Damage Report – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SUMMARY

This is a book about mistakes and possibilities- some that change the lives of a few, and some that change the lives of many. In The Old Man, Bob is two hundred fifty years old, a survivor of the global warming that nearly destroyed humanity. Things have gotten boring lately and his best friend is thinking about ending it all. Their extended lifespans also have a small liability that makes them both wonder if it’s worth it to stick around. In Long Shot, most of the Northern Hemisphere has been destroyed in a global nuclear war. A team of American aviators is assigned to assassinate the Russian marshal who gave the order for a nuclear attack. Only the U.S. Navy has resources remaining that can reach across the globe to complete the mission. In the title story Damage Report, a colony ship of a starfaring people goes into orbit around a planet bearing the remains of an extinct civilization. The ruins are only a thousand years old and are the best chance of the star people to understand why only their species has survived out of hundreds of predecessors within hundreds of light years of their home world.

REVIEW 3/5 STARS

Damage Report is a collection of short stories that involve life and death in some way. The first story, The Old Man, deals with a man who appears old in a civilization that has defeated disease and aging. There are a few others like him but when almost everyone alive is young and beautiful and you have lived far beyond what your expected life span, is there still any purpose to life itself? The second story Long Shot deals with the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war on earth. The Navy has found the man responsible for starting the war and they decide to do something about it even with the limited resources they have. The third and final story, Damage Report is about a colony of space travelers who come upon a planet that has recently destroyed itself through nuclear war. The colony must decide if they should live on the planet but their findings also leave them questioning why their species seems to be the only one who has thrived long enough to conquer other worlds.

While all three stories have their strong points, the best of them is The Old Man. Bob is faced with a quiet existential dilemma. He has few friends left and barring an unexpected violent accident he might live nearly forever. Should he continue on or do as some of his friends have and choose to end his own life. The story confronts the reader with the question of how much life is necessary.

Long Shot is interesting due to the use of drone warfare and the realistic aspect of what would be likely military actions post nuclear war. At times it may give a bit too much information about the weapons and hardware used but if the reader loves to know about those things there is plenty here to stay satisfied.

Damage Report does a fine job of telling what it would be like to be a civilization that has not only survived but thrived because instead of repeating mistakes they learn from them.

All three stories make the reader think about the possibilities for this world and what might or might not bring about the end for us all. It’s a solid meditation on life under the threat of global disasters.

If you enjoy short fiction and like hard science fiction, realistic military fiction and stories that make you think about life, Damage Report is certainly worth a read.

Lovecraft Country (Jig-a-Bobo) Episode 8 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror of Reality Collides with the Horror of the Cosmos as the Family Drama Intensifies

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the eighth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

After seven episodes one would think that you could not get much more intense than the previous episodes. Yet this episode delivers everything you could want from this show.

The episode is electric with drama and it has loads of horrors. It proves that our hero Atticus is far from perfect and that things could go critically wrong. None of the characters are safe, from the world, from nightmares, or from themselves.

A lot of the episode reminded me of some of the best of Stephen King stories. If you love horror, and have not started watching this series, you need to get on this one right now. It’s terrifying in both the way it portrays the impossible and in how it portrays reality. Added to that is deep character development with nuanced heroes and villains.

This episode does propel the story forward and feels like it is building toward an epic conclusion of the season. There are only a couple more episodes to go but I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Strange Case) Episode 5 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror and Family Drama is Back on Track

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the fifth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The previous episode was a throwback to Indiana Jones for some reason and it felt kind of out of place with the rest of the show. The most recent episode is much more on track. We are back to following the family drama and this episode has tons of interesting things to say on race and class. At the same time, it is full of body horror so if you are squeamish prepare to shut your eyes through a lot of the episode.

There are twists and turns that are surprising and unpredictable and as usual the very end will leave you just wanting to see the next episode as soon as possible. The show is able to be intellectual and visceral all at once which is an interesting mixture.

If you do watch this episode, I can promise that this is one of the episodes that will be in your mind months from now.

I feel like the show will need to have more episodes like this where the audience is both unable to turn away from the screen and wanting to turn away the whole time. There is still a deeper mystery going on here and I look forward to seeing how that plays out through the rest of the show.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Bulbbul – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another review of a film, this time, a horror/supernatural film from India called Bulbbul. This is on Netflix right now and although the plot can be somewhat predictable here, if you don’t watch any other movie on Netflix, you should check this one out. There will be very mild spoilers here but I definitely won’t give much away as far as plot, but then again, it won’t really have any twists or turns that knock you out of your seat anyway.

