Monday, February 12, 2018

G3 Concert Review, Cloverfield Paradox Review, and Science Fiction Movie News

G3 Concert

The G3 project was started by Joe Satriani to bring two other extraordinary guitarists together to play mostly instrumental guitar music on a fun tour. Each iteration of G3 is a different lineup. This year, Dream Theater’s John Petrucci and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen accompanied Joe. As a guitarist, this is a dream tour, especially with two of my favorite guitarists performing.

Phil opened the concert with his new blues band, Sugar Shack. Which surprised me – I didn’t know he had a bluesy streak. Don’t think he forgot the rock, though. This was one rocking blues set! I’ve always thought he was an accomplished guitarist, but not only is he versatile, the man’s got some scary fast fingers. Phil ripped through songs and solos with ease while backed up by the only singer of the evening.

Then came John… I’m a huge fan and possibly biased, but he’s one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Backed by fellow Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini and a bassist, he proceeded to bring the house down with a blistering set of guitar virtuosity. The crowd went berserk! In his own words, he was there to bring the metal. It was mind blowing. He literally humbled an entire room filled with mostly amateur guitarists. If the show had ended with an alien ship taking John back to his home planet, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Then came Joe… Oozing with coolness and the confidence of a man who has mastered his instrument. Joe is just so much fun to watch. Not only is he an amazing musician but a great front man – he knows how to entertain the crowd. His set contained a lot of songs from his new album which was fine by me as the latest album is incredible. His playing is so effortless. He pulls off runs and fingering that most guitarists would find impossible, but it’s just so easy for him. His guitar is literally a voice that sings every song.

And then came all three… with no disrespect to Phil, watching John and Joe trade licks was phenomenal. They ripped through Highway Star by Deep Purple and Superstition by Stevie Wonder with plenty of time in the middle for riffing and soloing. Judging from the grins of all three men, they were having the time of their life playing together.

I knew I’d enjoy this show but not that I’d love it as much as I did. Truly a guitarists’ dream come true and a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Cloverfield Paradox Review

Due to an energy crisis on Earth, the Cloverfield Station is testing a particle accelerator in space when things go wrong and it opens a portal to another dimension.
Like the last Cloverfield movie, the monsters take a back seat to the people. Most of the story focuses on the crew and their attempt to sort out the strange happenings and get back to their own Earth. It also jumps to the husband of one of the crew members and his attempt to survive whatever is now happening on the ground.
The story is intense. While the film Life was predictable and often just dumb, this one plays it smart and keeps you guessing. The acting is also top-notch.
The special effects are incredible – NetFlix spared no expense. It’s a big-budget movie release and I would’ve paid money to see it in the theater.
Some critics think it’s a weak entry that doesn’t explain anything. I thought it fit nicely with the others (and they are all very different from one another) and added more clues as to where the monsters came from.
My personal theory – all three movies represent different dimensions. The station’s test tore a hole in the fabric of space and time, a dimensional riff possibly even on a quantum mechanics level. All of the films show a different dimension disrupted by monsters and a general breakdown in reality. (That’s my belief until the next movie proves me wrong!)
Streaming on NetFlix, I highly recommend it.

Science Fiction Movie/Show News

JoBlo featured the Justice League Deleted Scene - Superman Black Suit. (You only need to watch the first minute here or on YouTube. ) Justice League hits Digital HD February 13 and Blue-ray March 13.

Recently announced - Stranger Things season three will have eight episodes. They are also giving Will a break. According to SyFyWire:
The other thing fans can look forward to is the show being set a year later. With the time it takes to film a season, and the rate at which kids age, creator Matt Duffer explained the time jump. "It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing," he told The Hollywood Reporter last year. "It's cool, though. The audience is going to be able to watch these kids come of age every year. The closest example is Harry Potter. Watching those kids and actors grow up in front of the camera was, to me, very powerful."

