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Joshua Koppel (Chicago, IL United States)
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Kaleidoscope Century
Kaleidoscope Century
by John Barnes
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars More of the Meme Wars, May 18 2004
I just finished KALEIDOSCOPE CENTURY by John Barnes. I found this to be a fascinating tale of future and alternate history.
Josh is a longtimer. That means that every sixteen years he gets sick for six months and drops ten years of aging. He also drops most of his recent memories. Josh has just woken up on Mars and is trying to piece together his past involvement with the KGB and the Committee. Josh lived through and participated in some very violent and wildly changing times. Earth gets abandoned to AIs that make backup copies in humans, limited time travel has been discovered and man is exploring space. Through Josh's 140 years of life we see a fascinating history unfold beginning in the 1960's to the not very distant future.
This is a fun book if you like history. Bush gets a second term and dies of mutAIDS (an airborne variety), Yeltsin conducts a failed coup on international television and plenty of other historical quirks. The only problem is that there is not much in the way of plot. The title only becomes significant at the very end. So what you have is a forty or fifty page story interspersed among an interesting history.
This is one in a series of books dealing with the Memes (the Ais). Others include Candle, Orbital Resonance, and The Sky So Big and Black.

Phenomenon (Bilingual)
Phenomenon (Bilingual)
DVD ~ John Travolta
Price: CDN$ 5.97
28 used & new from CDN$ 2.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Drama With Healthy Comedy, May 18 2004
This review is from: Phenomenon (Bilingual) (DVD)
I originally saw this movie in the theater and was pleasantly surprised. Not that I can see it at home the film's wonder has not disappeared.
Phenomenon stars John Travolta (with an appearance by Brent Spiner of ST:NG). The premise of this film is that John sees a light in the sky that hits him and knocks him out. After that he has increased brain usage. This enables him to read quickly, comprehend, think clearly and even perform minor telekinesis. In the small town in which he lives this sort of thing can cause some problems and fear. Robert Duval gives an excellent portrayal of a small town doctor and the rest of the cast does a marvelous job.
Phenomenon is partly a love story as John pursues the woman of his dreams, but it is also much more. It is a film about facing the unknown and the wonder of learning. While much of the film is funny it is definitely not a comedy and you should be prepared to have various emotional strings pulled throughout the film. An excellent choice for fans of romantic comedies and romantic dramas.

Matilda
Matilda
VHS
13 used & new from CDN$ 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars How To Survive Private School, May 18 2004
This review is from: Matilda (VHS Tape)
Every now and then I see a movie intended for younger viewers that impresses me. Matilda, based on the book by Roald Dahl (Witches, James and The Giant Peach, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) is one such movie. This is the story of a young girl who is special. She is very intelligent, self-sufficient, and inquisitive.
When Matilda's parents (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman) realize that she is old enough for school (sort of late) they send her to a private school run by a horribly mean woman who hates children. This environment, coupled with her life at home with a family that barely knows she is there, causes Matilda to discover and develop telekinetic powers. These she uses to help a friendly teacher and the rest of the students.
Once again a Roald Dahl book has been made into a very good movie. DeVito is excellent as a crooked used car salesman and Perlman is great as his wife. Matilda is played by the same actress who was in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. The imagery and story are of the type that can only be found in stories for younger audiences. Although the movie does differ from the book this is a movie that I highly recommend.

Dead-Alive [Import]
Dead-Alive [Import]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars Look Out For the Lawnmower, May 18 2004
This review is from: Dead-Alive [Import] (VHS Tape)
Last week I returned from a meeting to find some movies awaiting me. One of them was Dead Alive. Dead Alive is a very silly film involving unstoppable zombies and a son's devotion to his mother with a healthy splash of love story.
The movie opens on Skull Island (home of King Kong, remember?) where a trapper is trying to get out with a captured monkey. The natives do not like the idea. We are then treated to the idea that if the monkey bites you then you have the bitten area amputated.
Enter a young Latin woman whose grandmother tells her future and that she will meet the man of her dreams very shortly. That man lives with his mother, a very distasteful woman. She spies on the two at a local zoo where they have just seen the Rat Monkey, a truly ugly specimen brought to life with stop motion animation. The monkey bites the mother and the movie is really underway; like a roller coaster.
Mother becomes even meaner and uglier and dies. But she won't stay down. Neither will anyone she kills. The son tries to keep it under control but the intervention of a greedy uncle really complicates matters.
The remainder is a really silly gore fest as the son gets things back in some semblance of order and the hundred zombies are stopped with some more interesting stop motion animation.
Like I said, very silly, but if you want a horror film that makes you laugh unintentionally, this is it.

Superman Speeding Bullet
Superman Speeding Bullet
by Matthew Dematteis
Edition: Comic
15 used & new from CDN$ 52.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Superman As Batman and Vise Versa, May 18 2004
This review is from: Superman Speeding Bullet (Comic)
There is a hard-to-find Elseworlds issue out there. This one is called Speeding Bullets and is told by Superman's closest associates. The main idea is that they are convinced that he is the man he is because of where his ship landed, his parents, the influence of Lois Lane and other factors. Only this combination could result in superman. Right?
Kal-El's craft crashed and spotted by a childless couple who returned to their house and treated the boy as their own son. These people are Dr. and Martha Wayne. Kal-El manages to burn the mugger who kills his parents, but not before he discovers he is bullet proof. He represses the memories and eventually becomes a heartless vigilante known as Batman.
Bruce Wayne comes out of hiding and enters the newspaper business by hiring the best; out of work Perry White, Lois Lane and others. The first big story is Lex Luthor's move to Gotham.
Lex Luthor gets to play the part of three separate villains all rolled into one but I won't tell you who or how the heartless Batman becomes Superman, but it was a very entertaining story.

