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December 2010

We've closed submissions for the 2010 Kitschies. 58 books from 23 publishers are all in contention on the final list. We're going to spend the next two weeks selecting five for the short list, as well as picking the winner of the Golden Tentacle (for an author's first novel). The criteria remains the same: we're looking to reward those books that elevate the tone of geek culture. (More on what that means here).


PK Draft: Adapt This

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Time for a new draft to help us kick off 2011.

Nothing quite excites our imagination like screen adaptations of our favorite books. From Solomon Kane to The Lord of the Rings, each movie creates a wild fever of speculation. Who will play Bilbo? Who gets to be Edward Stark? The guessing game is often more fun than the end product.

This week, we'd like you to dream big and tell us who you want to see playing your favorite character in the imaginary film adaptation of a genre book/series.

Our prize this time is a lovely new first edition of Adam Roberts' The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo. (A well-written pastiche that's not better than both its book and film counterparts.)

Remember, this is a draft. So once an actor/actress is named, they're off the table. And same with the character. So if I want to see Michael Keaton as Locke Lamora, no one else gets to use Mr Keaton or Locke Lamora.

Rules, as usual, below the jump.

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He Said/She Said: The Cartoon Shows of our Misspent Youfs

He Says: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: It was years before I actually found the original comic books, and I was horrified to discover how completely different they were from my accustomed afterschool viewing. TMNT wasn't just "must-see" viewing, it was "stand outside school, anxiously await one's parent, whine at them to drive quickly all the way home" viewing. My favorite turtle was Raphael, as the nominal outsider (he also had the cute iguana-mutant girlfriend in the cruise episode), but I'd concede that Donatello had his virtues. Leonardo was universally despised. The early episodes were pretty good, but the later seasons, when the TMNT universe had expanded to include Krang, Dimension X and a score of zoological monstrosities - those were brilliant.

 

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Graphic Novel Round-up: Cards, Codes & Cads

Wild CardsTwo older series and one treat that's just been released. No graphic novels, but everything's prestige format, so we'll count them anyway

Wild Cards (Various): In 1990, Epic Comics put out a four issue mini-series based on the George RR Martin-edited Wild Cards series. Wild Cards is a shared world setting of alternate history superheroes (based, I think, on an improvised RPG session between some of the key writers).

The comic book series was meant to capture the same spirit: many of the books' writers combined with a variety of artists to create a mosaic miniseries. There's a weak, overarching meta-plot, but mostly this is a ragtag rehash of the books' major storylines. If you're familiar with the series, the comic book is cute little collector's item - if exceedingly crunched and (almost universally) abhorrently drawn. If you're not familiar with the books, this is badly drawn gibberish. (4/10)

[GRRM collectors will be interested to note that the Great Bearded One did write one of the stories in volume 3 -  one of his earlier comic book appearances.] 

After the jump - Code of Honor and Warren Ellis' Shoot.

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Collectible Titles: 2010 in Hype

A quick look at how the most hyped titles of 2010 are doing - from a collector's point of view. 

It is worth noting that "hype" is a slightly perjorative term. That's not intentional, in fact, from the marketing point of view, it is something to be congratulated: these are the books that cut through the noise to make enormous splashes. The question is, as the year winds up, did those splashes turn into anything more?

Also worth noting that any judgement I make on a book's collectibility is no reflection of that book's literary or artistic merit. This is purely about market factors. Also, this is all for fun, please don't invest your pension on the back of my advice. 

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Underground Reading: The Lonely Silver Rain by John D MacDonald

The Lonely Silver RainIt has been a long ride, but, in 1985, the adventures of Travis McGee came to a close in The Lonely Silver Rain.

Like The Green Ripper, this is one of the few McGee novels that I had only read once - and my memories of it were less than glowing. It has been years, but all I could remember about Silver was the overwhelming sense of anxiety and, of course, the surprising reveal at the end. (Which, I'm sorry to say, will be inevitably spoiled during the course of the review.).

Also like The Green Ripper, I was failing to account for The Lonely Silver Rain being part of the series and only appraising it as a stand-alone mystery. If Green is the high-intensity, action-packed turning point in the series, Silver is the concluding challenge. 

The Green Ripper is the bit in "Con Air" where Nicholas Cage works his way through the plane, dramatic Ranger music playing, angry cons falling left and right as he finally unleashes his inner whoopass and saves the day. The Lonely Silver Rain is the final car chase in the same movie - speeding after John Malkovich on his stolen fire truck. After a plane crash, this may seem completely unnecessary, but as a character, Nick Cage needed the personal resolution of taking out the bad man and honourably reclaiming his place in society.

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New Releases: The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief UL The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi is one of this year's most celebrated debuts - a complex science fiction mystery set on a far-future Mars. Part crime, part espionage, part action thriller and all jam-packed with imaginative technology, The Quantum Thief is a daring and intricately-constructed adventure.

The plot follows, mostly, the thief Jean le Flambeur. Jean is freed from his infinite, game-theory -riddled space prison by Mieli a winged-cyber-ninja. Mieli is on a mission and needs Jean's help. Unfortunately, Jean is only a mere shadow of his former self. Before he can help out Mieli and steal something, he needs to sort himself out. His foxy robo-angel reluctantly in tow, Jean heads to Mars to find fragments of his own memory.

Meanwhile, Mars is a proper SF wonderland, with more shiny baubles than a Christmas tree. Martians (such as they are, being human) live on time - bought, borrowed or earned. When they're out of time, they go Quiet, and are put to work terraforming or doing some other form of manual labour in a temporary monstrous form. The entire Martian society is based on a system of gevulot - shared memories. You don't tell people things as much as politely agree to mutually recall a something they hadn't experienced yet. There's no history, just "exo-memory" that exists outside of individual perspective and recall.

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