Rebecca Fisher

REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Serpent’s Heir: A fun adventure

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Serpent's Heir by Dean DeBlois, Richard Hamilton, & Doug Wheatley

This graphic novel takes place shortly after the events of the film How to Train Your Dragon 2, which finds Hiccup as the new chief of Berk in the wake of his father's death. Amidst the rebuilding of the village, the suspicious nature of Berk citizens at the presence of outsiders, and the ongoing training of new dragons, it's a struggle for Hiccup to adjust to his new role as leader.

So when an envoy named Calder arrives from the island of Nephenthe, Hiccup jumps at the chance to take some time off. Along with Toothless, Astrid, Fishlegs, Snotlout, Eret, the twins and his mother, he travels to Nephenthe at the behest of King Mikkel the Munificent to investigate strange tremors across his island.

If you're a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon films or animated television show, then there's nothing in... Read More

SAGA Volume 5: SAGA keeps getting bigger

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

Saga, Volume 5, Issues 25-30 by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga Vol 5 represents a noticeable shift in tone in the ever-evolving series. Until this point the story has managed to wonderfully balance the tribulations of Alana, Marko, Klara and Hazel; The Will, Lying Cat, Gwendolyn and Sophia in pursuit, Prince Robot IV, and the renegade terrorist Dengo. Some of my absolute favorite moments of Vol 4 involved Alana’s acting career and the hardships and temptations faced by Marko as a stay-at-home dad. I also found the story of Dengo incredibly relevant to today’s world in depicting the mentality of a terrorist who believes th... Read More

Poe Dameron Vol. 5: The Spark and the Fire: A rewarding wrap-up to a great series

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 5: The Spark and the Fire by Charles Soule & Angel Unzueta

They certainly left the best for last, as this final instalment in the POE DAMERON series involves exciting new adventures, several important “gap fillers”, seriously beautiful artwork, and some much-needed development and introspection from our titular character.

Whereas the previous volumes have all taken place before The Force Awakens, this one jumps ahead to the aftermath of the battle of Crait, in which Poe, Finn and Rey (and BB-8 of course) are finally able to catch up on the Millennium Falcon. This means that until Episode IX comes out in December 2019, this comic contains the most recent chronological events in the saga.

It’s great to see our three leads finally interact with one another, and their warmth and witty banter makes me wonder (not for the first time) why on earth they had to ... Read More

Poe Dameron Vol. 4: Legend Found: Who doesn’t like a space heist?

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 4: Legend Found by Charles Soule & Angel Unzueta

The fourth volume in the POE DAMERON series, which details the early conflict between the (still fledging) Resistance and First Order forces, really starts to line things up with the opening act of The Force Awakens in this issue — specifically, the search to find Lor San Tekka, an intergalactic explorer who may have clues to finding the location of Luke Skywalker.

Played by Max von Sydow in the movie, we’re introduced to him here breaking into a high security vault in order to study an ancient Jedi artefact. When he’s arrested for his crime, it’s up to General Leia, Poe Dameron and the rest of Black Squadron to pull off a daring long-con to rescue him.

They’re got all the pieces in place: the lie, the misdirection, the inside man, but the return of the cunning Agent Terex throws a spanner in the work... Read More

Poe Dameron Vol. 3: Legend Lost: A great lead-up to the events of The Last Jedi

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 3: Legend Lost by Charles Soule & Angel Unzueta

The third collection in the POE DAMERON series, which detail the events that lead up to The Force Awakens through the eyes of the (current) best pilot in the galaxy is a bit more serialized this time around, with several adventures that feel unconnected until the final chapter.

General Leia Organa is the leader of the Resistance, working out of a secret base on the planet D’Qar and sending Poe Dameron and his Black Squadron on a series of reconnaissance missions to undermine the First Order. So far they’ve dealt with a traitor in their midst and a ruthless former Imperial; now Poe meets with an old friend (a journalist called Suralina Javos of an alien species I’d love to see on the big screen) who has some information for him.

There are space battles here, and double-crosses, and plenty of the camaraderie... Read More

Poe Dameron Vol. 2: The Gathering Storm: Inching closer to open war

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 2: The Gathering Storm by Charles Soule & Phil Noto

This is the second in Charles Soule’s ongoing comic book series focused on Poe Dameron, though I didn't know that when I read it, and thankfully didn't feel like I needed anything catching up on anything. Set in the period leading up to The Force Awakens, this explores the growing conflict between the Resistance and the First Order, as well as the search for Lor San Tekka (as you'll recall, he was played by Max von Sydow in the movie).

As General Leia's best and most trusted pilot, Poe is tasked with the mission of finding Lor San Tekka, though he's deeply troubled by the possibility that a member of his Black Squadron is a traitor, feeding information to the First Order. But who is it?

