Blurb from Robert McGill

To continue sharing the kind words others have given for What We See in the Smoke, this is from Robert McGill, who ran the undergraduate creative writing workshop at the University of Toronto: You can find out more about Robert McGill and links to his work at his website here: http://www.robert-mcgill.com/books/ If you are swayed, you should … Continue reading Blurb from Robert McGill

Blurb from Sharon English

Very proud to start sharing some of the kind words that several authors have supplied for my new book – starting with Sharon English, author of Zero Gravity and Uncomfortably Numb, who helped supervise this novel. You can find out more about Sharon English and links to her books at her website here: https://www.sharonenglish.net/bio/   … Continue reading Blurb from Sharon English

Arrival – A Case of Déjà vu

The Spectatorial

arrival-movie-poster

Walking into Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, I only knew a little about the movie. I knew that it was based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang which I have not read (it’s on the shelf). I knew that it was starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. I was pleasantly surprised to see Forest Whitaker around the ten minute mark. I knew this was going to be a movie about first contact with aliens. And yet as the movie began, I couldn’t help but feel I’d seen this all before. I mean that as the highest of praise, incidentally.

Twelve alien space ships land on Earth. Nobody knows why. Professor of linguistics “Louise Banks” (Amy Adams) is recruited by the US government and sent to the alien arrival sight in Montana, where she is partnered with “Ian…

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The Overture

The Spectatorial

smSpoiler disclaimer: this post discusses certain events in The Sandman (although it doesn’t divulge the ending).

The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s seminal dark fantasy graphic novel series, which ran 76 issues from January 1989 to March 1996, is finally over.

It might seem strange making that statement now, in 2015, but it isn’t. From 2013 until this past September, The Sandman had returned to us in the glorious form of The Sandman: Overture, a prequel to the original stories.

In the first issue back in 1989, Morpheus, the lord of dreams, was captured by humans. The story alluded to some great cosmic struggle that had weakened his powers and allowed for his capture, but the series never touched on the backstory more than that. This is the story that Overture endeavours to tell, and it does so with majesty.

The problem with prequels is that they usually have nothing…

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Hannibal: What do you see?

The Spectatorial

Sight is the key to appreciating the design behind Bryan Fuller’s three seasons of Hannibal. Television is first and foremost a visual medium, and no show makes better use of it.

The first two seasons of Hannibal take place before the events described in the famous novels by Thomas Harris, with the third season leading into an incredible adaption of his first Hannibal novel, Red Dragon. What starts off as a killer-of-the-week cop drama slowly becomes a bloody, insane, near supernaturally charged love story between its two lead characters. Hugh Dancy stars as Will Graham, a man who can empathize perfectly with anybody and whose sense of self and reality is shaky at the best of times. Opposite Will is his psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), who enjoys philosophizing about God, eroding Will’s conception of the world, and elaborately cooking, serving, and eating people (in meals that…

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Ex_Machina – I am become Death

The Spectatorial

Somewhere in the wilderness of Alaska there is a house, and inside that house are four people. At least one of these people is not human, but a robot. Over the course of a single week, the occupants must determine if this robot is a living, thinking thing, or just an illusion of consciousness.

This is the barest plot description possible of Alex Garland’s Ex_Machina, a film with an incredibly tight cast including only four actors (only three of whom have speaking roles) who appear in only a single setting throughout the film. The film is not only entertaining, tense, intelligent, and beautifully shot, but it might also just be the best philosophical movie about robots since Blade Runner.

In the not so distant future, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is an employee of Bluebook, the biggest and most powerful internet search engine in the world. When Caleb wins a…

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The Flash Season One: “Run, Barry, Run!”

The Spectatorial

the flash photo

“Life is locomotion… If you’re not moving, you’re not living.”

So begins the famous motto of the comic book hero the Flash, and when adopting the story of Barry Allen for the small screen, it’s clear that this motto was taken to heart. With apparently no fear that it will run out of stories, The Flash ran through its first season at breakneck speed.

When Barry Allen was a little boy in Central City, he saw his mother, Nora (Michelle Harrison), be murdered in a yellow ball of light, and his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp) was charged with her murder. Barry goes to live with his parent’s friend, police detective Joe West (the amazing Jesse L. Martin), and Joe’s daughter Iris West (Candice Patton).

Fifteen years later, a bunch of scientists at a place called S.T.A.R. Labs blow up something called a particle accelerator, Barry gets struck by lightning…

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Almost Human: Synthetic Soul

The Spectatorial

ah-poster-sized Image from yvrshoots.com

Created by J. H. Wyman and J. J. Abrahams, Almost Human was a science fiction television show that lasted only one season on Fox—because if there is one thing Fox knows how to do, it’s cancel great sci-fi hits before their time.

The premise is as follows: In 2048, the uncontrollable evolution of science and technology has caused crime rates to rise an astounding 400%. To combat this, the overwhelmed police force has implemented a new policy that pairs every human police officer with a combat-model android.

The series follows John Kennex (Karl Urban), a police detective who lost his leg in battle and who wakes up from a coma to a world where having a robot partner is now mandatory. Extremely distrustful of robotics, including his own cybernetic leg, Kennex is first partnered with a standard issue logic-based MX robot, but after it annoys him, he

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Sandman : Handful of Dust

The Spectatorial

sandman shushes me Image from empireonline.com

When a young Neil Gaiman first approached Vertigo comics about The Sandman, he was pitching a simple revival of the 70s series of the same name by Joe Simon and Jack “The King” Kirby. But DC editor Karen Berger insisted that while they keep the name, Gaiman should create a new character.

And thank goodness he did, for otherwise the world would have been robbed of something beautiful. Running from 1989 to 1996, for a total 75 issues collected in 10 volumes, The Sandman managed to create its very own expansive self-contained mythology.

The original artists Mike Dringenberg and Sam Kieth fashioned the title character after Gaiman himself. The Sandman, also known as Morpheus or Dream, and by many other names, carries with him an aura of inhumanity. While early issues exist in the DC comic universe with appearances by The Martian Manhunter and John Constantine…

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