Book Review – The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

The Midwich Cuckoos

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham is a 1957 science fiction novel about an alien invasion of a different kind. One morning, the unremarkable village of Midwich in Britain inexplicably cannot be entered. Anybody trying to get in is suddenly knocked unconscious by unknown means. Every living thing within this radius of influence, which encompasses Midwich, is in this state. Military Intelligence, in trying to get a handle on the situation, notice through aerial photos the presence of an otherworldly, silver object at the centre of it all in the village.

A day after this begins, however, it is over. The object is gone, and most of the residents of Midwich awaken unharmed. The event becomes known as the “Dayout,” and begins to recede from memory as nothing more than a bad dream. That is, until all the women of childbearing age in Midwich discover they have somehow become pregnant, and that their ordeal is only just beginning. They eventually give birth to pale, golden-eyed children that appear to be human, but are in fact something else altogether.Read More »

Book Review – Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

Eating the Dinosaur

I’ve found trying to succinctly describe Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman a little challenging. In some ways it’s easy because it is (a) a book of essays, (b) a work of nonfiction, and (c) concerned with popular culture. This isn’t especially helpful though, since that describes a lot of books. A number of the essays revolve around sports and music, that’s for sure. One is so deeply entrenched in football history, in fact, that he advises some readers to skip it (though this is an outlier).

In a broad way, I suppose, I’d say this book questions facets of the reality in our society and how we come to interpret this reality through very specific examples of celebrity and popular culture. Maybe that’s still too vague, but this book has essays about the concept of time travel, Road movies, why we answer interview questions, and ABBA. Connective threads are bound to look a little tenuous from the outside.Read More »

Book Review – The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World is a nature book by German forester Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst. This book is the first in a series by the author called The Mysteries of Nature. We all understand that trees are alive, but they’re so different from us that it’s hard not to objectify them, especially with how we use them as a resource. While his observations and experiences working in forestry serve as the foundation of his understanding, in this book Wohlleben brings together a wealth of modern scientific knowledge about trees that uncovers the unseen ways that they live and interact with each other, helping to make them relatable to the human experience and fostering an understanding of how we can help them flourish.Read More »

Comic Book Review – The Healing Thirst by Aleš Kot, Piotr Kowalski, & Brad Simpson

The Healing Thirst

The Healing Thirst by Aleš Kot (writer), Piotr Kowalski (artist), and Brad Simpson (colourist) is the second graphic novel adapting the world of the video game Bloodborne, a horror action-RPG developed by FromSoftware. This volume tells a story that stands alone from its predecessor, about a healer and scientist named Alfredius and a priest of the Healing Church named Clement who form an unlikely friendship while Yharnam slowly succumbs to plague all around them. The beastly scourge—an illness that turns humans into beasts akin to werewolves—is becoming more and more prominent. Meanwhile, another mysterious sickness known as Ashen Blood is laying waste to the population as well. The two pool their resources together to uncover the source of these ailments in hopes of discovering a cure.Read More »

Book Review – On Earth as it is in Hell by Brian Hodge

On Earth as it is in Hell

Published in 2005, On Earth as it is in Hell by Brian Hodge is the third novel based on the Hellboy comic book series and the first not written by Christopher Golden. Unlike the previous two novels, this book is considered to be outside of the accepted canon of stories. It does however work off of established Hellboy continuity up until the point that it was published.

Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and other agents of the BPRD are brought to the Vatican after a fiery attack upon the archives kills a number of people, destroying many priceless texts from history in the process. One survived, however, which Hellboy believes to have been the true target of the attack: The Masada Scroll, purportedly written by Jesus of the Nazarene himself decades after the crucifixion. The culprits? None other than seraphim, having unleashed devasting heavenly fire. But why would agents of Heaven enact such death and destruction? In trying to keep the scroll safe for the Vatican, Hellboy and company come up against heretical fanatics, diabolical deities, and a conspiracy to bring about Hell on Earth.Read More »

Book Review – Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad

Witches Abroad is the 12th novel in Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy Discworld series, and the third in the “Witches” subset of books. Desiderata Hollow knows that soon she will pass on. She’s a witch. Witches are good at knowing things like this. The problem is, she’s also a fairy godmother to a girl far across the Disc in a land called Genua, whose destiny is being meddled with. She passes her wand onto Magrat Garlick, one of the witches of in the kingdom of Lancre, with express instructions to travel to Genua to help this girl, and to not allow the other witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to help her (knowing full well that those two will do the exact opposite of what is asked of them). Their objective vague and their destination clear, the trio commence their long journey to Genua.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy

Batman White Knight

Written and illustrated by Sean Murphy, Batman: White Knight is a standalone miniseries outside of the mainline DC comics continuity. Following a destructive chase through the streets of Gotham, Batman is filmed brutalizing the Joker while dozens of GCPD officers look on. The footage goes viral, casting the caped crusader and the complacent police force in a negative light. Following this, the Joker has begun taking an unknown medication that “cures” him of his insanity, making him Jack Napier once again. While not blind to his crimes committed as the Joker, Jack sees Batman as the real villain plaguing Gotham City, his vigilante crusade doing more harm than good. He sets out to make the city a better place by exposing all the bad that comes with how Batman operates, leading the public to no longer tolerate their dark knight.Read More »

Book Review – The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte is a nonfiction paleontology book published in 2018 that tells the story of the dinosaurs. It starts from their emergence on a dramatically changed Earth in the Triassic period, to their growth into dominance in the Jurassic period, and finally their peak in the Cretaceous period before their catastrophic end. Though surely only a snapshot into an extensive scientific field, what it offers the everyday reader is a vivid look into what scientists currently know about dinosaurs and how they have learned what they know. In doing so the book also presents an equally valuable glimpse into the field and lab work of paleontologists throughout history and in the modern era.Read More »

Book Review – If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino

if on a winter's night a traveler

If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino is not just one novel, but several. Told in the second-person, the frame narrative tells the story of an unnamed Reader who buys a new book, If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino, only to find that there was a binding issue printing the book and after the first 32 pages the same chapter is repeated throughout, leaving him unable to continue reading after a moment of suspense in the story. Trying to find a complete version of this initial novel he is mistakenly given a completely different novel by another author, which he resigns to read anyway. This too stops short at a moment of suspense, leading him further down a madcap pursuit of novels that he simply wants to finish reading.Read More »

Book Review – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

fire & blood

Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series, Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin is volume one of a history of House Targaryen’s reign over Westeros, including over 75 black-and-white illustrations by Dough Wheatley. Set about 300 years before the first novel, A Game of Thrones, it begins with Aegon I the Conqueror and concludes after the end of the Regency of Aegon III. This book is uniquely set apart from the main novel series because it is written as a historical text from that literary universe, rather than the narrative form fans of the series are accustomed to. As such we see this history through the lens of Archmaester Gyldayn, about whom we know little as a person, yet he serves as a passive in-universe perspective who offers academic commentary and brief tangents when appropriate.Read More »