Terminator Dark Fate [Review]


One thing should be made clear about this film: this is not a Terminator movie. It does have the name Terminator in the title. It also has three of the iconic characters from the film series: Sarah Connor, John Connor, and the dreaded T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, it’s a less than five minute, hood-winked beginning that is meant to completely shatter everything we know about the franchise since T2. Spoiler alert: John Connor gets killed by another rogue, T-800 future-bot. With that, we, the audience, are left to pick up the pieces with Sarah Connor as she and we try to make sense of our purpose for being here in the first place.

Skynet doesn’t happen, which is good, but this movie can’t go on without another future robot war to come in and fuck up our present to secure its future. The new robot adversary is Legion; and while they may look like Skynet, and act like Skynet the movie insists that they be called Legion, so you better just roll with it.

Legion (not Skynet) has sent back a killer robot that is probably one of the coolest killer robots this franchise has invented yet: The Rev9 (played by Gabriel Luna). Its mission: to kill Dani (played by Natalia Reyes), a Mexican daughter of blue collar manufactures who will lead the future resistance against Legion in a Halo style guerrilla war that might’ve made a better video game than movie. However, as luck would have it, the resistance has also sent back a champion: a cybernetically enhanced human, Grace (played by Mackenzie Davis), to protect Dani from this killer machine.

Along the way (and on the run), Grace and Dani meet up with Sarah Connor who looks like the grizzled, steely-eyed, military grandma I’ve always wanted to see on film. Linda Hamilton reprising her role as Sarah Connor plays the character so beautifully that it made me wonder if the potential had been wasted and had ought had been imported into a different film altogether.

And, of course, it’s required by law in the Terminator universe to include another T-800 (again, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), despite the fact that Skynet is no longer active in this new continuity arc the film is spinning.

While there were a lot of pleasant surprises that had offset the shockingly brutal beginning of the film, I was left feeling a similar sense of deja vu that mirrored my feelings of the previous film Terminator Genysis. In Genysis one of the major characters –  Kyle Reese – is changed from a warrior lover sent from the future into a third-wheel, sperm donor that had no business being sent back in the first place. The Genysis reboot had a young Sarah Connor that could clearly handle herself and didn’t need protection or a love interest to survive the horrors of killer, time traveling robots.

In the same vein, Terminator Dark Fate slays more sacred cows like young John Connor and robbing Sarah Connor of any real purpose in the film. Her character is relegated to being a tag along, whose usefulness barely matches up to the cybernetically enhanced Grace.

However, no character was more redundant than the T-800. Its flimsy reasons for being in the film, along with its more flimsy reasons for helping out Grace and the others were so contrived and ridiculous that I had to hold back laughter just trying to wrap my head around the idea. Like Sarah, the T-800 is simply extra cannon fodder for the Rev9 to tear a part while Grace does all the actual work of destroying the Legion-bot.

Ultimately, the real story is about Dani and Grace. This film is focusing on two new characters in a franchise that has been long dead since Terminator 3. Ironically, the most relevant and even best parts about this movie are the stories and characters that have nothing to do with the Terminator franchise at all. This is not a Terminator movie revolving around Sarah Connor, John Connor and their fight against Skynet. It’s a Legion movie about Grace and Dani, and their fight against the Rev9. Perhaps no one was going to watch a movie called Legion, but they got plenty of people to go see a movie called Terminator (though perhaps not enough judging by the box office numbers).

In the end, this film obviously didn’t want to be a Terminator movie, and that’s okay. Maybe instead of Terminator Dark Fate it should have been called Legion: A Terminator Chronicle instead, and just cut Sarah Connor, the T-800, and that whole mess of a beginning out all together. Maybe then this franchise could get the newer, more receptive audience they wanted all along and not the over the hill fans like me who wonder why they showed up in the first place.

Personal Favorite Books of the Decade (2000-2009) [Hard Drive Archive]

My Post (1)

Authors Note: This post was written in late 2009. Looking back on this list, I’d change a few things, but I mostly agree with the posts. I plan on writing a new top ten list of the decade before this year is over.

Finals are finally over, for the next three weeks I’m resigning myself to a life of intellectual atrophy. No more essays, no more tests, and no more labs.

This has been a decade of upheaval with the recent US elections, Middle Eastern Wars and Financial crisis’ that has brought out a great decade for books. Since I’ve only got a fourteen day window to put this out and I haven’t seen anybody else doing this sort of thing I’ve decided to compile a list (you’re probably thinking “Christ not another one!”). A list of what I thought to be the top ten books of this decade. Enjoy and feel free to give me some feedback on what I possibly missed out over the past ten years and scoff at my poor taste.

