Monthly Archives: September 2016

Might I Suggest A Good Military SciFi Book For You?

When asked for suggestions in Military SciFi I’m always happy to share! A friend just finished reading Forever War and Armor and asked for a few more books in the Military SciFi genre that they might enjoy! So naturally I had a few lined up!

Of course Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein is amazing and one of my personal favorites in the genre. A true classic that remains applicable in some fashion through the years. It is a standalone and while it is short it is packed with meaning. 

 A contemporary book that also stands the test of time is Gordon R Dickson’s Dorsai! Ok sooooo maybe it doesn’t stand the test of time as well as it should… GRD really loved the concept of human evolution into the superman, and his books contain some offbeat philosophies at times BUT they are so good! Dorsai! Is the start to his masterpiece series The Childe Cycle and I am slowly working through the overall series. I personally love it, and think Dorsai! can be read alone or as a part of the overall series. (Perfect read for #VintageSciFiMonth in January and so a few of us will be reading it then and you should join in) 

The Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn probably won’t top anyone’s best of lists but this little tale of Jonny Moreau exploded in my imagination when I was younger and stayed with me for ages. Zahn is an under appreciated master of Military SciFi and this trilogy has a little bit of everything the genre needs to be great. From the young man idealistically signing up to defend the innocent and put his life on the line for others, to his excelling in the art of war, to his desire for peace, to his struggles with PTSD and attempting to fit back into society, to his moving into political circles. This book is worthwhile. 

Glen Cook’s passage of arms is best described by Jeff Vandermeer as “…the Das Boot of SciFi.” This. Book. Is. Amazing. So dense and intense it is the sort you find yourself mentally chewing on for a while after each time you set it down. SciFi warfare in spaceships in a realistic style that leaves you feeling as if you are experiencing the mental breakdown that the crew of the ship faces themselves. This is a work of art and should be on everyone’s list.

Fifteen Hours by Mitchel Scanlon is an excellent introduction to the GrimDark galaxy of Warhammer40K as it portrays a young grunt’s First and quite possibly last combat experience in the far flung future of war and death! A story that makes you pause and consider the human in the story and the high cost of war. 

Our Weekly Dark Horse Presents Vol 20

Our (almost back to) weekly review of Dark Horse Presents volume 20. TWENTY! It’s a big issue. No really Dark Horse made issue 20 huge! They were celebrating (and rightly so) that a black and white indie anthology comic book made it to issue twenty, because it is a big deal! And what better way to celebrate than with a big comic book?

Published in August of 1988 this giant comic book contained 64 pages of mostly awesomeness, some ok-ness, and a few wtf-ness. With anthologies you tend to get a mixture of everything from excellent to what were they thinking. Ok on to what this volume contained! I’ll post the title and my thoughts. For the creators’ names please look at the photo immediately below!

Mr Monster: Cheesy!!! Oh dear lord this was cheesy. Maybe they were poking fun at how silly comic books used to be? Maybe. But still this was cheese. 

Anomoly: Amazing!!! Not just because I love Gary Davis’ work, ok maybe a little because of that, but I love his work because it tends to be first rate! I loved this little SciFi tale of suspense and quiet horror that is accompanied by amazing artwork. A good example of what comic books can achieve. 

A Mother’s Tragedy: Slightly strange and off-kilter like most of Rick Geary’s work. Still quite enjoyable! You’re left reading between the lines a little, and there is a lot written in there. 

Trekker: This continues to be a solid story. SciFi bounty hunter meets old school private eye. Although this is a continuation of an outside story you are still entertained. 

The Mystery Men: Many comic books try to confront the what if super heroes were real question. I agree that lawsuits would abound. 

The Visit: A well illustrated tale that would truly speak to the hearts of those that have faced similar family situations. This shows that a comic book story can be much more than just that. 

Masque: I look forward to the end of this nightmare. The only positive I really have for Masque is that some of the inking is really nice. 

Concrete: This comic book will always peek into the heart of human nature and reveal a truth. 

Bob The Alien: These stories are always fun and I enjoy how they look like they were scribbled with a pen. 

Mindwalk: I’m not upset to see this story return! If they continue it I would be interested to see where it goes. 

Wacky Squirrel: Cheap laugh. 

Black Cross: One of the flagship stories of Dark Horse Presents. Dark, gritty, dangerous, and somehow still touching. 

There you have it! The giant twentieth issue of Dark Horse Presents! We’re getting closer to the volumes that captured my heart and made me a Dark Horse fan!

