Altered Carbon, Book Review by Case Wright


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I grew up loving pulpy detective stories of the 40s.  Sam Spade and The Thin Man were my heroes from another time.  They dealt in visceral reality and tarnished ideals, but still meted justice to the deserving.  However, because of the mores of the time period, the more explicit side could only be implied.

“Altered Carbon” takes the Gumshoe genre mixes in the concept of a Ronin (A Japanese samurai who no longer has a liege lord and becomes a sword for hire), has the mystery take place hundreds of years in the future, but still keeps the setting of the Rainy City (Seattle, My Home) and Bay City (Future San Francisco).  What results is greatest pulp detective story that I have ever read.  The story touches upon issues of morality and our technology stripping us naked of our humanity.

In the future, we are able to download our memories onto flash drives and re-upload them into “Sleeves” (bodies grown or bought).  Crime is punished by you losing your body and putting your consciousness on a server where it will remain for as long as 200+ years, making you return to a body not your own and family scattered in time.  We have colonized worlds throughout the galaxy and corporations and the super rich rule us all.  The wealthy are able to have unlimited bodies to download into, giving them immortality and total perversion.

Takeshi Kovac is taken out of storage by an extremely wealthy man – Lorenz Bancroft- who is over 300 years old because he wants to find out who murdered him.  I’m going to be cautious about spoiling anything in this excellent book, but I will tease some more as to why it should be read.

Kovac was chosen because he a former “Envoy” (hyper-trained marine of the future).  He searches through brothels both high and low end to solve the murder.  He battles pimps, robots, enhanced humans, and virtual torture.  Be warned, it has the steamiest sex scenes I have ever read in my entire life.  If sex, violence, and mystery doesn’t interest, keep browsing, but you’re making a mistake.

RAMPAGE – Review by Case Wright, ALT Title – The Video Game Movie Curse Is Broken by Dwayne’s Awesome Arms!


Rampage-Movie-

I thoroughly enjoyed this film!! Why? Because it’s a Dwayne Johnson movie.  He’s an actor, a brand, and you know what you’re going to get.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Did it have a couple of slow moments?  Yep.  Were the characters, especially the villains, one dimensional or 8-Bit?  Sure.  But, so what? Rampage is fun and sometimes it’s great to take a bath in nostalgia and see some shit blow up.

A Dwayne Johnson movie is really a sub-genre all its very own.  I won’t compare it to other movies.  His movies are also fun because we just like Dwayne Johnson so much as a Man that we feel like he’s a friend.  It becomes reflexive that we hear Dwayne Johnson has a movie out, it’s as if one of our friends just made one.  I told a guy at work that I was going to see a Dwayne Johnson movie, he knew exactly what I meant, and he referred to Dwayne Johnson as a National Treasure.  Yes, we’re now getting married in the fall and are registered at Pottery Barn.

I played Rampage when I was a wee bairn.  In fact, with the help of my friend Robbie, we stayed up all night and destroyed the whole country. Congratulations! I, like every boy in the Y-Generation, was excited for this film.  Sidenote: sorry everyone, Millenials are no more, you’ve been folded into Y, but take heart – “Even children get older, I’m gettin older …too.”

An Evil Corporation, run ostensibly by Ivanka Trump and her Generic Trump brother, create a virus that mutate ordinary animals into genetically spliced super-creatures that run amok.  That’s it- that’s the plot- and like the video game upon which it was based, Rampage the Film is beautifully Wabi Sabi.

The film begins with The Rock who is closed off from people because after seeing their terrible acts in war and poaching, he just can’t let them in. *sniff*  The Rock’s best friend is George- an albino gorilla- who can sign.  Soon, the Trump family look alikes’ experiment accidentally infects George, a wolf, a crocodile, and a partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge Monster doesn’t actually destroy anything, but he blatantly re-gifts Christmas presents; therefore, he’s the worst monster of all because he destroys your self-esteem.

George, the wolf, and crocodile get BIGGER, the government – embodied by Jeffrey Dean Morgan- try to stop the monsters, but can’t.  Jeffrey becomes an ally of The Rock, helping him along the way with helicopter keys, air strikes, and lending him his edger so The Rock can really make his lawn POP for barbecue season.  The Trumps put out a signal to draw the monsters to Chicago, hoping they’ll kill each other off.  The Trumps hope that they’ll be able to take a sample of the monster flesh, replicate it, and sell it to whomever.  It doesn’t go well.  The monsters go nuts.  I’m not going to spoil anything.  Needless to say, the last 40 minutes of the film are amazingly satisfying.

