They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week we bring you a gritty new vampire book inspired by Mexican lore, a heist-filled television show filled with SF/F favorites, the second book in a Sherlock Holmes-inspired steampunk trilogy, and proof that you don’t need a Hollywood-sized budget in order to make a fun sci-fi film. Read on for more details!
Nu’s Favorite Thing is… Certain Dark Things!
My favorite thing this month is Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I love anything related to vampires, and as a big fan of the From Dusk Till Dawn movie and television series, I was excited to see a book about vampires set in Mexico City and integrating Mexican lore. The book is set in an alternate world where vampires exist among the living and humans are aware of the fact they walk among them. It focuses on several characters: Domingo, a teenage garbage-collecting street kid; Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers; and Ana, the cop investigating the the trail of corpses that leads her to the middle of vampire gang rivalries (“narco vampires”). The book is described as “gritty vampire noir,” and it’s refreshing to see a vampire story that isn’t afraid to go dark and disturbing. Moreno-Garcia’s fluid writing and style also works for an action-packed novel, making me turn the pages even faster. So, if you’re a fan of horror and thrillers/mysteries, definitely pick this book up! P.S. The cover also looks amazing!
J.L. Gribble’s Favorite Thing is… Leverage!
I know many of my previous contributions to this column have related to my current time-travel obsession, so now it’s time to introduce you to the other love of my life. Or at least the other topic heavily on my mind these days in the midst of frenzied novel-writing. Heists! There are a ton of great heist-related stories out there, whether on page or on screen, but my absolute favorite is the television show Leverage (2008–2012).
I’m currently in the midst of my third intentional watch of the show’s entire run (not including countless hours of just having it on in the background while I do other things), this time as brainstorm inspiration for the climax of my next book. The plot of every episode revolves around a complicated heist or con, but that’s not all that appeals to me about the show. There’s also the fantastic interpersonal dynamics between the main characters, the concept of morally gray people doing bad things to bad people for good reasons, and truly incredible acting and storytelling. Though I’m not sure this counts 100% as “speculative fiction,” many of the actors are fan-favorites from other SF/F properties, and the abilities of the characters always seem to verge just on the other side of fantastical and super-powered. So I think it totally counts, and not just because it’s one of my favorite shows ever.
Note: All five complete seasons of Leverage are available on Netflix at the time of this posting.
Casey’s Favorite Thing is… A Study in Darkness!
I recently went on vacation and tore through the second novel in Emma Jane Holloway’s The Baskerville Affair. The series proposes that Sherlock Holmes has a niece named Evelina Cooper, who is the daughter of Holmes’ late sister. Evelina, who grew up with her father’s family in the circus, is magically and mechanically gifted. She’s got an uncanny ability to communicate and bond with earth spirits (devas). The trilogy is delightful thus far. You have high Victorian society, with all of its talk of Seasons, debuts, presentations to the Queen, proposals, and the like. There are clockwork mechanisms. There are airships. There are airship pirates. It’s so much fun. Also, the steampunk elements are well-handled. A complaint that I have regarding some of steampunk is that the danger inherent in such things is rarely addressed. Holloway does so in these stories, even touching on the ways in which such technology is used for evil purposes. Being a Holmes story (sort of), there’s also a healthy dose of mystery and intrigue. The great detective himself is involved in the stories, but the focus is on Evelina. After several months worth of grimmer stories, this series is a marvelous palate cleanser.
Nicole’s Favorite Thing is…. Lazer Team!
In 2014, a small production company by the name of Rooster Teeth, most commonly known for their web series Red vs. Blue, decided it was time they made a movie. Using the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, they set a goal of $650,000. They broke that in the first 24 hours and went on to over $2.4 million to make their dream a reality.
And what a movie they made.
If you enjoyed Galaxy Quest, then this movie is right up your alley. As a fan of Rooster Teeth, it was exactly what I expected. It’s an absurd movie with cheeky one liners, a hearty amount of action, and of course, a few slow motion explosions. Four idiots (Colton Dunn, Burnie Burns, Gavin Free, and Michael Jones) knock an alien spacecraft out of the sky. Inside is an advanced armored suit meant for Earth’s hero (Alan Ritchson). Naturally, each of them put on a piece of the armor. That might not be so bad — except whoever is wearing the suit has to fight an alien force for the fate of our planet. Suddenly living on Earth isn’t the best place to be. It’s the kind of movie you love because it’s so ridiculous, and I adore the fact that they made a point to utilize practical effects where possible, rather than relying on CGI for everything the way Hollywood does these days.
It may not be perfect, but for a small company’s first movie, it’s pretty damn good. So the next time you’re looking for a wacky movie or some silly scifi, I highly recommend looking into this one.
Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments below!