Kong Rules Skull Island

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Kong: Skull Island is new feature film starring the famous giant gorilla, King Kong. It is set up to be part of a new shared cinematic universe that focuses on giant monsters and by itself Kong: Skull Island is quite an exciting thrill ride.

The film opens in the early 1970s as Bill Randa (John Goodman) launches an expedition to an uncharted island surrounded by perpetual storm systems. He is coy about the expedition’s purpose, claiming it’s a geological study, but we find out later his real reason for undertaking the voyage. Joining him is an all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad, a former soldier turned expert tracker, Brie Larson as Mason Weaver, a crusading photojournalist, and Samuel L. Jackson as Col. Preston Packard, the military head of the expedition. Once they and several others make it to the island they incur the wrath of Kong, a gigantic…

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Storing Ammo

 

When most people think about organizing their ammo stockpiles, they do so based on cartridge or shell type. For example, if you have four or five different types of ammo, you may be inclined to store them all in separate containers.

While this method seems practical at first glance, you may find that other methods will work better. In particular, you should not keep all ammo of the same type together in the same location.

Let’s say you have five different ammo types, and ten boxes of each one. You also have five ammo cans that you can use to store the ammo. Instead of putting all of one type in each can; put only two boxes of each type per can. In this way, you will have five cans of diversified ammo.

Here’s why this arrangement has a few advantages:

  • If you have to move quickly, grabbing even one can ensure that you have at least some ammo for any gun that you are able to bring along.
  • It will be much easier to store your ammo in different locations without having to worry about which one holds the ammo you need at some point in the future. As long as you are able to retrieve one can, you will know that you have at least some usable ammo on hand.
  • You will find it much easier to practice with all of your weapons on a regular basis. Just make it a point to use all of the ammo in each can and you will never have a gun laying around that hasn’t been fired in years because you put the ammo in some place that isn’t easy to get to, or worse yet, you forgot the location.

What a Good Storage Location Is

Good storage locations for ammo aren’t as easy to find as you might think. Many people try to bury ammo stockpiles under their home, stash boxes behind closet walls, and even put ammo cans under their bed. While these places may be safe, dry, and cool, they are also the first places thieves, rioters, and others will look if they invade your home.

When hiding ammo, you should make it your business to find locations that:

  • Are easy to defend. It is very important to make sure that you can arrange zones of fire around your stockpile. Always consider that people may stumble onto your stockpile by accident, or they may even be watching you as you put items in the stockpile or remove them. It is always best to choose a place where you have an advantage in terms of defending the area if needed.
  • Choose a location where you can make more than one entry point. If someone does find your stockpile, you should be able to enter through another location and neutralize the invaders
  • Look for an area where it is safe to destroy the ammo if needed. When you know all is lost, there is no point to letting thieves and rioters steal all you worked so hard for. It is better to have the stockpile in a place where you can destroy it rather than see it be stolen.
  • It should be easy to move the ammunition out of the area and into another one with ease.
  • There should be enough room to expand if needed.
  • You should be able to keep surveillance on the area from a distance without being detected.
  • The area should be hard to spot by satellite or other overhead scanning systems that might be used to locate the stockpile. In addition, you should also be able to get to the location without being easily spotted.
  • High temperatures and moisture are extremely damaging to ammo. Try to pick a place that is as cool and dry as possible. If you have to choose between cool and dry, choose the area that is cool, and then make sure that the ammo itself is packed carefully away in moisture and water proof containers.

Choosing the Right Containers

Today, there are many different kinds of containers that you can use to store ammo.

If you are budget conscious, then go for the metal ammo cans or boxes. You can purchase them new or used at surplus stores as well as at gun shops and gun shows. Before you buy an ammo can make sure it is free of rust, holes, and other signs of corrosion.

ammunitionThe lid should fit properly and create a waterproof seal.

It may also help to have some extra room in each box, especially if you haven’t purchased all of the guns yet that will be part of your permanent stockpile.

When choosing containers for ammo, think about what will happen in those first hours after a major crisis occurs.

To be fair, if you aren’t in a heavily guarded estate with plenty of supplies and acreage, you might have to leave your home and the majority of your stockpile behind. This is why your ammo storage plans must also include ensuring you can bug out with enough supplies to meet your needs.