Reviewing IT

Stephen King is an incredible author. Wether you like his style or favored genre or stories or not it doesn’t change the fact that he captures magic within the pages of his stories. IT is a good example of this. 

IT has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages waiting to be read. Since the book is arm breaker length I kept putting IT off, reading other books that were also waiting, but knowing one day I wanted to tackle IT. This month I announced I would be reading IT for the first time and encouraged other readers to join me in reading IT or any other Stephen King book to welcome in the Fall. My logic is that Fall or Winter suit his style more in my mind than do Summer or Spring. Many readers joined in and we all discovered (or rediscovered) the magic that King has!

I was very much impressed by how King captured the whimsy and seriousness of childhood. I think he might be able to capture this better than most authors I’ve encountered. The children in IT aren’t just little adults, they’re children and they view the world through the eyes of children. I also was impressed by how IT wasn’t really just one story or two stories interwoven, it was six stories blended together into one. Any one of these stories could have been a complete story on its own, but wouldn’t have been as strong a story without the other five. 

As far as the story being scary or not, I honestly didn’t find IT to be scary. I found IT to be intense and there were several places that I was concerned for the characters, but not as frightening as other King books I’ve read. The aspects that worried me the most were the parts where we saw humanity at its worst. Sadly you could take the monster out of IT and still have most of the tragedy remain as we are our own monsters. But you also see the good and nobility that can be found in humanity too!

Overall I really enjoyed IT and felt that King did a great job. I know many are still reading their King book for #FallOfTheKing and I’m so glad y’all joined me this and for #ImReadingIt and I hope you’ve enjoyed your time spent with King as much as I have! Maybe next Fall I’ll tackle another of his books! 

Halfway Through IT, Announcing October Reading Plans! (Here Be Unicorns)

So I am halfway through Stephen King’s masterpiece IT and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the first half of IT and announce my October Group Read as well! This way all who want to join have time to get ahold of a book for October! 

The first half of IT is not particularly scary to me as much as it is tragically sad to me! Why sad? Because if you were to eliminate the supernatural monster from IT you would still have the monsters of humanity rearing their ugly heads: racism, sexism, child abuse, bullying, spousal abuse, homophobia, hatred of the other, antisemitism, manipulation, so many ugly aspects of humanity that need to be changed. 

Also it is worth noting that the main reason IT seems so long is not due to SK’s over descriptiveness as much as IT really is six separate stories masterfully woven into one story. I think SK has a way of capturing the magical combination of whimsy and seriousness of childhood that is greater than any I’ve encountered. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book and hope all who joined me in #FallOfTheKing and #ImReadingIT have enjoyed their journey so far!

Announcing my October Reading Plan! Many of you already know and follow my friend MillieBotReads and if you don’t you should click that link and get to know her! She is a fan of Tanith Lee, so much so that I associate TL’s books with her! I’ve seen a lot of Tanith Lee’s works through my reading life but I haven’t ever read anything of hers that I know of. So MillieBotReads and I are going to host a #TanithLeeRead group read this October! 

To join in you simply need to get ahold of a Tanith Lee book and join us in reading it on October first! MillieBotReads and I will be specifically reading the first book of her Unicorn Trilogy: Black Unicorn, and using the hashtag #HereBeUnicorns for that trilogy in particular. However the #TanithLeeRead is open to ANY Tanith Lee book you choose to read. We think Black Unicorn is a good entry point into her work and if you can’t find it at a store or a library you can get it for your kindle HERE.

After reading an armbreaker like IT it will be nice to read a short 138 page fantasy novel. After seeing how I enjoy Black Unicorn I might continue on in the trilogy! I’m excited to start #TanithLeeReads and #HereBeUnicorns as this will also be a #FirstAuthorContact read for me! In looking at Tanith Lee’s BIOGRAPHY I find her to be an interesting person who refused to let adversity stop her from pursuing her dreams. I hope you’ll join in with us and pick up Black Unicorn or any other Tanith Lee book this October! 

I’ll post more about this again soon to remind everyone about this! I’m excited! Feel free to share this post and spread the word! 

What? Frank Herbert Wrote More Than Just Dune? Part 1

When you hear the name of Frank Herbert you instantly think Dune, and rightly so! Dune is a masterpiece and is extremely influential in a way that most authors can only dream of. However if you stop at Dune you do yourself an injustice as Frank Herbert wrote several other amazing works. 

