Category: Fantasy Realms


Review by C.J. Bunce

In the spirit of The Prisoner, Clue, Sneakers, Ready Player One, Dispatches from Elsewhere, and Kingsman, Cutting Edge is a new series by fantasy author Francesco Dimitri and award-winning Italian artist Mario Alberti arriving in comic book stores this week.  March 2012.  Dozens of the greatest minds, the world’s elite, receive letters from a mega-finance corporation inviting them to an event in London, with no further information.  Among them, Joshua Malinot, a painter, Hiroshi Itou, a noted genius in physics, Stella Orsini Del Giglio, a post-scandal heiress, Jirakee Walker, a prize-winning National Geographic photographer working in Australia, a suave playboy who goes only by the name Delroy, and Mark Underwood, a social psychologist and expert in information.  What do they all have in common?  Someone believes they are the “Cutting Edge” of society.

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Just in time for our holidays, the Star Wars Holiday Special is making a comeback later this month.  It will be forty-two years to the day that kids like myself first saw Bea Arthur serenade a cantina full of familiar aliens as Ackmena, met Chewbacca’s extended family, and saw Boba Fett on the screen for the first time (after his preview as an action figure offer).  The Special aired on television for the first time in 1978, and now Disney+ is bringing the holiday special to a new generation of Star Wars fans.  The twist is your next celebration of Life Day is also the next LEGO movie, so expect loads of laughs and throwbacks in the animated LEGO Star Wars Holiday SpecialEven better, it comes with time travel and mash-ups across the movie spectrum.

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If you’ve been watching the new season of The Mandalorian, you might agree that this week’s new episode, The Passenger, may be the best episode yet.  Heck, if we’d have seen it back in the 1970s and 1980s with the original trilogy, we might have rated it even better than the films.  When we reviewed Abrams Books’ last behind the scenes look at the Star Wars franchise in The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we mentioned we were hoping that the publisher would get the rights for The Mandalorian series so we could get a close-up look at the costumes, props, and production art–and continue with a sixth volume of Abrams’ superb series of behind-the-scenes looks at the franchise.  Well Star Wars fans are in luck.  The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian is now available for pre-order here at Amazon, and we have a preview for borg readers below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Anna Holmwood and Gigi Chang continue their landmark English translation of Jin Yong′s Legends of the Condor Heroes novels in A Snake Lies Waiting, now available in bookstores and here at Amazon, the first English translation of Volume 3.  Another expert translation of Jin’s breathtaking adventure, full of wit and wisdom, expect to find the most action in the saga, as well as the single best scene of the entire series.  In the spirit of Homer, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, Akira Kurosawa, and George Lucas, A Snake Lies Waiting is among the world’s greatest fantasy novels.  It doesn’t fall into the trap of many major fantasy series: losing the steam built up in the first two installments.  If Book Two was The Empire Strikes Back or The Two Towers or The Godfather II, consider this volume another The Empire Strikes Back.  The 1950s series has sold more than 300 million copies internationally over the past 60 years, but the books are finally being made available to U.S. and UK readers as part of this series.

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It’s already been adapted into a video animation in 2014, and now the popular serialized Japanese manga is making its way to a live-action series coming to Netflix next month.  Haro Aso’s manga Alice in Borderland is directed by Shinsuke Sato, and follows three friends who get sucked into a video game, Jumanji-style more than Tron or Ready Player One.  Spinning out of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, look for new takes including “Hatter” and “Cheshire,” in a strange wasteland parallel universe Tokyo and a journey of survival.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the oldest sayings of actors is never take a role with an animal or a child, because you’ll always get upstaged.  That’s where the Disney+ series is currently stuck–they created a character in The Child (aka Baby Yoda) that we’d all probably rather see more than Pedro Pascal’s title character.  Yes, The Mandalorian is back this weekend with the first episode of Season Two, more than welcome fun in the year of COVID-19 and real-life, high-stakes politics.  The series is full of Easter eggs and good throwbacks to the original trilogy, the prequels, bits and pieces of the entire franchise.  But the plot for the season opener is a retread of themes and scenes from last year, light on our favorite young green-eared friend.

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Happy Halloween!  Unfortunately it didn’t make it in time for Halloween, but the dark and fun Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is scheduled to arrive this year, sneaking in with an entire eight episodes for the fourth and final season December 31.  Over the course of the final eight episodes, The Eldritch Terrors will descend upon Greendale.  The coven must fight each terrifying threat one-by-one (The Weird, The Returned, The Darkness, etc.), all leading up to…The Void, which is the End of All Things.  As the witches wage war, with the help of The Fright Club, Nick begins to slowly earn his way back into Sabrina’s heart.  Will it be too late?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Thirty years after Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home forever put a stake in the ground that whaling is a bad thing, you wouldn’t think a true-life whaling story would fare well, especially in movie theaters.  And you’d be right–director Ron Howard′s In the Heart of the Sea unfortunately lost more money than it cost to make.  And yet Howard’s deft direction combines some of genredom’s top stars with a solid script in a worthy interpretation of Herman Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick apt to provide any audience with something to cheer about.  Far and Away meets Apollo 13, sea disaster and cannibalism in this 2015 release, a prime survival story now streaming on multiple platforms.

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A Curse Dark as Gold cover Elizabeth C Bunce

Halloween arrives this weekend and if you’re still looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out 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.  From a framework standpoint A Curse Dark as Gold at first 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 permeate the corners of the town.  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 fabric of Shearing 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.  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 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.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Delayed a bit due to the pandemic, a Star Wars tie-in comic book series proved this summer to be the best so far since Marvel Comics pulled the comics license back from Dark Horse.   Star Wars: Bounty Hunters completed its first story arc and will be coming next month to comic shops in a collected edition, available via pre-order now here at Amazon.  Compiling the first five issues of a new series in the vein of The Mandalorian, it establishes itself with a new anti-hero from the past and familiar faces fans of the original trilogy love.  It all begins by asking why all those bounty hunters appeared together on Darth Vader’s ship Executor in that brief scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

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