Super 8, on DVD

It’s the summer of 1979 and six young friends witness a train crash while making a super 8 film. The crash is epic as it is, and then the story turns into a mysterious adventure when the boys discover what was on the train and that it has escaped into the night. A series of unexplainable events start wreaking havoc on their small town and Joe, the local deputy’s son, and his pals are keeping their secret and dealing with the consequences.

If you take the science fiction element of E.T., the adventure of The Goonies, young boys fighting evil on their own, as in The Monster Squad, and the thriller element of Cloak and Dagger, all mixed with today’s technology, you might get Super 8. It’s your classic little boy adventure story on a modern scale.

The fact that it’s written and directed J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg makes it all the more credible, but it’s still not a perfect film. It has its plot flaws here and there, but it’s cinematically beautiful, and still a fun watch if you’re into those kinds of films. I loved learning that Abrams, the cinematographer, and another producer were friends when they were young and shared a love of movie making and super 8 films. It was fun watching the special features on the DVD and learn of the dream behind the film and their own film ambitions in the late 70s.

Of Dragons and Singing Ships...

Anne McCaffrey, author of nearly 100 books, and best known for the Dragonriders of Pern series, died of a stroke on Monday at her home in Ireland. She was 85. She will be remembered as the writer who created magical worlds full of daring female characters whether riding dragons or navigating ships. The way women were portrayed in scifi/fantasy was transformed by her. Some of her books were written as a response to how women were unrealistically portrayed in the mostly male-dominated genre of scifi/fantasy at the time. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo Award, for her first Pern novella "Weyr Search"(in 1968) published in the magazine, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and the first woman to win a Nebula for her 2nd Pern story, Dragonrider (in 1969). These two stories plus a third ultimately became her first Pern novel, Dragonflight. Her other book, White Dragon was the first hard cover science fiction book to make the New York Times bestseller list. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006. Other series she will be remembered for include the Crystal Singer series, the Petaybee series, and the Acorna series, to name a few.

On Amazon: Teens Devouring The Hunger Games Trilogy

Guess which mega blockbuster book still reigns #1 atop Amazon's Best Sellers in Teen Books? If you guessed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you win the chance to scroll slowly through this fascinating Amazon list -- only to spot Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, in Amazon's #3 bestselling slot. Keep scrolling . . . and there's Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy, at #4. Very impressive, particularly when you remember that the first book came out in 2008. Hard to say how many more books Amazon might sell as we approach release of the first Hunger Games movie in March 2012. Apparently "The Hunger Games" book has been translated into 26 languages and rights have been sold in 38 countries.

Lionsgate Acquires Chaos Walking Series

Author Patrick Ness' tremendously successful, teen dystopian trilogy, Chaos Walking, may soon be adapted as a series of feature films. Lionsgate entertainment company, the studio behind the Hunger Games films as well as The Departed and The Grudge, has acquired the rights to this harrowing, ultraviolent tale of survival against all odds.

13 year old Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a secluded settlement on New World where all of the women have died. The town has a terrible, secret history that forces Todd into exile, pursued by a demonic preacher and a rapidly growing army hunting him down. New World is plagued by "the Noise," a germ-born cloud of thoughts -- audible to the world -- that projects out from each man, leaving no one's thoughts private. Todd's journey is not only one of survival, but also one of his awakening to the dark truths of New World and their consequences on his conscience.

The books in the Chaos Walking trilogy are The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men, all of which are part of the AADL's Teen collection.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #290

Screenwriter for the 2008 cult film classic Fanboys, Ernest Cline makes his fiction debut with Ready Player One *, "an exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyberquest."

In the year 2044, global warming and oil crisis have rendered the world bleak and inhospitable. To escape, orphaned Wade Watts immerses himself into OASIS - a virtual utopia where you could be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

While he spends his days on video games with his avatar Parzival, Wade soon joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles hidden by OASIS's creator James Halliday who promises an immense fortune as well as the rights as his heir. Joining the hunt are powerful players who are willing to commit real murder to beat Wade to the prize.

"Mind-twisting settings, nail-biting action, amusing banter, and unabashed sentiment make for a smart and charming Arthurian tale that will score high with gamers, fantasy and sf fans, and everyone else who loves stories of bumbling romance and unexpected valor."

"...a blend of Avatar, The Matrix , and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

" A great geek beach book, an unapologetic romp with brains and style."

Check out the book's website for news and photos. Movie adaptation already in the works.

* = starred review (See the New York Times review).

Time to LOL: More MST3K Films

If you’ve been scarfing down the many Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs AADL owns, and are ready for some new additions, you’re in luck. Joel Robinson and Mike Nelson, with Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and Gypsy (yes, all robots!) will keep you laughing as they poke fun of the best of the worst movies- often science fiction B movies. These guys are the best at what they do. Hot off the delivery truck are some new discs for you to get on the hold list for.

