Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kindle Spotlight -- The Silvered

Today we have Tanya Huff's vaguely steampunk novel The Silvered.

Taking place in a fictional 19th-century world, the plot starts us off in the country of Aydori. Young Mirian Maylin's parents want her to marry into the Pack--Aydori's ruling class of werewolves. The Pack traditionally only marries Mage-pack--female magic users. Nevertheless, Mirian's mother is hopeful she'll make the cut; marrying Pack would ensure status and prosperity for their family.

Sadly, these simple dreams don't last long. The Kresentian Empire soon invades Aydori. Officially they want to expand their borders, but in reality the fighting is a cover for Captain Reiter and his squad of loyal soldiers. They're sent in to capture the leaders of the Mage-pack whose husbands are fighting on the front lines. The emperor's Soothsayers have given him a prophecy, you see: "When wild and mage together come, one in six or six in one, Empires rise or empires fall, the unborn child begins it all." They take this to mean six pregnant mages must be secured and brought back to the Empire, because one's future child holds the Empire's fate in its unborn hands.

The mission goes smoothly enough, and Reiter and his men take possession of the members of the Mage-pack as they travel by carriage by suppressing their magic via golden hair nets. However, there are only five mages and not the six they were ordered to capture. Mirian then happens along with her parents and the soldiers mistake her for the sixth mage. They manage to capture her but Tomas, the last surviving member of the Pack (the others were killed in an artillery strike) rescues her. They then chase after the soldiers in a desperate bid to rescue the women of the Mage-pack. Along the way, Mirian discovers both her latent magical powers and her feelings for Tomas.

The Silvered is a well-written novel. It has compelling characters and Tanya Huff is skilled with prose. Unfortunately, the story takes a while to pick up speed, only getting really good about 2/3 of the way through. The scenes with Mirian and Tomas chasing the soldiers drag on and on, and it felt like they were never going to get anywhere. I think if Huff had removed or shortened certain scenes, that would have gone a long way to perfecting the story.

But once the plot reached full speed, I didn't want to put it down. If you ask me, the measure of a good book is if you'd like to read the sequel, and in this case, I can say I would. Here's hoping there will be one.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Movie Review -- Robocop

Today we have the remake of the 1987 movie Robocop, this time starring Joel Kinnaman. Updated to appeal to modern sensibilities, does the reboot cut it?

Like the original, this new version takes place in futuristic Detroit. Average cop Alex Murphy (Kinnaman instead of Peter Weller) and his partner Lewis (Michael K. Williams instead of Nancy Allen) are investigating guns stolen from the police department. Their search leads them to bad guy Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). During a shoot-out, Lewis is wounded and sent to a hospital. Determined to finish the job, Vallon has Murphy car-bombed. Things look dire at this point. Fortunately, OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) sees an opportunity to introduce Americans to the future of law enforcement. He convinces scientist Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to remake Murphy as an ass-kicking cyborg. Unlike the original, they try to keep his humanity intact in the process. However, this new Robocop is still very defiant, continually fighting his programming. In addition to fighting crime, he also sets out to avenge his own murder. But when he starts threatening OmniCorp interests, they'll go to any length to stop him.

Robocop is a fun popcorn movie,but that's about it. If it didn't have the Robocop license, it'd just be another sci-fi movie. Whereas the original was an intensely violent satire of American culture, the remake doesn't really have a voice. And while the new cyborg policeman is sleek and agile, he reminds me too much of another slick robo-hero. With the Iron Man movies still fresh in our minds, it's hard to get excited over an imitator like the new Robocop. Also, a big part of the original was Murphy's struggle to regain his humanity, something the remake just doesn't deliver on.

But lest you think it's all bad, there are some good points to this film. There are more varieties of machines than in the original (even if the ED-209s aren't nearly as menacing), including androids and deadly military drones. The CG is also cool, and I like the fact the soundtrack features Basil Poledouris' awesome Robocop theme.

Bottom line: It's not a bad movie by any means, but it can't compete with the original. Nostalgia is a force to be reckoned with.

"Dead or alive, you are coming with me."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Agent Hunt

I've decided to look for a literary agent. I've been shopping The Game Called Revolution to various agencies. I've sent out 12 queries so far. If anyone knows of any agents I should query, please let me know.