Category Archives: SciFi

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours

Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack

Synopsis:
Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.

She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet’s dark, uncharted sea.

As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so, she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life—until now.

Review:
The Shenzhou assists a Federation colony under attack from a suspicious juggernaut that came from the planet’s own sea. Captain Georgiou is immediately suspicious, with good reason. Meanwhile, Captain Pike and and the Enterprise soon arrive, but with strange orders from Starfleet.

Desperate Hours is a prequel to the new show, now available on CBS All Access. Michael Burnham is newly promoted as first officer and her rival Lt. Saru has to deal with her promotion over him. The two were my favorite characters after watching the first couple episodes, so I was happy to see this relationship fleshed out more. In fact, we get to know Lt. Saru a lot better, and learn more about his unique heritage.

And as the Shenzhou and Enterprise jointly investigate the origins of the juggernaut and the ancient original inhabitants of this world, Burnham is reunited with an officer from the Enterprise. Their relationship is strained, awkward, and eventually leads to a fantastic, revealing scene.

Mack has written numerous, outstanding novels in various Star Trek series, so I had high hopes for this. And I’m happy to say it exceeded my expectations. The story is exciting, with plenty of drama and intrigue. I loved delving deeper into these new characters. And the meetup with the Enterprise was a fitting passing of the baton to this new series. It is a bit strange that we still haven’t seen the Discovery, but the series will focus on Michael Burnham, and this is a prequel story that gives some insight into characters and relationships that we only had a glimpse of during the first two episodes. I am very excited for the future of this new series. And I thoroughly enjoyed this prequel novel and look forward to more.

TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery

About Star Trek Discovery:
Star Trek, one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises, returns 50 years after it first premiered, with Star Trek: Discovery. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to watch on CBS All Access:
http://www.cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery/

Review:
CBS has kept details of the show secretive. After production and release delays, and the disappointment of the show only airing online via yet another paid service, I still remained optimistic. After all, the small glimpses, casting, and setting all looked great. And this is the first time that a Star Trek series will be serialized, rather than individual, one-hour storylines. Discovery is set 10 years prior to the Original series of Kirk, Spock, and Bones. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham – a human first officer who was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s father Sarek.

What stands out the most on first-watch is the amazing set designs and special effects. Especially with the Klingons, who have been revamped and look very different than the ones from the previous series. From costumes and prosthetics to the set details – it’s stunning and impressive. In fact, as I watched the first episode it felt like I was watching a big budget blockbuster, not a television show. The bridge design and uniforms are not unlike the recent JJ Abrams Star Trek films, yet they have their own spin. I especially liked the spacesuit design.

My biggest complaint has to do with the Klingons – and it’s the subtitles. I can’t stand reading subtitles for long periods of time, and it’s really not necessary unless it’s a foreign film. We know they’re speaking another language, so phasing to English should’ve happened at some point.

The casting and characters are fantastic as well. Michael Burnham is a tremendously complex young woman, brilliantly cast, and an intriguing main character. Doug Jones as Lt. Saru, of a new alien race, is already a fan favorite as he has a great rivalry with Burnham. And Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou of the Shenzhou is flawless as Burnham’s mentor and boss. Unfortunately, episodes 1 and 2 only show the Shenzhou, so we haven’t even met the crew of the Discovery yet. But with Jason Isaacs as the captain, I’m already excited.

Episode 1 ended in a major cliffhanger, making fans like me scramble to sign up for CBS All Access to watch the next episode. And I enjoyed the second installment even more. In fact, as I watched it I realized I immediately wanted to rewatch as soon as possible. The heart of what Star Trek about is here – optimism for the future. Though we do get to see the grittiness of having Klingons as definitive adversaries for the first time. There is plenty of suspense, adventure, drama, hi-tech gadgets, techno babble, and questions of morality. “The Vulcan Hello” itself is a wonderful example of a scenario that will make viewers think and question. It has been a long time since I found myself so giddy and geeked out about a new show. And I can’t wait for the next episode.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Phasma

Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah S Dawson

Synopsis:
One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armored stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

Review:
Phasma had a small but powerful presence in The Force Awakens, so many fans were looking forward to her backstory and learning more about her. Her story is told by a captured rebel, Vi, in short, drawn out bursts, to her captor. Cardinal is jealous of Phasma and wants to find some dirt on her to bring her down.

