February 27, 2017

8 top picks from 2016 TV: Do you agree?

Do you agree with our list of the Best SF TV Shows in 2016?
Our panel discussion at the January 21, 2017 KaCSFFS Meeting looked at the good, the not-so-good, and the epic fails from the 2016 television shows that had science fiction, fantasy, or horror themes.

Panelists Carol Doms and Ken Keller started with a list of 42 shows, and ended the evening having heartily recommended eight as their top picks. Do you agree? Please add your comments below!

Our panelists' Picks in Alphabetical Order:

The Expanse



People of Earth


Stranger Things


So, then, what do you think? Did we call them pretty well? Miss one? Praise a stinker? Please share your opinions in the Comments section below the image credits.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Eric M. Rozek for the Brain Dead logo, and to YouTube CBS for the Brain Dead trailer. To YouTube for both the 2015 still for The Expanse, and the 2016 trailer for the show. To the Lucifer Wiki for the title image and to YouTube for the Lucifer trailer. To International Business Times for the title image for Outcast, and to YouTube for the Outcast trailer. To YouTube for both the title image and the trailer for People of Earth. To Comic Book for the Preacher title image, and to AMC on YouTube for the trailer. To TV Series Online for the Stranger Things title image, and to Netflix US & Canada on YouTube for the trailer. And to TV Series Finale for the Westworld title image, and to HBO on YouTube for the trailer.

February 24, 2017

What to make of the tentacled monster that killed Grandpa?

Date: Monday, February 27, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

Author: Ransom Riggs
Available from: Fine Booksellers, including Barnes & Noble
Meeting Location: Barnes & Noble #2352, 2nd Floor, 11323 W. 95th Street, Overland Park, KS 66214 

NOTE: All are welcome at the meeting, whether you've read the book or not!

Plot Overview from Schmoop:
"When Jacob Portman  . . . is young, he idolizes his Grandpa Abe, a man who was raised in an orphanage, fought in wars, and even performed in the circus. Grandpa Abe tells Jacob fantastic stories and shows him photos of peculiar children—invisible boys, strong girls, and people with mouths in the back of their heads. Jacob believes these tall tales until he gets old enough not to. Just as kids stop believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, Jacob stops believing in Grandpa's peculiar childhood.
"When Jacob is fifteen, his grandfather starts ranting and raving about monsters coming to get him. Jacob and his dad write it off as dementia. Big mistake: When Jacob goes to check on his grandfather, he finds him dead… and he comes face to face—well, face to tentacle—with the monster that killed him. Jacob's grandfather dies in Jacob's arms, but not before uttering the most cryptic last words since "Rosebud."
"No one believes that a monster killed Grandpa. (Official cause of death: rabid dogs.) Jacob starts having nightmares and slips into a deep depression. His psychiatrist, Dr. Golan, suggests he go to the island where Grandpa was raised, and maybe find the explanation behind his mysterious dying words.
"Jacob and his dad fly to Cairnholm Island, in Wales, and Jacob finds Miss Peregrine's home way out past the island's bogs. Snooping around the decaying estate, Jacob finds a cache of old photos like the ones Grandpa had. Maybe the tales were true?" 
Schmoop finishes the summary . . . but where would the fun in that be? (Of course, if you haven't had a chance to read it yet and want to join the discussion, it might come in handy). 

Do you have your copy of Mr. Adam yet?

Plan NOW for the next meeting, on March 27, 2017!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Trailer Addict for the cover image at the top, and to GoodReads for the second cover image. Many thanks to Abe Books for the Mr. Adam cover image.

February 21, 2017

Laser Rangers 2017 February Meeting

Jewels in the Crown of '50s Science Fiction: Redux edition - Cancelled
Movies will be decided at the event.   
Date: January 25, 2017
Time: 4:50pm
Location: David Sooby’s home theater with 51-inch Samsung HDTV, a 5.1 Surround Sound Dolby Digital sound system, a full set of audiophile-grade speakers, and upgraded seating for about 15 people without crowding.
Captain Laser: Ken Keller
Food: 50s TV Dinners
Costume: Casual

To learn more, please visit our Facebook Event Page.

A short or cartoon will precede our first feature!

Presented in stunning Blu-Ray high definition!

Day the Earth Stood Still

(1951, Appox. 92 minutes); Starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Billy Gray, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Frances Bavier

An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. 

Check out this awesome trailer.

Between features, we will have our traditional potluck. Please bring something that matches our food theme above or bring something for yourself.

Forbidden Planet

(1956, 98 minutes); Starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, & Robby the Robot

A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret one of them has.

A truly fantastic space epic. Rewind and watch this reimagined trailer!

The home of the Laser Rangers is located about four miles north of the Kansas Speedway, NW of the intersection of I-70 and I-435 on the Kansas side of the Greater Kansas City area.

IMAGE CREDITS: The information for all of these shows come from the invaluable IMDB. The movie posters come from Wikipedia or the movie's  respected distributors.

Thanks to Ken Keller for finding our movie trailers.  

