Showing posts from April, 2021

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Director: Bryan Forbes Writers: William Goldman, from the novel by Ira Levin Stars: Katherine Ross, Peter Masterson, Paula Prentiss, Nanette Newman, Tina Louise, Carol Eve Rossen A married couple (Katherine Ross and Peter Masterson)  moves to a seemingly peaceful suburban community where the wives are unusually committed to a traditional, subservient position, setting the stage for a terrible betrayal.   This film, which was largely dismissed or derided at the time of its release, has rightfully gained some respect over the years for its examination of the shallow, egotistic foundation beneath patriarchal notions of proper family structure.   Contemplating the implications of this theme lends a chilling, haunting quality to the film, but Bryan Forbes’s pedestrian movie-of-the-week presentation holds it back from being the chiller that it could have been.   Ross and Paula Prentiss are very good, but the rest of the cast give rather bland performances.   This actually works to the film’s

Shattered (1973)

by Dean Koontz Alex and his young brother-in-law Colin drive cross country  to join his new bride in San Francisco, pursued by her psychotic former boyfriend.   What a mess this novel is.  Even though it is such a slim volume (at barely over a hundred pages), it feels terribly padded.  We are treated to many pages of inane dialogue between our two protagonists as they pass the time during their long drive, which makes them seem very irritating rather than endearing.   There is a pointless subplot involving a police officer and a medical examiner whose actions have absolutely no connection to or impact on the main story.  "In a Nightmare of Madness" (Italian)                                                     Although the story happens during the Vietnam War and Alex is presented as a bit of a hippie, the hostile reactions he gets everywhere he goes seem overdone.  "Harassment" (Spanish) Finally, despite the brevity of the novel, Koontz doesn't provide closure i

The Entropy Effect (Star Trek: The Original Series) (1981)

by Vonda McIntyre Spock must travel through time to undo the death of  Kirk and stop a temporal researcher whose invention will bring about the end of the universe.  This book was really bad early on.  Uhura and Chekov are virtually absent from the story.   Author Vonda McIntyre introduces some secondary characters of her own creation that held absolutely no interest for me but seemed to engage her much more than the TOS crew.   Vonda McIntyre Fortunately, these characters mostly vanished from the narrative once the story got going (which made me wonder why we needed them in the first place), and there are some pretty good, intense scenes among Spock, McCoy, and Scott.  "Entropy Effect" (Portuguese) Unfortunately, the resolution of the crisis is pretty dull and McIntyre’s boring Mary Sues shuffle back on stage to conclude their character arcs.   "The Entropy Effect" (German)   I didn’t care for the romantic subplots for Kirk and Sulu either.  I appreciate the desire

The Spider Strikes (The Spider #1) (1933)

by R.T.M. Scott Millionaire criminologist Richard Wentworth moonlights  as The Spider, a vigilante who executes his opponents, leaving a spider mark on the body as a calling card. This first adventure is no origin story; The Spider has already been active long enough to make him famous and wanted by police throughout the world. Wentworth’s friend Inspector Kirkpatrick suspects him of being The Spider and is fully prepared to “send him to the death house” should he ever be able to prove it, yet they work together with mutual respect. We also meet the rest of The Spider’s supporting cast: plucky girlfriend Nita van Sloan, trusty assistant Ram Singh, and Professor Brownlee, Wentworth’s personal Q (in the Bond sens e, not the Star Trek or the crazy conspiracy sense). This story is mostly set in New York and, like many of the city-bound pulp adventures I’ve read, this one becomes an undifferentiated sequence of breathless rushing from building to building with an occasional side foray to a

Avatar: Book One (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch) (2001)

by S.D. Perry "Deep Space Nine" was always my favorite Star Trek  series and, although it's been about twenty years since this book was first published, I'm glad I finally got around to reading the relaunch.  Since many of the most interesting original characters departed the station in the series finale, author S.D. Perry faced a major challenge in replacing them.  She succeeded both at reintroducing the old cast and bringing in some new faces.   S.D. Perry It doesn't hurt that the crew of the Enterprise-E is on hand as well.  As the first of two parts, this novel is all rising action with no payoff, but it seems to be setting the stage for some spectacular developments.  I hope Perry is able to provide a climax that satisfies the expectations she has raised.

Conan the Wanderer (Conan the Barbarian #4) (1968)

by Robert E. Howard, Lin Carter, and L. Sprague de Camp This volume of Conan adventures finds our hero,  now in his thirties, enjoying widespread fame from his exploits and often claiming leadership of various bands of fighting men. For a change, the highlight of this collection is not a pure Robert E. Howard production but rather “The Flame Knife,” a story repurposed by the ever-present L. Sprague de Camp from an unpublished tale of Oriental adventure. Robert E. Howard (looking a little like Conan) De Camp takes the opportunity to bring back Olgerd Vladislav, an old adversary from the classic “A Witch Shall Be Born” of the previous volume. L. Sprague de Camp (looking a little like one of the evil wizards he fights) This introduces a welcome bit of continuity to the series. "Conan the Wanderer" (Dutch) Another highlight is the duel of stranglers from “Shadows in Zamboula,” a gritty, vividly depicted struggle that challenges Conan in a manner rarely seen. "Conan the Wande