Have a dedicated backpack or ammo pouch with at least five boxes of ammunition for the one gun you will absolutely take with you no matter where you go.

If this is your everyday carry gun (a.k.a. EDC), then by all means, go ahead and carry the bug out ammo with you as well. The backpack or pouch should be comfortable to wear and not be noticeable to others. Make sure that the internal pockets are waterproof, yet breathable so that moisture does not collect in the bag.

You will also need to inspect the pack on a regular basis to make sure that the constant weight of heavy ammo rubbing against the fabric does not lead to wear that will let water get into the ammo.

Storing Gunpowder

Many mid to advanced level preppers store away gunpowder in the hopes that they will be able to reload ammo in a time of need.

Storing gunpowder is not as easy or as safe as storing away cartridges and shells. Because gunpowder releases gasses upon ignition, you should never store it away in an ammo can.

If the building the can is stored in catches fire, or the temperature reaches a critical point for some other reason, the ammo can will explode and cause major damage.

Also, avoid storing gunpowder in the house or in a building for the same reason.

It is best to store gunpowder in a dedicated and well built outdoor magazine where it will be heavily guarded and safe to be around.

Supplies and Equipment to Have Onhand

Overall, there aren’t many supplies that you need to keep on hand to store ammo and keep it in good condition for years on end.

Desiccant

Regardless of where or how long you are storing the ammo away for, each container should have a few packets of desiccant in it. This will help reduce moisture and condensation.

Waterproof Ziploc Bags

Every can should also have a few extra waterproof Ziploc bags and a permanent marker. If a box happens to break or is damaged, then you can always put the cartridges or shells in the bag to keep them safe.

Clean Rags

It is also important to store away clean rags so that you can clean ammo off if needed.

Pull Cart

When you first buy an ammo can, you may not think it is very heavy. By the same token, lifting one or two boxes of ammo may not seem like much. Once you start adding a few dozen boxes to the can, you will find it very hard to push the can from one place to another let alone pick it up to move it.

This is why you will need to have a pull cart or some other kind of wheeled bed that you can use to move ammo cans from one place to another.

The cart should have some kind of pole or extension that you can raise up and use as a post for a pulley system. All you have to do from there is store some rope in the can and a pulley that can be attached to the pole.

At the very least, if you have to lift the ammo can into the back of a truck, you will be able to do so faster and with less risk of injury to yourself or others.

Why Storing Multiple Ammo Caches Is Important

Let’s say you are a homeowner, but you don’t have much property, or you rent an apartment and also don’t have access to much land. Let’s also say that you have decided you are going to bug in regardless of what happens in your local area and in the rest of the country.

Many people that decided to sit it out through a hurricane or other natural disaster can tell you that one bad situation was enough to last them a lifetime.

While some people may have been lucky and got through several storms with no problems, a major social collapse is a very different and far longer lasting scenario. As a result, it is best to try and make at least some bug out plans and factor ammo storage needs into those plans.

Most people that plan to bug out after a major crisis actually have five or six locations that are located at different distances from their current position. These places may be the homes of family members or friends or even areas where they have visited and feel they can live comfortably.

No matter where people are planning to bug out to, they will usually set up caches of supplies that can be accessed along the way.

When it comes to ammo, small caches like this in multiple and diverse places is just as important as food, water, and medicine. Just make sure that the areas you choose are safe and hard to find by others. If you do leave ammo with friends or family members, make sure that these are people you can trust regardless of what is going on.

Even if you are absolutely certain that you aren’t going to bug out, it will be to your advantage to store away ammo in several different locations.

If you are storing ammo in your own home, make sure that you have five or six locations that are hard to find, and one that is somewhat more visible.

You can use the more visible cache as a means to lure invaders into a zone of fire or allow it to be taken in the hopes that invaders won’t go looking for the more important items in your stockpile. You can also set up snares and other booby traps that will neutralize invaders.

Never use explosives or anything that will start a fire near the ammo cans or you can wind up making the situation even worse.

Rotate Your Ammo

No matter how carefully you store ammo away, some condensation will always build up, temperatures will change, and the ammo itself will begin to deteriorate. This, in turn, means that you should be using ammo even while you are building up your stockpile.

Always use the oldest ammo first and make sure that you replace it with the same or better quality rounds. For example, if you have about half your stockpile dedicated to rounds with steel casings, do not backtrack and buy more aluminum rounds to replace the used ones. Instead, go for more steel casings or see if you can afford rounds with brass casings.