Second Deadpool trailer (which is very funny!):

Fun bit of trivia from SyFyWire – if you play the first and third Cloverfield movies in sync side-by-side, something wild happens:
In the original Cloverfield, the monster-earthquake that signals the start of all the alien creature chaos occurs at exactly the same moment as Paradox’s system-overloading particle accelerator comes to life, tearing open a dimensional rift that sends the crew of astronauts to an alternate dimension.
It’s a jolting moment with character reactions that precisely line up in each film, and it’s easy to believe that it’s something Paradox’s creators meant to do. But, producer J.J. Abrams confessed to fans in a recent Facebook Live Q&A that — while really cool — the whole thing is nothing more than a “bizarre coincidence.”

Plus don’t forget – Black Panther comes out February 16!

Fan of Joe, John, Phil, or their bands? Have you watched The Cloverfield Paradox? Enjoy the trailers? And did you enjoy all of the IWSG posts about favorite genres?

Since Monday, February 19 is a holiday, I’ll be offline and not posting. (Check my Twitter for my thoughts on Black Panther or wait until February 26 for a review here.) Enjoy President’s Day weekend and the Winter Olympic games!

And I’m visiting Untethered Realms on Tuesday and discussing the realities of space travel!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Insecure Writer’s Support Group #IWSG, Altered Carbon Review, Ant-Man and the Wasp Movie Trailer, and Ninja News

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

My awesome co-hosts today are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

Today’s question - What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

I write science fiction and I’ve always been drawn to it and fantasy. They both provide a world beyond our own, a place where our imaginations can run wild. The gadgets, new worlds, new creatures – it’s all fascinating and a great way to escape.

But science fiction does more than provide a diversion. It often takes real world issues and places them in a setting where we can better understand and deal with them. We’ll learn as much about our own world and ourselves as we will about the made-up world.

Besides, science fiction has blasters! What I wouldn’t give to have blasters on my car. Or at least some photon torpedoes…

Are you following the IWSG Instagram?
This is the prompt for February:

Altered Carbon Review

In the future, consciousness is stored and can be downloaded into a new body. Kovacs is a former soldier and a prisoner who is brought back in a new sleeve to sold a murder and win his freedom. Available on NetFlix.
This film has a strong noir mystery vibe even though the story is set in the future. (A little like Blade Runner, but it has its own story and tone.) It’s stylish and intriguing. New secrets and elements appear as the series progresses, deepening the mystery.
Really impressive are the special effects. They are movie-quality good. The creators spent some money. The acting is also quite solid.
Altered Carbon has borrowed heavily from Game of Thrones in the violence and sex department, no doubt going for the same audience. (And it’s similar in tone, but not in plot.) Keep that in mind – not for kids or sensitive souls.
You won’t love it the way you love Stranger Things (it’s not that kind of show) but I do recommend it.

Ninja News

CassaStar is just .99 through February 10!
You can download it here: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon UK

Appreciate any help spreading the word. If you’re on Twitter, you can share my pinned Tweet or send out your own –
Amazon Best-Seller CassaStar by @alexjcavanaugh on sale for .99 cents! iTunes Amazon Barnes and Noble #99cents #scifi

WEP Challenge for February:
SUBMIT your name to the Inlinkz list NOW if you wish to participate
CREATE your entry according to the theme - February In Too Deep.
EDIT your entry until it sparkles
POST your entry on your blog/facebook on the dates shown - remember to state
feedback preferences (full critique to general comments).
READ other entries, giving feedback as requested. This is key to the WEP's success.
Open to all genres. Maximum approx. 1,000 words.

Andrea Franco-Cook’s novel, Pawn of the Gods, is up for nomination on Kindle Scout.
The books with the most votes will be selected for publication.
You can vote for Adrean’s book HERE.

New releases:

Bitten by Love Series, books 1-3 by Stacy McKitrick
This box set includes the first three books in the Bitten by Love series: My Sunny Vampire; Bite Me, I’m Yours; and Blind Temptation.
Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J. Q. Rose
Rescuing a naked woman lying in a geranium bed? Investigating mysterious murders? These are not the usual calls in a Florida retirement community for volunteer first responder Jim Hart.
Find it at Amazon and other retailers.

Ant-Man and the Wasp Movie Trailer

In case you missed it last week – the ending is hilarious!

What’s your favorite thing about your genre? Have you been watching Altered Carbon? Picked up CassaStar? Participating in WEP this month? And are you eager to see Ant-Man and the Wasp now?

