Puzzler's War Eyal Kless

Book Probe: Illustrated World of Tolkien

Book Probe reviews sci-fi books so you don’t have to. Buy these. They’re good.

The Illustrated World of Tolkien by David Day

Good to read while enjoying second breakfast.

This is a  very cool hardcover where artists talk about Tolkien and how his work inspired their work. 

It’s also a handbook of Tolkien creatures and characters. 

Reading the artists’ insights and seeing their interpretations of these legendary figures is a joy, and their creativity is infectious. 

Like Gollum and the One Ring, you will need to grab this right away. 

It’s also possible that possessing this book will drive you bonkers like Gollum. But don’t throw it into a volcano. It’s too precious.

Puzzler’s War (Tarakan Chronicles #2) by Eyal Kless

Puzzler's War Eyal Kless



Author Eyal Kless is a classical violinist, but he can whomp up a sci-fi adventure novel, too. 

This one is a sequel to the first one, so you’ll need to read that one first. This one I like better. That is to say, the first one is really good, too — but this one ramps up the action and the adventure, and the motley crew of companions mucking about in a future where everything went into the pooper. 

(That’s the technical definition of a dystopia, by the way.) 

It’s fun, thrilling, and well worth a read.

Warlord (Makaum War #3) by Mel Odom

Warlord by Mel Odom

This story is the third in a series, but it’s not vital to read the first two. I recommend that you do, because they’re fun like this one is fun. 

This series reminds me of the Mack Bolan Stony Man series, the paperback action novels that 80s kiddos like me found in dog-eared copies from our libraries or in pristine, good-smelling copies from Waldenbooks. 

I mean that comparison as a high compliment. These books are sci-fi war novels with gritty intensity and bombastic action and quotable dialogue while the heroes blast aliens. 

I haven’t read much from the author Mel Odom, but now I need to. Preferably, while listening to an 80s movie soundtrack on cassette. 

EDIT: My mind is blown. After I finished writing this review, I looked up Mel Odom. He has FOR REAL written Mack Bolan books. That is awesome. Now I have even more books to dig up. 

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Body by Starfleet

Book Probe: Body by Starfleet

Book Probe: We review books of geeky interest so you don’t have to. Our opinions are the correct ones. 

Body by Starfleet

Body by Starfleet
Today is a good day to diet.


This book is so good that it makes me want to be a healthy person.

Ha ha, that’s not true, Book Probe is already healthy. Ha. ha. ha. [abject weeping]

This book is crammed full of silliness, while also being a pretty good exercise book, no joke.

I’m almost positive this is not the first Star Trek tie-in product to include Discovery, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Tilly get a fun exercise: Tilly’s Command Training Program Sprints.

Writer Robb Pearlman digs deep for Trek references from all generations, and they are excellent: Riker’s Leg Extensions. Deanna Troi’s Active Listeners. Chekov’s Cossack Squats. Ambassador Collos’ Medusan Vessel Stretches. Why haven’t you bought this book yet?

Is it because you were hoping for Deep Space Nine exercises? Boom — Quark’s Odo-in-a-Bucket Walks.

Doing the exercises is optional, I suppose, but I’m doing them because I’ve never been so expertly targeted with a fitness program.

Also, Georgiou commands me to do so.

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Exciting Updates to the Blogs!

Hello, RevBloggers! I’ve you’re logged into your blog, you’ve probably noticed that it looks different. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been into here, doing cleanup and maintenance, so a lot of plugins had to be updated, and we hadn’t yet made the big jump to WordPress 5.XX. The big difference to WP5, is now you get to use the Gutenberg interface. This is a drag and drop styling system. There’s a lot of versatility here, you’ll be able to do things like have a picture with text right next to it, something that would have required coding in previous versions. I also had to re-do the main blog page a bit, but it should be mostly working now. Anyrate, relax and be confident that you are now working with the cutting edge of blogging technology!

Give me a holla’ if you notice anything weird or have any questions. Cheers!

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Hasselhoff!

Book Probe: Up Against The Wall by David Hasselhoff

Book Probe seeks out this most Hasselhoffian experiences you can have, and provides links to them. Other books without Hasselhoff in them are also noted. 

Up Against the Wall by David Hasselhoff

Hasselhoff!

David Hasselhoff is on a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist.

Is this the greatest thing you can ever listen to?

I’m saying, “Probably.”

This is an Audible exclusive, a novel read by Mr. David Hasselhoff, starring Hasselhoff as himself, as well as a CIA agent who looks like David Hasselhoff.

Listening to Hasselhoff deliver the precisely accurate amount of humor and drama is great fun. He leans into it, chewing scenery in audio form, just like he does in musical stylings in the “Kung Fury” soundtrack and on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

It takes place in 1989, and Hasselhoff is on his way to perform on top of the Berlin Wall, when action-adventure hijinks ensue. The CIA agent who looks like him takes advantage of that fact to take on some bad guys. The story is so very 80s, and I mean that as the highest compliment.