Frank Herbert wrote the ConSentient Series consisting of Whipping Star and The Dosadi Experiment along with a couple of short stories. This series never gained the fame or acclaim of his Dune Saga, but it is an incredible work nonetheless. 

Whipping Star is a strange name for a novel but soon after starting this book you realize it makes sense! This book is more dialogue and philosophy than action, but Herbert demonstrates his ability to weave action into his dialogue. This book (and the overall series) examines morality, justice, law, and truth. In this story we are face to face with an intelligence much greater and more ancient than our own. You are left asking what is the value of life when viewed through an ancient lense. What is it when viewed through a personal viewpoint? What is the value of all life in the galaxy? This story involves a lot of thinking and reasoning on the part of the reader, and I loved it. Very well executed. 

The Dosadi Experiment is gripping and fast paced, but again it hides its action within the dialogue. In this we examine evolution (a common theme in FH’s works) and not only how environment can cause evolutionary change, but also the proximity of alien life can drastically alter how a species evolves. The stakes in this novel are high and the tension is constant from start to finish. An amazing work of art. 

I’m writing this because a few years back I decided to branch out into the writings of Frank Herbert, to go further than his Dune Saga. I’ve been thankful for that choice and I’ll be sharing more on his other writings over time. I hope these posts encourage you to seek out his other works and join me in exploring them! 

Our Weekly Dark Horse Presents Vols 17,18, 19

Our (formerly) weekly review of Dark Horse Presents volumes 17, 18, and 19.

It’s been a hot minute since I read and reviewed Dark Horse Presents but I’m wanting to get back to my favorite comic book anthology! I’m reviewing three issues today to jumpstart the return of this feature. 

Volume 17 features Roachmill by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeny and in my eyes is a wasted issue. A cheesy Punisher style satire. I don’t have much that is positive to say about this issue. I find most of these attempts at dark comedic satires to be uninteresting. 

Volume 18 features Paul Chadwick’s Concrete’s Sky Of Heads which as always is thoughtful and interesting. Here we look at the only real commodity we have in life: Time

Bob The Alien by Rich Rice makes its debut! And this is one story I always find enjoyable. The art has the feel of skipping pencils and going straight to inks. The concept of seeing the world through the eyes of an alien is worthwhile. The points made are subtle and the overall effect is enjoyable. 

Masque by Mark Badger is unfortunately continued in this volume. I’ve given up reading this mess of a story. 

Volume 19 features Geof Darrow!! Saed is a neat little SciFi that showcases Geof Darrow’s art. Story is very little, but Darrow’s art is always so detailed and engaging so that makes up for the simplicity of the story. 

Bob The Alien by Rich Rice continues as Bob again miscommunicates his way through the city!

Masque by Mark Badger unfortunately ends with the worse sort of threat a bad story can end with: To be continued….

Rick Geary brings his strange stories and eye catching artwork to Dark Horse Presents with The Sack Murder. Geary always presents a strange and unique story and always makes you think. 

Next week we’ll look at the twentieth issue of Dark Horse Presents, and hopefully get back to making this a weekly feature! 

Careful Lest Ye Wake The Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants by Slyvain Neuvel is a book you won’t want to sleep on! Ok so cheesy opening line to the review, but for real this SciFi is interesting!

There are two main things to discuss here: The Story and The Storytelling Method.

First the story: Pieces of an ancient statue are showing up around the world that appear to have been created and hidden long before humanity had the skill to craft such a wonder. A group of people are brought together to search for all the pieces and reconstruct them to discover what they are. However when you start messing with ancient things that have been hidden away you have to be careful of the repercussions. 

Next the Method: The author uses an interview/journal method to tell the tale. At first I thought this was just a way to move the story along quickly at the start and expected the traditional method of story telling to start soon after. It wasn’t just for the start, it really was for the entire story. This is fine as the author kept it interesting and intriguing. However it can become tiresome and resulted in me setting down this book at times to read a different and more traditionally told story. That said I think the author did well with the method and surprisingly kept the plot moving fairly quickly. 

I thought that this SciFi was very interesting and that the story has a lot of promise. The characters were well crafted and the differences in their personalities do shine through in the interviews. I will be picking up the sequel when it is written and I do think you would enjoy reading Sleeping Giants. 

A big THANK YOU to my wife for buying this book for me on my birthday! The cover caught her eye and I have to agree that this cover is stunning.