A review of the Stonewylde series

2016-09-14 by . 0 comments

I first discovered the Stonewylde books one Beltane a few years ago, and was immediately captivated by the magical story. It’s a strange kind of fantasy: set in a fictional secluded village in the English countryside, and rarely containing much palpable magic, preferring instead a subtlety which makes the magic, mainly based on ceremonies and meditation, hardly perceptible. A pagan believer might even argue that this isn’t fantasy at all. But I’m going to go with assuming it’s on-topic here; indeed, since the so-called Outside World is hardly involved in the story at all, much of it feels like it could be classic LotR-style fantasy, set in an entirely imaginary universe rather than an esoteric enclave of the real world.

The series consists of five books … wait, did I say five? I meant three. It’s a wonderful trilogy consisting of three books. OK, there are also two more books, set some thirteen years after the first three, but DO NOT read them. The first three books form a magical and beautiful story, like a delicate flower whose love and innocence shines through the darkest of times and uplifts the reader’s soul. The last two are a sickening blot, ugly and brutal in their betrayal of the franchise, like a crippling disease that consumes from within and slays slowly and without mercy; they leave a foul taste in the reader’s mouth. So most of this review will completely ignore the last two books and focus only on the first three. I will avoid spoilers as much as possible, although there will be a short section at the end which covers the last two books and necessarily contains spoilers from the first three.

stonewylde

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Salt Lake Comic Con 2016 Recap

2016-09-06 by . 3 comments

This year’s Salt Lake Comic Con opened in the Vivint Smart Home Arena with Mark Hamill. Traditionally celebrity panels are held in the Grand Ballroom of the Salt Lake Convention Center, which accomodates around 5,000 people. This year two events (Mark Hamill and William Shatner) were moved to the Arena because it allows for up to 20,000 attendees and is located just west of the convention center.

Nothing definitive yet for the ongoing lawsuit between San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con. The latest news reported in May says they are working towards a settlement and that a decision is expected to be made by mid-October.

Mark Hamill

There weren’t 20,000 people in attendance, but the lower bowl and the floor around the stage were almost completely full, with some people bleeding into the upper bowl. I heard one estimate that 10,000 were in attendance for Mark Hamill. Had the event been on Saturday instead of Thursday at 11:00am I’m sure it would have completely filled up, but as it was Mark Hamill had only one day in Salt Lake City before leaving to attend Fan Expo Canada the same weekend.

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Coverage of Salt Lake Comic Con 2016

2016-08-29 by . 0 comments

It’s that time of year again (that time being all the time, it seems). Where 120,000 attendees will come out of the woodwork for Salt Lake Comic Con.

As always I will be attending the convention and checking out the panels and reporting back to you.

This year sees the introduction of the what I’m calling super attendance panels in the Vivinent Arena, allowing up to 20,000 participants to see Mark Hamill and William Shatner. In the past, the Grand Ballroom within the Salt Lake Convention Center was the largest panel space available, offering around 5000 seats. Whereas in the past people have had to stand in line for hours and sometimes still not get in to a particularly popular guest panel, the expectation is that anyone wishing to attend either of those panels should be able to.

The list of attendees is very broad (a full list can be seen here). If you have questions you might want addressed or specific celebrities or fandoms, please see my meta question. If they attend the press conference or I attend their panel, I might get a chance to ask them something.

Salt Lake Comic Con runs from Thursday September 1st through Saturday September 3rd.

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The Rise of the Red Shadow – Prequel to the Book of Deacon Trilogy by Joseph Lallo Review

2016-08-27 by . 0 comments

The rise of the red shadow

As promised, here is the review of the prequel to The Book of Deacon Trilogy and all I can say is that it is one of those rare things. A prequel that is leagues better than the original series. However much I may have enjoyed the Deacon series I enjoyed Rise of the Red Shadow more.

In this novel we follow Lian as he becomes the famed assassin that we all knew from the original series. We get a brilliant view into the history of the story as well as a great action and emotion packed set up for one of the best characters in the series.

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The Book of Deacon trilogy by Joseph Lallo (spoilers)

2016-08-17 by . 0 comments

The Book of Deacon series covers

So I have just finished the Book of Deacon Trilogy by Joseph Lallo. All in all I enjoyed it hugely. It was a nice quiet light fantasy with all the favorite magical elements, Dark, Light, Grey, Elemental, a little bit of Healing and some scary crystals and really bad dudes. I feel that it was a good solid trilogy that makes a nice filler between heavy series or just a nice holiday series when you don’t want to think too much. You can just read the story and let the events unfold in front of you. There were some issues with the series but I will get into that in a little bit!

The characters are all mostly likable (Ether being the exception) and even though the bad guys are truly evil, one can’t really hate them. They are all simple characters that are easy to understand (maybe a little to simple but…) and in the case of Myranda and Deacon, easy to get behind. You feel for her point of view about the war and about what it has done to her homeland. This being the driving factor for her as a Chosen.

