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Tag Archives: science-fiction

Duplicates (2010): You Take Two Steps Forward, I Take Two Steps Back

Sara Samarasinghe, Duplicates (iTeen Books, 2010)

full disclosure: a copy of this book was sent to me free by the author.

Sterling and Sydney grace the book's cover.

We come together ’cause opposites attract.
photo credit:

I have reviewed a couple of Sara Samarasinghe’s books in the past. (I should have reviewed this one much earlier than I am. Ms. Samarasinghe was kind enough to fire me off a copy in the mail back in the dark ages of 2011. It got misplaced in a move and I didn’t find it again until last month.) So some of this is likely to sound familiar, if you’ve read those reviews. On the other hand, there is more to say about Duplicates, as of this writing Samarasinghe’s most recent novel. She’s not there yet, but there was a breakthrough here that was much-needed.

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Rollerball (1975): The Most Exciting Two Hours in Sports

Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975)

[originally posted 19Feb2002]

A rollerball player brandishes a wickedly-spiked glove on the movie poster.

Death Derby 2000.
photo credit:

One of the facts Hollywood managed to establish during the sixties and seventies was that Norman Jewison knows how to make a good movie. Every once in a while, he came up with a great one. Rollerball may not have been one of the great ones, but it teeters on the brink every once in a while.

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The Road (2009): I Used to Be an Adventurer Like You…

The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)

Man and Boy trudge along the road on the movie poster.

I will not send you into the darkness alone.
photo credit: IMDB

It has been a long time since I’ve read The Road—I got an ARC of it from a pal of mine at CNN before its release and read it immediately—so when I finally sat down to watch the movie, my memories of the book were hazy at best. I know relying on my memory of a book I read eight years ago is probably not the best thing in the world to do when comparing a film adaptation to it, but I remember, for what that’s worth, the book not being anywhere near as unfocused and episodic as the movie.

Then Robert Duvall gave that brilliant monologue*, and I no longer cared.

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Capsule Reviews (vault): July, 2014

Peter D. Hipson, What Every Visual C++ 2 Programmer Should Know (Sams, 1994)

[originally posted 19Feb2002]

A "just the facts, ma'am" cover with the red title on a green background.

Even more dated now than when I wrote this review.
photo credit: ebay

What Every Visual C++ 2 Programmer Should Know is the perfect compliment to Gurewich and Gurewich’s Master Visual C++ 2. Both put out by Sams in the same year. Coincidence? Probably not. Everything the Gurewich book lacks is covered here. The detail and amount of code examples is lacking in comparison, but given the topics covered, that’s an excusable oversight.

What Every Visual C++ 2 Programmer Should Know looks at the more advanced features of Microsoft’s primary development platform: programming with Unicode, OLE, ODBC, multithreading, etc. It’s more a reference book than a how-to manual, but the user who’s followed and mastered the Gurewichs’ book should already have enough coding under his belt to integrate the information presented here without much trouble. The two books, taken together, provide the best introduction to Visual C++ 2 on the market, and are highly recommended for those still programming in DOS/Win3.x/Win95. *** ½

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Capsule reviews (new), July 2014

Better late than never…

Homicide for Three (George Blair, 1948)

Audrey Long looks horrified in an artist's rendition on the movie poster.

photo credit:

Barely-feature-length mystery potboiler featuring a honeymooning couple (Warren Douglas and Audrey Long) who get caught up in a game of mistaken identity after being lent a hotel room when they arrived in New York at the wrong time. Hijinks ensue. There is nothing at all about it that would set it off from hundreds of its peers, but on the other hand, if you’re looking for a quick and easy mystery with some amusing moments and a decided lack of time investment, this will fill the bill as much as any of those others would; certainly worth a look if you happen upon it one one of the subscription streaming services, where it appears with some regularity. ** ½

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I’m Not Jesus Mommy (2010): “Your Worst Sin Was Creating Me.”

I’m Not Jesus Mommy (Vaughn Juares, 2010)

Rocko Hale attempts to look menacing on the movie poster.

And yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of in vitro fertilization, thy GMOs, they comfort me.
photo credit:

For the first third or so of its length, save some subpar acting, I’m Not Jesus Mommy is an intriguing little low-budget movie that, on many levels, makes perfect sense. Kimberly Gabriel (Bridget McGrath in her first feature), an obstetrician, is haunted by her own inability to conceive. When maverick researcher Roger Gibson (Living Arrangements‘ Charles Hubbell) approaches her with a fat government contract and some snake oil about human cloning, she resists at first, but eventually sees the opportunity in light of her own ulterior motives. The obvious question becomes: how far will a woman go to have a baby?

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Not of This Earth (1988): Traci Lords Grows Up… Kinda

photo credit: Oregon State University

Not of This Earth (Jim Wynorski, 1988)

Traci Lords stands in front of Earth, which is locked in the clutches of an alien, on the movie poster.

The tits that saved the planet.
photo credit:

I first saw Not of This Earth not long after it came out on VHS. The draw, needless to say, was former porn star Traci Lords, in her very first non-porn flick. (Say what you will about underage porn stars, but when that news came out in the mid-eighties and I realized Traci Lords is only six months older than I am? That was a very powerful thing, and probably one of the defining moments of my psyche vis-a-vis sexuality; but that is another review, and considering most of Traci Lords’ porn films were destroyed for being “kiddie porn”, well, it is most likely a review I will never write, and you will never read.) As a side note, it was also the movie that introduced me to the wild and woolly world of Jim Wynorski, who over the course of his career in low-budget sleaze (who else would give Traci Lords a break in the film industry?) has directed both some of the best (oh, come on, you know you love Dinosaur Island) and some of the worst (The Bone Eater) bad movies you are ever likely to have the misfortune to see. Not of This Earth, which I re-watched recently to see if it held up to my twenty-five-year-old memories, is closer to the former than the latter. Though I rush to add that “best” is a term I am using very, very loosely here. It’s still an awful movie, but it’s the kind of awful movie that you rent knowing without a shadow of a doubt will deliver you a wonderful time.

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