Friday, August 3, 2018

ShatterStone Reviews

Reviews are in:

"ShatterStone holds the tale of a quest rich with dwarf culture. I enjoyed reading the detailed battles and experiences of the dwarf party as they set out on their adventure." - Ryan H.

"Different than anything else I have read but enjoyed it very much. Short but a very good story which gave you a look into a whole new world." -Jeff F.

Like to delve into a piece of Dwarf lore? Join Dane on his quest for answers to the Long Winter and into his birthright, but have your axe or hammer ready. In this quick read, the enemy is swift and cold-hearted, yet, Dwarven axes and hammers have been known to strike fast and hard. Shatterstone: The Winter War.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cry of the Eagle...Sample Chapter



Two


An orange globe of heat reduced to grains where Captain Mark Williams, Jedi Squadron, of the Eagle Brigade and his S-4 Starfighter had been a moment before. The blurring shreds of light caused his wingman, Captain Scott Parks, to blink repeatedly trying to clear his vision. Out of reflex, his gloved hand reached toward his face to rub his eyes but bumped against his face shield of his helmet.

Scott panicked. He was blinded by the sudden flash of light. Alarms went off in his S-4 Starfighter

He took evasive action. But from what? The scopes had shown nothing in the area. He yelled into his headset as his peripheral vision returned.

"Flight Control, This is Jedi One. Aggressor in the area. Unable to read. Jedi Two is lost." Then, speaking to the on-board computer. "Spoc, give me a target."

"Target unavailable," said Spoc in its synthetic computer voice. Spoc was the S-4’s on board computer. Its nick-name was a short version of NASPOC, National Aero-Space Pilot On-Board Computer. Its main function, in simple terms, was co-pilot.

"Flight Control,” said Scott. “Are you there?"

There was no reply.

"Scopes are empty," said Spoc. "Jedi Two is no longer on our scopes. Initiating system check for malfunction.”

"Affirmative," said Scott. "I can't see a thing." He blinked his eyes rapidly. His whole face felt slick. He longed to rub his eyes with his hands, but gloves and face-shield prevented it. He still saw a globe of light from the flash. Globs of heat throbbed under his arms and around his torso. Out of the corner of his eye stars winked out as something passed by.

"Flight Control, I'm not alone. Please respond," said Scott. "Someone is up here with me."

Scott shook his head inside his helmet. Get a grip.

“Spoc, begin evasive maneuvers,” said Scott. “I can’t see.”

His peripheral vision had returned but with the blur of Earth below and stars above, he could not distinguish anything but chaos. His radio buzzed alive.

“Jedi Two. This is Flight Control. Please report status.”

Scott took a deep breath. Procedure. “This is Jedi One,” he said. In his mind he repeated the word ‘procedure.’ “I have lost contact with Jedi Two.” Scott blinked. He’s dead…procedure. “Unable to confirm with visual. My sight is presently impaired.”

“Confirmed loss of contact with Jedi Two,” said Flight Control. “Scopes read solitary contact with Jedi One. No other contacts are in vector.”

“Confirm,” said Scott. “My scopes read no other contacts before loss of contact with Jedi Two.” His watering eyes were clearing. “Presently, engaged NASPOC into automated evasive maneuvers. Request next directive.” Procedure, procedure, procedure.

“Maintain present status. We will advise, momentarily.”

“Roger, Flight Control,” said Scott. “Will maintain.” The last word began a new chorus in his head. Maintain, maintain, maintain. 
 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sura's Geek Verse

Welcome to the renaming of Sura's Basement to Sura's Geek 'Verse.

Since my writing spot in my house is a corner in the basement, Sura's Basement seemed more fitting to my whole writing world. Not sure if I will retire the title or reuse it to be the name of a hub linking all blogs together.

Anyway, this blog, whether visited frequently by you or me, will be where I delve into matters that are important in the realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy (mainly issues important to me). It will be a celebration of the Geek I am at the age I am. I may not see eye to eye with the younger generations, but as I teach many young minds in my Science Fiction and Fantasy class, I feel that the patowans and I do share a common ground (one I created). The are young in the ways of the Force.

And that being said, the 'Verse is always expanding. As each star wars with time, we will boldly trek into the black toward those points of light that shine like fireflies. We shall sing Hal-elujah to the Titans that created the great movies and awesome novels that inspire.

The possibilities are endless; we will never say, "I'm sorry, Dave. I can't do that" (except when quoting the movie).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John Carter is 100


John Carter is 100.


