The heat is getting unbearable (finally) — all the more reason to go inside and have some good, geeky fun. August is full of great options to beat the heat while celebrating the geek, from fantasy legends visiting Denver to a whirlwind of sharks. Here are the month's ten best geek events, in chronological order.
10) Terry Brooks: The Darkling Child
Terry Brooks is one of the most popular living fantasy authors, and his Shannara series is his flagship work. His latest, The Darkling Child, is a stand-alone novel in the series, focusing on Paxon leah, sworn protector of the Druid order, and the evil sorcerer Arcannen. The series now includes more than two dozen books — plus short stories — set in this fantastic world, which has to be some kind of record. Think of it this (geek) way: If you started reading the series when you enrolled your kid in first grade and managed two a year, you still wouldn't be done when you sent your kid off to college. That's a lot of elves. It's no wonder the guy is a legend!
Terry Brooks will read and sign The Darkling Child at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 4, at the Tattered Cover Colfax. Admission is free (the book is $28), but you'll need to come early — Brooks is very popular and seating is limited. Get more info at the Tattered Cover website.
9) Video Games Live
Video games are finally beginning to be recognized as an artistic medium, and part of the reason for that recognition is the undeniable quality of the music. There's no better showcase for that than Video Games Live, and the local iteration, featuring the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, will be a special one, with multiple composers — including Grammy winner Christopher Tin and Russell Brower of Blizzard Entertainment — on hand to conduct their own work. The show will feature a diverse selection of music from hits such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Halo, along with several world premieres, including a selection from the unreleased Banner Saga 2 from Colorado native Austin Wintory.
8) Travis Heermann: The Spirit of the Ronin
Celebrate local fantasy author Travis Heermann completing his Japanese mythology-infused Ronin trilogy and say farewell, all at once, at the launch party for Spirit of the Ronin. The final book in the series picks up where the last one left off — the Mongols have invaded Japan, and our hero Ken'ishi survived it. Even better news, he's no longer a ronin — he's found employ in the service of a powerful lord, who just so happens to be married to the woman Ken'ishi loves. Duty and desire collide, with plenty of magic sword action as well. In the days after the party, Heermann is leaving the country for an extended stay abroad, so if you ever wanted to meet the man behind this series, as well as the werewolf apocalypse novel The Wild Boys , this is your chance.
The party starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 6, at Hanson's Grill and Tavern. Admission is free; the book is $16.99, or $40 for a limited edition hardcover. For more info, visit the Spirit of the Ronin launch event page.
7) Films on Tap: Sharknado
What's that, up in the sky? A bird? A plane? Nope. It's a whirlwind full of sharks. To properly enjoy this movie, you're either going to need an overdeveloped sense of irony or a few stiff drinks — or both. You're on your own when it comes to the love of irony, but the Denver Film Society can definitely help with the drinks, and even offer a great drinking game tied to the movie. See a scary shark fin? Have a drink! Main character miraculously avoids death? Have a drink! Bad Jaws reference? Have a drink! By the time it's over, even Tara Reid's acting will seem bearable. Just plan ahead so you can get ahead after the Sharknado of booze has pummeled you senseless.
Drink and Sharknado at 10 p.m. Friday, August 14, at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11 or $8 for students/seniors and $7 for Denver Film Society members, and the first fifty people in the door get a free beer from Breckenridge Brewery. For tickets and more info, visit the Films on Tap: Sharknado event page.
6) Myths and Legends Con
Not every fandom is big enough to have its own con, but that's why there are events like Myths and Legends Con. This year's event focuses on Firefly, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Gaming, cosplay and a couple of themed dances will fill your days and nights, and a bevy of authors and artists will be on hand to talk about their work.
The con starts at 5 p.m. Friday, August 14, at the Ramada Plaza North. Tickets are $25.; for tickets and more information, including a full lineup of guests and a schedule, visit the Myths and Legends Con site.
5) Science Friction: Hackers
Jason Heller and Frank Romero's Science Friction series is offering up a special treat this month with Hackers. Just in time for the film's twentieth anniversary, look back at the film that made hackers seem several hundred times cooler and more fashionable than they would ever look in real life, all while throwing out the kind of meaningless technobabble and computer wizardry that makes all those goddamn CSI programs so unintentionally hilarious. That may sound like criticism, but keep in mind, Hackers was doing this stuff when almost no one had any idea at all what a computer could do or really looked like, so they get a big pass. Also, it has an impossibly young Angelina Jolie, plus Fisher Stevens on a skateboard.
4) Mile High Sci-Fi vs. Deep Blue Sea
Two words: smart sharks. Do you need to know anything else about Deep Blue Sea? Well, it also features one of the all-time great inspirational speeches in cinema history from Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J chasing a bird around an underwater base — and did I mention smart sharks? Oh, and the good folk of Mile High Sci-Fi will be on hand to lend their live, comedic upgrades, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style, to the film's already wacky hijinks.
See Mile High Sci-Fi take down Deep Blue Sea at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 20, at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $12.50. For tickets and more info, visit the Mile High Sci-Fi Deep Blue Sea event page.
3) Fantastique: The Dark Crystal
When Frank Romero and Jason Heller aren't busy bringing killer sci-fi to the Alamo with Science Friction, they spend their time bringing equally great fantasy films, like The Dark Crystal. Easily the creepiest and most terrifying film ever made using nothing but Muppets, The Dark Crystal was a landmark film for anyone who grew up in the '80s. Even if you weren't lucky enough to grow up in that feted decade, don't let that stop you from watching the last Gelflings try desperately to save their species and world from a dark, evil force. It probably won't warp you the way it did those of us who saw it as kids, but that doesn't mean you'll ever forget it.
2) Mondo X Chiller: Maniac Cop 2
It's a zombie movie. It's a "cop gone bad" movie. It's a movie where the cop who goes bad is a zombie. For about ten minutes, it has Bruce Campbell in it, and for all of it there's a pissed-off, undead cop killing the ever-living shit out of everyone in his path. It’s vintage ’80s sleaze and violence from William Lustig, one of the great, under-appreciated heroes of '80s sleaze and violence, and while it will not challenge you in any way, that doesn't mean you won't have a good time along the way.
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1) Film on the Rocks: Guardians of the Galaxy
Between Chris Pratt's impossibly charismatic performance and the film's zippy, lightweight take on space opera and comic-book tropes, Guardian of the Galaxy became an almost instant classic. Sure, it was just last summer that you were seeing it in theaters the first time, but does that mean it's too early to close out your summer with a sweet, outdoor screening on Denver's biggest stage? No, it doesn't. Throw in musical performances by Kaleo and Bluebook and you have a great, geeky way to start the long, slow slide into autumn.
The Guardians of the Galaxy evening starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday, August 31, at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Tickets start at $12; for tickets and more info, visit the FOTR: Guardians of the Galaxy event page.