The movie screen frame image used for the Laser Rangers contact information is courtesy of Psychology Today Online. Many thanks to these websites!

Graphic design for the modified Forbidden Planet poster done by Jan Gephardt. Art direction by Ty Gephardt.

February 18, 2017

Creative Corner: Mid-Winter Edition

Here's what KaCSFFS' Creative Friends have been doing lately!
Randal Spangler's booth
at a show in Florida.
After the Christmas/holiday season our creative friends contributed less news than usual. But you can't keep 'em down for long! Here are the latest updates, from the depths of the mid-winter "not-so-blahs."

Artists' News:
Randal Spangler 
Fantasy artist Randal Spangler is just back from a three-show January art fair tour in Florida that took him to Ft. Lauderdale, Cape Coral, and the Tampa Bay area.

His only February show was the Ward Parkway Mid-Winter Art Fair in Kansas City, MO, Feb. 10-12, 2017.

Three of Jan S. Gephardt's new multiple originals.
Jan S. Gephardt 
Fantasy paper sculptor Jan S. Gephardt has recently updated her Etsy Shop, Artdog Paper Sculpture, and created a Gallery Page of her current artworks on her website and her blog.

She also has announced the creation of several new multiple-original editions of fantasy paper sculpture.

Mitchell Bentley
Science fiction and fantasy illustrator Mitchell Bentley is one of the artists participating in the ARTECH show, "a multi-faceted demonstration
of the symbiotic relationship between technology and art." Exhibit dates: February 6-December, 2017.

"The Susquehanna Art Museum has selected original, museum-quality works of art, including interactive animation, interactive video projection, 3D printing, and digital painting." Mitch's work in the show includes four paintings and a fly-through video, Safe Haven. In case you'd like to see it, here it is:

The VanGo! Museum on Wheels, which houses the exhibition, was created in 1992 "as a response to the needs of a rural student population with limited exposure to museum-quality arts and crafts, the VanGo! Museum on Wheels has since grown into a valuable resource for the Central Pennsylvania region. . . . The current VanGo! Museum on Wheels is a 31-foot Winnebago Sightseer retrofitted with a gallery space. Visits include tours aboard the bus, group assemblies, and a group interactive. Exhibitions rotate on an annual basis."

These four artworks by Mitchell Bentley also are featured in the ARTECH Show.
Mitch also recently delivered four book covers. The cover for Judas Gene, by Gary Moreau, is his tenth for Yard Dog PressTyree Campbell at Alban Lake Publishing acquired the rights to two compositions Mitch had created previously. Fertility Temple Offerings (from Mitch's 2017 Calendar, also published by Alban Lake) is the cover art for Outposts of Beyond, January 2017. String Nebula II (from the 2014 Calendar) will become the cover for Christina Sng’s Astropoetry, due for release in late February. Lastly, Mitch just delivered the artwork for Earth Gamers, for indie author D.B. Schrock. This book is still in production, possibly due for release this spring.

Watch in coming weeks for a post in which Mitch shares wrap-around images, plus more of the background and "behind the scenes" stories of these covers!

Artists turned Actors:
David Lee Anderson
Longtime fantasy and science fiction artist-turned-actor David Lee Anderson will portray Homeless Man, in a film being shot in Oklahoma called Southern ChristmasThe film is directed by Harvey Lowry, and stars Bo Derek (10), Shelley Long (Cheers), JoeDon Rooney (of Rascal Flatts), and Brighton Sharbino (The Walking Dead), among others. This role, David Lee tells us, is "another one I get listed in the credits. My lovely wife Carolyn said I was born for this role."

Mitchell Bentley (Yes, again.)
As readers of Creative Corner are aware, Mitchell Bentley is a multi-talented guy. One of the non-artwork projects he's been involved with recently is stage work with Penn State's PenOwl Productions, working on fictionalized history for Black History Month.

A still from the new mini-series: Jaclyn Justice-Weyandt as
Dr. Lauren Fillipeli, Royce Essig as Capt. Royce W. McGregor,
and Mitchell Bentley as Cmdr. Gorin in Dark Operations.
Another new project has arisen for Mitch and his wife Cathie McCormick from previous work. Ten years ago Mitch acted in an indie sci-fi film, Dark Operations: A Dark Odyssey Begins. In that one, he played a leading role as Gorin the space pirate.

Rising Phoenix Productions has returned to this story. The company is currently filming and editing the first of three in a new mini-series titled Dark Operations: Terminus, Part I, Inferno. Some of the original footage will be incorporated in this new effort.

"It will tell the end of the long story arc, beginning with the trial of the surviving Captain from the original film," Mitch explains. "I am reviving my role as Gorin, who is now Ambassador Gorin of a previously-exiled pirate nation."

He adds: "The Rising Phoenix crew has learned a lot in the intervening 10 years, so this new series promises much higher production quality, with high quality acting and vastly improved editing. Both Cathie and I are also recording sound on set, and Cathie will be doing the film’s sound design, even as she finishes out her PhD. at Penn State on this very subject within the school of American Studies."

