Tag Archive: coronavirus


No Time to Die It will be the 25th official James Bond movie and the 27th if you include the independent movie Never Say Never Again and the first version of Casino Royale, all part of the longest running blockbuster franchise that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica.  His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.  The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.  The premiere of No Time to Die said to be the last Daniel Craig stint as James Bond – was delayed due to studio concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.  The next, action-packed movie trailer for No Time to Die is here (check it out below).  The film is now slated for a November release.  But does anyone think crowds will return to theaters by then?

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Wizards of the Coast is bringing together some top genre names for what they promise to be the most star-studded Dungeons & Dragons event ever assembled to raise money for the Red Nose Day charity. D&D Live 2020: Roll w/Advantage hopes to bring gamers together online and reveal the latest D&D storyline.  And it expects to feature Doctor Who and the Marvel Cinematic Universe star Karen Gillan and Stranger Things and Black Widow star David Harbour, among others.  And it’s all happening next month, available to everyone from the comfort of their homes.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

While most of the comic book industry is on hold resulting from the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, we’re looking back to some recent books you may want to give a try while you’re sheltering at home or recuperating from work and in need of some good distractions.  One of those books continues a series bellwethered by one of our favorite artists, J.K. Woodward, known for his beautiful illustrations in the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover miniseries Assimilation², the IDW adaptation of Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, the covers of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover miniseries, the jaw-dropping, photo-real paintings bringing the crew of the USS Enterprise-D into the mirror universe in Mirror Broken, and Star Trek 20/20, a tale of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in his USS Stargazer years.  Continuing his expanded universe of Star Trek’s mirror realms is the winter release Star Trek Voyager: Mirrors and Smoke, where Woodward partnered with writer Paul Allor (Clue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe) to at last bring the characters of Star Trek Voyager (my own favorite Star Trek television series) into Trek’s infamous mirror universe.

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COVID Sesame Street

Your favorite characters from Sesame Street will be featured in a special town hall episode this weekend to help kids and parents discuss questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  This pandemic can be scary for kids, so The ABCs of Covid 19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Parents will tackle issues including education, anxiety, screen time, and playdates.

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One of the best artists around has shut down critics of his past works with his latest–and possibly most enduring–project yet.  The artist is the celebrated Italian painter Milo Manara.  Known as much for his brilliant depictions of women as superheroines–sometimes idealized, often powerful, and in countless fantasy scenarios–Manara from time to time is the target of naysayers maligning him for his talent (even labeling him sexist), specifically with respect to his depictions of beautiful women.  In many ways Manara’s latest project is more of the same, only his superheroines with capes have been replaced with real-life masked superheroines, further demonstrating why he is the real deal.

On his social media Manara has shared these stunning paintings as an homage along with notes of thanks for those countlesspeople who have created a broad, worldwide new “front lines” superteam in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In so doing Manara joins artists like Bill Sienkiewicz as one of the 21st century iconic artists who takes a break from the business craft from time to time to picture for his fans and followers the beauty and truth that lies around us in places both familiar and unfamiliar.

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Beginning March 15 and continuing into this weekend, Manara has depicted essential, indispensable, risk-taking women on the job in his native Italy, one of the most ravaged of nations by the virus, including a truck driver, an emergency response technician, a grocery store clerk, a delivery service worker, cleaning workers, a police officer, security/traffic guard, and a doctor confronting the virus head-on in a multimedia video (all viewable on his Facebook page here).  He added to his collection this weekend with the image of a postal carrier.  The biggest surprise that many haven’t noticed?  A fascinating response to his paintings can be found on Facebook, where people have been tagging his artwork with the names of their own real-life friends and family reflected in the drawings.  His own comments on his works include simple thanks in many ways, including, “Thank you to those who work putting themselves in danger for our safety,” “Thanks to the invisible, hoping we’ll remember them even later,” and “These days, if Italy keeps working, it’s also thanks to them. — Milo.”

