Guest Review Of Planetfall!

Y’all know it’s a joy of mine to feature guest reviews from my friends! Today I get to share one from my friend Indreni on a book I really want to read: Planetfall by Emma Newman

There’s no denying that British sci-fi and urban fantasy author Emma Newman is really cool. Not only does she write short stories and novels, design dresses, and narrate audiobooks (what reader doesn’t see that as a dream job?!), she hosts and co-writes a visionary Hugo-nominated podcast, Tea & Jeopardy. As if that weren’t enough, Newman is open about her experiences with anxiety, postpartum depression, and more–and incorporates these into her writing: yes, we sci-fi readers have an ally and inspiration in Newman as an author, world-builder, and character-creator. 

Planetfall is Newman’s first sci-fi novel, and while it’s a little over a year old now, I was amazed and grateful at how timely, relevant, and pressing it is. Set in a not-too-distant world where gov-corps control highly-stratified nations suffering from enormous wealth divides, oppression, and environmental ruin, main character Ren has an opportunity: she can leave Earth with a prestigious group of fellow scientists and doctors in order to follow the brilliant Suh, a university friend who has seemingly received a vision from God calling humanity “home” to “God’s City” on a faraway planet.

From the get-go, Newman makes it clear that life on Earth has become stifling, bleak, and all but hopeless. Grieving the loss of her young daughter, and fed up with her relationship with her narcissistic mother, there is little keeping Ren on Earth but the pleading voice of her idealistic father, who believes Ren’s breakthrough visengineering system of 3-D printers can save countless lives on Earth. It’s just one of several complex ethical questions facing Ren throughout the novel, and the reader can’t help but wonder how he or she would react in the same situation.

Set 20 years after Ren, Suh, and the other colonists “make planetfall” on their new planet, when the book opens the new colony appears to be humming along. Ren’s 3-D printers have made human labor almost obsolete. Homes, clothing, food, organs–all can be printed thanks to her. They live sustainably, recycling their raw materials in a mashing system, and building homes that make their own energy. 

But the peaceable facade and the premise of the colony has come at a price, which Ren has helped to cover up all these years. Where is Suh, the original leader, for example? One day, Suh’s grandson, Sung-Soo, emerges out of the harsh grasslands beyond the colony’s gates and upsets the balance. Ren, suffering from tremendous, untreated anxiety and OCD, begins to fear she can’t keep lying to the colony any longer about what really happened during “planetfall” 20 years ago.  

Planetfall is a slow burn, but the world-building and character development are fascinating and kept me engaged for all 320 pages.     

For those who, like me, were intrigued by Newman’s extensively-created futuristic space colony, her 2nd novel came out this past November. Titled After Atlas, It’s deemed a “stand alone novel set in the same universe” as Planetfall. As After Atlas has received rave reviews from readers, I’m guessing Newman really hits her stride in her 2nd novel, and I am definitely looking forward to checking it out.

The Missing Reads Of January

My January reading time is mostly focused upon Vintage SciFi but mixed in with that vintagey awesomeness you’ll find an interesting mix if you look at the other books I read. This post covers those books!

I enjoyed several Children’s Books but ESPECIALLY Aaron Becker’s Quest and Return which are the second and third book of the Journey series. Imagine an epic fantasy in children’s book form without words that make glorious use of colors for their magic system. Love. This. 

Other Children’s Books I also read include: Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo which I found to be very imaginative; Douglas You Need Glasses by Ged Adamson which was cute; Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill which was fun; How To Find A Fox by Nivah Magrudes which was delightful; and Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boyahon which was a little disappointing. 

Y’all know I enjoy quality crime fiction and graphic novels so I read Harder Looks by Andrew Vachss (and various artists) and while they were interesting I felt they simplified his short stories. 

Speaking of Andrew Vachss I listened to Blackjack and Urban Renewal which are the first two Cross Novels and they were expertly well read! Cross Novels are a little more jumbled than his Burke Novels as he tried combining several short stories into novel form for them. 