Hasselhoff has set the bar pretty high for all audio dramas now. This one took me a long time to get through, because it was a challenge to withstand the barrage of Hasselhoffian excellence. At times I felt like I didn’t deserve it.

But I did.

We all do.

I will assume this is a true story, even if told otherwise. Listen now.

Get More Hasselhoff:

 

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Book Probe: Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski

Book Probe provides books that are good and you should read them right now, no fooling.

Becoming Superman, by J. Michael Straczynski

 

 

This book is really good, an autobiography about someone whose work I knew, but not his personal history.

Straczynski digs deep into both, discussing everything from his work on some of my favorite TV shows, Real Ghostbusters, He-Man, and his creation, Babylon 5.

He details his comic book work, including writing the issue of Spider-Man where the Marvel heroes (and villains) reacted to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

JMS gets to all that, but first, he discusses how he rose from poverty and survived a rotten childhood, and how he dealt with horrible family secrets that he didn’t find out about until he was an adult.

His recollections of frankly awful things are stark and bleak, and his rise beyond them is terrifically inspiring.

The book is equal parts personal stuff and professional stuff. I came away with a desire to binge-watch Real Ghostbusters, which is an admirable goal for anyone.

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Godzilla 1998

Great Moms of Classic Sci-Fi : Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla (1998)

Mothers appear in every shape and every size.

They even appear in shapes none of us expected or wanted, when we were totally used to and big fans of the shape this person had been in for decades.

But sometimes moms have to be willing to change.

Even if that change means into a creature that lays eggs and looks like a pet iguana, but bigger.

The eggs had tinier lizards in them, all of whom also looked like irritating, oddly shaped lizards.

Moms think all their children are beautiful. Even if their children are lizards that also don’t look anything like what we usually think the mom looked like.

We have to give credit to this 1998 mama Godzilla. She was just trying to protect her babies from Ferris Bueller.

If only poor Cameron’s parents could have done that.

Danke schoen, 1998 Godzilla. Danke schoen.

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Book Probe: Swords, Sorcery, and Self-Rescuing Damsels

Read this book. Come on. Do it. Get it at the link in the title. Are you doing it yet? 

Swords, Sorcery, and Self-Rescuing Damsels

 

In short, this is good stuff.

This is an epic gathering of authors for a collection of sword & sorcery short stories about women, and it is an absolute thrill.

Editor Lee French’s editor’s note says everything, noting that the term “damsels in distress” reduces women to poorly-dimensioned plot points “useful as nothing more than a prize for defeating the enemy.”

“This depiction sucks,” Lee adds.

The authors here include some of my personal favorites such as Jody Lynn Nye and Dawn Vogel. Like a properly good anthology, the book will introduce you to a plethora of writers that you can consume later. In my case, Elmdea Adams, who contributed “Yendy Loves Rattlescale,” my favorite story in the collection as of this writing.

It stars a dragon. Case closed. Buy the book. There are almost two dozen other stories, but this one stars a dragon.

The only drawback: Not enough room for maps of the fantasy realms at the beginning of each story. I’ll let this one slide because the book would be about a zillion pages longer. You have to make sacrifices sometimes.

All the stories are old-fashioned fantasy tales, and I mean that as a compliment. They’re cathartic, empowering, and frequently just plain hilarious.

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Movie Probe: Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons

Movie Probe is your friend. Watch this and enjoy. 

Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons

When this movie is released on May 14, you’re going to need to see it. I wanted to put that out front.

Eye of the Beholder is a lovingly crafted documentary about the artwork of Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s a neat look into the artists who created those cool things, including interviews with dozens of D&D creators, including Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell, Brom, Tony DiTerlizzi, Margaret Weiss, and bunches more.

The movie is a major nostalgia trip for me, as it appeared to be for some of the interviewees. My first thought was how I could crack open some of the books, and the dragons and paladins and chain mail would inspire game and story ideas.

I have to offer up major points for including the infamous Beholder in the title of the movie. Everybody who’s opened a D&D book or rolled weirdly-shaped dice knows the super-weird creature that never existed in mythology until it appeared in a D&D module.

If you’ve ever had your favorite barbarian character killed by one, raise your hand. Just me?

The movie also digs into the genre of fantasy artwork, and the influences that D&D artists have on everything since then.

Eye of the Beholder a tribute to incredible talents and at the same time, a syrupy love story about role-playing games.

Follow the movie on the socials at https://www.facebook.com/eyeofthebeholdermovie/ and http://www.twitter.com/eye_movie.

Check out the trailer right here:

 

Bonus Movie Probe! Useless Humans



This movie is a silly comedy about a dude who turns 30, his idiot friends, and an alien invasion. The idea is funny and the trailer has some laugh-worthy lines, which is all you want from a trailer.

This movie is still in the funding and kickstarting and indie-gogoing phase, so check out the trailer and send them a few million of your spare bucks.