Having received intelligence that one of C-3P... Read More

Poe Dameron Vol. 1: Black Squadron: A better look at a STAR WARS favourite

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 1: Black Squadron by Charles Soule & Phil Noto

There’s so much STAR WARS-related content out there at the moment that it’s difficult to know what’s worthy of your time and energy and what isn’t. For those that are specifically interested in the latest STAR WARS sequel trilogy and the character of Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac), then Charles Soule’s STAR WARS: POE DAMERON series of comics serves as a direct lead-up to The Force Awakens, gathering up characters and plot-strands that drive the 2015 film.

It’s been thirty years since the defeat of the Empire in The Return of the Jedi, but the First Order has slowly but surely risen to take its place. So far though, the threat it poses has not been recognized by the rest of the... Read More

SAGA Volume 4: Unafraid to address topics close to our hearts

SAGA Volume Four, Issues 19-24 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

Saga is one of those series that is so wildly popular, like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or The Sopranos, that you start to worry how the writers can maintain its high quality. Can they keep up the momentum, originality, artistic integrity, and entertainment that make the series so special? Or will they hit a wall and produce a total stinker of an ending, like Lost, or just fade into mediocrity like Glee. I’m so invested in the characters and world-building that it would be a tragedy if things headed south. So I’m glad to report that Read More

The Red Turtle: Like nothing you’ve seen before

The Red Turtle by Michael Dudok De Wit

Have you ever felt completely hypnotised by a movie? That was how I felt watching The Red Turtle, a story of — quite simply — survival and love. From the moment it started from until the second the credits rolled, I was fixated on the images unfolding in front of me: a man that washes up on a deserted island, his explorations of the beach and interior, his miraculous meeting with a mysterious woman, and the life they lead together, utterly cut off from all civilization (if you're wondering where a red turtle fits into all this, I won't spoil it for you).

Directed and co-written by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, The Red Turtle is a collaboration between Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli, which brought us such films as The Artist (a black-and-white silent 2011 film) and Hayao Miyazaki's entire repertoire (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky Read More

Happy Death Day: Unexpectedly fun

Happy Death Day by Christopher Landon

Since Groundhog Day came out in 1993, the premise of a single person being forced to live the same day over and over again has been adapted for the science fiction (Edge of Tomorrow), thriller (Run Lola Run), and psychological horror (Salvage) genres, with even television episodes from Charmed, The X-Files and Xena: Warrior Princess getting in on the act.

Happy Death Day passes the idea over the slasher genre, in which Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) relives her birthday countless times — with it ending in her murder at the hands of a masked killer each time. The solution seems clear: she has to figure out who it is that keeps killing her if she's to move forward with her life.

One of the staple components of this type of story is that the main character learns something from their experience. In this case Tree is that typica... Read More

Coco: Another visual feast from Pixar

Coco by Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina

When you settle down to watch a Pixar movie, you know you're in for a treat. But as it happens, I finished Coco with rather mixed feelings. It ticked all the boxes of what we've come to expect from Pixar: a fascinating and inventive original premise, loveable characters, plenty of humour, at least one surprising plot-twist, and visuals that seem to glow with colour (especially in this film!) And yet Coco treads a lot of familiar ground when it's compared not only to other the rest of the Pixar repertoire, but a wider range of animated family films.

Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) is a twelve-year old boy with music in his soul. He's desperate to become a musician and to follow in the footsteps of his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (a famous actor/singer/song-writer) but due to a dark family secret, all music is strictly forbidden in his household.

Seeking inspiration from ... Read More

Star Wars Rebels: Season 1: A new chapter in the STAR WARS saga

Star Wars Rebels: Season 1 by Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg & Greg Weisman

This show has been on my radar for a while, and I'm glad I finally found the time to settle down and binge the first fifteen episodes of the first season. As a follow-up to The Clone Wars (2008 – 2014) and a bridge between the prequel and original trilogies, Star Wars Rebels also holds the distinction of being the first STAR WARS project to be released after Disney's procurement of the franchise.

Would it match the maturity and relative darkness of the preceding animated series? Or would it be "Disneyfied" for the kiddies? Turns out, the project was in good hands: producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Greg Weisman are no strangers to serialized animated shows, and although it takes a couple of episodes to really hit its stride, Star Wars Rebels can boast compelling characters, intriguing plot-lines, fun world-building and a ... Read More

Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Lost Adventures

Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Lost Adventures by Aaron Ehasz (Author), Josh Hamilton (Author), Tim Hedrick (Author), Dave Roman (Author), J. Torres (Author), Joaquim Dos Santos (Illustrator)

As far as ideas for comic book tie-ins go, a series of "lost adventures" that take place over the course of any given series isn't a bad one.

