Archive for November, 2011

Black Friday! Best Of eBooks Part Deux [eBook Review]

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Today all over the United States people have been standing in line for hours in hopes of getting that one great deal on their special someone’s Christmas gift! Unless of course you’re me then you prefer to stay home in your pajamas, eating leftovers and sleeping off the tryptophan hangover you occurred the day before.

And because of that I love Cyber Monday!  And to make it even easier I’ve put together a list of some more of my favorite books I’ve reviewed in the last few months.  Hopefully you’ll be able to find just the right book for that avid reader on your list!

As much as I love to read, sometimes I just don’t have time to read a full-length novel.  That is where a well-written short story comes in handy.  Scott Burgess’ The Plague: Dead Solstice fits the bill very nicely!

skitched-20111123-175916.jpgThe Plague has a good, solid story line and is filled with inspired writing, which made for a fun read. I enjoyed Burgess’ use of dry humor and intriguing character development. It was not as much a predicable read as many zombie books could be and I literally laughed out loud at Burgess’ humor and attention to the characters’ details. He definitely kept my attention throughout the story.

And for those readers who appreciate a good romance I highly recommend the next two books.

Modern Witch is a cute and very entertaining book, easily read in an afternoon. It kept my interest from start to finish with its refreshing concept. It’s an airy contemporary fantasy with plenty of laugh-out-loud humor, a little romance, and characters you won’t want to leave.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the author, but she certainly won me over. I was drawn in by her words and almost put sound to the voices. If you’re looking for something lighthearted that will make you smile, this book is it!


Addison Moore crafts a tale of girly goodness in Ethereal.  If you enjoyed the Twilight series, the Vampire Diaries or just enjoy a good paranormal love story then you will most certainly like Ethereal.

I really enjoyed reading Ethereal.  It was a different take on the angel genre, that also had a strong, non whiney female lead that wasn’t content with just sitting around and waiting for whatever fate has in store for her.

Do you have an evil genius on your Christmas list?  Well How to Succeed in Evil would be the perfect gift for him or her!

Patrick E. McLean’s story, How to Succeed in Evil reads like a how-to guide on achieving evil through any means.  Edwin is frustrated with the lack of good super villains as clients, and has had to settle for D list villains whom he finds incredibly frustrating and haven’t helped with the bottom line of his business.

McLean’s story is full of bigger then life characters, both literally and figuratively.  Wait until you meet Topper!  They just jump off the page at you while you read about their inner most desires, needs for revenge and plans for ruling all of mankind.

skitched-20111123-180214.jpgI absolutely loved Torment: A Novel of Dark Terror by Jeremy Bishop! Torment was a fast read, a little heavy, but still very enjoyable!  I found myself wrapped up in the story from the very first chapter.   I was convinced that this was going to be a story about an alien invasion, but was pleasantly surprised to watch as it turned into a tale of human survival in a post apocalyptic world.

Torment is a social science fiction novel; meaning it is concerned less with technology and space opera type themes and deals more with sociological speculation about human society and beliefs.  The religious undercurrent helps flesh out the characters and allows you to see their differing opinions of god, and what life really means.

Hopefully this list will keep you in bed at 4 am instead of out in the cold with the rest of the crazies and make you the best Santa in the whole universe!

Russian Researchers Say They’ve Found Yeti Nest

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011


A recent collection of Yeti researchers in Siberia might have turned up evidence of a nest.

“We didn’t feel like the trees we saw in Siberia had been done by a man or another mammal…. Twisted trees like this have also been observed in North America and they could fit with the theory that Bigfoot makes nests. The nests we have looked at are built around trees twisted together into an arch shape,” Bindernagel told the British tabloid The Sun.

Next up: proof of Yeti pillow or electric blanket.

[Live Science]

Fraking Toasters: Mitchell & Webb’s Hilarious Battlestar Galactica Parody

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The crew of a human vessel under attack by robots that take human form deal with the stress. Specifically Colin.

Performed by the hilarious Mitchell and Webb.

The Daleks Are Better The Less They Talk [Opinion]

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

skitched-20111122-203831.jpgMonsters are monstrous. That’s the point of them.

