Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quickie Book Review: Subduction

by Todd Shimoda

Endo, a young physician beginning his residency at a hospital when one of his patients begins complaining of stomach pains. Endo wants to run a blood test, but the Head Resident disagrees, instructing Endo that the pains are only gastroenteritis. Not wanting to disobey the Head Resident, Endo reluctantly agrees with his decision, but the patient dies as a result of a ruptured appendix. The hospital decides that Endo is to blame for the wrong diagnosis, and the Head Resident readily confirms that decision. Endo doesn't protest, again not wanting to go against the establishment and is forced to spend the next four years on a small Japanese island of Marui-jima as penance, serving as the doctor for the few residents who still remain.

Marui-jima made the headlines a few years earlier thanks to a series of devastating earthquakes and the government's attempt to re-locate the remaining islanders to the mainland. Those earthquakes still continue, but the stubborn residents refuse to leave, even after the many warnings from the government. Now, it's up to Endo to provide medical care for them.

The islanders, however, view him and any other outsiders as working for the government, trying to find some way to get them to leave. Endo immediately meets with the islander's distrust and tries to make friend with two other outsiders on the island -- Mari, a filmmaker attempting to finish her documentary about the islanders, and Aki, a scientist studying the earthquakes in order to discover a way of predicting them. Endo gets to know them, listening to them tell stories about the island and its inhabitants, slowly unveiling a mystery about a love triangle that resulted in the untimely death of one of the richest men on the island. As the earthquakes begin to occur more frequently, Endo finds himself getting caught up in the mystery and strives to understand his own past.

With Subduction, I found myself caught up in Endo's exploration of the island and discovering the backstories of each remaining resident. Their past makes for a good mystery. But the story hints that the islanders and their mystery are tied somehow to the earthquakes, but that tie is tenuous and doesn't feel as if it's explored to the fullest. I kept expecting some revelation about how the earthquakes didn't begin until the death occurred or something stronger that keeps the remaining islanders tethered to Marui-jima. The story was peppered with that expectation -- not just about the islanders and the earthquakes, but also with the scientist Aki and his true reasons for being on the island. I felt that I was missing some integral piece of information about him that was hinted at but not explored.

The illustrations are nice, but after the first few, I couldn't tie them to the story and wound up skipping those pages. Though, they fit well with the mini-story within Subduction concerning the myth of the god Kashima.

Subduction tells a good story, but I can't help feeling that something was left out that would have left me satisfied with it.

Subduction
by Todd Shimoda
Chin Music Press
hardcover, 288 pgs.

Received book from publisher

Image from Colin Marshall.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reminiscing

During our family camping trips, we always listened to music to keep the long drives from becoming boring. My Mom would slip an 8-track into the dashboard, and we would all sing along to The Carpenters, The Captain & Tennille, John Denver, even KISS. One of my favorites was an Australian group called Little River Band, and I could out-sing my brother on every single track of their Greatest Hits album.

So on Monday while Caesar and I lost ourselves in the thousands of CDs at Amoeba Music, I stumbled across a copy of that Greatest Hits album. And I still really like it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today's my Sweetie's 28th (ahem) birthday...again! We celebrated with breakfast at Bottega Louie's, a pastry shop/restaurant serving some great eats, like the New York Breakfast Sandwich I scarfed down -- two fried eggs, bacon and cheese on a Kaiser roll. Of course, we had to try some of the pastries, so while Caesar enjoyed a beignet, I sampled one of the many, many macaroon flavors -- the salted caramel and milk chocolate. Oh my, that was the single most delicious thing I've ever eaten....

After that, we headed for a tour of the Paramount Studios. We both enjoyed it much more than the tour at Universal. At Paramount, we were part of a group of eight, being chauffeured around the lot in a golf cart. Many times, we were able to leave the cart and wander through the back lot sets, listening to stories about the old studio and the new shows being filmed. We knocked on the façade of Cake Baby from Bridesmaids, walked across the floor from a bar filmed in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, shaded ourselves inside a building used in Happy Endings, and even walked on the set of Dr. Phil. And it's a working lot so crews are building or demolishing sets all the time, people are running back and forth, and Caesar even saw a celebrity...but I won't reveal her name as she was trying to hide once she noticed Caesar noticing her. (hint: River Song....)

I didn't see her so we'll take his word for it.

