This week Sam takes Danielle on an adventure through the 2004 made for TV movie The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. If you take Indiana Jones, mash it up with Warehouse 13, add Noah Wyle and a touch of historical mysticism, you’ll get something akin to The Librarian. Flynn is a perpetual student with an unbelievable 22 academic degrees, a fact Sam refuses to accept. When he’s forced out of school by his teacher, for some reason, he struggles to find purpose until a magic letter invites him to a job interview at a library. At the interview, Flynn spouts some nonsense and then a magical Bob Newhart as Judson appears from a wall to tell him he’s hired. Bob shows Flynn around the library, which is really more a heavily guarded museum of mystical artifacts, and also the Mona Lisa for some reason. This “secure” facility is immediately broken into by a librarian splinter group—which must be the least intimidating kind of splinter group—and a piece of a powerful spear artifact is stolen. Instead of actually trying to recover the stolen spear piece, Flynn is instead sent to track down the two other spear pieces which, until now, have been safely hidden in other locations because the spear was too powerfully dangerous to be kept in one piece. Predictably, things don’t go smoothly as Flynn and his sexy bodyguard Nicole go to the Amazon to recover the spear, but Sam is more upset that they even launched this unnecessary quest to begin with. Things only get more ridiculous as stupid evil plans collide with stupid good plans and no one seems to do any actual librarian work. All we can say is: Snake, Snake! Snake, Snake!
This week Danielle takes Sam through the truly bizarre finale of the 2020 Ernest Cline novel Ready Player Two. Wade Watts is trapped in the OASIS in his ONI VR headset by Anorak and his “infirmware” and is being forced by Anorak to find the seven shards hidden by Halliday on various media worlds Kira—the late wife of Ogden and romantic obsession of Halliday—had a hand in creating. And if that sentence doesn’t sum up Ready Player Two, nothing does. The purpose of this latest scavenger hunt is still unclear, but Wade now has 12 hours to complete it before he dies, so naturally he completely ignores the help offered by his biggest fan L0hengrin. Wade and his friends set off to various media worlds, including the not-much-of-a-challenge school world, and the fever dream of the Prince world. Eventually, Wade figures out that Anorak wants the shards because he—the A.I. consciousness of Halliday—wants to use the shards to resurrect an A.I. consciousness of Kira which Halliday created without her consent. Anorak wants to live in eternal bliss with this A.I. Kira even though she never loved Halliday, even when reconstituted virtually. We won’t spoil how the space ship full of frozen embryos figures into all this, but it’s wild. Anyway, Wade and his friends find a convenient magic sword that Ogden, and only Ogden for some reason, can use to defeat Anorak, and embark on a pretty simple heist to free Ogden and bring him to the Oasis to fight Anorak. All of this is pretty standard, but then Wade discovers there are A.I. scans of every person who has used an ONI device, and his solution to this is probably the most ridiculous, and most irresponsible, part of the whole book, which is really saying something.
This week Danielle starts Sam on a VR adventure with the 2020 Ernest Cline novel Ready Player Two. In this sequel to Ready Player One, Wade Watts is the freshly minted owner of the OASIS, a massive virtual realty universe that dominates the cultural and commercial landscape of a dystopian Earth. That’s when Wade’s late predecessor, Halliday, sends him a hitherto unknown technology: The ONI, a neural interface VR system for the OASIS that kills you if you use it too long. This all sounds great to Wade who immediately launches it as a commercial product, and this is why Danielle and Sam feel that you probably shouldn’t pick the successor to your multi-billion dollar essential planetary infrastructure via pop culture scavenger hunt. At this point, a new scavenger hunt appears in the OASIS, seemingly just for Wade and created by Halliday (seriously, does he have any other ideas?). Wade is tasked with finding seven shards but is stumped by the clue and so kinda just ignores if for a few years, like a true hero. During that time, Wade finds his friends divided over the ethics of the ONI devices, and Wade drifts away from Samantha, his girlfriend for all of a week, due to her reservations. Finally, a fan of Wade’s, L0hengrin, clues him into where the first shard is, and helps him recover this first quest item. Things only get weirder from here, and that’s without mentioning the Olympic swimming pool’s worth of 80’s and 90’s pop culture references to slog through, or the spaceship full of frozen embryos. Sam has many questions, and while there are few answers in part one, we can only hope part two will shed some light on his most burning question: How big a jerk was Halliday? (Spoiler: absolutely massive).
This week Sam shares the conclusion of the supremely weird 1967 Dodie Smith book The Starlight Barking. Pongo and his brood are still wrestling with what’s going on while the rest of the world, aside from dogs, sleeps. Finally deciding Cruella de Vil might be involved, the dogs, a cat, and Tommy sneak into her house, some with the intent of just straight-up murdering her. Although the air is filled with pepper, Cruella is asleep and the dogs are relieved that’s she not involved, and, much to Sam’s consternation, that’s the last we’ll hear of her during the story. Back at Downing Street, a mysterious light appears on the TV and commands all the dogs in England to appear in Trafalgar Square at midnight to receive an explanation for all the strange goings on. When asked questions, the voice provides answers that are less than useless before rushing off. At midnight, the dogs gathered in the Square experience euphoria and then utter terror as a bright light descends into the square. It’s the Lord of Sirius the dog star come to offer all the dogs a permanent home on Sirius to live forever in total bliss. The star lord’s reasons for making this offer are crazy, as is the stipulation that it will be an all-or-nothing deal so all dogs are to go or none at all. For some reason, the dogs elect Pongo to make the decision on their behalf. Despite all the supposedly high stakes, Danielle and Sam are really much more interested in the pressing question: What the heck happened to the missing Roly Poly?