Keeping your ammo stockpile in a steady state of rotation also helps ensure that you will actually practice shooting. From developing muscle memory to gaining confidence with cleaning and caring for weapons, just about everything starts with shooting on a regular basis.

If you can’t find a reason to go to the range other than rotating your ammo, at least it’s better than not doing any shooting at all.

Inspect the rounds on a regular basis. There are few things worse than having ammo cans sitting in the attic for decades without paying any attention to them. During this time, you may not know about rust that may have developed on jackets and casings.

If you wind up needing decayed rounds, you won’t be able to use them safely. If you rotate ammunition on a regular basis, you will isolate problems quickly and replace ruined ammo with something that you can use in time of need.

Gain as much experience as possible with different kinds of ammo. Once you know what kind of rounds your gun can take, try ammo from different manufacturers.

When you routinely rotate and use part of your stockpile, test out different products and see how they work for you. Later on, if your stockpile is gone or inaccessible, you will know how any ammo you find will work to suit your needs in a self-defense situation.

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The Latest in Science Fiction and Fantasy

There’s an unavoidable tension in these mini-sagas between the need to quickly introduce readers to a bizarre setting and the need for an engaging narrative arc — but nearly all of them pull it off. The newer writers tend to take more risks and feature more engaging characters. Gwendolyn Clare’s “All the Painted Stars,” for example, veers away from the usual human protagonist, taking readers instead into the mind of a tentacled alien cop who must cooperate with humans to solve the mystery of a lost civilization. Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars” offers a painfully contemporary tale of young Vietnamese women taken from their own “savage” people and forcibly re-educated to serve a society of cold artificial intelligences. By contrast, the established writers tend to focus on ideas and settings more than characters and to follow well-traveled storytelling paths. These can be fun too; one notable example is Brandon Sanderson’s “Firstborn,” the overlong but otherwise delightful tale of a born loser slouching along in the shadow of his military-genius older brother.

One or two of the stories devolve into a travelogue, with characters and plot merely painted on for flavor, but overall this anthology is mostly hits, remarkably few misses. Highly recommended.

Adapting any prose novel to the graphic format is an audacious undertaking at the best of times, but translating Octavia E. Butler’s fearsomely powerful work in particular must surely have been a herculean task. Yet Damian Duffy and John Jennings have managed it with their version of KINDRED (Abrams ComicArts, $24.95), giving her most accessible novel — as noted in an introduction by the acclaimed science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor — fresh life.

The story itself is the same one that’s been studied in countless university courses on race, gender and literature since its publication in 1979. Dana, a young black woman living in modern-day California, suddenly begins traveling backward in time to the early 1800s, where she is compelled again and again to save the life of Rufus, the scion of a Maryland plantation owner. The mechanism of her movement through time and space is never explained and is ultimately irrelevant. What matters is that Dana must cope with the realistically depicted, gruesome horrors of slavery — which Butler in fact “cleaned up,” according to a well-known 1991 interview in the journal Callaloo. Perhaps more horrifically, Dana must struggle with a fuller understanding of the damage slavery inflicted on everyone it touched, free and slave, then and now — not just violence and family disruption, but an ugly mix of societally reinforced Stockholm syndrome, toxic codependency, and dehumanization.

Duffy and Jennings’s adaptation retains the spare, almost baroque feel of Butler’s narrative, down to its ominous chapter headings (e.g., “The River,” “The Fall”), rendered in all-caps on a black background. This is a story heavy in dialogue and internal narration, although some of the interiority is necessarily lost to the visual format. The art here, which is angular and line-heavy and somehow apocalyptic, fits the weight of the material perfectly. This helps to make up for narrative lost, through stark renderings of blood or vomit or the ashen skin of a hanged woman. The adaptation does not flinch from the ugliest parts of Butler’s text. (Parents hoping that the graphical format may work better for teenagers, take warning.)

A worthy and powerful supplement to a classic.

