Syfy Summer 2011!

Yes, I know it’s still April, but that means May is just around the corner and then June and by that point summer is usually underway already!

Though Sanctuary, Season 3, just got underway last week and Stargate Universe is heading towards the series finale, fans of the network know they’re not the only shows airing these days. Everybody at my house has been clamoring for more Eureka and Warehouse 13 wondering when they’ll get started again. Well, now I know!

In July 2011, Syfy is airing a mix of new shows and old for our viewing pleasure:

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    Alphas starts Monday July 11 and introduces us to a team of ordinary people with extraordinary abilities who go a bit vigilante. The team, led by Dr. Leigh Rosen (David Strathairn) investigates the cases other agencies can’t. It looks a bit like Wanted meets X-Men.

  • Also new is Legend Quest starting Wednesday July 13 – a reality series where archaeologist Ashley Cowie travels the world trying to find great artifacts from the past. Do you think he can find Excalibur or the Ark of the Covenant? This six episode series seems a bit like a real life Indiana Jones, so I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
  • And Eureka, Haven and Warehouse 13 also hit the airwaves again that week in July! It’s a bit early to set the DVR, but I know ours will be busy that week. 🙂

Also airing will be several new Saturday Original Movies from Syfy. Some of the ones in the past have been real stinkers, but maybe video-game inspired Red Faction: Origins will be more Babylon-5 than bad video game adaptation Doom? Also coming are ice creatures, dragons, killer sharks, and volcanoes. Have you ever noticed that Saturday nights on Syfy usually means something bad is going to happen to the Earth?

We’ll be tuning in to see our favorite shows and to see if there may be some new favorites in the mix as well!

–Fitz

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Book Review: The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw

Hi all…

The scholarly adventurer is not a new construct in popular media and fiction. Though Indiana Jones may be one of my favorite smart heroes, many other writers created similar characters long before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Jules Verne explored huge worlds beyond the everyday while Arthur Conan Doyle focused on the little clues of the everyday that we all leave behind (just ask the writers behind the successful CSI series, The Mentalist, NCIS and others). More recently, Dan Brown brought symbologist Robert Langdon to the fore in his wildly successful book The Da Vinci Code, mixing clues from the past with events in the present.

So when I saw the book The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw, I couldn’t help but see a connection between the title and Dan Brown’s work. But it was the addition of “Lucifer” that intrigued me. How would the Prince of Lies be worked into a Da Vinci Code-type story structure?

Though Brokaw’s debut – The Atlantis Code – was released last year, I somehow missed it. Though The Lucifer Code builds on the first book and includes references to earlier adventures, it wasn’t required reading before hand. What I found was that the adventures of linguist Thomas Lourds managed to provide a fun rollercoaster ride that starts quickly and doesn’t let up to the end.

Lourds, an older gentleman fresh from his discovery of Atlantis, is heading to Istanbul, Turkey to speak at Istanbul University about his field of linguistics. While still at the airport, he’s approached by a beautiful woman. And, being a bit of a womanizer, Lourds is flattered by the attention at first. He’s subsequently caught off guard when she aids in his kidnapping. Lourds finds himself in the company of terrorists leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. And when the group eventually descends into the catacombs beneath the city, their leader presents him with a book.

To stay alive, he must decipher the code contained within and lead his kidnappers to a lost scroll written by John of Patmos – the author of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. But if Lourds succeeds, will he bring about Armageddon or will he stop one?

There are numerous twists and turns to the book, but it follows a traditional pattern. The hero is thrust into a conspiracy that he must unravel along the journey to prevent an evil plot. This one involves terrorists, scholars, and the White House, so it ranks right up there with Angels and Demons, in which Dan Brown used a similar structure. The action in the The Lucifer Code hardly takes a breath and it eventually involves the Prince of Lies in a war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the conclusion was a bit far fetched even for me.

I have to say I enjoyed The Lucifer Code, but that it will be quickly forgotten. It’s the kind of book that would be perfect for a long flight or business trip. But though Brokaw’s style was fun, I don’t know that I’ll seek out the next book (or the first one) telling more of Thomas Lourds’ adventures.

If you’re looking for a lively book for the plane, definitely check out The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw. But if you’re looking for more than a race around the world against the Devil, I’d look for something else.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books at Barnes & Noble…

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Book Review: 2012: The Secret of the Crystal Skull by Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas

Hi there!

The Mayan calendar poses an interesting challenge to thinkers in the modern age. On one hand, it is one of the most complex and accurate astronomically-based calendars that we have found in mankind’s historical record. And on the other, it predicts, according to some anthropologists and archaeologists, the end of time on December 21, 2012.

As always, humankind has very different responses to this date. Some claim it signals an apocalypse or armageddon. Others say that it will bring a sea change to human consciousness. Still others say it will be just another day on Earth. I have to admit that I fall into the last category, though I’ll be interested to see what happens in three years.

It was obvious that authors Chris Morton and Ceri Morton Thomas put a ton of hard work and research into their book 2012: The Secret of the Crystal Skull. And it provides yet another point of view on the subject. Their protagonist, Dr. Laura Shepherd, is an archaeologist with a specialty in Mayan hieroglyphics. When a colleague dies mysteriously in the possession of a strange crystal skull, Shepherd is put in charge of determining where it came from and what its significance may be.

Never has writing a report for a superior provided more of a winding path. Laura’s path takes her to a hidden Mayan temple and into one of the most technologically advanced labs in the United States, not to mention her journey to what may be a parallel universe… But I won’t spoil that spiritual quest for you.

Evidently this novel began as a screenplay that may have inspired Roland Emmerich to create his latest big budget disaster film2012. And the authors’ previous best-seller (The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls) may have inspired the last Indiana Jones movie – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Cystal Skull. So they seem to have a knack for getting Hollywood’s attention.

It reads like a screenplay a good portion of the time with a ton of visual detail. And though I enjoyed the second half of the book and found the last 200 pages to go extremely quickly, the first half was tough sledding and took a long time to get rolling.

At one point, Dr. Shepherd spends a few chapters reading a journal written in the 1930s by the daughter of the archaeologist who actually discovered the crystal skull on an expedition. I felt that section could have been written to summarize the journal entries rather than including several long, detailed entries in the text of the book. I was reminded of Mary Shelley‘s classic Frankenstein, which is written as a series of journal entries that I have never finished after multiple attempts. So this may be more my failing than that of the authors.

In another part of the book, Dr. Shepherd remembers how her daughter died in a choking accident involving a piece of candy. As a parent, the scene was almost too detailed and graphic to read without thinking about how I would react if faced with the same situation. It was one of the stronger scenes, yet somehow fit awkwardly into the grander scheme of things. Again, I feel it might have been edited a bit to smooth out this rough patch.

However, from the point where Laura enters the jungle in search of the Mayan temple where the crystal skull had been found 80 years ago, I felt more connected to the story. It was at that point that the author’s knowledge of Mayan history and architecture really shined through and the adventure kicked into high gear. From there to the end, it’s a great thrill ride reminiscent of something you’d see in an Indiana Jones adventure.

Ultimately I enjoyed 2012: The Secret of the Crystal Skull by Morton and Thomas, but I wish it got going a bit faster than it did. If you’re fascinated by the Mayan calendar, the impending date of December 21, 2012, and the mystery of the crystal skulls, be sure to check it out at your local bookstore.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this book and other 2012-themed media at Amazon!

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