Personally I rather liked Leo/Lian, he was for me the most well drawn character and the one that I felt that the series could easily have been based more on (on a side note I am looking forward to the prequel Rise of the Red Shadow as it follows Lian). He was certainly the most complex character, with his past as a slave and career as a famed assassin turned reluctant hero.

But I may be a little ahead of myself! I have not even told you what the series is about… shame on me! Let me put that right, right now.

There are two countries, the Northern Alliance and Tressor. They have been at war for about a hundred and fifty years… During that time things have gotten a little out of hand with evil beings from another set of worlds having come through a portal and slowly setting themselves up to take over this world as well. The only issue is the Chosen, Five heroes that were touched by the gods and made for the purpose of protecting the world. So the story starts as we follow the Chosen as they find each other an slowly all agree about what needs to be done. We have have Ivy, Myn, Leo/Lian, Ether and Myranda.

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Fant4stic: A Review

2016-08-13 by . 4 comments

I originally wrote this review earlier this year, but have been inspired to post it by our latest Movie Night.

Loosely based on the Marvel characters of the same name, 2015’s Fantastic Four is a bizarrely dark version of their origin story. The film marks Fox’s third attempt at the franchise, and the 2015 reboot manages to fail even more than the first two. Fantastic Four is 100 minutes of boredom and poor creative decisions.

Fantastic-Four-2015-Movie-Poster-Wallpapers

Alternative names: “Fantastic Bore,” Fantastic Snore,” “Fail-tastic Four,” “Not-a-Single-Fan-tastic Four,” “Fantastic Fourgotten” and “Terrible Piece of Trash Movie.”

The film begins with Reed Richards, played as a child by Owen Judge, being mocked for his scientific aspirations. This is the film’s best part, as there are no obvious plot-holes or cringe-worthy creative decisions. Additionally, Richards’ flying car plans are a nice reference to the original comics.

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Star Trek 50 Day 5: Getting deep into DS9, Star Trek writers reflect on the TNG era, and the Star Trek Rat Pack steals the show!

2016-08-08 by . 4 comments

Star Trek 50 in Las Vegas!

Sunday, August 7th was the fifth and final day of the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration here in Las Vegas. After the previous day’s three captains — Shatner, Bakula, and Mulgrew — in addition to Walter Koenig, Michael Westmore, and the crowd-pleasing Star Trek The Concert, one might wonder how Day 5 could hope to top all of that.

Quark's Bar

Upon arriving at Quark’s Bar this morning for some much-needed tea and coffee, it was clear that some of the festive spirit of the first four days had succumbed to the realization that the celebration was nearly over. There were hugs and even tears as some convention-goers were saying goodbye to friends, old and new, before rushing off to catch flights. The crowd of more than 6000 people who jammed themselves into yesterday’s Shatner session and last night’s Nevada Pops concert had been whittled down by Sunday travel plans (and perhaps also by raging hangovers), but it was nice to see that the Leonard Nimoy Theatre was still at near-capacity for the morning panel sessions.

Vendors' Area at Star Trek 50

Last chance to grab memorabilia or autographs from the Vendors’ Area!

Today’s programme had fewer items on it, but it was still an amazing day with some of the most candid and intense panel sessions of the entire convention — especially the incredible six-person DS9 session! You can read all about it below.

R2D2 at Star Trek 50

Characters from other franchises wishing Star Trek a happy 50th birthday…

(Coverage of previous days’ events can be found here.)

Day 5 Round-up

Q&A and Music with Casey Biggs (Damar, DS9) and Vaughn Armstrong (Admiral Forrest, Enterprise)

The day began with an energetic session with Casey Biggs and Vaughn Armstrong! Regarding Damar’s drink of choice, kanar, Biggs had this to say:

BIGGS: I want each of you to go home and pour yourself a two-and-a-half ounce glass of carob syrup. And pretend that you like it.

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Star Trek 50 Day 4: Captains Shatner, Bakula, and Mulgrew, Bakula’s talking to Fuller, more TNG stars, Walter Koenig, and Star Trek The Concert!

2016-08-07 by . 5 comments

Today was one of the most anticipated days of the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration here in Las Vegas!

Why? CAPTAINS! We had William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Scott Bakula (Captain Archer), and Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) — not to mention Walter Koenig (Chekov, TOS) and Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Michael Dorn (Worf), and Marina Sirtis (Troi) from TNG!

The evening entertainment was provided by the The Nevada Pops performing Star Trek The Concert, a programme of instrumental music from TOS to the reboot films and everything in between!

It was a crazy, jam-packed day and you can read about it all below! The sessions were spell-binding for the most part, although I do take issue with the Jonathan Frakes / Michael Dorn / Marina Sirtis session, which I felt was unnecessarily combative with the audience. My recap of that is also below.

