The Geekender June 5-7: What are you reading/watching/playing?

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Jun 5, 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!

Krystal Clark: Over the next few weeks, I'll be catching up with some DC animated films. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Justice League: The Animated Series, I'll kick things off with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. After watching the first season of The CW's Flash, The Flashpoint Paradox seems like the perfect place to start. The film features a lot of the same villains (Captain Cold, Heat Wave and the Reverse Flash) and tackles time travel and the idea of Barry's mom still being alive.

Don Kaye: I am currently reading Authority, the second volume of Jeff Vandermeer's so-far-excellent Southern Reach Trilogy. The books revolve around a part of the United States coastline that has been sealed off by an invisible barrier, by entities unknown and for purposes undisclosed, while within its borders strange changes and manifestations occur and every expedition inside encounters horror and disaster. The first book, Annihilation, hit the sweet spot of horror and sci-fi for me, and while the second book is quite different narratively, it's still an eerie and engrossing read. Can't wait to get to the third one, Acceptance.

Cher Martinetti: Fun fact(s) about me: I love Star Wars and The Muppets, especially The Muppet Show. That episode of The Muppet Show when Star Wars took over? It's my everything. So, when I came across these Muppet Star Wars action figures a couple Christmases ago, I instantly emailed them to my family and requested (demanded) they buy them for me. Since I'm an alleged adult, they ignored me, breaking my little geek heart. Ever since, I have made it my mission to collect these bad boys. The only thing that could bring me more joy than these guys is if Disney decided to make an area of a theme park where life-sized versions of these characters walked around offering free ice cream and hugs. I have a few of them and stalk eBay for deals on the rest, so please don't go buying all of them and make me jealous. They will be mine.

Matthew Jackson: In between revisiting some of the old Star Wars novels that have now been rendered non-canonical but no less fun, I've been picking out noteworthy episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and watching them with my girlfriend, who hasn't seen much of the show since she was a kid. This week, we went through "Yesterday's Enterprise," "The Best of Both Worlds," "Q Who," "Deja Q" and "The Dauphin," which featured both Worf discussing Klingon mating and the splendor that is watching Riker sit down in Ten-Forward.

Dany Roth: Social media is often inundated with 'shipping, fan art and other terminally tumblresque forms of obsession over Steven Universe, but we don't really talk about Rebecca Sugar and Katie Krentz's animated juggernaut here on Blastr. Having just watched its entire 50+ episode run (so far), it's time to correct that gross error. If you've never heard of it, Steven Universe is, roughly, the story of a young boy teaming up with a group of aliens called the Crystal Gems in an effort to keep his hometown of Ocean City (along with the rest of the world) safe. And, yes, it's as good as you've heard. SU's frequent homages to all the geeky things that 20- and 30-somethings grew up with are delightful. The music is an adorable blend of blips and bloops meeting ukulele by way of the Great White Way. And, yes, the show is unapologetically queer. In the midst of all the seamless continuity and deft storytelling, what makes Steven Universe so notable is that makes sure to appeal to every kind of person in, well, the universe. And that makes it better than just a great cartoon -- it's the kind of entertainment that makes the people who watch it better.

Aaron Sagers: I'm reading Less Than Hero, by S.G. Browne. This is a perfect summer superhero comedy novel. It is a quick, light read with humor and heart about pharmaceutical test subjects who develop bizarre powers — causing people to fall asleep or break out into a rash — as a result of their drug interactions. What begins as a desire to make jerks and d-bags pay a price becomes a dedicated war on crime waged by these misfits. The book is set in NYC, and it begins in the summer months and perfectly captures the spirit of the city and the difficulty of getting by in the Big Apple. Browne, who also wrote the excellent zombie comedy Breathers, nails the satire and absurdity of Big Pharma — and a populace that takes a litany of drugs to treat the side effects of other drugs we're on.

Ernie Estrella: Quality humor in comics is not easy to find, but there's plenty of it in Chip Zdarsky's (Sex Criminals) latest, Kaptara, a space quest that pilfers through your vague memories of He-Man, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, then fillets and fries them into something tasty. Keith Kanga could be the lone survivor of a space mission, and he's OK with that. Mostly, it's because he's abandoned Earth and all of his baggage, but he's the least experienced astronaut, joining the crew after his aunt pulled strings. Keith is an openly gay Indian who's ready to acclimate to a new planet, but is forced into another mission he wants no part in, since succeeding could bring him home. Kagan McLeod's art is always fantastic, and his visuals are appropriately otherworldly. Tonally, Kaptara reminds me of Vertigo spy satire Codename: Knockout, with much less sex (so far). Only two issues in, the adventure is equally fresh and mature, and Zdarsky's acerbic wit makes it worth being a little disoriented while the larger story takes shape.

Tara Bennett: It's officially summertime, so it's time to cycle in some new t-shirts. Ninety percent of mine lean geek, so why stop now? I got this Tom Whalen-designed Gremlins homage this week. Clever, minimalist and I pray that if I spill liquid on it (likely), maybe 10 more will appear in my drawer.

