The Coldest City vs Atomic Blonde

***Spoiler Alert***

If you haven’t watched the movie or read the graphic novel, come back later.

Lorraine Broughton is an MI6 spy tasked with unmasking the secrets of double agent Satchel/Stachel in Cold War Berlin. Set during the days leading to the fall of The Wall in 1989, our heroine must locate a list with the names of the secret agents in the area. When the British lose control over the material, they fear it will pop up in Moscow or the Black Market. Satchel/Stachel may be the broker of the information but he/she may also be the reason for the leak. Who can you trust in a city full of duplicitous intent?

Atomic Blonde borrows from the original story to give us an action packed, girl power romp, full of suspense, 80s cosplay, and intrigue. However, the original character was not blonde, was not associated with the CIA, and is not involved in as many car chases and staircase hands on combat as Charlize Theron’s version. The graphic novel is in black and white, blending the environment in the background without having to be bothered with the music and cultural accoutrements of the times. Whereas the movie is all 1980s neon noir, the novel is dark, crisp and sleek. It is about the narrative, not the visuals. The spies should blend in, not stand out, to perform their jobs successfully.

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For the most part the story flows in the same direction. Perceval is not a punk/counter cultural young gun but rather an old and distinguished station leader. With a more subdued demeanor, it is neither hard nor easy to read malicious intent in his words. Not enough info is there to pass judgement early on and claim he is a double agent, much less leader of any gang or Ice Men. If Lorraine ever had physical proof that he was the leak, she burnt it or disposed of it, just like in the movie. We learn of this after the briefing ends and closer to the end of the book with no further action or interaction with the Russians. It ends with the twist, which may be hard to understand if you haven’t seen the film prior to reading the material.

The entire Spyglass storyline is used as a distraction in the novel but has a bit more meat in the screenplay. He knew the names, proof that the list was real and tangible, vs in the novel where he never actually confirms he even handled it. The character fades into the background quickly, and is assassinated to prove a point: Lorraine and Perceval have been made. French agent Pierre Lasalle comes into the fray claiming to have proof of Perceval’s betrayal, but we soon we are shown that the perpetrator of the double cross had been our Atomic Blonde all along.

It is worth mentioning that Delphine’s character was supposed to be Pierre but it was updated to make the story a bit more unique. Again, the movie was about the visual component of the story, and it needed a bit more flair to stand out from the pack of love stories that accompany the 007 rhetoric. Also, there is no apparent romantic link between James Gascoine (the agent that is killed during the opening sequence) and Lorraine in the novel. She isn’t ties down to a man, family or any other element that would explain her origin story or motivation. You are not given any information about who she is and what drives her. The director had carte blanche to develop her on screen as he saw fit, and he made her three times more fierce than drawn.

There are other minor differences that don’t change the storyline too much. Some of the extra conspirators, like the kids in East Berlin are added to expand on the atmosphere of the times and provide some historical commentary. They also provided a means to add German actor Til Schweiger into the plot which is always a treat for the movie buffs and nerds. (See the blog post on Atomic Blonde for more info on the movie.)

In the end, both versions are entertaining in their formats. Overall, an avid reader and movie buff as myself can get through both in an evening. I was not disappointed by either nor have reserved criticism for the sake of argument. I found both formats entertaining and relevant. Girl Power all the way. Enjoy Atomic Blonde, The Coldest City and prequel The Coldest Winter if you are interested in researching the subject further.

Happy hunting! 😎

 

She Changed Comics (Image)

Finally! A book about women who challenged and impacted the comic book industry. Featuring the likes of Gail Simone, Jill Thompson and Aline Komisnky, it is full of contemporary references that will resonate with comic book enthusiasts. Is it perfect? Close to it. Is it missing people? Even the editors say it probably does. Will it change the mind of the men in the medium or serve as proof that women can illustrate and pen graphic stories? Hopefully so. Does it matter/is it relevant for the times we live in? Yes.

Why?