Congratulations! Dwayne you’ve done it! The Video Game Curse is Broken.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox – *Great Spoilers*


 

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It’s Superbowl Sunday!!! Better yet, it’s The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix.

This movie is 1 part – Event Horizon, 1 Part – The Thing, and 1 Part – Boring.

We begin with a dying earth and pesky scientists have tried to create a free energy machine innnnnnnn spaaaaaaace.  Sounds Legit.

There’s British people talking in traffic and I need closed captioning.  The lady in traffic is apparently an astronaut and “Comm Officer”. However, I can’t understand anything she’s saying; so maybe, communications wasn’t the best fit?!

We’re on the space station and they’re trying to do some particle acceleratin’ …woohoo, but something is amiss. The story is really dragging.

Now, there’s nerds, foozball playing, and awkward conversation.  Are we sure this is a Space Station and not the Google Campus?  I do like that all peoples are represented and they’re all boring.  It’s about time that we embraced that most people are boring and even some Netflix films.

They’re about to turn on their Shepherd Accelerator and …… they are making particles, energy, or s’mores?  Then, the Shepherd overloads.  I’m guessing they forgot to use a surge protector. They get control, but the earth is gone- must’ve left the Earth in their other solar system’s pants.  They’re hurtling into empty space.

The crew is starting to act weird.  The Russian- I’m going to call him Boris – is playing with his face a lot and we’re getting an Event Horizon vibe mostly because JJ Abrams decided to defile the memory of another one of my favorite films.  The steel walls have screaming and they decide to open it….because sure. They reveal a woman fused to wires and the bulkhead who knows the Comm Officer’s name.  It’s pretty gross.  They try to do some ER work on her and she lives.

Meanwhile….Back on Earth. There’s explosions!!!

Back on the station…

The foozball is playing itself and things are disappearing: gyroscopes, worms, and my time.   Boris has a worm creature in his head and it’s doing gross things to his eyeball.  Boris starts talking to himself and the voices in his head ask him to make a 3d printed gun.  Boris pulls the 3d printed gun on crewmates and dies with hundreds of worms shooting out of him.

The lady they found in the bulkhead – Mina – wakes up.  She thinks that she was on the station the whole time.  Mina accuses Schmidt of sabotage.  For scientists, they are unimpressive.  These dopes haven’t figured out that they’re in another dimension?! Did they get their PhDs from University of Phoenix?!  They lock Schmidt up for sabotage and proceed to make bad choices.

Back on earth…. More explosions, but now there are screaming kids.

Back on the station: The ship’s Irish janitor is doing repairs and his arm gets detached.  The ship let’s Schmidt out of the airlock and he’s being chased by the Irishman’s arm.  The arm writes them a letter….really. It tells them to cut Boris’ corpse open.  They find the gyroscope inside Boris.  The comms come back and their current reality is pretty bad.  They watch CNN and learn that they’ve traveled to Another Dimension …. Another Dimension … Don’t … you tell me to smile….Interplanetary.   In this dimension, there’s World War III going on and everybody has goatees.  They decide to turn on the Shepherd machine again and hopefully not attract a herd of sheep as well.

Back on earth, the Comm Officer’s husband has rescued a random kid and went to a bomb shelter.

Back on the Station:  Tam figures out that condensation was messing with their calculations, but then she drowns….somehow.  In the alternate dimension, Eva’s kids are alive.  In the “Good Dimension” Eva apparently installed some bad track lighting and killed everyone, but in this “Evil Dimension” – they’re fine because she used lamps I suppose.  Eva decides to go back to warn her twin not to use track lighting…..ever.  I’ve noticed that they do A LOT of caulking in this movie to exciting music, but it’s still a guy caulking. There’s another malfunction and half the ship explodes.

The crew decides that they need to de-couple the broken part of the station, engendering a long scene of attempted space station repair.  It was really slow AND they had this crazy 8-4pm window to do it.  Then, the captain sacrifices himself to do it because why not?

Eva orders that they turn on the shepherd.  All looks well, but Mina steals the gun and starts shooting.  She needs the “firing key” for some reason.  Presumably, the Shepherd will create energy, but that really makes no sense because it doesn’t create energy as much as derivative B-Movies.  Mina manages to kill Eva in the final scene Aliens style and it’s mildly entertaining.

