Remembering the Challengers

On January 28th, 1986, the United States manned space program ground to a sudden halt with the deaths of seven people. Their names were Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judy Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
space-shuttle-challenger-crew.jpg

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Elevate: an Into the Spider-Verse Review

Screenshot from Into the Spiderverse; Miles Morales lands in an action pose in front of a green taxicab

Originally, I was going to write a piece talking about how different my experiences were when I saw Aquaman and Into the Spider-Verse within days of one another over the holidays. Then, on a whim, I went on my own to see Spider-Verse a third time in the theater, and changed my mind completely. Spider-Verse shouldn’t share a blog post with a superhero film that rates approximately at “the first Thor, but with Jason Momoa and way better CGI” (and that’s exactly as much as you need to know about it). It deserves its own post, because boy howdy did it leave an impression.

“Alright, let’s do this one last time. My name is Peter Parker. I was bitten by a radioactive spider and for ten years I’ve been the one and only Spider-Man. I’m pretty sure you know the rest.”

I’ll be avoiding spoilers and plot details in general about this film, probably telling you less than you know from the trailer.

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Review: The Brave and The Bold

Finally, we get The Brave and the Bold: Book 3 of The Hidden Truth.

You may remember that the previous two books in the series explored an alternate history where 9-11 killed President Al Gore, destroyed the White House, spared the twin towers, and revealed a shadowy conspiracy that had been twisting fate, warping history, and bending culture and all of society to their will.

And most of that was in the opening chapters of book one.

Book two was a chess game, as the enemy came closer and closer to encroaching on our heroes’ turf, raiding academia, targeting professors for personal destruction, and a game of wills that only the wary would pass.

Then there came the Order of Preacher spies, the tong assassins, and the forces of counter revolution, for lack of a better term.

And now, book three. 

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Review: Fade, by Daniel Humphreys

Fade (Paxton Locke Book 1) by [Humphreys, Daniel]

With the novel Making Peace, I noted that I found the successor to Terry Pratchett.

Now, it seems I’ve tripped over the spiritual successor to Jim Butcher.

Where the hell have all of these people been hiding?

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been busy with building my own damn shelf of novels, but this is ridiculous now. These people are some awesome writers, and I’ve been hip deep in writing my little heart out.  Gah. It’s a bit frustrating.

But anyway, it’s Halloween…

Time for a ghost story.

Welcome to Fade.

From Dragon Award nominee Daniel Humphreys

Son of a Witch

Family drama is bad enough without adding magic and human sacrifice. Ten years ago, Paxton Locke’s mother killed his father in a mysterious ritual that – thankfully – went incomplete. Now, Paxton makes his living as a roving paranormal investigator, banishing spirits while Mother languishes in jail.

When a terrified ghost warns him of a dangerous, newly-freed entity, Paxton faces a fight far beyond simple exorcism. In a battle for his very soul, will he be able to endure – or simply fade away?

Harry Dresden’s sorcery goes on a Supernatural-style road trip. Cool car sold separately.

Frankly, the last line isn’t branding. It’s fairly accurate …. and despite having his own family drama, Paxton Locke is no where near as angsty as the Winchester brothers, whose own angsty bullshit killed any interest I had in Supernatural, no matter how good the plots were.

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Review: War Demons

The Devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal.And this time, he isn’t coming with a violin.

Welcome to War Demons, by Russell Newquist.**

When he came home, so did they…

Driven by vengeance, Michael Alexander enlisted in the Army the day after 9/11. Five years later, disillusioned and broken by the horrors he witnessed in Afghanistan, Michael returns home to Georgia seeking to begin a new life. But he didn’t come alone. Something evil followed him, and it’s leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

The police are powerless. The Army has written Michael off. Left to face down a malevolent creature first encountered in the mountains of Afghanistan, he’ll rely on his training, a homeless prophet, and estranged family members from a love lost…

But none of them expected the dragon.

Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden collides with Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International in this supernatural thriller that goes straight to Hell!

That tag at the end isn’t bluster. It’s fairly accurate. Personally, I think War Demons leans more on the MHI than the Harry Dresden. So much so that I’m willing to say up front that I would not be surprised if Russell ends up authoring an MHI spinoff novel. No, I’m not exaggerating. This is a story that could have been mistaken for a Monster Hunter International novel if Larry Correia used prayer as a weapon more often. But I will admit, there is a TON of Dresden-level action.

Let’s back up a step.

Chapter one opens up with a swordfight with a demon, and ends with dropping a daisy cutter on it.

That irritated the sucker a little.

Fast forward a few years to our hero, Michael Alexander, who Jack Ryaned out of the military when his helicopter crashed. He and his buddy hid in a cave …. only do discover something in the cave that was colder than the dark and hungry.

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Ask a Catholic Geek: Moral Culpability in Service

I’ve been meaning to start up an Ask a Catholic Geek series, and this question posed in our Facebook group was the perfect opportunity.

How do we explain, using moral theology, why it is licit to allow racists to use your credit card services? CAN we say it’s licit?

What level of material cooperation is licit? I think many people are deeply confused on this question.

~ Stephanie S.

Racism does not enter into it. What you are looking for is the following: When does 
providing a service to those who shall use the service to commit a sin mean I myself participate in that sin?
 

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Castlia House Reviews Hell Spawn

Over at Castalia House, Jon Mollison reviewed Hell Spawn.

Played entirely straight, the result is an urban fantasy for people who don’t like urban fantasy. Instead of the usual kitchen sink approach as seen in the “Iron Druid” series and countless magic-girl of the week series, Finn steeps the universe of Saint Tommy entirely in a Catholic worldview where Earth represents a battleground between heaven and hell. Though the dual nature of the conflict – good versus evil – lacks the political complexity of the kitchen sink approach, it also grounds the novel with a unified system that carries with it the weight of two thousand years of refining, evolution, and tradition. There are real rules to what can be done and how things operate, and that grounding in a single understanding of the rules of the game allows the action to proceed at a faster clip, and with considerably higher stakes than most examples of the genre.

Considering how popular Iron Druid is, I’ll take that review.

Which is not to say that this is a book for Catholics only. The matter of fact presentation of the faith that lies at the core of this work never veers into preachiness or ham fisted apologia. Hand wave away the protagonist’s explanations for his powers – most of the supporting characters do – and you’re still left with a gritty tale of a serial killer targeting a cop. Head-canon the supernatural abilities into a secular expression of natural law, and you’re left with a dark superhero tale that makes the nineties grimdark culture seem tame by comparison.

I …  yeah. I cop to it. This went dark. But it’s nice to see that Mollison finds I did it well.

One word of warning on that note – and Declan Finn’s unflinching willingness to show the nature and effects of evil, this novel goes into some ark places where even the most bloody-minded Hollywood producers fear to tread. The setting being New York City, the usual political theater enters the investigation

I don’t know why, this part just pleases me.

Declan writes with an economy of words that packs a lot of impact into this relatively short novel. Never quite dipping down into the close-mouthed unwillingness to describe even the most recurring characters or locales, he nonetheless manages to present just enough information to keep things visually stimulating without dragging the action down.

Be well.

 

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