Star Wars: Bloodline – Claudia Gray

Star Wars: Bloodline – Claudia Gray
Was hyped up as a huge release, yet in my mind falls short. Doesn’t have any big revelations that you would hope for due to the massive time gap between Episode 6 and 7 i need more info than this book offers. The book is set 6 years prior to Episode 7 and follows Princess Leia as she deals with threats inside and external to the Republic. First of all how is she still a Princess if her entire planet is destroyed? She is a senator and begins to suspect of a plot to destroy the Republic which leads her down a path which by the end of the book creates The Resistance, as seen in Episode 7
It seems their plan is to offer info up over a slow feed of books over the coming months. This is immensely frustrating but a i guess they see it as a good marketing ploy as it forces me to buy all their books. This just furthers my dislike of Disney as i already see them as an evil  money hungry greedy capitalist monstrosity. I really wish they would stop trying to dumb down Star Wars into some damn teenage drama, i want my violence and severed limbs back and i want the timeline of events between Episode 6 and 7 filled in , not slowly added to over 3 years #rantover

Star Trek Enterprise: Live By the Code – Christopher L. Bennett

Star Trek Enterprise: Live By the Code – Christopher L. Bennett
Well this is Part 4 in the series so far and wraps up many loose ends established in previous ones, leaving one to wonder will there be another book. This most definitely is not a stand alone story
This is Star Trek at its best, Klingons, moral dilemmas, space battles, character development, techno babble. This is not a book you can just pick up you have to read the series and the series only makes sense if you watched the TV show as well. Which always limits their sales i guess. That’s the catch using established IPs i guess.

Bang! The Complete History Of The Universe – Brian May, Patrick Moore & Chris Lintott

Bang! The Complete History Of The Universe – Brian May, Patrick Moore & Chris Lintott
Brian May of Queen fame was actually studying a PhD in Astrophysics before his music really took off. Queen became one of the greatest bands of all so Brian abandoned his studies to focus on the music. Fast forward to 2006 and he decides to finish the PhD he started many years ago.
In 2006 as he was getting into the swing of Astrophysics again, he released a book with sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott. This book essentially reviews the timeline of events from the formation of the universe to its potential end. It is rather basic in its approach and doesn’t talk of equations or any hard science. For someone who has no knowledge of this topic its a great introduction to cosmology but a little too basic for my tastes.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Alan Dean Foster, Greg Rucka

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Alan Dean Foster, Greg Rucka
Much like everyone else who is a fan of Star Wars after seeing Episode 7 we were left with a lot of questions. I knew of their big marketing push on books called “The journey to Force Awakens” and had already bought one from that lineup “Aftermath” but the problem i faced was it didn’t answer anything from the movie since it was set 29 years before the movie. It was the ONLY novel in the initial release as well, The rest were children short stories, comics, graphic novels and young adult fiction. Nothing for adults so i was immensely disappointed. The Episode 7 novelization wasn’t due out for a few more weeks so i bit my pride and bought the young adult book “Before the Awakening” and it was rubbish!
The book explained nothing, we learnt nothing,  it was merely just a filler with no useful information so disappointing. I remember being a teenager when the prequels came out and even my teenage self wouldn’t of liked this “Before the Awakening” book.
So disappointed with this range of books, i seriously hope now that the movie is over we start getting some good adult books i know “Aftermath” has a release date for its 2 sequels but i’m worried if we will learn anything more from them too. It just seems Disney has abandoned the Adults that follow star wars in favour of children. Star Wars used to have a wide range of expanded universe fiction, plenty of reading for adults. Now its all just comics, kids books and a few young adult novels. They really are abandoning their key demographic
With that said as soon as the next Adult novel was available i jumped for it. I have only ever had one Star Wars Movie Novelization before and that was of Episode 3. It was good as there was a lot of extra stuff in there so i had high hopes for the Episode 7 novel.
Considering my issues with the rest of the Force Awakens range i was surprised by the Episode 7 novel, as it was quite good at giving us new info and expanding on scenes from the movie, dropped new info and explained a few plot problems away as well. Quite happy with this book and it has made me once again keen for more books from this range

What If? – Randall Munroe

What If? – Randall Munroe

Man this is one hilarious book, it is a collection of answers to absurd and weird hypothetical questions he has been sent via his website for his comic strip. Having a degree in physics and previously working for NASA before leaving  to work on his XKCD comic strip full time leaves Randall in a unique position to answer these questions

There is an assortment of hilarious hypothetical questions such as

  • what would happen if the entire human population met at one place and then jumped all at the same time
  • From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hits the ground
  • Is it possible to build a jet pack using downward firing machine gun
  • If a ten metre wide drain opened at the bottom of the ocean how long would it take to drain all the oceans

There are many more hilarious questions many of which he adds his signature stick figure drawing too. He takes the time to detail his research into these questions and walks the reader through the process to find the answer.