Their inhumanity is defined by how little of ourselves we see in them. For example despite his Gallifreyan origin, The Doctor is chock full of human quirks. He’s prideful, arrogant, caring, has an accent (after all, lots of places have a North) and many times a liar. All elements that we recognize as human. All elements that make as love and trust The Doctor.

But his greatest enemy, The Dalek has a sliding scale of humanity. Sometimes they are fixated terrors determined to wipe out any and everything in front of them. But sometimes they are just a lost alien race, a pitiable hoard of lost barbarians long separated from their tribe. Often time, the latter is accomplished by having our tin can cretins talk more. Which is a mistake.

The Daleks suck the more they talk. I will prove it now!


Many of the worst cop out endings for Doctor plots involve the one piece of information revealed when all is lost that totally changes the power dynamic. Great plot resolutions come from action and action is a necessity when your obstacle will only reply “EXTERMINATE!!!” to any pleadings.

It also reinforces the superior race element to the Dalek personality. They believe they are the most advanced race in the galaxy. Why would they engage in dialogue to pond scum like humans?


They look like pimply tin cans, the roll as fast as Will Smith’s suggested Summertime cruising and look rather harmless.

Which is what makes them awesome.

They are the greatest killing machine known to any species in any time. This is best exemplified in the 2005 Dalek reintroduction entitled Dalek where the Doctor and Rose find a lone Skaro warrior trapped in the basement of an American billionaire. One tortured creature murders dozens and dismantles a man’s empire like a lost child. A slow rolling tower of chaos.

Quite simply, no words are needed.

They Look Stupid Talking To Each Other

When they sit there blinking at each other with their barely differential voices (a la The Daleks In Manhattan) plotting against each other or their enemies it just looks a bit too much like a really boring animatronic exhibition.

Shhhh… The Show Was Actually Fun To Watch [The Walking Dead Dissection]

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Holy crap.

Stuff actually happened on this show. Sure, there were some pretty maddening plot problems and we rehashed a few issues for the millionth time, but at the end of the episode people said important things to each other that might actually move the plot along. You hear that world! We might actually be heading in the right direction with this GD series! Yippee!

And then… there are two bits of news that almost completely ruin your joy. Find out both of those and everything else you need to know about Secrets AFTER THE JUMP… (more…)

Shanghai’s Haunted Train Station [Weird China]

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Chinese native Chunzhenwang reports from Shanghai

skitched-20111119-163413.jpgI don’t like horror movies or ghost stories. My imagination pictures those things, especially at night, which freak me out. But the curiosity never stops me from listening to them. I want to figure out the reason behind each story. I feel like if I can find the rational side of these stories, I wouldn’t be scared anymore. Against my better judgement, I find myself seeking out ghost stories but very rarely finding the rationale behind them. So every night, I still fight with my imagination.

When you live in Shanghai, the subway will be your first choice for transportation. It’s not expensive and very convenient. But on Line One, there is a Caobao road station, or by its more popular name, “ghost station.”


According to popular legend, the train will suddenly break down at that station, without driver error. When a maintenance trailer pulls the train out of the station, it works again. Other riders have reported the door not opening when in the haunted stop.

But most alarming is the nine deaths at Caobao, all involving unexplainable circumstances.

A few couple years ago, when the subway in Shanghai did not have shielded gates, a passenger waited for the train. All of a sudden, he plunged down into the tracks after inexplicably losing his balance. Unfortunately for him, his train was on time, ending his life. Witnesses say he didn’t fall off the platform, they saw something dragging him.

Just imagine the poor souls that have to work there.

One day, as usual, the staff needed to clean the trash in the track. One worker while cleaning, heard a woman laugh from the deep and dark side of the track. Since the station was closed, no one was supposed to be there.

Other staff report sometimes seeing a girl in red sitting in one of the chairs. Many believe she is the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide a couple of days before in the Caobao station. In the next few days following her death, many staff saw her sitting there every night.

I haven’t been to the Caobao station myself, mostly because I don’t live near that area. But where do these stories come from?

I think the main reason is the location of Caobao. It’s near a local mortuary, and the station’s ladies restroom is specifically close to the mortuary.