Women have fought for decades to bring their perspective into the mainstream media and it seems to be paying off. We see more female led stories, female written, inked and edited materials. How did this come about? Because the women featured in this book never gave up on their dream and desire to share their imagination and experiences with the rest of humanity. Some of their work has become so iconic or instrumental for society’s understanding of change that it is featured in curricula throughout the United States and beyond!

Censorship, persecution and discrimination were never far behind these ladies who range in age, gender, race, religion and culture. The comics movement is international, and not confined to the Western world therefore it has many faces and backgrounds. There is room to build a more robust anthology and document the entire history of women in this field. I hope Image and other publishers seriously consider investing in expanding the project in the near future to paint a better picture of the struggles of women and minorities in this industry.

Please share this review, buy the book, and share with the women in your life. The materials at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (cbldf.org/she-changed-comics) and follow up on those artists that catch your eye. There is also suggested reading provided under each profile in the book that are worth following up, especially if you recognize works you are currently reading or are familiar with. That’s how I found Persepolis (buy/rent On Demand) and The Diary of a Teenage Girl (blog linked here).

Enjoy!

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

A few years ago I met a guy that works at JPL. We all treated him like a rock star and with reason: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is every engineering nerds dream job, right up there with Skunk Works and Disney’s Imagineers. My pal has pictures with every actor and director involved in space movies, as their mock ups are borrowed and used in films like Interstellar and Armageddon. Shortly after meeting him, his team told me they were hiring. Had I read Donna Shirley’s Managing Martians sooner, I would have been all in, even if it meant moving to Pasadena, CA.

Asking around, I knew there had to be more stories about the women that worked there. What I wasn’t expecting was that there would be so many! You see, depending on the statistics and who you ask, there is at least 18% of women in engineering. Companies like GE want to #BalanceTheEquation and hire over 20,000 women into leadership positions. The cool part is JPL has been hiring women since the age of the human computers, and one of these women, Sue Finley, has actually been there so long she is one of NASA’s longest tenured employees. 50+ until her retirement in 2016.

The book itself features the story of a few of the women following them from the moment they got hired through multiple pregnancies, and rehirings. Women didn’t have the luxury of maternity leave so their opportunity to serve ended the moment they started to show. Barbara Paulson, Helen Ling, Macie, Margie, Sue, Silvia and Ginny stand out off the top of my head, with many more serving their country and science valiantly. Check out their stories and the cool satellite images inside the book. Nathalia Holt did a wonderful job relaying the story of these marvelous women. The Rocket Girls will always reign supreme; we honor their memory reaching for the stars, building atop their legacy.

To infinity and beyond!

Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling

Tropes are akin to stereotypes, except they are in reference to literature. As the book explains in its additional content, the rhetoric of some stories makes one feel as if we have already read it, even if we haven’t before. Damsel in distress, hero on a quest, magical characters that help you on your journey, and even the roles of characters in a fantasy world have been so overused that you already know where everything is going to end. Not original, and not cool.

This book aims to explore tropes to turn them upside down or actually give them a better perspective. The staff that curated the book even lists the stories and their tropes to help the reader understand every aspect of the narrative. The editors included pieces of poetry, sci-fi, fantasy and horror, not focusing on just one storytelling genre nor confining tropes to only one type of fiction. It is very entertaining to read the pages of non sequitur stories. Not one is alike another.

Take a look at the content pages and let me know what you think! I was very impressed with the quality of the writing and the twists and turns the stories took to represent global diversity and inclusion of all types of genders, age groups and races. That is the magic of writing to combat tropes, you have to use everything in your arsenal to build a complete and meaningful picture of the characters and events. There is something for everyone in its pages. A nice change of pace for avid readers, who like me, are tired of the same types of developments and endings.

Enjoy!

Big Book Sale by Friends of The Seattle Library

With prices ranging from $1 to $4 based on the type of book or media selected you cannot go wrong visiting the Exhibition Hall at the Seattle Center to secure rare finds. They have graphic novels, movies in DVD, audiobooks, old and rare collections, and even never used or lightly used books! Thanks to social media and nerdy patrons, the event was a success. There were so many patrons they had to close the doors and form a queue just so they could process sales faster.