This week Sam brings the little-known sequel to The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the 1967 Dodie Smith novel The Starlight Barking. Dalmatian heroes Pongo and Missis have retired to the countryside at Hell Hall with their massive brood, but Pongo is feeling restless for his previous life of adventure. That’s when he wakes one morning to find the entire world asleep except for dogs, and no amount of barking will wake any other creature. He and Missis venture forth to investigate, and find that doors and gates obligingly open for them as they approach. Soon they learn they can communicate telepathically with other dogs and float, a.k.a “swoosh”. At this point, Danielle is just about done with this nonsense. Still, Sam presses on and explains how all the dalmatians have been called to London to form a dalmatian army by their daughter Cadpig who, as the prime minister’s pet, is acting as the prime minister for dogs. There are still no clues as to why any of this has happened, but as the dogs enter London Pongo and Missis notice a sign for Cruella de Vil’s new business, leading Danielle and Sam to believe she’s somehow behind this. The dogs ignore this obvious threat and proceed to 10 Downing Street to partake in a cabinet meeting. Seriously, this is the most boring dog reaction to an apocalypse that has ever been. Danielle continues to spin her own theories as to what is happening since the dogs seem utterly uninterested in investigating on their own. Still, there’s a floating tractor and a young boy who speaks a kind of pidgin dog, so the book has that going for it.
This week Sam brings Danielle back to the heady days of 2003 with the movie Agent Cody Banks. Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) is your average 15-year-old boy, except he was scooped up, in what has the be the most slipshod CIA training program ever, to become a youth agent. Why was Cody chosen for this prestigious role? We don’t know, and neither does the CIA. Nonetheless, when the evil organization E.R.I.S. is planning on using the nanobots invented by Dr. Albert Connors for…something evil probably, the CIA taps Cody to foil their evil plan. Using all the suave and subtlety of a teenage boy, Cody is to befriend Dr. Connor’s daughter Natalie (Hilary Duff) to secure an invention to her upcoming Las Vegas themed birthday party and attempt to…talk to Dr. Connors? Honestly, all the plans in this movie are as straightforward as an Escher drawing and not nearly as well composed. Now Cody must overcome his greatest weakness, talking to girls, and become the top agent the CIA has been training him to be for all of the past two summers so he can save the world (or something).
Correction: Hilary Duff did not appear in the sequel Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. We regret the error and apologize to Ms. Duff and her family for any pain this characterization may have caused. Our bad.
In the first full episode of the new year, Sam shares with Danielle the 1999 Antonio Banderas film The 13th Warrior. When Ahmad, an Arabic poet, is caught canoodling with a courtier’s wife, he is exiled in the form of being sent out of his home as an ambassador. An ambassador to where? That doesn’t matter, because he immediately hooks up with a band of Vikings who are called on a quest to stop an ancient evil from destroying some other Vikings. Sam doesn’t really get it either. The point is, Ahmad will have to learn to get along with his new friends if they’re to accomplish their mission. In his journey, Ahmad will get to know the Viking people, more than Sam at least, who still can’t remember a single one of their names. Ahmad will find love, hear tales of dragons, and deal with Viking political intrigue, and if you think all of those things aren’t immediately discarded by the movie as irrelevant, then this movie will surprise you. Don’t worry though, the film has plenty of cave bear-people who love retreating through the mist while hissing to keep things wacky.
This week special guest Marci, of the Colored Pages Bookclub podcast, brings M.K. England’s young adult space adventure novel The Disasters to share with Danielle and Sam. Immediately after being expelled from a moon-based space academy, self-hating hot-shot pilot Nax Hall and his friends find the academy under attack by mysterious forces. Making their escape to the space colonies to hide, they slowly uncover a sinister plot by an extremely well-branded terrorist organization to wipe out the settlements. While that’s pretty terrible, Sam and Danielle are much more preoccupied with the unexpected appearance of space goats and their differing opinions on love triangles. Nonetheless, our hapless adventurers set out to foil the evil plan, and boy are we glad they didn’t skip leg day.
Check out the Colored Pages Book Club podcast on Instagram @TheseColoredPages and Twitter @TheColoredPages, and listen on Stitcher, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.
This week Sam concludes the sci-fi romp Ringworld by Larry Niven. With Teela Brown careening off into the unknown, Luis Wu and his remaining alien friends set out to find her, before immediately falling into a trap. Here they meet Halrloprillalar Hotrufan (a name Sam cannot pronounce) who is a surviving Ringworld engineer from before their civilization fell. Will she provide valuable insights and a advanced knowledge that helps our bumbling adventurers? Not really, she’s mostly just another sex object for Luis, who has seemed to have forgotten all about Teela Brown. Fortunately, Luis has a plan to escape Ringworld, which he inexplicably will not share with any of his companions. Will Luis’ ridiculous plan work to free them of Ringworld? Is Teela better off without Luis? (Yes.) Don’t worry if you can’t remember anything that happened in the previous part, neither can Danielle.
This week Sam continues his exploration of the book Ringoworld by Larry Niven. Louis Wu and his motley crew have crash-landed on the Ringworld and it’s time to explore! But first, they must discuss, at length, their various theories about the world and also a bit of inter-galactic politics. As they zoom around the strange mega-structure, they encounter ruined cities, people reverted to savagery, murderous sunflowers, and floating castles, but Louis’ and Teela’s top priority is to have sex just about everywhere. The truth of Teela’s luck will come out, and our intrepid heroes will make some truly impressive leaps in logic that are somehow always right, when they’re not bickering, that is. Will the mysteries of the Ringworld and the fall of its civilization be revealed? Well, there’s a third part for a reason.