Tag Archive: Elizabeth C. Bunce


prideprejudiceszombies

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a classic story in possession of fans must be in want of retelling.  Likewise, that if that story is a novel, it should also thence be made into a film.  And if you can find a way to put zombies in, wins all around.

Thus, writer/director Burr Steers’ new Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on the eponymous 2005 novel “co-written” by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) and Jane Austen.  Cleverly packaged to release in time for Valentine’s Day, the film is a sure winner for date night: costumes; romance; actors in various states of fetching undress; violence; girls with swords; shambling, oozing undead in fetching period costumes; and powerful women with estates and eyepatches.  And Matt Smith.  Need I say more, really?

As a version of Pride and Prejudice, PPZ is probably below average, and relies on the viewer’s familiarity with the story, since much of the film’s 108-minute runtime must be given over to worldbuilding and action sequences (although fans of the 1995 A&E adaptation will be rewarded with plenty of homages, especially with respect to Mr. Darcy).  Prideful Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James, Cinderella) and disdainful Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) have even less onscreen chemistry than Austen’s off-again, off-again lovers normally display–but they more than make up for it with their zombie-fighting prowess.  Lizzie’s intolerable-yet-lovable family is neither interesting enough nor loathsome enough to inspire much response from the viewer; thank goodness for the zombies to give us something to care about.

PPZ zombie

As a zombie film, it’s probably also less than what the average zombie flick fan is looking for.  There are the requisite scenes of shambling hordes, rotting flesh, and brain-eating, but it’s somewhat tame thanks to the PG-13 rating, and in comparison to so many other recent zombie properties.  In fact, it’s actually a credit to the filmmakers that they didn’t try to outdo the competition with their zombie horde, and instead showed a certain 19th century refinement and restraint in the presentation.

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Jeweled Fire Shinn

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

As one of our annual New Year’s traditions, last week CJ and I had Chinese food for dinner.  It’s mostly an excuse to take a break from holiday cooking, but it’s also fun to see what our meal predicts for the coming year (about six pounds it will take until March to work off…).  Pictured below are the fates bestowed upon us for 2016.  You’re probably gearing up for the new year, too, maybe hoping a little clarity, prosperity, or luck will come your way (or omnipotent determination?).  For everyone who enjoys the touch of good fortune from a random blessing, we have the books for you.

FORTUNE COOKIES

Last month Sharon Shinn released a third volume in her Elemental Blessings series. Jeweled Fire joins 2011’s Troubled Waters and 2013’s Royal Airs about the nation of Welce, where every citizen feels a kinship to one of the five elements, thanks in part to random blessings drawn by strangers at their birth.  The sweela are drawn to the element of fire, and Jeweled Fire follows the (mostly mis)adventures of wayward Welchin princess Corene, who has run off to foreign parts in search of… well, she’s not sure what, exactly, except that it has to be better than life at home, where she’s surrounded by scheming nobles and political machinations and constant power play.

…And finds herself in another royal court, full of scheming nobles, political machinations, and constant power play.  And, in fine Shinn tradition, a little romance.

Shinn writes the kinds of series I like best.  From her acclaimed Samaria novels (Archangel, etc.), to her Twelve Houses high fantasies (Mystic and Rider, etc.), to the recent urban fantasy Shifting Circle novels (The Turning Season, etc.), Shinn’s series consist of separate standalone stories linked by characters and worldbuilding—not one-long-novel-in-five-parts, although there may be an overarching series plot, as well.  But it’s her worldbuilding that makes Shinn such a standout fantasy series writer.  The worlds are rich, deep, unique, and immediately accessible.  Shinn has said that Elemental Blessings was originally planned as a single book, but it was so obviously destined from its conception to be a classic Shinn five-volume series (we hope and assume!).  Like many of Shinn’s worlds, Welce has a special sort of magic tied to the land within its borders.  Not only do Welchins identify with the elements (the elay relate to air; the coru to water; the hunti to wood; and the torz to earth), but some possess an even stronger connection, sensing and even manipulating the elements around (and sometimes even within) them.

ELEMENTAL BLESSINGS

Corene, endowed with the blessings of courage, intelligence, and imagination, identifies with sweela, or fire—she’s passionate and impulsive, but also compassionate and clever, a combustible combination that frequently lands her in trouble, sometimes just to be noticed.  But when she hops a ship carrying the newly-discovered prince of Malinqua back to his native land (and you’ll have to read Royal Airs to learn how that happened) she’ll need all her blessings and more to navigate the ever more dangerous political waters.  Empress Filomara has not yet named an heir to Malinqua’s throne, and the scrabble for favor is worse than anything Corene knew back in Welce (and that’s saying something!).  Filomara has collected a number of foreign princesses as potential brides for her nephews and grandsons, but she may have ulterior motives here, as well.  And someone is systematically—and violently—eliminating all his or her fellow rivals for the throne.  There are too many suspects, and too many potential victims.  It will take all Corene’s resources to sort out the truth in time to save herself and her new friends.

