The Force Awakened and everything was awesome

I’m a Star Wars geek. That’s probably one of the first things that people find out after they meet me for the first time. I’ve been a fan since I was twelve years old and it’s such a big part of my life that I’ll still be a fan when I’m a hundred and twelve.

What’s life like as a Star Wars fan? I’ve lost count of Star Wars books and comics I have on my shelves (OT: I love the Expanded Universe. Well, most of it. But Timothy Zahn will forever get a pass from me because he created my two favorite characters: Mara Jade and Jaina Solo.). I have costumes! And a lightsaber! And a few toys that I really like (I’m not much for toys but I make exceptions every now and then). I’ve made a lot of great friends over the years because of Star Wars. I also met my future husband because of Star Wars. That’s pretty huge ๐Ÿ™‚

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know that Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released last December 17 in the Philippines (and December 18 in the US). I’m not going to discuss the movie here – you can do that in countless other sites. (Btw, half of my prediction about Kylo Ren and Rey came true.) I’m going to talk about ALL THE FUN I HAD in the days leading up to TFA <3

I got to sit in the cockpit of a life-sized X-Wing. I repeat: I GOT TO SIT IN THE COCKPIT OF AN X-WING. 01a me in xwing4_oneal

Photo by Oneal Rosero

See that happy smile? That’s the smile of someone who’s read all the X-Wing novels and comics and whose dreams finally came true.

01b me in xwing8 - by mikko miciano

Photo by Mikko Miciano

That photo was part of a bigger photo session with the rest of the Rebel Legion: Bagong Pag-asa Outpost and the Philippine Garrison of the 501st Legion. We looked pretty awesome.
03 TFA3 - RL and 501st by Lawrence Aliwalas and Milchy Pe

Photo by Lawrence Aliwalas and Milchy Pe

02 rebels2 - by robbie ramos

Photo by Robbie Ramos

Speaking of awesome, I officially joined the Rebel Legion with my Jaina Solo costume! I have my previous Padme pastel lake dress (made in 2005 for Revenge of the Sith) and the Padme light blue Tatooine dress (made in 2006-07 but never worn because I never developedย the abs to pull it off) but they didn’t pass muster for the RL. Jaina Solo is my favorite EU character so going Jedi for her felt great.

04 RL member card

Ignore my character card design. I don’t have an action pose because I don’t have a purple lightsaber (YET) and I couldn’t use my existing Anakin Skywalker Master Replica Force FX Lightsaber because it isn’t canon (or is it?).

This is Rej and me as Rey and Jaina Solo, respectively. Oh look! Jaina’s carrying Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber! Just saying.

05 TFA1 - rey and jaina solo -by Aids

Photo by Adrian Arcega

I was supposed to attend the gala premiere on December 15 but I couldn’t because of an office event (curses!) and Adrian couldn’t attend either, so our first screening was during an advanced screening on December 16. Just a day late. No biggie. And we also had friends with us so that was pretty awesome also.

07 advanced screening

These are the faces of Star Wars fans who’ve waited years to see Episode VII.

08 happy faces

How was the movie? After seeing it three times (Dolby Atmos, regular 2D, and IMAX 3D), my overall score is 8.5 out of 10. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac (*eeeeeee <3*) are all capable and charismatic actors and are fine additions to the cast. FYI I’m shipping Poe/Rey right about now. Seeing Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher again as Han and Leia gave me both joy and heartbreak. But as a whole,ย The Force Awakens is essentially an Original Trilogy Greatest Hits. Whether you find that a good thing or a bad thing is up to you. Part of me liked seeing the same themes because let’s face it, history repeats itself. At its core, Star Wars is about the Skywalker family. But now that J.J. Abrams is done with his nostalgia trip, here’s hoping that Star Wars breaks new ground in Episodes VIII and IX.

NexCon 2 and beyond!

NexCon 2 happened last May 16-17, 2015 at Function Room 2, SMX Aura but I’m only writing about it now because Real Life got in the way. Boo to Real Life! ๐Ÿ˜›

poster - Nexcon 2015 main poster

First off, I’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who made NexCon 2 possible: the wonderful attendees (seriously: you guys are the best con attendees ever!), the amazing guests and panelists (we bow to your experience and insights!), the exhibitors (thank you for believing in our event!), and the convention staff (hard workers all around!).

How much fun did we have? A LOT. A WHOLE BUNCH. A WHOLE FREAKING TARDIS-LOAD.

Fitting NexCon 2 inside the TARDIS. Photo by Adam Fuqua.

16 fitting the convention inside the TARDIS - Adam Fuqua

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NexCon Manila – the ultimate science fiction and fantasy party!

