Latest Entries »

Five Decembers cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Every once in a while Hard Case Crime includes a novel that seems to come out of nowhere, a book that is neither hard-fisted crime noir, a lost book of a famous crime author of the past, or the work of a new writer.  Soho Sins (reviewed here at borg) is an example.  The next is Five Decembers, coming to bookstores next week from the imprint and available for pre-order now here at Amazon.  Written by James Kestrel (a pseudonym for Jonathan Moore), the novel is interesting for all the components the author ties together.  It’s ultimately a strange 1940s era romance, like the romance thread of a Herman Wouk novel (The Winds of War, War and Remembrance).  For the first 200 pages the reader thinks he/she is reading a detective story.  As the story gets revved up, the author shifts gears and settles in on a historical fiction tale, switching gears again into a vengeance story.  It feels like an assemblage of ideas, an anthology of war stories rolled into one, ultimately pinning it all on one protagonist and pushing it all forward in an exhausting journey of a Hawaii detective trying to find a particularly bloody killer, sucked into the crime so much that attention to the facts of the crime gets him through the entirety of World War II.

View full article »

A Curse Dark as Gold cover Elizabeth C Bunce

Halloween is less than two weeks away and if you’re still looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out Edgar Award winner and borg writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, and E-book editions from Amazon and other booksellers, first reviewed here back in 2011.  The audio book as read by British actress Charlotte Parry, known for her roles in Tony Award winning Broadway plays and TV work, is a great way to immerse yourself in this ghost story.  A Curse Dark as Gold is set in the Gold Valley in that far away land where fairy tales reside.  Charlotte Miller is a girl in her late teens whose father dies and leaves her the town of Shearing’s woolen mill, which serves as workplace for most of her community, along with the care of Charlotte’s younger sister Rosie.  Unwanted responsibilities fall into the lap of this young woman from page one.  At its foundation A Curse Dark as Gold at first is a spin on Rumpelstiltskin-type “helper” tales of the past, but this story takes on a life of its own.  Shearing is at once lovely and pastoral, yet dark and creepy doings begin to emanate from every corner.  A mysterious uncle arrives and begins to interject himself into the girls’ lives, pecking away at their sanity.  As if sick itself, the mill begins to respond to the death of Charlotte’s father, with boards crashing down, textile machines failing, and the very fabric of the town seeming to unravel.

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

The story is set at the dawn of an Industrial Revolution in a world not unlike our own.  Water wheels are about to be replaced with steam power and the smoke-filled cities that come along with that new technology.  Charlotte has inherited her father’s acumen as a savvy businessperson, yet 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 its workers.  The 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 she tries to help.  Charlotte is steadfast and stubborn, relying only upon her own intuition as she turns away from everyone near her, including sister Rosie and her new husband.

View full article »

black-adam-dc-fandome

It’s one of those head-scratching things.  Previews for horror movies in October for movies not arriving until around Valentine’s Day.  And it happens every year.  Valentine’s Day is a big time for horror, and two movies heading your way next year look like you’ll want to see them if not in the theater at least streaming once they arrive on home video.  Also, this weekend is DC Fandome, an online streaming event like Disney’s annual D23 fan event (which arrives next month).  If you’ve wondered where DC Comics movies have been, they’ve evidently been waiting for next year–even before the pandemic they’ve been lagging behind the Marvel movies.  DC rolled out several teasers this weekend, many highlighting concept art as they make their way to their final stages of production.  Each of the new movies has promise, and you’ll want to compare them to our single Marvel preview below.

mirren Liu

Below check out trailers for two 2022 horror movies, a Marvel series coming soon, and five movies starring characters from the pages of DC Comics, beginning next year.