After the two-hour tour, we spent money we didn't have in Amoeba Music then headed home. And now, I think I'm going to sleep until I have to go to work in the morning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quickie Book Review: Closet Case

by Robert Rodi

Lionel Frank is an adman in Chicago, spending most of his time working his sole account All-Pro Power Tools. He doesn't mind the work, but having to sit through the constant he-man anti-gay comments from his fellow employees is starting to take its toll on him. You see, being a gay man -- and a closeted one, at that -- working on a traditionally testosterone-infused project like power tools, is even more of a task thanks to his constant worry that he may be found out and summarily drummed from his job. To make matters worse, the agency earned a nomination from a Trippy award, one of Chicago advertising's most prestigious trophies....so that means he not only must attend the awards dinner, but must find a date -- preferably a female one.

He's been subtly flirting with Tracy, one of the secretaries in his office, to keep up the appearance of heterosexuality and decides she should be the one to attend the dinner with him. Things seem to be going well as the date of the dinner quickly approaches, until during one lunch break, Lionel and Tracy are walking back to the office when Lionel spies his best friend and hairdresser coming down the street. Not wanting him and Tracy to meet and to potentially out him, he quickly insinuates himself in a protest outside the Romanian embassy and finds himself falling hard for one of the protestors -- a handsome doctor-in-training named Emil.

And now, every attempt to show how hetero he is at the office and to his bosses winds up backfiring as his feelings for Emil cloud his judgement. Lionel winds up digging himself a deeper hole with only one possible way to make a happy ending for himself.

Maybe if I had read this when the book was first published over 10 years ago, I might have found Lionel's constant circumstances humorous. Instead, I found myself reading through the overly-stereotyped characters and somewhat believable situations only half-heartedly. I blame it on Lionel, whom I could never bring myself to like. He's a jerk, plain and simple, and that turned me off immediately. The secondary characters, though, make up for him: Yolanda, the curvacious Latina with her head stuck in sci-fi novels; Emil, the doctor-in-training cum protestor; Toné, his friend and hairdresser; his Aunt Lola, who has created a line of greetings cards specific to the gay community; and the bosses of his agency (along with their wives).

As for the situations into which Lionel puts everyone, they're just okay -- save the final sequence at a cabin in Wisconsin. That I actually enjoyed -- the in-fighting, the kidnapping, the fast-paced action.

But as a whole, Closet Case wasn't as funny as I expected based on the book's blurbers. It was simply okay.

Closet Case
by Robert Rodi
Plume (a division of Penguin)
trade paperback, 330 pgs.

purchased book

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yesterday

Last night while Caesar was browsing through the games in the iTunes app store, he asked me about a game called Yesterday. I know very little about games for the iPhone -- seeing as how I don't own one myself -- but his question wasn't about the gameplay. He asked if this was my cousin's husband's game. I asked if the name Pendulo Studios appeared anywhere in the description.

"Yes," he said.

"Then that's one of his games." I set my book down and stepped to the computer. Sure enough, my cousin's husband's game studio has a new game that just popped up for the iPhone. It's a dark storyline about Satanists running amok in New York, and the gameplay involves solving puzzles and riddles -- my kind of game. So he downloaded it, and we solved the first few puzzles together last night.

The graphics are surprisingly good for display on the iPhone. Very detailed, very three-dimensional, and still providing the graphic novel look and feel, though some of the buttons aren't easy to press on the smaller screen. (I bet it looks awesome on an iPad.) The puzzles so far have lingered around medium difficulty, such as three mini-puzzles involving chess. And what we really like is that if you don't select the right answer the first time, the game isn't over; you're allowed to select another answer.

(I can hear Caesar playing the game now in the living room. The sound and video quality are impressive.)

Now, I really need to get myself an iPhone so that I, too, can play the game. As well as a few others that I really want, like The 7th Guest and Rinth Island.

And no, I wasn't paid by my cousin or his husband to write about the game. We really did stumble across it last night by accident.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Horse Is a Horse

Standing in the bathroom this morning with my pajama bottoms around my ankles as I bent down to gather and fold them before stepping into the shower, I felt a sudden shock like a heavy stone being chucked against my right calf followed by the movement of my calf muscle as it tried to escape its skin casing. I managed to fling my bare bum onto the closed toilet seat while I carefully massaged the calf muscle back into place. And I began to wonder about the origins of the name "Charley horse", as you do in such situations.

Why not just call it "Sudden Random Calf Muscle Spasm from Hell"?

So I did a little research, and it appears that the most widely agreed-upon origin of the term "Charley horse" points to a baseball player from the 1800s -- Charles Radbourne. Nicknamed "Old Hoss", the Hall of Fame pitcher suffered from severe cramps, and when a leg cramp flared during one baseball game, the team began calling it Charley Hoss's cramps.

And that's...one to grow on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back to the Gym

I'm finally heading to the gym after work today -- the first time in over a month, thanks to the odd pain I've had in my back. (The doctors were never able to determine the cause so I'm making do.) I don't plan on doing anything hardcore. Perhaps some light weights, 30 minutes on the treadmill. I want to ease back into some form of a routine rather than go at it full tilt.

I've always had issues with my weight, ever since junior high when I was always chosen last not because I couldn't play the sports -- I was pretty adept at baseball, flag football, and volleyball -- but thanks to my penguin shape, no one thought I would do well on their teams. And even after proving myself, they promptly forgot the next time, so the cycle began all over again.

Will I ever come close to the hot gym rat physique that seems to dominate magazine covers, actors, models, etc.? Probably not, but I would at least like to get rid of the sack of ick around my belly and to fill out a t-shirt the right way instead of sucking in the muffin top.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Palladuim

Please forgive the craptastic photo -- I'm using the lowly Blackberry instead of the new-fangled iPhone for my pictures. Caesar's turned out much better.

Still, we enjoyed an incredible concert last night at the Hollywood Palladium along with hundreds of other gay and gay-friendly and everything in between kinda folks. I love the Scissor Sisters CDs, but they sound more incredible live. Jake Shears and Ana Matronic's voices were in top form, and I loved the kickassiness of Ana's Kiss You Off, and Del Marquis played the Hell out of his guitars.

I think the crowds enjoyed the show, too, with everyone dancing jumping singing clapping along. From our spot near the back of the theatre on a small balcony, we spent as much time people watching as listening -- muscle boys, bears, twinks, drag queens, leathermen, fag hags, geeks, emos, and straight couples, all getting swept up by the music. Most impressive as far as the audience was concerned were the three gentlemen in high heels who sashayed and swirled and dipped like nobody else's business.

After a late dessert run at Fred 62 -- I devoured a Raspberry Punk Tart and downed a large glass of iced tea while Caesar gulped a chocolate shake and plate of French fries -- we finally walked in the apartment this morning around 1:45. I don't even remember tumbling into bed and falling asleep.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Fine Evening for a Concert

Tomorrow night, Caesar and I head to the Palladium in Hollywood for one of his birthday presents: Scissor Sisters in concert. Hopefully, there won't be any freaky clowns in the theater....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quickie Book Review: Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 from Outer Space

edited by Tony Schaab

In 1959, director Ed Wood introduced us to Eros and Tanna, two alien beings sent to Earth in order to prevent the discovery of solarbonite -- a potentially dangerous element that if used in a bomb would destroy the entire universe. In the movie, we experience their 9th plan which involves zombies.

But what of the other eight plans? What were they? Why did they fail?

Well, wonder no more! In a new anthology, Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 from Outer Space, we finally learn of those previous plans, beginning with the aliens' first visit to our planet and their dealing with the original inhabitants -- the dinosaurs. As we travel through time, guided by the Amazing Criswell, we uncover the many failed attempts to thwart the discovery of solarbonite and how those run-ins with the aliens have been disguised throughout history.

The stories offered in this collection re-work some of the classic tales, such as Patrick D'Orazio's retelling of the Odyssey and Tony Schaab's tale of what really caused the big dinosaur extinction. Some tales are a bit tongue-in-cheek like Tonia Brown's western tale of corsets and cross-dressing to Craig DiLouie's B-movie send up of the "Fabulous Fifties". Jontahan Maberry mixes film noir and aliens while Joe McKinney and Mike McCarty weave a dangerous web with a giant spider invasion. An uprising in Ancient Egypt...the Pied Piper's alien origins...the Nazis trying to create a superhuman army....

I enjoyed reading each and every story, reveling in the imaginative ways of re-inventing past myths and fables and legends. A great collection of stories from some great authors, Before Plan 9 is a fine companion to the classic Ed Wood film. (And I'm not just saying that because I wrote one of the stories myself.)

Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 from Outer Space
edited by Tony Schaab
TwinStar Media
trade paperback, 344 pgs

purchased book

Image from Happy Fun Hell.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bakin'

I love a man who can bake me cookies....

Fresh from the oven!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Queen Ravenna and the Huntsman

After watching the many previews and tv commercials for this film, I wondered why the film's creators decided to call it Snow White and the Huntsman. The majority of ads focused on Charlize Theron acting all creepy and ice cold, facing off with Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman. Of Snow White (Kristen Stewart), very little was to be seen so I assumed her character either wasn't in the movie all that much, or her performance was just okay.

Well, we saw the movie last night, and her performance was...just okay. Her eyes never change from a sort of emptiness, no matter if she's smiling or angry, and I always get the impression that she would rather be somewhere else. The movie really belongs to Charlize Theron. As I commented on one of Jim's posts, she oozes evil and relishes playing the Queen Bitch in all her scenes. And she's fantastic and frightening. Chris Hemsworth does a fine job at the Huntsman, sent by the Queen to kill Snow White but who has a change of heart and mind once he has a run-in with the Queen's brother. Another surprise were the eight dwarfs -- first, because of the actors portraying them (Bob Hoskins, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, and other recognizable faces) and second, because of the special effects that changed them into the dwarfs. Hats off to the special effects team for that -- and for the other superb effects throughout the film. They kept many of the scenes that everyone knows of the Snow White story -- the huntsman sent to kill Snow White, the Dark Forest, the Dwarfs -- but tweak it just enough to make it a new tale. I especially love the twist of not having a traditional Prince Charming.

Definitely a fun film.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

You Know You're Getting Old When....

I'm not talking about the increase of aches and pains and other ailments which seem to have cropped up over the last year or so.

Being in my 40s really hit me like a wrecking ball when I attended our friend's twins' graduation from preschool last Friday. The first of many to come, I might add. Seeing those little rugrats dancing on stage, singing Yiddish songs, and enjoying the attention of every adult in the auditorium, forced my mind to picture my first such graduation way back in the '70s, at a Baptist school in Fountain Valley. It really doesn't seem all that long ago when I was dressed in my Geranimals, standing on a riser to sing 50 Nifty United States to our parents with Polaroid and Vivitar cameras with those large bluish cubes flashing and blinding us all the while.

So the cycle begins anew with the twins. I was at the hospital the night they were born. I watched the excitement in their eyes when they opened Christmas and Hanukkah gifts for the first time. They were the first babies I ever held, and I almost freaked out carrying such tiny creatures in my arms. We played horsey and chase and tag, sat around the TV while Yo Gabba Gabba! or The Upside Down Show sang across the screen.

Now, they've graduated to kindergarten. And can speak English, Spanish and Yiddish.

And today, we celebrated their fifth birthdays. The twins and their friends enjoyed the bounce house complete with a functional waterslide, having their faces painted with butterflies or sharks or baseballs, water balloon fights, whacking a piñata until all the candies waterfalled to the ground. We adults gathered at the tables, drinking bottles of water or beer, chitchatting and joking around, and keeping an eye on the mischief. We devoured the cupcakes and pizza as the kids screamed, laughed, and sang songs in Yiddish.

To have all that energy and stamina to play endlessly for hours. Was I ever that young?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quickie Book Review: Better Angel

by Richard Meeker

Better Angel tells the story of Kurt Gray, beginning with his early days as a young boy growing up with a strict Methodist family in 1930s Michigan. Somewhat shy around people, especially the other boys his own age, Kurt spends much of his time reading at the library or up in the attic space of his father's shop, playing with the odds and ends stored up there and staging shows for his few friends. Even at that young age, he realizes that he's different from the other boys, but it's his re-readings of those books in he Bible with hidden knowledge that he understands what he might be. He knows how people would react if they learned his secret so he keeps quiet, focuses on his school and music, and eventually finds himself ready to graduate from college and pursue a career in music composition. His close friends, Chloe and Derry Grayling, feel that he will succeed.

However, his life quickly becomes complicated when he finally confesses his love for Chloe's brother Derry. Derry's reaction is unremarkable, leaving Kurt unsure of whether Derry felt the same way. Derry manages to surprise him, though, by introducing him to David, a young man harboring a strong admiration for Kurt and his music. With David, Kurt begins to wonder if a relationship with another man could be possible. However, before the two can settle into a strong relationship, Kurt wins a grant that takes him to France, and it's in Sauvergne that he finds himself able to take stock of what life back in the States may have to offer, thanks to the no-nonsense wisdom from Tony McGauran, an actor whom he met on the boat crossing the Atlantic. Tony forces Kurt to make a decision regarding David and Derry and then to act upon it, no matter what the cost.

Many critics consider Better Angel to be the first American novel to present a positive view of homosexuality -- which is quite a feat considering it was originally published in 1933. It's actually refreshing to read a story from almost 100 years ago that doesn't kill off the main gay characters or treat them as if they were less than worthy of love and acceptance. All the characters are well-crafted and the situations in which they find themselves feel timeless, as if what they're going through back in the '30s is the same as many gay men and women are going through today, struggling with accepting themselves and believing they can find love.

Definitely a book worthy of being read and shared.

Better Angel
by Richard Meeker
Alyson Publications, Inc.
mass market paperback, 288 pgs.

purchased book

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Dirty Alley

With Summer fast approaching, the beach clean-ups are beginning with full steam. The first occurred around Earth Day back in April, though I missed it. I did catch another one during my walk this weekend. Unless that group of high schoolers were scooping through the sand and filling trash bags out of the a sense of giving back to the environment. One group of boys screamed and giggled at some of their finds; I'm not sure what it was, but they groaned and moaned and laughed at the item. Probably something in latex, I would imagine.

Cleaning the beach is a great first step in making the area look nice. But I wonder when they're going to focus on the alleys?

We have one right behind our apartment, and most of the time, it resembles a closet hastily filled in when you realize company is coming in less than an hour and you need to stash everything pronto. I've lost count of the number of couches that have mysteriously appeared overnight, with their cushions askew and filler belching from the open gashes made by feral cats or the raccoon family that dwells in the sewer across the street. Every building provides trash cans along the alley, but a good third of what should be inside the cans winds up littering the concrete: broken glass, bottle caps, cigarette butts, chunks of plastic, and even nails and screws that display an affinity for my tires. And don't even get me started on the occasional used condom.... Ew!

Just think...during a rainstorm, the trash and dirt and other unmentionables stream along the barely-visible valley in the concrete, heading directly for the gutter only to swirl into the storm drains. And where do the drains lead? Why, to the beach, of course. So why not stem the flow of trash closer to the source?

The beach will thank you. And so will my tires.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

5¢ Follies

We decided to try a different restaurant last night on the way to the theater, something other than the stand-bys we normally choose because we can't think of anything else. From some unremembered source -- probably a TV show on the Food Network -- Caesar learned of a little eatery located not far from the Ahmanson Theater, called the Nickel Diner. The location concerned us both -- it's in the Jewelry District, almost in the thick of Skid Row -- but we figured a little adventure might do us some good so why not at least check it out?

The are itself was peppered with apartment buildings, many still displaying the fading painted advertisements for baths and TV on the old brickwork. A few storefronts appeared here and there, and stuck in between was the restaurant -- a little hole-in-the-wall of a place with a large window looking directly into their soda fountain area up front. Old timey lettering had been painted on the window in red and gold, and two mannequin heads adorned with too-high hats stood guard on either side of the fountain. A couple waited outside the doors and told us that the restaurant wasn't open yet. The hostess told them five more minutes so we waited along with them. I took the opportunity to checkin on foursquare and somehow eared a surprise badge from the LA Weekly. (Caesar asked if I earned anything for the badge, and I told him, "Only a brief warm fuzzy feeling." I guess I can now consider myself a "hipster" for visiting many of their recommended spots.) Other patrons arrived, tried the doors even after we told them the place wasn't open yet, and disappeared down the sidewalk while grumbling into their cell phones.

After a few moments, the host opened the door to set a chalkboard open sign on the sidewalk and ushered us inside. We were escorted to a small table for two and sat admiring the 1950s décor: hardwood tables and chairs, dated speakers attached to the corners of the ceiling, white and black diamond wallpaper (that I think matched the floors) going halfway up and separated from the paint that continued to the ceiling by some moulding. Our waiter tempted us to order an appetizer, and we choose the nutella doughnut. I asked about the maple bacon ones, but he said they'd sold out earlier that afternoon. It didn't matter -- the cakey doughnut dipped in warm nutella then covered in finely chopped hazel nuts was delicious. We followed that with our main courses: for Caesar, the Beef Stew with Mushrooms poured over a pile of homemade mashed potatoes and topped with shaved parsnips; for me, the Grilled Flat Iron Chimichurri Steak with an arugula, tomato and avocado salad. That was one of the best dinners I've ever had. The steak was cooked to perfection, the salad was surprisingly good, and I even sampled part of Caesar's beef stew because his plateful was enough to feed three people. And then, against our better judgement, we ordered a homemade Ding Dong and a chocolate & blood orange Pop Tart for dessert. Both were sweet without being overpowering and tasted as good as our dinners. Afterwards, we waddled across the street to the parking structure afterwards and made the quick trip to the theater.

The show for the evening was the revival of Stephen Sondheim's classic Follies which was a last-minute replacement for Funny Girl when that production fell through. A what good fortune for us as we were treated to most of the cast from the New York production: Jan Maxwell, Ron Raines, Danny Burstein, and Elaine Paige reprising their roles. The only main casting change was Victoria Clark for Bernadette Peters.

The show tells the story of a reunion of follies girls at the soon-to-be-torn-down Weismann Theater. Sally Durant Plummer returns to the theater hoping she can reconnect with her old flame Benjamin Stone. But all those years ago, Benjamin married Sally's friend Phyllis Rogers while she fell into a marriage of her own with Ben's friend Buddy. Their struggling relationships play out over the backdrop of the former follies girls, reliving their good times and dances and stories. And throughout the reunion, the theater's ghosts mingle with the guests, trying to recapture some of their former glories and triumphs before the theater closes for good.

I know that's not the greatest synopsis, but so much goes on within the show that I would be revealing too much if I tried to describe it. I'll just say that each of the women had her turn in the spotlight, from Jayne Houdyshell's Hattie Walker joyfully singing Broadway Baby to Elaine Paige's Carlotta Campion refusing to fade away with I'm Still Here. Simply amazing, as was the transformation during the second act from the decrepit Weismann Theater to the fantastical Loveland where Sally, Buddy, Ben, and Phyllis each spend time in the spotlight telling his or her story. The show is by turns funny and heartwrenching, captures the audience with fantastic storytelling, and showcases some of the best music and vocal talent around.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Quickie Book Review: Alien

by Alan Dean Foster

The Nostromo silently glides through space carrying its payload of refined petroleum and the seven crewmembers tucked away in hypersleep until the reach the Milky Way. While they sleep, the ship picks up a faint distress call, and according to company protocol, the ship -- known as Mother to the crew -- begins the process of waking the crew to investigate. They track the signal to a planetoid and manage a difficult landing in the harsh and dust-filled winds. Three crewmembers set out to locate the source of the signal and discover a large, derelict ship almost sprouting from the ground. The three make their way inside a large entry bay but can find no sings of life. Proceeding farther into the ship, they find a deep hole leading into blackness and decide to investigate.

Dangling from a cable inside a cavernous room, one of the crew slowly settles to the floor and begins examining the strange pods arranged in a pattern around the room. He touches one and soon regrets it as the creature inside breaks through the skin of the punch and latches onto his faceplate, burning through the glass and attaching itself to his face. When the other two reel him in, their only thought is to get him back to the ship and remove the creature. Aboard the ship, warrant office Ripley refuses to allow her fellow crewmen back onto the ship, following Company protocol, but her decision is overridden by Ash, the science officer.

Nothing they can do will release the vice-like grip of the creature. In time, the creature falls away on its own, unleashing something far worse into the bowels of the ship. What began as a simple distress call turns into a deadly fight for survival....

Alien by Alan Dean Foster is a novelization of the 1979 film, and it follows the story very well. In fact, while reading the book, I found myself picturing Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, Tom Skerritt as Dallas, Ian Holm as Ash, and so on. It's very easy to do because I've seen the movie numerous times and still find it one of the scariest movies around. The book actually enhances the film, delving a bit deeper into the personalities of the crew, especially during the opening chapter when each of the characters is given a moment in the spotlight while still in hypersleep. My only gripe is with the transitions between scenes in the book. One moment, I'm reading about Ripley in one section of the Nostromo, then with the next sentence, Parker and Lambert are in the engine area. No pause or break appears; the scenes run into each other, and it's somewhat jarring.

But it's still an effective story that fans of horror, science fiction, and the movies ill most definitely enjoy.

Alien
by Alan Dean Foster
Warner Books
mass market paperback,

purchased book