Jeff Spry: I'm with Don -- I'm diving deep into the third book of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, Acceptance, and hope to have mined its freaky horrors by the end of the weekend. This is an incredible sci-fi thriller about a forgotten quarantine zone in the U.S. called Area X, where a neglected government agency has overseen 30 years of doomed expeditions into an alien ecosystem possibly caused by a nearby military research base. It was optioned for a Paramount feature film and Ex Machina's Alex Garland just handed in his screenplay draft. It's a mesmerizing, can't-put-down story with a terrifying eco-terror edge, well-written with hints of The Mist, X-Files and Lost. One of the best sci-fi/horror series I've read in a long time!

Matt Dorville: Not many comics get me as excited as The Wicked + The Divine. It's highly original, thrilling and thought-provoking in the philosophical sense we all want comics to achieve. The story is about a group of selected young kids who get the power of gods. Bad news is they only live two years, every 90 years. These gods each embody different forms of mythology (i.e. Lucifer, Baal and Minerva) and amass a pop-star teenage fandom of followers called Fandemonium, which makes sense, since most of the gods look like Jem. This past Wednesday, the 11th issue was released, and the end of Fandemonium has occurred with the promise of something else on the horizon. I'm planning on going through the entire series this weekend, culminating with Wednesday's release. Each issue previously has a god on the cover in striking, bright colors staring directly at the reader, but this past week showcased a bloody upper torso with no head. I literally said "Whoa" out loud when I saw it.

Trent Moore: With the Ultimate Universe officially ending as part of Marvel's Secret Wars event, it seemed like a good time to finally read The Ultimates run that inspired a massive chunk of Marvel's cinematic universe. I'm an unabashed Miles Morales fan, so I've pretty much read all the Ultimate Spidey stuff — but never found the time to dive into the Ultimate universe's version of The Avengers. Thank God I did, because Volume 1 is awesome. It's amazing to see how many elements were co-opted into Marvel's main universe of books (and, obviously, the films), and it's easy to see why Ultimates was such a massive hit when it launched 15 years ago. Even all these years later, it still feels relatively fresh. The stories are great, and it's fascinating to see Earth's Mightiest Heroes having to worry about PR blowback and their own S.H.I.E.L.D. cover-ups. With many of these characters making one last stand in Marvel's Ultimate End run, it's worth the effort to go back and see where the journey began.

Carol Pinchefsky: I've been playing Guild Wars 2 on and off for two years, now, and with gorgeous graphics in a continually evolving world, it never fails to impress me. Guild Wars 2 has a fabulous freedom of choice and multiple activities to choose from. Want to explore the world? Follow a storyline? Fight enemies or even other players? Run dungeons? You can in Guild Wars 2 ... for a one-time-only flat fee. The players are also extremely considerate. Just a few days ago, a stranger guided me throughout one of the game's many challenging jumping puzzles, just because she liked to help. And then she invited me to join her guild. The beautiful world brought me to Guild Wars 2, but it's the players who are keeping me there.

Lisa Granshaw: This week, I'm addicted to playing Pokemon Alpha Sapphire on my Nintendo 3DS. I haven't played a Pokemon game since the 1990s and I'm really enjoying returning to the franchise! Not only does it look great on the 3DS — though I miss the old-school Game Boy Color look a little bit — but I love being able to play as a female trainer. Since I'm a completionist, I've been spending a lot of late nights trying to "catch 'em all." Most of all, though, I'm looking forward to rebuilding a strong team of Eevees in this game, just like the one I used to create back in the day.

Adam Swiderski: I just polished off Cibola Burn, the fourth The Expanse novel from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and to tide myself over until my name hits the top of the hold list for the next installment (Nemesis Games, just released this week) at the library, I'm feeding my Expanse jones with a couple of novellas -- The Churn and The Butcher of Anderson Station -- set in the same universe. I love the grounded, believable sci-fi feel of these books in which space travel is commonplace, but not easy, and, with no hyperdrives or warp travel, humans reaching beyond our own solar system is only facilitated by the most extraordinary of circumstances. The characters are also compelling, and while the series might bite George R.R. Martin's style a bit (rotating POV chapters, a humans-squabbling-while-a-bigger-threat-looms plot), it's done well enough that I stopped noticing after a while.

Evan Hoovler: Thanks to Netflix, my wife and I have obtained a hard copy of the 1977 children's television show Children of the Stones. Called "the scariest kids program of all time" by the BBC, this seven-episode series mixes great writing and tense pacing with cheesy effects and so-bad-they're-good sets. For instance, the museum appears to be missing a wall, instead having a black scrim curtain delineate the edge of the room. We plan to not only enjoy it, but to also use it as punishment with which to threaten our children if they are bad. The entire series is available on YouTube.

That's it for us. Let us know what's on your geeky agenda below!

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