Madoka Magica: Magical Girls at Christmas

Last night at dinner, my daughter hit me up about going to see a movie that started at 7:00 pm — of course, it was a limited run, one-showing flick that surprisingly had a showing in our little neck of the woods. Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion or, as is more commonly known, Madoka Magica, Movie #3.

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As you can see from the movie poster pictured here, it is a Japanese anime, which (thankfully) is subtitled. My first question was, “Ok, what’s it about?” After a brief recap courtesy of Wikipedia, it sounded intriguing to this geek mom so in spite of the last minute notice, I decided to give it a shot. After all, this was probably the only chance we’d ever have to see it at the theater.

To make a long story short, Madoka Magica turned out to be a classic good vs. evil story, with a few twists turned in to boot and told in a way that only the Japanese can. (To the Madoka Magica fans who might be reading this, please forgive my over-generalizations — I realize it’s really much more complicated than this but space limits my recounting of the plot.)

Basically, a few middle school age girls can have one wish granted in exchange for agreeing to become magical girls who live to fight evil. The only catch is, they have to give up their soul to do so. But they’re fighting evil so that’s not all bad, right? Catch #2: fighting evil turns out to be so difficult that eventually some give in to despair — and it is at that time that they become one of the evil witches the magical girls are tasked with fighting.

The anime artwork in this movie is very unique, chaotic even, but beyond that, the story line delves very deeply into human nature, motivations and the good vs. evil struggles buried deep inside every person on Earth. Like I said, it’s complicated. But it stuck with me.

As I rolled it around in the back of my head last night and then this morning, it occurred to me that within the story line lies a core theme that is very close to our own Judeo-Christian beliefs. We too have an enemy that tempts us constantly to sell our souls to him, to give in to despair that despite our good intentions, can destroy us in the end, even to the point of turning us into bitter, black-hearted creatures more aligned with the enemy’s purposes than God’s. The only way we can overcome this reality is to never give our souls over to the enemy in the first place.

Like Peter said, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He goes on to say in verse 9, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

And hence lies the lesson for us all. Commit your heart and soul to God, stand firm and don’t give in. I pray that all of you who read this don’t give into despair but rely instead on God’s saving, victory power. What better message to dwell on at Christmas-time than this?

MadokaAdmonishesMeanwhile, based on this quick sketch that I found on my computer monitor this morning, I think someone wants me to catch up and get all the backstory in movies 1 and 2 so I can see what brought the magical girls to this point in their lives. Well, Christmas vacation is coming. We’ll see what happens.

Michael Whelan Does It Again! Cover Reveal for Sanderson’s New Book

I love beautiful fantasy artwork — and one of my favorite artists is Michael Whelan. When the cover was revealed for Brandon Sanderson‘s The Way of Kings (the first book in The Stormlight Archive series), I was so happy to find out Whelan was the artist.

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Now the cover for the second book has been released and it does not disappoint.

The cover was released by Tor (see the post here), along with commentary by Whelan, his preliminary sketches and a copy of the full painting. I encourage you to go over there and check it out.

Words of Radiance, Book 2 in The Stormlight Archive series (and sequel to The Way of Kings) is to be released March 4, 2014.

Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Links of the Week

It’s Friday! And a long weekend for many of you. Let’s celebrate with a few fun links I found this week.