Collected here are the somewhat inconsequential escapades that happened to the protagonists of Avatar: The Last Airbender across all three seasons, from Aang attracting a swam of scorpion-bees, to Sokka impersonating the Avatar to impress a girl, to Azula and Zuko challenging each other to an arcade game — even a two-page spread on Momo stealing some fruit.

Although plenty of the stories in Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Lost Adventures (2011) are lightweight offerings that cover things like training or travelling or other bits of minutia (like... Read More

Demon: Volume 4: The blood-soaked conclusion arrives…

Demon: Volume 4 by Jason Shiga

So we come to it at last: the fourth and final instalment in Jason Shiga's Demon, detailing the misadventures (and catastrophic body-count) of Jimmy Yee, a one-time accountant who discovers he possesses the body of the person standing closest to him whenever he commits suicide.

As befits a final volume, Demon: Volume 4 is absolute, wall-to-wall insanity. There's death, war, guns, massacres, catapults, baseball bats, kamakaze stunts — in fact, there's probably something intensely violent happening on practically every page.

Having possessed the body of a foetus at the end of the last book, Jimmy has finally busted out of the womb, ready to find his daughter Sweetpea and prevent his arch-nemesis Hunter from unleashing hundreds more demons on the world... Read More

Demon: Volume 3: The hunt continues…

Demon: Volume 3 by Jason Shiga

This is the third book in Jason Shiga's Demon quartet; the story of Jimmy Yee, an otherwise ordinary accountant who realizes he's a demon. This means that whenever he takes his own life, he ends up possessing the body of the person closest to him.

It's a free pass to wealth and power, though ever since Jimmy found his daughter Sweetpea (also a demon) and evaded capture from the secret-ops agent who's determined to exploit his abilities, Jimmy has been lying low for the past hundred years.

After that long, a hedonistic lifestyle with no boundaries or limitations is beginning to wear a little thin. Surely there's got to be more to life than food, sex and drugs?



Demon: Volume 3 is a nihilistic look at the meaning of life an... Read More

Demon: Volume 2: The (extremely violent) mystery continues…

Demon: Volume 2 by Jason Shiga

In the second volume of Jason Shiga's Demon, we find Jimmy Yee pondering his options.

As he found out in the previous book, he's a demon who possesses the body of the closest physical person to him every time he takes his own life.

Across the course of that story he experimented with the limits of his power and is now close to mastering the logistics of his macabre gift.



 

 

Unfortunately (at least from his point-of-view), you can't leave behind a trail of bodies without attracting attention.

Agent Hunter leads a special military taskforce that knows what he can do and how to counteract it. His mission is to recruit Jimmy to the American government by any means necessary.

Bu... Read More

Demon: Volume 1: A dark and disturbing page-turner

Demon: Volume 1 by Jason Shiga

If you have a strong constitution and fifteen minutes to kill, you could do a lot worse than picking up Demon (2016), Jason Shiga’s graphic novel about a nihilistic suicidal actuary who finds a reason to go on living when he realizes he possesses the body of the person closest to him each time he kills himself.

His wife and daughter having died in a car accident, Jimmy Yee decides to end it all — only to find that his suicide attempts are thwarted each time by powers beyond his control.

The first half of the story involves him grappling to understand the rules of the new forces that govern his life, while the second sees him become the target of an elite military taskforce determined to contain him.

It's bloody, it's gory, it crosses the line more than a couple of times, but Jimmy's increasing lack of morality combined with ... Read More

The Vampire Diaries 2: The Fury & The Reunion

The Vampire Diaries: The Fury & The Reunion by L.J. Smith

This is the second bind-up for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. The Fury and The Reunion were originally published as two separate books; in fact, The Reunion was published some time after The Fury, which effectively closes the trilogy begun with The Awakening and The Struggle). In The Fury Elena, alongside her friends Bonnie and Meredith, struggles to control her nature and discover the source of the evil Power that is haunting Fell’s Church. She knows that the only way it can be defeated is if the two vampire brothers Stefan and Damon can put alongside their lifelong enmity and work together. In The Reunion Fell’s Church is once again being terrorised b... Read More

SAGA Volume 3: This series is so addictive!

SAGA Volume 3, Issues 13-18 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

This highly original space opera romance is incredibly popular, and for good reason. Anyone who has read Saga Vols 1 & 2 will undoubtedly be fans of star-crossed lovers Alana & Marko, who come from opposing sides of a galactic war, Marko’s sharp-tongued mother Klara, freelancer assassin The Will and his lie-detecting cat, and Marko’s ex-fiance Gwendolyn. Not to mention the difficult-to-hate Prince Robot IV and all the other bizarre creations of Vaughan and Staples. The authors have continued to breath life into their fresh, genre-bending blend of space opera, romance, family drama, and chase amid a galactic war tale with an amazingly effortless sense of humor. What I like most about this series is their willingness to go off on weird story tangents without losing the momentum of the larger story.

