Episode 21 – The Flight of Dragons

The Flight of Dragons movie posterThe Flight of Dragons (1982)

A young Boston writer goes back in time into an era where wizards and dragon reign and science is just barely known. (IMDB)

This is an old one that was suggested by a listener. Thanks for the suggestion, Joe! This one is for you, buddy! This one was also a sentimental favorite of ours. We are happy to return from a long hiatus with a new episode, and hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we did making it.

This is not the greatest highlight in the Rankin/Bass catalogue, but it was definitely worth watching.

 

 

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Episode 20 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

FanFantastic Beasts Movie Postertastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

We’re going to try doing more current movies, but we want to give people a chance to see it before we let loose with all the spoilers. So be warned, we get spoilery on this one. We encourage our listeners to go see the movie and see what they think, then come listen to us and see what we said about it. Or you can listen to us and decide if it’s something you want to see, but we’re giving away some plot twists and surprises.

That said, we really hope you enjoy this episode. We had a lot of fun making it.

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Episode 19 – Labyrinth

Labyrinth movie poster 1986Labyrinth (1986)
A 16-year old girl is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King. (IMDB)

OH. MY. GOB!

We had a HUGE technical issue with the recording of this one. I tried to iron out as many kinks as I could but I’m afraid there are still some pops, as well as some dramatic volume changes. I apologize in advance and beg you for your patience to listen to the entire show. The problems disappear entirely around the half hour mark, so if you get that far, you’re golden. And please, stick with it, because this was a GREAT conversation.

Wow, the 80s really is a golden age for fantasy movies. This time we go to 1986 and the slightly confusing presence of David Bowie in one of the highlights of the decade, fantastically speaking. This movie has David Bowie, Muppets, and a very early appearance of Jennifer Connolly.

James Introcasso and Bonnie MacDonald join us in Pete’s place (he wasn’t feeling well enough to record, but he’ll be back for Fantastic Beasts).

Join us again as we tackle the tough questions: Is this really happening? What does it all mean? What’s the deal with that bulge, anyway? Be with us for the next thrilling episode of DRAGONREEL!

If you enjoy the show, please go to iTunes and give us a good rating. It helps other people find us on iTunes. And share with your friends who enjoy podcasts. We would really love to hear from our listeners. email the show at dragonreelpodcast@gmail.com, or follow us on:

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Episode 18 – Legend

Legend Movie PosterLegend (1985)

A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves. (IMDB)

Once upon a time, no one had even heard of Tom Cruise. So Hollywood wasn’t sure what kind of a niche he could fill in their machine. Somehow he ended up in Legend, and cemented himself in fantasy movie history. Join Pete, Sharon, and Chris as we talk about the ins and outs of this nostalgic piece of cinema from our teen years.

This was Pete’s choice, and the discussion surrounding the movie tells us why. Watch the movie and then join us, and see if you thought some of the same things we did.

If you enjoy the show, please go to iTunes and give us a good rating. It helps other people find us on iTunes. And share with your friends who enjoy podcasts. We would really love to hear from our listeners. email the show at dragonreelpodcast@gmail.com, or follow us on:

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Episode 17 – Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful movie posterOz the Great and Powerful (2013)

A small-time magician is swept away to an enchanted land and is forced into a power struggle between three witches. (IMDB)

Since Sharon chose The Wizard of Oz, Chris chose to follow it up with a prequel of sorts. Oz the Great and Powerful takes places years before the events of The Wizard of Oz, and tells the story of how the land came to be ruled by such a humbug of a wizard in the first place. Learn about Oz the wizard, and Oz the land, along with us.

 

Check out all the observations we had about this new twist on a familiar tale.

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Episode 16 – The Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz posterThe Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home. (IMDB)

Strange choice for Sharon to make, but she decided that we’d be off to see the Wizard for this episode. So we’re going back in time over 75 years to this undisputed classic.

Come see what the DragonReel regulars make of this gem from our childhood. We really had a lot to say about the movie itself, the cast, and what you DIDN’T get to see on the screen, in the form of behind-the-scenes stories and Hollywood mystique. This one movie made a lot of our favorite movies possible, and we give it its due while also adding a critical eye unclouded by the rose-tint of nostalgia. Hope you enjoy our talk about it.

Don’t forget to go to dragonreel.com and rate it yourself! And email us at dragonreelpodcast@gmail.com to let us know what you think.

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Episode 15 – Kull the Conquerer

Kull the Conquerer (1997)Kull the Conquerer movie poster

An [sic] barbarian warrior becomes a king when he defeats a king in armed combat and the king’s heir conspire to overthrow him and reclaim the throne by resurrecting an evil sorceress. (IMDB)

Kevin Sorbo and Tia Carrere star in this sword and sandal throwback from the late 90s. Pete suggested we do this one, so he brought his (and our) friend Ron into the conversation to start us off talking about it. Looks like we had a variety of things to say about it. Some good, some bad. You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out!

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Episode 14 – Excalibur

Excalibur movie posterExcalibur (1981)

Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the round table of Camelot even as forces conspire to tear it apart (IMDB)

John Boorman’s alleged classic gets torn out of the stone we found it in. The long-awaited deep examination of the legend of King Arthur made cinema fare, Excalibur!

This movie stands pretty significantly in fantasy movie history, but does it stand the test of time? Will it be a unanimous success? Will we EVER find a movie to do from the 90s? These questions and more get answered in the next episode of DRAGONREEL!

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Book Review: Eye of the World

Eye of the World Book CoverThis novel, the first in the Wheel of Time series, begins an ambitious undertaking in the epic fantasy genre. We are introduced to the heroes, a collection of backwater friends barely old enough to be called adults, and the two strangers who come into their village and change everything they know about their world and themselves.

The story begins with Rand al’Thor, a shepherd and farmer, who feels himself being watched on the road into town. This ill omen is echoed with his two friends, Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara. This visitation is the precursor to an attack on the village by creatures long thought to be a legend. The two strangers, the mysterious woman Moiraine (whom we learn is an Aes Sedai, a woman able to tap into a supernatural “One Power” to weave magical effects) and her guardian (called a Warder), Lan, tell them that there is something special about the three young men, and urge them to leave the village with them. Egwene al’Vere, a young woman of their village, joins them as they begin their quest, and they are joined later on by Nynaeve al’Meara, the village “Wisdom” or healing woman. On their way to their destination, they are forced to grow up fast if they hope to survive. They are confronted with adversaries of many forms, human and monster, and learn that the Dark One, an evil power confined millennia ago in a mystic prison, is rising in power and threatens the world once more. And in their travels, they also meet a few people who will become friends, and who make recurring appearances throughout the series.

As quest fantasy goes, it’s pretty good. The idea of twelve or more books in the series makes it sound like the pacing would drag, but this is quite vigorous in its pacing. All the groundwork for the rest of the series is being laid down here, in describing the cultures and cosmology of the Wheel of Time universe, but never at the expense of the story. Many have called it a Tolkien rip-off, and in some ways, that’s so, but then Tolkien wasn’t writing in a vacuum, either. I don’t really see how that’s necessarily a bad thing. If I like Lord of the Rings, so it stands to reason I would like something similar to it. The well-known fantasy archetypes are used well in the story, and are supported by a defined magic system and world history. Of course you’ll find a few fantasy clichés in here, too. They’re hard to avoid when writing in this motif. Though it falls into the category of epic quest fantasy, Jordan departs from the Tolkien model far enough that this is as original a series as can be expected in the genre.

Jordan also uses the concept of the Wheel of Time itself to insinuate that our own world is yet another turning of the Wheel. As the book says, “Ages come and pass… Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.” To this end, he alludes to characters and legends analogous to those that you and I in the real world already know of. The names of the Forsaken (an elite group of servants to the Dark One) are taken from various myths and religions. Certain legendary figures in the world history have names strangely similar to those in the real world, such as Artur Pendraeg and Birgitte.

There were a couple of problems I had with the book, that after the six books I’ve read still are not satisfactorily explained. The setting of the story is a massive continent that seems to be about the size of Europe, or perhaps a mirror image of China. In this entire continent, there are only two languages, and one of them is dead. The “Old Tongue” which has no name other than that, does not seem to be related at all to the modern language, yet at some point in the past, people simply stopped speaking the Old Tongue, and started speaking the new one, seemingly overnight.

Another problem I had was with the personalities of some characters. Most of the women are weakly defined, primarily differentiated only by the degree of their temper, and they all have a temper, and they live and breathe scathing generalizations about men. The character of Mat is also hard to sympathize with, as he spends the beginning of the book being a bratty little kid, and most of the rest of the book being surly and aggressive, as his mind is slowly dominated by an evil relic.

A minor nit to pick is the phrase the Aes Sedai keep kicking around. “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.” It’s a cute little phrase but it sounds like a mixed metaphor to me. Wheels don’t weave. Wheels spin or wheels turn. Looms weave. A minor annoyance at best, but it did stick out in my mind as unnecessary repetition.

Getting past all that, I did enjoy the book, and have enjoyed most of the books that have come after it in the series. Rand and Perrin are interesting characters, and the narration from their points of view are enjoyable. Perrin is my favorite character in the series so far, but for the first couple books, Rand is likeable as well. The story moves along, as a lot of the book involves the characters being chased by one set of bad guys or another. This serves to drive the story with a sense of urgency, and the end of the book leaves you with a healthy wonder of what will happen next. I found it enjoyable, and as of book 6, it strikes me as one of the better fantasy series I’ve read.

Chris’s Rating: 4 Gold Pieces
(This review originally appeared on Amazon.com here, as I wrote it on December 2, 2002)
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Episode 13 – Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars the Force Awakens movie posterStar Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. (IMDB)

Mike Shea of SlyFlourish.com joins us to talk about our freshest movie ever. We waited 30 years for this baby to come out, we couldn’t wait another day to talk about it!

We talk about how this movie fits into the canon of Star Wars, what we expected,  how we were pleased or disappointed, and what we expect from the next few installments in the franchise. We tear into this to find the best and worst of the great science-fantasy universe that we grew up with.

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Star Wars the Force Awakens movie poster

How AMC Stole Christmas

This is a posting from Sharon. Our listeners may know already that Sharon is totally blind. This is about an experience that happened to us today, Christmas morning, 2015.

I’ve been in tears over this several times today. My husband and I are fans of science fiction and fantasy, and for years, we’ve shared this hobby together. I was a kid when Star Wars came out for the first time, and I’ve always loved the movies.

For a Christmas surprise, he got us tickets to see the new Star Wars movie at a time when they offered audio description. There were only two such shows during the day, and the morning showing on Christmas day seemed to be the best chance that we could avoid overcrowded theaters and make sure we got the right headset for audio description.

The introduction of audio description in movie theaters was such a wonderful advancement, and made me so happy when our local theaters added it to their list of services. I have had terrible anxiety about going to movie theaters ever since I went to see the LAST Star Wars movie: Revenge of the Sith. My daughter was quietly describing the action on the screen, and the woman next to her kept tapping her and shushing her. Then my husband, sitting on my other side, took over describing, and the woman glared at us, even though it was impossible for her to hear him describing. After the movie, she yelled at us, and at me in particular, and called me a bitch for ruining her movie experience, even after we explained that I was totally blind. She said that if I needed someone to talk to me during the movie, I should just stay home. That experience has stayed with me for a decade and colored my expectations of going out to the movies.

When we got to AMC, we went straight to a manager, who flagged down a girl working there to give us the headset. We specifically asked if it was audio description, as opposed to enhanced audio for the hearing impaired. She assured us it was, but that it wouldn’t start working until the movie started. So we got into the theater and waited.

I don’t think I need to describe the anticipation we felt, but when the long-awaited words “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” came onto the screen, the headphones were silent. And with the opening crawl of words, there was no reading from the headphones. When my husband started to describe things on the screen, I heard sound in the headphones, but it was only amplified sounds of the events on the screen. No description. No narration.

We left the theater and angrily complained to management. Yes, we got our money back after it took 20 minutes to explain the situation and for them to realize what they’d done and get the right headset, and then they offered to let us back in with the right equipment. What good is that? We’ve missed the whole first part of the movie! There was no other showing with audio description for 7 more hours. We weren’t going to come back at 6pm when our daughter is coming over for dinner with our 2-month old grandson!

This was not the first time this has happened to us. The many many times we’ve tried to go out to a movie, there has not been one single instance where they gave us the right equipment the first time. And I can only think of two times where we caught their mistake in time to enjoy the movie. I have complained to management each and every time, in at least 3 different theaters in our community. Every time, they have promised to train their employees better in the future. And every time, we get the same ignorance of disability accommodations.

I wonder if anyone else with disabilities has experienced such difficulties at AMC theaters in particular, or movie theaters in general. What do you do and how do you explain to them what you need BEFORE it’s too late to enjoy the movie? This was such a nice surprise from my husband, and it turned into such a heartbreak on Christmas. We’re going to try again in a couple days, but how does everyone else get past this barrier?

Sharon Dudley, NBCT

Episode 12 – The Year Without a Santa Claus

The Year Without a Santa Claus

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

When a weary and discouraged Santa Claus considers skipping his Christmas Eve run one year, Mrs. Claus and his Elves set out to change his mind. (IMDB)
We know, we know! We promised Excalibur next, but we had an opportunity to do a quick talk about a TV movie from our childhood, and we couldn’t pass it up. We promise we’ll do Excalibur for Lucky 13!
In the mean time, come on in and listen to the talk about this holiday classic. See what we thought held up, what we thought didn’t. What modern audiences (of children) are saying about it.
No special guest this time, just the three of us talking about Santa and all these talented stars of a bygone age.

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Episode 11 – Willow

Willow Movie Poster

Willow (1988)

A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen. (IMDB)

Joining us from the Slice of SciFi podcast (and many many more), we have Summer Brooks on to talk about Willow. Funny thing about Willow. I dug around the internet to find a DVD copy to watch so we could do this one. For some reason, there’s a DVD and a Blu-Ray that are both ludicrously expensive.

This episode delves into what went right and what went wrong with Willow. We all had a lot to say on this one. We ran a little long, but this conversation is worth hearing. Summer gave us quite a bit to think about on this one.

Check out Summer’s regular podcast: Slice of SciFi!

Comment here, email us at dragonreelpodcast@gmail.com, or follow us on Facebook/Twitter. Don’t forget to go to iTunes and give us a review!

 

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Book Review: Tigana

Tigana CoverTigana is a rarity in modern fantasy, not only for the fact that it is an entire story contained in one volume. There are several other fantasy molds it dares to break, and as a result, it provides a refreshing change of pace from the standard quest fantasy that pervades the science-fiction/fantasy shelves in the bookstores today. But with these innovations, one has to accept a few failings of the story as well.

One of the best things about the book is that finally, at long last, we are given a villain that is not a cardboard cutout evil sorcerer. In fact, we are presented with two villains of the piece, and each is unique in his vileness. On the one side, the sorcerer Alberico is a sick, twisted individual whose evil rests on the motivation of his ambition to the throne of his native land. Alberico is contemptible, but at the same time pitiable in the way circumstances seem so far beyond his control and his ambition. Brandin, the sorcerer from the other kingdom, and Alberico’s rival, is a sympathetic villain, powerful and controlling, yet not wholly evil. We see a great deal of his human side and in the end, respect him even as we hope for his downfall. This dual opposition keeps the reader rapt in the story, devouring the book to see just where it goes.

And if the villains are complex, the heroes are doubly so. Each character finds his or her own story arc, and the right and wrong of their goals are constantly questioned. That good and evil are not so clear cut is unusual for a fantasy novel, and Mr. Kay earns my respect for the boldness that it takes to write such a story. The main characters even question their own motivations for pursuing their goal, something we usually take for granted in such a tale.

Though this was a unique fantasy experience, I did find some drawbacks that detracted somewhat from the pleasure I derived. These points are relatively minor, and I can’t even describe them fully without giving away too much of the book. But one thing that I did find somewhat irritating was that the Heir of the lost province seemed too much of a superhero. He had too many exceptional abilities. In any other fantasy novel this probably wouldn’t seem exceptional, but the rest of Tigana gave me such high hopes that the “do-anything” characteristics of the heir made it difficult for me to accept. Other character problems were the inclusion of seemingly major characters that eventually came to so little that you have to wonder why Kay made them seem so important. There was also the inclusion of relatively major supporting characters that weren’t even introduced until fairly late in the book.

Also, there were too many shifts in the point-of-view. This is a flaw in the writing style, not the story, and many people wouldn’t really care, but I found it hard to follow when I didn’t know whose eyes I was seeing events through. Kay mostly managed to keep the shifts limited to separate sections, but in one place, he starts a section in one character’s point of view, then two paragraphs later makes an awkward shift to another.

All in all, the relatively minor flaws are worth working through in order to enjoy a book like Tigana. It was the best fantasy novel I’d read in ages, and has me eager to read more from the author, and more fantasy in general.

Chris’s Rating: 5 Gold Pieces

(This review originally appeared on Amazon.com here, where I actually gave it only 4 stars, but reconsideration and contemplation has raised its quality in my eyes.)

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Episode 10 – Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice Movie PosterBeetlejuice (1988)

A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a “bio-exorcist” in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house. (IMDB)

Our special Halloween episode skirts a borderline horror/fantasy comedy that I’m sure we all know pretty well. We had our friend Calvin on to talk about one of his greatest loves, this movie.

In the course of the discussion, we all shared entirely new perspectives on this classic, so I think we all came away with ways to view it. Maybe you will, too.

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Episode 9 – Reign of Fire

Reign of Fire movie posterReign of Fire (2002)

A clear fantasy that tries to kick a foot over the line with science fiction, Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey trade witticisms and punches and tips for slaying dragons in this post-apocalyptic semi-classic.

We had a lot of good discussion on this one, and we all brought up some good points and made some good comparisons. Even the parts we didn’t like were good for discussions.

“A brood of fire-breathing dragons emerges from the earth and begins setting fire to everything, establishing dominance over the planet.” (IMDB)

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Book Review: The Color of Magic (Or The Colour of Magic if you prefer)

The Color of MagicThe Color of Magic is the first in the extremely long but now sadly finite (R.I.P., Sir Terry) Discworld series. In the first novel, the central character is Rincewind, a failed wizard with a craven nature. Rincewind meets up with the Discworld’s first tourist, an insurance salesman named Twoflower from a far-off continent. They pair up because Rincewind seems to be the only person in the city who can speak a common language with Twoflower. Together, they maneuver themselves through various situations, manipulated by the gods who sit above and move them like game pieces in some contest only they understand. And Twoflower’s luggage, made of sapient pearwood, loyally follows along with them wherever they go.

Through this premise, they encounter a series of adventures that parody the fantasy genre. They run afoul of a dragonrider enclave, a reference to Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, and a fairly amusing one. There were a few other obvious tributes for veterans of the genre. Bravd and the Weasel were clear references to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Hrun the Barbarian is a standard Conan type. We are introduced to various aspects of the Discworld itself. The physics of the seasons of a flat world with an orbiting sun, and the terminology resulting from its nature, detailed in an early footnote, were interesting.

The problem with the story is that it’s just a little … dull. I did like the book, but not as much as the other Discworld books I’ve read. I’d read this one years ago, and the disappointment I’d felt in it after hearing so much about Discworld put me off reading any other Discworld books for a long time. But constant raving by the loyal fan base caused me to abandon my misgivings and read more of the seires. And I’m glad I did. But even after rereading the first one with a little more of the series under my belt, I decided it wasn’t just a first impression. This is just not as good as some others in the series. The series can’t be judged by its beginning.

This story was a little too much of a revolving door of other stories and characters. I’m not that fond of Rincewind, the main character in this one. He’s not very interesting, and after a while I found him a little annoying. The tourist character, Twoflower, wasn’t really consistent. Throughout most of the book, he’s a sort of blissfully ignorant, cheery rube, blundering on protected from harm by his own inability to understand the danger he’s in. But at a couple points in the book he becomes uncharacteristically angry or wise. Also the first time he’s described, the writer says he has four eyes, but it’s not really clear that this is because the person viewing him has never seen eyeglasses before. And also somehow Twoflower at some point becomes able to converse with people besides Rincewind without having a common language.

There are a few good funny lines in the book, but not enough to really say the book was funny cover to cover. There were a couple parts where I did really laugh out loud, but not enough to call this pure comedy. Pratchett is often called the “Douglas Adams of Fantasy,” but I feel the comparison to Douglas Adams isn’t really accurate. The sense of humor is vaguely similar, but The Hitchhiker series had something funny on almost every page, sometimes at the expense of the storytelling, which suffered a little bit with the side-conversations that went nowhere just for the sake of a laugh. For the most part, The Color of Magic was pure parody of the fantasy genre, and the humor is more subtle. Expecting a quotable “joke” as often as in the Hitchhiker series is bound to lead to a disappointment.

The other Discworld books I’ve read are better than this. Fortunately, one doesn’t need to read all the books sequentially to get the most enjoyment out of the series. Although there are over 30 books already, there are several smaller subseries focusing on various characters. I’ll probably skip all the ones that focus on Rincewind, but I plan to read several more in the series. If this is the first Discworld book you read, you may also be put off the series, but I assure you, it gets better.

Chris’s Rating: 3 Gold Pieces

This review originally appeared on Amazon here, dated September 26, 2005, but has been edited to reflect Sir Terry’s passing)

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Book Review: Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys Cover

Anansi Boys was widely promoted before its release as a sequel to Gaiman’s novel American Gods. But it has little relation to that earlier work. Anansi does appear briefly, and some stories are told about him, both in dialogue and in the narration. However, this novel focuses principally on Fat Charlie Nancy, Anansi’s mortal (and oblivious to his heritage) son.

At first, the story comes across as very similar in structure to Gaiman’s earlier novel, Neverwhere. Fat Charlie (like Richard from Neverwhere) is a luckless loser, who starts out the story in what is clearly the wrong job, with a girl he is clearly not meant to be with, until he finds himself drawn into an unbelievable world he never knew existed.To summarize the novel would be to give too much away, and the book really thrives on the freshness of its surprises and twists. And to summarize it wouldn’t do it justice. All that ought to be said is that Fat Charlie lives a relatively safe and comfortably boring existence until his estranged and embarrassing father dies in a spectacularly embarrassing way. Returning to the United States from his home in London to put his late father’s affairs in order, Fat Charlie finds his world thrown into turmoil by the twin revelation that, not only was his father a god, but that Fat Charlie has a brother he never knew about. His troubles truly begin in earnest when he casually invites Spider, his brother, into his life, and then finds he is unable to make him leave it. Spider causes havoc with Charlie’s life at home and at work. Desperate to get his life back, the steps Fat Charlie takes to get rid of Spider lead to their own problems for everyone, and what follows is a high-speed adventure to control the damage, save some lives, and maybe bring Charlie out of his shell a little.

Perhaps popular trend and the market right now are flooded with “modern fantasy” and Anansi Boys isn’t really breaking any totally unexplored ground in that regard. But this is a genre that Gaiman himself helped to pioneer and popularize, and this novel is far from the worst of its kind. Gaiman employs the premise that the old gods walk among us, as he did in American Gods, and in this book we find that a few mortals know a little bit about it.

Gaiman uses very abstract mechanics for his ideas of the nature and power of divinity. The methods are very iconic and primitive. His use of totemic or archetypical animal beings, otherworldly creatures who are simultaneously wholly human and wholly animal in appearance, is very well-described. As he writes, “It all depends on how you look at it.” The exact details of How Things Are Done (capitals for significance, of course) are loosely defined, and in the course of the storytelling, they don’t really matter that much. Reality is flexible for certain people, and that’s all you really need to know.

The characters are mostly well-developed without being described in endless detail. For example, Gaiman never once says that Fat Charlie is black, but he describes some people as being white, such as “She was a white woman who…” It’s all in how you look at it. This technique works, but a few characters could be described in more detail. We never really get into the head of Rosie, Fat Charlie’s fiancée, even though we occasionally get the narration from her point of view. Likewise, the role for Daisy, another girl with a flower name, whom Fat Charlie meets after a night on the town, is never really in doubt, and we sort of accept the inevitable, unlikely or loosely founded as it is. One could guess by their names their relative significance to Fat Charlie. Nevertheless, they, and all the other characters, take their parts in the drama in their own unique styles. There are no boring characters. The book is far too short, and flows too quickly to ever be boring.

And this is the book’s true strength. Gaiman’s writing style is very enjoyable, and this novel fairly flies by. If a book about a spider god can be said to fly. The tale is fast-paced, and once into it, the reader is very reluctant to put it down. Gaiman’s wit, humor, and storytelling skill entertain and educate, the latter with the use of the various legends of Anansi, which he tells through dialogue and narration. The tone is humorous, and almost conversational, as if this is your buddy Neil telling you a story at a party about a guy he knows.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and though I rarely reread novels, I will probably give this one another reading after a few months. It was a fun time, and the worst part about the ending was that it arrived too quickly.

This review initially appeared on Amazon.com in 2005

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Episode 8 – Mythica: A Quest for Heroes

Mythica movie posterMythica: A Quest for Heroes(2014)

The young magician Marek dreams of exciting adventures. When she meets the help-seeking priestess Teela she offers her assistance and provides a motley troupe. Together they go in search of Teela’s sister, who was kidnapped by a wild ogre. (IMDB)

This is officiallythe freshest movie we’ve reviewed yet! Brian is back to talk about this one with us. He’s close to the people who made it. We can’t wait to see this one!

Thanks for sticking with us through our inconsiderate hacking incident. I hope everyone is back and psyched up for this one.

Update: I think iTunes was failing to find this because of the “Dread UTF-7” error. I fixed that and would love to hear back if anyone got this from their iTunes or their Stitcher feed.

 

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Episode 7 – Stardust

Stardust (2007)

In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm. (IMDB)

We’re looking forward to doing this one. We all loved the book and were delighted when the film came out. Join us and see how it stands up to a fourth or fifth viewing and some in-depth examination.

 

 

 

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