First X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Trailer

The first trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse. I think it looks pretty good (obligatory BWAAAH aside). I wasn’t sure about the look of the movie Apocalypse, but it seems to look better in the clips than he has in the stills that I’ve seen. Will be interesting to see how the movie shapes up.

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EXTINCTION GAME by Gary Gibson (Tor)

GibsonG-ExtinctionGameSolid parallel-universe disaster science fiction

Jerry Beche should be dead. But instead of dying alone, he’s been rescued from a desolated earth where he was the last man alive. He’s then trained for the toughest conditions imaginable and placed with a crack team of specialists.  Each one also a survivor, as each one survived the violent ending of their own versions of earth. And their specialism – to retrieve weapons and data in missions to other dying worlds. But who is the shadowy organization that rescued them? How do they access other timelines and why do they need these instruments of death?

As Jerry struggles to obey his new masters, he starts distrusting his new companions. A strange bunch, their motivations are less than clear, and accidents start plaguing their missions. Jerry suspects that organisation is lying to them, and team members are spying on him.  As a dangerous situation spirals into fatal, who is an enemy and who can he really trust?

This is the first novel of Gary Gibson’s that I’ve read. I’d been meaning to try out his work for years, but for some reason always got distracted. Luckily, Extinction Game arrived in the mail, and I happily dove right in. I was not disappointed. This is a good novel. Continue reading

Review: THE THREE by Sarah Lotz (Hodder)

LotzS-TheThreeA brilliant thriller. A must-read. And one of my new favourite books.

“They’re here… The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there’s so many… They’re coming for me now. We’re all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he’s not to­­—”

The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961-2012)

Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.

There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged.

And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone.

A message that will change the world.

The message is a warning.

This wasn’t what I was expecting. I think I saw a positive comment from Lauren Beukes on Twitter, but other than that, didn’t know too much about it. So it was with great anticipation that I started reading it. And I loved it. It’s unusual, brilliantly written and expertly constructed, utterly gripping, frequently chilling, and always fascinating. It’s also really difficult to review, but very easy to praise. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE REMAINING series, by D.J. Molles (Orbit)

Molles-R1-TheRemainingI caught the announcement of D.J. Molles’s The Remaining series via a Twitter conversation between Justin and Rob (both are among the best SFF bloggers, in my opinion, so be sure to check out their sites and reviews). Naturally, I invited myself to join in the discussion, and decided to put together this post (I was on a role – it’s the third tonight).

Seeing as I’ve just blitzed through the first four The Walking Dead collected volumes, I must admit to being rather intrigued by this – certainly enough to read the first book at least. I have a weakness for the Zombie Apocalypse sub-genre. I’ve been pretty good at resisting reading everything, though, as I know I could quickly get sick of it. Thus-far, alongside The Walking Dead, I think my favourite has been V.M. Zito’s The Return Man (also published by Orbit, but only in the US – and it’s excellent, so you should all go out and buy it). The four books follow “Captain Lee Harden and a group of survivors as they fight to rebuild a devastated America.” Hm. Barrington’s After America but with added zombies? Here’s the synopsis for the first novel:

In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 20 feet below the basement level of his house, a Special Forces soldier waits for his final orders. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace.

The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed.

Soon the soldier will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his duty: SURVIVE, RESCUE, REBUILD.

The eBooks of all four books will be made available in January 2014, with print editions coming out in successive months from May (not sure why there will be such a gap, though). It would appear, though, that the series was self-published before Orbit snapped up rights (I remain skeptical of the hunger for re-publishing self-published work, but it does seem to be something a handful of publishers are embracing…). Here are the publishing & purchasing details, followed by the covers for books 2-4:

THE REMAINING  (US | UK) – Paperback – May 2014, eBook January 2014

AFTERMATH (US | UK) – Paperback – June 2014, eBook January 2014

REFUGEES  (US | UK) – Paperback – July 2014, eBook January 2014

FRACTURED (US | UK)– Paperback – August 2014, eBook January 2014

Molles-Remaining-2to4.jpeg

Books on Film: “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion (Vintage)

MarionI-WarmBodiesMovieA brilliant zombie love-story…

Movie Synopsis: Life for Julie (Teresa Palmer) and R (Nicholas Hoult) couldn’t be more different. R is a zombie; with a great record collection; limited vocab and an overpowering love of brain food. Julie is a human; beautiful; strong; open minded and all heart. When R makes an unexpected decision and rescues Julie from a zombie attack, his lifeless existence begins to have a purpose. As the unlikely relationship develops, R’s choice to protect her sets in motion a sequence of events that might just change both of their worlds forever. Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and based on the debut novel by Isaac Marion, the heart-warming Warm Bodies is 2013’s zom-rom-com with a twist.