In a strangely small galaxy, the civilized peoples of the nine inhabited planets live in constant fear of the Shotet, a tribe of fierce multiracial scavengers. After the Shotet kidnap a boy named Akos and his brother for mysterious reasons, Akos has no choice but to go native, learning how to fight and earn armor to survive. Akos has a few advantages, however, including genetically imbued language skills and, more important, a special “currentgift,” or unique magical ability, which is capable of shutting down others’ currentgifts. This naturally makes him useful to Cyra, sister of the tyrannical Shotet leader; Cyra’s own currentgift grants her the ability to project, and experience, constant agony. Akos alone can ease her pain. That they end up a couple is hardly a spoiler.

So things go in CARVE THE MARK (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $22.99), the latest outing from Veronica Roth. Roth is the author of the best-selling Divergent series, and like those books, this one seems destined — designed, even — for a film adaptation. The story focuses less on Cyra than on Akos, who is by turns vulnerable, tough and talented at combat. The plot is also familiar: A young woman trapped in a brutal system must fight to win freedom for herself and her male companion, eventually fomenting a rebellion against her oppressors. The whole thing turns out to be a power struggle between roughly four factions — special families, that is, whose members are bestowed with predestined fates. There’s some jumbled, vaguely science fictional worldbuilding involving spaceships and people from planets of darkness or planets of heat, but frankly, Roth could’ve set the whole thing on a single planet and cut down on the potential special effects budget.

This story is simpler than it sounds, and even more clichéd than this synopsis suggests. It will doubtless make money hand over fist.

Another work that seems designed for the big screen — or more likely the small screen, given that it’s organized into episodes and seasons — is BOOKBURNERS: SEASON 1 (Saga, paper, $21.99), a collaborative effort by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery. Originally produced by Serial Box as an intriguing experiment in serial fiction for mobile devices, the 16 episodes that first appeared in 2015 have now been compiled into a single volume by Saga Press.

The story is fast-paced and pulpish. The police detective Sally Brooks is interrupted one night by her hapless brother, who’s carrying a mysterious ancient book and is terrified he’s been followed to her apartment. He’s afraid of the Bookburners, a shadowy “men in black” type of organization said to hunt down rare-book thieves. After she sees her brother open the book only to become instantly possessed by an ancient malevolent entity, Sal finds herself embroiled in a whirlwind caper, occasionally terrifying, to try to save him. Naturally, she joins forces with the Bookburners, who turn out to be a special division of the Vatican Library employed to hunt down dangerous artifacts for capture and safe storage in the Black Archives. Think hackers and traveling exorcists, but for books. Turns out they could also use a good cop.

If that sounds like lighthearted, slightly silly fun, it is. Each “episode” of the serial is noticeably picaresque in style — lots of action sequences, horror visuals, and witty banter, but not many moments of narrative pause or introspection. As a result, the characters aren’t especially complex or deeply rendered; it’s an ensemble cast, though Sal remains the main character throughout. And the peril rarely feels genuinely perilous. This seems intentional, too, however — rather like watching a TV show with episodes that can be skipped or watched out of order, and characters who remain comfortably predictable throughout. Maybe this isn’t the kind of show that’s going to win a lot of Emmys; it’s more the type that could win a devoted audience and keep going for season after season. Probably ideal for commuters looking for pleasant popcorn reading to start or end the day.

THE ULTIMATE STEPHEN KING READING GUIDE (FROM A CONSTANT READER)

I’ve been reading Stephen King for AWHILE. I started reading King when I was 11-ish and I still read his work today, even though I have honestly tried to break up with him a few times. Being a longtime fan (a Constant Reader, as he refers to us out there reading his work), I think I’m in a pretty good spot to write this reading guide.

I’ve tried to split it into genre (though this is difficult, they overlap), and then separate into the best books and the pretty okay books, in case you’re not a completist.

“Hey, where’s ____________ ? Why isn’t it on this list?” If I’ve left out a book, it will probably have been 100% on purpose as I don’t recommend every single book he’s ever written (and neither does he). Or I might leave a book off of one list because it fits better in another. As always, these are studied opinions, not absolute decrees. Please discuss your disagreements in the comments.

Just the Best (Well, the Best As Far As I’m Concerned)

Maybe you don’t care about genre and you just want to read his best work. Totally fair. So I’ll list out my top picks first, and then break it down by genre. (Yes, fellow Constant Readers, you’re going to want to yell at me for leaving out books. My body is ready.)

Carrie, 1974. Carrie was the first book that Stephen King published, and in this case, starting from the beginning is a great thing. It’s a tight, solid story that shows King’s ability to paint vivid characters and his deftness with psychological horror.

