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DragonCon, Atlanta
Atlanta, GA, Septebmer 4 -7, 2015

OCTOBER
GeekGirlCon, WA
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Monday
Aug312015

Books of Summer

In lieu of any new summer television worth watching, I’ve filled the gaps with reading. My choices are all over the map--memoir, non-fiction, humor, sci-fi, thriller, mystery—which exemplifies that summer state of mind.

The Death Defying Doctor Mirage by Jen Van Meter

To start the summer off I went with this beautiful trade paperback illustrated by Robert De La Torre and written by Jen Van Meter.

Doctor Mirage is an existing storyline but I had no trouble picking this up and getting a great surreal and supernatural story.

Dr. Shan Fong, Doctor Mirage, can see and speak to ghosts and has some supernatural hocus pocus. She’s hired by a very wealthy occultist to release him for a demonic binding but, just because someone has the ability to enter the supernatural realms, doesn’t mean they want to.

90 Church: Inside America’s Notorious First Narcotics Squad by Dean Unkefer

This is a stunning memoir written by Agent Unkefer who was part of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the mid-1960s. A specialized unit dedicated to drug crimes was a new concept so the methods for this type of enforcement were still being figured out. The approach taken by the newly formed squad was to fight fire with fire and they became more feared than the mafia.

Forensics by Val McDermid

Still focusing on crime and the macabre I picked up this non-fiction book on the science of forensics. McDermid is a best-selling crime novelist and, in Forensics, she’s categorized her extensive research by specialty--from Entomology and Pathology to Digital Forensics and courtroom procedure.

The thigh muscle is the most stable tissue in the body, making it a good place to find traces of poison.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Dietland was confusing, disconnected, and disturbing. The idea that this is considered some kind of feminist manifesto should have been summarily rejected the first time it was suggested. What started out as a beautiful story of a woman’s personal journey of self-acceptance turned into female terrorism against men. So much more can be said but, to parse through the wrongs in Dietland in order to write an informed article might mean I’d have to read the damn thing again and I don’t think I could bare it.

I placed my foot on his chest so he couldn’t move. My black boots. My colorful tights. I could do this.

“You need to learn some fucking manners!” I shouted.

What Remains by Tim Weaver

This is book six in the David Raker series by Tim Weaver. Raker gets mixed up with some pretty horrible people and situations. His job? Finding lost people. And if you’re so lost that you need Raker, the situation can’t be good.

This installment brings some resolutions to the self-destructive past of Raker’s worst-best friend, Colm Healy, who was been emotionally lost long before he physically disappeared.

The originality of the missing person thriller and the way that Weaver unwinds the tale is still quite successful but I’ve started seeing patterns in the mystery from book-to-book—the female characters, especially, are repurposed plot movers.

Healy shrugged off his coat—letting it drop to the floor, its bulk gathering around his feet like a punctured inflatable…

Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

The plot scaffolding built in the first part of this social sci-fi story was too weak to hold the weight the author heaped on it in the remainder of the book.

Through some super-duper secret science, a method was developed to determine a person’s Affinity—a social parsing of humans to maximize cooperation.

The science is available like iPods in a retail store which means it’s like paying membership fees into a country club. But these groups acquire so much influence through the story that they become powerful lobbyists with a mafia clan mentality.

There also seemed to be a prejudice against biological family units and certain sexual orientations.

I wasn’t especially proud of my heterosexuality…

Superposition by David Walton

Writing a description of this book is extremely difficult. It’s a great sci-fi story with a heavy physics base. Like I told my friend, I understand what’s going on but I can’t explain it.

It’s always tricky when a storyteller deals with parallel universes—there’s so much that can go wrong with continuity. But Walton’s story is thorough but approachable and completely absorbing. It reminded me so much of my reading experience with The Martian by Andy Weir. What great sci-fi we’re getting these days.

Quantum mechanics is the worst, though. It undermines our sense of purpose.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

To close out the summer, I picked up Hawkins’ best-selling crime thriller.

Told from the first-person point-of-view of three women, it shows how different what we perceive can be from the actual reality. I’ve only barely gotten started but I can already tell you can’t reveal very much about the story—it’s a mystery in every sense and experience for the reader.

My fall line-up is already in place. A friend sent me the fantasy trilogy, Fionavar, by Guy Gavirel Kay: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that starts with a map and a genealogy tree.

I’LL GIVE YOU A TOPIC

What’s the best book you read this summer?

What was the worst?

What’s the last non-fiction book you read?

Monday
Aug242015

Reliving My Childhood Through Comics

 

"Mad Max: Fury Road - Furiosa," No. 1, Vertigo Oak City Comics Show is a one-day comic book show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Or it can also be called the fastest way to blow your allowance. Set in the Raleigh Hilton, this fairly new show offers comic fans quite a variety: a huge vendor room, artist tables, cosplay, and expert panels. Tommy Lee Edwards, one of the creators of Oak City Comic Show and the cover artist for the new Mad Max: Fury Road – Furiosa1, was there so I got my issue 1 signed. <squee>

For comic book vendors I am a dream customer because I’m so new to comics I don’t know what’s what. Everything is shiny to me. What captures my attention most often are the titles associated with TV shows from my childhood. It just goes to show, there’s nothing new—books, comics, TV shows, and films have been cross marketing for years.

