I only meant to read the first 100 pages of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, in an attempt to get familiar with some of the science-fiction that was published this year (somehow I spent most of the year reading older books.) Then I almost didn’t finish the first 50 pages, because I didn’t think I was going to like it. I enjoy a lot of young adult novels, but I thought this one might be too young, the story too simple, and the main character too much of a teenager for me to identify with her.
I’m glad I kept reading it. It’s a fun book, though not nearly as good as all the overblown internet hype was leading me to believe.
I don’t want to run a halfway decent idea into the ground, but I had so much fun with the “Ten Books, A Thousand Pages” project (Part One is here, and Part Two here) that I had to do it again. So I present The Return of Ten Books, A Thousand Pages, wherein I pick ten science fiction or fantasy books from the front-and-center display of the bookstore and read the first 100 pages of each to see if it’s something you (or I) would want to finish reading.
The idea is to do a quick and dirty review of the books that are going to be in your face the next time you’re out shopping or browsing the Recommended Reading sections online. And honestly, if a book can’t capture your attention in a hundred pages, I think it’s safe to find something you might like better.
China Mieville’s newest book actually came out a couple months ago, but I’ve been saving it for the long flight I’ve got to take next week. So in the meantime I’ll just do a little review of the book that turned me on to his writing in the first place: Perdido Street Station.
I’ll say right from the get-go that I don’t feel this is a steampunk story, though I’ve heard a few people call it that. Steampunk tends to cover a pretty wide range, so I get why people lump Perdido in there. But I think its only steampunk element is that it takes place in an extremely high-tech world that never got further than the steam engine. Instead of planes, you have dirigibles. Instead of robots, you have steam-powered “constructs” clanking past with coal-burning boilers inside. There’s plenty of clockwork and trains and “computers” that are programmed with levers and punch-cards, but that’s where the steampunk element ends. There isn’t much of a Victorian feel to anything, there’s an almost modern industrial grittiness to the world, and the aliens all over the place detract from any steampunk vibes.
Last week I talked about Brandon Sanderson’s awesome book Warbreaker. This week I address another stand alone novel by Sanderson: Elantris. Elantris was his debut onto the science-fiction novel scene and it is a great opening novel. The story is superbly written and has a wonderful plot that deals with religion, political subterfuge, and of course, magic. So come along on a journey with me into the world of Elantris. I promise that the ride will not disappoint.
What would you get if you had Stan Lee of Marvel fame take a swing at authoring a manga which in turn leads to an anime? Well, you get Heroman, and Heroman gets the job done. Set in a generically named city Center City (based on LA) in the United States, this story follows a boy named Joey Jones. Joey is a pushover but is a hard worker and help support his grandmother. We are introduced to a local scientist, Matthew Denton, one of Joey’s teachers. He has been spending ages broadcasting a welcome message into space in hopes of a first contact.
While not working, studying or helping Professor Denton, Joey is pursued by Lina Davis. Lina comes from an affluent family and is on the school’s cheer team. Her older brother, a football player named Will Davis, in turn beats on Joey for being around his little sister. The circle of strife is complete. To make matters worse, one of Will’s friends has the hot new toy “Heybo.” This miniature robot responds to voice commands, dances, and keeps itself well out of Joey’s price range. While the rich kids mess around, the Heybo is broken and thrown away.
Joey scavenges it from the trash and sets to repairing its damage. it is around this time that Professor Denton’s message is picked up by a slash-and-burn alien race called the Skrugg. Their ship releases a wave of energy on its approach to Earth that stirs up an unnatural storm. A bolt of lightning from this storm strikes the reassembled Heybo in Joey’s house and transforms it into a 12+ foot tall robot. Joey calls him Heroman and soon learns that while Heroman is intelligent and capable, he cannot act without orders.
Using a hand-held control, Joey begins to issue orders. Heroman presents the options that steer Joey’s decisions toward an accident on the highway. Lina and her father, both unconscious, are saved from certain death by Heroman. Joey decides to keep this quiet. That quiet, however, only last until the first three Skrugg raiders land on Earth to begin collecting specimens. Well, only one thing left to do at that point… GO Heroman!
