Sneak Peek: Human Planet on Discovery starts Sunday, April 10, 2011!

Hi!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a well-produced nature documentary. The BBC/Discovery collaborations in the past (Planet Earth, Life) have been gorgeous in their presentation and scope and offered a unique perspective on the world we live in.

Well, Human Planet is the next such collaboration and it’s about to hit the Discovery channel. The lineup looks like this:

  • Sunday, April 10, 2011
    • 8pm ET/PT, Rivers and Oceans
    • 9pm ET/PT, Mountains
  • Sunday, April 17 2011
    • 8pm ET/PT, Arctic
    • 9pm ET/PT, Grasslands and Jungles
  • Sunday, April 24, 2011
    • 8pm ET/PT, Deserts
    • 9pm ET/PT, Life at the Extremes

This time, we get to see how people survive in some of the world’s most extreme environments. Humans can be found in nearly every part of the world and have found techniques to not only live in these places, but thrive. More than 70 locations were filmed in the 4 years this series has been in production, all in glorious HD video.

Want a glimpse of this amazing undertaking? Check out the following clips:

Hunting a Sperm Whale in Indonesia
Crossing the Swollen Mekong River to Get to a Fishing Spot

Fighting off Baboons to Save Family Crops

Amazing stories of human perseverance. I look forward to watching every episode and learning something for the next three weekends!

–Fitz

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Book Review: The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

Hi again…

Terrorism. Before 9/11 it was a word that barely registered with Americans at home. After 9/11, it gained a life of its own. But what is it really? It depends on who you talk to. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” Dictionary.com defines it as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” For most of us, it’s the nagging fear that somewhere somebody who disagrees with your beliefs is unwilling to agree to disagree and will go to extremes to point out that his or her point of view is right and yours is wrong.

But what if it was all of that and something else? What if there were people in the world using terrorism as a tool to bilk money from millions of people, governments, and companies all over the world? Reducing the harsh realities of a world in which people are willing to blow themselves up for a cause down to a business decision. A financial strategy.

That’s damn scary to me. Welcome to the world of Jonathan Maberry‘s The King of Plagues.

Once again, Maberry gives us a glimpse into the world of the DMS – the Department of Military Services – through the eyes of Joe Ledger. Joe used to be a cop in Baltimore. In the last six months after joining the DMS he’s fought zombies and monsters. What’s next?

At the end of The Dragon Factory, Joe was suffering from the loss of his friend, coworker, and lover during an operation. She was murdered. He needed some time to recover. At the beginning of The King of Plagues, we learn he used some time off to hunt down her murderer and find some small bit of justice.

Though he wanted more time to grieve, the world moved on around him. Somebody blew up a hospital in London. And that act of violence claimed the lives if thousands of people. It was time to go back to work.

When Mr. Church, the leader of the DMS, calls you up and tells you to help the locals when the world goes to hell, you can’t really say no. And that sinks Joe back into the world of covert military action, detective work, and some villains that will sit back and watch the world burn if they like what they’re getting out of the deal. I was hooked from the beginning as Maberry writes about the explosion at the hospital and the emotional punch of watching 9/11 repeat itself…

“I turned to the people around me and saw expressions on their faces ranging from confusion, to disbelief, to shocked awareness. Each was processing the enormity of this at the speed their mind would allow. I could almost see how this was gouging wounds into the collective psyche of everyone here, and anyone who was watching a news feed. Each of them – each of us – would be marked by this forever.”

Through Joe Ledger, we experience five days of hell. Ebola. Plague. Assassins taking pleasure in systematically breaking victims psychologically as well as in their victims slow, agonizing deaths… He’s put through the ringer. And though he may be deadly with or without a weapon and be a hardened warrior, the “everyman” factor is there from beginning to end. He’s easy to identify with as he and his dog Ghost survive horrors with physical and emotional scars that may never heal.

I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy The Dragon Factory as much as the first Joe Ledger novel, Patient Zero. Though there were some interesting twists, turns, and technologies, it was a bit over the top for me and that’s saying something. I was hopeful that King of Plagues would return to the more powerful punch of the first book. And it did that in spades.

If you’re looking for a thriller to sink your teeth into, check out The King of Plagues. Maberry has hit one out of the park this time with nary a zombie in sight.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up all of these books at Barnes & Noble below!

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Sneak Peek: New Looney Tunes series on Cartoon Network this May!

This is simply too good not to share. Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner in a ninja battle to the death in the desert…

The new Looney Tunes show already premieres on Cartoon Network on May 3rd. I think I’ll be watching if this clip is any indication of the quality of the new cartoons. The 3D CGI takes a bit of getting used to, but this cartoon made me laugh out loud – so I can hope!

Thanks to Bleeding Cool for this clip. Check out the link for more clips!

–Fitz

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