Tag Archives: AWordFromMyFriends

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.


GUEST REVIEW: The Wolf Of Wall Street

(RedStarReviews Note: From time to time we will feature a review from my family or a friend. The reviews will be their thoughts on books/movies/music that caught their attention. This is the first guest review we’ve featured and it is given to us by our friend G X Knight who is an author himself! Hope you enjoy!)

The Wolf of Wall Street

I have to be honest. This is not my type of movie. I knew it before I watched it, but I watched it anyway. It wasn’t going to have enough aliens, explosions, or space ships to keep me entertained. Why did I watch it you ask? The answer is simple: Because of a girl.
That being said I went into it with an open mind. All I knew about the movie was that it starred Leo, people thought this was finally going to get him his unicorn-flavored Oscar, and the premise probably had something to do with money.
I did not know that this movie had two things against it.
1: It was based on a true story. There are few, and I mean few, movies that I’ve seen based on real life that I’ve enjoyed. Why? Because it’s real life. If I want real life I will walk outside my door, step in the cruel reality of bills, sickness, and the public’s alarmingly shrinking sense factor once known as “common,” sigh to myself and think, “Is this really it?” That’s why I’m a sci-fi/fantasy author.
2: The entire movie pretty much revolves around rampant drug use. I did appreciate learning what a “Quaalude” is, fell in love with the way Leo said it with his Hollywood-doused New York accent, and I even feel inspired to possibly name a future brain-blitzed novel character something synonymous. While this isn’t some point to rail on the glorification of drug use, it’s just meant to state that most of the time I find drug related plot points in movies to be largely uninteresting. Yes, I am one the one percent who didn’t get excited about Breaking Bad, Weeds, or Nurse Jackie.
I hate spoilers. All you need to know is that there are more F-bombs than actual bombs Hitler dropped on London during the height of The Blitz, and it’s got enough TNA sprinkled throughout to make this a movie you don’t want to sit down with mom and dad and watch together over the holidays. I’m okay if we put that in the “Pro” column.
The actors were all fantastic in their roles, and as expected from a Scorsese flick. It’s got a great turnout of talent looking to play in his box of black sand. The dynamic between Hill and DiCaprio was fun, and as always McConaughey killed his appearance with such conviction that it makes me want to thump my chest and hum a dirge during my next fancy lunch… at Applebee’s. (That’s as fancy as my wallet allows.)
The movie is way too long. Running time is one minute shy of three hours. THREE HOURS. Unless you’re characters are navigating their way to Mount Doom, there is never a need to make a movie that long. EVER. It’s one of those “I don’t care anymore” stories you don’t feel the need to pause during the many bathroom breaks your “I can survive this” 12 pack of beer will send you on. The ending was fitting to that of a real life story: Anti-climactic, a little sad, no real payoff beyond the value of a pen, and no huge victory won through touch-and-go trials by fire. Sure, it had a small taste of overcoming, but even then there was such a posh price paid, the victory was diluted. You sit back and feel that maybe cutting corners, cheating, and living for just yourself is truly the only way to make it in this world.
So yeah, it’s real life. I know what that’s like. Give me something to hope for. Unfortunately, I found nothing to hope for in that movie except the credits.
Summary: Leo probably should have gotten his Oscar, he took a candle to the ass for God’s sake, the disgustingly rich, drug abusing, cheating asshole this movie is about has made even more money than you and I will ever have, and somewhere someone will try the drug tactics they saw laid out in this film to get ahead and subsequently ruin their life in the process. But I guess that’s real life. That being said, The Wolf of Wall Street was way too long, overly pointless, and the ending sucked.
– Rent don’t Buy.
– Rating: Buzzkill.