elektra: (movie tickets)

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is in theaters now, a sterile big budget adaption that kills lots of aliens while generating a ton of controversy over whether Card’s outspoken views should influence your choice to attend this movie. it’s a personal decision, and each person needs to do what feels right to them: skip th emovie, balance seeing the movie with a donation to an appropriate cause, etc. The political hot potato and projected sales make a sequel unlikely to follow soon.

Ender’s Game effectively creates a disturbing future, full of hard choices. The cast is mostly effective in their roles, the sets are extraordinary, and it’s easy to believe sequences are happening in space. What was missing seemed to be the introspection from the book–it’s not one I’ve read, and I felt there was something missing. My full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The world’s smartest children have been recruited to fight the war, raised on war games, their quick minds more able to adapt to the possible strategies needed to defeat the enemy. Ender Wiggins is one of these children–intelligent, athletic, well-trained.

This is his story.

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elektra: (rocketship vintage)

Philcon is this weekend! I’ll be busy, busy, busy, right here in Cherry Hill. Look for me sitting in the main convention lobby at the Masquerade Table (I’m Masquerade Director this year) if you need me or in Operations (I’ll be helping with the cashy money). Come by and volunteer to help with either the Masquerade or my sanity.

Here’s my panel schedule:

FRIDAY, 8 November
6pm – Plaza III (Three)
Cosplay in the Anime World versus International Costumers Guild (ICG) Competition
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond(mod), Aurora Celeste, Byron Connell, Raven Stormbringer, Laura Kovalcin]
Masquerades at science fiction conventions began in the 1950s–how do they differ from the cosplay competitions at anime conventions? A lively discussion to dispel myths, clear up confusion and help integrate two compatible groups.

SATURDAY, 9 November

11am – 1pm (2 hours!) – Grand Ballroom A
Masquerade Rehearsal

1pm – Plaza III (Three)
Editing Anthologies: Beyond the Gimmick
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (mod), Brian Koscienski, Alex Shvartsman, Keith R.A. DeCandido]
Anthologies are often sold on the basis of a gimmick or concept that connects the stories, such as “Killer Rutabagas from Space”. How do you get beyond the gimmick to a work of substance. Note: This follows right on the main Masquerade rehearsal. Alex Shvartsman will start moderating the panel if I’m late . . .

SUNDAY, 10 November
11am – Plaza V (Five)
The Summer of Science Fiction
[Panelists: Jay Smith (mod), Tony Finan, Orenthal Hawkins, Mark Leeper, Elektra Hammond]
2013 had an impressive line-up of genre films, from Star Trek Into Darkness and Elysium to Man of Steel and The Wolverine. Did this summer’s blockbusters fulfill our geeky needs? Discuss with the
panelists the pros and cons of this summer’s movies and which ones you would buy on DVD
Note: This panel is opposite the Broad Universe Rapid-Fire-Reading, which I also really wanted to do . . . but I am a movie critic.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Escape Plan is the newest geri-action flick, showing that Stallone and Schwarzenegger still have it. It’s got a well-crafted script and some great twists. My full review is up at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) wrote the book: Compromising Correctional Institutions Security. Instead of doing a regulation tour, with speaking engagements and signing copies, Ray takes a different approach.

He breaks out of prisons.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Movies that feature cars driving around in circles can be tricky–yet Ron Howard’s Rush is both entertaining and exciting as it depicts a piece of history. Exotic locations and rich lifestyles enough to satisfy a Bollywood film keep things fresh and interesting as the plot develops. See my full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Movies based on real life can be tricky–after all, the audience knows how they end. Apollo 13 and Titanic are both examples of movies that made history fascinating, by transporting us inside characters’ lives and showing us historical events from their perspective.

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Free Fall

Oct. 23rd, 2013 12:10 am
elektra: (movie tickets)

A gorgeous exploration of the loneliness of space, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity will please the casual filmgoer. Those who like their science to be, well, scientifically accurate, may have some issues with it. See what I had to say at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Those who remember the space shuttle Challenger know how easy it is for something to go horribly, terribly wrong in space. That was over in seconds–what if things start to go wrong and you need to figure out how to get back to Earth?

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elektra: (movie tickets)
captain phillips movie poster Captain Phillips

Director: Paul Greengrass

Writers: Billy Ray, Richard Phillips (book), Stephan Talty (book)

Stars: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, David Warshaofsky, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, Catherine Keener, Yul Vazquez, Max Martini

It’s the season for Oscar bait and awesome performances, and “based on historical events” movies have always been a favorite of Academy voters. Hot on the heels of Rush comes Captain Phillips, based on the true life experience of a freighter captain who runs into Somalian pirates.