The Kruton Interface
The Kruton Interface
by John Dechancie
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
22 used & new from CDN$ 2.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Silliness Amongst the Stars, May 18 2004
I recently read a little book by John DeChancie called THE KRUTON INTERFACE. This book was released several years ago but is still available here on Amazon.
Krutons are shape changing slime molds. They are also all lawyers. Now they have a plot to sue the Human race and only one ship of the line stands in their way; the USS Repulse. The Repulse has a new captain, Captain David Wanker (Vahn-ker) and a crew made up of the worst in the service. Wanker and crew must escort Rufus T. Strangefinger to the Kruton Interface to test a new interstellar drive.
This book shamelessly pokes fun at Star Trek, Star Trek: Next Generation, the Marx Brothers and just about everything else (including itself). If you are looking for a really silly book filled with good satire then try and find a copy of this book.

Star Crystal
Star Crystal
DVD ~ C. Juston Campbell
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 54.08
5 used & new from CDN$ 53.83

3.0 out of 5 stars ET Meets Alien, May 18 2004
This review is from: Star Crystal (DVD)
For the price of an empty DVD case I picked up a horrible little movie that is so bad it's good. The movie is Star Crystal and can sort of be described as Alien meets E.T.
A band of scientists find a strange rock on Mars. Inside are two things; an alien life form and a star crystal that acts as it's power source. Soon all of the humans are dead and the ship is picked up. A new crew is forced to use the ship as a life boat and the killing begins anew. One by one the humans are eliminated. With each death the creature grows in size and intelligence. Now that's the clincher. The creature becomes intelligent enough to know that killing is wrong. Truce and mutual assistance replace the fear and killing.
Not too bad a plot, really. But wait until you see the acting! Dan Akroyd would not have had to make this one up for his Bad Cinema skits. After the acting comes the ship. Apparently there are only four rooms on the large vessel (only one sleeping quarters) and to get around you have to crawl around in storm-drain like tunnels about a yard across.
If you want to watch a movie that was just made to be heckled and have popcorn thrown at, this one sure fits the bill. I would not be surprised to find out if this was conceived by the same forces (or lack thereof) that came up with Space: 1999.

Star Crystal [Import]
Star Crystal [Import]
VHS

3.0 out of 5 stars ET Meets Alien, May 18 2004
This review is from: Star Crystal [Import] (VHS Tape)
For the price of a blank tape I picked up a horrible little movie that is so bad it's good. The movie is Star Crystal and can sort of be described as Alien meets E.T.
A band of scientists find a strange rock on Mars. Inside are two things; an alien life form and a star crystal that acts as it's power source. Soon all of the humans are dead and the ship is picked up. A new crew is forced to use the ship as a life boat and the killing begins anew. One by one the humans are eliminated. With each death the creature grows in size and intelligence. Now that's the clincher. The creature becomes intelligent enough to know that killing is wrong. Truce and mutual assistance replace the fear and killing.
Not too bad a plot, really. But wait until you see the acting! Dan Akroyd would not have had to make this one up for his Bad Cinema skits. After the acting comes the ship. Apparently there are only four rooms on the large vessel (only one sleeping quarters) and to get around you have to crawl around in storm-drain like tunnels about a yard across.
If you want to watch a movie that was just made to be heckled and have popcorn thrown at, this one sure fits the bill. I would not be surprised to find out if this was conceived by the same forces (or lack thereof) that came up with Space: 1999.

Rivers of Time
Rivers of Time
by L. Sprague De Camp
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Let's Hunt Dinosaurs, May 18 2004
L. Sprague de Camp, one of the masters of the time travel story once wrote a story called A Gun For Dinosaur staring Reginald Rivers and his time safari. Almost thirty-five years later he began writing more stories about Mr. Rivers and dinosaur hunting. These stories were collected into a volume called RIVERS OF TIME.
These stories begin in much the same way with Reginald Rivers explaining company policy to a new client. Rivers then proceeds to narrate a tale of a previous safari to explain his point. The other common thread is that while being surrounded by dinosaurs of all shape and sizes, the real trouble and danger comes from the people.
The first story, A Gun For Dinosaur, was slightly rewritten to bring it more up to date with accepted dinosaur knowledge and theory. One story even has a client wanting to witness the meteor strike that wiped out the dinosaurs while another has a religious team trying to disprove evolution.
So, if you like time travel, dinosaurs and good human interaction, try and pick up this collection.

Spider Man 02 Goblins Revenge
Spider Man 02 Goblins Revenge
by Dean Smith
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Sequel Misses the Feel, May 18 2004
A while back I really enjoyed a book called CARNAGE IN NEW YORK by David Michelinie and Dean Wesley Smith. Now I have just completed the sequel called THE GOBLIN'S REVENGE by Dean Wesley Smith.
This book takes up just after the conclusion of the first book. Spider-Man has just turned over a deadly serum to Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. Reed is attacked by a pumpkin-bomb wielding figure who takes the serum. Then someone helps Carnage break out of prison and there are sightings of The Green Goblin (who has been dead for years). The Green Goblin, Carnage and a team from the company that created the serum are now all after Spider-Man. To make matters worse, Spidey is not in top form as nightmares have kept him from sleeping. Now he must figure out the riddle of the Green Goblin's return, recapture Carnage and avoid the team with the fancy ray guns.
I really enjoyed the first book as it really felt like it was directly from the pages of the comic book, but this one just did not flow as well. It might be that Dean Wesly Smith was only a co-author of the first one while he is the only author of this one. So, while I recommended the first to people on the basis that it read just like a single issue of the comic, I do not really recommend this one. If you want to read it anyway go right ahead, it is kind of fun in its way.

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