Phasma is born on a harsh world and makes her own way. And she will do anything to survive. Basically, Phasma is a psychopath. I would have liked to hear her story and get her point of view, to see if she feels any empathy. But her ruthlessness is evident. It was a clever way to tell her story from a third party, giving this origin story another level. As Vi finishes Phasma’s story, the even more suspense builds. This action-packed, dramatic story is dark and revealing. And I can’t wait to read more of these individual stories leading up to the next film.

Book Giveaway: Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories

Courtesy of Mariner Books, I have a copy of Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories by Hugh Howey for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 13. I’ll draw a name on October 14, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories

Box Review: Smuggler’s Bounty – September 2017

Smuggler's Bounty

“Star Wars and Funko are proud to present Smuggler’s Bounty, the only OFFICAL Star Wars subscription box in the galaxy! Featuring 100% exclusive collectibles, apparel and accessories from the Star Wars universe, each box is carefully curated for Star Wars fans and shipped directly to your doorstep. Every box is themed specifically around the Star Wars films with collectors in mind. For just $25 (plus shipping) every other month, members will receive a box full of exclusive Star Wars-themed Funko collectibles and a host of other surprises valued at over $50. Each box will focus on a different part of the Star Wars universe and include memorabilia exclusive to the program, perfect for any Star Wars fan.”

The theme this month was Jedi!

Smuggler's Bounty

Patch and Pin – these are small collectibles included in each box.

Again this month, there was no card detailing the items included.

Smuggler's Bounty

Star Wars Young Luke Skywalker Tshirt – Yet another black tee. And it’s not a great rendering of Luke.

Smuggler's Bounty

Plush Yoda – This is really cute. I don’t collect the plush dolls, but they are cute!

Smuggler's Bounty

EXCLUSIVE Obi-Wan Kenobi – I only have an older Obi-Wan, so this younger version is nice.

EXCLUSIVE Aayla Secura – Here’s a more obscure Jedi from the prequel films. I don’t care for those, so I barely remember her. But it’s still fun to have a different looking POP, instead of all humans.

Summary:
I still miss the detail card about the items included. This was another great 2 Funko POPs in a box month! Both characters were from the prequel films that I didn’t care for. But there were way more Jedi’s to choose from in those films!

Will vs. The Future on Amazon

Writer and Producer Tim McKeon gave me a heads up about his latest pilot, now available on Amazon (no Prime needed!), called Will vs. The Future! He and Kevin Seccia created this fun and exciting middle-school, science fiction adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

You can watch it for free here: http://a.co/g2R8wRR

I’m hoping the pilot gets picked up by Amazon. The first episode is promising, with clever characters, an unpredictable plot, and plenty of humor. It’s reminiscent of Terminator – but for all ages. Go check it out, especially if you have a young scifi fan in your life.

SciFi Book Review: Killing is My Business

Killing is My Business by Adam Christopher

Synopsis:
Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman―and last robot left in working order―Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest in Christopher’s robot noir oeuvre, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Made to Kill.

Review:
Raymond is ordered to kill a man who apparently commits suicide. Then, he’s sent on a wild goose chase after a missing man. Then, he’s told to protect a man about to die – when Ray is most likely going to have to take him out later. This string of men all begin to tie together though, despite Ray’s reset memory each morning.

Ray is a favorite character of mine – a robot with hidden depths. Full of humor and heart, despite his programming. And the noir mystery mixed with science fiction is wholly unique. This latest mystery is complex and unpredictable. And the big finale doesn’t disappoint.

ThinkGeek: Star Wars Necklace

Star Wars Necklace

ThinkGeek has a new exclusive Star Wars Galactic Necklace!

This officially-licensed Star Wars jewelry is a great price for the amount of detail. And I love how unique it is!

Star Wars Necklace

Inside the lid gives a description of each planet included.

Star Wars Necklace Star Wars Necklace

And the box help identify each piece as well.

Star Wars Necklace

There is an adjustable, easy-clasp chain. The picture is about the maximum length, which is just about perfect.
I absolutely love this necklace. It’s stylish, pretty, and a great conversation piece.

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This jewelry was sent to me at no cost for review.