10. Boy Toy by Barry Lyga (2007) – A Young Adult Novel written during the height of the female teacher scandals that occurred in Middle America, Boy Toy tells the story of Josh Mendel a 12-year-old seventh grader who is sexually abused by his attractive History Teacher Eve. Though the story begins during Josh’s senior year in high school, several years after Eve’s arrest, the story comes to the reader in the form of flashbacks detailing the events of his original crush on Eve leading up to her manipulation of and abuse of Josh. For a Young Adult Novel it covers a very adult issue having to do with sexual abuse and if it wasn’t for the controversy surrounding this book, I probably would’ve have neither heard of it nor picked it up. Despite the media hype (orchestrated or not) built up around this novel it covered an all too familiar issue that involved a switching of gender roles. Both risky moves on the authors part, but allowed a unique kind of story to be told here, which helped restored my faith in the YA genre, proving that it’s not just reserved for high school angst dramas and vampires.

9. Anathem by Neal Stephenson (2008) – A good example of world building in sci-fi if I’ve seen any, Anathem tells the story of the unique world (known as the planet Abre) that is ruled by a technologically advanced Theocratic-Republic world body. All forms of intellectual pursuit are considered heretical. Reading is deemed antisocial and in other parts of the world illegal and the citizenry’s only form of stimulation is watching television, surfing the net or embracing a Christian style of religion dominate on Abre. Those that are considered “antisocial” or “Heretics” are placed in small monastery-like communes around Abre, where advanced technology of all forms is forbidden and priest-like professors are allowed to practice the arts of math, the sciences and of course read. However, trouble on Abre is brewing when a giant spaceship like colony comes within Abre’s orbit and begins to disrupt the planets communications and kills a high ranking religious leader that attempts to make contact with the alien race. Enter Fra Erasmas, a young academic priest, together with a team of those assembled inside and outside the communes that are tasked with understanding and neutralizing of the threat orbiting above them. Anathem is a great globe-trotting adventure, which combines the elements of math and meta-physics throughout the story. The only major drawback is that it is a near 1000 page novel (and the main story doesn’t even begin until around 350!) making it a very slow read for some people. The book also comes with its own glossary of words since the inhabitance of Abre have their own slang and words for certain devices (a cellphone for example is instead called a Jejay). A great Stephenson novel, but not the most accessible novel and certainly not recommended for first time readers of Stephenson.

8. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (2001) – Another YA novel on this list was one of my favorite fantasy series during my middle school years (please don’t kill me J.K Rowling D: !). Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius living in Ireland and heir to a vast criminal empire after the disappearance of his father before the events of the novel. Hoping to bolster the family fortune and gain enough wealth to begin searching for his dad Artemis devises a plan to extort gold from the inhabitants of New Heaven, the last refuge of fairy kind, hidden deep underground and away from human eyes. To do this Artemis and his dangerous bodyguard Butler capture a prominent fairy. One who is part of a special team tasked with maintaining law and order in New Heaven and help preserve the city’s secrecy from human society Captain Holly Short. After Artemis secures Holly in his Fortress like Manor it becomes a game of siege and cat and mouse as Holly’s superiors try to retrieve her and capture Artemis while Holly tries to escape Fowl Manor and overcome Artemis’ psychological mind games. The sequels (up until the third book anyway) aren’t too bad either.

7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) – Considered by many critics to be the man’s best work, The Road tells a story of a Father and his son (simply named The Man and The Boy) as they traverse a post-apocalyptic world where the sun has been blotted out and all vegetation has rotted away. It’s not clear whether this world is the product of an ecological disaster or a meteor, but that quickly becomes irrelevant. All of your attention is placed in the Father armed with a revolver with only three bullets and his Son as they try to make their way to the coast in the hopes that the last bit of civilization left is there with food and shelter. This has to be one of the bleakest books I’ve ever read, the detail that McCarthy devotes to describing the landscape (“black snow over grey fog, not a single leave on a tree…”) and the fact that the two are constantly on the run from cannibals makes you wonder why these two keep going. However, at the heart of the story is one about a Father teaching his son how to survive and the Son trying to preserve what little humanity that is left in his cynical benefactor. It is a great novel and well worth the read, but it is a book that seems it was only meant to be read once.

6. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (2003) – The father of cyberpunk made a splash with this book back in 2003 when he released this and proved to me that science fiction can be set in the world of the contemporary. Pattern Recognition is the story about Cayce Pollard a marketing consultant for Blue Ant, who has an allergic reaction to brands and logos, is tasked with finding a person that is responsible for uploading a set of bizarre promotional videos onto the internet. Her adventure takes her from London to Tokyo and ending in Moscow as the videos hold the key to not only helping her mysterious employer’s earn lots of money, but also a group of NGOs whose motives are not at all clear and in some cases not even human, but both don’t mind using Cayce as a pawn to help reach their goals.

5. Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein (2009) – One can say that over the past few years there has been a glut in the market on documentary style books on Japan that consist mostly of poking fun at the inherent weirdness (panty vending machines and people marrying anime characters to name a few) of the country or are some self-help-spiritually-lacking-American-finds-himself-in-Japan crap that you could open a library in the genres honor. This one however, I can say is a wonderful exception. A book that has given poor gaigin like myself a glimpse into the world of crime and punishment in the city of Tokyo. In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein with an eye for detail and with a hardboiled sensibility, writes of his exploits as a reporter working for the prestigious national newspaper Yomiuri Shinbun during the 1990s as he worked with Japanese police officers and detailed their often dangerous and yet quid-pro-quo relationship with the Yakuza. It’s a story that not only covers what it’s like to be often the only Caucasian in a newsroom but also the limitations of the Japanese police department and their inability to combat the Yakuza, partially due to the consequences of the post WWII treaties made with the United States.

4. Genshiken by Kio Shimoku (2003) – A Japanese manga (or comic book) series which brought me to the attention of the anime fan Otaku sub-culture and how I got drawn into this whole mess. Genshiken tells the story of Kanji Sasahara a freshman in college as he gets drawn into the world of the Otaku (nerd) culture of video games, anime and manga. It is one of the few slice of life comedies to make it here in the States where the author knows how to bring laughter on both ends of the Pacific. Spanning eight volumes, Sasahara and his misfit friends deal with the world of fanboyism, maintaining relationships with other women, the finer points of Model Kit assembly and the odd world of erotic fan fiction (yeah…they do go there). It’s a series that may not be for everyone, but there are guaranteed laughs to be found here and has a great sitcom like vibe (and I mean that in a good way) that will make you want to jump to the next volume as soon as you’re finished with the first one.

3. Market Forces by Richard Morgan (2005) – A story of Laissez-Faire economics gone horribly wrong and set in 2049 London during a worldwide economic depression known as the “Domino Recessions.” Market Forces follows the main character Chris Faulkner who has just earned his way into a coveted position in the company of Shorn and Associates. The company specializes in a service known as Conflict Investment, where the company picks a third world country going through civil unrest chooses a side and backs them with money, weapons and logistical support in return for a cut of the nations GDP after the war is over. However, as Chris learns in this nightmarish dystopia if you want to keep your job you’ll also have to be willing to beat out your competition, even it means killing your colleagues on the way to work. What follows is a story revolving around a guerilla war in Colombia, Chris’ wife Carla who wants to get both of them out of Shorn, a female news reporter who wants more than just an interview from Chris and the Shorn executives who want to keep Chris and his impressive kill record right where he is. Market Forces is a modern day fable, showing the reader that in a world where profits and resources are the ultimate end, nobody is an angel.

2. Jennifer Government by Max Barry (2003) – When it comes to the literary world there aren’t enough Femme Fatals in publishing, Max Barry changed all of that when he released this gem of a novel taking place in a slightly more upbeat corporate-dystopia. This satire takes place in the near future where the United States through military or economic strong arming has taken over all of North and South America, South Asia, Russia, the U.K, Japan and Australia (newly acquired) and effectively making them U.S territories while economically quarantining the so called “Socialist” or “Economically Risky” nations. In this future all taxes have been abolished, the U.S government’s power has been completely stripped of its judicial and military authority leaving both to be completely privatized and everyone’s surname is that of the company they work for. Hack Nike isn’t the most competent or the most confident employee, but when his superior John Nike promises Hack a higher post, it become an offer he can’t refused. However, after signing a contract without reading it, Hack becomes an unwitting volunteer to commit murder in order to increase the street cred of Nike’s latest shoe line. Things only get worse of Hack as he then incurs the wrath of the notorious Jennifer Government, known for her taste in small arms and a barcode tattoo under her right eye. In this explosive globe trotting adventure Jennifer must leave her comfy home in Melbourne in order to protect Hack from John Nike as he sends the Police and the NRA (both now for-profit mercenary groups) to kill his only witness, but for Jennifer it’s just another day on the job. At the same time two of the world’s largest corporate conglomerates, US Alliance and Team Advantage are preparing for an all war over control of the greatest cash boon imaginable: credit card holders. Jennifer Government is a slightly funnier take on the scenario of capitalism-gone-too-far compared to Market Forces and is able to keep a balance of comic relief and seriousness throughout.

1. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (2002) – Having this guy on this list twice should probably be against the rules, but for my money, he deserves these spots in the top three. Altered Carbon was Mr. Morgan’s first novel and showed me that William Gibson isn’t the only author who can write cyberpunk. Set during the mid-26th century, humans have mastered interstellar travel and the ability to digitize the mind. This allows personalities and a lifetimes worth of memories to be stored or copied into processing units known as “Stacks” and can be inserted or “Sleeved” into new bodies (physically or remotely using interstellar communication), effectively ending the notion of death for those that can afford it. For the UN however, the process of sleeving has turned into an effective tool in order to clamp down and maintain dominance over the growing prescience of newly taraformed colonies. For Takeshi Kovacs, a UN Envoy, bred and designed in the arts of charismatic persuasion and combat it’s he and others like him who get the call when a colony is thrown into a state revolutionary fervor. Kovacs after being discharged is killed on Harlan’s World after a run in with the local cops, but finds himself resleeved in a new handsome body on Earth and is flown to San Francisco on request by the seemingly immortal and very wealthy Laurens Bancroft who’s in need of a private investigator. Bancroft came home one night, blew his head off with a gun destroying his stack, but had a remote back-up ready with the only inconvenience being that he’s lost the past 48 hours of his memory. However, Laurens doesn’t buy the official story and it’s up to Kovacs to find out what happened during that 48 period and find the person that murdered Bancroft. From there the story takes an interesting turn as Kovacs explores the criminal underbelly of America’s West Coast for answers revealing dark secrets to Bancroft’s past, the person who once the owned the body that he’s now in possession of and running into an old comrade turned enemy. It’s a story that brings up an interesting question: in a world where the human body is just as disposable as the mind, is our existence nothing more than a commodity to be traded with? And can the mind even tell what is and isn’t reality in a world where the digital and the real flow seamlessly together? Morgan manages to bring these questions to light as we follow Kovacs through death, inner demons and eventually closure in this noir-styled sci-fi mystery. Morgan does something here in this novel that is hard to do: make familiar ground in the world of science fiction fresh again, which is why I feel Altered Carbon deserves the number one spot.

Happy Holidays and feel free to post what you thought were the best books to come out this decade.

Gina The Succubus [Excerpt]

Gina never thought she’d be a selling perfume to humans, but here she was. A succubus whose pheromones tempted men and women alike was now selling toned down (and in most cases inferior), chemical amalgamations of products she could emit just by sweating.

That didn’t mean that the job was bad, far from it. But the wings, horns, and yes, pheromones had to be tucked away and hidden when she put on her blouse and Armani suit everyday for work. She wasn’t suppose to be on Earth right now, and any supernatural would have loved to have her deported.

However, the risk was worth it. Gina was no longer slaving away on a grave farm in Hell, but she was getting paid a commission at the cosmetics section of the local Amazon Outlet Mall just outside of Austin. And business was fucking amazing.

Read My Short Story “The It” in the New TLDR Press Anthology Today! [Announcement]


It’s finally here!

The title may be called “Nope,” but do I want you to buy it? Yes! You can download the ebook here to read my short story “The It” and support the Pilcrow Foundation while you’re at it!

While you’re also on amazon, you can download or order a copy of the previous anthology I got into earlier this year, and read my first published short story “Catherine and the Wasteland.” I’ll provide the links again here:

Read the full version of “The It” here.

Read the full version of “Catherine and the Wasteland” here.

Hope you enjoy both and drop me a comment or an e-mail to tell me what you think of it! And as always thanks again for your support!


Philip N.R Hauser

My Short Story / Flash Fiction “The It” will be Published in the Latest TLDR Press Horror Quarterly this Fall + Novel Update [Announcement].


Hi Everyone!

Also, yes, it’s true, “The It” is definitely being published! It might look like I’ve just been binge watching Halloween films (at least according to my twitter feed), but I’ve also been hard at work writing! Also, it is October and that’s the one month out of the year where binge watching scary movies is given a free pass in my corner of the world without being thought of as a total weirdo so…

Anyway, TLDR Press has been very kind to accept this story that started as a vague nightmare that I woke up from back in September. It’s a bit unsettling, if not miraculous, that that situation somehow made its way to being expressed as a piece of publishable fiction (though, to be fair, I was also on a deadline and no other ideas were panning out).

It wasn’t easy, but it was certainly doable. Special thanks to my assigned editor — David Clark — for helping me clean up the prose and asking me the right questions. Additional, special thanks, also goes to the curators Camden Collins, Joe Butler and the rest of the editors at TLDR Press who helped make this happen!