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A Curse Dark as Gold cover Elizabeth C Bunce

October is winding down after another hot summer.  The trees are turning red and orange and it couldn’t be setting up for a more perfect autumn, and Halloween is almost here.  If you’re looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and E-book editions from Amazon.com and other booksellers, first reviewed here back in 2011.

A Curse Dark as Gold takes place in the Gold Valley in that far away land where all fairy tales reside.  Charlotte Miller is a girl in her late teens whose father dies and leaves her the town of Shearings’s woolen mill, which serves as workplace for most of her community, along with the care of Charlotte’s younger sister Rosie.  Unwanted responsibilities are quickly thrust upon this young woman from page one.  From a framework standpoint A Curse Dark as Gold is a spin on Rumpelstiltskin-type helper tales of the past, but this story takes on its own life.  Shearing is at once lovely and pastoral, yet dark and creepy doings begin to pierce through the landscape.  A mysterious uncle appears and begins to interject himself into the girls’ lives.  As if sick from a good friend’s death, the mill itself begins to respond to the death of Charlotte’s father, with boards crashing down on an employee, things not working quite like they should, and everything seeming to fall apart at once.

A Curse Dark as Gold audio Elizabeth C Bunce told by Charlotte Parry

The story is set at the dawn of the industrial revolution.  Water wheels are becoming replaced with steam power and the big industrial cities that come along with that new technology.  Charlotte quickly finds she has inherited her father’s acumen as a smart businessperson, yet real life pressures including competition from big city wool firms, and unfair attempts to squeeze Shearing’s mill out of the marketplace, cause the mill to lose workers.  The real-life economic issues are only the beginning of Charlotte’s problems.  A strange neighbor lady is a follower of old world ways, superstitions and magic, and Rosie attempts to fix things by dabbling into this world.  Charlotte, a non-believer, weighs her options and soon a helper appears with an impractical solution to her problems.  Charlotte makes a bargain with this man and Shearing is safe for a time, but as more problems hit the town and the stakes are raised, Charlotte is left to make further bargains, including a deal she’s not even aware she made that results in the man walking away with someone dear to her. Charlotte is steadfast and stubborn, relying only upon her own intuition she turns away from everyone near her, including sister Rosie and her new husband.

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crimson peak tom hiddleston

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Think you know what to expect from veteran horror and genre director Guillermo del Toro?  Gangly, pallid, slimy creatures such as we saw in Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, right?  Cryptic underworlds, bewildering dreamscapes, and collossal, ocean-stomping robot avatars?!

Think again!  In his latest effort to scare and transport his audiences, Crimson Peak, del Toro has conjured up a true Gothic world of Victorian elegance, tender romance, and Sherlockian sleuthing…  With some slimy creatures.  Which are also, strange as it may sound, beautifully executed.

No doubt about it, del Toro is a visionary.  Despite some clear aesthetic leanings, his film repertoire is surprisingly diverse, from 1997’s Mimic to 2013’s Pacific Rim.  His films are always rich in detail and visually stunning.  And this time he just happened to hit all the right notes for this particular viewer.

Allerdale Hall

Crimson Peak is the tale of young American heiress and authoress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland), deeply skeptical of the British aristocracy… until she’s won over by the ambitious, earnest baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston, Thor, Avengers, The Hollow Crown), who is trying to secure financing for a risky mining venture to extract red clay from beneath his crumbling family mansion.  Though Edith’s father nurses doubts about the man and his motives, his own untimely death frees up both the young woman—and her fortune.  Swept off her feet, she is whisked off to Cumberland, England and the less-than-enchanting family home, the gorgeously decrepit Allerdale Hall.

She must share her new life with her sister-in-law Lucille (Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty), in the archetypal role of unwelcoming Gothic housekeeper.  She knows all the family secrets, and keeps them from her young, impressionable sister-in-law.  It’s a powerhouse performance, captivating and creepy, and Chastain inhabits the role perfectly. Continue reading

Jo Kamm 3D figures

It almost looks like a hall full of cosplayers at a comic book convention, doesn’t it?

