Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Across the Void - Very Mild Spoilers Review


Billed as "A visceral space thriller - perfect for fans of The Arrival and The Martian -following the sole survivor of a catastrophic accident in space that leaves her drifting in the void with only the voice of her estranged husband, a NASA scientist, to guide her back to Earth," Across the Void is written by S.K. Vaughn, which is a pseudonym for a Hollywood writer and director, with credits at Universal, Paramount, Sony, Fox, and Lionsgate. The man's clearly gotten around.

Now that I've told you what the press release says, I'll give you my version. The story is about Maryam "May" Knox, the brilliant commander of an exceptionally important space mission. She wakes up from a medically induced coma alone and with no recollection as to how she got there or what happened prior to the coma. Her only companion is the ship's AI, affectionately named Eve. Her ship is failing, resources are scarce, and she's still recovering from her coma. The bright side is she's able to communicate with NASA and her husband, Stephen (she has no memory of them being estranged). But there's much more to this story than meets the eye.

That alone would have gotten me interested in the book, but what really hooked me was how the book read. The chapters are small, similar to how James Patterson writes his books. The story jumps between the past, the present, May's point of view, and Stephen's point of view. They're all necessary to tell the story Vaughn is telling. With the exception of a few times towards the end, I was never confused between the past and the present. The book reads like a script. There are moments and chapters where visuals are so clearly defined. I can easily see where Vaughn's storytelling experience comes in.

The story itself is fairly solid. At no point was I bored with it. I was invested, and I cared what happened. However, there were some predictable moments, which were easy to suss out. One big plot twist I saw coming, and my reaction was, "Is this about to happen?" and on the next page, it did. Another add-on to that big twist, I thought, "Are the story really going to do this? I hope not," but it did a few chapters later. And then there was another moment towards the end, where someone behaved in a way I had hoped they wouldn't, but they did. A bigger plot twist would've been if the person didn't do the thing they did. Oh well. Vaughn is good at describing the more scientific and technical aspects of the story in a way that's easy to digest and understand, and he's good at putting you with the characters, and since much of the story is in space, you feel like you're there too.

There are some parts of the story that feel underdeveloped. And again, I think some of this might be attributed to Vaughn's other career. Certain relationships are clearly more contentious or complex, and the reader is able to discern it, but whereas if this were on screen, we'd be able to get more of the subtext and more subtleties of the relationships, but as this is in writing, some of it is lost, so certain developments don't feel as impactful as they could. This is especially noticeable in the end with one particular character.

Speaking of characters, I liked our protagonists. May is a smart, strong, determined, pig-headed, vulnerable character. You want her to win and survive. Stephen is very different than her, and sometimes she overpowers him with her big personality, but they clearly have a lot of love for each other. Even when we learn what led to their estrangement, you still want them to work things out, whether they reunite or are able to be friends, you just want them to stay a part of each other's lives. 

The antagonists are a little weaker. I don't think the reader gets enough time with them to truly connect with them in any meaningful way. This is especially obvious in the end. The story gets a little rushed, so the necessary character development needed to justify this person's actions never really hit for me. 

This goes back to my point about this reading like a movie script. A lot of today's action movies favor the action over the character development. That can work when you have stunning visuals, but when it's in written form, it's harder to cover up. And I prefer strong character development over crazy action any day. In book form, you can have both and should.

If you like space or thrillers or both, you'll like this. Faults and all, this story had me hooked, so grab some popcorn, a drink, and get cozy. Once you start reading, you won't want to stop. 

Across the Void goes on sale today. It's available in hardcover, eBook, and audio formats. 

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

McFarlene is coming out with new Harry Potter figures!

McFarlene Toys blew us away during Toy Fair with their new figures for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! So, we weren't allowed to take any pics except for the covered up case that held the display. However, I did get permission to share details about Wave 1!

Here's the lineup for Wave 1:

Friday, February 1, 2019

A RENThead's Review of RENT Live or a RENTview, If You Will


Let's give a warm welcome to our newest guest contributor, Joseph Sheets! As a huge RENThead, it only makes sense his first post for us would be a review of Fox's RENT Live. 

“Tonight’s show is in mortal danger due to technical difficulties” is one of several new and updated lines which took place during Fox’s RENT Live production. Spoken by Mark Cohen, narrator of the show, the line is a grim foreshadowing about the problems that would plague the production. One of the leads had broken his foot during the final dress rehearsal, leading to Fox airing pre-recorded footage. Some people had trouble connecting to the live-stream, or had blackouts, missing the opening numbers. While unfortunate, the show did its best to recover. And though it’s more “pre-recorded” than live, it doesn’t lose any of its charm and is an absolute delight.

RENT tells the story of seven artists struggling in the Lower East Side in the early 90s. An updated version of Puccini’s La Boheme, the show is famous for its representation of LGBTQ+ characters, rock opera score, and how it handles the topics of homelessness and AIDS victims. The fact a show renowned for its grit and edginess somehow managed to air on Fox is amazing. The fact the majority of the book remained largely unchanged is nothing short of a miracle. I’ve seen a lot of hate for this production, and a lot of it seems unwarranted. Let’s break it down:

Friday, January 18, 2019

DC Comics Goes Primal!!!

Do you love DC Comics?  Do you love Funko?  Do you wish I would stop asking you questions?  Well, you are in luck on the first two!  DC Comics announced that they are releasing a 100-Page One-Shot Inspired by Funko toys!  That's right, you are getting a comic books based on toys that are based on comic book characters.  

Before you plan out your pull list, keep in mind that this is a Target Exclusive, so you will need to make two stops this week!  And when it includes the tagline of "the Joker on a Giant Lizard" and a lineup including Marv Wolfman, Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway, how can you pass this up?!

Check out the press release, with all the juicy, giant lizard details, right after the break.

Friday, January 4, 2019

1000toys 1/12-Scale Test Body Action Figures Drop Online Jan 15th


If you're not familiar with Tenacious Toys, now is a great time to get acquainted. They're a "NYC-based online designer toy shop specializing in vinyl art toys, imported action figures, handmade resin collectibles and one-off custom toys," and their stuff is fantastic. Tenacious Toys has some of the most unique items I've ever come across. 1000toys 1/12-Scale Test Body action figures are a perfect example, and you can get a piece of the action on January 15th. 
Per the Press Release:
"Tenacious Toys has announced a long-awaited online drop of the fantastic and highly coveted 1/12-scale Test Body action figures by 1000toys & Sen-ti-nel Co Ltd.Rarely available at conventions and almost never available for purchase online, this super detailed, highly articulated 6-inch action figure is sought after by collectors worldwide.Tenacious Toys will have just under 100 units to sell at USD$80 each, with a strict limit of one per customer.Test Body figures will be available at 9AM sharp (EST) on January 15th on the 1000toys page at TenaciousToys.com"


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LEGO Movie 2 First Look at the newest Construction Set

Remember The LEGO Movie?  Everything is awesome and Will Ferrell is evil?  Yup, I do too.  In fact, I loved it so much that I still have the lego Shakespeare from that blind bag set on my fridge.  Well,  The LEGO Movie 2 is coming!  The awesome people at LEGO Group revealed a new set inspired by The LEGO Movie 2, called Welcome to Apocalypseburg. Check it out after the break.