Fumizuki Academy, like most good schools within comedicanime, has some quirky policies. The first is their grading and sorting system. Each year, students are put through a comprehensive examination to determine their rank for the school year. Class A students spend the year learning in a palatial hall with top of the line computers, books and snack service. Class F students have worn out tables, under-stuffed bean bags and ratty floor mats to keep them company. The rest of the classes fall in between at various levels of splendor to squalor. Our story follows a second year student named Akihisa Yoshii, Class F.
Akihisa is joined in Class F by one of the smartest girls in the school, Mizuki Himeji. Mizuki fainted from fever during the placements test and was disqualified with a zero grade; leaving the class during the test meant failure. She has a crush on Akihisa because he was kind to her. Minami Shimada is the only other girl in Class F and hides her feeling for Akihisa behind random brute violence toward him; they are childhood friends. Yuuji Sakamoto is the representative of Class F and is friendly with Akihisa; he treats him as a side-kick at times. Yuuji is rather smart but is unmotivated by grades, so he failed his way into Class F. Kouta Tsuchiya is the resident pervert of the class and excels in health education related subjects, partly due to his perverted study of the female form. Hideyoshi Kinoshita rounds out the main group of Class F students and is extremely feminine in appearance. He hates the fact that he is frequently mistaken for a female. Hideyoshi’s twin sister is in Class A.
The various classes are allowed to challenge one another to an Examination Summons Battle (ESB) where the students test scores power a summoned being (shoukanjuu) to fight for them. If a classes’ representative is beaten, or other set terms met, the match is over. Winners can take the losers rooms, items and/or pride as a prize. Class F starts the year off right by challenging Class E to an ESB on the first day of class. Due to Yuuji’s strategy, the balance of Class F hold off Class E until Mizuki could complete a makeup test, there-by powering up her shoukanjuu to Class A level. Yuuji decides that Class F will not take Class E’s room because as long as they have nothing to lose, they will be fearless. Class F is then challenged by Class A (to put them in their place), so Yuuji plots to take Class A’s room but this ends in a miserable defeat due to his overestimating his own abilities in Japanese history. Class A’s representative, Shouko Kirishima, makes Yuuji go on a date with her as her prize.
This series is pretty fun to watch and while stocked with some nearly “template” character types, keeps some degree of interest in them. So far the series is a bit perverse without being overtly crude (except for that Kouta guy, always trying to peep).
Overall Hook Rating: B
Side note… I’ve been at this for over a year already? Wow, Anime Ima turned 1 and I missed its birthday -_-
There exists a technologically advanced city wherein roughly 80% of the populace are developing powers due to the cities highly advanced technology. This facility is named Academy City; its inhabitants are part of the “Brain Development Program” where in psychic powers are developed. To keep order within this city, powerful students are drafted into “Judgment”, as task force who deals with mundane and super-powered crimes.
We meet Kuroko Shirai and her roommate (and crush) Mikoto Misaka dealing with a group of thugs who are pestering a younger student. While Kuroko is an actual member of Judgment, Mikoto is not… yet she is one of the seven most powerful people in the city (we will later find out why her nickname is Railgun). As soon as the punks are dealt with, the girls must return to their middle school to undergo a “System Scan”, which is code for an analysis of their primary abilities, ranked Level 1 through Level 5 (the strongest). Level 0 is reserved for those with no powers.
Kuroko plots to get closer to Mikoto by allowing her cohort at Judgement, Kazari Uiharu, a chance to meet her hero (Mikoto). Kazari’s good friend, Ruiko Saten, also tags along. Ruiko is considered Level 0, having developed no powers as of yet. While the foursome is out they come across a bank robbery in progress. The two Judgment members (Kuroko and Kazari) step into action and begin to control the scene. in the commotion, a boy has wandered into the battle and is taken hostage by one of the robbers. Ruiko grapples him away from the robber and gets a boot in the face for her troubles.
The robber, now empty handed, steals a car and attempts to run down the one girl left standing in the middle of the road… Mikoto. She tells Kuroko that she will handle the situation. As the car bears down on her, she flips a coin into the air. Electricity begins to flow about her body and focuses toward her outstretched hand. As the coin returns in line she flicks it, releasing all the stored power… the Railgun. This pinpoint blast of power upends the car and sends it spiraling through the air. The day is saved!