Once these figures get painted that’s exactly what it will look like.  As we mentioned four weeks ago in our coverage of Kansas City Comic Con, the latest, greatest, newest addition to the Comic Con front is 3D photography turned into 3D printed figures.  Specifically, it’s artist Jo Kamm’s new concept called The 3D Photobooth.  The end result is an approximately 8-inch figure, the next thing every cosplayer will be clamoring for.  (Note: the sheen is in the photo, not the figure, which follows the 3D photography quite well.  Once painted, these will look like the real thing).

3D Radagast and Gimli

It starts with a turntable and the cosplayer being still for up to two minutes while the camera records every detail:

3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

Then the software records the images, later to be cleaned up back in the office:

3D Photobooth rendering Gimli KCCC 2015

The result is a near perfect image that can be rotated 360 degrees and viewed from any angle.

3D rendered Radagast CJ Bunce

Jo uploads his images to Sketchfab.  You can see the best gallery of cosplay anywhere here.  Make sure you click “more” to bring up hundreds of his 3D images.

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LOTR Astin 1

So what is the point of cosplay anyway?  For some it’s costume contests, for others it’s the challenge of creating the closest look possible to the real thing, for others it’s making a new mash-up or creation no one has thought of.  For others, it’s getting garb together to meet up with the actors or creators that made the character famous in the first place.  Whatever your motivation, you know you put it all together just right when the result is all-out fun for you and everyone you encounter, whether you’re attending a local or large convention or visiting your local Renaissance Faire or other gathering.

This year at the Kansas City Comic Con, with the announcement of The Lord of the Rings’ own Samwise, actor Sean Astin as guest, it meant it was time to bring Middle-earth to Kansas City.  It’s a surprising rarity at pop culture and comic book conventions–fantasy characters.  Sure, you see plenty of superheroes, sci-fi movie and animated characters, but fantasy, via films, TV, or books, seems to just be gaining steam.

LOTR Astin 5

Your fearless editor brought out the Radagast and Gimli fatigues (see here and here for some photos) and joined up with Mimosa Bunce aka Rosie aka borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce and her newly minted Hobbit feet and garb, and we met up with the Springfield Fellowship of The Lord of the Rings for some fun.  Astin called the Middle-earth contingent together at day’s end and Elizabeth broke away from Artists Alley to join the Fellowship for a fun photo shoot thanks to Froggy’s Photos.

Want to know what in-depth preparation, research, knowledge and sewing skills go into the creation of garb for cosplay?

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3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

The first Kansas City Comic Con comic book and pop culture convention wrapped Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  We bid farewell as Doctor Who’s Colin Baker headed to the airport to return home to England and other guests set out across the country after a long and exciting weekend in the Midwest, leaving behind some happy and (exhausted) fans.  But first, crowds again lined the aisles Sunday, grabbing last-minute selections of prints from artists, books from writers, and comic books and collectibles from the several dealers on site.

Sunday saw more panels, more autographs and photo ops, and more conversations with creators.

Royals Iron Man

Our vote for the best cosplay of the show?  This Kansas City Royals-inspired Iron Man.  What better cosplay ambassador to the first Kansas City Comic Con than this superhero?

But it was hard to beat this great costume of a Gnoll from Dungeons & Dragons:

Gnoll from D&D

Excellent work!

Our vote for the best new addition to conventions anywhere this year was Jo Kamm’s 3D Photobooth.  Unlike the 3D photobooth featured at last year’s World Series, the 3D Photobooth at KCCC printed highly detailed, large figurines.  And unlike other 3D printing booths we’ve seen before, Kamm’s software and technology recreated recognizable faces.   We’ll feature the process used at the booth in a later article, but our response and those of various passersby watching the imaging in process was simply “Wow!”

Here Kamm renders examples of a digital 3D, 360-degree image of both our Radagast ensemble from Saturday…

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Sean Astin CJ Bunce Elizabeth C Mimosa Bunce KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

We could stop after just the above photo with actor Sean Astin, but we won’t.  Kansas City Comic Con broke the mold this weekend, setting up a fun environment for thousands of attendees to get a major league dose of pop culture fun.  You could meet icons of classic movies, like Pam Grier (1970s action film star), classic TV, like Butch Patrick (Eddie, from The Munsters), from current hits like Game of Thrones (Kristian Nairn), and classic 1980s video games (Billy Mitchell of King of Kong fame), to kids’ favorites (Power Rangers’ August St. John), classic British TV (Doctor Who’s Colin Baker), and megahits like The Lord of the Rings (Sean Astin) and Star Wars (Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan).