I don’t know these stories of the Caobao station is true or not. But I believe at least the inspiration for them couldn’t be totally invented.

Blue Earth [eBook Review]

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Simone Allyne is the Weird Things eBook reviewer focusing on readily available, affordable Science Fiction and Fantasy. If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please email WeirdThingsMail@Gmail

Blue Earth would not be a typical pick for me when deciding on a new book to review, that being said I really enjoyed reading it!

Jeff Stover paints a detailed and wonderful story in this page-turner of a book. The book takes place in a futuristic setting the story and the characters within making it seem not necessarily plausible, but definitely possible.

I found myself totally swept away by this book starting with the intro. There is an intriguing mystery that runs through the whole story, as well as some interesting and unique characters. I enjoyed Stover’s diversity of personality among the main characters. Blue Earth is fast paced, with tons of action, cool sci-fi ideas and genuine heart.

Embattled doctoral candidate Ruth Long struggles between playing it safe in the conservative world of academia and reaching out to truly discover humanity within a 12-member brotherhood of mutants, called Thrones. Jamal Battle, a former soldier turned bounty hunter, must determine whether he will continue to destroy for the rest of his life, or finally protect creatures with primitive values which are now so foreign.

Stover set a lofty goal for himself when writing Blue Earth – blending science fiction with religion. Not only does he meet this goal, but also he does so with a mix of tact and tenacity that few sci-fi authors are able to reach. The world that Stover creates around the reader is as compelling as it is mysterious, and the juxtaposition between Jamal and Ruth highlights his ability to create a dynamic spectrum of personalities that will keep you hooked from page one.

Blue Earth is science fiction in a philosophical sense – no techno-geek vocabulary. It has good story telling, a provocative story line that will keep you turning pages and asking the question “what is “normal?””

If you’re into science fiction and are a deep thinker, this is definitely a book you want check out – and Jeff Stover is an author you’ll want to keep your eye on.


Pedochair Spotted

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Spotted at a Kroger.


And Now, The Best Song About An Axolotl You’ll Ever Hear

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

If you are unfamiliar, please refer to this Wikipedia page. La la la la.

[Rather Good via Improbable Research]

DARPA Wants To Build A Robotic Ostrich That Runs 50 MPH

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Robot Ostrich. Yes.

[Improbable Research]

Craig Venter Updates His Findings On Algae As The Fuel Of The Future

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

In the pantheon of Weird Things heroes, Craig Venter stands among the most revered. His controversially sequenced the human genome faster than the most aggressive estimations. His swagger and braggadocio wrankle rivals who seem him as a publicity hound putting himself before the science.

In the parlance of our modern era, he balls so hard motherf—ers want to fine him.

Venter’s newest quest is completely redefine the world’s energy supply by creating fuel from algae. Although this is not a new idea, Venter’s approach is unique in that he wants forgo searching for a magic naturally occurrence of algae that can be replicated in favor of sequencing his own from scratch.

So how long will this take? He talked to Live Science.

We don’t have the final answer to anything. We’re evaluating thousands of strains and large numbers of genetic changes. The long-term solution is to make the entire genetic code from scratch and control all the parameters. To us, this is a long-term plan. It’s a 10-year plan. We’re not promising new fuel for your car in the next 18 months.

In comparison to the human genome challenge, Venter adds he completed that “in nine months.”


[Live Science]

Is The Mysterious Google Maps Anomaly China’s Area 51?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

China_ Google Earth spots huge, unidentified structures in Gobi desert - Telegraph.jpg

Pictures of a strange plot of land in China’s western Gansu province could a secret weapons testing facility and if one weapons expert is to be believed, it’s very similar to American installations in Nevada. Including the famed Area 51.

Tim Ripley, a defence expert from Jane’s Defence Weekly, compared the structures to similar grids in Area 51, the secret United States military test base in Nevada. “The picture of the circle looks very like a missile test range, with target and instrumentation set out to record weapon effects. The Americans have lots of these in Nevada – Area 51!” he said.

This region is known to be used by the Chinese military for secret weapons test and this kind of grid could be used to simulate city streets, presumably to test the accuracy of missiles.


