Category: Con Culture


Review by C.J. Bunce

For most television viewers, the names after a show scroll by without much notice.  But if you pay attention, you may find the writer of one of your favorite episodes is the writer of many of your favorites, which may point you to other series and episodes you’ve not seen yet that you may like.  You might not have heard of Paul Robert Coyle, but it’s likely that anyone who is a fan of one or more genre shows has watched the results of his work.  Or maybe you haven’t heard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Superboy, The Dead Zone, Simon & Simon, or earlier detective and police series like The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Crazy Like a Fox, Jake and the Fat Man, and CHiPs.  Coyle wrote for these series, and readers of his new book Swords, Starships, and Superheroes: A TV Writer’s Life Scripting the Stories of Heroes may find he wrote some of their favorite episodes.

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Candlekeep attracts scholars like a flame attracts moths.  Historians, sages, and others who crave knowledge flock to this library fortress to peruse its vast collection of books, scribbled into which are the answers to the mysteries that bedevil them.  Many of these books contain their own mysteries–each one a doorway to adventure.  Dare you cross that threshold?

The new Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition adventure anthology Candlekeep Mysteries explores the Forgotten Realm’s renowned towering library fortress with 17 new mystery themed mini-adventures–each tied to a book in the library.  These can be run as standalone adventures or tucked into your latest campaign.  Including a poster map of the library fortress and detailed descriptions of Candlekeep and its inhabitants, you can pre-order the library cover here at Amazon now, or pick up the Victorian-inspired variant cover via your local gameshop.

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Even if you haven’t visited Disney World or Disneyland, odds are you heard someone rave about Dole Whip, a frozen dessert that seems to have made converts of millions across the country.  Now you can make your own Dole Whip at home, and 100 other recipes replicating the foods you can buy at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and other locations in The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook, available now here at Amazon.

Check out our look inside  The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook below, including the recipe for Dole Whip, courtesy of publisher Adams Media:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Deceit, betrayal, glory, destiny.  

At one level the back half of the 89 hours of History Channel’s Vikings series had two key components that kept viewers coming back week after week: the next scene always was completely and terrifically unpredictable, and each increase in stakes for your favorite character was just plain nail-biting.  Like walking a tightrope, at any point every character–no matter how great or small–might get wiped away.  Creator and writer Michael Hirst plucked cultural bits of Norse history and intertwined them with the written histories and mythology of historical figures to make something riveting, compelling, and permanent–the spirit of a historical saga that Viking descendants can be proud of, while also meeting the needs of fantasy viewers for the next swordplay action-adventure.  Primarily a denouement for the long six season run, the final ten episodes have arrived on Amazon Prime, with History Channel to air them at a later date.

The reach of the Norse influence, the survival of the Lothbrok line, the direction of early England and Russia.  It all intersects here.  Does the end measure up to the rest of the series?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Everyone has had enough of 2020, maybe more so than any year in recent (or distant!) memory.  Isn’t it about time we have more fun?  Simon & Schuster imprint Adams Media has a quick way to get started.  Editor James D’Amato has enlisted forty game players and game makers to build 40 quick-to-learn roleplaying games in The Ultimate Micro-RPG Book The ideas are brilliant, the breadth of content, completely creative.  You can choose from several levels of complexity, different genres, game types, game tie-in props and tools, and a variety of tones and formats.  If you like to play roleplaying games (RPGs) or you’re a beginner, you’ll find a lot to propel you to create your own games and enjoy something new to play right now in this volume.