  • How about we start with a giveaway? Tor is giving away 60 copies (yes, 60 — that’s not a typo) of David Weber‘s Midst Toil and Tribulation (#6 in the Safehold series). Deadline is September 10, 2012.
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  • Over at For Books’ Sake, they’ve posted a list of the Top 10 Women Writers of Fantasy. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 of the post. Which of them have you read?
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  • Ok, this is kind of creepy in a cool kind of way. Wait…is that possible? Disney is now cloning human faces to make life-like robots. Well, maybe it is possible. Check it out and see what you think.
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  • On the serious side, here’s a bit of science fiction come to life. Oxford professor Julian Savulescu considers it a “moral obligation” to genetically engineer babies to screen out personality flaws. Sounds like a slippery slope to me.
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  • Back to the fun stuff. Have you considered buying handmade Legend of Zelda soap? There’s the Triforce symbol (it comes in small and large versions), the Heart Container (my personal favorite), or maybe you’d just like a handful of rupees. I know my daughter would LOVE it! They’re not that expensive either.
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  • Another giveaway: 10 copies of Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow. Here’s the link: Deadline is September 14, 2012.
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  • Tor is continuing its Wheel of Time giveaways. This time it’s 5 copies of Book 3, The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan. Deadline is September 5, 2012.
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  • SciFi Chick is giving away one copy of The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis. Deadline is September 7, 2012.
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  • You can download free wallpaper from The Wheel of Time series, featuring the ebook art for Winter’s Heart by Scott M. Fischer. I wish I could post a copy but I’d hate to get my virtual hands slapped for copyright infringement. That seems to be going around lately. Anyhoo, here’s the link. I think you just need to register for the Tor.com website, if you haven’t already.

I also found a new teaser trailer for the upcoming LEGO Lord of the Rings game. As usual, they’ve thrown their own quirky brand of LEGO humor in. Cracks me up.

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That’s it for now. I hope you all have a wonderful, marvelous, long Labor Day weekend. Cheers!

Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Links of the Week

It’s been a couple of weeks since I sat down to bring you my favorite links, so I decided it’s past time to post a few more. For one thing, I love contests and found a few to pass on to you.

  • Giveaway: The Dragon Reborn is book 3 in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and Tor is offering 5 copies over at Goodreads. The entry deadline is July 27, 2012.
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  • Giveaway: Janalyn Voigt, is offering one autographed copy of her DawnSinger novel, Book 1 in the epic Tales of Faeraven series. The entry deadline is August 3, 2012. You can click on over to her website to see a trailer for the book and the first chapter here.
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  • Have you ever wondered what the musculoskeletal structure of a dragon looks like? Artist Todd Lockwood has drawn just such an anatomical study for the cover of Marie Brennan‘s book coming out next February, The Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent. Tor has posted copies of the artwork that you can download as wallpaper for your desktop. Click here.
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  • I admit it, I’m a sucker for any gallery display of giclee artwork. Over at the Dreamworks Animation web site, you can purchase copies of your favs. A friend just sent me a link to a limited edition of a frame from the studio’s How to Train Your Dragon movie. So cool.
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  • One book that I enjoyed some time back was R.A. Salvatore‘s The Highwayman, Book 1 in The Saga of the First King. Now Graphic Audio has produced and is offering for sale the book in a dramatic reading format. Let me tell you, these guys do a great job. To listen for yourself, here’s a link to hear the first 8 minutes of the book, along with more information on the production. (I don’t get any commission if you buy it. I’m just passing it on because I think it’s amazingly well done.)
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  • If you’re looking for new reading material, author Michael J. Sullivan has put together a list of 20 of his favorite indie fantasy and science fiction novels. I see a couple of the e-books are currently offered free of charge. Check it out over at The Ranting Dragon here. While you’re at it, you might want to visit Michael’s web site. I found some gorgeous artwork there for some of his novels by the amazing Marc Simonetti.

To wrap it up, here’s the official trailer for the upcoming Oz the Great and Powerful. The trailer was just released yesterday (Friday, July 12) at the awesome San Diego ComicCon. Enjoy!

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Have a great weekend, everyone!

New Wallpaper for Upcoming Wheel of Time Book, A Memory of Light!

Not only is one of my favorite artists (Michael Whelan)  illustrating the cover of one of my most-anticipated books (A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson), now you can download the painting as wallpaper for your desktop computer, phone or mobile tablet-type of device! I’m so there. Below you can see a tiny copy of the image, but don’t use that one. Click through to the Tor web site to get a copy customized for the size of your screen. Here’s the link.

Michael Whelan cover art for "A Memory of Light"

You can find a pic of the final book cover here: A Memory of Light book cover

You can find Michael Whelan’s web site here: http://www.glassonion.com/