Title and Artist unknown

Yes, the man of Barsoom (Mars) was published in a pulp magazine(The All-Story 1912) as a series called “Under the Moons of Mars.” John really did not get published in novel form until 1917, when another character, Tarzan, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs became very popular. Although I had seen a few of the classic Tarzan movies, Burroughs, Carter and Tarzan entered my realm while I was in high school when my friend, Steve, showed me book one of the Carter series, A Princess of Mars.

I have read all twelve of the Barsoom series and most of the twenty-four of the Tarzan series. Burroughs is a favorite author. And I am very fond of John Carter and Tarzan.

John Carter of Mars by Frank Frazzetta
It was good to see John Carter in the recent film. I had been waiting for years to have Mars come to life on the big screen. Although a film cannot hold up to the book, the creators did a good job keeping the integrity of the Barsoomian story line. The key word is integrity. The movie held the elements of what Burroughs created with the four-armed aggressive Tharks, Carter’s super-barsoomian strength and agility and the culture and setting of Mars and it’s inhabitants. I admit that I have not read the books for 30 years, but the movie did capture the world Burroughs created.
Barsoom by Boris

But back to the celebration of John Carter. His story has captured many artists' imagination and creativity. They, in turn, have caught much of the evolution of this 100 year old man. It is awesome, classic science fiction art. The art holds drama and beauty.Yes, and limited clothing. Burroughs painted Mars as a dry, hot and dying planet.

And Dejah Thoris is one of the deadliest beauties of the nine planets (Pluto still counted then). It is interesting that they the put her in John's protection even though she is known as a warrior princess.

I am still intrigued by this hero.

Happy Birthday John!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Legacy


I must be doing something right.

R2-D2 photo from
Dakota
Students who have attended my Science Fiction and Fantasy class email me, text me, post messages to me and even call me about something we have read or have seen in class. Right before I wrote this, Dakota (class of 2012), sent me a picture of R2-D2 from a gas station in Mt Pleasant. It’s in great condition too.
In the class, I share my journey of my scifi-geekness. I tell them about my awakening with Stars Wars back in 1977, where my dad, not a Science Fiction fan, took us to see Star Wars, and I sat opened eyed through the whole movie.

Book cover of Princess of Mars,
by Michael Whelan, 1979
I tell them how Steve, a high school buddy, introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons and the author, Edgar Rice Burroughs who authored the Tarzan series and the Barsoom Series. You will know Barsoom very soon with the release of Disney’s John Carter of Mars (See post on Sept 3, 2011)

We also look at patterns of wishes, the twists of short stories by Asimov and Sheckley and delve into the mystery and intrigue with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have fun with 2001 because some student threaten to use it to punish their future children when they are bad (Paige, class of 2011), but they will also contact me when they see a similarity or reference to the movie.

I have a painting of HAL’s eye from Rebecca (class of 2007, I think). In fact, another student sent me an email about an article she had to read in her education class where 2001 was referenced. And, of course, I have received a few harassing posts (all in fun) on Facebook from other students telling me they saw a reference of 2001 in movies like Willie Wonka or Phineus and Ferb. When I receive these, I laugh and say my work is done.

Thanks to 2001, I have had a couple movie nights with former students watching Kubrick (Ryan and other, class of 2009).

One of the Best of all time.
I always close out the semester with a television favorite, Firefly (2002-03). This show is fantastic. It was a short lived series because Fox decided to run it on Friday nights at 8pm. The audience for this show was not watching at that time slot, a bad decision by Fox. Anyway, at least one student a semester goes out and buys the DVDs, some spend a marathon on Netflix watching it to get all the episodes. I hope Joss Wedon and Tim Minear, the creators, appreciate my dedication.

Yes, it is a fun class. And with the continual contact from past students, I must have done something right.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

John Carter of Mars


With Science Fiction and Fantasy on the rise in the movie industry, I am majorly excited about John Carter of Mars. The creator and writer of John Carter was Edgar Rice Burroughs. You may know him more for another famous character known as Tarzan. It was my friend, Steve, who showed me his Burroughs collection and said I really should read the first book of the Barsoom (Mars) series. I took it home and read A Princess of Mars, where John Carter starts his adventure.

I read the first book within two days and had book two, The Gods of Mars, in my possession shortly after finishing book one. The Warlords of Mars and Thuvia of Mars were close behind. I also started reading Burroughs’ Tarzan series. He created great worlds, heroes and villains. With Burroughs, it was brawn and brains together that overcame great odds. Hooked for life, I owe Steve a big thanks.