The plot centers around the titular character Bulbbul. At the beginning of the film she is a child bride in the 1880s during the Bengal presidency. Bulbbul is so young in fact, when she is wed, that she mistakes her brother-in-law who is around her age, for her husband, who is significantly older. Her husband, Indranil, also has a twin brother named Mahendra. Both characters are played by Rahul Bose, while Bulbbul is played by Tripti Dimri. Bulbbul, lost in her new surroundings finds some solace in her companion Satya, Indranil’s youngest brother. Satya is played by Avinash Tiwary. Satya tells Bulbbul stories about a witch who haunts the woods they live in. Bulbbul and Satya become virtually inseperable, which causes conflict with Indranil. I’m not going to go much more into the plot other than to say, you can see that it is a story of a romance that is not allowed to be, against the backdrop of supernatural events and the abuses of men who think they can get away with harming women and children.

If that plot is sounding tried and true and like it might not be worth watching, I would say you may have a point. However, the cinematography in this film is breathtakingly beautiful. Honestly, I don’t know if I have seen a better use of color palette in a film. From the very beginning credits, it’s clear how gorgeous this movie is going to be. When supernatural events occur, the screen is awash in deep reds, and even when it’s more of a normal situation, the beauty of the scenery is something to behold. The only time the camera seems to see things in actual real colors and tones is in the scenes between Satya and Bulbbul. It provides an anchor to an otherwise fairy tale or dreamlike quality that the movie has. The acting is engaging and there are no poor performances anywhere to be found. Tripti herself is especially fascinating to watch.

There are moments in the film that remind me slightly of the book Dracula and I think that’s intentional by the filmmakers but it works. The frequent use of flash backs and flash forwards is a little disorienting at times and I’m not sure how much the film benefits from that decision but at all points during the film, there is so much for the eyes to take in, it’s nearly impossible to look away. We can all feel for the plight of Bulbbul and empathize with what happens next but the real triumph of the film is its ability to mix its social commentary with the utter beauty of the film itself. You will sometimes hear film makers remind audiences that movies are a visual medium. This movie proves how true that is.

If you are not sure about this one, just sit down and watch it for a few minutes. If you are not utterly stunned by the masterful cinematography, deep performances, or beautiful music, nothing on film will truly impress you. Bulbbul is technically in the supernatural/horror genre but I think it’s more on the line of a fairy tale, just one of the darker ones. There isn’t much need of blood or gore here, and there is at leas one scene with almost none of that that disturbed me immensely and it’s a scene that I will still think about a long time from now. And as horrific as it was, it still made use of that masterful cinematography I was talking about. If you sit through the movie, I guarantee it will stay with you too.

Visually yours,

Slick Dungeon

Midsommar – #MovieReview

Don’t Drink the Mushroom Tea

I don’t know about you but I have had some extra time on my hands to watch movies. I read a Buzzfeed article that had 25 of the most disturbing movies you could watch and thought, yeah that’s a great way to stay entertained so here is my review of film number 1.

Midsommar is one that I meant to get around to but didn’t watch until today. I kept hearing really good things about it and wanted to check it out. It’s pretty much every bit as creepy as I heard. Spoilers are below, you have been warned

The movie starts off very dark. I mean that literally and figuratively. The first scenes show a darkened house with lights out in the dead of night. The tone doesn’t really lighten up either. The story revolves around Dani who starts off anxious and worried about her sister who has bipolar disorder. Dani calls her frat bro boyfriend worried and he dismisses her fears in a way that I frankly thought was disgusting. When people are anxious and worried, they should be listened to, not dismissed, especially when there’s evidence that shows the thing they are worried about might have happened. Turns out, Dani was right to worry and her jerk boyfriend Christian wasn’t helping things either. Dani’s sister killed herself and her parents in that dark house I was talking about.

That’s just as devastating a tragedy as I can think of and I don’t think Christian is helpful in the situation either. He’s not a total jerk but he really doesn’t want to be in the relationship with Dani and basically hangs around because it seems like an even more jerk move to break up with her.

Anyway, while Dani is starting to get over her grief, she goes to a party with Christian and he drops this bomb on her when he tells his friends he is planning on going to Sweden with them. Dani is upset, jealous and a bit angry. But she is also very apologetic to Christian about feeling that way. Dani decides not to break up with the guy but to go to Sweden with everyone. Bad call Dani.

