The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination

madscientistsThe title of veteran genre editor John Joseph Adams’ latest collection of original short stories, THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, is a clever tease. Still, while playful, it does drive home the whole focus of the book.

As Chris Claremont notes in his foreword, “the best heroes are defined by their villainous adversaries.” So, for example, while we celebrate Superman, we never forget Lex Luthor. The same goes for James Bond and Dr. No, James T. Kirk and Khan, and so on throughout time eternal.

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Owsley and Me: My LSD Family

owsleyandmeThe best description of OWSLEY AND ME: MY LSD FAMILY is like this: Imagine hanging out with a former hippie from the 1960s whose boyfriend was the largest producer of LSD ever. The book is the story of author Rhoney Gissen Stanley and her relationship with Owsley “Bear” Stanley, a man who not only would create the wall of sound for the Grateful Dead and record them through the decade, but also would extol the virtues of LSD. He not only passed it out to all, but produced the highest quality of that drug.

Rhoney goes through her time with “Bear,” as he was called by all, detailing their history through rose- colored glasses. She never gets vindictive or gives a holier-than-thou attitude. The book is more about what fun they all had back in the day with their cool friends: the Dead, Janis Joplin, Elvin Bishop and members of Jefferson Airplane.

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Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood

whowasdraculaSomewhere in the middle of my successful pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in news communication, I enrolled in an English class titled “Mysteries and Case Histories,” in which much of the semester’s discussion would center on the classic horror novel DRACULA.

“Oh, that sounds like fun!” I thought.

I was wrong. Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic novel is not exactly what one terms as an “easy read.” It’s kind of a mess structurally and more talky than a tween girl after downing a dozen Pixy Stix.

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Time Warp #1

timewarp1Like last fall’s GHOSTS, Vertigo has resurrected an old DC Comics anthology title — if only briefly — for an oversized one-off in TIME WARP. The results on this trip are mostly outstanding.

Given that the short-lived TIME WARP (1979-1980) was a science-fiction comic of “doomsday tales and other things,” so is this nine-story 80-pager, even carrying over its twisty title treatment. And “twist” is an element on which these tales are built, beginning with a Rip Hunter time-travel adventure drawn with verve by Jeff Lemire and scripted with predictable head-scratchiness by LOST‘s Damon Lindelof.

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Death on a Pale Horse: Sherlock Holmes on Her Majesty’s Secret Service

deathpalehorseTo this day, Sherlock Holmes remains an enduring figure. Movies are still made using him. And the pastiches featuring the worlds greatest detective have not slowed down. DEATH ON A PALE HORSE: SHERLOCK HOLMES ON HER MAJEST’S SECRET SERVICE is another, and another entry in Donald Thomas’ books that center on Holmes and Watson.

Now, what’s really interesting about this one is the use of real historical events play a central part of the plot. The book actually starts off years before Watson and Holmes have ever met. And actually, Watson plays a much larger role in the story than Holmes, who is present, but most of his action is done off-page. Why will become apparent as readers progress through DEATH.

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PREVIEW >> Film Noir FAQ

filmnoirfaqLast time David J. Hogan contributed to Applause Theatre & Cinema Books’ FAQ series, it was to fill us in on the Three Stooges. Now he’s back with a far darker subject, in the 400-page paperback FILM NOIR FAQ: ALL THAT’S LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE OF DAMES, DETECTIVES, AND DANGER, due April 15. In this excerpt, Hogan discusses “Gender Wars and Some Big Ideas from Howard Hughes.”

One of the most highly regarded films noir, RKO’s The Narrow Margin (1952), came perilously close to oblivion after being completed. During thirteen days in May–June 1950, studio contract director Richard Fleischer shot the suspenseful story of a Chicago police detective who risks his life to transport a hoodlum’s wife to Los Angeles, via train, so that she can be a witness in a mob trial.

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The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies

horrorshowguideAt first glance, Mike Mayo’s THE HORROR SHOW GUIDE: THE ULTIMATE FRIGHTFEST OF MOVIES looks like one of those beloved, phone-directory-thick VIDEOHOUND genre guides Visible Ink Press issued throughout the ’90s, particularly his own VIDEOHOUND’S HORROR SHOW.

Turns out there’s a good reason: The new book is a second edition of that 1998 book, but stripped of the VIDEOHOUND brand. Thus, gone is the dog-bone rating system, along with many capsule reviews of the earlier work.

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A Good Death

agooddeathIf you didn’t already know it, you’d swear Christopher R. Cox was an experienced traveler and journalist, due to the evocative and often haunting descriptions of the far-flung locales of his debut mystery novel, A GOOD DEATH. Unfortunately, an abrupt shift in narrative focus results in this first work of fiction being somewhat less than it promises.

Sebastian Damon, a former newspaper reporter, works as a detective for his father’s private investigation firm. A high-ranking claims agent of an insurance company, who previously employed Sebastian to collect evidence on her cheating husband, now wants him to confirm the death of a customer.

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PREVIEW >> TMI Mom: Oversharing My Life

tmimomAccording to advance buzz, Heather Davis’ TMI MOM: OVERSHARING MY LIFE is LOLZOMG.
From scorching her hoohah with jalapeños to attempting Carmen Electra’s aerobic striptease in torn sweats and tube socks, the humorist uses dry wit and a knack for storytelling to share her stories about the crazy things that happen in her world, from the minivan to the bedroom and beyond. Below is just one example.

Craziest things I have ever heard as I’m lying in bed at some ungodly, early hour pretending my family is not wrecking the house:
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youI’m telling you, Austin Grossman’s YOU may just be the best fiction book I’ve read in the last two years. It is gloriously ambitious; its language is ethereally beautiful; and its story is sometimes almost incomprehensible, but at the same time, weirdly profound.

It is a coming-of-age tale, of both the young men and women who toiled through high school on the margins while they discovered the almost impossibly powerful world of computing, and the coming-of-age of the video-game industry itself.

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