Good for a laugh and an informative read, best of both worlds!

 

 

 

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher
I have never been a fan of Shakespeare. If someone even mentions it or suggest watching one i groan in agony. People get all pious and suggest he is the greatest playwright, that’s but their opinion. I’m not a fan of plays so i have done my best to avoid it and am quite proud to have not touched any of his works since leaving high school. Then came a moment of reflection when i saw these books. I thought if my hatred of Shakespeare and contemplated its route cause and I have come to think this might stem from the fact in high school our English Teacher force fed us Shakespeare  for 3 years and then they do what all all English teachers do and over analyse  a work to take the fun out of it.
So i thought maybe my attitude towards Shakespeare was coloured not by its strength as an artistic work but by my dislike of the teacher and her forcing us to do it. (Other classes studied star wars. Man i would of nailed that one but then also ran the risk of them over analyzing it and taking the fun out if it for me) anyway when i saw these books I’m like why not give it a go if i can tolerate the language they use then perhaps it wouldn’t be too difficult to transition to Shakespeare.
Boy was i wrong, Straight away my eyes drifted over the harsh use of Early Modern English. Memories came flooding back of my dislike for this style and how painful i find to read it. Yet i pushed forward, the books were quite small and easy to demolish and yet the pain never subsided.
After finishing all 6 books i can still affirm my dislike of Shakespeare and yet i fully understand now its because of the awful language style used.  Yes i know that’s how people spoke. Yes i know people class it as the greatest work in fiction. But don’t forget the populace used to think the world was flat. So its not a stretch to think they too can be wrong about Shakespeare
Perhaps if someone translated his works into proper modern English i’d give him another crack but at this point i’m going to keep Shakespeare in the same  category as romance novels,  that of  rubbish with no use other than to be fuel for when a zombie apocalypse strikes and we run out of wood to fuel our cooking and keep warm

The Long Earth Series – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth Series – Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
I may not understand how or why authors co-author a book but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of them. Do they co-author because they are too old to write themselves? Or are they trying to combine their powers like captain planet. More to the point how do they do it. Do they both just write separate plot lines then combine them and just alternate chapters or is it more a spinning ideas by each other. After all only one person can be typing at time.
Anyway this series turns out to be 5 books long and sadly Pratchett passed away just prior to book fours release. So the final book will be written solo. So i guess i might understand the writing process of a co-authored book by seeing how dissimilar the final book will be. Needless to say the world these two have made is stunningly imaginative.
A scientist discovers a way to travel to parallel worlds with a simple device made from basic component’s and a potato. Then he posts the blueprints online without a description of what it does and then disappears from society soon all over the place kids are building these and disappearing. No one knows where they are but one boy comes to the rescue, Joshua Valiente. He brings the kids back to home. The world soon learns of these parallel worlds and everything changes.
As one imagines when given the opportunity of slaving at some desk job to pay off a home loan. Or living like a pioneer building your own house and hunting or farming free from capitalism a huge amount of the population chooses the later and disappears from what they call datum earth(the same earth we the reader lives on). I know i sure as hell would go in a second. The parallel worlds are just numbered by how many steps they are from datum. They are also called east or west but those titles have nothing to do with a compass. A step is the term for stepping from one parallel world to another. In that you can step west into West 1, 2,3 or step east to 1 ,2,3 etc there is no end number. As you can imagine the first book deals with Joshua and friends going on an expedition to explore all the way to west 2 million. While still discussing the changes back home. Which were all quite logical. If half the population leaves government revenue dries up. Greedy evil banks and corporations start struggling but people can actually enjoy life.  Joshua on his journeys finds there are no humans in the other words but evolution has gone crazy and there is such an assortment of life out there.
The second book The Long War is more about the fall out of half the population getting up and leaving and then having the datum earth try and find ways to control and tax people. No taxation without representation sound familiar?  yeah how did that work out last time someone tried to do that.
I really felt the authors came into their own with the third book The Long Mars as its title suggests an expedition goes to mars and tries to step to see if its possible and if the parallel worlds of mars and earth are connected and there second objective is to keep stepping till they find life on mars
The fourth book The Long Utopia while still dealing with a natural disaster on datum earth our protagonist Joshua is led to a distant world where events are underway that could destroy the planet and possible the long earth
After the first book i just couldn’t stop and did all 4 in one go. The downside is i must wait till next year for the fifth and final part, oh the agony but well worth it. These books manage to tap into and capture that pioneering spirit and the readers imagination. i am just blown away by the level of creativity and imagination show by the authors in making this world.