The lighting of the film changes dramatically from there. It’s pretty much bright day from there on out. This is not the most gore-filled movie you’ll ever see and there’s not a bunch of quick jump cuts to scare you but the tone of this movie will stay with you if you watch it.

You get the sense right away when Dani is offered some drugs in the form of mushroom tea and she is uncomfortable with it, what with, you know, grieving and all that there is something wrong here. For a while it seems like maybe only the bad things are in Dani’s head but the rituals that are going on in this quiet Swedish town take a dark turn quickly. For the first half of the movie it’s a slow churning build up to what might happen and it just grips you right to the end.

The action really starts going when during a part of this festival two people literally jump to their deaths intentionally as part of it. All of the Americans and Londoners watching recoil in abject horror at what happens. From there, the non-Swedish characters are killed off in different ways one by one. I am not going to give any of that away, but it was devastating to watch. By the end you will find yourself both sympathizing and horrified with Dani and her actions. It’s a wild ride, done in super bright daylight and yet it still never loses the edge of horror that you want in a scary movie.

If you like horror and can stand a little gore, this one is well worth checking out.

Brightly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Arthur Christmas – #MovieReview

On the tenth day of Christmas my rancid ex gave to me Arthur Christmas.

This movie boldly asks the question, what if Santa Claus was a hereditary position run like a highly efficient army? It further asks, what if one of the next Santa Clauses in line cared a whole lot but wasn’t good at the whole military efficiency thing? It also asks what if one of the next Santa Clauses in line was good at the whole military efficiency thing but bad with children? It also asks, what if the current Santa Claus just relied on his kids and elfs to do everything. It also asks what if one of the former Santa Clauses wished he wasn’t retired and wants to go out on the sleigh again? It also asks what if a child was almost forgotten by Santa Claus but quick thinking saved the day and the guy who cares turned out to be the best choice to be the next Santa.

To which I say, why didn’t you just watch The Santa Clause instead?!?!

It’s a better movie by a long shot.

Only two more of these to get through.

Merilly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Christmas Survival – #MovieReview

On the ninth day of Christmas my rancid ex gave to me Christmas Survival.

Also on the ninth day of Christmas I started to think that maybe there are too many days of Christmas.

This movie is called Christmas Survival but it is really about a family that doesn’t quite get along. It’s almost two hours of arguments and bad parenting. There were too many characters to keep track of so I wasn’t even sure who belonged to what family most of the time. It’s got the standard stuff like ruined dinners, holiday mishaps, family tension etc. I found none of it interesting.

Look if you are going to call your movie Christmas Survival I expect some deadly dangers appearing.

Here are a few suggestions about what this could have been about.

  • Dracula comes to torment the family and they have to survive together.
  • Ditto the wolf man.
  • The family eats a Christmas goose and half of them turn to zombies.
  • The family is a pack of serial killers who lure people in need for their annual feast and then hunt them but this time the tables turn and the family gets hunted instead.
  • The family is in an airplane crash and all they have to survive on is the holiday food they brought with them.
  • There’s a secret underground fight club that the family get hoodwinked into joining and their only hope is the eight year old son who has watched a lot of television wrestling.
  • Or you know, go with what this did and just make it a long boring conversation with such parental disorganization that the kids aren’t even allowed to open their presents on Christmas day and have every adult act like an incompetent jerk the whole time.

There is only one Christmas movie that works as an antidote to this. Die Hard. It takes place at Christmas and really is about survival.

Merrily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Christmas Calendar – #MovieReview

On the eighth day of Christmas my rancid ex gave to me The Christmas Calendar.

Hey everyone, it’s Slick Dungeon here and I am still reviewing terrible Christmas movies. There are 12 days of Christmas so I am going to get through those before I review the ten absolute worst films of the last decade.

Today I have a movie for you that is so saccharine sweet that you’ll feel like you just stuffed six sugar cookies in your mouth. Yet somehow it manages to have no heart and is utterly predictable.

The Christmas Calendar is about Emily, a baker, who has returned to the small town she grew up in so that she can take over the bakery that her grandmother left for her. We also find out pretty quickly that the bakery is in danger of foreclosure and Emily will need to do something about that by the end of the month. Next a French baker, Gerard, comes in to town and it’s obvious that Emily has the hots for him. But it will be a problem because he could put her out of business. This all takes less than five minutes to set up. Then Emily receives an advent calendar that looks old and homemade. Everyone assumes it’s from a secret admirer and we spend the rest of the movie watching Emily and Gerard snip at each other, the town guessing who the secret admirer is, and basically knowing that everything will turn out fine in the end. Yay!

