Small Town Comic Con: SoPoCu Con 2014

Posted by Admin - June 23rd, 2014

imperialsWith all of my focus on preparing for San Diego Comic Con next month, I very nearly managed to overlook this weekend’s premiere launch of SoPoCu Con, the Southern Popular Culture Convention: a one-day event devoted to fantasy, science fiction,  gaming, comics, anime and more in the Deep South, or more specifically, my neck of the woods: Mississippi.

The convention was held in the Mississippi Trade Mart building in downtown Jackson, a smallish convention area that is normally home to gun and knife shows and the occasional classic car exhibition. This day wasn’t a normal day: It was a fan’s celebration, and the only guns and knives to be seen were of the plastic blaster and the foam BFS. No cars, either, although there was a life-sized dalek someone had built – that’s classic enough. There were scattered vendor’s tables and a small, open-air panel area in the back of the convention hall. There wasn’t terribly much on the panel schedule, but for a small, first-time operation, they did outstandingly well. Actor and martial artist Theodus Crane, best known as “Big Tiny” in season three of The Walking Dead was in attendance, as well as award-winning cosplayer Meru, astronomer Dr. Angelle Tanner (I missed her talk on exoplanets in science fiction, but would have enjoyed hearing it.), some of the women from King of the Nerds, and comedy from “Unlockable Characters.”

Attendance was strong, and a lot of those who braved the unrelenting downpour outside the convention center to come inside were in costume. The 501st Legion was there and I  bumped into a friend of mine dressed as an Imperial Officer. So were the Mississippi Mandalorians, and a small group of Star Trek fan club folks. Scattered young attendees were dressed as anime characters , but the only one I recognized (you darn kids and your animangatoons) was one brave soul dressed in a skin-tight spandex “Titan” costume (whichever is the one with no skin) from Attack on Titan.

What I didn’t see was a lot of complaining. Everyone seemed happy to be there and were thankful for what their had bought them: A chance to mingle with other fans that they might not have come into contact with any other place. I remember feeling the same way when I attended my first local convention in high school: A tiny, tiny weekend gaming con held at a local rat-trap of a hotel. I won a tournament game of the Paranoia role-playing game, and hassled Steve Jackson about something – I can’t even remember now. Nice guy, though. I also remember meeting a bunch of interesting people from across the city that I wouldn’t have otherwise run across. Some of them became good friends.

Chances are that your local area has a few conventions that you might not even know about, and if there aren’t any, maybe you can start one up. Fandom has to start somewhere. People complain that small cons have nothing to offer, but there’s only one way that tiny conventions grow, and that’s with the support of the fans.

I wish the folks of SoPoCuCon the best of luck, and look forward to seeing them again next June.


Picture: Me with my buddy Andy, a member of the 501st.

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‘Looper’ Director Rian Johnson to Direct ‘Star Wars”: Episode VIII

Posted by Admin - June 23rd, 2014

MV5BMTY3NTY0MjEwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTE3NDA1OA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Well, I certainly didn’t see this coming, and from what I’ve read, neither did he: Rian Johnson will be directing Episode VIII of the newly relaunched Star Wars saga.

If you pay any attention at all to science fiction cinema, then you probably already know Johnson for his smart, futuristic action film Looper: A movie that combined the best parts of a mafia hit man story with the mind-breaking inherent paradoxes of time travel. Jonson also directed Brick, a kind of film noir detective story, with the exception that it takes place in a high school.

He’s a really bright, creative guy, and while it’s great to see him coming onboard, he’s certainly an unusual choice.  I wouldn’t have named him in my top 10  of possible candidates to direct a Star Wars film. Heck, he might not even make my top 20. Still, he’s a good choice, and it will be interesting to see what he brings to the material.

Maybe he’ll bring along Joseph Gordon-Levitt with him. I’d actually love to see those guys in a Star Wars film.

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Badass Comic Book Cover: Uncanny X-Men #22

Posted by Admin - June 21st, 2014


Every week, I’ll be bringing you a comic book cover that I feel eclipses others out there—to the point I might just have to own it!