 

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David Letterman and the Helpful Power of Goofiness

Them bats is smart. They use radar.

That’s one of the many, many goofy things that David Letterman lodged in my brain. He inspired me at a young, goofy age to try to be funny.

I do not want to get super-sentimental about it. He’s not being fired. (That already happened to him, and he came out of that OK.) I don’t know him personally. He’s not dying. He’s just not doing a show anymore. But his show started me on a path to being a creative person.

When I was 12, 13, 14, I didn’t talk a lot to people and thus, didn’t get noticed by people. Not a bad thing, really, but for some reason, it stressed the heck out of me as I was going through the social stuff that one goes through at school.

Letterman was a huge influence on my sense of humor. He helped me step outside my worries and just try to do stuff. He approached everything as a smarty-pants. He did the silliest things and grinned while he did them. He’s incredibly smart and incredibly sarcastic. He made me love the silliness that’s a basic part of all popular culture. He made me think “I can do that.”

So I told a funny speech and won a spot on my oh-so serious high school student government. I told jokes and won a talent show while wearing nothing but a raincoat. I rode inside a giant toilet on a homecoming float.

Doing all that just to gain confidence is like using a bazooka to kill fire ants.

In college, I volunteered to write a column for the campus newspaper. I made up my own college-TV channel show and had my Mass Comm buddies on as guests. We turned on the cameras and just winged it. Letterman gave the impression that’s how he did it.

We didn’t have social media back then, so I don’t know if anyone read or saw what I did. But I’ll be honest. I thought I was terrific.

Letterman and Saturday Night Live were languages spoken by lots of people my age. When Letterman published a book of his show’s top ten lists, I thought that was the Holy Grail. I took to reading Letterman’s Top Ten List books as if they were instructions on how for me, personally, to accomplish things. The lesson I learned from them was that eight or nine out of ten things were of no value at all, but the complete package, together with that tenth thing, wow, my goodness.

Letterman isn’t my only inspiration, he was just my first pop-cultural one. My grandma and my dad taught me to remember funny stuff even when things are terrible. My wife and my daughter are the funniest people I know.

Letterman taught me to find humor in everything. Every single thing. Of course I love the stuff he famously did. I also love a short Letterman skit about Mark Hamill teaching parallel parking.

Because I decided to try being goofy, now I sometimes get to be goofy in public. I did stand-up comedy, and made three or four other comedians laugh. I host game shows at sci-fi conventions, I write about TV and movies. I get to write at my job. I make my family laugh (and don’t let them tell you any different.)

Letterman inspired me to find ways to be creative and share my creativity, and that improved my whole deal.

I feel like being funny helps everybody, including me. People laughing at stuff I have said or written is just the best.

Some people go through their days making everyone else feel like crap. Letterman ended many of my days on an up-note after I dealt with people like that (or did that to myself.) I hope, like Letterman, that I don’t let anyone stay stuck in the mud with those people.

Of course, being funny and helping people aren’t the only things you need to live your life. But they’re on the top ten list.

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RevSF Podcast Probe: Claytemple Media’s Elder Sign

Podcast Probe finds geek-centric podcasts worth putting in your brain via your ears.

Elder Sign 

 

Around these parts, weird fiction of the H.P. Lovecraft variety is one of our favorite things. It’s so much our favorite that RevSF co-founder Shane Ivey and a horde of awesome folks at Arc Dream Games make eldritch horror role-playing games such as Delta Green, Wild Talents, and lots of other cool things. You’ll need to go ahead and check them out right now.

I’ll wait.

That’s an ancient website joke, but I stand by it.

While I’m waiting, I’ve been listening to Claytemple Media’s Elder Sign podcast. It’s a book club in convenient podcast form, looking at works from Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith,  and Robert E. Howard (whether Crom likes it or not).

The hosts are authors Glenn McDorman and Brandon Budda, and the first episode is up now, focusing on “Lucy Comes to Stay” by Robert Bloch.

I hadn’t read this story before, so I’m all in for the hosts digging into the story, discussing Bloch’s approach to horror writing, Cold War America at the time of the story’s release,  and addressing mental illness via horror . The authors point out that Bloch wrote it before he wrote “Psycho.”

I can’t wait for the next episode. Luckily, they have conveniently revealed upcoming topics. The March 11 episode will be “The Insanity of Jones” by Algernon Blackwood. Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Planet of the Dead” is next. In April, Robert R. Chambers’ “The Repairer of Reputations” is the focus.

I feel like my readings of Robert Bloch were lacking, but now I need to dig back into his stuff. I feel smarter now. Terrified, but smarter.

Follow Claytemple Media on the Twitters. Once you’ve had your soul totally wrecked by Elder Sign, Claytemple Media produces other things for you to listen to while you stare into the yawing abyss: The Gene Wolfe Literary Podcast and Lower Decks: A Star Trek Podcast

 

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