Reviews

Review: Shadow Scale

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Review: Shadow Scale

Shadow Scale, Rachel Hartman’s sequel to 2012’s Seraphina, was released months ago and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. It’s full of dragons and music, adventure and magic, and it’s the first book in a long time where I kept counting to see how many pages were left; not because I wanted to finish, but because I knew I was running out of time to stay in the book. I was honestly sad when it was over.

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Review: Rise of the Six – Book One of the Preston Six

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Review: Rise of the Six – Book One of the Preston Six

Matt Ryan hits the ground running with his debut novel Rise of the Six, first book in The Preston Six series.

Joey Foust and his five friends always knew there was something their parents aren’t telling them. How were all six of them born on the exact same day? What happened in the unexplained fire that killed many of their parents (only Joey still has both his mother and his father)? And who is the accidentally mentioned “Harris” who for some reason would want the six of them to be trained to protect themselves?

An ill-advised foray into the nearby Watchers Woods triggers an attack by the force that’s been searching for the six friends since the day they were born. They’re saved at the last second by the appearance of Harris, who drags them into a desperate and random jump to another dimension. Now five of the Preston Six (minus one who was left behind) have to cross alternate Earths and zombie-filled civilizations, training to use their dormant talents and trying to stay one step ahead of the sadistic Simon and his boss, the evil genius Marcus, all the while trying to find out why their parents kept so much of their history a secret.

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Movie Issues: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Movie Issues: Mad Max: Fury Road

This summer we see the return of a sci-fi cult hero who hasn’t been seen in over 30 years, written and directed by his original creator, George Miller, who worked tediously for years to bring him back. Making fans wait, he has finally returned to the screen: Mad Max, hero of his own post-apocalyptic series of films that started in 1979. After months of on set issues and re-shoots Miller finally gets to unleash his movie: Mad Max: Fury Road. Was it worth the wait? No. No it was not.

FURY ROAD

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Review: A Galaxy Not So Far Away

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Review: A Galaxy Not So Far Away

Happy Star Wars Day! Last month we were able to look forward (via the very nifty movie trailer) to the upcoming movie. Set to be released on Christmas Day. Seven months from now. To get me through the next (checks the calendar) 228 days, this week I chose a book that looks back on several decades of Star Wars.

Newly released in e-book format, A Galaxy Not So Far Away features seventeen essays by prominent writers, all of them about how much (or little) Star Wars means to them. When this book was first published back in 2002 most of the writers had already seen The Phantom Menace, a few had seen Attack of the Clones, and all of them try to reconcile their disappointment (or smug “I told you so”) with a phenomenon that, love it or hate it, changed everything.

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Movie Issues: Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Movie Issues: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Well it’s finally time for us moviegoers to assemble, because Marvel’s Avengers are back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Once again directed by geek god Joss Whedon, it features the returning Avengers cast that we know and love. This time around an evil android known as Ultron has set his sights on world domination and only The Avengers can stop him, but can they do it before it’s too late? Well duh, they’re the fracking Avengers, of course they can! But along the way we’re given great action, acting, and comedy, all leading into a comic book style movie like no other.

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Review: Bloodborne

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Review: Bloodborne

Bloodborne is a punishing game. No, Bloodborne is a forgiving game. No, Bloodborne is an unfair, obviously artificially difficult game. All of these phrases, and more, are what you’ll most likely see said about the PS4 exclusive that came out last month, giving people familiar with the Souls games series something familiar, yet simultaneously different and exciting. What does this quasi-Souls game vet think of Bloodborne? Hit the jump to read on! Read On

Review: The Three-Body Problem

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Review: The Three-Body Problem

Ye opened the resulting document, and, for the first time, a human read a message from another world.

The content was not what anyone had imagined. It was a warning repeated three times.

Do not answer!

Do not answer!!

Do not answer!!!

The term “Hard Science Fiction” refers to any story where the science used is more than just a futuristic setting or a MacGuffin for the characters to chase after. Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Scott Westerfeld’s The Risen Empire are two examples of this genre; the reader has to be able to grasp at least a little bit of concepts like man-made worlds or artificial intelligence in order to keep up. The way technology in these stories affects the main characters, or an entire civilization, is essential to the plot.

In Cixin Liu’s newly-translated masterpiece The Three-Body Problem, the story begins in the Chinese Cultural Revolution and ends in the present day with humanity’s realization that a war with an alien species scheduled to start in four centuries may already be lost.  It’s hard science fiction, and the science that the reader is expected to understand is theoretical physics. Brace yourselves, this one gets really deep.

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Review – ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For the End Times

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Review – ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For the End Times

It’s difficult to describe ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For the End Times. It’s dark and violent and depressing. But also hopeful. It’s about the end of days and what comes after that. It’s about how humanity can reach their darkest point and sometimes stay just as ugly and hateful as they’ve always been, that no matter how many chances they’re been given they’ll still prefer a fist over an open hand.

It’s also about a girl and her cat. And it’s lovely.

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Review: Spock’s World

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Review: Spock’s World

“Go maire tu’ I bhfad agus rath!”

 Old Irish wayfarer’s blessing: “Live long and prosper”

It occurred to me that I haven’t reviewed a Star Trek book in honor of Leonard Nimoy yet. No excuse for that, really, since I read a lot of Star Trek back in high school. Star Trek: TNG was my drug of choice, but I read several novels based on the original Star Trek series as well. By far my favorite of those – the one I’ve reread the most times – is Diane Duane’s epic story of Vulcan, Spock’s World. 

A Vulcan anti-human movement has been growing for decades, based on fears of the damage that illogical, emotional, and violent humanity can cause. Word comes to the Enterprise that several clandestine organizations on Spock’s homeworld have now pushed the government to hold a planet-wide vote to secede from the Federation. Faced with the threat of having to either give up all ties to the Earth, or live in exile, Spock and his father Sarek return to Vulcan with the crew of the Enterprise to argue against secession. The story alternates between the debates (and an investigation to find out who’s been working behind the scenes to push for the vote, and why) and stories of the planet Vulcan itself, with its history of a population even more illogical, emotional, and violent than the human race that the Vulcans are trying so desperately to banish.

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Review: BrainWeb

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Review: BrainWeb

The events of MindsEye left Nick Hall with brain implants that allow him to access the Internet from anywhere, and also with a little unintentional side effect of being able to read minds. Both abilities make him a prize to any number of organizations – the US government being just the most obvious – so he’s doing his best to stay under the radar now that most of the world believes he’s dead. A terrorist attack on the Academy Awards ceremony forces Nick into the open; now there are powerful figures hunting him down, and they’re willing to target those closest to him to get what they want.

Author Douglas E. Richards uses his experience as a biotech executive and his research on thought-controlled Web surfing to weave existing and theoretical technology together into a combination sci-fi action novel/military thriller. The story doesn’t quite work for me, but the concepts he uses are fascinating and thought-provoking.

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