Gaming with Kids: Part Two – Recommendations!

Gaming with Kids: Part Two – Recommendations!

19 Aug, 2015

Second part of a two-part guide to getting your kids (and other newcomers of all ages) into board games.

Gaming with Kids: Part One – Getting them Involved!

Gaming with Kids: Part One – Getting them Involved!

12 Aug, 2015

First part of a two-part guide to getting your kids (and other newcomers of all ages) into board games.

Book Review: Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies

Book Review: Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies

10 Jul, 2015

How do you tell a new story about Zombies? We are – appropriately enough – overrun with them, it seems, with even uninfected stories manifesting the undead whether we want them to or not. They’re on the TV, in our books, games, and comics, and along with the hunting for fresh brains, they’re also hunting for fresh ideas. Unlike brains, those ideas seem hard to come by, as the current pop-culture infection has been around for a while and seems pretty resilient, so it is a brave survivor that claims to find something new in amongst the carnage. However a new anthology from KnightWatch Press, Sunny, With a Chance of Zombies, aims to do just that. The forward, written by editor Dion Winton-Polak (full disclosure: Dion is a contributor to the Geek Syndicate Site and has been a guest on my Dissecting Worlds podcast) emphasises the problem with more zombie content. It’s so prevalent that many small press horror anthologies specifically ask for people to avoid the scourge of the walking dead. So the thesis of Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies quickly becomes one of being different, and given the title, perhaps a little bit more upbeat than the nihilism that so pervades the genre. I’m not going to have the space here to go through story by story, but yes, on the whole I think it manages it. It took me a couple of stories to see it, but it soon becomes apparent that the strongest stories in the volume are the  ones that deal with “life, with zombies”, rather than the usual tales of brutal, arbitrary death and fleeing survivors. These are characters with livelihoods and lifestyles in a world full of the undead, but a world that has made an accommodation with the undead, and a new sense of normal. So you have Zombie races, for example, or people running a diner in a survivors enclave. Many of the other stories have a twisted domesticity to them, and in many cases even the darker stories are shot through with a dark, wry sense of humour. Like any other anthology I think there are weaker, and stronger stories, and the theme...

Am I a Bad Geek?

Am I a Bad Geek?

25 Jun, 2015

What is it like being a geek when the world at large has joined the party? Do we welcome them with open arms or lock the gate behind us?

FILM REVIEW: Jupiter Ascending

FILM REVIEW: Jupiter Ascending

23 Jun, 2015

Since dazzling the world with The Matrix, Lana and Andy Wachowski have had a mixed career, full of inventive, bold projects that haven’t quite managed to re-capture the critical and commercial success of that project. With that said, all of their films have been interesting, colourful, and ambitious, and I’ve personally never regretted the time spent with any of them. Their latest movie, Jupiter Ascending is just hitting home streaming and is due out on physical media shortly, and it’s with some anticipation that I found myself fortunate to review it. But first, the official description. “Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike,” “Foxcatcher”) and Mila Kunis (“Oz the Great and Powerful”) lead an all star cast that includes Sean Bean (“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy), Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Douglas Booth (“Noah”), Tuppence Middleton (“The Imitation Game”), Doona Bae (“Cloud Atlas”), James D’Arcy (“Hitchcock”) and Tim Pigott-Smith (“Alice in Wonderland”). From the streets of Chicago to the far flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” takes you on dramatic journey across the stars. The story follows cleaner Jupiter Jones (Kunis) as she discovers her true destiny as an heiress of intergalactic nobility. With her fate realised Jupiter soon finds herself thrust into a sibling war, where she must learn to fight to protect the inhabitants of her beloved Earth from an ancient and destructive industry. Written and directed by the talented Wachowski duo. Award-winning producer Grant Hill, with whom they have collaborated since “The Matrix” Trilogy, produced the film, together with Lana and Andy Wachowski.” So that all sounds reasonably straightforward, at least by the standards of big space-opera plots. A central “ordinary” character catapulted into an extraordinary adventure, tinged with the fairy story “secretly a princess” trope. It certainlydoesn’t capture how utterly bonkers JupiterAscending actually is. It starts with one of those voice-overs that are apparently obligatory for films with sprawling new universes, although it’s really just the back story for Jupiter, a story of the tragedy of her father’s death, and how her family came to America. Like a lot of the movie, it’s never really relevant again. Jupiter, you see, it’s so much an “heiress” so much as...