Into the second episode the mood lightens somewhat to focus on more of the day to day school life, Kuroko’s crush on Mikoto, and other zaniness. The tone of the series took such a sudden shift that it worries me that it might spiral downhill. On the positive side, the concept and the Railgun itself is just epic.
Sometime in the not too distant future global warming has reached critical mass. The ocean levels have risen, reeking havoc on coastal areas. The world’s leaders have created a committee to ensure that all nations are in compliance with CO2 reduction measures. Those nations who continue to produce more carbon than they absorb are forced to pay a higher percentage tariff on global goods. Standing over the ruin of Tokyo is Atlas, which is attempting to bring about a rebirth of the nation. The old city, which is now being allowed to become overgrown with natural vegetation, has become a carbon-scrubbing sponge.
Our story opens with Kuniko Hojo, the prodigal leader-to-be of the Metal-Age, being released from prison. Metal-Age is a guerilla organization that stands to oppose the tyrannical order that has engulfed the world. The current leader of Metal-Age, Nagiko Hojo, is Kuniko’s grandmother. She is very much focused on education, and appears to be trying to keep the Metal-Age hidden amongst the citizens of Duomo. The shanty city of Duomo is centered on an electrical plant that has brightly painted smoke stacks. The jungle surrounding it is rather toxic, so it is well insulated from the outside world.
Hidden in the shadows, Karin Ishida toys with the world’s carbon markets. She may be a young girl, but is quite the prodigy when it comes to financial matters. When one of her abusive, yet legal, transactions catches the eye of those in Atlas’ Security Corps, they attack Metal-Age. The citizens of Duomo are caught in the cross fire. As the fighting climbs toward its climax, Kuniko standing defiant in front of Major Kunihito Kusanagi, a dagger he carries resonates when she strikes it. Then a third party attacks. Strange black projectiles reduce parts of the city to rubble, the military flees.
Curious as to who was behind this attack, both Metal-Age and the military seek out the cause. High above in the Moon Palace, another young girl named Mikuni notices that the battle below has caused her dagger to resonate. These matching daggers, noted to be seals, resonating begins the overarching prophesy of the story line.
This series has just barely begun to lay out the story, and much much more is yet to come in the planned 24 episodes. I will look forward to continuing this one.
The standard of cosplay was exceptionally high at this May’s London Expo. Here’s some of the best Sci-Fi cosplay on show from Aliens to Star Wars, we’ve got your covered. Thanks to everyone who posed for the photos, great sports the lot of you.
If you’re in these photos and want a hi-res copy send me an email.
Teito Klein is an up and coming student at the Barsburg Military Academy. His friend, Mikage is nearly always by his side. During the final exam for the academy (which happens to be a life or death fight with a HUGH convict), Teito and Mikage come out on top. Teito decides to spare the convict’s life, breaking the rules of the test. Ayanami, a high ranking member of the military, kills the convict with a powerful Zaiphon blast. Zaiphon is the term for the powers the military wields in combat; visually it appears to be runic characters in the air around the attacks. The tension is growing…
However, Teito’s story began long before the onset of the series. A slave in a neighboring empire; he was adopted into the military academy due to his natural abilities. He has broken memories of a kind, young to middle-aged man. The man in his dreams is taking care of him, and wears a very unique necklace. He feels that this man may actually be his father.
When Teito is passing a room where Ayanami is talking to his subordinates, he hears a familiar and haunting noise. It is a unique chime, given off by his (likely) father’s necklace. His memories flash back to Ayanami standing over the body of the man he believes to be his father. With unspeakable rage Teito flings himself at Ayanami, falling short when a subordinate easily stops his attack. Teito is arrested.
Mikage learns of this and goes to spring him from jail. Finding Teito standing over a pile of bodies, he grabs him and runs… leaving himself to hold off the guards. Ayanami nearly kills Teito with a Zaiphon attack, but Teito manages to defend himself. He flies off, nearly unconscious, and is rescued from plunging to his death by three bishops from the nearby 7th District Church. They take him in and help him recover, with a little comedy to lighten the mood. Teito begins to research the history of the area, and the kingdom of his heritage, Raggs. In the final scenes, we see Ayanami questioning Mikage.
This series has a LOT hidden under the surface, and speaks of big things to come! The world is large and fleshed out quite well. Another on my growing list of need-to-see series.