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Today by way of a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and IDW Publishing, a new coloring book arrives in comic shops and online stores celebrating the history of flight.  Airplanes:  A Smithsonian Coloring Book, is the second of four announced coloring books that combine historical artifacts, current artists, and staffs of various Smithsonian museums to provide a virtual tour of museums while sharing the knowledge of what made the subjects an important part of science, nature, and technology.  The airplanes coloring book joins the previously released Dinosaurs: A Smithsonian Coloring Book, in the series, and no matter your interests, you’re sure to find something that grabs you as two more volumes arrive in 2021: Birds: A Smithsonian Coloring Book and Spacecraft: A Smithsonian Coloring Book.  Each page of these books is accompanied by informative insights from the museum’s experts about each dinosaur, aircraft, bird, or spacecraft, tying them all together as fun learning tools. The series’ deluxe ivory paper allows for a variety of artistic media like pen, pencil, or even watercolor.

Take a look inside a few of these books below, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce 

If you received a gift card to a bookstore for Christmas, here’s one way to use it.  Taking eight of the best-loved episodes of the original Star Trek series, cartoonist Glenn Dakin is back, providing the best of Treksperts the ultimate trivia test.  Part of the Nerd Search series, the hardcover Star Trek: Quibbles with Tribbles will challenge all you think you know about Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, and Chekov.  A “Where’s Waldo?” requiring you know the details and titles of the three seasons of the series, it’s loads of fun for Trekkers and Trekkies everywhere.  Don’t overlook this book because of its colorful comics illustrations.  This book will challenge even those who worked on the series, as well as the biggest fans you know.

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Do you have some sci-fi fans you can never seem to find the right gift for?

Is binge-watching all the Star Trek series not enough to get you through the end of 2020?   Then you might want to try Mr. Spock’s Little Book of Mindfulness, a friendly guide to achieving a more blissful state in the style of books like The Tao of PoohCartoonist Glenn Dakin takes you to the planet Vulcan and back again with some thought-provoking ways to re-direct your thinking.

For those who watch Star Trek and don’t think the philosophical leanings of Mr. Spock can help (and you frequent the local pub), Glenn Dakin has more Star Trek themed artwork coming in Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium, featuring an assortment of cocktail recipes with a Star Trek theme and flavor.  Surviving in Starfleet is hard.  Do you notice all the alcohol references in the Star Trek series and movies?  You will after a couple of rounds with Star Trek Cocktails.  

    

Check out a preview of each of these books, perfectly sized for stocking stuffers, courtesy of publisher Hero Collector:

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What inspired you this year to be a hero?

It’s been a heckuva year.  One of the major areas that got slighted because of the pandemic–because of job losses and attention to political and other matters–were donations to animal charities.  So we at borg are endorsing and hoping you’ll support all the worthy groups below that try to help those that can’t help themselves.  Please help give them a chance.

You don’t need superpowers to change the world.

You can change the world one dollar at a time.  And it may even help your own pocketbook if you make charitable contributions by the end of the month for your next tax filing.

So change the world.  Please support the following awesome organizations:

Wayside Waifs

Great Plains SPCA

Alley Cat Allies

Humane Society

ASPCA

Animal Rescue League

Bat Conservation International

American Anti-Vivisection Society

REGAP

Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary

Frankie’s Friends

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

Check out these great charities today and give if you can.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

It’s been another long year of great entertainment.  It’s time for the eighth annual round of new honorees for the borg Hall of Fame.  We have several honorees from 2020 films and television, plus you’ll find many from the past, and a peek at some from the future – 44 new borgs or updated variants in all, bringing the borg Hall of Fame total to 265.

You can always check out the updated borg Hall of Fame on our home page under “Know your borg.”

Some reminders about criteria.  Borgs have technology integrated with biology Wearing a technology-powered suit alone doesn’t qualify.  Tony Stark aka Iron Man was named an honoree because the Arc Reactor kept him alive, not because of his incredible tech armor.  The Spider-Man suit worn by Tom Holland is similar to Tony’s, but it’s not integrated with Peter Parker’s biology.

Also, if the creators tell us the characters are merely robots, automatons, or androids (as in Westworld, and as in the Synths of Star Trek: Picard, and the new Dark Troopers of The Mandalorian), we take their word for it.  Again, integration is key, but in the Hall, once a member, always a member.  

So let’s get on with it.  Who’s in for 2020?

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