View full article »

Wheres Assassin x

Assassin’s Creed ties together the best of fantasy, time travel, and high adventure.  Assassin’s Creed is the perfect mix of fantasy and fiction, of adventure, sci-fi, and history.  We’ve reviewed several tie-ins to the games here at borg, from Assassin’s Creed: Bloodstone to Assassin’s Creed: The Ankh of IsisAssassin’s Creed: Origins, and the comprehensive Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide.  The latest tie-in is for kids, for fans of Highlights magazine, and Where’s Waldo?  It’s Titan Books’ Assassin’s Creed: Where’s the Assassin?, a colorful, over-sized, storybook-format, hardcover book, crammed full with 40 pages of character-filled scenes in international locations from the past.  Your challenge?  To find all the key figures wandering the streets, famous people from history and key characters from the franchise–across eras and continents–ducking into alleyways and hiding in the shadows–or in plain sight.  Assassin’s Creed: Where’s the Assassin? is available now here at Amazon.

View full article »

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

Review by C.J. Bunce

Both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Mummy were good reboots of franchises, one of a 1960s television series, the other intended to bring forward the Universal Studios Monsters for another generation, but the lack of attention by audiences brought the franchises to a standstill.  Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe Origins, which premiered in theaters in July after a 16 month pandemic delay, is another good re-start of a franchise, and hopefully nothing stands in the way of Hasbro moving ahead with the planned G.I. Joe–Ever Vigilant, originally slated for a 2020 release.  Especially if you’re a fan of the comics and animated series versions of G.I. Joe, you won’t want to miss the home release of Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe OriginsIt’s a solid film, faithfully explaining–as the titles states–the origin of G.I. Joe ace operative Snake Eyes. 

If you know the helmeted, silent ninja from the comics or animated show, you also know he is inextricably linked to that COBRA ninja in white garb, Storm Shadow; audiences will get the story of why each of these sworn brothers finds his way to opposing sides in the ongoing battle of good guys vs. bad guys.  You won’t see any “kung fu grip,” although the Japanese martial arts choreographed fight scenes are well done, if toned down from more serious martial arts films.  You also won’t yet learn why Snake Eyes goes silent–much is left for one or more sequels.  But everyone does have “life-like hair.”  And it may just leave you shouting, “Yo, Joe!”  (That’s a good thing).

View full article »

dnd-fizbans-treasury-of-dragons

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, the latest Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook heading your way from Wizards of the Coast, is the closest of any 5th Edition volume to the original books from when I was a teenager in the 1980s.  If you know even a little kid who is fascinated with dragons, this is the book to drop into their hands.  They may not understand it all, but it’s stuffed full of wonderful dragon artwork and enough worldbuilding lore to open the eyes of any kid interested in fantasy.  For D&D gamers already playing, it contains character-building tools to make your hero steeped in dragonkind, and for dungeon masters, it provides some fun options to incorporate more Dragons or dragons (they’re different) into your next adventure, whether you’re wandering into the Forgotten Realms, Oerth of the World of Greyhawk, Krynn of Dragonlance, Eberron, or pretty much anyplace else.  You can pre-order Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons with the standard cover by Chris Rahn here at Amazon now, or order the alternate “soft-touch” edition by Anato Finnstark from your local game shop.

dnd_fizban_cover dnd_fizban_altcover

If you love Smaug, Puff, Norberta, Alduin, Elliott, Balthromaw, Spike, Falkor, Stanley Steamer, Stegoman, Gleep, Saphira, Porunga, H.R. Pufnstuf, or Lockheed, or you came to love dragons from Dragon’s Lair, Dragonslayer, or Dragonheart, How to Train Your Dragon or Game of Thrones, whether your favorite is Haku from Spirited Away, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, or the kaiju King Ghidorah, or you were reeled into the dragon realm from watching Mulan’s Mushu or Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon, or you had your first encounter in Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or Pokémon, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons provides all the lore and stunningly expansive details on everything you want to know about dragons.

So what’s inside?

