A Cure For Wellness or a Gothic Wonderland? A Review

If you could bottle innocence…

There’s a benefit of watching a movie months after it comes out. You get to sit back and judge everybody who lunged to bin the film or to set it on a pedestal. It happened with all the great cult films, Psycho, Fight Club, The Shining, Alien, ridiculously often with films that dealt with dark themes and things that made people feel uncomfortable.

But watching a film on Netflix or with a stream is the equivalent of looking out through the lace curtains instead of staring inside trying to see the ghosts. If you know the ghosts are there, it’s a little easier to see how beautifully the wallpaper shows through their gloaming, and the way they warp reality, like looking up from deep water. And that’s what happened with A Cure For Wellness, which I caught in the deep of night and don’t regret a jot. That’s right. I drank deep of the poisoned aquifer and I freaking loved it.  Continue reading “A Cure For Wellness or a Gothic Wonderland? A Review”


Six Gun Tarot: A Review

Whenever white people write about Chinese characters, they almost always use the zodiac. *sigh*

Continuing with our library hauls, I’m reviewing Six Gun Tarot this week, our first introduction to R.S. Belcher’s fusion of steampunk, weird western, and Lovecraftian horror. This novel follows the denizens of a town on the edge of the 40-mile desert where the promise of a new life sits shoulder to shoulder with the risk of a cruel and unnatural death. Golgotha is filled with Mormons, Chinese, outlaws, ninja women, and creeping terrors at every turn. It’s fun, that’s for sure, and well written, but despite glowing admiration by the likes of geek royalty Felicia Day, I have a few problems with it I need to unearth. It’s dangerous to go alone, so here’s a revolver filled with silver bullets. Let’s take a long ride into the abyss, partner. Continue reading “Six Gun Tarot: A Review”

Independence Day Resurgence is Not So Secretly Chinese: A Review

Last Sunday Clau and I went to the library and discovered Roku, which is a loaner dongle that plugs into your HDMI port and lets you access the streaming movies that the library has signed up to lease for that month. I talk a big game about how infrastructure and public projects have lasting social benefits, so its nice to see this working for my own pocketbook so directly, if only as an example I can show people who don’t understand socialized government (I hate this term. It’s redundant, but will be relevant later in the post.)

The upshot of this is I get to review a whole bunch of movies for you guys! The downside though, is the relative ease of punching in a dud. So let’s get one of the duds out of the way first with Independence Day Resurgence, in case you were looking to Amazon Prime it or something.

More like repentance. I wish I never put it on my free streaming library service.

Continue reading “Independence Day Resurgence is Not So Secretly Chinese: A Review”

The Edinburgh Dead: A Review

Okay, I’ll be honest, I picked up this book and thought, SCOTTISH FECKIN ZOMBIES.

good strong jaw on that one

It’s not, okay? All right, all right, get your kilts proper straight now. Brian Ruckley’s The Edinburgh Dead is too well structured and artistically crafted for that sort of fun. Just look at that cover.

What Brian Ruckley has done is give me a great crib sheet for my raygun gothic novel. The gothic bit, anyway.  I’ve been wanting my book to sound like Joy Division meets early Daft Punk, but the daft part has just been wallowing in a bit of leftover Raymond Chandler. There was a darkness that was missing from my work, that same spirit that animated Shelley, Wilde, and Stevenson. Brian Ruckley has this in spades, and the book is properly period, with none of the modern allowances you expect from a book this recent. So thank you, Mr. Ruckley, for producing this wonderful onyx gem. Just look at the one-liners:

“The regret in [spoiler]’s voice was all but palpable, and Quire could hear in it a vast acreage of mourning. Mourning, perhaps, for a life gone wrong.”

OOooooo, sweet, sweet candy. Continue reading “The Edinburgh Dead: A Review”

Just Give Me This One

Trigger warning. This post is about the new healthcare bill that just passed the house. Frankly I don’t believe you should have the option to block information you don’t like to see just because you don’t like to see it. That’s the mark of profound stupidity. But I live up to my own standards, which include giving you a choice to move on and wait for the next blog, which I think will be about puppies or something. So you get the lazy man’s spoiler censor. Just highlight if you want to keep reading.

Continue reading “Just Give Me This One”

The Aeronaut’s Windlass: A Review

My To Be Read list is enormous, not helped by commuting four hours a day to a job that, in the words of my old superior there, “demanded loyalty from its employees but gave none in return.” No love lost there when I left a couple weeks ago. The last time I went looking for work (years ago) I had a lot of difficulty finding something where my skills were of use. Apparently I’m worth a lot more than I thought, because it took exactly one week of applying before I got an official offer of employment. My commute is reduced to 20 minutes, HR has a comprehensive on-boarding despite it being the director’s first week, and I have clear goals and job descriptions. I actually expect a useful answer when I ask a question! Anyway, I digress.

The upshot of which is I have a lot more time to be getting back to the aforementioned TBR list, coinciding with a useful trip to the library. It also means I no longer have an excuse not to be reading Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass.” This is a book that ignited the unknown writer’s fury in me in 2015, because it occupied the top slot of the bestseller’s list on Amazon’s #steampunk category…

…two months before it was out.

Look at that handsome mother

Butcher is an established author with plenty of sales numbers to back up that sort of marketing investment. But the fact that it had a gorgeous cover and immediate genre domination despite this being Butcher’s first foray into steampunk was galling. Steampunk is heavily reliant on aesthetic. If you try to read The Difference Engine on a first pass it sounds more like Blade Runner than Boneshaker. If you see a beautiful cover it usually means the lack of the sorts of historical references that Cherie Priest does so well; generally, authors fill in that knowledge gap with the kind of anachronisms usually more common to fantasy world-building. “It’s a different universe, none of the races are 100% human, it’s thousands of years in the future.” I know. I’ve used them before.

Continue reading “The Aeronaut’s Windlass: A Review”

12 Days of Christmas #13: A Steampunk Christmas


Is it odd for an atheist to celebrate the season? No. Of course not. The Winter Solstice is common to all of humanity, regardless of the table-flipping guy who got nailed to a cross. Jesus set an example for us that we should love each other, and I am perfectly happy to celebrate that message on the darkest day of the year.

Yes, I’ve got the story count wrong. But seeing as the number 13 is lucky to Chinese people, let’s hope it does some good for us this Christmas Eve. And, speaking of cultural cross-overs, here’s a piece for you straight out of my clicking, cog-timed heart. Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas #13: A Steampunk Christmas”