From all indications, John Carter of Mars looks to be a good movie and looks to follow key elements of the story. John Carter is of Earth and gets transported to Mars. He is destined to save the planet. My favorite of Burrough’s creations of Barsoom is Tars Tarkas, the twelve-foot tall, four-armed, green barbarian, a definite twist on little green men. And I cannot forget about Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium. She is beautiful and tough; she is sometimes identified as the warrior princess.

Although I know and accept the fact that movies are not as good as the book and that movies take creative liscensing to change the story, I do expect a certain amount of continuity to key elements of the book to be held to when turned into the movie. So, I wait patiently to see.

With sequels and remakes, I find that John Carter of Mars, refreshing, and in the words of Tars Tarkas, “…believed it was a sign... that something new can come into this world.”

It is schedule to be released to theaters in March 9, 2012.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

If we cannot laugh at ourselves...

I am a fan on Monty Python and the Holy Grail and a fan of Star Trek. The creators of this little video did a pretty good job editing in Star Trek clips to the music of "Camelot." Star Trek meets Monty Python So enjoy.

Since I watched this, I watched a few other YouTube videos that you may find amusing.

Star Trek as the A Team

Sexy Cyborg

Star Trek: Beam Me Up Hottie. Definitely PG-13

None of them are R with language and nudity, but they can touch on some mature humor. Some of the videos are made by two guys that post as barelypolitical and some of the videos will link you to barelydigital.com which warehouses many videos, and the site is "Dedicated to parodying the hilarious worlds of tech, gaming and the internets."

I watched and laughed. I tested the links, so you should be set to go.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just a few words on Harry Potter

Thus completes the series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 completes the set of movies that have entertained a generation. As most know, the books are better than the movies because there is so much more in them, but the movies captured the great characters and themes.

I enjoyed all the movies. They were full of drama, humor, excitement and life. Thanks to CGI and movie technology, they were full of color, sound and pulse pounding action sequences. They were well done stories. The combination of all the elements made the Harry Potter series…magical.

Neville Longbottom is a good example of that magic. In the beginning, he had “a great deal more” of courage to stand up to his friends. He was awkward and clumsy throughout the story line. He was the definition of hope and courage, even when all was lost and everyone heard the words, “Harry Potter is dead.” He stepped forward and challenged Voldemort. Yeah, Neville… you rock!

The other theme that Heidi, my wife, points out throughout the whole series of books and movies is love. Love is what saved Harry in the beginning and what carries him through till the end. This theme, along with friendship, is depicted well in the movies and written well in the books. Love and friendship. Two things humans possess that are truly priceless and magical.

You put love and friendship and heroes into a fantastic world of magic, monsters and a mayhem of adventure, you have truly told a great family story to inspire more creativity and magic.

I am a Harry Potter fan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 SciFi/Fantasy Geek Award

And the winner is….Autumn Sherwood.


Autumn is 2011 Sura’s SciFi/Fan Geek Award winner. Not only has she provided with me with a useful Powerpoint on Greek mythology, she had given me suggestions on books and movies, discussed aspects of 2001 A Space Odyssey (including references in other films), and is a dedicated fan to the Firefly television series.


I wish Autumn well during her reign as top Geek. She assures me that she will wear the title with pride and reaffirm her geekhood any time.


It's my most favorite award I've ever gotten. I'm very proud of it,” said Autumn.


The class consisted of a brief unit of Greek Mythology, many fantasy and science fiction short stories, writing about the connections between the genres and life, episodes of the Twilight Zone, 2001 (of course), and other films including Clash of the Titans and Frequency. She enjoyed the whole spectrum.


“I loved Firefly the most,” said Autumn. “However, I just enjoyed the entire course overall. It was interesting, and there was never a dull moment.”
                  
Spoken like a true Sura endorsed geek.
            

2001 A Space Odyssey

2001 A Space Odyssey is a must see for anyone in the Science Fiction fan club. It takes high rank in my Sci/Fi Fantasy class. But, not that many students see the beauty of it. They do, however, see the effect on our pop culture. I say that they will see direct references in other movies, cartoon, television shows and literature. And they will see many subtle similarities in many science fiction movies that followed. Jokingly, I say that from henceforth, with every reference, they will raise a fist to the sky and take my name in vain. It set the standard, and after viewing, it will be a part of their lives for ever (insert evil teacher laugh here).