I wss impressed with the selection and quality of the used items. As part of the library’s collection and/or consignment, the offerings were endless. For example, they had Books for early 1900s, The Office BBC series and vinyl. Paying with cash or credit was a breeze as they have many tellers to charge you after thr table volunteers count your loot and tally up the check. I got 10 books for $20. All brand spanking new and from this decade. 🙂

Running Friday to Sunday, take advantage of this sale. It is a book lover’s paradise.

Enjoy!

QuirkBooks: Keeping Nerd Awesome One Book At A Time

During the Emerald City Comic Con I had the idea of swinging by the QuirkBooks booth about an hour before the convention ended and walked into a frenzied discounted product sale! Woop woop! Their add in the event’s program guide piqued my interest because they carried a book called Wonder Women and once I got there they had so many geektastic offerings that it was hard to walk away with just one. The staff was very generous and gave visitors the last of the tote bags with lots of freebies and goodies. 😆😊

The first item I picked out to read from the stuffed goodie bag was Stuff Every Geek Should Know. This thin booklet didn’t have a bar code on it or ISBN so assume they must give it away for free at Cons and special events. My only regret is that I didn’t take more because my friends would love owning one of these manuals to ensure successful geek coexistence with the real world. 🤓😛 Their bit about hacking your online profile, naming children after your favorite characters and ways for nerds and geeks to make friends at cons were hilariously accurate. Their advice was dead on! Can’t wait to try it.

I liked the rhetoric and aloof writing style so much I decided to review the offerings I purchased by blog article to share them with my peeps and future readers. My hope is y’all visit the store’s webpage and sponsor the endeavor. It was really cool to finally find material I could relate to and enjoy. I’d like to contribute to their success too!

Wonder Women


Sam Maggs wrote a compilation of stories that focus on women who are recognized as pioneers and overachievers in their respective fields. Illustrated by Sophia Foster-Dimino, gorgeously designed page backgrounds are filled with factual data and quirks about each selected superstar. Great book to inspire and teach children of all genders and orientations about the achievements of female scientists, innovators, adventurers and even spies that shaped our modern world. 🔬🔬🔬🔬

The Geek’s Guide To Dating

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Have you ever wondered how geeks manage to navigate relationships successfully? Are you stuck in the dating world’s Neutral Zone? Do you need bonafide geek advice to find your Player Two? This book will help you figure out what kind of nerd you are and what steps to take to find a quest-mate. Although it relates to dating it can also help you build any type of relationship, reagardless of geek status and gender or sexual preferences. Be prepared to honestly take stock of your character stats and get your stores in order to embark on this hilarious journey of introspective self discovery. The geek references alone are worth every copper piece spent! (This book is a good read for the married geeks looking to spark things up again, nerd style.) 😄😄😄😄

Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture, Edited by Steven H Segal

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Filled with quotes from around Nerdom, this book will remind any geek and nerd why they fell in love with the sci-fi and fantasy genres in the first place. Asimov, Huxley, Ralph Wiggum and Mae Jemison, to name a few, are featured in this work to remind us that many of the truisms and phrases we use daily come from our beloved geek heroes; the people who shaped the sci-fi, fantasy and actual scientific writings into mainstream speak. Reading its pages reminded me of my childhood and upbringing, of the many one liners I drop on people hoping they understand where I am coming from, to find my tribe. Excellent gift for nerds, geeks and posers alike. 🤓🤓🤓🤓

Enjoy!

Stories from Females in The Table Top Game Industry 

When I was about 10 years old I wanted to design and manufacture toys and games. Because of my ever expanding and diverse hobby list, my mentors recommended that I pursue a career path that would allow me to transition to such industries if I ever felt compelled to revisit my desire to join the game designer ranks. Ten years into my mechanical engineering career, I had the opportunity to think about this goal but there is one thing that have always kept me from pursuing it: knowing that women are still not treated as equals in this male dominated field, a sentiment I can attest to besed on my own experiences as a female engineer.