I also listened to Dennis Lehane’s AMAZING story The Drop. The book is just as excellent as the movie adaptation made it seem. Put this one on your list if you’re a Crime Fiction fan. 

The final book of the month was The Two Deaths Of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey and it was well done. Trying to tell a story with amnesiac as your primary POV character can be tricky but just as things were about to get boring Sakey livened everything up. 

That sums up the missing reads from my January roundup! 

My February Reading Roundup!

I didn’t accomplish as much in this short month of reading as I wanted to, but I read some quality books! I also realized that my January roundup only covered the Vintage SciFi reading I did so I’ll share a post on the rest of my January reads in another post. But I digress… on to those books of February!

Hellboy In Hell: The Death Card by Mike Mignola

I still remember the first time I saw a Mignola comic book. His artwork captured my young imagination, but honestly I know I appreciate the beauty of his work more as an adult. I’m truly saddened to see the conclusion of his Hellboy story. This was a master at work. Sadly it felt like a hurried master ready to be done with what the masses wanted from him, but still a masterful work. Sad and beautiful. 

Invisible Republic Volume Two by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko

This was an incredible follow up to the first volume! An amazing SciFi tale of an oppressed civilization, an out of luck journalist, and a secret history that is just coming to light that could shake the population to its core. 

Saga Volume Six by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Still showing what comic books can and should be. Still keeping me on the edge of my seat. Still challenging how you see the world. 

The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book by Clair McLafferty 

This book is amazing!!! What a wonderful reference! Loved learning more about a craft I admire and enjoy. Already planning Old Fashioned parties!

The Player Of Games by Iain M Banks (the second Culture novel)

I loved Consider Phlebas. I wanted to devour the series, but I worried that there wasn’t any chance that the rest of the series could live up to the first novel. It would be impossible. So I delayed and promised myself later later later…. then my friend Imyril started her reread of the series and I knew it was now or never. So I jumped back into the Culture hoping for a good book. I wasn’t prepared to love this book as much as I did!! I can’t fully explain how much I am loving this series except to tell you I’m already almost halfway through the third book and I’m honestly not sure which book I love the most out of these three! I can’t wait to read more!

Thank You Bear by Greg E Foley was an adorable Children’s book that has a good message and will be in my child’s bookshelf one day. 

On audio I listened to two Andrew Vachss’ books: A Bomb Built In Hell which was Vachss’ first attempt at a novel, and while it is really good that ending still just feels odd… but then again the book is a case study in what makes a monster so it fits. Drawing Dead is the third and possibly final novel in the Cross series and it is a jumbled mess of a book. The message still shines through but this one is a tough read due to the writing style. 

I also tried Chuck Hogan’s The Killing Moon but halfway through the book I had to tell the book: “It’s not me, it’s you.” and walk away. While the story had potential none of the characters did. 

There are several books I made a lot of gains in this month, but I haven’t finished them yet. Hopefully March is good to my currently reading pile and I’m able to tear through it! 

What was your favorite book that you read in February? 

Our “Weekly” Dark Horse Presents Volumes 24, 25, 26, and 27

Our one week it’ll be weekly again weekly review of Dark Horse Presents the classic and amazing comic book anthology from back in the day! This week we’ll cover volumes 24-27. As they handle several story arcs we’ll look at the arcs themselves. 

Dark Horse Presents is truly where they started to flesh out the Aliens from Alien and I thought they did a fabulous job with the concept. They focus heavily on evolution and morality in these tales. 

Homicide is a detective/crime storyline that shows the dark side of humanity and sometimes that darkness gets into the heart of those trying to stop the darkness. Always interesting. 

Twilight Of Langdarro would fit in the same worlds that Michael Moorcock placed Elric in. A fantasy within a world already ancient beyond belief in which history has become legend. It could be our future or our past. 

Race Of Scorpions is the type of story that comic books were created to relay! The artwork is breathtaking and the intense story of an earth destroyed by climate change and transformed into a desert wasteland is impressive. A true epic. 

