My thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse


Saw X-Men: Apocalypse last night and had a lot of fun with it. Here are my brief thoughts.


Don’t believe the negative buzz. It’s a solid movie. Not “great”, and certainly nowhere near Captain America: Civil War, but miles above BvS (which admittedly isn’t saying much). It’s a generally well-done and fun movie. It has the courage to eschew the normal action movie formula by resisting the urge to have a huge action scene every twenty minutes. Its first real action scene after the prologue is more of a comedic spectacle than a real action sequence, so it’s first REAL action scene doesn’t happen until well into the second half of the movie — and yet it’s never dull and always engaging. Good on Bryan Singer.

My only real complaint is that there are too many characters and I wish some of them had been more fully developed or that they’d simply dropped some and focused more on the ones they kept. Also, I missed the Humans Vs. Mutants theme that runs throughout most of the X-Men movies. But that’s a small nitpick.

I think the lack of character focus prevents the movie from achieving comic book movie greatness, but other than that, if you like these kinds of films, I think you’ll have a good time at the theater.

Oh, and Apocalypse was a pretty darned good villain. Poe Dameron, what happened to you? Amazing that the actor can portray both good guys and bad guys with the same flourish.


Magic & Mayhem Boxed Set

Title: Magic and Mayhem

Number of Novels: 21

Price: $0.99

Release: August 2, 2016

Synopsis: Get ready to be swept off into lands filled with magic, mystery, action, adventure and romance with these 21 full-length fantasy novels! 22 NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling authors have banded together to bring you this amazing boxed set, but like all good things, it’s only available for a limited time! Grab this collection today before it’s gone for good!



What makes this boxed set so special?

You might be asking yourself what makes this boxed set so special, and I’m more than happy to tell you. See, there’s nothing like this out there. Usually when you go looking for collections of books, one of two things happens, you either find the same novels you’ve seen everywhere else, most of which you can get for free, or you find a collection chock full of books filled with half-naked alphas and domineering vampires.

Now, both of those things are cool, but that’s not what this collection entails. No, the guys and girls in these novels are way more likely to punch a vampire in the face than make out with one. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being saved, but sometimes a girl has got to take things into her own hands, like you know, a stake.

You will also find that each novel in this set is actually for sale on one or more venders for far more than the sticker price of this set. This isn’t a set filled with freebies designed to entice you into purchasing something you could find for free. No, this collection of over one million words retails for over fifty dollars, and it’s all your for a buck. If that isn’t a steal, I don’t know what else.

Some of the books within the set have sold thousands of copies by themselves, and almost all of them enjoy several four and five star reviews. Chances are you’ll find at least one of your new favorite series within, and likely more, all for only a buck. That’s a deal that’s hard to beat.

So who wouldn’t like this set?

There’s always someone who doesn’t like something, and if you’re on the fence about this set, I’ll try to warn you off right now.

  • If you don’t like kick ass men and women who stake vampires, pummel werewolves, and shoot zombies all while maintaining their snarky senses of humor, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like books who will bring you into a world full of fantasy, magic, and mayhem, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like books with hundreds of four and five star reviews, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like paying $0.99 for 21 full-length novels, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you are expecting hot, steamy romance full of bare-chested werewolves getting it on, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t want to read books that will pull you in and not let you go until you’ve read all their sequels, this boxed set isn’t for you.

Okay, you keep saying 21 novels, but what exactly does that mean?

I thought you’d never ask. Here’s a list of what’s included in this set:

Burned by Magic – Jasmine Walt

Come, the Dark – Rebecca Hamilton

The Sorcery Code – Dima Zales & Anna Zaires

Unbound – Emily Goodwin

Legally Undead – Margo Bond Collins

Wardbreaker – J.A. Cipriano

Quartz – Rabia Gale

Chased by Fire – D.K. Holmberg

Waterwitch – Thea Atkinson

Adamant – Emma L. Adams

The Sunken – S.C. Green

Heart of the Kraken – A.W. Exley

The Atomic Sea – Jack Conner

Rebel’s Honor – Gwynn White

Echo in Time – Lindsey Fairleigh

The Hunt for Snow – S.E. Rabin

They’re So Vein – Susan Stec

Chameleon – K. De Long

Brooding City – Tom Shutt

Death is But a Dream – Erin Hayes

Power Shift – Calinda B.