Director: Jonathan Levine | Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovitch

I stumbled across Isaac Marion’s novel when I was in New York. I read the synopsis in the Union Square Barnes & Noble (one of my favourite places in the world…). Despite being intrigued, I wasn’t in a zombie-mood at the time, so I passed over it – rather unfairly, as it turned out. After the movie was released on DVD, though, I decided to watch the movie first – not something I usually do, but given the vast array of books I have to read, I wanted to squeeze this in. And I’m very glad I did.

All of the actors do a great job, and Nicholas Hoult does a wonderful job of making “R” an engaging and even sympathetic character. He’s funny, he’s awkward, and his internal monologue is wonderfully relatable to anyone who has ever felt stuck, awkward, or like their lives need a change. It’s brilliantly done, all-round, and as we see R’s evolution (“re-evolution”?) we realise just how brilliant Hoult is as an actor. It’s a peculiarly sweet love story, and I loved how it was both true to zombie lore and also unexpected and original, as well as paying tribute to some of the greatest love-stories (Romeo & Juliet, for example). It also has a superb soundtrack…

Very highly recommended. I will have to move the novel up the tottering TBR mountain.

Book Synopsis: “R” is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…

MarionI-WarmBodies

Guest Post: A Letter to Readers, by Peter Stenson

This guest post is adapted from a letter author Peter Stenson wrote connected to his new novel, FIEND, which is published today by William Heinemann in the UK. The novel is published by Crown Publishing in the US (both are imprints of Random House). It is the story of the journey he had to travel before he got to a place in which he could write the novel.

FIEND has been described as “Breaking Bad Meets The Walking Dead”, and is currently sitting very near the top of my To-Be-Read mountain. Expect more on the blog very soon.

Stenson-Fiend

*

Dear Readers,

I’d been kicked out of high school and had run away to San Francisco with a hundred dollars to my name. I had a pretty healthy addiction to opiates going and was still a year away from being able to vote. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.

It was New Year’s Eve and I don’t remember exactly how I made my way to a hotel downtown, but I did. It was full of Phish-type kids who were there for some concerts. There were lots of dreadlocks and cocked hats and sagged pants and patchouli. There were even more faces made concave from malnutrition and narcotics. I stumbled around looking for somebody I knew or at least a place to sit down. Everything was red and gold and seemed to slither. Hundreds of other kids did the same thing. I was struck by the idea that some fundamental aspect of our being—whatever the hell it was that made us human and alive—was missing.

Fast-forward six months. I’d relocated to Washington and was living in a halfway house for adolescents. Life was beginning not to suck. I was sober, my parents spoke to me, I was holding down a job, and I was learning that I could find joy outside of chemicals. The main newfound joy was spending my afternoons in a small used bookstore. I’d go there after work and sit in the literature section poring over the cracked spines of books. I spent what little money I had purchasing said books, oftentimes devouring them that same day. I had my quintessential love affair with literature (albeit a little later than most) sitting on that red carpet, huffing the musty pages of those novels. And it was there that I realized I wanted to be a writer.

Both of these memories have stuck with me ever since. I’ve been sober now for a decade and can’t so much as imagine traveling to a city without a hotel reservation, never mind running away two thousand miles. But I’ve never forgotten that moment when I conflated addict and walking-dead as one, nor the accompanying realization that these kids, like myself then, would do anything and everything to keep the high going.

Fiend is born out of that memory and those realizations. I wanted to tell a story of addiction, and strangely, the most honest way I could portray the kind of addiction I knew was to set the story against the background of zombies. I also made methamphetamines a “cure” of sorts so that quitting would not be an option—and so I could see what depths my characters were willing to sink to in order to stay alive.

PeterStensonAnd as for my other memory, the one about spending every afternoon for six months sitting in a shoebox of a used bookstore, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the thought of my book stacked on your shelves. To be amongst the novels that helped give me a purpose—well, I know I’m supposed to be a writer, but the words are failing me here. Because I can’t express how much that means to me.

Sincerely,

Peter Stenson

***

Here’s the synopsis for the novel…

When Chase sees the little girl in umbrella socks savaging the Rottweiler, he’s not too concerned. As someone who‘s been smoking meth every day for as long as he can remember, he’s no stranger to such horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations. But as he and his fellow junkies discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. And with Chase’s life already destroyed beyond all hope of redemption, Armageddon might actually be an opportunity — a last chance to hit restart and become the person he once dreamed of being. Soon Chase is fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among the ruins. But is salvation just another pipe dream?