TLDR Press has been a great publication to work with in the past, especially when it comes to my previous works like Catherine and the Wasteland (which you can find in TLDR Press’s first anthology here) and my essay on drafting a novel.

(By the way: they also have a woman’s anthology out right now featuring all female writers that you ought to buy, too, because it’s going to endometriosis research)

“The It” will be published in the TLDR Press Horror Anthology which is set to come out later this month. There will definitely be announcements made here and on Twitter as soon as both the ebook and the physical copy make their collective debuts.

I’m also still working on Spymancer and hope to be done with this beast of an urban-fantasy-cyberpunk-spy-thriller novel by the end of this year. I’m up to nearly 80,000 words now after slashing over 40,000 during the First Draft Purge of Words (like I need the extra work, ugh).

Happy for all of you that continue to stick around to read my stuff and hopefully you still will! I wish you all the best and thanks again!


Philip N.R Hauser

P.S. In Spring 2019 I plan on drawing again, too. Really excited!

[Short Story] The It [Excerpt]


It’s still hard to believe that something so ugly and useless looking destroyed our town in just a matter of days. It turned everyone here into its slaves, and anyone who is immune to it gets killed. That disgusting thing made Karen kill her own husband of twenty years because he said it was controlling our thoughts and making us go insane. Karen loves this thing now like it’s her own kids.

Wish [Poem]


Dear friends, living, lost, and long dead

To days gone by and words needed, but not said

Could I find the time again if I were to try?

Or have all opportunities justly passed me by?

To grow up knowing one may be born to die?

Trapped in a cave with no way to thrive

As our hearts hold dear

To wishes and lives we dream

But here no rest only the fear to be

And yet we try and hope

An event we must coax

More elusive than the wind or a ghost

A shadow we must chance even during night

For hope is the drive, the promise, the flight

My love, if you could see me now

I’d trade my life for yours, but how?

Even on my lowest days the choice is mine

And if I see you again, I will help you thrive.

On 9/11 [Essay]


I find 9/11 to be an uncomfortable thing for me to talk about. I was 13 when it happened. In the 7th grade, I think. I was at school and it was around 11:30am when all the T.Vs in the classrooms were turned on. The students and teachers pretended to work while the footage of the planes going into the Twin Towers played in the background. Nearly half of my classes were like this. We couldn’t keep our eyes off of it. I want to say we got let go early, because eventually it was the only thing people were focused on.
I ended up walking home and was surprised to find my family had made it to the house before I did. I was scared because my dad said that since it was terrorists the war might last a long time and I might end up getting drafted when I turned 18. Five years seemed like a long time for a war to last and it freaked me out. I remembered my grandfather talking about shortages for everything during WW2 and I assumed it’d be like that. It was a bit overblown now that I think about it, but my mind couldn’t help but go there.
Looking back, it’s almost insane how one day separated the America I came of age in and the America that came the day after. For me the optimism of the 90s still resonated into the new Millennium prior to 9/11. NSYNC’s music video “Pop” that came out a few months before the attacks kind of encapsulates that last bit of American optimism. I’m not sure we’re ever going to get that feeling back or even want it anymore.
It’s as if we’ve been struggling between trying to regain that bit of innocence back and courting our own self destruction ever since that day happened. A part of the country seems to be impatiently waiting for the apocalypse (and in that impatience trying to take matters into their own hands to make that happen) and the other just wants to make like the past 17 years never happened. Overall (despite current circumstances) we’ve matured as a country. We know what our problems are. Solving them is harder and something major will have to be sacrificed to make that happen. I just hope it makes things better for us. I just hope it makes us a better class of people. Unlike other countries in the past, we have the luxury of knowledge in history and technology to make this happen for us. If we don’t, then we’ll have screwed ourselves over more thoroughly than the Romans. Well…I guess that’s all I wanted to say.

An Immortal’s Tribute [Poem]


A dream unto me,

of times and fables gone by,

why did I cry,

when I knew the line made not to cross

yet we crossed long ago and long before

lines on your face I did adore

and what was me?

Not much to say

Who would believe on my most honest day

one who saw life and world

from burn to birth

from grass to grit

from time to time

Too weary to see it once again pass me by

and you came like speck in the night

my universe to your star

burning brightly from afar

And I knew you would fade

but all the same I wanted to stay

and see you grow old bright star from afar

touch you and caress you kindly

love you blindly

even when you fade into that dark night

back into nothing after burning so bright

let it be known that you made my time fly ever lovingly by

and if revived to come out one day

please come by

please come and stay.