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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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If you grew up with Star Wars in the late 1970s, you read everything you could about the movie, everything about the making of the movie, and everyone related to everyone who made the movie.  So everyone knew that Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill was sent one of every item–every toy–that was made as a tie-in for the series.  That’s every Kenner toy made for Star Wars, and Hamill mentioned in interviews he didn’t keep these things in their boxes, but let his kids play with them, and we all saw photos of his son Nathan with these toys (or we just dreamed we did).  Good luck finding a Star Wars fan that didn’t wish they had that deal.  Time moves on, Star Wars had a big lull with a bit of a resurgence thanks to tie-in novels, then Lucas makes the prequels, then Disney buys Star Wars, then Mark Hamill comes back as Luke, and there’s even more Star Wars!  Among other things, Nathan Hamill has been creating a web comic strip called 2 Dumb Dinos.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The top genre TV actress Rose McIver is back and as irresistible as ever.  The star of the wildly popular series iZombie is right back in her wheelhouse in CBS’s new series Ghosts: rapid-fire dialogue, outlandish situations where she must lead a crew of characters to decipher and inhabit myriad character types in the craziest of concocted schemes.  But unlike iZombie, which had its lighthearted moments, Ghosts is 100% pure comedy.  Sure, there are ghosts, but this is a full-on ensemble cast comedy where a brilliantly conceived haunted mansion is only the setting, the framework on which to build a comedy that will hopefully stand up to the even more dreaded ratings wonks.

For fans of Resident Alien, the show smacks of the exact same tone and humor, the latest in the trope mastered by The Munsters and The Addams Family.  It’s Beetlejuice, The Sixth Sense, and Tru Calling meets The Money Pit with a splash of Clue, with not a speck of heavy drama (or frights) but heaps of fun and pop culture references (like Sneakers, and if you pay attention you’ll find more than one iZombie reference) stuffed into each half-hour episode.

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20th century fox cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

For a century, 20th Century Fox was a production machine, churning out volumes of motion pictures annually, but never achieving the greatness seen by the likes of MGM and Paramount.  Yet its key movie star assets, its box office successes, and award-winning films were few and far between.  In 20th Century-Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio, writer Scott Eyman takes movie fans back to the beginning and introduces readers to sometimes successful, sometimes not successful businessmen who built theaters and the movies to screen in them, keying in on the mergers that brought William Fox, formerly immigrant Wilhelm Fuchs, to build a corporation that Darryl F. Zanuck would take through important decades of the 21st century.  Both film buffs and historians of the era of film’s Golden Age will find a history in Turner Classic Movies/TCM’s latest film production chronicle, connected by memorable films from its first Oscar-winner, 1927’s Sunrise, to its last, 2019’s Ford v. Ferrari, telling a story of the rise and fall of a movie empire.  TCM’s 20th Century-Fox is just out from publisher Running Press and available here at Amazon.

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Autobiography spock

Review by C.J. Bunce

A new in-universe book finds that famous Star Trek Vulcan and #1 identifiable character of the franchise, the great Mr. Spock, providing a first-hand account as an elder statesman from his vantage after he became the ambassador to Romulus in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Unification” arc and just before he attempts to take his jellyfish-inspired ship with Red Matter to create a black hole in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 movie, Star TrekThe Autobiography of Mr. Spock: The Life of a Federation Legend is edited by (actually written by) frequent Star Trek in-universe writer Una McCormack, just released by Titan Books.  Readers will learn Spock intended this as a memoir for Jean-Luc Picard, with whom he melded after Picard’s meld with Spock’s father just before his death in the episode, “Sarek.”

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You’ll want to check out the end of the first issue of Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime’s new series Gun Honey to learn how writer/creator Charles Ardai came up with the title.  Gun Honey is a new comic book series about a woman who can get the weapons you want for the right price.  The series is a mix of international locales a la James Bond, with the style movie audiences saw and heard in Guy Ritchie’s 2015 movie The Man from U.N.C.L.E.–you can almost hear the soundtrack.  She’s the latest of a long line of anti-hero, badass femmes fatales in comics dating back to Miss Fury.  And artist Ang Hor Kheng does the character and the genre justice, providing a sexy new character in a world of intrigue, duplicity, and the need for an alter ego.

Check out a preview of the first issue below, along with a preview of several of the series’ incredible cover variants from the likes of Bill Sienkiewicz, Robert McGinnis, Adam Hughes, Kendrick Lim, Jay Anacleto, Chris Wahl, Kendrick Lim, Ivan Tao, Warren Louw, Lesley Li, Fay Dalton, Andrea Camerini, and more.

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A brand-new Victorian mystery will have you singing “Deck the Halls” in October, while you hunt for clues alongside twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, her unflappable governess Miss Judson, and their opinionated cat, Peony.  My wife, borg contributor, and Edgar Award-winning author Elizabeth C. Bunce has been writing her Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series for a few years now.  Prompted by a quick mis-utterance of “premeditated murder” and a chatty cat that showed up one night in the rain, a character and an idea took hold and before we knew it she had created and sold the first four books in a new series of mystery novels.  The first book, Premeditated Myrtle, an Indie Next Pick named to Amazon’s Top 20 Children’s Books of 2020, arrived in bookstores last year along with the second installment, How to Get Away with Myrtle, a #1 Amazon New Release.  Not only did Premeditated Myrtle win this year’s Edgar Award (the Mystery Writers of America award recognizing the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres, in its 75th year), it was named an Honor Book by the 106 years and counting Society for Midland Authors, it was named to the Library of Congress’s annual Great Reads from Great Places list, and it was nominated for the Agatha Award and Anthony Award. Tomorrow readers can follow Myrtle’s next sleuthing adventure in Cold-Blooded Myrtle, available in bookstores everywhere and here at Amazon.

Premeditated Myrtle introduced readers to Myrtle Hardcastle, an aspiring sleuth who can’t read enough about the new science of criminology, and hopes to one day work for Scotland Yard.  Her first case was the death of her neighbor, an expert on breeding rare flowers who dies under mysterious circumstances.  Premeditated Myrtle is a blend of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Secret Garden, as Myrtle tries to enlist the aid of her father, the town prosecutor, to help solve the case after she points to the wrong man.  In the second novel, How to Get Away with Myrtle, Myrtle, her curious cat Peony, and her intrepid governess Miss Judson embark on a seaside vacation on an excursion train.  But the vacation is cut short when a rare tiara is stolen and someone is murdered before the train arrives at the station.  It’s an Agatha Christie style mystery that finds Myrtle on the case as she’s stuck in a vacation town that is nothing like it was advertised, and everyone, including her aunt, is a suspect.

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In Cold-Blooded Myrtle, winter arrives and as Myrtle prepares for a hopefully uneventful traditional Dickensian Christmas, notable locals are found dead in ways that seem to mimic the murders of historical figures.  Soon Myrtle discovers her late mother was close to the victims, and Myrtle hopes secrets from her past and a famous archaeologist may lead to the truth.  A local newspaper reporter is digging into the case of a secret society and a missing student at nearby Schofield College, but is she getting too close, and why does she know so much?  And why is the reporter so chummy with family friend and legal clerk Mr. Blakeney?  What is the secret behind the long-closed bell tower?  Cold-Blooded Myrtle brings together The Watcher in the Woods, Phantom of the Opera, and The Goonies, as Myrtle, Judson, and Peony investigate an early Cold Case File. Industry reviewer Kirkus provided the novel a starred review, saying,

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