View full article »

Shatner pic   NS18P X

With this morning’s successful launch and return of 90-year-old William Shatner into outer space aboard the Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft, Shatner gave his fans worldwide perhaps the greatest single moment in the annals of science fiction.  Melding the best of fantasy and reality, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard NS-18 mission took the most famous fictional character, Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk, and made him an actual space traveler, 60 years since the first manned spaceflight, 52 years since the first Moonshot, and 55 years since Shatner first stepped onto the bridge of the Enterprise set.  It’s something no fan of Shatner or Star Trek ever could have dreamed of, a landmark, one-of-a-kind, impossible opportunity that is a giant leap for any writer, actor, or other creator of the ideas behind science fiction, back to all those past dreams of space travel, from the science fiction of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, and George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, to crewmembers of the fictional starship Enterprise invited by NASA to the ribbon-cutting for the first space shuttle named for the Enterprise, to actual astronaut Mae Jemison flying aboard the space shuttle Endeavor and returning to be a guest star on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Does anyone not want Star Trek to be “real”?

Only William Shatner could have done something like this.  If you’ve met the man in person, you know he has unbounded energy like probably nobody else, certainly no one at the age of 90, showing no signs of slowing down, as evidenced again today.  The approximately 10-minute flight took the actor and crewmates above the 62-mile (100 kilometers) Kármán line at 9:53 a.m., which is the most commonly recognized boundary of the edge of space.

Shatner Kirk costumes b

Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company Blue Origin postponed the flight to today due to forecasted high winds at its launch site (Bezos, a fan of Star Trek, had a cameo as an alien in the movie Star Trek Beyond).  The flight had liftoff at Blue Origin’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas, at 9:49 a.m. (Central Time), returning at 10 a.m. sharp.

shat pinned

View full article »

Lifetime passes cover Better Place cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

From Abrams ComicArts and Top Shelf Productions, two new graphic novels are just the thing to help young people and senior citizens try to bridge the generation gap.  Both stories feature youth encountering, interacting, and understanding folks of their grandparents’ age–and vice versa.  From Abrams, Lifetime Passes follows an orphan named Jackie, who helps her aunt working in a senior housing center.  When a nearby Disney-like theme park offers a strange way to get tickets, she and her friends stumble into getting to know people at the senior center better.  From Top Shelf comes Better Place, following a boy named Dylan who just moved to a new house, with no friends, and a mother who doesn’t have time for him.  But his grandfather becomes his best friend, partnering with him to create a superhero duo–until his grandfather passes away.  In the spirit of Over the Moon, Soul, The Mitchells vs the Machines, and Ghost Tree, these new books Lifetime Passes and Better Place may have everyone begin to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.

View full article »

King banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

The Colorado Kid.  JoylandLater My three favorite Stephen King novels have just been released in an attractive boxed set from publisher Titan Books’ imprint Hard Case Crime.  These novels reflect Stephen King’s mystery side, as many of his fans have yet to explore.  Each box includes three cards showing alternate covers from variant editions previously released.  This is King at his best, writing nitty gritty crime stories filled with realistic characters encountering strange events.  The Colorado Kid was the first of this era in King’s work, and would ultimately be adapted into the TV series Haven.  Joyland, which we were able to preview here at borg back in 2013, is my favorite of the group, a story of a college student looking for a job in the summer of 1973, who finally lands a job at an amusement park.  Later is King’s most recent novel.  Incorporating the supernatural, King creates a new character with special powers, a young man drawn into a world of cops and crime.  The boxed set includes the illustrated edition of The Colorado Kid The Stephen King Complete Hard Case Crime Boxed Set is just out, available now here at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

View full article »

Fan Fiction book cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

First off, “fan fiction” refers to the drivel that fans of a franchise write to either show characters in situations the actual writers of the characters would never embark upon, or it’s a self-published or otherwise self-distributed book written by wannabe writers, which tends to demonstrate why the creator is not–and should not be–an actual, legitimate, published author.  For Star Trek: The Next Generation–and now Star Trek: Picard–actor Brent Spiner, the title of his new book Fan Fiction seems intended as a play on words, a nod to his fans.  Unfortunately it’s written as a piece of meta-fiction and dark comedy intended to blur the lines between fact and fiction, and it does it in a way that lands as more fan fiction than providing insight into the actor. 

View full article »