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With most of the nation moving to more at-home time because of the coronavirus/COVID-19, there’s never been a better time to join an online campaign or begin with your family at home your own Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition roleplaying game campaign.  Wizards of the Coast is here to jumpstart your campaign fun with two new products this month.    First is a set of D&D trademark “dice and miscellany,” this time tied to the Forgotten Realms’ own Laeral Silverhand, Open Lord of Waterdeep, centuries-old archmage, and daughter of the goddess of magic.  She’s here to guide you on your path to adventure with Laeral Silverhand’s Explorer’s Kit, a shiny new eleven dice set (two d20s, one d12, two d10s, one d8, four d6s, one d4), twenty illustrated, double-sided cards detailing Laeral’s expert insights on key characters, locations, and lore from across the Forgotten Realms, and an attractive foldout double-sided map of the Sword Coast and the city of Waterdeep–all housed in a sturdy felt-lined box that functions as two dice trays.  If you’ve played for years and haven’t picked up one of these add-on kits in a while, this set of gorgeous dice and materials would be a great place to start.  It’s now available here at Amazon.

Also available for the first time this month is a sourcebook springing out of the second campaign of the popular D&D liveplay show, Critical Role.  It’s the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, a hefty, 300+ page guidebook to the world created by Matthew Mercer, DM to Critical Role.  Although it promises new surprises for fans of the show, it is also made for gamers at any level, regardless of their familiarity with the show, and provides new characters that can be incorporated into any campaign.  Wildemount is a continent in the world of Exandria, with varied cultures, locales, peoples, and monsters.  The guide introduces four adventures: Tide of Retribution, Dangerous Designs, Frozen Sick, and Unwelcome Spirits.

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DMs can set the adventure in one of four regions–the Menagerie Coast, Marrow Valley and the Zemni Fields, the Greying Wildlands and Eiselcross, the Wastes of Xhorhas and Blightshore–or incorporate any or all of them.  Adventures range from level one to 20.  Players are invited to jump the rails–change any aspect of an adventure to suit the type of game players enjoy the most.  In the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, improvisation is your friend.  If a DM isn’t sure how to proceed he/she is encouraged to do whatever is the most fun for the players, characters, and journey.

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Omnibus 2

If you have a houseful of kids and both spouses at home, all for the first time for longer than a school break, it may start getting… close… soon, especially if you’ve exhausted your collection of games, and finished cleaning out your garage and basement for the second time.  If that’s the case, or you’re just looking for some good reads, Titan Books has just the thing, three new, big books that are sure to keep at least a few of you entertained for the coming weeks.  The theme is Marvel Comics superheroes, but they aren’t comics.  They are part of Titan Books’ ongoing series of paperback novels delving deep into your favorite superhero characters.  Each volume, called an omnibus edition, is a hefty volume featuring three novels by a frequent Marvel writer.

Choose from Diane Duane’s Spider-Man: The Venom Factor Omnibus, including the novels The Venom Factor, The Lizard Sanction, and The Octopus Agenda, Christopher Golden’s X-Men: Mutant Empire Omnibus, featuring novels Siege, Sanctuary, and Salvation, and Greg Cox’s The X-Men and The Avengers: Gamma Quest Omnibus, with novels Lost and Found, Search and Rescue, and Friend or Foe? 

Diane Duane’s 656-page Spider-Man: The Venom Factor Omnibus is the ultimate look at the life of Spider-Man.  For Peter Parker, it’s one counter after another with three major Spidey characters.  Each novel confronts a key adversary, Venom, then the Lizard, then Doctor Octopus.  But these aren’t the only familiar faces readers will encounter.  And it’s not called The Venom Factor for nothing–look for Venom in a key role throughout these three novels.

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Die Hard board game

Looking for your next game to keep you family occupied this spring?  Gamemaker Usaopoly has a recently released board game for fans of Bruce Willis’s John McClane and the Die Hard franchise.  It’s the Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game.  While you’re sheltering at home (you’re doing that, right?) you can order the game from two good sources we found: Amazon here and Entertainment Earth here.  Bookmark this link to Entertainment Earth for future reference, because as Amazon reprioritizes shipments, it may be the quickest shipping method for the coming months for all your game and toy purchases.

The Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game is a one-versus-one, two, or three players game of stealth, combat, and action-tactics, following the story of the original Die Hard film.  The game has several components and plays out with cards and tokens in a sequence of three acts.  One player is John McClane and the rest play thieves, moving through Nakatomi Plaza, while the thieves try to stop him and break into the vault.  Thieves proceed to break six locks to get to the seventh level, when the FBI breaks in.  McClane must complete objectives to get to each new level.