ISIS

In one of our podcasts, Regina and I shared our favorite classic female television characters. One of mine is Isis from the 1975 live-action series. I shouldn’t have been surprised to come across an Isis­2 title but I was. Although the artwork is not as good as in the bigger titles, it’s impressive how respectfully she’s drawn.

John Carter, Warlord of Mars"John Carter, Warlord of Mars," No. 1

Created over 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is a mysterious immortal southerner transported to Mars. As soon as I saw issue 1 of Marvel’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars3, I knew I had to have it. Later I found an equally good copy of issues 2 and 3. <squee again>

The complexity and detail of the 38 year-old illustrations and stories is mesmerizing. And the scantily clad women who are constantly getting kidnapped are quaintly amusing.

Ms. Marvel

The biggest bonus of the day was getting issues 24, 75, 8, 106, and 19 of Ms. Marvel. Issue 1 will probably always elude me but I’m thrilled to have even part of the first series of one of my favorite comic heroes. This series is action packed with Ms. Marvel at the forefront of it all.

There’s a lot of study and commentary done on how females are treated in comics. It is thoroughly intriguing to me to read the actual publications and make these discoveries myself. For instance, somewhere between issue 7 and issue 10, they decided to color in Ms. Marvel’s midriff. Her breasts got a little pointier but she still maintained that super stylish winged haircut we all wanted in the 70s.

"Ms. Marvel," No. 1 "Ms. Marvel," No. 10

And don’t be mistaken—the guys have had plenty of their own well poised moments.

"Logan's Run," No. 2 7

"Kung-Fu Fighter," No. 2 8

The Toxic Avenger9"The Toxic Avenger," No. 11

This was purchased for purely sentimental reasons. The Toxic Avenger was one of my husband’s favorite movies. He rented it one evening back when we were dating. Being a lot more squeamish then, I mostly just listened to the movie from behind the couch while my then boyfriend and best friend laughed at me and the dreadful movie. The scene that got to me was when the Avenger lowers a milkshake churner into a guy’s mouth that he’s filled with ice cream, which you can see here in the trailer.

If the show hadn’t ended, I would still be there, flipping through long boxes filled with the long discarded pulps from someone else’s childhood. Discovering these stories through a new format lets me relive them in a new way. The story is what I’m collecting, not the book.


1Mad Max: Fury Road – Furiosa, Vol. 1, No. 1, August 2015, DC Comics, Vertigo, writer George Miller, artists Mark Sexton, Tristan Jones, Szymon Kudranski, colorist Michael Spicer, letterer Clem Robins, cover art Tommy Lee Edwards.

2ISIS, Vol. 1, No. 1, Oct. – Nov. 1976, “Scarab—The Man Who Would Destroy,” A DC TV Comic, National Periodical Publications, Inc., writer Denny O’Neil, artists Rick Estrada and Wally Wood.

3John Carter, Warlord of Mars, Vol. 1, No. 1, June 1977, “The Air-Pirates of Mars. Chapter 1,” Marvel Comics Group, writer Marv Wolfman, artists Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum, colorist Glynis Wein, letterer Joe Rosen.

4Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1, No. 2, “Enigma of Fear,” February 1977, Marvel Comics Group, writer Gerry Conway, artists John Buscema and Joe Sinnott, colorist Don Warfield, letterer Joe Rosen.

5Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1, No. 7, “Nightmare,” July 1977, Marvel Comics Group, writer Chris Claremont, artists Jim Mooney and Joe Sinnott, colorist Don Warfield, letterer Joe Rosen.

6Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1, No. 10, “Cry, Cry Murder—Modok!”, October 1977, Marvel Comics Group, writer Chris Claremont, artists Sal Buscema and Tom Palmer, colorist Phil Rachelson, letterer John Costanza.

7Logan’s Run, Vol. 1, No. 2, February 1977, “Part Two,” Marvel Comics Group, writer David Craft, artist George Perez, colorist Klaus Janson, letterer Joe Rosen.

8Kung-Fu Fighter, Vol. 1, No. 2, June-July 1975, “A Dragon Fights Alone!”, DC, National Periodical Publications, writer Denny O’Neil, artists Jim Starlin and Alan Weiss, inker Al Milgrom.

9The Toxic Avenger, Vol. 1, No. 11, February 1992, “Nukin’ Weasels,” Marvel Comics, writer Doug Moench, artists Rod Ramos and Ual Mayerik, colorist Bob Sharen, letterer Rick Parker.

Friday
Aug212015

Episode 150 - August Hangout

In this month's hangout, we took on the theme of our favorite Geekdoms. What is a geekdom, you say? Well, Rhonda asked the same question and I described it as:

Geekdom: A specific subset of a fandom you enjoy about which you have extensive or more than average knowledge.