The situation would make an awesome board game. Resources for the freighter crew include limited or improvised weapons, money for bribes, knowledge of the environment versus superior firepower on the side of the pirates, who are reluctant to actually kill anyone–that greatly decreases the possibility of a big ransom payoff. Both sides have the limited ability to call for help and advice from their colleagues outside, who are moving toward the ship . . .

The movie shows you both sides of the equation: Captain Phillips, first in Vermont, then in Oman as he takes command of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama; and a group of poor men in Somalia, sent off to grab a ship for ransom.

Phillips (the ever impressive Tom Hanks) is vigilant, well aware of the dangers of the coast off Somalia. But preparation can only take you so far.

When the pirates actually show up on radar, the crew works it by the book, calling Maritime Operations for help and evading as best they can. Eventually, though, there begins a days-long confrontation between four armed pirates led by the impulsive Muse and the virtually unarmed crew.

Terror in a situation they never expected is portrayed amazingly through the eyes of the freighter crew, in scene after scene as the stress levels up. The pirates are more playing things by ear, and less certain when things don’t go as planned. The film makes clear just how much influence a leader can have, as the two groups of men, respectively, take their cues from their captain and his demeanor.

As the title Captain Phillips indicates, Tom Hanks is all over this one, and he delivers. In spades. On the other side of the equation, first-time actor Barkhad Abdi is remarkably convincing and terrifyingly real as the pirate captain. These two playing off each other are the best moments in the film.

This one is not for the faint of heart–the reality it’s based on is even grimmer and more extreme than the movie, but they took it plenty far. It is well worth seeing and will easily keep your
attention for its more than two hour running time.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

A movie about spirituality and desperation and what happens when hope is all but lost, Prisoners is gripping and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

An amazing cast led by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal gives absolutely outstanding performances of a compelling script. See the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) personal philosophy, passed down from his father is: “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” He’s a devout survivalist, and a bit of a control freak. When his daughter and her friend are kidnapped–his world is turned upside-down.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Mobsters with some issues trying to play it straight and keep a low profile. Who thought that was a good idea? The full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The Family is a dark comedic slice-of-life film about a not-so-ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances.

They’re a family that takes nothin’ from nobody, in the finest mob tradition, as seen through the filter of European eyes, played absolutely over-the-top for maximum silliness.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Vin Diesel is back in the epic conclusion to the trilogy begun in Pitch Black. See him fight more mercenaries, deal with an even more hostile environment, see him fight against overwhelming odds and . . . my full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Are you afraid of the dark? Are you afraid of the boogeyman? Did you like Pitch Black? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”–you will enjoy the new follow-up to The Chronicles of Riddick, titled simply Riddick.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Paranoia is full of fabulous stars and solid performances, but I couldn’t find anyone to identify with, so it was a real hard sell for me. I go into more detail about way in my reivew at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is a whiny, entitled, 20-something techie who has spent the last six years working for Wyatt Corp, a major player in the telecommunications industry. He and his friends are impatient that they haven’t advanced yet, to big bonuses and living large.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

The latest attempt to capitalize on the young adult market that so loved the Harry Potter series steps up to the plate with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It’s got great special effects, but doesn’t explain things as well as it might, and there’s a definite lack of adult supervision. See my full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
What glimpses we do get of the world are tantalizing and interesting, including a trip to the titular City of Bones, watched over by the Silent Brothers, under the cemetery, where the bone and ashes of dead Shadowhunters are laid to rest. Those remains hold a certain amount of power, when used properly.

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elektra: (Fire in the Mist)

Rambo November 2012

When I returned from Lonestarcon 3 (Worldcon in San Antonio, TX) early Tuesday morning, there was bad news. Rambo, the little longhaired munchkin who has overseen my editing and writing for the last year, was clearly ill. I rushed him to the emergency vet, but all I could do was make him comfortable and spend some time with him saying goodbye.

He died Wednesday, just before lunch.

I’ll miss you, little guy. You came when I called you, when I needed your company. You sat on my lap or at my feet more times than I can count, cat of my heart. Farewell.

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elektra: (red elektra graphic)

Worldcon is coming up soon! in San Antonio, Texas, and here is how to find me.

I’ve got some panels to do, I’ll be helping staff both the Phoenix in 2014 NasFic Bid (probably by working at site selection, but maybe at the bid table) & parties Thursday and Friday night, and the Broad Universe table, and I’ll be doing something to help with the Masquerade (whatever Sharon tells me to do–she gets first call on my time!).

Here’s my schedule: (all panels are 50 minutes)

FRIDAY, 30 August
11am
[Business Lunch]

1pm – Convention Center 101A
Hats and Hat Making
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond, Janine Wardale]
Where do you find hats for costuming, and how do you get started in making your own?

