Month: November 2010

The Dark Side of The Earth

The Dark Side of the Earth

The Dark Side of The Earth

Moving forth in my quest to read vintage science-fiction short stories, I completed this book last night.  Bester’s stories are always far more unique than other authors.  When you read a story written by Bester, you can just tell its written by him.  His writing is not going to be loved by everyone, but everyone should be relatively familiar with him. This collection includes the short stories:

  • Time is the Traitor
  • The Men Who Murdered Mohammed
  • Out of this World
  • The Pi Man
  • The Flowered Thundermug
  • Will You Wait?
  • They Don’t Make Life Like They Used To

The first story in the collection is rather disturbing. It doesn’t seem so, but when I got to the end of the story I found it mildly “upsetting” (relative to a short story’s ability to disturb).   Its a pretty good story, which begins in media res. This story was well worth reading, but not the best in this book.

The next story “The Men Who Murdered Mohammed” is definitely the best in the collection.  The story isn’t anything high-class and to be considered literature, but philosophers and psychologists should be interested in the overall concept of the story.  And it presents a very interesting theory on time travel. This was well worth reading. It may be the best in the book. This story was nominated for a Hugo Short Story in 1959.

“Out of This World” is trippy. Like most of Bester’s writing, its unique. It may be the one story in which I was most able to “connect” with the characters. Most of the characters in these stories aren’t developed and we meet them in media res. But this story allows the reader the most interaction with the characters, I think.

“The Pi Man” was interesting – although it felt a bit incomplete.  Nevertheless, its unique. I liked it quite a bit.  If I wrote fan fiction, this is the one that I would like to expand.  I disliked “The Flowered Thundermug” the most. Its skipable, to be honest. Too confusing and I just did not like it at all.

The collection was published in 1964.

4 stars

Leverage: Season 1

Leverage season 1

Leverage DVD Season 1

So, I started watching Leverage Season One.  Its a TNT show, I believe. I have watched about five episodes, but its difficult to say which episode I am on.  The “order” of episodes as listed on Amazon.com and on TV.com is different than the actual order on the DVDs.  Its a bit of a mystery.  Anyway, the first episode is definitely “The Nigerian Job.”   It was a quick and dirty intro to the cast of characters.  Unlike some first episodes/pilot episodes, you jump right in on this storyline and we don’t dwell too much on character development.

The series has been compared to both the A-Team and Robin Hood. Its probably a good mix of the two.  Contrary to what we are used to watching on TV, the show is not “that intense.”  24 was an intense show. Leverage is not. And that’s okay, I think. After all, its supposed to be entertainment – not abuse! While I might call it a “light” show, I do not mean its stupid or silly. I just like the idea of complete stories in one episode… no season-long storylines. And there is definitely less drama and heaviness. Which is nice for a change.

It took me a few episodes to accept the actors as the characters.  We are told in the first episode that Parker is crazy.  And she is… although… maybe the actress doesn’t quite portray “crazy” as well as she should. Aloof and a bit odd, yes, but not quite “crazy.”  The actor who plays Eliot Spencer is Christian Kane – a Texan.  In the first episode I felt I was watching Billy Ray Cyrus. Eliot Spencer is supposed to be the “muscle” or the physical combatant of the group.  He’s doesn’t look all that much – and he’s got long hair – so it was difficult for me to accept that this character is the muscle. I am curious to see if he does his own fight scenes or its a double.

Nate Ford is the main character and group leader of the team. Ford is played by Tim Hutton – who looks very familiar to me, and so I looked him up online. He’s been in a number of movies, the most familiar to me being French Kiss. He’s a good actor, I suppose, but I am surprised that he can “carry” this show. He’s a bit too non-descript for me to remember after the DVD is turned off.  After watching the first disc or so, I think there has been more character development for Nate Ford than any of the other characters.

Finally, there are characters Sophia Devereaux and Alec Hardison.  When Tim Hutton says Alec Hardison, I never hear him pronounce the H in the surname. So for the first few episodes, I swore the character’s name was Alec ARRdison.  Hardison is the token black guy on the team. It amuses me because 25 years ago, Hardison would have been the muscle, but in this series, he’s the techie-geek guy.  In the episode “The Wedding Job,” he has a memorable funny quote:  “Have you ever been to Kiev? The cake-maker of Kiev could whoop all our asses. This is the Butcher!” Sophia Devereaux is supposed to be the old-love-interest of Nate Ford. She’s an actress who absolutely sucks on stage or in front of the camera – but she is excellent in con jobs. She is supposed to be this sexy, foreign babe who uses her looks to sway many of their marks. I dunno, she has a vague beauty, I suppose, but I am not too impressed with her looks. She also seems to lack a good range of facial expressions.

Overall, I am liking the show. Its not one of my tier one shows (The Big Bang Theory, House), but I hope I get to finish season one soon and move on to season two. This first season originally began running on TV at the end of 2008.

3 stars

November 2010 – Cover of the Month

This month had some great covers. I really liked the Shadowland Ghost Rider cover and when I checked the artist, I was not surprised. I like Clayton Crain’s work.

  • Avengers #5
  • Invincible Iron Man #30
  • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #6
  • Shadowland Ghost Rider (one-shot)

Predictably, the winner is Shadowland Ghost Rider by Clayton Crain.

Shadowland Ghost Rider

Shadowland Ghost Rider, cover