Miscellaneous

Book Reviews: City Under the Moon, Supervillain Handbook, Beyond the Wall

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? One night in New York City, a woman is attacked by an unknown beast. The woman is taken to the hospital and is intensive care until the sun sets, when she turns into a werewolf, killing and maiming half a dozen more people. The next night, the survivors also turn into werewolves, and those they don’t kill turn into werewolves the next night, and suddenly there’s a goddamn werewolf epidemic. 

This is Hugh Sterbakov’s City Under the Moon, which is half-action movie in written form, half-plague thriller where the epidemic is something that science cannot possibly understand, and which the government must try desperately to contain. It’s a real world horror thriller kind of like World War Z, but without any goddamn zombies, which I imagine is quite a draw to a lot of you. It’s a hell of a fun read, only $5 on Kindle, and I’ll actually be shocked if it doesn’t get picked up for a movie soon. 

? I cannot in good conscience review Matt Wilson’s The Supervillain Handbook, because Matt Wilson is a TR contributor, and I’m kind of biased. So when I tell you I think The Supervillain Handbook is really fucking good, you should possibly take it with a grain of salt. That said, Wilson’s very funny “ultimate how-to guide to destruction and mayhem” — which was dictated to him by well-known supervillain King Oblivion Ph.D  — explains how to pick your villain persona, pick a lair that’s right for you, staffing that lair with henchmen, and more. It’s fun as hell. If you’ve ever laughed at anything The Monarch said on The Venture Bros., I’m extremely confident you’ll enjoy this book.
? Beyond the Wall is a collection of essays — like, critical thinking n’ stuff — about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series on a wide variety of topics from a wide variety of writers. It includes an examination of Romanticism in ASoIaF, how PTSD manifests itself in the series, an examination of Petyr Baelish, a close look at how GRRM’s Dunk and Egg stories fit in, and more. If you like taking a scholarly look at your favorite nerd pursuits, I highly recommend it — or if you just need a way to pass a little time until The Winds of Winter comes out in 2016 or so. 

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.