Witho... Read More

The Book of Never Vol 1 – 3: A stranger on a mysterious quest…

The Book of Never Volumes 1 – 3 by Ashley Capes

Never is a man with a magical gift and a history that's as mysterious as his name. Hunted by the soldiers of ruthless Commander Harstas, Never is known for having blood with an usual trait: every time it mingles with that of another person (usually in combat situations), he takes on their memories, personality, and — at the start of this story — any illnesses they might carry.

Now struck with a strange fever that he can't seem to break, Never's ongoing quest to find answers to his condition and his past is endangered by the vulnerable state he finds himself in.

Teaming up with some companions that promise a cure (but who may or may not be trustworthy) the story is divided into five distinct parts (or novellas) which can be purchased separately or in collected editions. Since I've read the first three, “The Amber isle”, “A Forest of Eyes”, and “River God... Read More

The Woman in Black: A classic ghost story

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

So what does a young actor do after starring in one of the most lucrative franchises in cinema history? That was the precise dilemma facing the 22-year-old Daniel Radcliffe in 2011, upon the completion of his 8th and final Harry Potter film. The Potter series had brought in a whopping $7.7 billion worldwide over its 10-year run, firmly establishing Radcliffe as an international star. And so, the question: What next? Wisely, the young actor’s follow-up project was another in the supernatural/fantasy vein, and one that was also based on an already well-loved source. The film was 2012’s The Woman In Black, another successful film for Radcliffe, having been produced for $15 million and bringing in almost $130 million at the box office. The film was based on English author Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the sam... Read More

The Vampire Diaries 1: The Awakening & The Struggle

The Vampire Diaries 1: The Awakening & The Struggle by L.J. Smith

Elena is the ice-blonde queen of the school, admired by girls and boys alike. With her friends, Bonnie and Meredith, she enjoys her status and uses it to snag the most eligible boys. However, Elena always feels as though something is missing. When new boy Stefan starts at the school, she suspects she has found what she is looking for, but Stefan manages to resist her charms. Elena makes a vow with Bonnie and Meredith that she will have Stefan no matter what — little suspecting that he hides a deadly secret. When Stefan's brother Damon arrives on the scene, Elena may be in more trouble than she realizes.

I am a big fan of L.J. Smith's writing, and have enjoyed a number of her books. I did enjoy both The Awakening and The Struggle, but felt that they suffered due to an unlikable main character.... Read More

SAGA Volume 2: A comic book that lives up to its name

SAGA Volume Two, Issues 7-12 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

I’m so late to the party that the weekend is over and everyone is back to work on Monday. I like to write SF reviews to introduce new books to people who might not have read them yet, but SAGA is already so popular and well known that the only advantage to discovering this series so late is that I can read the first 5 volumes straight through without having to wait!

The story moves so propulsively you have to force yourself to slow down. The characters are so likeable that even the contract killers and military robot royalty are sympathetic. And the dialogue written by Brian K. Vaughan is so infectiously fun, snarky and charming that I kept laughing out loud. It’s a space opera, yes, and a story of star-crossed lovers caught in the middle of a protracted interstellar war. And they have a brand-new baby. Their arguments... Read More

SAGA Volume 1: A brilliant series

SAGA Volume One, Issues 1-6 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

Brian K. Vaughan's brilliant new series SAGA is a mixture of fantasy and science fiction, with wonderfully humorous and realistic dialogue between a newlywed couple. But the subject being addressed (and critiqued) is war. It's also incredibly sexually explicit, so I must give my warning to those who either prefer not to have in their heads images of people with television heads having sex or want to keep such images from their kids. (Personally, I find it funny to watch one of the television head characters, a powerful and vicious military official and member of the royalty, struggle with impotence when out of his official attire.)

The premise of the story is that a couple and their new-born child, Hazel, are on the run from just about everybody involved in the war. When issue one begins, the war has been going on for many ... Read More

The Blue Sword: Strong female lead, interesting moral conundrum

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

This, my friends, is how young adult fantasy is done. In The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley has created a world out of whole cloth and polished it until it shines. Or in this case, until it is a dusty desert full of horse riding warriors, a dwindling magic, demon barbarians invading from the north, and civilized white men invading from across the ocean. McKinley is a master of prose, and this book has stood the test of time for almost 25 years now.

The Blue Sword is the story of Harry Crewe — don’t you dare call her by her given name of Angharad — who, upon the death of her parents, is sent to live at a fort on the Homeland frontier with her brother who is in the colonial army. Unlike most of the colonists, Harry is fascinated by the desert, and when Corlath, the leader of the Free Hillfolk of Damar, comes to the Homeland fort to negotiate for a... Read More

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