The sessions with Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula were fantastic, and there’s even a little something for Babylon 5, Quantum Leap, and Star Wars fans below!

(Coverage of previous days’ events can be found here.)

Star Trek 50 in Las Vegas!

Day 4 Round-up

Costume Parade / Contest!

We finally made it to the Costume Parade, where hundreds of cosplaying Star Trek fans, some in incredibly elaborate costumes, marched around the convention centre in the early morning and arranged themselves for a massive photo-op in the Leonard Nimoy Theatre.

One awesome costume I spotted today was a fan dressed up in a homemade but extremely accurate white engineering suit from the TOS films. Later, I saw a group of fans dressed as a Minions version of the TOS crew!

Later in the day, the Costume Contest took place, during which Terry Farrell (Dax, DS9) was a guest judge. Here are the winning efforts:

  • 4th Place: a pair of space jellyfish from TNG “Encounter at Farpoint”Space Jellies from "Encounter at Farpoint"!Jellyfish Aliens at Star Trek 50
  • 3rd Place: a TholianTholian!Tholian at Star Trek 50
  • 2nd Place: a couple of guys with phaser rifles dressed in the spacesuits from First Contact
    Assimilate This!

    “Assimilate this!”

    First Contact Costume at Star Trek 50
  • 1st Place: a little more obscure, the aliens from the end of TOS “Catspaw”Sylvia and Korob from "Catspaw"(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a photo of these costumes, but they were a nearly exact replica of the ones seen in the screenshot above.)

Michael Westmore Borgification Demonstration!

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Star Trek 50 Day 3: New TOS footage, George Takei, getting candid with TNG and Voyager stars, and a DS9 documentary in the works!

2016-08-06 by . 1 comments

I’ve just finished the third day of my 5-day mission to bring you the best of the Star Trek 50th Anniversary celebration in Las Vegas!

Things are really heating up here! The festivities started early today with the Starfleet Academy Cheerleaders who gave us a pep rally as the crowds shuffled in for the morning programme. The Leonard Nimoy Theatre in the convention centre was bursting at the seams as attendees with weekend-only passes began to show up. At the high point, more than 5000 fans were packed into the theatre!

And today’s programme was nothing short of stellar, including:

  • An announcement of a project that will release long-hidden missing footage and audio from The Original Series
  • A deeply personal session with George Takei
  • A rare convention appearance by Kirstie Alley
  • A bunch of stars from TNG and Voyager with some hilarious interviews!
  • An announcement of a forthcoming DS9 documentary with a plot for Season 8, Episode 1!

(Coverage of previous days’ events can be found here.)

Star Trek 50 in Las Vegas!

Day 3 Round-up

Costumes

My favourite costumes today were:

  • A pair done up as the Borg Queen (complete with tubes in her occipital and parietal lobes and flashing LEDs embedded in her chest and abdomen) and the human skin-job Data from First ContactData and the Borg QueenBorg Queen and Data Costumes
  • A fan costumed as Armus from TNG “Skin of Evil” (the black slime creature who killed Tasha Yar) — I’m not sure how this fan was able to breathe with the full-body shiny black plastic encasing him and so he gets extra kudos!Armus from "Skin of Evil"Armus Costume
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Star Trek 50 Day 2: Ferengi fun, Whoopi Goldberg, and Klingon karaoke!

2016-08-05 by . 3 comments

The Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration continues in Las Vegas with Day 2 (Thursday)! On today’s menu were

  • panel sessions featuring prominent guest stars from various Star Trek television incarnations over the years
  • Michael and Denise Okuda, who were promoting a soon-to-be-released massive update of the Star Trek Encyclopedia
  • Whoopi Goldberg, undeniably the highlight of the day!

The festive spirit was even more palpable today than yesterday, with participants continuing to arrive, bringing with them an increasing number and complexity of costumes, and musical acts such as The Roddenberries treating fans to impromptu gigs in the corridors! Not to mention the copiuous amounts of Romulan ale flowing at most times of day from Quark’s Bar….

Below, I’ll fill you in on what went on during the panel sessions and on some generally interesting things I spotted during the convention.

(For coverage of yesterday’s events, click here.)

Star Trek 50 in Las Vegas!

Day 2 Round-up

Costumes

The concentration of costumes is increasing with each day as we approach Saturday’s Costume Parade. While I saw many notable ones on Day 2, the one that struck me the most was a fan done up as the injured Christopher Pike from TOS “The Menagerie”. Not only were his facial wounds a perfect match for those on Pike, the individual was confined inside a 23rd-Century wheelchair exactly like that seen in “The Menagerie”! The wheelchair was mobile and he was accompanied through the convention halls by a Talosian in equally perfect costume.

Christopher Pike in "The Menagerie"

Pike and Talosian

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