With the upcoming series The Terror scheduled to air on AMC this March, I decided to take a look at the Dan Simmons novel which inspired it. This thriller about sailors stranded in the Arctic ice is based on the true story of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition in the mid-19th century. During an attempt to find and plot the so-called Northwest Passage, a treacherous venture through frozen territory, over one hundred crewmen and two British warships — one of which was HMS Terror — vanished in the ice.
My first copy of The Princess Bride was a VHS tape that my grandmother recorded from the TV. There was a blip on the tape during the rhyming game between Fezzik and Inigo Montoya. It cut to static for a few seconds, then picked up again once the ship is out to sea. Because of this, I spent a good ten years playing and replaying the tape, able to quote the movie from start to finish except for the rhyming game. Imagine how thrilled I was to get the movie on DVD years later and finally see that scene in full!
2017 marks the 30th anniversary for this beloved movie. A handful of theaters nationwide held screenings during the month of October, which I was unfortunately unable to attend. I did, however, make an effort to rewatch the movie and reread the book that inspired it.
For the first time since her original entry into the world of superhero comics in 1941, Wonder Woman has her own record-breaking blockbuster movie. Diana, Princess of the Amazons, is the best-known and most enduring female superhero of all time. The only live action version of Wonder Woman prior to Gal Gadot’s debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice last year was the 1975 TV show starring Lynda Carter, which I grew up watching in the 1980s. I don’t remember much of it apart from the theme music, but I did have a Wonder Woman outfit that I wore as often as my parents would let me.
I have already seen the new Wonder Woman movie twice, and I absolutely loved it. However, it shames me to admit I have never read the comics. So I did what I always do when I need to catch up on my reading: I turned to my library.
One of Neil Gaiman’s best-known pieces of fiction, a topic of fascination and discussion for his sizeable fanbase, is the novel American Gods. It’s a high-concept doorstopper of a book, with both a universe-shattering frame story, and a series of thematically similar but otherwise unconnected vignettes. The frame story follows protagonist Shadow Moon as he accompanies the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (a barely disguised Odin from Norse tradition) as he rallies other half-forgotten deities from various mythologies and cultures. The focal antagonists are new “gods” based in the worlds of modern technology, like television and the Internet, and all are hard at work trying to capture Shadow to get him to fight for their side. The vignette stories mostly show us who the other gods are in this fictional universe, to flesh out the mythology and show us how these ancient beings might navigate a modern setting.
With the newest entry in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J. K. Rowling has once again proven herself a master of imagination. However, it’s important to remember that there are now two books bearing this same title: the screenplay which is the basis for the movie starring Eddie Redmayne, and the Hogwarts Library edition that serves as a facsimile of Harry Potter’s text book. Both are available through the Chesapeake Library, and both are quick, entertaining reads, but make sure you know which version you’re looking for. (Click on the book covers to go to that item’s catalog page!)