Category: Fantasy Realms


   

Review by C.J. Bunce

In advance of a two-part set of movies starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem targeted to come to theaters in 2021 from director Denis Villeneuve, a new three-book graphic novel series is heading your way next month from Abrams Books.  The first part, Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book One is available for pre-order here at Amazon.    

So how faithful is the graphic novel to Herbert’s original novel?

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Our borg Best of 2018 list continues today with the Best in Print.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2018 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2018 here, and the Best in Television 2018 here.

So let’s get going.  Here are our selections for this year’s Best in Print:

Best Read, Best Sci-fi Read – The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey (Titan Books).  The Synapse Sequence is one of those standout reads that reflects why we all flock to the latest new book in the first place.  The detective mystery, the future mind travel tech, the twists, and the successful use of multiple perspectives made this one of the most engaging sci-fi reads since Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.  Honorable mention: Solo: A Star Wars Story novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).

Best Retro Read – Killing Town by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime).  The lost, first Mike Hammer novel released for the 100th anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s birth was gold for noir crime fans.  This first Hammer story introduced an origin for a character that had never been released, in fact never finished, but Spillane’s late career partner on his work made a seamless read.  This was the event of the year for the genre, and a fun ride for his famous character.  Honorable mention: Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake.

Best Tie-In Book – Solo: A Star Wars Story–Expanded Edition novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).  Not since Donald Glut’s novelization of The Empire Strikes Back had we encountered a Star Wars story as engaging as this one.  Lafferty took the final film version and Lawrence and Jon Kasdan’s script to weave together something fuller than the film on-screen.  Surprises and details moviegoers may have overlooked were revealed, and characters were introduced that didn’t make the final film cut.  Better yet, the writing itself was exciting.  We read more franchise tie-ins than ever before this year, and many were great reads, but this book had it all.  Honorable Mention: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove (Titan).

Best Genre Non-fiction – Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young (Insight Editions).  A compelling look at the director and his relationship with the leading women in his films, this new work on Hitchcock was filled with information diehard fans of Hitchcock will not have seen before.  Young incorporated behind-the-scenes images, costume sketches, and a detailed history of the circumstances behind key films of the master of suspense and his work with some of Hollywood’s finest performers.

There’s much more of our selections for 2018’s Best in Print to go…

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the new mystery-horror mash-up, Sherlock Holmes & Count Dracula: The Classified Dossier, Volume 1, writer Christian Klaver jumps right in, serving up Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective and Bram Stoker’s Count not in a face-off, but as a team-up.  As more rights to Doyle’s works enter the public domain, publishers continue to release dozens of new Holmes books each year, each supplying more files for the seemingly endless drawer of his own “expanded universe” cases (come 2023 anyone will be free to write a Holmes story about anything).  This story, another told via the perspective of the reliable confidante Dr. John Watson, is made more fun, because “the more genres, the merrier.”
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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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Ghostbusters novelization

Review by C.J. Bunce

The most eagerly awaited movie of 2021 is also the most eagerly awaited movie of 2020.  That’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a direct sequel to Ghostbusters I and 2, slated for release in theaters November 11, 2021, after multiple delays.  Will it actually happen?  Who knows.  But while you’re waiting, you can get your fix of those days of Ghostbusters past while you’re at the beach, soaking in the sun with the original novelizations thanks to a new reprint combo from Titan Books, Ghostbusters: The Original Novelizations of Ghostbusters 1 and 2.  For anyone who has only watched the movies, you can gain a little more insight to the characters, many who will be back in the new movie.

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Donatello’s bo staff, Michelangelo’s nunchaku, Raphael’s twin sai, and Leonardo’s katanas.  If you like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles even a little bit, you might not have been able to make it without shedding a tear through the team’s sad finale in last year’s hit series The Last Ronin.  But you have this new action figure to stand proud in honor of these tiny, noble warriors.  Two versions of the figure will be available here at Entertainment Earth, but that’s not all–as all four Turtles return to take on the grown-up Karate Kids in a new line of action figure tie-ins for Netflix’s Cobra Kai series.  Check out images of them all below!

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DnD IDW 4

Humble Bundle has launched its latest content bundling opportunity with IDW Publishing, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons tie-in comic book adventures.  The “Humble Comics Bundle: Dungeons & Dragons by IDW Publishing” will run through May 3, 2021, and it features a large selection of Dungeons & Dragons adventures, including up to 28 full graphic novels, plus individual issues of IDW’s latest D&D series, Infernal Tides and At the Spine of the World.  As with past Humble Bundle promotions, readers can simply pay what they want, starting at only $1.00 to purchase a basic tier, then increase their contribution up to $25 to add more graphic novels to their collection.  Take a look back at previews and reviews of several of these here at borg.

You have four tier opportunities to choose from:

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Assassins Creed cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Gigantic and worthy of the expansive universe it chronicles, Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide is one of the better visual histories in the fantasy and science fiction genres.  Titan Books has released a full-color expanded hardcover edition, updating a 2016 edition with plenty of new content, including new sections and the incorporation of recent storylines.  In a word, it’s a comprehensive look at Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed for past gamers and new gamers, and readers of its many tie-in stories, or anyone wanting to know what the game, and tie-in film, novels, and comic books, are all about.

The fun of the Assassin’s Creed universe is the merger of history and adventure in a way that incorporates both fantasy and science fiction.  The science fiction is from the time travel that isn’t.  That is, from the vantage point of a seemingly unlimited selection of starting points across history, characters can look back to the past to gain knowledge and answers to essential questions along their hero’s journey, much like in Doctor Who.  A catalog of important objects, showcased in the book via artwork in the style of the game and comics, is a treasure trove of fantasy, roleplay devices that propel players and readers through the labyrinthine stories.

Assassins Creed b

Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide explains the history behind the two key factions–the Creed and the Templars–and the conflict between them.  It includes timelines of events, and takes a step back to the fantasy world of the distant past that grew into modern civilization, all presented as in-universe, as if the reader lives in this secret realm behind our own.  Readers learn of objects like the Animus device, the Apples and Staves of Eden, and other important ancient artifacts and totems unearthed in the games and tie-ins.  Diehard gamers will meet again the key characters–and subordinate characters–from the video game who have presented the journey so far, and readers of the books and novels will find their familiar heroes and denizens here as well.

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charmed-cover-1

During the same years that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was bringing a unique take on the teen horror genre, from 1998 through 2006 the “Charmed Ones” and the “Power of Three” connected TV viewers to a different realm of stories of the supernatural in the WB’s series Charmed.  Before the series Supernatural would take over the genre spot for the next decade, the three Halliwell sisters, Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) provided a similar weekly fix of the paranormal, the mythic, the magical, and the Wiccan.  Following the death of Prue in the finale of Season 3, their long-lost half sister Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan) assumed Prue’s role within the “Power of Three” and a new comic book series will continue the story of these three sisters from the show.

The second longest running hour-long television series featuring all female leads, Charmed aired 178 episodes over eight seasons.  The next episodes will take the form of a Charmed, monthly comic featuring writer Erica Schultz (Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade & Kato, Swords of Sorrow: Black Sparrow & Lady Zorro, Revenge) and artist Maria Sanapo (Grimm, DC Comics Bombshells).  Zenescope previously published a Season 9 and Season 10 comic book series and 43 tie-in novels further expanded the series into 2008.  In 2015 a reboot novel series beginning with the Paul Ruditis book The War on Witches was set between the two comic book seasons.

charmed-inks

Publisher Dynamite Comics describes the first story of the new series: A dark force has set its sights on the art world of San Francisco and the only ones who can stop it are Phoebe, Paige, and Piper!  Continue reading

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