Writers' News:
Book Signing March 25, 2017
Robin Wayne Bailey, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and James Gunn
The Barnes & Noble Booksellers location on the Kansas City Country Club Plaza (420 W. 47th St., Kansas City, MO 64112) will host a book-signing for the humorous science fiction anthology Little Green Men--Attack!  on March 25, from 1-3 p.m. 

Available to sign autographs will be co-editors Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Robin W. Bailey, both of whom also have stories in the collection, as well as James E. Gunn, who wrote another of the collection's stories.

The anthology is set for release on March 7, when it will be available in bookstores and online.

William Mark Simmons
The third book in William Mark Simmons's Dreamland Chronicles series, The Woman of his Dreams, is now available in Kindle format--the first time ever as a separate volume. It also marks the full release of all three books in individual Kindle editions.

The "virtual boxed set" offers all three Kindle volumes for the price of two, meaning the third book is basically free. However, Mark adds, "please feel free to buy all three separately: more royalties for the author!"

James K. Burk
Production is in progress for James K. Burk's post-apocalyptic action/adventure novel The Long Way Home. Publisher WolfSinger Publications has not yet announced a release date.

IMAGES: The photo of Randal Spangler's booth in Florida is courtesy of Randy himself. The photos of artwork by Jan S. Gephardt and Mitchell Bentley were provided by the artists. The video Safe Haven was shared from Bentley's YouTube Channel. The still from Dark Operations is from the Rising Phoenix Productions' Dark Operations Facebook Page. The Capricon 37 poster is courtesy of the convention's website. Many thanks to Amazon, for the cover images for the Little Green Men--Attack! anthology, and for William Mark Simmons's The Woman of his Dreams

February 14, 2017

Games and Valentine Food for February's Meeting!

What: Monthly KaCSFFS Meeting
When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
6:00-Start setting up
7:00-Brief business meeting (if needed), then play tabletop games and socialize
9:30-End of meeting
Where: The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO 64111
Food Theme: Valentine-Style foods

Games, games, games
Bring your favorite tabletop games to share! SF or fantasy themes and family-friendly preferred, but if you think we'll enjoy it, bring it in! The Writers Place has tables on three different levels for a variety of playing places.
We won't have as many games as the MidAmericon II Gaming Department had, but there are a lot of tabletop games to enjoy. Bring your favorites to share Saturday!

Valentine-style foods
February has been our traditional "chocolate month," but not everyone likes (or can eat) chocolate, so think outside the box. This event also is not couples-only, so we welcome any heart-warming expression of edible love for your fellow KaXFEN!

Please bring a variety of food to share your KaXFEN love! This was our table in February 2012.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Jan S. Gephardt, who took both images. If you wish to use them, please include an attribution and a link back to this page.

February 07, 2017

Not Your Parents' Board Games: Power Grid and Dixit

Board Game Profiles continue! 
In January 2016, KaCSFFS member and notable board game collector David Means gave a presentation to the club about his collection. It was so interesting, I asked for permission to reprint it as a series of posts on this blog. He graciously agreed, and supplied me with his script. I have added the illustrations, hyperlinks, embedded videos, etc. as seemed appropriate. Jan S. Gephardt 

Power Grid
If you prefer auctions, you might enjoy Power Grid. Each turn, players bid for different types of power plants to power cities, then they must buy the fuel for their plants. 

Players must be careful in choosing their energy source—coal, oil, trash, nuclear, or wind—because if other players are using the same fuel, scarcity will drive up the price.

At the end of each turn players are paid based on the number of homes each one powers. If a player spends all their cash on fuel, they won’t have enough money in the next turn to buy a more efficient power plant. 

Players must carefully balance their income and expenses, and try to plan a few turns ahead to keep themselves as efficient as possible.

Players who enjoy word usage should try Dixit, which has some mechanics similar to Balderdash and Apples to Apples

One player is the storyteller for the turn, and looks at the images on the six cards in her hand. From one of these, she gives a cryptic clue (word, phrase, sound, etc.) and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players). 

The other players select the card in their hand which best matches the clue and give the selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. 
Some Dixit cards.

The storyteller shuffles her card with all the received cards. All pictures are turned face up and every player has to bet upon which picture was the storyteller’s.

If nobody or everybody finds the correct card, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. 

Otherwise, the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer score 3. 

Players score 1 point for every vote for their own card. The game ends when the deck is empty or if a player scores 30 points. In either case, the player with the most points wins the game.

The first two posts in this series covered more general topics that cover many types of games. They were published on June 4, 2016, and June 18, 2016and were well-received. The third, published on December 29, 2016, initiated a series of Game Profiles with a more in-depth view of Catan/The Settlers of Catan. The fourth, on Carcassone and Ticket to Ride, went live January 23, 2017. We hope you will continue to enjoy this series!

Many thanks to Board Game Geek for the Power Grid box cover design, and to Dad's Gaming Addiction for the photo of the board and playing pieces. 
Many thanks to Board Game Rules for the photo of the Dixit box, to Pinterest for the illustration of some of the Dixit cards, and to the review post on Shut Up & Sit Down for the photo of the game board and playing pieces.