things that often sets fantasy apart from other forms of literature, those stories that use the real world as the foundational basis for the setting of the narrative.
Fantasy, like a lot of SF and Horror, creates a new reality in which the narrative resides. So where Dickens, Austen, the Brontёs set their work in a contemporaneous, if fictionalised, England, the settings of their works did not need to be invented as they simply lifted complete societies, customs, economics, races, prejudices and biases from England, the real world. Not only that, but their diegetic storyworld did not have to be fundamentally altered or disguised, it could be a fairly accurate depiction of the real world. They could pretty much copy wholesale from what was outside their window. And lastly, the setting would be immediately familiar to their readers because it was not invented.
Southbound (2016). Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, and Radio Silence. Written by Roxanne Benjamin, Matt Bennelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Susan Burke, Dallas Hallam, and Patrick Horvath. Willowbrook Regent Films, 89 minutes.
Synopsis: Interlocking tales of highway terror revolve around malevolent spirits at a truck stop, a mysterious traveler, a car accident and a home invasion. (imdb.com)
“Fuck this shit. Let’s go home.”
This film is an anthology in which the stories and characters are interwoven, taking place in a nameless town (as it’s a horror film, you can probably guess the name) on a nameless highway (save that it’s going south) in a nameless part of the southwest United States (most probably Nevada). It tells four stories of people who are unfortunate enough to drive through (and stop in) this neck of the woods, and documents their various fates.
Without a doubt it is a good time to be a superhero geek. Superhero comics are increasingly reaching out to broader demographics and trying to engage fans from all walks of life. Comic Cons are basically mainstream media events with high profile guests and impressive production values. Superhero films are smashing box-office records left and right, not to mention being churned out at a pace of three or four a year (or more), with no sign of stopping. Superhero television shows are springing up on channel after channel and catering for different demographics and audiences. And in the face of this we say, ‘Well it can’t keep going at this pace… It will have to end sometime… The public will get bored with the constant stream of superheroes…’ and on and on and on. In a number of regards that is undoubtedly true, Hollywood has always had something of a cyclical nature to its production schedule. The era of the Western, the era of the Musical, the era of the Noir and so on. Each genre has its day to shine and dominate the box office, spawn televisual progeny, and then the market reaches saturation and the public moves on to the next craze. Thus it was, thus it always will be, so speaketh the voice of experience.