Tag Archive: quirk books


“William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back” 18666146
by Ian Doescher
Read by Ian Doescher, Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Jeff Gurney, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson
Published by Random House Audio
Listening Length: 3 hours and 25 minutes

 
Holy cow, how much nerdy fun can be had by reading Shakespeare? Well thanks to an acting teacher back in college, I can have lots of fun reading Shakespeare. That teacher taught me how to appreciate the quirks written into the characters. So imagine the fun this sci-fi nerd had when I discovered that someone was doing a Shakespeare/Star Wars Mashup. I love sci-fi but I was never a huge Star Wars Fan (I was on the Star Trek side of that fence) but I couldn’t resist this mashup.

There are many aspects of this audiobook to love from the vocal performances to the sound effects, the audio version of this book really brought it to life. Back to that old college acting teacher, he once said that Shakespeare is meant to be performed not merely read, that is proven even more so in this audiobook. While the author captures all aspects of Shakespeares plays in his writing, with iambic pentameter, choruses, asides, soliloquies, and the language of the Bard, once you hear the performance there is no turning back.

I forced my brother, who has got to be the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet, to listen and from the first ten syllables he was hooked and laughing out loud. Knowing the film, The Empire Strikes Back, inside and he knew exactly what line was happening next and, along with me, loving revisiting the story while at the same time feeling smarter for enjoying the rhythm of the speech.

This audiobook perfectly retells the story of the film, but adds in some extras in the mashup that create a story that could have been easily performed on the Old Globe stage. One of the interesting aspects of the writing is the speech of Yoda. In the movies all fans know Yoda has a unique reverse speech pattern. Doescher works with this in giving Yoda a unique style different from any character in the book. At first I was thinking, wait, he’s not speaking the backwards Yoda speak, but it stood out and was different. After looking up more info on the book, I discovered that Yoda was speaking in Haiku. Every time Yoda spoke it was in the form of a Haiku poem.

Another great aspect was that of the voice actors. There are several which makes for unique characterizations for each character in the story. The best part is the voice of Han Solo sounds exactly like that of a young Harrison Ford, which makes the story that much more fun and appealing to all fans.

All in all I highly recommend this audiobook to all nerds everywhere. You will laugh out loud while at the same time learn some techniques of classic literature. I think this book would make for a great teaching device, for example teaching Shakespeare to a group of high school students burnt out on Romeo & Juliet.

Advertisements

“Bedbugs”
by Ben H. Winters
Published by Quirk Books (2011)
256 Pages

Being a fan of horror, it shouldn’t be surprising that every once in a while I find a book or movie that creeps me out. Stephen King did that a lot for me, after all who didn’t look closer at St. Bernards checking for rabies after reading “Cujo,” or getting worried about the superflu when  sneezed after reading “The Stand,” or even stepping on to the sidewalk whenever a ’57 Plymouth Fury would cruise by after reading “Christine?” Okay, maybe not so much on that last one, but I did look for a Fury to have as my first car back in the day, hoping mine would be possessed. Anyhow, Ben H. Winters has written a novel that has creeped me out just as bad if not worse, than anything Stephen King has done, so far. (Yes, Mr. King, you will now have to one-up Mr. Winters. I’m waiting.)

So how did Ben H. Winters creep me out? Well first of all creating a book about the parasitic pests, bedbugs, is a good start. All throughout the reading of this book I would find myself itching all over and check to make sure I had none of the vermin on or near me. To make matters worse, “Bedbugs” is not about a simple infestation, but rather an infestation in which only one person can see and is the victim of these attacks.

Susan and Alex are a couple in New York who are getting by in their small apartment with their daughter Emma, Susan decides the apartment is getting too small and talks Alex into helping her hunt for a bigger place. After numerous listings and showings Susan is beginning to think she won’t find anything until she runs across this:

FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment. When they go to see tha apartment they fall in love with the place, even if the landlady is a bit eccentric the rent seems low enough and there is even a bonus room in which Susan can set up as a studio and return to her love of painting.

Soon after an expensive move they begin life on Cranberry St. and the mysteries and horrors begin. First, Susan sets up her studio in the bonus room but due to the bad smell in the room cannot continue, when she brings it up with the landlady, Andrea, she tells her of how the previous tenants left in such a hurry that they forgot about their cat and the cat died in that locked room. After another cleanup and chemical assault from the handyman Louis, Susan begins to paint again. Susan finds a bloody photo of the previous owners and paints a portrait of the woman who used to live in the apartment.