The BadAss Comic Book Cover for this week is for Uncanny X-Men #22. Why do I love this cover? It tells the story within the pages. Or does it? Cyclops blowing a hole in a S.H.I.E.L.D. wall. In other words, the X-Men battling And this piece of art illustrates that! I love how the X of Cyclops’ optic blast is centered in the cover and centered in the middle of the blasted S.H.I.E.L.D. shield. Artist Chris Bachalo has always had a great eye for composition and he illustrates that here, especially his use of contrasting the white shield with the darkness behind in Cyclops. A gorgeous piece of art!

Here is a bit more about Uncanny X-Men #22:

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Imprint: Marvel Universe
Rating: Rated T+
Format: Comic
Price: .99
Published: June 18, 2014

The Story: The war between the Uncanny X-Men and S.H.I.E.L.D. heats up! Can Cyclops and his team track down the source of this new brand of sentinels? And is S.H.I.E.L.D. really behind these attacks?

Uncanny X-Men #22 is in fine comic book stores now!

More next Saturday! In the meantime, go visit your local comic book store…

speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.

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New Artwork For James Luceno’s Star War Novel ‘Tarkin’

Posted by Admin - June 21st, 2014

10430832_10152504799808713_386496700041212416_nOur friends at the official Star Wars books Facebook page unveiled this particularly stunning piece of back cover artwork from James Luceno’s Star Wars: Tarkin, due out this November. I loved Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, and I can’t wait to see what he does with Tarkin!

This is the second novel charted out in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, and as such, is part of the new official canon for the saga. I wonder if any of these new books will feature foreshadowing for events to come in Episode VII?

Personally, I think that this is a great time to be a Star Wars fan, and I can’t wait to see what else is coming down the pipes.

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Lando’s Back, Baby: Billy Dee Williams To Reprise Role in ‘Star Wars Rebels’

Posted by Admin - June 20th, 2014

Great news for fans of gentleman rogue Lando Calrissian: The administrator of Cloud City is due to return in Star Wars Rebels! Billy Dee Williams has confirmed that he’ll be voicing the character in the series, which is set to debut this fall on Disney and Disney XD.

The series is set five years before the battle of Yavin, a time when Empire is firming up its control of the galaxy and the Alliance to Restore the Republic is starting to form. The main characters are a bunch of rag-tag irregulars striking out against the force of the Empire wherever they can.

The extent of his involvement with Star Wars Rebels isn’t known at this time, but it’s great to see Lando back. I’m still kind of hoping that they’ll at least fit him in for a cameo in Episode VII!

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‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Final Trailer Swings Into Action

Posted by Admin - June 19th, 2014

I’m eagerly anticipating the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I love apocalyptic science fiction films, and have a special place in my heart for the original Planet of the Apes films. I was also a fan of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I just received an embed code for the new trailer, which I’m happy to share with you below. Look for Apes on July 11, 2014!

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Star Wars HoloNet Digest #60: June 4-18, 2014

Posted by Admin - June 18th, 2014

Eric Logo Hologram

Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte

Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII announcement or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past two weeks.

Let’s get started with some unfortunate news. On June 12, while filming Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios in London, Harrison Ford injured his ankle and was taken to a local hospital. There has been a lot of breathless reporting about this story, most of which is coming from sources less reputable than The Hollywood Reporter, whose original story I’ve linked to above. On June 16, THR learned that Ford’s injury meant that he would not be able to resume filming for two months. However, according to their sources, production continues at Pinewood, and the film is still set for a December 18, 2015 release. We at Suvudu wish Mr. Ford all the best on his recovery.

Rumors have been flying left and right about Episode VII’s villains and its sets, but if there’s one thing you should remember during this crazy news cycle, it’s that you shouldn’t trust everything you read online. The latest person to stress this message is Daisy Ridley, whose role in Episode VII remains unknown. After the actress noticed that the Episode VII IMDb page listed her as playing Jaina Solo, she reminded her followers to be skeptical: “the world and his wife can update IMDB,” she tweeted. That tweet has since been taken down, but we’ve preserved it in our story on TheForce.Net. Tweet or no tweet, Ridley is right: Anyone can edit IMDb, and just because edits are reviewed by an unknown group of contributors, that doesn’t mean you should trust what IMDb says any more than you would trust an unsourced claim on Wikipedia.