A few throwaway stories also graced these volumes and truthfully they didn’t add anything of value or take away from the quality of the anthology. This comic book still stands as one of my favorites ever. 

My Vintage SciFi Month 2017 Reads

This #VintageSciFiMonth was a little busy for me so I didn’t get as much reading in as I would have liked to, but I did enjoy 2/3rds of the books I read! 

This year I started off with a group read of DORSAI! by Gordon R Dickson. This was my third time reading this classic SciFi tale of a young man who stood outside of humanity and eventually takes the lead of our species. It was interesting reading this one with other folks. Their perspectives added to my experience with the book! 

Sighhhh….. I got the wrong book! The Silver Warriors is a sequel to an earlier Moorcock book: The Eternal Champion. I quickly changed my plans and downloaded The Eternal Champion to my Kindle Fire and devoured it! I truly enjoy his writing style. This book was a lot of fun to read. 

Titan by John Varley was NOT fun to read. It was an awkward descent into the author’s sexual focus. When you tell a tale of First Contact NORMALLY there is some form of excitement in the humans…. but nope! None in Varley’s characters. That just interrupts their sex lives, but not really. They still focus more on that than contact with the aliens. The majority of their contact with aliens is spent marveling at the genitals of the aliens or trying to figure out which aliens they can kill and eat. Basically this is an awkward book and I hope you skip it. 

Tactics Of Mistake is the fourth book in Dickson’s Childe Cycle and I’ll be reading this in February as this month got away from me. I’m looking forward to it!

Did you enjoy your Vintage SciFi Month reads? What books did you read? What authors did you try? Will you be joining in next year? We hope you will!

A Word From The Father: The Invisible Man

A special guest post from my Father! In honor of #VintageSciFiMonth he chose to read and review The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. My parents were my primary inspiration to read so it is with great joy that I share this review from my Dad with y’all:
It’s always good to find one’s roots, whether that is in life or in a chosen genre of literature. The roots of Sci-Fi can be traced to H. G. Wells and one of his classics “The Invisible Man.” Sci-Fi or fantasy literature works when a reader can “suspend belief” or have a “plausible impossible” story line. 

In “The Invisible Man” Wells provides such a story line through a scientist who discovers the ability to render objects invisible. After a few experiments the protagonist turns himself invisible. The crux of the story then becomes his struggles and mad obsession of establishing a “reign of terror” and being able to use his exceptional situation to establish himself as the leader (and benefactor) of his reign. He soon finds that he is ill equipped to survive his invisibility without assistance. Once his secret is out, he struggles to continue and ultimately falls victim to his own avarice and unstable mental condition. As the story unfolds, the reader can see and understand how Wells has crafted a theme that is now a classic in Science Fiction writing. “The Invisible Man” is well written and should be read by all lovers of Science Fiction.

DORSAI! Group Read Part Four (The End)

Caution! Spoilers ahead! We’re reading DORSAI! by Gordon R Dickson for #VintageSciFiMonth and in this post we’ll cover Protector III through Donal (the end of the book)

DORSAI! will always be a favorite book for me. Yet even with this third read through I still feel this book is hurried. I wish the author had taken more time exploring Donal’s new abilities, his brother’s actions, the surrounding cast, and respected the female characters more instead of just using them to show off some aspect of Donal. 

Questions for you: Did the ending events surprise you? Or were you expecting a planetary invasion after all the foreshadowing? Did you guess who Donal was kidnapping in Commander In Chief? What are your overall feelings on the book now that you’ve reached the end? Would you consider reading on in the series?

The next book in the series is Necromancer (formerly No Room For Man). It takes place long before DORSAI! and it sets the stage for the universe of The Childe Cycle. Soldier, Ask Not (one of my favorite titles ever) takes place parallel to DORSAI! and is quite intriguing. Tactic Of Mistakes is the fourth book and is a prequel to DORSAI! and follows Donal’s parents (I think). It is what I’m picking up to read next!

Thank you so much for joining in on this group read! I hope you enjoyed your meeting with Donal and are willing to give Gordon R Dickson a chance to win some space on your bookshelf!