Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Video: Kid Snippets "The Wand of Universal Power"

If' you've never seen Kid Snippets, you're in for a treat.  The stories are told by kids and acted by adults.  This is a 4 part fantasy story.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Book Review: Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Pros: gut-wrenching scenes, interesting situation, fun characters

Cons: they’re helped a surprising amount 

Vincent and Jane head to Murano to try to make their verre obscurcie with a local glassmaker.  But their ship is waylaid by pirates and things go downhill from there.

This is the fourth book of the Glamourist Histories, and is a great continuation.  The couple fall upon bad circumstances and must work hard to regain their former standing.  As with the other books there’s a personal mystery that glamour is used to solve.

There were some gut-wrenching scenes in the book as the characters deal with what’s happened.  
Despite the grimness of their situation both the protagonists and some of the people they encounter have fun personalities and mostly upbeat attitudes.

I did question the intricacy of some of the plots Vincent and Jane come up with to return their property, especially considering the number of people who offer to help them.

This is a fun series and a great book. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Shout-Out: SynBio by Leslie Alan Horzitz

Scientists now have the capacity to hack into DNA the same way that hackers can infiltrate computer systems, manipulating organisms by inserting new DNA or exploiting genetic mutations that can trigger fatal heart attacks or induce bipolar illness or Alzheimer's. These biohackers as they're known can perform their experiments in their kitchens using equipment purchased for next to nothing on eBay.
Most of these biohackers are like Seth Stringer in Cambridge, MA who's made a name for himself exploring the frontiers of genetic manipulation. He's young, brash, ambitious and obsessed with his work. but also a little naïve. When his former professor Marcus Adair holds out the possibility of coming to London and going to work for an international pharmaceutical company called Chimera, he jumps at the chance. He can make good money and cement his relationship with his girlfriend, who has misgivings about his future prospects as a breadwinner. He fails to realize until too late that the principal business of Chimera isn't the manufacture of generic drugs but the production of lethal genetic products for well-heeled clients. This will then be used to assassinate or debilitate presidents, prime ministers and CEOs using their own DNA against them - a method that not only makes it difficult to identify the perpetrator (a cold virus can deliver the engineered DNA) but makes it almost impossible to determine that a crime has been committed in the first place.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Video: 30 Star Wars Impressions

This is a fantastically funny video by the people at Barely Political.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Creature Feature: Harpies

In this column I talk about some of the more unusual fantasy creatures and/or creatures it would be cool to see in books.

"Harpy". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
I'm starting this series with a greatly underused creature from Greek myth.  

Harpies are:

“Huge predatory birds with the faces of women and the talons of eagles, used by the gods to punish or torment humans.” (Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen, p.195)

Their name comes from the Greek word ‘snatchers’, which aptly describes what they do.  They scream as they fall upon their prey and their stench is overpowering. 

Sound cool, don’t they?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Shout-Out: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Debutante by day. Murderess by night. Edinburgh's only hope. Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she's spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she's a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Video: Epic Rap Battles of History Artists vs TMNT

If you've never seen an Epic Rap Battles of History video, you don't know what you're missing.  While their season finale pitting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles against their namesake artists isn't my favourite, it's pretty cool.

While it's neither SFF nor kid friendly, my favourite rap battle (and it's a hard choice) is Santa Claus vs Moses.