Sunday, April 29, 2012

Interview: Sherlock: Steven Moffat


We had a chance to sit down with the creator of the new BBC/PBS show Sherlock during SXSW 2012. Here's what he had to say.

So what do you think of Austin (besides the rain)?

Steven Moffat: Well I mean, it’s funny, arriving, it doesn’t look as good in the rain. Then the sun comes up and it just looks right.

What made you want to adapt such an iconic, older piece into modern times?

SM: Mark and I were always huge fans of Sherlock Holmes. We preferred the 1940s movies. So we thought, somebody should do that again, they would have a huge hit. And when someone does that, we would be cross because we’ll feel like we should have done it. We had a competition, loads of time, when working on Doctor Who.
My wife said, you should do it. So we went and pitched it. It happened really, really fast. It was the right time for the idea.

Did you have any trouble with the casting, the process itself?

SM: No, not really. Benedict Cumberbatch was the first and only person who read for that role. We saw him in Atonement. He’s a great performer, very magnetic, sort of weird looking. Although he wasn’t, at that point, really known, everybody thought he was the coming man, everyone thought that he was the next big thing in British telly. So we got him in and he read for the part and there wasn’t a point in carrying on. We could go and look at other people, but that’s it. We were not going to do better than that. There isn’t anybody else who was going to be better on this show. The BBC agreed, so we signed him up.

Then we had to find someone to stand next to him and be Watson. Watson is very important to Sherlock Holmes, some people would argue more important than Sherlock Holmes. We saw a lot of people—a lot of brilliant people—but the critical thing was putting them in the room with Benedict and seeing how that worked. The very, very first person we saw was Matt Smith, who a week later I cast as Doctor Who…he was far too like Sherlock Holmes.

When we put Martin and Benedict together, it was very clear that that was the show. It was an act of genius. It was just very simple. That was the show right there.

Describe how the British television system differs from American one. It seems like you do the writing yourself, is that true?

SM: There’s me and there’s Mark and Steve Thompson to do the other one. Well, we’re only doing three 90-minute shows. I also run Doctor Who and on Doctor Who we have a whole bunch of writers. We have shows that run exactly like the American model of huge teams of writers. We don’t really do the writers rooms but we have team written shows.

Was there a reason you chose the 90-minute format?

SM: Originally, the pilot was 60 minutes. We were going to do runs of six or thirteen. BBC said that the 90 minute shows would cut through more, so we just said yes. We will do the show if you do it as 3 90’s, so naturally, we said yes. It’s worked very well for us.

It seems like the second season brings up the more well known Sherlock Holmes stories, why is that?

SM: We knew it was a big success and that there were three things everyone wants to see. Let’s do them right now.

How long does it take to film and produce each episode?

SM: Production takes three and a half months, something like that. The writing takes several months before that. We’re all doing other things, so it has to fit around that.

You mentioned you work on Doctor Who, is it hard to balance between the two shows?

SM: Yes, but I have to. I don’t have a choice.

How did the transition to PBS take place?

SM: They contributed; they’re a part of it. They put money into it and they have their own version of it.

Do you have a favorite Sherlock Holmes story?

SM: Probably “The Speckled Back”. You can’t top that.

What is your response to the American reaction?

SM: Well, we have had a phenomenal response everywhere! We have Russian fans for god sakes. 

**** You can catch the new season of Sherlock on Sundays at 9/8c starting May 6th ****

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tricked: By Kevin Hearne



Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.


In my opinion Kevin Hearne was one of the best new urban fantasy writers in 2011 (and if you want my honest opinion one of the best new writers period in 2011). His books are exciting, full of intricate characters with well written dialog, and are jam packed with nonstop action. And Tricked, the fourth book in his Iron Druid Chronicles series, is no exception to this.

Tricked’s action and issues spring primarily from the ramifications of Hammered. Of course, unlike most books that act as a bridge for a significant change in the story arc, Tricked is an amazing book in its own right. That’s not to say that readers should not read the previous books in the series first, (being the fourth book in the series, not reading the other three books first would severely harm the reading enjoyment.) No, what is meant is that this book, like its predecessors, is well written, exciting, and full of fantastic characters, making it a must read for any fan of urban fantasy.

While so many things are incredible about Tricked and the entire series, what truly impressed me is how well Kevin Hearne balances humor, action, and a well developed plot. I honestly found myself laughing out loud at parts of Tricked (especially in the conversations between Oberon and Atticus), but at the same time couldn’t put the book down because it was too darn exciting.

Hearne delivers a whole new batch of interesting gods and creatures for Atticus to deal with in this book, which really spice up the story and establish a whole new storyline for readers to get into. That brings me to another thing I love about the series and Ticked specifically, how well Hearne melds the different myths and religions while not detracting from the overall story. Hearne is a master of lore and it’s obvious in the way that Tricked flows from one god and situation to the next without skipping a beat, giving enough information so that readers who are unfamiliar with the god will understand, but at the same time not be overburdened with needless information.

All in all, Tricked is a fantastic book that is perfect for fans of Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronvich (another great new urban fantasy author readers should check out), and Patricia Briggs. Readers will be drawn to the edge of their seats, and will be fully unable to proceed in any other activity until the last page of the book is finished. Another must read from the impressive Kevin Hearne.

10 out of 10


Publisher: Del Rey

Published: April 24, 2012

Price: $7.99

Kill Switch: By Chris Lynch



(Before reading the summary, read the review, as I advocate for not reading the summary and instead just buying the book.) 