Schmidt lives and they start the Shepherd again, but first she warns her evil twin not to use Track Lighting and to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch in the 2015 Super Bowl.  They see earth again- the good earth and they have a stable power beam.   Eva’s husband doesnt want them to come back because—-monsters.  Then, as the escape pod enters the atmosphere, we see a monster.  So, they unleashed monsters and NBC’s Whitney.

This was a great bad movie, which is what JJ Abrams can do in his sleep. I would watch this if I had the flu or was in a B-movie place.

Here’s 4 Different Actors Reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven!


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Let’s all wish Edgar Allan Poe a happy 207th birthday!  In honor of the occasion, here’s four different actors reading The Raven!

First here’s Vincent Price!

And now it’s time for Christopher Lee!

Check out James Earl Jones!

And, of course, we have to include Christopher Walken!

And here’s the poem, in all its glory.  Read it aloud in your own voice!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Fantastic Four: 2015


This idea was inspired by Astro City and its real time aging component.  The premise is what if Marvel Heroes aged in real time.  The focus is on the third generation of the Fantastic Four, the teenage descendants of various heroes.

MEET THE TEAM:

Reed Richard‘s successor is Bianca Von Doom.  She is the daughter of Valeria Richards and Bentley-23 (son/clone of the Wizard).  She inherited her mother’s fondness of the Latvarian Monarch and legally changed her last name to Von Doom.  Bianca is a brilliant inventor like her parents and her grandparents.  Her hubris unfortunately led to the disfigurement of her twin brother, Bentley.  Her most notable Invention is R.E.I.D (Remote Exploration Intelligence Droid).  It is a swarm of microscopic H.E.R.B.I.E’s composed of Unstable Molecules that functions as a utility fog.  It can transform any device Bianca needs.

Visual reference for R.E.I.D swarm component (H.E.R.B.I.E by by Jamal Igle)

Wizard_Last_Man_Standing_Herbie_vs._H.E.R.B.I.E.

Ben Grimm‘s successor is Bentley Richards.  He is the twin brother of Bianca Von Doom.  He inherited his father’s and uncle’s love for adventure/daredevil attitude.  Bentley is frequently the test subject for his sister experiments.  His natural body was consumed during the testing of an Exploration-based Thing Suit.  Fortunately, his parents, with assistance from Alyssa Moy, restored a semblance of his natural form through the integration of a life model decoy.  On the surface, his current form is a life model decoy replica of his original body.  Internally, it is a next generation Thing Suit with the offensive capabilities of Mindless One and quantum-enhancements of Cosmic Man’s molecular structure. Its structure is enhanced by cosmic earth, water, and wind.  The force beam is augmented by cosmic fire.

Visual Reference for Bentley’s mechanical nature (Livewires by Adam Warren)

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Sue Richard‘s successor is Walter Bruce Hayes.  He is the son of Molly Hayes and Skaar.  He is the baby of the group, he is idealistic just like his mother was at his age.  His mother’s mutant gene and his father’s hybrid irradiated genes resulted in his Gamma-enhanced personal telekinetic field.  Walter manipulates it into simulating superhuman strength, accelerated speed, invulnerability, and instantaneous healing.  His field strength is linked to his emotional state like others of Banner ancestry.  Like his mother, his eyes glow and his body is surrounded by an aura when his powers are activated.

Visual Reference for Walter’s powers (Molly Hayes by Jo Chen)

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Johnny Storm‘s successor is Henrietta Pym.  She is the granddaughter of Peter Parker and Henry Pym.  Her posthuman biology led to a severe birth defect that led to her heart being replaced with a synthezoid prosthesis.  She has a normal childhood until she hit puberty.  Sometime after her thirteenth birthday, the heart triggered her dormant posthuman genes.  Henrietta transformed her into an ionic being similar to Wonder Man.  The ionic form grants her evolved extrasensory perceptiom that enables her to control bugs and use their senses to extend her perception.  She also gains superhuman strength, enhanced agility, hyper flexibility, bioelectric sting generation, wall crawling, and density manipulation.

Visual reference for Henrietta’s powers (Astra Furst by Alex Ross)

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Naruto: An unexpected gem for Scifi fans


I don’t know about you but I would never expect to see body modification, body horror, or genetic experimentation in a ninja themed manga.  It’s all in Masahi Kishimoto’s Naruto.