Monday, January 29, 2018

CassaStar on Sale, RiffTrax, Reviews, Oscar Nominations, February Movie Preview, and Music Review

CassaStar on Sale!

For the next two weeks, my publisher is running promotions for CassaStar and has dropped the price to .99.

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can download it here: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon UK

Appreciate any help spreading the word. If you’re on Twitter, you can share my pinned Tweet or send out your own –
Amazon Best-Seller CassaStar by @alexjcavanaugh on sale for .99 cents! iTunes Amazon Barnes and Noble #99cents #scifi

And if you’ve never seen the book trailer:

RiffTrax Reviews

Just a couple of the recent gems I watched.

The Little Unicorn
The stars of this 2002 film were obviously slumming a paycheck – David Warner, George Hamilton, Christopher Atkins (wow, remember him?) – and they all act disinterested.
However, that made for great riffing material and it’s extremely funny! Bill delivers some of my most favorite lines ever.
By the end, you’ll believe a unicorn can fly…
Wait, unicorns can fly?

Yes, I am recommending one without Mike, Bill, and Kevin. Riffed by Janet Varney and Cole Stratton, it’s top level riffing that I’m sure made the three guys proud.
Most of you probably remember this 1984 film, and no, it hasn’t aged well.
But, it’s hilarious from start to finish!

Music Review

Audrey Horne - Blackout
I read a review about it and decided to give the album a shot.
This Norway band is an homage to all early 80’s metal.
The album blends parts from Iron Maiden, early Def Leppard, Krokus, and about a thousand other bands. Somehow they manage to make music that sounds like the 80’s and yet also sounds current and fresh. Yes, it’s a unique combination – it takes you back while sounding brand new.
What I like most is it’s just a really fun rock album.
So if you’re jonesing for that 80’s sound but want something new, this is the album to buy!

Oscar Nominations

By now everyone has seen the Oscar nominations. (And if you haven’t, they are listed here.)

No big surprises, although once again Andy Serkis was overlooked for his role as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes.

My predictions are often wrong (in part because I’m lousy at it and part that the Academy often makes really stupid selections) but I will mention a couple wins I’d like to see happen.

Best Picture – either Dunkirk or Shape of Water would be great. (And either director to win Best Director.)

Best Animated Film – Boss Baby? Really? How did that even get nominated? Winner should be Coco, hands down.

Cinematography – toss-up between Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk.

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing – all five films are worthy. Like to see Baby Drive score one of those, or Film Editing. The car chases were that good and convincing.

Makeup and Hair – if The Darkest Hour doesn’t win, I’ll be stunned.

Visual Effects – got to give it to Blade Runner 2049. It was so real and immersive.

And there you have it! Now, don’t take those predictions to Vegas…

February Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for February! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

2 –

Eccentric firearm heiress believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.
Directors: Michael Spierig | Peter Spierig
Stars: Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Jason Clarke, Angus Sampson
Is it a compelling horror film or is Hellen Mirren just slumming a paycheck?

9 -

The 15:17 to Paris
Three U.S. Airmen discover a terrorist plot aboard a train while in France.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Thomas Lennon, Lillian Solange Beaudoin
It’s great the film highlights real-life heroes, but there must be a lot of exposition to turn a one minute event into a movie over an hour and a half.

16 –

The Black Panther
T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira
It will be awesome! Half a billion dollars’ worth of commercials and advertising says so…

Early Man
Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.
Director: Nick Park
Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall
The adventures of Wallace and Gromit’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great (times a hundred) grandfathers!

23 –

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply.
Director: Alex Garland
Stars: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Tried to read the book, but it was just super weird. Hopefully the movie tones down the weirdness.

Want to pick up CassaStar real cheap? Been watching any of the RiffTrax I’ve recommended? Every heard of Audrey Horne? What’s your Oscar predictions? And what movies will you be seeing in February?

See you Wednesday, February 7 for IWSG post day! Enjoy the Super Bowl and another year of dumb commercials.