Trust me, with 21 novels from twenty-two New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors, you’re getting more than enough bang for your buck. Just don’t start this set late at night if you value your sleep, because I guarantee you’ll be up WAY past your bedtime! This incredible boxed set is only going to be around at $0.99 for a limited time, so make sure you grab your copy today!


YES! Deadpool is a hit.



I’m hugely happy about this, not just because I enjoyed the movie (although I did), but because I am so utterly sick of the spate of PG-13 action movies in recent years. For Cthulhu’s sake, even Die Hard has gone PG-13!

Heck, even Star Wars, which has always been PG, has gone PG-13. I’m okay with that, but I’m really not okay with every single action movie being bloodless fluff. I want to see limbs severed, chests exploded, people cursing and, well, er, other adult stuff. Cough. Like taxes, maybe.

Anyway. I really, really hope that the success of Deadpool helps cement the recent trend toward more mature big-budget fare at the cinema.

The next Alien, Terminator, Die-Hard and so on could now actually, even realsitcally, return to its/their R-rated roots, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Bring it on, Hollywood.

Read more HERE.


Monthly Mutation Update

Okay, here are the submissions for February . . .

The first one comes from returning champ EJ Bouinatchova, and it’s called The Lady of Ethali.


Lady of Ethali

Lady of Ethali


The second one is brought to us by Kayla Perisho. Not only did she create a wonderful image, but she also developed a fun backstory for her character:

This lovely lady has suffered several mutations. Her skin is scaly, but has the properties of an octopus, allowing her to change color and texture to an extent. She has grown lamp like lures from the back of her neck, and her teeth extend like needles, much like an angler fish. She has adapted to her mutations well, using them to lure unsuspecting men into dark alleys with her beauty, then swiftly makes her kill and is off with their valuables.



And finally we have a delightfully creepy submission from Martin Adi-Smith:



Which one is your favorite?

Please, share this on your social media of choice and keep the Mutation going. Oh, and as always, if you’re interested in the series of novels that inspire this competition, THE ATOMIC SEA, you can grab a copy of the first volume HERE.


Who are Rey’s parents in Star Wars The Force Awakens?

Rey from Star Wars


THIS is a fascinating article about who Rey’s parents might be in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes, we’ve all been led to believe she’s Luke’s daughter, and she might well be, but if so why didn’t they just come out and say so? It seems strange to hold something so obvious back. Then again, that could well be the case. But let’s speculate wildly anyway!

Warning: spoilers to follow!

Personally, I like (but don’t entirely buy) the theory of the article’s writer, which fits what we know about what had been the original opening shot of the movie: Luke’s severed hand gripping the lightsaber spinning down through the abyss in Bespin. That could have been conceived simply to explain how Luke’s lightsaber came to be in Maz’s bar, but it could easily fit the other theory, that Luke’s hand was used to create a clone of Luke — a clone that, according to the theory, turned out female.

In any case, Keylo Ren seems to have been aware of Rey. As soon as he learns of a “girl” helping BB-8, he freaks out. Why would he have done that if he didn’t know of Rey’s existence? And if a clone of Luke Skywalker had been made to oppose him, he might well know about it and have done something about it, perhaps in the process stranding her on Jakku.

Han definitely seems to know something, or else why the sly cutaway when Maz asks him who Rey is?

And it makes sense that the Resistance might want a clone of Luke. If he had abandoned them, why not simply make a new Luke? And of course the meaning of the name Luke has to do with light, and “Rey” is a homophone for “ray”, as in a beam of light, so there’s that.

On the other hand (cough), it’s hard to imagine Disney signing off on having their new main character for Star Wars be a clone concocted from a severed body part. They would probably want a naturally-born human as the new face of Star Wars. So in all likelihood Rey will turn out to be Luke’s daughter (or granddaughter?). I’m fine with this, although it does seem a bit less original. Still, it feels satisfying, and the new Disney approach to Star Wars is all about being satisfying. The other way is a bit too edgy and weird. Not that there’s anything wrong with being satisfying. At this point I’m over the moon to be satisfied by a Star Wars movie.

A little edginess would be all right, though.

But what do you think? Any other conspiracy theories about Star Wars: The Force Awakens?


My mini-review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Enough time has gone by that I think it’s acceptable to dive into spoiler territory now. But there WILL be spoilers, so be warned, those of you who haven’t seen Star War: The Force Awakens — SPOILERS beyond this point.

Personally, I really enjoyed The Force Awakens on the first viewing, but I had some problems with it — too many structural callbacks to A New Hope, too much CGI, and not very good CGI — seriously, do we really want the Big Bad to be a lame CGI construction? There is no reason for Snoke to be CGI; he’s very humanoid. Also, Snoke is a silly name. And there was no scary villain like Vader, no towering figure of evil kicking ass. Keylo Ren is more of a conflicted, angst-driven Anakin-esque figure — which is actually pretty great. I love having a conflicted villain. Keylo is fascinating. But no Vader. And Snoke is a goofy hologram on a crappy CGI set.

I had other problems with the movie, but those started to fall away on the second viewing. Because, on the positive side, the movie FELT like Star Wars. It felt like Star Wars more keenly than the Prequels ever did. It was FUN. The characters were a blast (although I didn’t feel like we got to spend enough time with any of them. We didn’t have a long, get-to-know-you period with any of them like we did with Luke.)

But anyway, the movie WORKS. It’s a blast, a nitro-fueled ball of energy filmed against largely practical sets (that are gorgeous and very Star Wars-y), which really helps sell the reality of the universe. When the sets aren’t practical, like the awful CGI bridge at the end with Han, they’re less good. Seriously, the CGI in this movie is terrible. But fortunately so much of it is practical, and beautifully made, with vibrant directing, likeable acting and exciting Star Wars-y stuff going on.

I can’t wait to get to know the new characters better, especially Poe. I understand he was actually meant to die in this movie, but they decided to keep him around, and I’m glad they did. Hopefully he’ll have a bigger role next time around. His daring heroism feels so refreshing in this jaded age.

I love the fact that the lightsaber duel wasn’t all leaping and jumping around. It wasn’t for looks so much (as in Phantom Menace) but for substance. I want an explanation for how Rey is able to go up against Keylo Ren without training, but I’m assuming she absorbed some of his own training during their mind meld, so I’m willing to let that slide.

I love that Finn was a garbage man.

I want (and will probably get) a comic book about each of the aliens in Kanata’s bar.

I’m still wrestling with my feelings on the movie, but overall I’m starting to love it. A third viewing is definitely required. It was during the second viewing of Phantom Menace that it really began to sink in that something was way wrong with the Prequels. On the second viewing of Force Awakens, I only began to like it more. A third viewing might push me over the like line into love.

What about you? Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Conjectures for the future of the series? Is Rey Luke’s daughter? What’s up with her vision?


Behold! The winner for December’s Monthly Mutation is . . .

. . . Jim Phillips with this terrific and moody portrait of a fish-man:




Well done, Jim! Close at his heels was this fun image from Jayson Evans:




And a very cool abstract piece from Maarten Bouwman:















And rounding out the submissions for this month is this striking figure from last month’s winner Ashley Poteet:




















Thank everyone who entered, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next month. As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about the series of novels that inspire this competition, The Atomic Sea, you can find Part One HERE or the first Omnibus HERE.

Oh! And The Atomic Sea: Part Eight comes out 12/10/2015 and is available for pre-order HERE.


Looks like a new Dark Tower movie is going forward . . .

Matthew McConaughey is up for the role of Roland in the newest take on “The Dark Tower”. This would have horrified me a few years ago, but now I think he might actually be a worthy candidate for the role, certainly better than Russel Crowe (the last actor up for the part). I can’t think of anyone better off the top of my head, and indeed I can think of many worse. MM has really been impressing me with his acting lately, as well as his choice of roles.

What do you think?

As an aside, I hope the screewriters aren’t afraid to veer from King’s books, which take increasingly bizarre and, well, honestly lame turns as the series goes on (one or two of the later books focus heavily on a secondary character in the real world signing a contract, for example).

Read more on HERE.

Dark Tower

Dark Tower