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Archive for December, 2009

Review of Avatar

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Review of the movie, Avatar (2009)

(no spoilers)

I was just blown away by the new movie Avatar, directed by James Cameron. I watched it on an IMAX screen in 3D, and am so glad I did. The movie will be spectacular on a regular movie screen, but in 3D it is just incredible. Reserve a seat and pay the extra money—and don’t bring a crying baby or little kid. Please, (exasperated sigh). Anyway, the movie was a feast for your eyes from start to finish. I’m going to see it again, and just pay extra attention to the stunning visuals.

The story itself is touching, but doesn’t break any new ground. However, it is one of those classic tales that works. It’s a science-fiction story with fantasy overtones. An outsider comes in and helps an indigenous people overcome an invasion. Regardless of the simple plot, James Cameron pulled it off. My hat is off to him. He knows what works story-wise, and as a published writer, I can see his skill on the screen, and in the dialogue. The movie got me many times, tugging at my heart and drawing me in. The message of environmental destruction is one we need to hear, and if you don’t like it, ask yourself why. Does the truth hurt?

Creating the world of Na’vi, and making it so believable is an achievement that will be remembered for decades. The world reminded me of my own creation, Ae’leron, which is where my Iron Dragon novels are set. The forest, the trees, the large moon in the sky was so Ae’leron—though my world is dark, whereas Avatar was bright. I also have the nasty flying creatures and ground creatures hunting people, except they are more traditional fantasy–griffins and wyverns. I do have six legged beasts, though, like the film. I just loved all the cliff and plateaus. I have such a fascination with cliffs and plateaus.

The emotion of the movie will also resonate and I found myself so completely drawn in that I forgot the time. At almost three hours long I was a little worried that my drink would outsize my bladder, but it didn’t bother me at all.

Do yourself a favor and be part of history. Go to the Imax or 3D theater near you and see a movie that will be good at home on your flat-screen someday, but it won’t be in 3D. This is a film that must be seen on the big screen.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Golden Cord
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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Review of the World Fantasy Award Nominated Anthology, Steampunk (Tachyon Publications, 2008) edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer

What is steampunk? Well, it’s a sub-genre of science-fiction and fantasy that is totally awesome. Imagine Victorian era elegance and modern technology with a dash of rebellion, mashed together into crazy tales about steam-driven robots, dirigibles, insane inventors, and lots of well-mannered chaps in waistcoats living in an alternate history Earth—or maybe not Earth . . .

Steampunk is also a modern fashion movement with tons of devotees who wear corsets, brass goggles, Victorian era-looking dresses, waistcoats, and lots of other elegantly fabulous items.

The movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is steampunk, and the Hellboy movies have a steampunk feel to them as well.

Honestly, I had little clue what steampunk was until very recently. I was asked to write a steampunk story for an upcoming DAW Books anthology called, Steampunked. My deadline is February 1, 2010. I’ve been doing research for a couple of months now, and am going to begin the story today—after I write this review.

The anthology edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer is a great place to begin reading about steampunk. The introduction and essay at the end give excellent information about the genre, and the stories are awesome. Here are some of my favorite stories in the anthology:

*****Preface: Steampunk: “It’s a Clockwork Universe, Victoria” by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. What a great intro to the genre and the book. The introduction that follows by Jess Nevins is excellent and will ground any reader in what steampunk is now, and what it was in the past.

*****Introduction: The 19th Century Roots of Steampunk by Jess Nevins. This is a non-fiction essay that goes over a ton of the seminal works and gives a history of the genre. Essential reading.

****Benediction: Excerpt from The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock. What a cool story from a grandmaster in the field. The story is short and impactful and describes how a war might unfold in an alternate history Earth. Very enjoyable and a perfect place to begin the anthology.

***Lord Kelvin’s Machine by James P. Blaylock. This story epitomizes the genre and the author tells a story about a mad inventor and men trying to stop him. I found the style distant, but it was very interesting to read and captured the Victorian era feel.

*****The Giving Mouth by Ian R. MacLeod. This author has won the World Fantasy Award and this is my favorite story in the anthology. The style and the utter coolness of the strange world is breathtaking. I had to read it in one sitting and you can see right from the start that this author is a master of this craft. In my opinion, The Giving Mouth is the most powerful narrative in the entire book.

Here’s the first few lines of The Giving Mouth:

I was a child before I was your king. And even though the redbrick tower where I lived with my parents had many windows that gazed over the Pits, I was raised in what you think of as poverty. Each morning I woke on my pallet of stale straw to the scream of the shift whistle and the clang of the pit wheels. The sound was as familiar to me as birdsong, but the shock of grey light and mineral stench always came like a physical blow.
Put simply, I was a dreamer.

I need to read more stories and novels by Ian R. Macleod.

*****The God-Clown is Near by Jay Lake. What a crazy and madly entertaining story. Jay Lake is one of the most prolific and interesting writers living today. This story was extremely disconcerting and I loved every word. This is one of his Dark Town stories and I’m excited to read more of them.

***Seventy-Two Letters by Ted Chiang. World Fantasy Award winning author Ted Chiang has done it all in the short story markets, and is a master of the craft. He is a fascinating writer and this story was shockingly deep, written about an obtuse subject that kept me guessing regarding what was going to happen at the end. It was amazing that my interest was kept up through most of the story. The idea of making inanimate objects live by putting special names on them is cool, but overall, this one was a bit too long for my tastes. The story is a literary achievement with a cool character in a situation I’ve never imagined before, but it suffered from being too long and a little too hard to understand.