Monday, January 22, 2018

X-Files and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, #IWSGPit, Upcoming 2018 Films, Joe Satriani’s Latest, and Ninja News

X-Files and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Reviews

The new season kicked off with a big What The…???? The last season ended with Mulder dying and Scully on a bridge looking up at an alien ship and the new season opens up with (spoiler!!!!) it was all just a dream?
The first episode was a misfire all the way around. Plus the urgency of that episode is forgotten in the following episodes.
My wife and I decided to pretend that first one never happened.
The next two episodes were excellent. They’ve been very much in the style of X-Files and stand-alone episodes. There was great humor, creepy situations, and good chemistry between the two leads.
If the rest of the season is like the second and third episodes, it will be great.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
On Amazon Prime, this is an anthology series loosely based on the work of Philip K. Dick.
It’s somewhat like the series Black Mirror but not as extreme. It’s still not a show for kids though. (The third episode had a sex scene.)
Each story stands alone. So far it’s provided consistently good acting (with some big name actors), directing, and story lines. Some episodes will really make you think.
If you enjoy science fiction anthologies, I recommend Electric Dreams.

Music Review

Joe Satriani – What Happens Next
This is the best collection of songs from Joe since the album Crystal Planet. It’s good, fun rock ’n’ roll music all the way through the album.
Satriani’s a master and one of the best guitarists in the world. This album proudly displays the incredible talent of the Satch Man.
If you are a fan of guitar music (it’s all instrumentals) then this is a must-have.
He’s also on tour – G3 features Satriani along with John Petrucci of Dream Theater and Phil Collen of Def Leppard. A guitar enthusiast’s dream tour!

Thanks to everyone who made it such a huge success – the participating writers, agents, and publishers, and the awesome IWSG Admin team who monitored the feed all day.

#IWSGPit was a trending topic on and off all day long and there were over 5100 Tweets! Double what we had last time.

The next one will be this July. Keep spreading the word to other writers and groups.

And let us know of your success stories! My publisher signed Sherry Ellis from a Twitter pitch from last year’s #IWSGPit – the next one could be you.

Ninja News

Toi Thomas recently posted her video of the best books of 2017 on YouTube.

I’m honored to say – Dragon of the Stars was her favorite read of the year!

The video begins right as Toi is going into her favorite book of the year, so you don’t have to fast forward or anything:

Thanks, Toi – you rock!

New release:
Don't Feed the Elephant! by Sherry Ellis
Picture book
People say you're not supposed to play with your food. But the adventurous little elephant in Don't Feed the Elephant never got the message!
Find it on Amazon

Upcoming 2018 Big Budget Films

Since January is such a void of movies, I thought I’d taunt you with a list of the upcoming big-budget/spectacle type films for 2018.

Black Panther - February 16 (Marvel will hit it out of the park again.)

Early Man – February 16 (The next film from the makers of Wallace and Gromit.)

Tomb Raider - March 16 (Could be a fun reboot.)

Pacific Rim: Uprising - March 23 (Again, what guy doesn’t like giant robots fighting giant monsters? Although it is a different director…)

Ready Player One - March 30 (Never read the book, but this will either be a hit or a misfire.)

Untitled Cloverfield Sequel - April 20 (Liked the first two although a little leery they haven’t named it.)

The Avengers: Infinity War -May 4 (The big movie event of the year. So many superheroes…)

Solo: A Star Wars Story - May 25 (Excited for another standalone although a May release means just that much longer until the next Star Wars movie.)

Deadpool 2 - May 18 (Is it wrong I am really looking forward to this one?)

The Incredibles 2 - June 15 (The first is one of my favorite Pixar films!)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - June 22 (Please let it be less stupid than the last one…)

Ant-Man and the Wasp - July 6 (First movie was hilarious, so looking forward to more.)

Alita: Battle Angel - July 20 (This film looks amazing and has been in the making for over twenty years.)

Mission: Impossible 6 - July 27 (I’ve enjoyed all the other ones – why not?)

Venom - October 5 (This one could be twisted and fun.)

X-Men: Dark Phoenix - November 2 – (More X-Men – yes, please.)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - November 16 (Wasn’t impressed with the first one but might give this a shot.)

Aquaman - December 21 (One of my favorite superheroes – very excited to see him in his own movie!)

Have you been watching X-Files or Electric Dreams? Fan of Joe Satriani? Participate in #IWSGPit? What was your favorite read of 2017? And what movies strike your fancy this year?