A Hunt With No End [The Walking Dead Dissection]

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Like a zombie whose brain has been cleaved in twain by a last minute arrow, this episode of The Walking Dead was of two minds. The first, let’s continue to put our characters on the path of the most boring, pointless plot arc in history. The second, let’s continue to give the audience slight glimmers of the promise that this show once found bursting out of every seem.

Also, Michael Rooker is back. Or is he.

Find it all, AFTER THE JUMP… (more…)

We Can Create Yeast Cyborgs

Friday, November 11th, 2011


If you thought that we’d never create a feedback loop with yeast that could help us control it’s organic nature using a computer, you are dead wrong.

This work, performed by scientists at the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, is exceptional because of its simplicity: The computer turns the yeast on by flashing a red light, and it turns the yeast off by flashing a deeper red light. Connected to the yeast is a “reporter” molecule that fluoresces when the protein is produced. The computer can see this fluorescence and alter the light it emits, thus creating a full feedback loop.

This is the first step toward manipulating organic material by way of cell signaling which could lead to us making anything from fuel to pills from a vat ooze. Which is awesome.

[Extreme Tech]

Best of eBooks [ebook reviews]

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Simone Allyne is the Weird Things eBook reviewer focusing on readily available, affordable Science Fiction and Fantasy. If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please email WeirdThingsMail@Gmail

The gift giving season is upon us and I thought I’d give you my top five favorite books I’ve read so far for Weird Things in case you’re in need of a great book for someone on your shopping list.

Honestly it’s hard for me to pick just a few, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top five books and short stories that I’ve read.  Hopefully you will agree!

My first suggestion would be The Old Man and the Wasteland. This stands as far and away my favorite story that I have read since starting doing these reviews.

It’s not often that a book brings me to tears, but The Old Man and the Waste Land by Nick Cole did just that.  Cole’s writing is so incredibly beautiful you cannot help but cry over the awe inducing descriptions of a sunset… only to realize that it’s a sunset in post apocalyptica.

Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance is an awesome read! It is a fantastic mash up of the pulp fiction and sci-fi genres.   Action abounds as you join Noose on his mission to hunt down neo human terrorists who attacked a dwarven dance club and in the process killed someone close to him.

After enjoying Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance so much, it should come as no surprise that I love to read detective stories.


That’s why I enjoyed Hard Day’s Knight by John Hartness so much! Plus it’s about vampires!!! Hartness writes a story that feels like a cross between Moonlight and Cara Lockwood’s Every Demon Has His Day.  His writing is witty, culturally relevant and has a good dose of pop culture references to keep you turning the pages to see just how bad it can get for these two self-professed nerdy, permanently college-aged vampires.

Another book I really enjoyed was Deadly Intent by Laura Eno.  In fact I’ve continued to read her work for my own personal enjoyment.

Deadly Intent is a story with emotionally driven characters that are very easy to relate too.  You can’t help but feel for Jonathon and sympathize with his granddaughter Abbie as they both fight for what they hold dear.

And if I am being totally honest with you I love a good story with a strong female lead, hence my love for the short story Freak Show by Richard Jones.

Jones creates a world of horrible wonder with Frankenstein heads in boxes, mysterious eggs, and an otherworldly beautiful man that is hell bent on tempting Natalie to join him and his nefarious ends.

If you have a book lover on your Christmas shopping list who is into science fiction or fantasy, then these books would make a great choice for a gift!


They Are Evolving: Octopus Goes From Opaque To Transparent In Seconds

Thursday, November 10th, 2011


We’ve talked at length on the podcast about the intelligence and possible threat presented by Octopi. This will do nothing to bury those very real, justified fears.

Two deep-ocean species of cephalopod, an octopus and a squid, can go from transparent to opaque in the blink of an eye, a new study finds.

This impressive camouflage swap is an adaptation that likely keeps the cephalopods safe from two different types of predators. The first are deep-sea creatures that hunt by looking upward for prey silhouetted against the light filtering down through thousands of feet of water. The second are fish that spotlight prey in “biological” headlights. These fish use bioluminescence, their own body-driven light source, to hunt for food.

They can go invisible now? Maybe it is time to align with the sharks…

[Live Science]