Disclaimer: THE CONTENT BELOW IS FILLED WITH SPOILERS! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN PERIL!

Madara Uchiha implanted his rival, Hashirama Senju’s DNA into his body and gained his botanical manipulation ninjutsu.  A strange growth that resembled Hashirama appeared on his chest as a result.

Studio Pierrot sketches for Madara Uchiha

Obito, descendant of the legendary Uchiha clan, was grievously injured in combat and would have perished without Madara’s intervention.  Madara replaced damaged limbs with White Zetsu parts (a White Zetsu is essentially an artificial plant being derived from Hashirama Senju and possessing botanical manipulation and shape shifting abilities).  Obito could sprout thorns and grow trees from his Zetsu parts.

Studio Pierrot sketches for Obito

Studio Pierrot for Obito 3

Studio Pierrot for Obito 2

Nagato, a descendant of the Uzumaki clan and recipient of Madara’s Rinnegans (a Rinnegan is an ocular mutation possessed by the creator of ninjutsu, the Sage of the Six Path). He was able to manifest black rods on his back which enabled him to animate cadavers, replicate the Rinnegan within them, and utilize the Sage ninjutsu through them.  He is able to “operate” 6 proxies remotely, see through their eyes, and coordinate attacks.

Nagato:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 9

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 1

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 2

Nagato’s Proxies:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 3

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 4

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 5

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 6

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 7

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 8

Kabuto, the medical ninja and faithful apprentice of Orochimaru, build upon the genetic research of his master & experimented on himself. He integrated his master’s true form (Orochimaru’s true form is serpentine and composed of a mass of white snakes as a result of his experimentation) into himself and the genetic material of Orochimaru’s elite minions.  Kabuto’s skin became scaly and white, his eyes became serpentine and he gained a body similar to a naga (with a chimera tail). When he entered Sage Mode, he regained humanoid legs, grew horns, and the “chimera tail” moved to his belly button.  His “tail” could replicate the forms of the genetic donors & manifest their unique abilities.

Default Mode:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Kabuto 3

Sage Mode:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Kabuto 1

Studio Pierrot sketches for Kabuto 2

Shin Uchiha is a former test subject and experiment of Orochimaru. His unique body accepted all transplanted organs and genetic material.  He was cloned in order to discover the secret of his unique physiology.  He possesses a transplanted Sharingan eye in his right eye socket (a Sharingan is an ocular mutation unique to the Uchiha clan and consumes a massive amount of energy when transplanted in and used by non-Uchiha).  He has numerous Sharingans all over his body.  He can teleport with his fully evolved eye and control objects he marked telekinetically. He can see through a proxy Sharingan creature and utilize the teleportation ability.

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Shin's_Father_(Arm_of_Sharingan)

Shin's_Mangeky _Sharingan

Spy Creature:

Spying_device

Art Acknowledgements:

Original Art by Masashi Kishimoto and the animation cells are by Studio Pierrot

Cable Remix Part 2: Chibi Inferno Nate


The previous post inspired me to refine the idea and give it more thought.  Recalled the original Inferno storyline and the motivation of the major players.

Inferno Cable Revisited:

Darkchilde & N’astirh are warring with Goblin Queen for control of the Battle World’s the Inferno region.  So it would be high possibility that Chibi Nate would be a target of Darkchilde & N’astirh’s forces.  Illyana used the corrupted & transformed Nightcrawler to breach Madelyn’s defenses & kidnap Nate.

While captive, Illyana tried to corrupt him and created bloodstones from his soul.  This process triggered a strange reaction with his TO infection, his dark soul persona, Stryfe, was born.  Stryfe has goblin-like features similar to Darkchilde & exhibits symptoms of the transmode virus.  N’astirh took him on as an apprentice and shared part of Belasco’s grimoire.  With his processor-like mind, he instantly mastered the eldritch algorithms.

His parents managed to rescue him from Darkchilde’s clutches.  His mother placed him under the tutelage of Doctor Strange where he mastered his Stryfe form.

Nate is able to switch between his human & Stryfe forms.  His Stryfe form possesses enhanced strength, speed, rapid regeneration & limited metamorphic capabilities.  He instinctively wields offensive, defensive, & curative eldritch algorithms.  This form can injury or kill supernatural entities.

Visual Reference of Stryfe:

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By Javier Garron

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By Tom Raney

Stryfe would have a body similar to Darkchilde & have a furry torso like Brute.