My questions were answered by sheer serendipity. Out of the blue, booth appeared in the middle of the 2017 Emerald City Comic Con main floor right next to where I was standing. Magic! Between the many books one caught my eye: Girls on Games, A Look At The Fairer Side of the Tabletop Industry.  Curated by game designer Elisa Teague, the narrative is comprised of stories from the industry’s iconic and very distinguished women that explore what works, what doesn’t work, what has changed and what needs to transpire to modernize the gaming workforce who needs to embrace diversity and evolve. Incorrect and outdated is now the notion that women aren’t gamers – see Women in Gaming for stats – and furthermore, that they aren’t good enough to be effective contributors and change agents in the industry.

Mike Selinker, CEO of Lone Shark Games offers up in the foreword that women are needed and more than welcome in his company since the diversity of thought and experiences they bring to the table are what make companies like his shine and produce high quality entertainment. As an advocate of equality, Mike makes sure you understand that these stories of discrimination and sexism still happen everyday in the corporate world, and to keep an open mind  when reading the short essays, and to become advocates for pay and professional equality. It’s a very touching gesture because as a man, the only thing he can do is open doors for the next group of women looking to breakthrough, to explain to his fellow men that the attitudes towards women have changed. They are here to stay.

The many accounts of discrimination, discomfort, ignorance and sound advice for future game designers are heartfelt, short, sweet and inspiring. Not all is bad when participating in game design and marketing but it can be an uphill battle to be taken seriously as a woman in this male dominated world. The saving grace is that many of the victims decided to take a stand and turned the culture around by becoming advocates for themselves and later for the women that suceeded them. Many opened their own studios and firms, bringing a new perspective to a market that was saturated by the same old ideas. Women making games for gamers, not just gender specific fluff. A challenge and adventure for families and friends to face and enjoy together.

This self published book can be purchased through Amazon and in select Cons. Follow Elisa on the web for more info: http://elisateague.com

Casted by Izzy Clarke

Young 12 year old Izzy Clarke decided to become a writer. Her goal, to empower girls and show that they can be the heroes of their own stories; that love, compassion, kindness and intelligence are traits that make one beautiful and strong regardless of what outsiders may think. I had the pleasure of meeting this aspiring fantasy author. The magic of her words and dream awe inspiring as she has done what many haven’t dared.

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At ECCC 2017. Copyright MrsEnginerd.

Casted, her debut piece, is about a magical world that hides amongst our reality. There is a tribe of runcasters, light and dark spell users that are at war over the Deliverer prophecy. Caught in the middle is 16 year old Emma Westley who tragically lost her parents in a var crash when she was 8 years old. One day, out of the blue, her life is changed forever when Darkcasters appear at the dinner she worked as a waitress and attempt to kill her. When she wakes up after getting knocked out during the attack she is faced with a dilema, help the light casters eradicate the evil magical beings or be persecuted by the dark forces until she pleades allegiance to their cause. The decision is made more difficult by the realization that she must choose to sacrifice her family and friends to destroy Ebonhaunt’s worst enemy.

Check out Izzy’s kickstarter campaign to help her reach her goal for publishing her project Feminist at 15. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her as a future career woman and author. ¡Éxito Izzy!

The Art of Not Giving A F@#$

Sara Knight became my hero. Her words resonated with me in ways I would never imagine especially since I had started to give 0 f’s about things like weddings and other’s good news. This book gives pointers to be able to do this and not come acros as an asshole, which is the key here: You can be polite and honest without coming across as rude and abrasive.

In case you need to take it slow, the book has sections where you document your thought process for future reference and examination. The workbook aspect is really cool and helps catalogue the f’s you are willing to give. It is a behavior reprogramming workshop and self help session all rolled up into one. All you need is some alone time to meditate and be honest with yourself when engaging in cleaning the mental barn. By the end you will either be entertained or fully converted into an indifference machine. If not, I can’t really understand why you decided to read this provocatively titled volume.

Pair with a glass of wine for full effect. Enjoy!

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