When Susan wakes to find a spot of blood on her pillow she becomes concerned, and later when three bites that appear to be bedbug bites appear on her arm, it’s time to call in an exterminator. The exterminator finds no sign of the vermin and tells Susan she has no bedbugs, and that the bites may be spider-beetles. When the portrait of the previous tenant suddenly appears with bedbug bites on the face Susan realizes that these are not your normal bedbugs.

Susan loses sleep and begins sleeping on the couch completely sealed into pajamas, socks, gloves and hats to keep the critters from biting but when one crawls into her mouth she and her husband pay a trip to the doctor. The doctor tells her the bugs are in her head but Susan knows better, these are not your normal bedbugs, these not only feed off your blood but off your soul. And that’s when the story really gets creepy.

So check out this super creepy book and be prepared to scratch that itch that shouldn’t be there.

Sleep tight and don’t let the “Bedbugs” bite.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
by Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books (2011)
352 pages

Okay before we start on this book I have to share some info that took place in the reading of this book. While reading this fascinating young adult fiction, I opened up a store with a friend of mine. While opening the store I started reading this book in hardcover format, that’s important and will be explained later. The store we have opened is True Hideaway Family & Gaming ( http://www.truehideaway.com or find us on face book) The central focus of the store is for gamers especially those that play “Magic; the Trading Card Game,” we have friday night tournaments and are looking at maybe doing tournaments other nights since we’ve become popular.

We affectionately refer to our store as a “nerd store,” because it is home to all things nerdy. My part of the store is comic books and collectibles, the other aspect is we sell books (manga, reprinted pulp-fiction books, sci-fi / fantasy novels and graphic novels) as well as all the gaming materials. We even have regular “old-fashioned” board games and anyone can come in anytime and play a game. Role playing games seem to be highly popular and we have folks come in and play their campaigns. I am liquidating my old comic book collection of around 2,000 or so comics and when I sold an old “Kiss” comic from the mid-70s for $70, I decided to reward myself by finally buying a kindle.

With my rewarded kindle in hand, I loaded up some books that are on my to-read list and took off. The first book I loaded was this book, I was halfway through the hardcover, but I thought what better way to launch than to get this “peculiar” book rolling. I am now in love with my kindle, but every so often I know I’m going to go back to a regular tree killing book, but for now, I’m a kindler.

Okay let’s move on to this book, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” When I first picked up this book I wasn’t aware that it was a Young Adult fiction, I knew it was fiction, but the goal is for ages 13 and up. The and up is very true, this book is very well written, with a fascinating story and some great adventures thrown in that make this book perfect for all ages.

The book was originally intended to be a picture book with the photographs that were collected by various people from bins of lost photographs found at flea markets and such. But thanks to a genius editor at Quirk Books, Riggs wrote a story based on the photographs. The photos are all peculiar in and of themselves and putting them together to form a story the author shows not only genius himself but a storytelling ability that would put any comic book writer to shame.

The bulk of the pictures feature various weirdness of subjects; a man posing with a rock in the background looking as though he’s lifting the boulder, a young boy’s head on a dog’s body, a young girl looking as though she’s holding a flaming orb. Many of the pictures are a bit creepy and sometimes when the story behind them created by Riggs is told they can seem extremely normal or even creepier.

The story revolves around Jacob whose grandfather had escaped Nazi invasion by fleeing to a children’s home on an island off the coast of Wales. The children are all “peculiar,” at least according to the stories from Jacob’s grandfather. There is the invisible boy, a teacher that is a bird, a strong man, a girl that floats, one that controls the growth of plants. So at times this school seems to have come out of an issue of X-men comics. But the story goes even further when Jacob witnesses the death of his grandfather at the hands of a shadowy figure. Jacob tells his story and immediately branded as suffering a mental breakdown due to the loss of his grandfather. His grandfather’s last words were to follow the loop to September 30, 1940 and find the bird. Cryptic yes, but after exploring his grandfather’s possessions he finds that the school his grandfather survived the war in exists.

When Jacob and his father make a trip to Wales, the dark secret behind “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is revealed and soon Jacob must save the children and possibly the world.

Superb creativity that will capture the attention of anyone of all ages.

“Night of the Living Trekkies”
by Kevin D. Anderson and Sam Stall
Published by Quirkbooks(2010)
253 pages

Okay folks it’s time to put your “Geek” pants on and get ready to “Go where no man has gone before.” We are talking about combining the worlds of Star Trek with a Zombie Apocalypse, Okay actually just a bunch of fans of Star Trek and a Zombie Apocalypse at a Star Trek convention.  Being a huge fan of the Zombie horror genre and a sci-fi nut, this book just screamed at me.  I picked up the book and from page one I was hooked.  The Star Trek references were excellent and the authors even strategically through in some Star Wars references that make this survival from the flesh eaters fun and exciting.    On top of the intelligently placed references the authors even have thrown their own spin into the creation and world of zombies.  In this book there are 3 ways to kill them, but let me tell you the Klingon bat’leth is the coolest in this book.