Dolores Claiborne, 1993. A woman living on a small Maine island is accused of murder twice in her life. The first one, she didn’t so much mind, but she’s determined to clear herself of the second–which means laying out all of her secrets, even the most painful.

Different Seasons, 1982. Even if you haven’t read this collection, you’re probably familiar with two of its stories: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and The Body, the latter of which was adapted into the film Stand By Me. I’m not wild about the second novella, Apt Pupil, but the rest of the book more than makes up for it.

The Shining, 1977. I think this novel is King at his best. It’s a masterful suspense horror novel that mixes psychological horror and supernatural horror. (If you like this one, go ahead and read the sequel, Doctor Sleep, because it’s also very good.)

On Writing: A Memoir Of the Craft, 2000. Not just a how-to book on writing, this book delves into King’s life and inspirations. It’s a pretty good primer to understanding his point of view as a writer, which is typically very strong.

Full Dark, No Stars, 2010. A collection of four novellas that I thought were just excellent.

The Stand, 1978/1990. Re-released as an uncut edition in 1990, The Stand is a post-apocalyptic novel. Perennial fan fave with great character-building. Not without plot issues but overall a good read.

Pet Sematary, 1983. Just the classic story of a man and his cat. Okay, maybe a little more complicated than that, but not very–yet, even in the simplicity of the story, it’s one of the few that truly creeped me out.

Misery, 1987. One of his most famous novels for a good reason: it’s a tight psychological horror novel with a beautifully drawn villain. A must-read once you start getting into King.

The Long Walk, 1979. Stephen King first published this (and four other books) under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The horror in his Bachman persona is different from his regular work, which flirts with camp and frequently goes to bed with gore, but it’s still very much horror.

Joyland, 2013. A crime novel meets ghost story, Joyland takes place in an amusement park where a girl had been murdered.

Roadwork, 1981. Another Bachman book, Roadwork is about a man whose home is about to be bulldozed to make way for a highway extension. He, however, is not going to let that happen. King has stated that Roadwork is a favorite of his among the early books.

The Dark Tower SeriesSee the SF/F list for more information here, because you will probably end up reading the whole list if you like this series.

The Straight-Up Horror List

King’s work has spanned multiple genres over the decades, but at its core has been his horror work. If you’re in it for the chills, these are your books.

Note: Some of his novels that are great but not actually horror are listed further down.

The Best Horror Books, IMO:

Books from previous sections that belong here: Carrie; The Shining; Full Dark, No Stars; Misery; The Long Walk; Pet Sematary; The Stand; and Doctor Sleep.

‘Salem’s Lot, 1975. Stephen King meets vampire novel; can you dig it?

Night Shift, 1978. A collection of short works, including “Children of the Corn”, “The Lawnmower Man”, and “Sometimes They Come Back”.

Lisey’s Story, 2006. For me personally? This book isn’t ranked on my list of faves, though I didn’t dislike it; however, King told Rolling Stone that he thought it was his best book (as of 2014). I think, then, anybody new to King might do well to pick it up earlier than I did.

The Pretty Good Horror Books:

Cell, 2006. Zombies meet technology in a more recent novel by King.

Skeleton Crew, 1985. “The Mist,” a famous work by King that has been adapted into a film, is in this collection, along with gems like “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” and “The Ballad Of the Flexible Bullet”.

Firestarter1980. A pyrokinetic little girl and her dad are on the run from the government, who wants to weaponize her.

The Dead Zone, 1979. I have to admit, this is one book I missed reading when I was younger. It gets glowing reviews, though.

Under the Dome, 2009. Something encapsulates a town in a seemingly impenetrable dome and shit goes very, very awry when they have to fend for themselves. People love or hate this one–I thought it was pretty solid.

Desperation, 1996. This book is part of a set of two books that are linked; I think Desperation is the better of the two. It’s very much a “good vs. evil” kind of story that shows off King’s world-building abilities. The other book is The Regulators, which he published as Richard Bachman.

Everything’s Eventual, 2002. Another collection–his short fiction is really just very good–with the story “1408,” which was scary AF and also was made into a film.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes, 1993. Another collection of stories, the first one of his I ever read.