I have some questions.

  • I mean it was a nice calendar but would that really make the news? I feel like this should have been titled Advent Calendar, the Movie.
  • We all knew it was from her grandmother. How could people not see that coming?
  • Seriously the news reporter from the fictional TV station just said she was here from “the news”. Were they too lazy to think of three or four letters? Or maybe a number?
  • There’s a part where a health inspector flashes a badge. Pretty sure they don’t do that.
  • There was this whole build up about a Christmas baking competition and they don’t even show it. What were they thinking?
  • This is about two rival bakers and there’s not a single food fight. Boo.
  • Okay so if this calendar was from a secret admirer, why would they make something so big and obvious. Isn’t the key word secret?
  • Gerard bowls a perfect game his first try. I didn’t buy it at all.
  • The misunderstandings between Emily and Gerard could have been cleared up if they had talked to each other for another five minutes but they never do that.
  • We all knew that the bakery would be saved, Emily and Gerard would get together, and that they would end up as bakers together so why did we make this movie again? Oh yeah we needed a love letter film to advent calendars.

At first I had a hard time figuring out what the antidote to this film is. It kept reminding me of You’ve Got Mail, which is not a Christmas movie. Then I remembered why that made perfect sense. You’ve Got Mail is based on an old Jimmy Stewart more called The Shop Around the Corner which is a Christmas movie. It’s got the same sort of premise where there’s a business in danger and a couple that snip at each other until they fall in love. It’s got way more heart and won’t leave you with a sugary aftertaste.

Merrily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Jingle All the Way – #MovieReview

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! I’m going to keep this one short.

On the seventh day of Christmas my rancid ex gave to me Jingle All the Way. This movie is not the worst Christmas movie I have on this list but it might be the one I hate the most. Simply put this film is about a couple of fathers who would do anything, including really illegal activity, to get the hottest toy for their kids. It’s not funny, it has no heart and is just one mind bogglingly bad film that never redeems itself. I have only one question for this one.

  • Why did they make this? Quick someone kill this. Kill it with fire!!!!

The antidote to this one is A Miracle on 34th Street. It’s full of heart, sweetness and an on point Christmas message despite being pretty much one huuuge advertisement for Macy’s.

Merrily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Knight Before Christmas – #MovieReviee

On the sixth day of Christmas my rancid ex gave to me The Knight before Christmas.

We’ve made it halfway through the worst Christmas movies I watched this year. I am hoping to keep my sanity through the next half.

Today we have The Knight Before Christmas. This is one that didn’t look promising because of the bad pun. It wasn’t good but I could get past the pun and the premise here. There have been time traveling knight stories before that worked. If Mark Twain can do it, so can someone else. Of course no one is going to do this type of story as well as he did.

So here’s the plot in a nutshell. A young man in medieval times is trying to complete a quest to become a true knight. For some reason we’re calling him Sir Cole even though he is not a true knight yet. He meets an old crone and is kind to her. She does some Christmas magic and sends Cole to 2019 where he has to do something involving his heart to complete the quest. We know pretty quickly that his quest must be to fall in love with Brook because we see her complain about an ex boyfriend. We have to spend the next ninety minutes watching Cole do valiant and kind things that make Brook realize not all men are bad. They fall in love with each other and then Cole gets pulled back in time for all of two minutes and then because of more Christmas magic he goes back to 2019 to live happily ever after with Brook. Yay!

Okay so the plot is not that bad and neither is the romance so what’s the problem with it? Missed comedy opportunities. I made a list.

  • While we do get to see Cole interact with Alexa but I wanted to see what he would think of indoor plumbing.
  • At no point did Cole try to slay a car with a sword.
  • There’s a couple of jokes about Cole thinking that people are inside of a radio but he never thinks it’s magical or anything.
  • No one fell off a single ladder or roof in this whole movie.
  • Cole seems way cool with electricity for a guy who would never have encountered it. Hello, hilarious electrocution scene where are you?
  • I really wanted to see him go through a drive through on a horse. No luck.
  • Cole never seems freaked out by the whole thing and I think he would have thought it was all devilry and witchcraft.
  • Also it’s clear from the end that Cole’s brother will be showing up in modern times next year. Do we have to do that?

I am sure there’s more I can think of but I have to get to the next terrible film. The clear antidote to this one is Elf. It’s about a man out of his element who falls in love too. The difference? Not a single missed comedy opportunity in the whole film.

Merrily Yours,

Slick Dungeon