Another aspect of this book is the mult-genre appeal, the authors have combined Sci-Fi, Zombies, Comedy and adventure to create a quest for survival novel.  This book takes the best of all these worlds and creates a mashup that seems like it wouldn’t work but does and with a lot of fun.  To quote one of the characters from this book, Jim Pike (former soldier fresh from Afghanistan), ”
Star Trek is all about applying the Federation’s high-minded ideals to difficult situations.  No matter how bad things get, you’re supposed to play by the don’t-shoot-first, don’t-mess-with-pre-warp cultures, don’t-alter-the-timeline rules. But in the zombie univers it’s all about jettisoning everything- morality, sentimentality, weaklings – that might keep you from seeing the next sunrise. Because no matter how impeccably you behave, you’ll never bring the other side around to your way of thinking.  They don’t think.  They just kill.”  But by using the rules of the Federation a rag-tag group of Trekkies in costume, a hotel security Guard, an exo-biologist, a videogame creator, and even a woman in a Princess Leia slave costume that spouts out Star Wars references, all battle zombies hoping to make it to the next day before Houston is nuked.

Jim Pike is a bellhop for the Botany Bay Hotel in Houston, the Botany Bay is the home of GulfCon, now in its 5th year, which is billed as the largest Starfleet convention in the Western Gulf Coast Region.  He used to be a big Star Trek fan but after two tours of duty in Afghanistan the what-is-it-all-about question has set in and Jim just wants to get by in life not responsible for anything.  Jim’s sister is a Trekkie and she’s bringing her new boyfriend, a videogame creator, to GulfCon to enjoy the festivities and see her brother.

Meanwhile an accident at a military underground bunker near Houston has released a strange virus that animates the dead.  Many people are calling in sick and the convention is just beginning to go full force with all sorts of activities.  Jim is now being forced to act as security for the Botany Bay and with his un-erring intuition Jim begins to suspect that the world is coming to an end.  When the nightfall comes the zombies begin taking on their prey with more fervor and Jim is forced to lockdown the hotel and gather the few survivors and fight to escape the brain-eating zombies.

With tons of sci-fi/Star Trek and comic book references this book is full of hilarious moments and with tons of zombies it is also full of some thrills that will keep you anxious to read the whole book in one night.  Some  of the fun in this book, if you are a fellow Trekkie are the names used and who they are used for, for example Jim Pike, the lead character, get’s his name from Captain Pike, the first captain of the Enterprise (in the original series) and Captain James T. Kirk. And yes there’s an awesome “Dammit Jim,..” quote or two.

“Sense and Sensibility and Sea-Monsters”
By Ben H. Winters & Jane Austen
Published 2010 by Quirk Books

Having read a few other “mashup” books; “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,” “Dawn of the Dreadfuls,” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,”  I thought I’d give this one a try.  I’m sorry to say I found this one hard to get through.   I’m not sure what it lacked, but at times when the sea-monsters sections were introduced they seemed forced.  I admit though it did have its funny moments but I would have done better to avoid this book.

The premise of the story is the Dashwood family from the Jane Austen novel continue on as Austen wrote them but with many dangers lurking in the waters of the world.  An event known as “The Alteration” has turned the creatures of the sea against mankind, this unexplained event spawns numerous “sea monsters,” including sea serpents, giant lobsters, and man-eating jellyfish.  Those are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, but you get the idea.

Basically, Henry Dashwood is out to find the cause of the “Alteration” and upon his return is attacked by hammerhead sharks.  Before he dies from the wounds inflicted Mr. Dashwood inscribes a message in the sand for his son to take care of his mother and sisters, since they will be females and have no legal recourse to the inheritance.  The Dashwood women are not taken care of due to the son’s wife’s greediness.

They move to Pestilent Island where the two older sisters are soon to find suitors.  One suitor, Colonel Brandon, is inflicted with a disease in which his face is sprouting tentacles.  Just picture Davy Jones from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.  Another suitor is Willoughby which is actually very close to the presentation in the original novel, but in this book he as a sidekick of an orangutan.  The people who were kind enough to let the Dashwoods stay in a shack on their island are the Middletons. Lady Middleton was captured in Africa and carried off against her will to become Sir John Middleton’s wife and she’s always trying to escape.

If you have read the original novel and you pick this up you can tell some of the events are forced however there are some funny moments that will cause you to chuckle.  I would say bypass this one and enjoy the other mashup novels with vampires and zombies.

%d bloggers like this: