Exploding Heads: Kingsman Movie Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is, in many ways, a throwback to the spy movies of old.  It doesn’t hesitate to be self-referential, with references to over-the-top maniacal villains, bizarre henchmen, and suave and sophisticated spies.  All the same, the action and violence are modern, with raw violence and and tightly choreographed fight sequences that flow together in a fashion that’s fun to watch, absurdly superhuman, and designed to make you laugh just as much as some of the one liners.

So why am I reviewing it when I normally review only science fiction or fantasy movies?  Well, I had a few extra minutes and I think some of the science and much of the plot can fit into the science fiction and fantasy realms.  It’s a fun, exciting, movie, with a couple of genuinely emotional scenes and a lot of chuckle-worthy one-liners and sequences.  What it isn’t is a movie that you can come away from with anything deeper than that.  If you try to make sense of some of the twists and turns, you’ll just give yourself a headache.

The basic premise is easy enough to follow, self-made billionaire and philanthropist turns villainous and has a twisted and convoluted plot to achieve his goals.  The Kingsmen, spies who answer only to themselves, lose a member and must replace him.  The story then follows Eggsy, who is recruited into their training program by one of the spies who worked with his deceased father.  I won’t go into further details to save on spoilers, but I will say that Eggsy’s outfit drove me nuts, a sure sign that I’m getting old.  Some part of me just wanted to rip the flat-brimmed ball cap off his head, much less tell him to tie his shoes.   Still, by the end of it, Eggsy has completed his transformation and become someone who is a true gentleman as they said earlier in the movie: “A true gentleman is not better than others, he is better than the man he once was.”  While that bit of contemplation is about as deep as the movie goes, it was an interesting shift as his character developed throughout the movie, until he finally stood on his own.

This movie’s action sequences are not, by any measure, tame.  Thankfully it doesn’t go the route of many current action films based off comic books (this one is as well, if you read those), and they don’t use too much CGI blood.  What they do have is a lot of it as well as a lot of violence.  In the opening bit the exotic hench-woman bifurcates a man and about a half dozen people are brutally killed.  There is one sequence, in particular where people are shot, stabbed, impaled, bludgeoned to death, impaled some more, and well… you get the idea.  The exploding heads sprinkled throughout just add that extra bit of shock factor, I suppose.  Even so, it is tremendously entertaining and you aren’t left feeling much sympathy for those who get murdered.  Especially in the case of those whose heads do, indeed, explode.

All in all, I’d recommend seeing the movie as a fun night out.  It’s not, by any stretch, a profound or deep movie, but it’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at itself, which is probably why it works so well.

 

 

Advertisements

Interview, Conventions, and an Update

Just a quick update, Fenris Unchained went live last weekend.  If you haven’t had the chance to buy it or read it, well, that’s a way to spend a nice snow day like we’re having here in Colorado.

Also, I’ve got an interview up at Pretty Hot Books, you can check that out here if you’d like.

In addition, I’ve got something of a tentative convention schedule for the rest of 2015.  Right now it looks like the major conventions I’ll be participating in and attending include:

April: Starfest (Denver, CO)

June: LibertyCon (Chatanooga, TN)

October: MileHiCon (Denver, CO)

August: MalCon (Denver, CO)

I’m still waiting to hear back on several conventions and I’ll update this list as I know more.  I’ve already attended Cosine 2015, here in Colorado Springs and had a great time there.  That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Velocity and Trajectory

Good info for all authors in general, especially indies:

madgeniusclub

This is a guest post by Dorothy Grant, Peter’s wife.

___________

Sarah just informed me that the Giant Obvious Change to Amazon’s algorithms wasn’t so obvious – not to authors who are busy writing and moving. So, let’s talk about organizing book promotions in the current market.

About the time Amazon shook up the writing world by releasing a competitor to Scribd and Oyster (namely Kindle Unlimited, or KU), it also implemented a major revision to its sales ranking algorithm. The obvious impact was that KU borrows have the same impact on sales rank as an immediate sale, but no payment is made until 10% of the text is read. This had the effect of decoupling the strict cause and effect relationship between a book’s actual sales and its sales rank.

However, Amazon also implemented a more subtle but much more massive change to the algorithm. The name of…

View original post 968 more words

Fenris Unchained

Fenris Unchained

 

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

 

My latest novel, Fenris Unchained, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Fenris Unchained First Snippet!

FU Trial Cover

Here’s the first sample section from Fenris Unchained.

CHAPTER I

Time: 0815 Local, 01 June 291 G.D.

Location: Dakota, Dakota System

A yellow light began to flash on the control board.

That was nothing new, not aboard the Kip Thorne. Warning lights lit up half the panel. It was a Christmas display of yellow caution lights, flashing priority lights, and red danger lights that gave the board an aspect of impending doom.

The pilot didn’t look over to the panel to see what was wrong. One of the red lights indicated a malfunction in the auto-pilot system. That meant that the tall, blond woman had to bring the Kip Thorne down by hand.

Not a difficult a task for an experienced pilot. She enjoyed flying, enjoyed it more than anything else, really. She didn’t enjoy thirty six hours of flight time spent awake on stimulants while flying a ship that needed far too many repairs.

She shot a glance at the panel, and then flipped on the intercom. “Rawn, take a look at the starboard thruster.” She shook her head. Tried to push thoughts through a mind that seemed turned to mud.

The intercom crackled and hissed, his voice difficult to make out. “Uh, Mel, we might have a problem.”

The light ceased flashing. She sighed in relief, “No, it cleared up here, good job whatever you did.”

The ship bucked. The alarm light flashed red. A moment later, so did six or seven other warning lights. “What the hell did you just do, Rawn?!”

Mel fought the control yoke, eyes wide, as she swore to herself:

Rawn, was that the starboard pod going out?”

The ship yawed over as she overcompensated and she fought it back under control.

Rawn, you’d better get that thruster back online.”

She heard a squeal from the hatch as it opened. It had always reminded her of a ground vehicle’s brakes screeching just before an accident.

She tried not to apply that metaphor as some sort of warning to her current flight. Her brother spoke from behind her: “I’m going to pack the escape pod. Anything you want me to throw in?” he asked.

What?” Mel craned her neck to look at him.

The ship spun sharply and threw her against her straps and tossed her brother into the wall hard. She bit off a curse and struggled with the controls for a moment. It seemed to take an eternity to fight the ship back under control.

The radio crackled, “Freighter Kip Thorne, this is Dakota Landing Control, you broke out of your landing queue, return immediately, over.”

We’re going to lose the other thruster. The port thruster is in worse shape. What do you want me to put in the pod?” her brother asked.

His calm voice made her clench her teeth.

We’re not abandoning ship,” she told him sharply. “I can land this thing.” It would be hard, though, with just one thruster. They couldn’t engage their warp drive in atmosphere, not without disengaging safeties that were there to prevent that. Even if we had time, she thought, it would be a stupid thing to do. The warp drive field would tear the atmosphere around them and if they hit anything in warp, the difference in relative velocity would not only kill them but quite possibly wipe out Dakota’s biosphere.

She forced her mind to focus. When she spoke, her voice had the calm tone that she emulated from her father: “Dakota Landing Control this is Freighter Kip Thorne, we just lost our starboard thruster and are requesting immediate assistance, over.”

Freighter Kip Thorne, is this some kind of joke?” The speaker’s nasal, officious tone suggested she wasn’t amused.

Rawn snorted. “I know the safe combo, I’ll grab our cash and some keepsakes. I’ll clear out your desk too.” He pushed his way back off the bridge.

Get back here—” Mel clamped her jaws shut. One thing at a time. “Negative Dakota Landing, this is no joke, our starboard thruster— ”

Her voice broke off as another yellow light began to flash, the warning light for load limit on the other thruster. “Our starboard thruster is out and we’re about to lose our port thruster, requesting assistance, over.”

Negative, Kip Thorne, you’ll have to break off your descent and return to orbit,” the nasal voice answered. “A repair craft can be sent to you there.”

Dakota Landing, this is an emergency. We lose our port thruster, there won’t be anything keeping us up here.” Mel snapped. “We don’t have enough thrust to get back into orbit, and you don’t have time to—”

Kip Thorne, break off your descent or you will be intercepted by our customs cutter. Over.”

Dakota, I hope they got a tractor,” answered. “Because—” The ship shuddered and the other thruster went dead. “We just lost our other thruster. Kip Thorne, out.”