Die Hard cards   Die Hard tokens

Players have shoot and punch attack actions, and McClane sneaks around the board–yep, walking through glass.  Thieves get “line of sight” to draw blood (not “first” blood, that’s a different movie).  Thieves get reinforcements, and McClane can get radio support.  The game ends when McClane dies, the thieves break into the vault, or McClane kills Hans Gruber.

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PatrickPicard

Patrick Stewart is back again to save the day, and he’s doing it in two ways.  As Sir Patrick Stewart, he has begun reading sonnets and sharing his readings online.  And as one of our favorite Captains, Jean-Luc Picard, he’s sharing news of the ability for anyone to stream the first season of his new series Star Trek: Picard on the CBS All Access streaming service–free.

As most know, the master thespian was an actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company before appearing in Star Trek: The Next Generation and as Charles Xavier in the Marvel X-Men franchise films, including one of his landmark performances in James Mangold’s 2017 Oscar-nominated film, Logan.  On his social media (see his Instagram page here) Sir Pat has begun reciting a sonnet a day, in the hopes that “a sonnet a day keeps the doctor away.”  He has so far read Shakespeare sonnets 116, 1, and 2.

Patrick Stewart

And Tuesday he announced more good news for his Star Trek fans: “Our #StarTrekPicard season finale is Thursday, and starting today until 4/23, you can watch for free on @CBSAllAccess in the US with the code: GIFT.”  All you need to do is sign up for the streaming service and use the code GIFT.  Check out the CBS All Access website for full details.

Star Trek: Picard takes place twenty years after the events in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, which resulted in the death of Brent Spiner’s character Data, and also after the events of Star Trek (2009), which resulted in the destruction of the planet Romulus.

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The truth.  Truth is the only way forward.  Lies and misinformation can destroy any plan, even a good one.  Created by writer Daniel H. Wilson in collaboration with the Michael Crichton estate, The Andromeda Evolution arrived last year 50 years after The Andromeda Strain was first published, the book that launched Crichton’s fame as master of the technothriller.  The Andromeda Evolution has all the components of Crichton’s best works–the trademark structure of a team of unique experts colliding to prevent catastrophe, the integration of cutting edge science to both inform the reader and carry the plot forward, and the surprising juxtaposition of the improbable and the unimaginable.  The ripped-from-the-headlines timeliness was eerily creepy last year, and here in March 2020 with a real pandemic threatening the planet, it’s even more so.  It all begins with a disaster in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, complete with lies–government clashes and misinformation campaigns–and ends with a surprise also ripped from last year’s headlines.  The Andromeda Evolution is now available in paperback here at Amazon from HarperCollins.

The influences and now, unfortunately, familiarity for readers will harken back to many other fictional tales with virus or pandemic components in sci-fi, conjuring callbacks to Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor, Isaac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage II, The Philadelphia Experiment, The Cloverfield Paradox, 2017’s Life, or Crichton’s own novels Sphere and Congo.  More recent fictional touchpoints for addressing virus crises include zombies as in Netflix’s Kingdom, and The Living Dead, both reviewed at borg this week, and even aliens: Who now doesn’t feel like Donald Sutherland–suspicious of everyone who walks by–in Invasion of the Body Snatchers simply visiting your local grocery store?  More fantasy accounts can be found all over the origin stories of superheroes, like the Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and in DC’s Swamp Thing series, where the environment itself fights back.  Add these to attempts at more realistic stories, the modern, mainstream pandemic thriller, like Outbreak and Contagion.

But can we learn anything from science fiction to help us in the real world, right now?

Those watching the news, working in healthcare facilities, and sheltering at home can certainly find shared experiences as a starting point.  But there may be even more.  Like how not to handle crises.  How the human condition delivers all kinds of different personalities, some who help, some who contribute, and some who hinder.  Reading The Andromeda Evolution or revisiting any of the above books, movies, and TV shows may be something you’re not ready for yet.  If you are ready, they also may provide ideas.  Like anything we might be forgetting.  They also may illustrate that no one can say “we never could have planned for this” or “nobody ever figured this could happen.”  Those assertions may be said aloud, but science fiction proves them as falsehoods.  And if you have kids at home, maybe the superhero stories listed above could help explain how viruses work in real life.

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