*****The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: A Dime Novel by Joe R. Lansdale. What an awesome story! This is in my top two in the antho. This tale pays homage from the old dime novel steampunk canon and makes it something fresh and new. You won’t see what’s coming, trust me. The Dark Rider is not who you expect. Oh my god is all I can say. Read this one for sure and it is not for the faint of heart. Though I’ve never met him, Joe R. Lansdale is a sick and twisted bastard, which makes him an awesome writer.

****The Martian Agent, A Planetary Romance by Michael Chabon. Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon’s story is not to be missed. He had me right from the start and I thoroughly enjoyed this alternate history tale about rebellion in an America that has never quite shrugged off the British Empire. The story is about the sons of a rebel leader and that is all I should say on the subject. Read it for sure.

*****Victoria by Paul Di Filippo is in my top three of the anthology. I saved this one for last and it was worth it. The story is big and pulls you in right from the start. The characters are well done and I had no idea where it was all going. In my opinion, this story epitomizes “steam,” and especially “punk.” There is a rebellion here on the highest levels and this story takes you to places that are extremely uncomfortable. I don’t want to ruin anything, so no spoilers here.

*****Minutes of the Last Meeting by Stepan Chapman. An alternate history tale about Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. I loved this story. It sucked me in and the ideas are amazing. Nanotechnology, massive mechanized cavalry, steam driven computer minds, and much more make this one of the most imaginative stories in the antho.

There are several more stories in the book that I haven’t reviewed. Maybe you’ll find them to be even better than the ones I described? This is one of those anthologies that has taken some of the best and brightest writers in the field and packaged them up in a must read book. If you’re at all interested in steampunk, this is a wonderful place to start.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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December 11 Book Signings

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The kids at Bella Vista Elementary School rocking out! They are so cool.
(The links to all the pics are below)

Today was a good day. I visited Bella Vista Elementary and delivered some books to a few kids who ordered them after my last visit there. They asked me to come back and sign books, and since I love that school, I said “yes.”

Then I did a book signing at the Sugarhouse Barnes and Noble. We sold out of The Golden Cord, and sold all but two of The Dragon Hunters, plus about 16 copies of Terribly Twisted Tales. I’m tripling and donating all the royalties earned today to Dyslexia Tutoring of Utah, a non-profit group that helps kid learn to read. They are doing important work and it’s my honor to help support them.

After the signing at B&N, I had dinner with some friends and my wife, Tam at Noodles and Co. It was great to have dinner with Greg Michels, a former patient I took care of for about four months when he had a total artificial heart. He had it for 111 days and we become close friends. Now he has a heart transplant and is doing great. Richard and Sharon Dorrans were there as well. I work with Rich, he’s in clinical engineering at the hospital, and his wife is one crazy redhead who is a huge reader of fantasy and sci-fi. She’s a hoot to hang out with.

It was a fun day and here’s a few pics.

Follow this link to the photos. You can download high quality images here.
http://gallery.me.com/paulgenesse#100316&view=carouseljs&sel=0&bgcolor=dkgrey

Here’s a link to the Facebook gallery with captions.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=171206&id=583339135&l=3ae6a012ed

Happy holidays,

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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Book Signing to Benefit Dyslexic Kids

Book Signing to Benefit Dyslexic Kids

Hello Friends,

I hope you’re having a great holiday season. If you’re looking for a worthy cause to support please consider donating a few dollars to Dyslexia Tutoring of Utah, the only non-profit dyslexia tutoring group in Utah that helps kids and adults learn to read. One in five kids has the genetic disorder that is called dyslexia, and the disorder runs in families. (check my blogger blog for the hot links) http://www.paulgenesse.blogspot.com

I’m now an ambassador for dyslexia awareness and will be tripling and donating all the proceeds from my book signing today December 11, to Dyslexia Tutoring of Utah. I’ll be at the Sugarhouse Barnes and Noble from 3-6 PM signing copies of Terribly Twisted Tales ($7.99) featuring my story Revenge of the Little Match Girl, as well as both my novels, The Golden Cord and The Dragon Hunters. If you purchase books from my website in the next two days, I’ll also donate the proceeds.

In other news, the Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper ran a feature article about me yesterday (Dec 10). Here’s the link.

After the signing today, my wife Tam and I will be having dinner at Noodles and Co. next door to the Barnes and Noble. If you’re in the area we’d love to see you there.

Happy holidays!

Paul Genesse

Noodles & Co.
(801) 466-8880
1152 Eeast 2100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84106

Barnes and Noble
(801) 463-2610
McIntyre Center
1104 East 2100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84106

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Dinner at Noodles and Co.

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My wife Tam and I will be eating dinner at the Noodles and Co. in Sugarhouse this Friday, December 11 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.

I’d love to see you there. Or if you want to come earlier and say hello, I have a book signing at the Barnes and Noble next door from 3-6. I’ll be signing copies of Terribly Twisted Tales ($7.99) and copies of my novels.

All the proceeds from the signing will be tripled by me, and will go to Dyslexia Tutoring of Utah, a non-profit dyslexia tutoring group that helps people learn to read.

In other news, the Salt Lake City Tribune is running an article about me today (Dec 10). Here’s the link: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_13903994 or check out the print paper, which should have a photo.

Happy holidays!

Paul

Noodles & Co.
(801) 466-8880
1152 E 2100 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84106

Barnes and Noble
McIntyre Center
1104 East 2100 South,
Salt Lake City, UT 84106 – (801) 463-2610

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