Tag Archives: books

‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ trailer knows where I’ll be on August 14th

13 Jun


June 13th, 2009-

Chick flick fans and sci-fi fans find their paths converging again with the upcoming release of The Time Traveler’s Wife, the new drama starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, based off the book by Audrey Niffenegger. A few weeks ago, in an article about the top anticipated sci-fi films of the summer, I said this about the film:

Based off a captivating novel about a man whose own genetic make-up causes him to time travel involuntarily, this film has the opportunity to improve upon that original work. Hopefully excising some of the creepier and ill-advised segments from the book, including a sexual encounter between the protagonist and his younger self, The Time Traveler’s Wifecould potentially become a summer movie romantic sleeper. Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams look to be appealing as the couple at the core of the story who struggle to weather the personal devestation that Bana’s time traveling jaunts can cause. Playing with alot of unique time travel concepts(Bana’s character shows up without any clothing or protection when he jumps), and telling a heart-wrenching tale about human love and devotion, Time Traveler’s Wife might be the one flick that offers something for a wider audience beyond the typical sci-fi geek. Continue reading

Serkis, Weaving and McKellan all back for ‘Hobbit’, of course

12 Jun


June 12th, 2009-

Well, I think most of us just assumed this would be the case, and if it weren’t I think some eyebrows would have been raised. But, anyway, now it’s official and proof that The Hobbit really is starting to move forward. Ian Mckellan, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis will all be returning to their roles as Gandalf, Elrond and Gollum, respectively. The Guillermo Del Toro directed and Peter Jackson produced adaptation of Tolkien’s pre-LOTR tale is currently in the process of casting it’s Bilbo, which will be a far more interesting announcement whenever it is made. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for Martin Henderson but that doesn’t seem so likely anymore. And no, de-aging Ian Holm is not a likely or viable option.

 Here’s the original announcement from Empire which can be read HERE.

Here’s one to file under, “Well, duh! But also good”. Guillermo del Toro told Radio 5, as picked up by The One Ring.net, that Sir Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving would be appearing in The Hobbit.It won’t come as any great surprise to, well, anyone, but it is welcome news that those members of the Lord of the Rings cast who also appear in The Hobbit will be playing the roles they originated in Del Toro’s sort-of prequel to Jackson’s trilogy.We’re due a Bilbo casting announcement any day now, but we hope that this tidbit of almost-news will keep you going until then.

Balticon 43 hits town this Memorial Day Weekend

22 May


 Balticon, one of the longest running sci-fi conventions in the country,  heads into Hunt Valley this weekend and promises four days of sci-fi, fantasy and nerdy goodness. I noted on the website there are costume balls and LARPing (live action role playing). All of that was of less interest to me than the potential authors and guests present. Well, if you have got some time and money to burn this weekend and are looking for excuses to pull your latex Khan chest or black trenchcoat and sunglasses out of retirement this looks like your venue. Or if you are just looking to immerse yourself in pure unadulterated geekdom(nothing wrong with that), it sounds like there will be plenty to tickle your fancy. Wow, I used the phrase “tickle your fancy.”

Seriously, if anyone out there attends this lets hear about it. Maybe some pics too?

Ive always wondered whether it’s worthwhile for the more casual fan or similar to Otakon in that it caters to hardcore dedicated fans. To the point: Is there more to this than costumes and niche interest stuff?

These are the details for the convention, taken from the Balticon official site which is located HERE.


The Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

Memorial Day Weekend      May 22-25, 2009
At Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn, Baltimore, MD

Author Guest of Honor:

Charles Stross

Artist Guest of Honor:

Kurt Miller

Music/Filk Guest of Honor:

Mary Crowell

Special Guest of Honor:

Scott Sigler

Ghost of Honor:

Edgar Allan Poe

2008 Compton Crook Award Winner:

Mark L. Van Name

2009 Compton Crook Award Winner:




We have made the Balticon 43 Pocket Schedule available online.

A Four Day, 24-hours-a-day Extravaganza!