The first thing to know about 2001 A Space Odyssey is that it is just a part of a journey, the journey of mankind. It starts with the Dawn of Man and goes through to the future where man is about to step into the next era of evolution and existence. Secondly, it was a movie made with a much different purpose than most movies. It was not made to just entertain, but to make us think. Every scene and every sound had a purpose.

I shared the movie with the latest group of high school students last week. I explained that it is an allegorical film: a literal level and the symbolic level. An example would be the ballet music that plays during the first sequences of space travel. It illustrate the beauty, grace and precision of space travel. It also illustrates man's infancy in space. Stanley Kubrick (producer, director and screenwriter) and Arthur C. Clarke (author of the book and fellow screenwriter) use many colorful sequences and several powerful musical pieces to tell the story.

With everything having a purpose, students, when asked, know why there are two minutes of blank, black screen at the beginning of the movie. They understand, but do not appreciate, the lack of dialogue for the first twenty minutes of the film. They are frustrated by the slow walking, continuous breathing, and detailed aspects of space. Yet, they agree that it shows the challenges of space travel, the ‘out of our element’ motif, and the tedious precision of technology.

And there is a lot they don’t get, either. However, that’s what I like about it. It provokes discussion and supposition. It challenges them to pick at it. After we talk, I go to a website: www.Kubrick2001.com. It explains the movie. It also starts out with a quote from Kubrick says that we “are free to speculate, as you wish” about the movie. He wants everyone to take what they want from it. The website offers one interpretation.

Wait, then there’s the HAL 9000 computer. It is ranked 13th in the American Film Institutes Top 50 Villains. What makes him a villain is his impersonal logic, which is as cold as space itself. I tell my student that HAL is not evil; he does what he does because of what he calculated as the best option for success, not from malice. With is red camera eye and his mild mannered, “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that,” the viewer is introduced to the first, truly, unemotional killer.

Yes, 2001 A Space Odyssey does come with questions and long, slow (but purposeful)  parts. Yet, with music as crucial as the scenes, a great villain, awesome congruity to actual space travel and movement, and special effects that set the standard still, this movie must be, and always be, a part of any Science Fiction collection.

By the way, just the other day, another former student contacted me after seeing a reference in a jewelry commercial and said that my parents were never married (insert evil teacher laugh again).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taking the Bus


Taking the Bus
"P-ch-h-h-h." The silver bus with the running dog came to a stop.
Herb jumped at the sound. Too many things still could go wrong, and the bus's air breaks made him jump. He twitched his head about to see if anyone noticed. People bustled about the terminal in their own pursuits; no one had time for Herb.
He sighed at the irony of his thoughts. He had to get out of town if he wanted to live, yet it bothered him that no one noticed him leaving. He chuckled quietly.
The door to the bus heading "way out of town" hissed open. Herb shuffled his feet waiting for an elderly lady to get on the bus. He felt sweaty under his wide brim hat and dark glasses. The trench coat was not helping either.
"Deep breath," he told himself.
            Once she was seated, Herb quick-stepped by and sat on the opposite side of the bus away from the busy terminal.
Others got on. The boarding eye game of looking for a seat, accidental eye contacts and trying to avoid eye contact raised Herb's heart rate.
"Let's go people!" He did not yell aloud. Instead he closed his eyes and focused. "I'm on the bus. I was not followed. They can't find me; they can't kill me. Agnes has wanted me to leave so it could be my fault that our marriage did not work. It will add to her dramatic litany of woes. She will love it; it will be my last gift to her sorry tale."
"Well, hello there young man," said the bus driver.
Herb's eyes snapped open. A porter had brought a boy on to the bus. He had a red ribbon on his front pocket. He was traveling alone, and bus security was giving him the royal and secure treatment.
The porter, the boy and the bus driver had a long chat about bus safety, the boy's destination and how the bus driver, Ted, will keep an "extra special eye" on him. Herb's blood roiled.
"Move the damn bus!" Again, he choked on his words. "Just get me far, far away, please," he thought.
Finally, the boy took his seat in the front next to the old lady. She was speaking to him and offering him a cookie.
The driver spoke over the P.A. "We are now leaving Mars Station. Once we break atmo, we will jump to the Jupiter where we have three stops before hitting The Rim with our last stop at Pluto Station."

ShatterStone Reviews

Reviews are in: " ShatterStone holds the tale of a quest rich with dwarf culture. I enjoyed reading the detailed battles and experien...