Volume 14: Mad Monsters, Manhunt in Space, Soultaker, Final Justice

Volume 15: The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy, The Girl in Lovers Lane, Zombie Nightmare, Racket Girls

Volume 17: The Crawling Eye, The Beatniks, The Final Sacrifice, Blood Waters of Dr. Z

World Fantasy Award Nominees

And the nominees for the World Fantasy Awards include: 2 debut writers (both just happen to be women...) and 2 set in Africa

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes-my personal favorite from this South African writer

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin-she has written plenty of award winning short fiction,this is her first novel & part of the Inheritance Trilogy (the third book comes out in October)

Silent Land by Graham Joyce- genre mashup mostly of suspense fiction and a bit of fantasy thrown in; compared to writers Haruki Murakami and Ian McEwan

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay- not unlike the fantasy writer George R R Martin did with his Song of Ice and Fire series, Kay tries to do with one book set in a world not unlike 8th Century China; lots of kudos from reviewers

Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord- another first fiction retells a Senegalese folktale

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor-known for her young adult fiction, this book takes place in a postapocalyptic Saharan Africa where a young girl must use her magic to end the oppression of her people, the Okeke

Lifetime achievement awards go to Peter S. Beagle (of Last Unicorn fame) and Angélica Gorodischer.

The winner will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention held this year on October 30th in San Diego. So get your geek on!

Nicola's Books Hosts Panel of Fantasy/Sci-Fi Authors

Are you a fan of fantasy or sci-fi? Maybe you're even a fan of both! If so, you will want to be at Nicola's Books on Tuesday, July 26th at 7:00 p.m., when the local book store will be hosting authors Jacqueline Carey, Jim Hines, and Sarah Zettel. Jacqueline Carey is the author of the national bestselling series, Kushiel's Legacy, while Jim Hines is the author of the Goblin Trilogy and Princess Series, in which classic fairy tale princesses are given a new twist. Sarah Zettel is the author of the fantasy series Isavalta, and has also written five sci-fi novels that have garnered wide critical acclaim. These three authors will be discussing current trends for books in the fantasy and sci-fi genres at this free event.

Nicola's Books is located at the Westgate Shopping Center:
2513 Jackson Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Author Birthdays: Heinlein, Eddings, McCullough

July 7th marks the birthday of authors Robert A. Heinlein, David Eddings, and David McCullough.

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author of science fiction and first winner of the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. He still holds the record for winning the most Hugo Awards for Best Novel, awarded for Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and the Retro winner Farmer in the Sky.

Heinlein also had a few Hugo Best Novel short-listed books: Have Space Suit--Will Travel, Glory Road, Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long, Friday, and Job: A Comedy of Justice.

David Eddings was an American writer mostly known for his fantasy series. Many of these series, including The Dreamers, were co-written with his wife, Leigh.

Eddings also wrote some non-fantasy novels. Regina's Song, also written with his wife, is a fictional work about twins and their relationships. Booklist called it "a story of murder and revenge sporting supernatural overtones."

David McCullough is an American author and historian, and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also won the Pulitzer twice for his biographies of Harry S. Truman and John Adams. The HBO television series John Adams and the film Truman were both based on his books.

McCullough has also written non-biographies. His The Path Between The Seas : The Creation Of The Panama Canal, 1870-1914 won four awards in 1978. Library Journal noted that in it "McCullough's careful research and genius for narrative come brilliantly through."

Author Birthdays: Haggard, Remarque, Brown

June 22nd marks the birthday of authors H. Rider Haggard, Erich-Maria Remarque, and Dan Brown.

H. Rider Haggard, also known as Sir Henry Rider Haggard, was an English author, mainly known for his works featuring the character Allan Quartermain, most notably the novel King Solomon's Mines.

Haggard's writing and characters have been the basis for many things: Quartermain was the prototype for Indiana Jones; his character Ayesha influenced psychologists and other writers; and his adventurous story lines influenced the "Lost World" genre's later writers.

Erich-Maria Remarque was a German author. His best known work was the WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also made into a film.

Remarque's other novels include The Night in Lisbon, which tells the story of German refugees during the beginning of WWII, and Arch of Triumph, which was also made into a movie (starring Ingrid Bergman).

Dan Brown is an American novelist, best known for his book The Da Vinci Code, and the other novels starring the character of Robert Langdon.

Brown's first novel was Digital Fortress, which, like The Da Vinci Code, features code-breaking, though the main character is a mathematician rather than a "symbologist." In 2007, Brown also published a memoir about his work as a New York teacher.

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