A brief bit of hiring news in the middle of this week’s roundup: Lucasfilm has a new Head of Production and Development. Tony To, who was formerly the Executive Vice President of Production for Walt Disney Studios, joined the company last week. He reports directly to Kathleen Kennedy and will oversee all live-action and animated projects in Lucasfilm’s pipeline. According to Variety, these include “several TV projects in various stages of development.” We can count Star Wars Rebels as one of those projects –– but “several”? The plot thickens.

Speaking of Star Wars Rebels, Billy Dee Williams confirmed the longstanding suspicions of many fans when he told an audience at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends that he would be voicing a character (I wonder who!) on the series. Shortly thereafter, Williams’ manager confirmed it for the world to see when he replied to my tweet about the news, writing, “Glad we can talk about it now! Very excited to be part of this project!” I’m very excited as well. It’s too bad that Williams wasn’t announced as part of the cast of Episode VII, but I’m looking forward to getting my Billy Dee fix regardless.

Also on the Rebels front, get ready for a new preview of the series. A preview that The Hollywood Reporter calls “an extended look” will follow Phineas and Ferb’s Star Wars special, which airs on Disney XD on Monday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars: The Clone Wars but you don’t have Netflix, you can now access the sixth season, a.k.a. “The Lost Missions,” on a variety of other platforms. Netflix’s exclusive deal with Disney has ended, and the bonus content episodes are now available for purchase in streaming and download stores operated by Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Verizon. Go forth and enjoy!

Let’s take a moment and examine the road not taken, shall we? If you’ve been a Star Wars fan for more than a few years, you probably remember hearing about the famous live-action TV series that George Lucas was overseeing, a series that would push the boundaries of what could be done on television and blend the darkness of The Sopranos with the galaxy far, far away. That series obviously never happened, but many of the writers who sat around a table with George Lucas for planning session after planning session have spoken about the work that they did. The latest person to do so is Stephen Scaia. In the course of promoting a Kickstarter project for an Indiana Jones fan film, Scaia described what he wrote for the Star Wars live-action series. “We told the story of how Han met Chewie and how Lando lost the Millennium Falcon,” he said. “I even got to pitch a Boba Fett action scene with his rocket pack.” You can hear Scaia discuss his Star Wars writing work in a video on his fan film’s Kickstarter page. Click here and scroll down to where it says “The George Lucas Story.”

Last week, the Electronic Entertainment Expo dazzled video game fans with the latest technology and the hottest upcoming titles. Among the companies holding press conferences at E3 was video game giant Electronic Arts, which has a multi-year Star Wars game distribution deal with Disney. As expected, the company debuted a new trailer for their eagerly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront game, which you can see below. Hear from the creative team behind the game and learn how they are bringing their passion for Star Wars to bear as they design and develop this reboot of the Battlefront series. The game is expected to be released next spring.

If you’re going to San Diego Comic-Con this summer, be sure to stop by the Del Rey booth and pick up an advance promotional copy of Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. This advance reader’s edition, the cover for which you can see here, is exclusive to SDCC 2014. It contains the complete book –– the first canon Star Wars novel in the new unified universe –– and it includes excerpts of Del Rey’s other new Star Wars books, Tarkin, Heir to the Jedi, and Lords of the Sith. You won’t want to miss this limited-edition freebie at SDCC.


Finally, if you like trailers I’ve got another trailer for you. Last week, Chronicle Books released a trailer for Star Wars: Goodnight Darth Vader. This book by children’s author Jeffrey Brown –– whose previous Star Wars work includes Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess –– will be released on July 22.

Eric Geller is a journalist from the Washington, D.C. area. He co-hosts The ForceCast podcast and manages social media for Star Wars fan sites TheForce.Net and He also contributes to The Official Star Wars Blog and Star Wars Insider.

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Looking Through the Palantir: June 17th

Posted by Admin - June 17th, 2014


Welcome to Looking Through the Palantir, a weekly recap where I bring you the latest news, features, releases and more from the realm of science fiction/fantasy. So cozy on up to your favorite seeing-stone and check out this week’s divinations.

A big week of news, features and most importantly, book releases. Lots to be excited about so let’s get right to it.