Creators from the Star Wars universe could be found everywhere, from current Marvel Star Wars writer Jason Aaron, to artist icon Michael Golden, to Disney-era Star Wars artists Bryan Fyffe and Joe Corroney.  Creators from several major licensed characters could be found with Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Jai Nitz, Greg Smallwood, and Tony Moore.  And then there is Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck from the superhero sphere of classic comics.  Phew!  That’s a busy weekend.

Rick Howland KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

We had a great time with Rick Howland, star of Syfy Channel’s Lost Girl, which only recently wrapped its final episode.

Here’s writer CW Cooke talking with attendees at his booth…

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William Binderup Pam Grier KCCC 2015

The first ever Kansas City Comic Con began yesterday afternoon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.  Thousands of fans met hundreds of creators of comic books, fiction, cosplay, and other creative pursuits.  Many fulfilled dreams to meet celebrities of TV and film both new and from the past.  Comic book conventions are all about spending the weekend with like-minded fans of anything and everything you could conceive of fitting between the sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero genres.

The first day was full of con-goers getting the lay of the land–getting sketches commissioned by their favorite local or nationally-recognized artist, getting in the front of the line to meet a host of celebrity guests, and getting the first selection from the great volume of dealers at the show.  Helping out everyone were the yellow shirt-garbed “henchmen”–a well organized group of ambassadors that handled everything with a smile.

Bunce Pam Grier KCCC 2015

You can’t beat a day when you get to meet one of the coolest women in the history of cinema.  C.J. Bunce with Pam Grier.

Guests included Pam Grier, star of dozens of movies in the 1970s as well as TV and film roles since, and in particular the lead role in Quentin Tarentino’s Jackie Brown.  Ms. Grier is everything you’d hope for in such an iconic actress, and she had plenty of stories to share with fans Friday.  She also hosted a special screening of Jackie Brown after the show at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater.  Attendees received an exclusive Jackie Brown print signed by Ms. Grier.

Jedi KCCC 2015

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan arrive for the opening of KCCC 2015 Day One.

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan signed photos for fans and participated in photo ops, as did other media guests.  Ms. Krishan and Ms. Shoshan were featured as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels.

Elizabeth C Bunce KCCC 2015

Author Elizabeth C. Bunce in steampunk cosplay.

Your humble editor spent the day with author (and borg.com writer) Elizabeth C. Bunce at Table 617 in the convention’s Artists Alley.  As much a part of comic conventions as print media creators and celebrities are cosplayers, and plenty could be found in the convention halls.

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Sean Astin KCCC 2015

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will attend the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con, a new comic book and pop culture convention to be held at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  The show has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.

Jackie Brown KCCC exclusive print

Headlining the show will be none other than Jackie Brown herself, actress Pam Grier. Not only is Ms. Grier known for her leading role in Quentin Tarentino’s hit film, but she has also starred in the classic 1970s films Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars, and TV series including Night Court, Crime Story, Knots Landing, Miami Vice, Bones, The L Word, and Smallville.

Fantasy fans can meet Sean Astin, who played Frodo’s pal Samwise in The Lord of The Rings series, also scheduled as a show headliner.

Colin Baker Doctor Who TARDIS

Many Doctor Who fans will get their first chance to meet Colin Baker, who played the fan-favorite Sixth Doctor on BBC’s original series from 1984 to 1986. Known for his bright patchwork jacket, you may have seen him most recently in the funny film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, discussed earlier at borg.com here.

Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print A     Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print B

In this big year of Star Wars, Kansas City Comic Con attendees will get an opportunity to meet two actresses known for their roles as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels. Nalini Krishan played Barriss Offee, a Jedi Knight and General in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  Also scheduled to appear is Orli Shoshan, who played Jedi Knight Shaak Ti, also in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (as well as deleted scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith).  And check out the great prints above that will be available for animation artist Todd Aaron Smith.

corroney print

Creator guests scheduled to attend the Con include Jason Aaron, Neal Adams, C.W. Cooke, Nicholas Forristal, Bryan Fyffe, Michael Golden, Phil Hester, Damont Jordan, Jim Mehsling, Jai Nitz, Ande Parks, Chris Sebela, Greg Smallwood, Rick Stasi, Bryan Timmins, Darryl Woods, Mike Zeck, and our own borg.com writer, fantasy author Elizabeth C. Bunce.  Joe Corroney will be onsite signing the above print for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and check out this great KCCC print available from Bryan Fyffe:

KCCC print Bryan Fyffe 2015

The show expects to have hundreds of vendors, plus displays, cosplay, autograph and photo opportunities.

Kansas City Comic Con will be held August 7-9, 2015, at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City at Bartle Hall, the venue for the region’s biggest events.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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