All Daniel wants to do is spend one last summer with his grandfather before he moves away for college and his grandfather’s dementia pulls them apart. But when his dear old Da starts to let things slip about the job he used to hold—people he’s killed, countries he’s overthrown—old work “friends” show up to make sure he stays quiet. Was his grandfather really involved in a world of assassinations and coups, or are the stories just delusions of a crumbling mind? On the run from the police (and possibly something worse) before he has time to find out, Daniel may have to sacrifice everything to protect his grandfather from those who would do him harm.


Don’t read the back of this book, just buy it and enjoy the ride.

If you read the back of this book, you’ll give away some of the shocking secrets and ruin some of the beauty that comes from learning these secrets firsthand.

That said even if you do read the back of the book, it’s still worth buying.

Kill Switch is shocking and well written.

That sums up the book pretty succinctly, and explains why you should go out and buy it right now.

The connection between Daniel and his grandfather is just as beautiful as the metamorphosis of the characters is staggering. Even though the book is short it is defiantly worth the time and money. Chris Lynch just does such a fantastic job creating gut-wrenching situations in the most common places, while at the same time keeping the reader at the edge of their seat because of the shocking truths learned along the way.

All in all, the characters are beautifully written, the plot touching and invigorating, and the evolution of the characters and consequences from this evolution just knocks the air from your lungs leaving you shocked and dumbfounded. A must read for anyone, period. 

9 out of 10


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Published: April 17, 2012

Price: $16.99

Monday, April 9, 2012

Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain: By A. Lee Martinez

Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain


Emperor Mollusk.

Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth.

Not bad for a guy without a spine.

But what's a villain to do after he's done . . . everything. With no new ambitions, he's happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel alien invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he'd prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course.

Retirement isn't easy though. If the boredom doesn't get him, there's always the Venusians. Or the Saturnites. Or the Mercurials. Or . . . well, you get the idea. If that wasn't bad enough, there's also the assassins of a legendary death cult and an up-and-coming megalomaniac (as brilliant as he is bodiless) who have marked Emperor for their own nefarious purposes. But Mollusk isn't about to let the Earth slip out of his own tentacles and into the less capable clutches of another. So it's time to dust off the old death ray and come out of retirement. Except this time, he's not out to rule the world. He's out to save it from the peril of THE SINISTER BRAIN!


Are you looking for a book that is funny?

Full of action?

What about full of witty, well written characters?

Well Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain is the book for you then.

EM v. SB is fun, exciting, and really full of interesting and likable characters. How could a person not like a book that includes time travel, giant gelatin monsters, law suits in Atlantis, exploding spaceships, and talking dinosaurs. Of course, besides these wilder ideas, the background for the series is fun and incredibly imaginative, as there is a different species of alien on each planet, and almost all of them hate Emperor Mollusk.

Of course while I loved the fun that Martinez had in making this imaginative universe and situations, I also was very impressed by his characters. Readers get to see the transformation of the Emperor as he goes from evil scientist to renouncing his Empire on Earth, (don’t worry I didn’t give anything away, he starts out renouncing Earth and readers see why through flashback chapters.) Of course, besides the charming and utterly fantastic Emperor, Snarg was a ton of fun to read about. Snarg is the Emperor’s pet ultrapede, and key line of defense against attacks as this ultrapede is as vicious as it is hilarious in its kitten-like attitude around the Emperor.

All in all Emperor Mollusk is a great book. It’s funny, full of interesting and fun characters, and is jam packed with action. Exactly what you’d want in a light read.


Publisher: Orbit

Published: March 5, 2012

Price: $19.99

The Troupe: By Robert Jackson Bennett



Vaudeville: mad, mercenary, dreamy, and absurd, a world of clashing cultures and ferocious showmanship and wickedly delightful deceptions.

But sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole has joined vaudeville for one reason only: to find the man he suspects to be his father, the great Heironomo Silenus. Yet as he chases down his father's troupe, he begins to understand that their performances are strange even for vaudeville: for wherever they happen to tour, the very nature of the world seems to change.

Because there is a secret within Silenus's show so ancient and dangerous that it has won him many powerful enemies. And it's not until after he joins them that George realizes the troupe is not simply touring: they are running for their lives.

And soon...he is as well.

The Troupe is unlike any book I’ve read in a long while. It is subtle yet gripping in the way that Bennett weaves this intricate tale of a vaudeville performer looking for his father, only to discover a truth far greater than he ever could have imagined.

The characters were imaginative and deep. As each strikes home in the readers mind with such a level of clarity and strength that they resonate hours after the last page is turned. Of course, besides these characters just being well written, they are also complex with back stories and events that truly caught me off guard and surprised me.

This level of surprise is similar to the plot of the book. The Troupe appears to start off slow and methodical, introducing only enough odd and interesting tidbits of information to string the reader along. But as the story progresses these tidbits of information and peculiar occurrences begin to add up, accelerating the story and upping the level of intrigue until, like a musical crescendo the story reaches a climax that will engross the reader with a level of excitement that can only be described as shock and awe.

All in all The Troupe is magical. It is filled with excitement, intrigue, and will captivate readers to the final pages. But most importantly it is a beautifully written work of art that will grip your heart with its final chapters, leaving your misty eyed and melancholy as you are both happy to have read this work as well as sad to see it finish. All in all a great book.


8 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: February 21, 2012

Price: $13.99