If you missed the Phoenix Comic Con, here’s a really great panel talking about the various magic systems that exist in fantasy and how authors approach using magic. Featuring authors like Patrick Rothfuss, Jim Butcher, and Sam Sykes, it’s a fascinating breakdown that’s a must view for anyone interested in learning more about how magic impacts storytelling, or looking to write their own.

Meanwhile, over on TOR, author Brian Sanderson did an extensive Q&A on The Way of Kings. Fans submitted questions so he covers a ton of topics, and it’s definitely got some unintentional spoiler potential if you haven’t read the book yet (tell me, what exactly have you been doing?) It’s a great interview and the perfect complement if you’re working through your first re-read of the book…or maybe like your fourth…okay fifth. Don’t judge.

New Releases

It’s a big week, as we’ve got three great titles releasing today. First up is Rogues a compilation edited by Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin and featuring new original stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Patrick Rothfuss, and Martin himself! It’s a pretty incredible line up of fantasy authors all putting their twist on the story of a rogue.

Next up, from Harry Turtledove comes Two Fronts, Book 5 in the War That Came Early series. The foremost author of speculative historical fiction, Turtledove’s examination of how different World War II could have been if only for a few small decisions, continues. The true mastery of Turtledove’s writing is how effortlessly he builds detail into a world built on speculative history and doesn’t look sight of the impact of the war on average citizens, even as the strategic machinations of entire nations unfold.

Last, but certainly not least, the waiting is over as Kevin Hearne returns with the seventh book in the Iron Druid Chronicles: Shattered. Since the beginning the Iron Druid Chronicles has been one of my favorite series – the perfect blend of comedy, pop culture, mythology and action. Also, who doesn’t dream of having a telepathic link to their dog? With each book Hearne grows the series, ups the stakes and introduces a greater pantheon of gods. And after six books of hearing Atticus talk about his great teacher, we finally get to meet the man that made Atticus the Druid he is today. Still not excited? Well, Shattered also marks the first time the series is available in hardcover.

So what are you still doing here? We’ve all got plenty of reading to do, and with Game of Thrones ending it’s season last Sunday, there are no excuses. Just make sure to stock up on snacks. Might I suggest lemon cakes or sausages?

Tom Hoeler is a freelance writer and editor who spends his time collecting stories,felling dragons, scrambling over the rooftops of Gotham, and cooking up delicious food. He serves as the eternal intern and apprentice to the Del Rey and Star Wars Books team under the guise of Darth Internous.

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RIP Casey Kasem – Scooby Doo’s ‘Shaggy’

Posted by Admin - June 17th, 2014


Casey Kasem died over the weekend, and while most who reported his death focused on his very long career as the host of the nationally syndicated radio program American Top 40, Kasem was someone else to me: Scooby Doo‘s lovable, always-hungry goofball “Shaggy. ” I grew up watching Scooby Doo, and I remember being surprised when I got a little bit older and learned that the “Scooby Doo guy” had a radio show, rather than the other way around.

Kasem voiced other cartoon characters, too: Merry in the Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, Batman’s sidekick Robin in The Super Friends, and a couple of characters in The Transformers cartoon. Shaggy, though, would be  his best-known contribution to the world of animation. Kasem voiced Shaggy for about 30 years, and while there have been others (the great voice actor Billy West among them), he’ll always be the “real” Shaggy to me.

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RUMOR: Harrison Ford’s On-Set Injury Worse Than Initially Reported?

Posted by Admin - June 16th, 2014

You may have heard quite recently that actor Harrison Ford broke an ankle during an accident while filming Star Wars: Episode VII. Now, some media sources are reporting that Ford, aged 71, may have actually injured his pelvis, as well. If so, it could delay filming – or at least filming his part of the movie.

I’m certain that they’ll be able to work around Ford while he heals up. This is just a rumor until we hear otherwise, and in any case, let’s all keep him in our thoughts and hope that he has a speedy and complete recovery from whatever injury he may have suffered. I’m certain that he has access to the very best care.


Can’t wait for Episode VII? Need more Han Solo? Check out James S.A. Corey’s Star Wars: Empire And Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves.

Nebula and Hugo Award nominees Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—writing as James S. A. Corey—make their Star Wars debut in this brand-new epic adventure featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa. The action begins after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.

When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?

When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.

But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.

But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

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