5pm – Convention Center 003A
Embellishment Techniques
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond, Sandy Pettinger, Janine Wardale]
Learn the basics of embellishment techniques like applique, beading, quilting, and more!

SATURDAY, 31 August
11am – Convention Center 006A
Steampunk: The Present and the Future
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond(M), Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Takayuki Tatsumi]
Over the last decade the Steampunk genre has exploded. There is a growing presence of Steampunk in literature, the cinema and television. We will discuss both the classics and new offerings, including how to find them, and how ‘steamy’ they are.

12noon – Convention Center 003A
Adapting Historical Fashion
[Panelists: Julie Barrett, Janine Wardale, Elektra Hammond]
How do you learn about historical fashion trends, and how do you adapt those trends to original designs and historically-inspired fashions like medieval fantasy and steampunk?

2pm – Convention Center 007B
30 Great SF & Fantasy Films You Almost Certainly Haven’t Seen
[Panelists: Perrianne Lurie (M), Val Ontell, Elektra Hammond, Terry Floyd, Adam-Troy Castro]
The many new options for home viewing have greatly increased the availability of any number of obscure, independent, and foreign films available to anybody willing to risk a journey off the beaten path. Panelists will take two minutes apiece to sell you some little-known masterpieces you should check out at you first opportunity. Be prepared to take notes.

8pm – Rivercenter Grand Ballroom
Masquerade

SUNDAY, 1 September
10am – Convention Center 007B
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
[Panelists: Valerie Frankel(M), Laurel Anne Hill, Roberta Rogow, Tracey Godsey, Katherine Villyard, Alexis Latner, Rachael Acks, Folly Blaine, Barbara Ann Wright, J.K. Cheney, Elektra Hammond]
Very short readings from members of Broad Universe.

1pm – Convention Center 101A
Building a Costume Library
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond(M), C.J. Mills, Byron P. Connell, Pierre Pettinger Jr]
How do you find costuming books? How to tell the good from the bad books. When to buy instead of borrow.

MONDAY, 2 September
10am – Convention Center 008A
Summer Blockbusters – 2013
[Panelists: Mark Oshiro(M), Melinda M. Snodgrass, Elektra Hammond, Heather Urbanski]
This year’s summer blockbusters are now (almost) history. Iron Man 3, Star Trek…it’s all over but the long form Hugo nominations. Let’s discuss this year’s crop. Why are they always franchises?

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Hugh Jackman is back in The Wolverine, bridging the gap between X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days of Future Past. While not his best outing, it’s far from his worst, and there is enough here to recommend going to see. A detailed review is up at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
On the plus side, I cannot say enough good things about Yukio–the character as created for the movie (very different from the comics) is multi-faceted, strong, and compelling. The movie definitely becomes less interesting during a long stretch when Yukio is absent from the screen.

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SFWA !!

Aug. 14th, 2013 04:15 am
elektra: (sfwa)

I am now an affiliate member of Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). That is all.

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elektra: (rainbow fire)

I’ve stagnated with the pain clinic–they’re managing my pain, but not fixing it. I made the decision to leave them, and work with my awesome GP, who want to fix my back problems.

There is more physical therapy, and MRIs, etc. in my future . . . but hopefully less pain.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Yet another comic book adaption at the cinema, R.I.P.D. is lightweight fun with heavyweight effects. Watch Jeff Bridges vamp it up! Full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
R.I.P.D. was completely harmless, goofy fun that didn’t take itself too seriously. You shouldn’t either and you’ll have a great time. It’s Ghostbusters meets Men in Black meets Lethal Weapon with a touch of Quantum Leap.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

When Guillermo del Toro gets passionate about a genre project, you just know it’s going to rock. His latest outing is every fanboy’s dream, and it doesn’t disappoint. Check out my review of Pacific Rim at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
From the moment I heard about Pacific Rim, I loved the concept: giant monsters invade us from under the sea and we build giant robots to fight them. The more details I got, the more excited I became. It didn’t disappoint.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

There’s a new term out in Hollywoodland: Geri-action. The epitome of it is RED 2, featuring the return of Frank Moses, [Retired, Extremely Dangerous C.I.A. Agent] and his equally badass, mature friends. The return of great characters, the introduction of others, with action galore and a convoluted plot that never stops and yet somehow works. One of the highlights of the summer.

An excerpt:
The particular strength of this sequel comes when it introduces new characters: we know the alignment of old characters, but you never know which side new characters’ll be on. Or stay on. Heck, now that I think about it, that’s unclear about some of the returning characters, too.

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