Over 300 Hours of Multi-Track Programming featuring authors, publishers, editors, artists, scientists, musicians and other creative SF luminaries. Join over a thousand SF fans for the area’s largest and longest running convention of its kind! Visit our huge art show, dealer’s room, concerts, dances, gaming room, computer room and video room. Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy in one huge package.


Notice to prospective Balticon program participants. Invitations will start going out by Oct. 17, 2008. If you wish, you may download the survey (in Word) here and email it to program@bsfs.org. A list of potential program ideas is available here. You may send additional ideas to program@bsfs.org. Inquiries received after Jan. 15, 2009 will not be guaranteed a program slot. –>


The POCKET PROGRAM is now available as a PDF download! Come and get it!




Most areas of the convention will close at 3:00am each night with the exception of Anime, Video, Filk and the Frankie & Vinnie’s Con-suite. These will be open 24 hours a day or as close to that as our volunteers can manage.



Membership rates are


  • $48.00 for adults and $24.00 for children (age 6-12) till February 28, 2009
  • $53.00 for adults and $26.00 for children (age 6-12) from March 1 through April 30, 2009 –>
  • Full Weekend: $60.00 for adults and $30.00 for children (age 6-12)


On-line registration is now available!

Pre-registration is also available by mail. Please send name, address, email address & phone number with payment to:

Balticon 43, PO Box 686, Baltimore, MD 21203-0686 or click here for membership form.

Single day registration rates are now available!

Single Day Rates (at the door only):

Friday: $29 Adult / $15 Child
Saturday: $41 Adult / $22 Child
Sunday: $36 Adult / $18 Child
Monday: $15 Adult / $8 Child
Sunday/Monday: $46 Adult / $23 Child
Monday (Teachers for AboutSF Teachers Workshop only): $11
Balticon 44 Early Registration: $44 Adult / $22 Child
Active duty military receive free one-day membership on Monday


Buy ten memberships at one time of one type and get the eleventh free. Must provide names and addresses and pay with one check or credit card transaction. Great for fan clubs, family groups or circles of friends. Buy 20 and get two free. For details write registration@bsfs.org or use mail in form. This offer is ONLY available by MAIL. This offer can NOT be completed online.

If you have already pre-registered, you may now check your status online. Please allow five (5) business days for online pre-registration and ten (10) business days for pre-registrations sent in via postal mail. To check the status of your pre-registration, please use our Am I Registered? page.

Balticon Podcasts! There will be Podcasting during Balticon 43, if you need some information before arriving at the con, or if you want to listen to our recent podcast interviews, check out our web site: www.balticonpodcast.org

Half Blood Prince conjures up new featurette

21 May


This summer is turning out to be something of a mixed bag. There are several interesting movies hitting in May, but after that anything of substance is scattered over the following three months. Of those remainder, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is probably the one I’m looking most forward to, at least as big blockbusters go.  Bringing back David Yates, the director of the quite good last installment, Prince goes both darker and lighter places than its predecessors. Theres more humor, more teen interaction and a graver sense of peril for both the human and wizard worlds. Outside of an odd PG rating, which raises eyebrows as to how much of the book’s final conflict has been excised, this new Potter looks about as close to a sure thing as you can get without having the name Pixar on it.

It gets even better with the release of this new featurette from Warner Bros. which details the production of the movie and gives us some new scenes. The character work and relationships were the heart of  the book, and it was character work that shined most brightly in Yates last installment, so things just keep looking up for this Half-Blood.

See the featurette HERE.

Movie review: Angels and Demons pits science and faith against pulp

21 May


cinemagrade c+

Ron Howard’s adaptation of Angels and Demons might be based off of a Dan Brown novel and linked to the controversial The Davinci Code, but the film itself couldn’t be more tame. I never saw Code because of the film’s absurd premise that married blasphemy with popcorn thriller–no thanks. Add to that the fact it was poorly recieved and that Tom Hanks seemed to be letting his toupee do all the heavy acting and you had a perfectly crafted ball of “I could care less.” Now along come the follow-up adventures of Robert Langdon and I was surprised to find myself intrigued by the trailers. The film itself is a fun little bit of escapism, eschewing anything heretical or antagonistic and instead focusing on jaunts into underground tombs, perusal of old libraries and sequences where dark matter threatens to swallow the Vatican if Tom Hanks can’t stop it. It’s all pulp and no edge, and strangely that’s the biggest problem.

