Tag Archive: Frankenstein


Review by C.J. Bunce

In a pre-pandemic world we all would have seen Free Guy in the theater by now and everyone would have been raving about it since August.  Now it’s arrived for a wider audience on streaming platform Disney Plus.  Is it worth your time?  Absolutely.  It’s so much better than advertised, you’re certain to be surprised at the layers of storytelling found in this mix of Ready Player One (but 50 times better) Tron: Legacy, Mr. ROBOT, The Truman Show, The LEGO Movie, Elf, Sleeping Beauty, and lots of other great shows.  Yes, it’s another video game movie, but it’s bigger.  It’s another Ryan Reynolds action movie.  But lots more fun.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The fourth and latest novel in the expanded Firefly universe is the closest story fans will have encountered since the short-lived series’ first season.  Tim Lebbon’s Firefly: Generations leans into its science fiction roots as Mal Reynolds and his crew find themselves balancing the life of a crew member and her desire to fulfill a destiny promised from the first episode.  Two keys put them on their next adventure across the ‘verse: one key they’ve had all along, and the other is a bit of a treasure map that goes to the very heart of understanding the old Earth-That-Was.  Only they may find it’s not treasure waiting, but a ship.  And not just any ship, but a seemingly haunted ghost ship.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the greatest living writers is back with something different.  Although his horror prowess shines through, Kim Newman (interviewed here) has penned a story that would make anyone think he has spent his career writing noir stories.  His new novel Something More Than Night takes its title from a line from a Raymond Chandler novel (Trouble is My Business).  It’s a story that takes real-life commonalities of the 1930s lives of Chandler and monster movie actor Boris Karloff and weaves them into a moody mystery far better than anything Chandler ever wrote.  Newman, master of horror as evidenced in his Anno Dracula books and stories, delivers a worthy sequel of sorts to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, featuring dazzling, powerful writing that is not only the best of its genre, its as masterfully penned a novel as in any genre.  Newman’s literary works have been studied in colleges since the 1990s, and this mash-up illustrates why–it’s a showcase of his knowledge of history, Hollywood, and writing styles that will leave you wanting even more.

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Morbius novel cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

As each new superhero gets his showcase in Marvel movies, we’re getting more and more lesser known characters pulled from the history of Marvel Comics to meet on the big screen.  As we stray away from the actual superhero headliners, the obscure come to the fore.  Probably the best of the darker, horror comics can be found in DC Comics, members of Justice League Dark, in recent years including Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, and Shade.  But it’s the feel of JLD you’ll find in Brendan Daneen’s Morbius, The Living Vampire: Blood Ties, a new novel in the Titan Books library of novel adaptations of Marvel Comics.  Taking place after the origin story of Marvel’s take on a “bat-man,” to be adapted in the pandemic-delayed, big-screen debut of Marvel’s latest monstrosity Morbius starring Jared Leto, this story gives an accounting of that “living vampire” first created 50 years ago in the pages of Spider-Man comics by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first season of Netflix’s imported series Glitch is so well done, it’s easy to compare it to the first season of TV’s Lost–another genre-bending series that held enough back that viewers never quite knew the secrets behind the strange happenings to an unusual assemblage of characters.  That’s the good and bad part about Glitch, because by the end of the second season the story loses its way and ultimately doesn’t deliver the payoff the first season deserved.  That said, a great cast of Australian actors, including some familiar faces from the Star Wars franchise, and great mystery and intrigue ultimately make the series worth watching despite its drawbacks.  Something wicked this way comes–again–to Australia, co-starring Emma Booth, the lead in the Starz series The Gloaming.  When officer James Hayes appears one night at a cemetery in his small town of Yoorana, Victoria, who could know that people would begin pulling themselves out of their graves?  Is this a zombie show or something with more to say about humans and the world?  It’s not the payoff but the journey that is so much fun in this 2015-2019, three-season, 18-episode tale now streaming on Netflix.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You may know about Logan aka Wolverine via his movies as played by Hugh Jackman or 47 years of stories in comic books.  But did you know the mutant with the claws and regeneration abilities was part of the same program that gave Steve Rogers his powers as Captain America?  Steve was part of the project as Weapon I and the tenth project–Weapon X–was conducted by scientists in Canada who further tried to make a superweapon by upgrading Wolverine with adamantium, and this melding of the organic and metallic turned him into a cyborg.  That Frankenstein-inspired update to Wolverine’s origin was first written in comics by Barry Windsor-Smith in 2004 as Marvel’s first novel adaptation of comics for adults in Weapon X.  Now that novel is part of a three-part omnibus available from Titan Books as Wolverine: Weapon X–A Marvel Omnibus, part of its rapidly building library of Marvel novels.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It really is the ultimate holiday gift for your favorite Star Wars fan.  The nostalgia in the ideas for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, as illustrated and explained in The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian, is exactly what fans were hoping for in their next Star Wars experience, probably dating all the way back to the anticipation of the release of Return of the Jedi back in 1983.  There’s a reason for the universal praise for the series, and why it’s one of the best television series of the past ten years, if not one of the best Westerns ever.  Jon Favreau, Doug Chiang, & Co. figured out how to please a diverse fandom.  By including the concept artwork in the end credits for each episode, they took us back to the Ralph McQuarrie paintings that inspired the first Star Wars film.  But those images are only the beginning.