Thinner, 1984. The last book to be written by “Richard Bachman,” Thinner smacked too much of King-style horror to keep up the ruse (King was outed as Bachman when someone got wise to his style leaking over). In Thinner, an overweight lawyer is cursed to become thinner to the point of death when he’s let off the hook for manslaughter.

Insomnia, 1994. I don’t know if it’s one of his most popular books but I actually like this book quite a lot, though part of that has to do with its connection to a larger work in the Stephen King Universe. An older man gets insomnia and starts seeing things. A younger man, normally well-liked and well-behaved, becomes abusive and terrifying. These things are not unrelated.

Just After Sunset, 2008. Short horror fiction collection.

Danse Macabre, 1981. This is a work of nonfiction that would mainly appeal to people as geeked out about horror as Stephen King is. It spans movies, books, and television.

The Pretty Okay Horror Books:

Christine, 1983. A dude gets a jealous car and she wants him all to herself.

IT1986I know if you’re a King fan, you’re probably mad that I haven’t featured this tome about a murderous clown yet. There are parts of that novel that are pants-shittingly terrifying, but there are also parts that are kind of not as good as they could be and there’s also [spoilers redacted] at the end, which is kinda fucked up, so. I don’t usually recommend it to people, but it’s a Big Deal in his oeuvre so I’m including it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Revival, 2014. A book that nods to Shelley and Lovecraft, Revival has a gothic, slightly sci-fi bent to it.

Cujo, 1981. A novel about a rabid dog that still gives me the willies to think about.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, 2015. A recent collection of short works. Great cover art.

The Dark Half, 1990. A writer decides to “kill off” his pseudonym and concentrate on writing books under his own name. His pseudonym does not agree with this plan of action and lets the writer know. Violently.

From A Buick 8, 2002. A group of state troopers in Pennsylvania have a dark secret hanging out back in Shed B, where they keep the Buick Roadmaster. Yep, this is not one but two books about scary cars. There’s also a scary car short story in Just After Sunset.

Needful Things, 1991. A man with a shop of desirable curiosities opens up in Castle Rock; soon, the town is in chaos.

Duma Key, 2008. I wouldn’t say this is overall King’s best book, but there was a part that definitely creeped me out and stayed with me for a long time, and that’s not easy for an author to do for me.

The Suspense, Crime, and Thriller List

Even though it’s natural to want to peg King’s work as horror across the board, many of his works aren’t true horror–which, if you’re not into horror, might be more your speed.

The Best Suspense/Crime/Thriller Works:

Books from previous sections that belong here: Dolores Claiborne, Different Seasons, Joyland.

Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch, 2014-2016. This is a trilogy of crime novels featuring an ex-cop turned detective and his friends. It starts with a gruesome crime and gets really weird, really fast.

Rage, 1977. Rage is out of print, which is both understandable given its subject matter and also a damn shame, since it’s a good book. It’s about a boy who takes a gun to school, having broken under the immense pressures in his life, and what happens between him and the class he holds hostage. If you can find an older copy of The Bachman Books, it will be collected in there.

The Green Mile, 1996. First released in six volumes (and I was buying those individually in the mid-90s–memories!), The Green Mile is a crime novel with a hefty dose of magical realism.

Rose Madder, 1995. Rose Daniels decides one day that she has to escape her husband–her very abusive husband, who is a cop and who comes looking for her with a skill for tracking people down. He doesn’t know that she has a lot of help on her side, though.

The Pretty Good Suspense/Crime/Thriller Works:

The Colorado Kid, 2005. A mystery novel that takes on unexplained mysteries, and what might cause them.

Blaze, 2007. Another Richard Bachman work (he uses the moniker these days to denote books written in the style of Bachman), Blaze is another crime-novel-meets-ghost-story about a kidnapping.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, 1999. This one is billed by some as horror but, despite having some supernatural elements, it doesn’t fit that bill very cleanly when you read it. A young girl is lost in the woods during a family hiking trip, and she has to survive–even though something is out to get her.

Bag of Bones, 1998. This book displays King’s love of Gothic fiction, loosely aligning itself with the story of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. A man moves out to his vacation house following his wife’s death because he’s having nightmares about the place. Those nightmares might have had something to them, as it turns out.

Hearts in Atlantis, 1999. A collection of fiction centered around the Baby Boomer generation, also with ties to The Dark Tower series.

