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Staff Picks Category: Action

All Systems Red by Martha Wells []



A charming story about a heavily weaponized semi-biological robot that calls itself “Murderbot”? Yes! An armed and armored security unit that has hacked its governor-module allowing it to act independently may sound like the terrifying killer robot from a “kill all humans” story from the age of classic sci-fi, but in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries the AI in question is an awkward and kind-hearted, if incredibly sarcastic and anti-social, hero of an extended coming-of-age story. Murderbot just wants to be left alone to enjoy its favorite serials on the entertainment feed, but life keeps getting in the way and in the process Murderbot grows as a person, forming relationships and learning more about what it means to be alive than it could ever know from The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon or Timestream Defenders Orion.

The series begins with All Systems Red, a short novella that introduces Murderbot and some of the key humans who will play a part in its life. The series continues with Artificial Condition and is now a series of six books, with more on the way. Highly recommended.

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The Fifty Review Club: An Unconventional Post []



Fifty Films

I was glancing at the sidebar on the Forbes Staff Picks Blog and noticed that the number fifty was next to my initials. Fifty reviews. Moments later I was ushered into a secret room in the Forbes Library (of course it was revealed by pulling a book back in the stacks!) and was presented with a spread like no other, a Swedish massage and a gold plated computer mouse. Confetti spilled from the ceiling and Philadelphia’s own Todd Rundgren (he really liked my review of A Wizard, A True Star) performed a private concert.

This celebration got me thinking; perhaps I should do something “fifty” related now that I’m a member of the Fifty Review Club. A detailed synopsis of50 First Dates ? Haven’t seen it. An overview of 50 Cent’s discography? I’m unfamiliar. Then I thought perhaps I ought to make a list. People who work at libraries love lists! I’ve come up with fifty films that mean something to me that are in our collection (just click on the titles to see the record in the catalog) and have decided to quickly free associate. I’ve limited myself to stay under ten words and type the first thing that pops into my head. See you at the 100th party. -JSM

8 1/2 -I’ve had dreams like this
24 Hour Party People -the Manchester scene as told by Tony Wilson
2001: A Space Odyssey -the effects are still unrivaled
Arthur -a drunken love story
Atlantic City -lemons
After Hours -one of those really bad nights out
Badlands – “Love is Strange”
Blue Velvet -wha!!!????
The Blues Brothers -My first favorite film
Breathless -jump cuts
California Split -Gould & Segal roll the dice
Le Cercle Rouge -reds & blues
Claire’s Knee -yup, this has got to be French
Do The Right Thing -crazy thought provoking potboiler
Don’t Look Now -I still can’t believe that ending
Down By Law“I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”
Duck Soup -comedy 101
F For Fake -magic tricks
The Fearless Vampire Killers -gory/funny
Gosford Park -Stephen Fry as Inspector Thompson in the third act
Hannah and Her Sisters -Woody at his best
A Hard Day’s Night -black & white Beatlemania
The Householder -a loving film about arranged marriage
The Jerk -“he hates cans!”
Joe Versus The Volcano -listen to this
Key Largo -Bogey & Bacall & Robinson
The Long Goodbye -the sleepy Philip Marlowe
The Lost Weekend -writer’s block anyone?
Meek’s Cutoff -remember “the Oregon Trail” video game?
Nosferatu the Vampyre -spooky Kinski
Opening Night -going off the script
Paper Moon -cute grifter’s tale
Playtime -Hulot tries to get a job
Rosemary’s Baby -“tannis anyone?”
Rushmore -a coming of age story like no other
The Rutles: All You Need is Cash -the best telling of the Beatles
The Science of Sleep -arts and crafts
A Serious Man -Jefferson Airplane
Simon of the Desert -the funniest religious film
Small Change -one of the few realistic portrayals of children
Smiles of a Summer Night -wait, Bergman’s funny??
The Squid and the Whale -Pink Floyd plagiarism
Straw Dogs -a violent film that strongly advocates nonviolence
Sullivan’s Travels -Sturges makes a road movie
They All Laughed -an ingredient in the Wes Anderson formula
The Thin Man -my favorite detective couple
Time Bandits -a must see for all young adults
The Two of Us -here come the waterworks
Vertigo -the old switcheroo
Walkabout -Roeg in the outback

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Burn Notice []



This action-packed TV series stars Jeffrey Donovan as agent Michael Westen who receives a burn notice or termination notice. He wakes up in Miami with no money or identification, trapping him there until whoever burned him decides otherwise. While trying to figure out who is responsible for his burn notice, Michael helps people in trouble, using his unique skills gained as a spy. Co-stars include Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) and Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey).

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