So I enjoy young adult literature and Harry Potter is one of my Geekdoms within that fandom. It is a geekdom because I can geek out on all the minor details of the story and the lore, I know and have an opinion on the major arguments between the fans, and I jump at any chance to discuss it. 

Watch or listen to the episode to find out mine, Rhonda's, and Isabela's top three favorite geekdoms. I'll give you a hint: some are obvious and others quite surprising. (Rhonda's last one is my favorite!)

What are some of your favorite geekdoms? Where do you put your most intense geeky energy? Let us know in the comments and we will share your geekdoms during our September hangout!

Until next time, get your geekdom on!

Regina & Rhonda & Isabela 

Episode 150

Monday
Aug102015

Books of My Life

Every now and then, Entertainment Weekly magazine will ask a writer a stock set of questions about books they’ve read or written. This week I thought I would interview myself with those same questions. Who else is going to do it?  

A Book I Read in Secret as a Kid

This is a great question because the only reason I have an interest in reading is because of the books my dad gave me to read.

Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys were typical reading for me as a kid. One day my dad said I needed to read a real book and he gave me Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland. Now this might seem like an extreme, but it changed my world as to what stories could be.

Books I’ve Read Over and Over

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game is the only book I can think of that I physically re-read. Since I didn’t read for most of my 20s, I lost a lot of time so I don’t spend it re-reading. So many books, so, so little time. I also know I won’t be able to capture that thrill the first time I read something that moved me.

There are more books that I’ve read and then listened to, like Ready Player One and Life of Pi.

The Classic I’ve Never Read

Actually, there are a lot on my bucket list. The top ones would be Catcher in the Rye, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Grapes of Wrath. My Kindle should be buried with me because I probably will only read these in the afterlife.

The Last Book That Made Me Cry and/or Laugh

Mark Watney in The Martian is so witty and personable I found myself laughing, gasping, and even talking out loud as I read it. Kudos to Weir for writing a character I want to be friends with.

"The Martian" by Andy WeirBooks I Wish I’d Written

To Kill a Mockingbird is such a layered story of relationships and society while being approachable by and relatable to anyone. It’s is one of the best all-around books of all time.

My Favorite Movie Adaptation

There are more of these on my list than you might think but I have to go with The Hunger Games series. Young Adult fiction is not my favorite genre so I’m actually surprised I finished reading the trilogy. Katniss is a difficult character to identify with and I felt the author jerked the reader’s loyalties around whenever it came to Peeta and Gale. But the films capture the world and relationships perfectly. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is especially wonderful and Katniss is a real tragic hero for me.

A Book I’ve Pretended to Have Read

"House of Leaves" by Mark Z. DanielewskiBasically I’m a terrible liar. Coupled with my logical, OCD personality I don’t even see the sense in lying about having read a book. Wait, I take that back. I’ve lied about finishing House of Leaves. More than half way through the book I was so confused and frustrated. Was I supposed to read all the gibberish and rambling? If I didn’t was I missing something? If I did was I a fool? I had invested so much time in it I couldn’t admit I couldn’t finish it so I just read the last chapter and declared it sufficiently read.

The Books People Might be Surprised to Learn I Love

'Machete Season" by Jean HatzfeldThere are concepts in life that elude us. We can’t wrap our brains around them. Genocide is one of those for me. The definition is simple but the fact of it is incomprehensible. I’ve read several books on the subject but Machete Season is one of the best. Jean Hatzfeld is a foreign correspondent who interviewed several Hutus who participated in the massacre of 50,000 Tutsi friends, family, and neighbors in Rwanda.

The Genre I’d Pick if I Could Read Only One

Hands down it would have to be sci-fi. I have romance so those books are fallacies to me. Fantasy is too detached from my world, places that I can’t attain. Horror is great but I don’t think I could take the constant downer. Everything else I can get in sci-fi. It appeals to my love of science, adventure, possibilities, and mystery.

On Your Nightstand Right Now

"What Remains" by Tim WeaverWhat Remains by Tim Weaver. Some of you may remember our interview with Weaver. Since then I’ve read all the Raker series and just saw on Instagram he’s already working on the next one.

Books That Changed My Life

After reading Twins, I raided dad’s paperback stash in the bathroom and found The Stand. This opened up the genre of horror and science fiction. I read everything Stephen King published after that.

I’ll Give You a Topic

What book changed your life?

Are e-books good for writers? publishers? readers? libraries?

Do you buy more books now because of e-books?

Thursday
Aug062015

August LIVE Hangout! Sunday, August 9th at 2pm Pacific

Hey Everyone!

We are looking forward to hanging out with you on Sunday, August 9th at 2pm PST. Check us out on YouTube and send us comments or topics @game_on_girl on Twitter

This month, our theme will be our favorite geekdoms and why we love the characters we love. 

See you Sunday LIVE!

Game on!

Regina