Gerald’s Game, 1992. Not my fave, but it has a lot of fans. A woman’s husband dies in front of her while she’s handcuffed to the headboard, which puts her in a very not-good situation. Even worse, she feels something watching her–is this her panicked imagination or certain doom?

The Science Fiction/Fantasy List

King clearly has a lot of SF/F influences, and they show through in many of his works.

The SF/F Works:

Books from previous sections that belong here: The Stand

The Dark Tower Series I – VIII (Plus The Wind Through The Keyhole). The Dark Tower is one of my most favorite series in the history of ever–so much so that I stopped re-reading it to preserve the memory of how much I love it. (It’s problematic in places. I admit that freely.) It’s the epic journey of Roland and his eventual companions in another world that runs parallel (?) to our own. It’s a mix of fantasy, western, sci-fi, and horror that has ties to King’s whole body of work; you’ll spend hours poring over the connections once you get into it. (A lot of people hate the first book. In my opinion, you can skip it if you hate it that much.)

The Eyes of the Dragon, 1987. A pure fantasy tome about a murdered king, a framed prince locked in the tower, and an evil magician purring into the ear of the new king.

The Running Man, 1982. This is one of my favorites, a sci-fi dystopian work where people can go on TV and earn money on awful reality shows. Because his child needs medicine, Ben Richards decides to try out for the shows and ends up on the big one–the one where the network hunts humans for sport.

The Talisman (With Peter Straub), 1984. A young boy sets off on a journey to save his dying mother and finds an alternate America, full of twins to people in his America. This book is beloved by many long-time King fans and has a sequel, Black House.

The Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2017 & More

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By looking at the 2017 films coming out, it’s clear that we fans are in a golden age of genre films. There are many sci-fi, superhero, fantasy, animated and horror films coming out this year that are quite tantalizing. These are the most promising looking of the bunch. However, it’s a guarantee that some of the films on this list will be colossal disappointments while there will be films that weren’t even mentioned that will defy low expectations. With that said, let’s look at the coming 2017 films; remember the release dates are still subject to change.

10. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7): Marvel Comics’ flagship superhero has his first solo film in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  Fingers crossed that this Spider-Man reboot will resonate.

spidey-at-washington-mon

9. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets(July 21): Director Luc Besson’s adaptation of the French space opera comic book looks…

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The Eyes of the Dragon – Review

Perpetually Past Due

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Published in 1987

Pages: 326

Genre: Fantasy

“Once in a kingdom called Delain, there was a King with two sons.”

The first line of The Eyes of the Dragon begins like many fairy tales about knights, kings, and dragons; the difference, however, is that this book was written by Stephen King. Stepping away from the horror niche he is so often put into, King wrote a work of epic fantasy that tells the tale of King Roland and his sons, Peter and Thomas. Betrayal, intrigue, and the use of wit to overcome astounding odds can all be found in The Eyes of the Dragon.

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Top 10 Films and TV Shows of 2016

Starloggers

For 2016, superheroes continue to reign in film and TV, while other genres like sci-fi, fantasy, horror and related combos offered refreshing alternatives. Many of the best films and TV shows on this list were very profound and pushed the envelope, while others were just plain fun to watch.

Films

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10. 10 Cloverfield Lane: The spiritual sequel to Cloverfield was a tense and suspenseful thriller with a great performance by John Goodman as a doomsday prepper.

xsuicideTIE: 9. Suicide Squad/X-Men: Apocalypse: Despite their flaws both superhero (and supervillain) films were enjoyable romps with unforgettable characters (Harley Quinn, the Joker, Deadshot, Magneto, Quicksilver, and more) and eye popping action-packed moments.

8. Doctor Strange: With the big-screen debut of Marvel Comics’ Sorcerer Supreme the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to remind us why their superhero films are currently the best of the crop compared to Fox’s X-Men Universe films…

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J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography – Review

Perpetually Past Due

J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter

Published in 1977

Pages: 287

Genre: Non-fiction, biography

“It is mid-morning on a spring day in 1967.”

So begins Humphrey Carpenter’s J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, a look at the man behind one of the most popular fantasy series ever written. What follows is an in-depth study of Tolkien’s life from his birth in South Africa to his death in his beloved English countryside. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography gives an extraordinary amount of context that explains not only the style in which Tolkien’s stories were written, but the genesis of a brilliant man and the beliefs that shaped him.

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