The thing that I’ve been helping out with since graduation is finally happening this weekend! Welcome NexCon Manila, the biggest science fiction and fantasy event of the year! It’s on May 31-June 1, 2014 at the Bayanihan Center in Ortigas. What a way to cap off your summer ๐Ÿ˜€
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What makes NexCon different from other local conventions is that we focus on science fiction and fantasy content from the Philippines and the West. The biggest activities are the film, comics, and literature panels featuring genre entertainment leaders –ย groundbreakers here in the Philippines and abroad. Where else can you sit down and discuss film with Erik Matti (Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, On the Job) and Louie Suarez (RPG: Metanoia),
CinemaFantastica
comics with Leinil Yu (Superman: Birthright, Avengers), Danny Acuna (veteran komiks artist), and Carlo Vergara (Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah),
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and horror literature with Karl de Mesa (Damaged People: Tales of the Gothic Punk) and Yvette Tan (Walking the Dead and Other Horror Stories)?
MeetTheTaleweavers
And the fun doesn’t stop there! GeekFight Trivia Night is celebrating it’s 5th anniversary at NexCon Manila with GeekFight Battle Royale! They’ve planned eight kick-ass rounds of all things sci-fi and fantasy, including rounds that are freaking genius. One of the rounds started out as a joke but they ran with it anyway, so be prepared! I would so join if I weren’t a co-organizer ๐Ÿ˜›
Geekfight poster2
And last but not least, we have the contests! There are three contests for the event: Cosplay Masquerade, Cosplay Rumble, and Take Cover. What’s the difference between Masquerade and Rumble? Check out the infographic below:
nexcon cosplay matrix copy
For hardcore competitive cosplay, I recommend joining the Rumble. Best in Show receives a 7″ tablet from our sponsors!
Take Cover is a photo competition, where you edit your awesomesauce cosplay photos into even more awesomesauce NexCon Manila comic book covers!
TakeCover
Did I mention that we’re ending NexCon with a (Big) bang? Because we are! Indie bandsย Peso Movement, Stereodeal, and Paranoid City – all fantastic bands and Converse endorsers – will get you dancing, singing, head-bobbing, and geeking out, all at once ๐Ÿ˜€
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Interested in going? Buy your tickets now! There are different ticket tiers to suit everyone’s interest level and budget. I highly recommend that you get the Gold ticket for maximum enjoyment, as it includes access to all the panels and contests for two days, access to NexCon Rocks (the closing concert), AND a free limited edition NexCon shirt if you’re among the first 200 ticket buyers ๐Ÿ˜€
nexcon ticket matrix2 copy

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Book review: The Reluctant Assassin (WARP Book #1) by Eoin Colfer

WARP 1 cover britishWith the latest draft of my master’s thesis (finally!) in my adviser’s and reader’s “to read” piles, I finally got to read for fun! First on the list was The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer, the first book in his new series W.A.R.P. I got my copy several months ago from my favorite bookstore ever (thank you Danes for getting it for me!) but only recently had the time to read it.

The synopsis from the book jacket:
Riley, an orphan living in Victorian London, has had the misfortune of being apprenticed to Albert Garrick, a former illusionist turned murderer, who now uses his conjuring skills to gain access to his victims’ dwellings. On one such escapade, Garrick brings his reluctant assistant along and urges him to commit his first killing. Riley is saved from having to complete the grisly act when the intended prey turns out to be a scientist from the future, part of the FBI’s Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (WARP). Riley is unwittingly transported via wormhole to modern-day London-with Garrick close on his heels.

In modern London, Riley is aided by Chevron Savano, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent. Together, Riley and Chevie must evade Garrick, who has been fundamentally changed by his trip through the wormhole. Garrick is now not only evil, but he also possess all of the scientist’s knowledge. He is determined to track down Riley and use the Timekey in Chevie’s possession to literally change the world.

Note: the synopsis is slightly misleading as yes, Riley and Garrick do find a scientist from the future but Garrick got his knowledge from a different scientist. Just clearing that up.

The Reluctant Assassinย is a great time travel romp, with likeable characters, snappy dialogue, and lots of blood. Oh yes, there’s a lot more blood in this book compared to Colfer’s previous novels.

The good:
1. I liked Chevie. She was headstrong without being obnoxious, willing to let Riley take the lead in situations where his experience exceeded hers, and plenty smart. She’s obviously not happy with how she ended up in London in the first place but she tried to make the best of it.

2. I liked Riley too. He’s a genuinely good kid who just got caught up in circumstances. He gets fleshed out later on in the book, when we find out about his past and how he got involved with Garrick.

3. Garrick is one heck of a creepy villain. Kudos to Colfer for creating a great boogeyman.

4. The plot twists were nicely done. They were surprising, sure, but they didn’t come out of nowhere.

5. Excellent handling of time travel! The time travel framework for The Reluctant Assassin is similar to Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, which is a good thing because none of the side details are lost and everything makes sense. It was an integral part of the story and not a deus ex machina

The not-so-good:
1. While I love Chevie to bits, her attitude can be grating at times.

2. Garrick is built up to be so scary, it’s bordering on ridiculous. He was already unconscionably evil before the start of the book and then the wormhole shit happens and he becomes even smarter and meaner. Garrick is still an excellent villain but there are some times when his over-the-top antics actually make him less scary.

The part that made me fume in anger:
THE COVER. Oh my god, the cover for the US release!ย Chevron Savano is a seventeen-year-old badass FBI agent, not some model wannabe. Why in the ever-loving hell was she subjected to the infamous spine-twisting ass shot? WHYYYYY??? This sends a bad message all around, especially since this book is marketed towards teenagers. Before you say that I’m overreacting, let me introduce you to the Theย Hawkeye Initiative. Here’s Hawkeye doing the exact pose that Chevie is in:

WARP1 US cover Hawkeye

Enough said. Compare this to the UK cover (see the first cover I posted) which has no asses whatsoever.ย Whoever designed the US book cover, you have a lot to answer for. Please get it right in the second book.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars when I ignore the cover, 2.5 stars if the cover is considered.

Book review: “Libriomancer” by Jim Hines (spoilers ahoy!)

It’s not often that a book makes me laugh out loud, but there’s something about Jim C. Hines’ Libriomancer that got me from the beginning. The official description:

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror, he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic.

At its heart, Libriomancer is a love letter to every bookworm who ever imagined reaching into their favorite book and becoming part of the story. It’s funny, sad, and exciting all at once.

My overall rating: 4.5/5 stars.

SPOILERS INCLUDED IN THE REVIEW!

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