Archive for April, 2021


Back in January we previewed the spring theatrical release Godzilla vs. Kong here at borg, asking: Could an aircraft carrier really support that kind of weight?  A book coming next month might not answer that question but it will look behind the scenes of the movie.  With a foreword by director Adam Wingard, Daniel Wallace’s Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall–The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royale boasts being filled with concept art paintings that influenced the final look of the film.  It also includes interviews with key production crew.  It’s available for pre-order now here in the U.S. and in the UK at Amazon here.

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Just a quick follow-up to news of the nominations 90 days ago–The Mystery Writers of America held its annual awards ceremony this afternoon for the Edgar Allan Poe or “Edgar” Awards, recognizing the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres in 12 categories.  The annual list memorializes the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and this year’s nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2020.  Past winners include Raymond Chandler, John le Carré, Donald E. Westlake, Michael Crichton, Phyllis A. Whitney, Joan Lowery Nixon, Tony Hillerman, Ken Follett, Willo Davis Roberts, Gore Vidal, Nancy Springer, Gregory Mcdonald, Lawrence Block, James Patterson, Donald P. Bellisario, Glen A. Larson, Matt Nix, Rick Riordan, Reginald Rose, Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard, Stuart Woods, and Stephen King.  It is the 75th Annual Edgar Awards and our own borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce won for her 2020 novel Premeditated Myrtle

Boo appearance Steph acceptance speech Congratulations, Elizabeth!
  Find out more about the Edgar Awards and Elizabeth here. Find the slate of 2021 Edgar Award recipients here. Congratulations to all the nominees and 2021 honorees! C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The star of the original Life on Mars is back as a detective solving crimes in the new BritBox original series from IPT, Grace John Simm, also known for his run on Doctor Who, State of Play and other British dramas plays Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, a cop sent down to desk duty a few years ago for embarrassing the bureau by bringing in a psychic to help solve a crime.  When a former colleague rises up the ranks and pulls D.S. Grace in to a high-profile case, viewers get to meet the next great TV detective.  The first episode of Grace is now streaming in the U.S. exclusively here on BritBox via Amazon.

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Sister Sleuths cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Some history books rehash familiar territory, and some tread entirely new, unexplored ground.  Nell Darby’s Sister Sleuths: Female Detectives in Britain is the latter.  Tapping into a rich but hidden vein of criminology history, Darby uncovers the true stories of professional female investigators from the Victorian age through the early 20th century.

More scholarly text than popular nonfiction, Darby’s work mines census data, newspaper reporting and advertising, and court records to follow the path of private detection as a career appealing to British women from the 1860s to the 1930s.  In short, bite-sized chapters divided by theme and chronology, Sister Sleuths tracks the evolution of the private investigation industry.  Working side-by-side with their male counterparts, female detectives brought particular skills (real or perceived) to the job.
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Beast of the Stapletons

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 story The Hound of the Baskervilles finds a sequel 120 years later in the latest Sherlock Holmes spin-off novel from writer James Lovegrove.  Readers will find further adventures of not only that novella, but more connections to past works in Sherlock Holmes and The Beast of the Stapletons, a novel in the same series as the author’s Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon, previously reviewed here at borg.   The question for readers of Lovegrove’s other works, including his Cthulhu Casebook novels and other stories from Titan Books, is: Will he or won’t he? That is, will the beast of the title be something out of the real world (as in Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon) or, as in his Cthulhu tie-ins, something from the world of fantasy?  The best part of this story is the absence for the bulk of the tale of Sherlock’s right arm, Dr. John Watson, who tends toward the whiny and needy in past recent retellings.  A new, interesting foil steps in for this mystery, taking Holmes more in the direction of another famous British franchise.

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With the exception of the vast expanded universe of Star Wars and Star Trek, no other sci-fi property has branched out in the past ten years in as many exciting ways as the Alien universe.  Every new tie-in novel consistently has been packed with suspense and innovative takes on Weyland-Yutani and its influence years before, during, and after the events of Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie.  Each year fans of Alien celebrate April 26 as Alien Day, reflecting not a specific day inside the Alien universe, but the designation of the moon in the film Aliens: LV426.  Back in 2019 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Ridley Scott film, and the tie-ins keep coming now that the Fox movies fall under the Disney umbrella.  Here’s a list of what you should check out if you’re an Alien fan.  First up, the new novel, Aliens: Infiltrator.

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Love and Monsters a

Review by C.J. Bunce

Initially marketed as Monster Problems, Love and Monsters is a surprise sleeper hit apocalypse movie, also marketed as an adventure comedy, which puts it into the camp of movies like the Jumanji series and Finding ‘Ohana.  It was scheduled for release last April, then delayed to late 2020 because of the pandemic, and you probably missed it.  Which is now a good thing, because it’s a nicely timed story about survival–namely surviving a big event and getting to the other side of that event, being able to breathe freely again, at least at some level.  Starring Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, and Michael Rooker, it’s a monster movie so well done it is nominated for a visual effects Oscar in tonight’s Academy Award ceremony.  It’s now streaming on Vudu, Amazon, and DVD/Blu-Ray.

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Engines of oblivion

Review by C.J. Bunce

In Architects of Memory, first-time sci-fi writer Karen Osborne created a corporate sci-fi story, similar to Alien’s Weyland-Yutani, where corporations compete for weapons and power.  In this futuristic realm, humans have been de-humanized to almost unrecognizable, something like in Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon.  In a world so vile, why fight to survive?  Is living enough when there’s nothing to live for, and if there is something worth living for, then what is it?  Osborne doesn’t answer that question in either the original book or its sequel, Engines of Oblivion, the second and last book in her “Memory War” duology.  Fans of the first book will be interested in this next novel, as it revisits the world of human bombs and a bleak dystopia, only this time moving from lead protagonist Ash to Natalie, as Natalie is manipulated into returning to find those she left behind after stumbling into a major military success for her board of directors.  Strong women on the brink of hopelessness struggle to understand their roles, their relationships, and a world bogged down in Avatar-esque designs in this wind-up to the Memory War story.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This is the way… to catch up on all you haven’t yet learned about The Mandalorian.  In addition to Abrams’ brilliant high-end, behind the scenes book of original concept art The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (reviewed here) and two volumes of Titan’s The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery (discussed here), Titan has announced the next book of the series, The Mandalorian Guide to Season One Compared to Titan’s The Art & Imagery books, this shiny hardcover book is more of a souvenir book, like the annuals UK publishers create for bigger franchises.  You’ll find more than photographs–there’s discussions and interviews about the entire first season, including an episode guide.  And you can now pre-order it here at Amazon.

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And lots of images of cool prop helmets.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not many sequels match the original.  One of those rare gems is Happy Death Day 2U, an impressive, hilarious, amped-up horror meets sci-fi version of the original horror comedy featuring one of our favorite tropes: time loops.  The first look audiences had of a sequel to the October 2017 surprise hit Happy Death Day was the trailer in front of the 40th anniversary screening of Halloween in October 2018, receiving overwhelming positive feedback.  Director Christopher Landon’s 2019 sequel is so well-written, so well-acted by star Jessica Rothe, it may be better than the original, and it’s good enough to warrant an ongoing horror franchise on the scale of the Final Destination series.  The movie revisits Teresa “Tree” Gelbman, a strong, quick-thinking college student who keeps waking up to the same day, learning she must save not only herself but her friends from a freakish masked killer.  Yes, Happy Death Day 2U is Tru Calling meets Groundhog Day, but this time it suggests why the events of the first film happened, with the addition of some of clever sci-fi in the vein of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

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