She turned off the radio and sat in the chair for a long moment as the small freighter bounced. Soon it would begin to tumble, she knew, without the guidance from the thrusters.

Six years, six years I kept her goin’. Dad, I did my best.”

She wiped her eyes; now was not the time to cry.

The ship fell now, without anything to slow its descent besides atmospheric friction. Superheated air flashed across the hull and cast glowing flames across the cockpit glass.

Mel sighed. She kissed her finger tips and touched the control yoke one last time, then unbuckled and left the bridge. She didn’t look back.

***

 

Fenris Unchained will be available tomorrow at noon (CST) from Amazon and Smashwords.

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

50 Shades of Polychrome

PolychromeThis is a guest blog from Amanda at Capitol Cat Editing in for Kal this week.

My latest read has been Polychrome by Ryk E. Spoor.  This book is a combination of fantasy, fanfic, romance, and action.  The author does several things well; like capturing the rhythm and syntax style of L. Frank Baum, the imagination and magic of Oz, and paying homage to the characters Ozites have come to adore.  Spoor also references many other cult classics and will inspire many geek moments for his readers.  His vocabulary is also delightfully versatile and refreshing.  My chief complaints are more matters of opinion versus any grievous errors in plot, theme, or overall ability — with one exception: sexuality.  The theme of redemption is very well done and definitely contributed to some of the best parts of the book.

Spoor is clearly a hardcore Ozite.  He references details from most of Baum’s original Oz books.  He maintains a true portrayal of the characters of Dorothy Gale, Ozma, Iris Mirabilis, the Pink Bear, Ugu, and several others.  I would say his portrayal of the title character, Polychrome, is 90% true to her original characterization by Baum.  The other 10% is a bit off to me because the progression of Polychrome from innocent to experienced adult is a bit…vague.  Considering how much the book is supposed to be focused on Polychrome, I think a bit too much of it is from the perspective of the other main character, Erik Medon.  You get glimpses of Polychrome’s emotions and experiences, but there is room for more depth to her character.  Erik Medon might be a bit hard for some readers to relate to since he is a middle aged male geek living out a childhood fantasy.

This brings me to where I feel Spoor might have crossed a line — albeit a faint one.  Having a 50 something male protagonist (more of a co-protagonist) automatically targets readers of a certain age.  The adventures in Oz as written by Baum were originally written for children.  Granted, the expectations of children’s literature from the early 20th century to present day have shifted a bit, I feel that Spoor missed the mark.  Modern children’s books and films can have adult content — but it is usually of an ambiguous sort.  Children reading the books/watching the films don’t usually pick up on the adult humor or sexual references.  I feel Spoor walks a fine line with this topic.  Erik Medon’s observations of the figures and physical attributes of female characters are a bit distasteful.  I feel the book could still be a well done progression from the Oz books read as a child to one read as an adult by an adult for an adult without these references.  I had a hard time continuing with the book after the scene where Erik had to show Polychrome something of such beauty as to make her dance.  The build up felt like a Leeloo and Korben Dallas moment.  Although the author took you down a different path, it felt like a bit of a “pink” herring.

Mr. Spoor does an excellent job of representing the themes of hope and redemption.  By showing repentance in some of the major villains from some of Baum’s classic books, he does justice to the ideals that Baum instilled in his readers while still putting his own twists in there.  The idea that hope is always there, no matter the odds, is one of the most powerful messages of the book.

Erik Medon is painted as your average adult male geek.  Yet, there is supposed to be something so exceptional about him that he is selected for this adventure.  While Spoor doesn’t do a poor job of characterizing Medon, there is room for a more solid case as to why he is the hero.  I feel that a bit of a test that he passed when no other did — like in The Last Starfighter by Alan Dean Foster — could have set him apart from the average better than waiting until the last few chapters to reveal the couple of things that made him the One.

Was the book worth reading?  Yes.  Could there have been some more depth to it?  Yes.  Would Baum like it?  Yes and no.

Upcoming: Fenris Unchained

I’m proud to announce that my deal with Henchman Press to release my science fiction novel, Fenris Unchained, is official.   Fenris Unchained is set in a new universe and starts a new series of character-driven space opera.

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that.. or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

Fenris Unchained will be coming near the end of February 2015.  Check here soon for samples, cover art and more!