The Geekender June 19-21: What are you reading, watching, and playing?

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Jun 19, 2015

The weekend is upon us, and with it a chance to sit back, relax and consume massive amounts of sci-fi, fantasy and horror pop culture. In The Geekender, our writers share a bit about what they're reading, watching and playing -- and we want to hear from you. Let us know what's on your plate in the comments!

Trent Moore: In addition to being a pop culture geek, I'm also a bit of a tech geek. My latest favorite gadget? The Pebble Time smartwatch, which showed up this week after I backed the early-bird version on Kickstarter. I was an adamant user of the original Pebble Steel (the Apple Watch is pretty, but I need some battery life), and the Time is a huge improvement. It's slick, well-made and extremely handy. Plus, there's a very cool LCARS watchface that is worth the price of admission alone for Star Trek fans. If anyone needs me, I'll be setting this thing up and geeking out for most of the weekend.

Ernie Estrella: It's been available on Netflix for only two weeks, but I already feel behind by not having started Sense8 by the Wachowskis (The Matrix) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) earlier. It's about eight strangers spread around the world who are psychically and emotionally connected, bonded by similar visions of the same woman committing suicide. While they're struggling with their own lives and searching for an explanation of these hallucinations, Jonas (Naveen Andrews) reaches out to protect them before someone dangerous hunts them down. I dove in with the first two episodes and am looking forward to binging the rest. All of the stories are clearly distinct and spliced together through a growing science fiction quotient and superb editing. The themes and sociological issues discussed would be enough to make a potent drama, but it's the sci-fi element that pulls it all together. The deeper I get, the more I am rooting for the Wachowskis and JMS to pull it off.

Jeff Spry: In the wake of watching my English setter compete at a weekend dog show, my downtime will be spent immersed in the hardback collection of Marvel's Seekers of the Weird, an incredible five-issue comic series published last year under the Disney Kingdoms banner. It's an old-fashioned, candy-colored, supernatural adventure based on Walt Disney's original plans for a walk-through "Museum of the Weird," filled with exotic artifacts and eerie exhibits,  to be presented with his Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Written by Brandon Seifert (Witch Doctor, The Fly) and complemented by some fantastic art by Karl Moline and Filipe Andrade, it centers around a brother and sister who embark on a spooky quest with their eccentric Uncle Roland to solve the mystery of their parents' disappearance in the Museum of the Weird. It's Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Harry Potter with a refreshing Disney flair and an intro by legendary Imagineer Rolly Crump, whose designs were the basis of Walt's attraction that never was.

Matthew Jackson: This week, I finally got to my local comics shop after something like two months to clear out my hefty file of back issues, and as a result I have a bounty of reading choices for the weekend. When it came time to think about what I'd read first, though, there really wasn't a contest: It'll be Wytches, by Scott Snyder and Jock. Snyder's best known for crushing it on DC Comics' Batman these days, but for Wytches, he took his talents to Image Comics to create one of the best horror comics I've ever read, featuring some absolutely terrifying art by Jock.

Aaron Sagers: While visiting New Zealand, I've fallen in love with the world of Dr. Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators and its antihero, Lord Cockswain. They were introduced to the world in 2008, but I'm just now catching up with the humorous misadventures of these characters, who "enforce Earth justice on the belligerent savages of our solar system using excessive violence, bad language, and good old-fashioned rayguns." The line of books, graphic novels, colonization propaganda and sweet, sweet raygun collectibles from Weta Collectibles shares some visual cues with steampunk, but creator Greg Broadmore (concept designer for King Kong, District 9, Tintin) told io9 that this irreverent retro sci-fi world is all radio and atomics.

Don Kaye: Since this weekend is the 40th anniversary of the release of Jaws, I've been re-watching a lot of "nature strikes back" movies this past week ... films like Frogs, The Birds, Long Weekend, Empire of the Ants, Food of the Gods, The Ruins and Kingdom of the Spiders. Most of these movies are pretty cheesy by today's standards -- even by the standards of the time when they were released -- but they're still often a hoot. Kingdom of the Spiders, starring William Shatner, is a standout, and I personally like Frogs and Squirm, a really icky movie about killer earthworms. The Birds and Jaws are clearly the cream of the crop and transcend the genre, but it's a pretty wide cinematic field to play around in.