Ron Howard does a nice job of making an old-school matinee thriller with great set pieces, tons of atmosphere and a few action scenes that do the work of raising the adrenaline. On top of the film’s handsome design and straightforward pacing, it focuses most of it’s energy on art, architecture and research. It makes the librarian tactics of Langdon as appealing in their way as Indiana Jones’ punch and kick method of info gathering. I imagine that Angels and Demons will have the most impact on dvd, where it can play a sunday afternoon after dinner and tantalize with it’s historical head-scratchers and it’s Six-Degrees of Renaissance Painters game trivia. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t have much value in andof itself but can inspire art gallery outings, interest in historical writings, and maybe even a trip to Rome. It’s more of a travelogue of ideas than a fully formed story.

The plot? Well, it boils down to a rogue faction known as the Illuminati(dude, it’s ALWAYS the Illuminati) striking out at the Catholic Church at a time when the Pope has passed on and the current power in the Vatican is being overseen by the Camerlengo, played gamely by Ewan McGregor. The pope himself was actually murdered by the order and they have broken into the Hadron Collidier and have plans to unleash its fury at the end of a killing spree that will claim the four preferati(potential candidates for the Papacy) and throw the Church into darkness. All of this is being done to avenge themselves for persecution that their ancient order of scientists faced at the hands of the Vatican. Langdon, the Camerlengo and token femal sidekick Vittoria Vetra, who was working at CERN when the Illuminati stole the anti-matter, are now racing against the clock to uncover the clues hidden around Rome and in the Vatican’s dark past. As in most movies like this, everything comes down to big pulse-pounding conclusion that requires the characters to think fast while stopping to deliver helpful speeches about historical events.

Most of all that works. It’s exciting and I had a good time while I watched it, but there isn’t so much as a single bit of distinguishing character work for anyone who isn’t Langdon and even in his case, it amounts to only a few scenes. No matter, the spice of the film actually comes from it’s propping up of science and faith as mysterious, enticing and sort of wondrous. Most might think Brown’s work is anti-Church, and that might be true, but it relies on the mystique and tradition of Catholicism for its power and atmosphere. The same is true for the realm of scientific discovery, which could only be adored more if this were directed by Spielberg. Howard displays the same sense of reverance for the lab at CERN as he does for the church’s  hallowed cathedrals. And all of that makes sense. The intersection at the heart of the story is the one between faith and science. Instead of drawing out that tension and conflict, as the far superior Knowing recently did, Angels and Demons only uses it as window dressing between chase scenes.

Angels and Demons makes for a perfectly swell matinee feature that will likely draw an older audience who might be tired of stuff like Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s just a shame that the movie doesn’t work on any other level than as an A to B rote thriller. It has a compelling centerpiece, but it doesn’t even reach the cohesiveness of National Treasure. The movie’s best scene takes place early on when the Camerlengo asks Langdon if he believes in God. Langdon says he is an academic and that he believes it is beyond his mind to determine the existence of God. When the Camerlengo questions what he feels in his heart, Langdon remarks that “faith is a gift, and that his “heart is not worthy.” It’s an interesting scene, and one whose complexities could have been useful throughout the film. I would have gladly given up a few scenes of Langdon thumbing through books or escaping ridiculous death scenarios for its inclusion.



Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk @ Enoch Pratt Free Library tonight!

7 May


Literature fans looking to take a bemused walk in the shadows might be interested to know that transgressive fiction author Chuck Palahniuk (he of the disturbed, depraved and the down and out) is doing a special reading tonight in Baltimore  at the Enoch Pratt Free Central Library located @400 Cathedral St.

The event will take place at 6:30 p.m with Palahniuk, responsible for the insane novels that inspired the films Fight Club and Choke!,  reading from his new book Pygmy, just released on Tuesday from Doubleday. Pygmy follows the tale of a terrorist cell in the U.S. made up of–wait for it– young foreign exchange students. Expect the usual Palahniuk zaniness to ensue. The reading is open for all to attend.

For all interested in catching the author, visit the library link here.