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One of the masters of modern horror comics is back with another twist on Frankenstein.  Mike Mignola has created a prequel to his 2015 series Frankenstein: Underground, which found Mary Shelley’s famous monster left abandoned and driven underground to the very center of the Earth.  In Mignola’s new series, Frankenstein: Undone, Frankenstein’s creator lies dead in the Arctic, and his creature must search for a new purpose.  The creature moves north, out of the world of Shelley’s novel, and into the world of Mignola’s Hellboy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Plumes are cool.  I wear a plume now.

This week the Doctor and friends turn up at the very event that was the real-life origin point of Doctor Who, the series, and in fact all of science fiction: Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s summer at the retreat at Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816.  It was the historic “year without a summer,” believed the result of volcanic ash in the atmosphere.  More importantly for the future of science and technology and science fiction, it was the convergence of celebrity that resulted in Mary Shelley’s spark to write her novel Frankenstein, the first science fiction novel and–notable for fans of all things borg–the first borg novel.

Only this is Doctor Who, and so something is different, as one of the famed guests of the villa is missing.  In its 56 years some of Doctor Who’s greatest episodes have featured a re-look at historical places and events, and the fantastic new episode, “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” may top them all.  The events of 1816 are well documented and writer Maxine Alderton (The Worst Witch, Emmerdale) used them to create the perfect blending of Doctor Who and history.  Directed by Emma Sullivan, Alderton’s story is expertly designed to weave together even the obscure historical facts and figures with the fantastical, while foreshadowing the focus of the season’s remaining episodes (find a peek at that below).  Just as the story of the creation of the first science fiction story takes center stage (also one of the early Gothic horror tales), so does the world inside Shelley’s novel peer into the world of the Doctor.

Save the poet, save the universe.

In a word, “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” is perfection, as the seed of all science fiction meets its latest incarnation both from within the universe of Doctor Who and viewing Doctor Who from the outside as a work of science fiction itself–delivering a perfect threat to a single point in time that, if altered, changes everything thereafter and could obliterate the world as the Doctor–and the viewer–knows it.  Plus… a haunted house, ghosts, and a decision that could throw the future into chaos?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, chemist and author Kathryn Harkup, author of A is for Arsenic, reveals the results of a thorough investigation into the scientific knowledge available to young author Mary Shelley at the turn of the 19th century when Shelley wrote the first science fiction novel (and basis for the first horror movie), Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus The result is a detailed, marvelously interconnected picture of notable minds of the Enlightenment and their theories, a useful history of science and technology, and a worthy supplement to any reading or study of the classic story.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was greatly influenced by noted authors of her era, beginning with her parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft (through her writings), and her long-time companion and eventual husband, the noted author and political thinker Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Mary Shelley lived in a world of scientific improvements, while also at only the barest beginnings of modern chemistry, biology, and medicine.  Author Kathryn Harkup looked back to writings of the late 1700s and earlier, where religion, politics, and culture were undergoing a radical shift, with old concepts like alchemy winding down its influence on the thinking world.  As Harkup writes, “Dark, discredited, ineffectual alchemy was contrasted with enlightened, rational, powerful science.”  She follows Mary Shelley’s travels as documented in letters and diaries Shelley and her contemporaries wrote to locate hundreds of opportunities that could have influenced the author’s story as well as Victor Frankenstein the character inside the world where he would create life from the dead.  In doing so the reader will get a snapshot of the world in 1800-1818 and a class in a major chapter of the history of science and technology–what someone in Shelley’s circumstances as a woman among affluent families living among vocal sharers of ideas including the likes of Erasmus Darwin, Luigi Galvani, Benjamin Franklin, and Lord Byron.

Harkup takes her research a step further in Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, locating the possible influences of not only Shelley but those around Mary Shelley like her father, her husband, and Byron, whose access to cutting edge science and free thought reached across the ocean and nations.  She references the ongoing relationships and likelihood of the sharing of ideas among these men and Mary Shelley, all leading to the famous trip during the rainy summer of 1816, where the world was overtaken by darkness thanks to the earlier eruption of Mount Tambora in far off Indonesia.  Mary Shelley, age 18, with boyfriend Percy visiting Byron and Dr. John Polidori at Lake Geneva, Switzerland, were hunkered down reading ghost stories to each other from the French book Fantasmagoriana, when Byron suggested each should write his/her own ghost story (Polidori’s story would become The Vampyre, the first vampire novel).  Along with the science, Harkup provides a complete background of each step of Shelley’s life before and after completion of her Frankenstein contribution.

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