Krystal Clark: Last year, Warner Bros. released Son of Batman, which tackles the very messy relationship between Bruce and Damian Wayne. Damian's dad is Batman, his mother's Talia al Ghul, and his grandfather is Ra's al Ghul. Does this kid stand a chance? He was practically born with a sword in his hand. Like all adaptations, the film takes creative liberties with the story, which is based on Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert's arc, Batman and Son. Hopefully the changes make things better and not worse.

Dany Roth: With E3 in full swing this week and me nowhere near it, the closest I could get was salivating over news and videos online. The official announcement of the next Destiny expansion, The Taken King, reminded me that I hadn't played Destiny in a while. The first person shooter/MMO gets a lot of flack for forcing players to redo repetitive missions over and over with little new content in sight. Oddly, though, as hours turned to days and my body and the couch became one, I was reminded that, repetition be damned -- Destiny is still addictive. Somewhere between the satisfaction of completing a Vanguard co-op, collecting bounties and occasionally picking up gear that's actually worthwhile, Destiny always manages to find a way to make me think, "OK, but just one more quick mission." Plus, if I want to get all the good stuff The Taken King's got to offer, I need to hit level 30 before Sept. 15. So, yeah. One more mission!

Lisa Granshaw: I'm reading the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Demons of Air and Darkness by Keith R.A. DeCandido, which is part of the omnibus Twist of Fate. DS9 is probably my favorite Star Trek series, so I was looking forward to continuing the story in book form. I've read many Star Wars novels and a few based on my favortie videogames, but this year is the first time I'm trying Star Trek books. I've only just started this one, but if it's anything like its predecessors, it will once again be a lot of fun returning to the familiar space station and characters like Kira Nerys, Nog, Julian Bashir, Ezri Dax, Quark and more. I have also become quite attached to the fascinating new characters joining the station and enjoy seeing characters from previous Trek series, like Ro Laren, as part of the team. It will be great to really delve into this book over the weekend!

Matt Dorville: This weekend, I'll be reading one of my favorite comics reach its series end. Alex + Ada is a collaboration of writer/artist Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn about a world in which cell phones are implanted in the brain, cars can drive themselves, and androids are created as sex toys. Alex, who recently suffered a breakup, gets a gift of the top-of-the-line sex android from, of all people, his grandmother (who, funnily enough, swears by them). Much as in the excellent film Ex Machina, Alex + Ada calls into question the philosophies surrounding life, patriarchal societal norms and morality as Alex learns that he can jailbreak his android to give it free will. The series is only 15 issues and has been one of my favorite comics in recent memory.

Evan Hoovler: This weekend, I will be reading the 1974 YA novel House of Stairs. Written by popular author William Sleator, this dystopian sci-fi mystery follows five teenagers who wake up in a giant room filled with nothing but staircases. It's pretty much that M.C. Escher painting, but in book form, and tackles all sorts of deep questions. (Why are they there? Is the room truly infinite? Did somebody pack a Slinky? Etc.)

Adam Swiderski: After suffering through The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies last week (yes, it took me more than the weekend), I really needed a palate cleanser, so I loaded up Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor -- which I'd previously played, but in which I'd never really gotten very far -- on the PS4, again. Once I remembered how to stab properly, I started having a blast skulking around, making mortal enemies with the footsoldiers in Sauron's army and watching grunts who killed me (not a hard task, at the beginning) rise through the ranks thanks to the game's excellent Nemesis system. I'll move on from Middle-earth soon enough, but for now, it's nice to be reminded that, even though Peter Jackson can't deliver on Tolkien anymore, there are other folks who can.

Cher Martinetti: First, I'm still playing Dying Light. Can we talk about the Volatiles, because those beasts are no joke! But I figured out a sneaky way to kill some of those suckers by teetering right outside a Safe Zone. I don't care if it's cheating. I fully admit I am too scared to wander around at night by myself in this game! Which, if anyone is playing on Xbox One, feel free to tweet me @thecherness and maybe we can play together. Aside from killing zombies, I just received a copy of The Fangirls Guide to The Galaxy by Sam Maggs. The book's a fun and feminist take on navigating through the male-dominated geek world. I'm all for anything that gives ladies a seat at the table, whether it's a gaming table or not. I may even grab a copy for my 16-year-old niece, since she's getting more and more immersed into geekdom every day.

You've heard what we're up to -- now it's your turn! What movies, books, comics, shows and games will you be diving into this weekend? Let us know in the comments!

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