Showing posts from 2017

Twisty Teutonic Time-Travel Tale is a Treat

Mysterious disappearances. Obsessions. Secrets. Time travel. Such are the essential elements of DARK, the Netflix Originals Series sci-fi/supernatural mashup set in a small town in the middle of the heavily-forested German countryside.  
Although there will be the inevitable comparisons between it and STRANGER THINGS, the fact that both shows feature several adolescent characters, take place (at least, partly) in the mid-1980s, and involve strange phenomena is the extent of the similarities.
STRANGER—with its cast of imminently-likable characters (juvenile and adult) and coulda-been-shot-in-the-early-‘80s filmmaking style—seems like a lighthearted, feel-good romp when compared with DARK, which never once delivers any warm fuzzies. 
DARK is, as the name implies, just the opposite: a brooding, tense, atmospheric drama, with nary a moment of levity. The forest is vast, dense, and all-encompassing. The rain—which seems to pour every day—isn’t just a polite little shower; it’s a soaking delug…

The Truths We Hide Beneath the Layers We Share

If there’s one thing that nearly every person who bravely enters the romantic-relationship fray can bet on experiencing at some point, it’s the feeling of having their hearts broken… of being cast aside (for someone else? after the “new” wore off? because they drifted apart?), and losing whatever special bond they had (or thought they had) with another. (And sure, we’ve all heard the stories about those too-cute-for-words couples who met at pre-school, never dated anyone else, and lived happily-ever-after, but me, I view such tales as either urban legends or empirical evidence of magical unicorns.) Anyway, back to the rest of us… no matter whether straight, gay, young, old, experienced, or novice, the bottom line is always pretty much the same: being rejected hurts like hell.
How we handle it, though—what we do, how we cope—that’s where things really get interesting. And, in The Wife Between Us (by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen), we get a look at just how far some people might pus…

Lunar Conspiracy Sciences the $h!t out of me... but Lacks the Same Spark

So let's get this out of the way, right off the bat: anyone expecting a stellar follow-up to Andy Weir's immensely-entertaining debut, The Martian, with his sophomore outing (the soon-to-be-released Artemis), may be a little disappointed... not because it isn't a fun read, but because the bar was set SO very high from the get-go.

The Martian was in my top-five books for 2014, because it hit on all cylinders. Smart, funny, smart-ass, regular-guy hero? Check. Fascinating setting, depicted in glorious detail so that it felt like I was there, too? Check. Seemingly-impossible snafus to get out of? Check. Thrilling, edge-of-my-seat kind of ending... that also seemed plausible? Yep, check.

On paper, Artemis has most of the same kinds of things going for it. Bright, wise-acre, ordinary-gal hero (a young female protagonist who's on the shady side, but close enough)? Roger that. Cool setting, given ample descriptions to make it "real" (a little town on the moon)? Got it.…

When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Sometimes life is just crazy-pants busy—so full of a million and one little things, that tasks I was (almost) certain had been accomplished, instead wound up getting completely overlooked. A "for instance," you ask? Take my failure to review any of the books in the Detective Helen Grace series by M. J. Arlidge—something I was positive I’d managed to do at least a couple of times over the past few years… but which, in fact, seems never to have happened, at all.
With that said, this is actually the perfect time to rectify my rather unfortunate little bout of forgetfulness, because the sixth entry in this consistently-engaging and well-written series, Hide and Seek, is, to my mind, the best one, yet. ______________________________
Without spoiling things too much for anyone unfamiliar with the series (certainly no more so than reading the back of a book jacket or synopsis on Amazon would do), a brief bit of backstory is necessary…
Detective Inspector Helen Grace works out of Southa…

A Snow-Covered Clunker...

There are a lot of different writing styles out there—and obviously, a multitude of genres in which those styles can be employed—but in the end, one’s enjoyment of anything written is an individual thing; some things just click with us, while others leave us feeling indifferent.
For me, B.D. Smith’s The Ice Maiden falls into the latter category (and with a big thud). 
The thing is, it really seemed, at first glance, like a sure bet: a serial killer operating in a small community somewhere in Maine (which, by dint of having read very few stories set in that distant state, made it immediately interesting), who acts out tortures from the Spanish Inquisition (ooh, cool historical undertones, anyone)? How intriguing! Add a wintry scene for the cover plus the title itself (“ice”)—hey, I’m nothing if not magnetically drawn to things set in cold, snowy climes—and again, I thought it would be a slam dunk. 
The problem, unfortunately, is Smith’s writing style… which, to put it into screenwriting p…

Searching for Movie Gold: A Tale of "The Bigs"

It definitely wasn’t by any conscious plan, but I found myself—on two consecutive nights—watching “big” movies (both based on real-life events, no less), then on the third night, realized the thoughts swirling around in my brainpan about those films—and about movies, in general, to a lesser degree—probably needed to come out. 
So, about those “bigs”…
When The Big Sick was suggested for Movie-Night-In, I had only the vaguest recollection of the title from a few months earlier. Still, I thought, why not? It almost had to be better than a couple of other movies we’d watched recently. 
My verdict? Great call. The Big Sick—a semi-autobiographical recounting of how a Pakistani-American boy and an American girl fell in love and wound up together—is far from the average romantic comedy. (Not that there haven’t been some fab rom-coms, mind you, it’s just that this goes to a different place.)
Basically, it starts out simply enough, with the meet-cute of a stand-up comedian (Kumail Nanjiani, who pla…

What Happens in a Future with Too Many People

A recent entry in the dystopian sci-fi thriller arena--with undertones of “Logan’s Run”, a bit of “Blade Runner”, and, borrowing most heavily from “Orphan Black”--Netflix’s “What Happened to Monday?” turns out to be a pleasant surprise.
The quandary for government and scientists: How to deal with an epic food shortage for a massive population explosion… just bio-engineer more food, right? Yeah, bad plan. Mucking around in Mother Nature’s genetic pool always seems to lead to unexpected hinky-ness in the consumers of all that not-so-natural food, and in this case, causes an epidemic of multiple births… basically the exact opposite of how to solve a burgeoning population. So, part two of the brilliant plan (with Glenn Close playing the role of mastermind at the sci-tech conglomerate responsible for solving the problem)? Cryogenically freeze any additional babies from multiple births, so every family has but one child. Problem solved!
Until, of course, some family decides to buck the system…