Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Guest Post: Gareth L. Powell

FIVE CLASSIC SPACE OPERAS THAT STILL HOLD UP TODAY
by Gareth L. Powell

‘Space opera’ has been around since the heyday of the pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. Initially the term was one of derision, likening the genre to tacky ‘horse opera’ westerns. However, just as the hippies and punks of the 1960s and 1970s took their derogatory labels and wore them with pride, so the term ‘space opera’ came to be used for action-packed stories featuring big spaceships and weighty themes.

Looking back now, not all of those stories have aged well. Some are frankly unreadable, either due to their dreadful prose, cardboard characters, or woeful science. But if you look hard enough, there are still plenty of gems to be found.

Below, I have picked ten classic* space operas that still have much to offer the modern reader.

*For the purposes of this list, I have defined the term ‘classic’ as including books written or published before the turn of the Millennium.

1. Nova by Samuel Delany. Without doubt, one of my favorite books, Nova is set a thousand years into the future, and tells the story of Lorq Von Ray, last scion of a powerful and rich dynasty, and his quest to harvest the rare mineral illyrion from the core of an imploding sun. Filled with literary fireworks, the book relates Von Ray’s quest to tarot lore and the Arthurian Grail legends, while simultaneously using the literary ambitions of one of its characters to provide a meta-commentary on the process of novel writing itself.

2. The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison. Harrison takes the tropes of pulp space opera—starports, lone traders, and naval engagements—and gives them a cyberpunk makeover. Crews have to jack directly into their ships via sockets on their wrists. The main character deals amphetamines and is discharged from the army because he wets himself every time a gun goes off. Whether or not it was written as a criticism of the genre, it paved the way for the grittier ‘New Space Opera’ of the 1990s.

3. The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey. When I sat down to write Embers of War, I re-read this book to help get me in the mood to write about a sentient starship. I hadn’t read it since I was a kid, and I was relieved to find it just about held up. Taken at face value, it’s a fun, if episodic adventure. Unfortunately, modern readers might baulk at the idea of data held on magnetic tape, and the titular ship’s constant yearning for a man to make her life complete.

4. The Game Of Rat And Dragon by Cordwainer Smith. This is only a short story, but I decided to include it because a) it’s quite extraordinary, and b) this is my list and I can do what I want. In the far future, human starship are routinely attacked during faster-than-light travel by invisible aliens that drive their crews insane. The only way to protect against these attacks is to use cats paired with human telepaths. The cats perceive the aliens as rats and destroy them with miniature nuclear weapons. If you haven’t read it, you really should. And while you’re at it check out Smith’s other stories, such as ‘Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons’, and ‘Golden the Ship Was-Oh! Oh! Oh!’

5. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Based at least in part on the author’s experiences fighting in the Vietnam War, this tale of interstellar conflict follows the fortunes of William Mandella, a physics student conscripted into the war against the mysterious Taurans. Due to the time dilation caused by interstellar travel, he finds each tour of duty—while only lasting a couple of subjective years for him—throws him further and further into the future, with the result that every time he returns to Earth, he finds it changed almost beyond all recognition.

Honorable Mentions:
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Fire On The Deep by Vernor Vinge
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Dune by Frank Herbert
Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell is published by Titan Books. You can find Gareth on Twitter @garethlpowell

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Arrives via Movies Anywhere 3/13 and on 4K and Blu-ray 3/27

From Press Release:
The next action-packed chapter of the Star Wars saga – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – welcomes the return of original characters as well as in-depth looks of the saga’s newest members. This release will include a feature-length documentary from Director Rian Johnson that takes fans on an intimate journey into the creation of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The release will also include two exclusive scenes featuring Andy Serkis as Snoke prior to his digital makeover, scene breakdowns, deleted scenes, audio commentary and more. Families can bring the next chapter of Star Wars home digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD and via Movies Anywhere March 13 and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray disc March 27. This release will mark Disney’s first title available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision™ HDR and Dolby Atmos® immersive audio, delivering consumers a transformative viewing experience.

Box Review: Bam Box – January 2018

Bam Box

The Bam Box was founded in 2015 by Bloof, the same team of geeks, comic book lovers and pop culture collectors that started ComiconAuction.com. We love collecting. We love the thrill of it, the mystery of it and especially that feeling you get when you have a collectible in your hands that you are really excited about. So we set out to bring something different to everyone.

There are some great subscription boxes on the market, but we felt there was still something missing. We went to the drawing board with the goal of creating the box we would want to show up on our doorstep. After a lot of ideas and prototypes we arrived at the Bam Box. From the design of the box to the items inside to the instant winners we send out, we accomplished what we wanted to do: give you the subscription box we would be jealous of.”

Cost: 1 month plan starts at $24.99 plus $7.99 s/h

*SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

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This is the 2 Year Anniversary box! And we’re back to having a page of what’s included in the box – which was missing in the past couple boxes!

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Walking Dead Pin and Hand of the King Replica Pin The Game of Thrones pin/broach (for those few who, like me, don’t watch Game of Thrones and didn’t know what this was referring to) is a heavy, well-made replica. Just wish I cared about the series.

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Two-Face Coin – Batman’s nemesis Two-Face uses a coin like this to make decisions. I knew right away what this was supposed to be!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Signed Print – This was one of four possibilities of supporting cast members, or an even rarer one of all four signatures on one print.

Bam Box

Stranger Things Art Print – I received a 1-Up variant of this print! I’m a fan of Stranger Things, so this was really cool.

Summary:
I’m so glad we’re back to a page of item descriptions! Though, it could stand to be a little more informative. The two collectibles (I never count the small, filler pins) are very small but well-done. And I appreciate the variety of franchises that are represented. You won’t find these items in any other mystery box.

NEXT MONTH: There will be items from: X-Files, Black Panther, Ghostbusters, Smallville, and Terminator! Wow!

SciFiChick.com’s 13th Anniversary and Giveaway!

Today, SciFiChick.com celebrates 13 years of news, reviews, and interviews of SciFi/Fantasy books, movies, TV, and monthly subscription boxes!

Many thanks to my readers and visitors!

And thanks to the various publishers, authors, and media contacts who continue to send books, movies, and monthly subscription boxes for review. You help to keep my passion/addiction alive and keep me buried in books, movies, and collectibles!

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Courtesy of BBC Books, I have an extra early review copy of Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet, by Douglas Adams for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends March 9. I’ll draw a name on March 10, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading SciFiChick.com’s 13th Anniversary and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: Black Star Renegades

Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Synopsis:
Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.

Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option:

He has to fight.

Cade’s not going to let destiny send him on a suicide run, though. With some help from his friends―rebels and scoundrels alike―Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.

He just has to do so before everyone around him discovers that he’s a complete and total fraud.

Review:
Cade doesn’t have high ideals and doesn’t care about being a hero. So when the weight of saving the galaxy falls in his hands, he tries to find someone else to wield the responsibility. But Cade has a good heart and has no choice. He and his new crew have to face an evil force, even when the odds are against them.

Black Star Renegades is an exciting space opera. It has been compared to Star Wars meets Guardians of the Galaxy – and I heartily agree. There are great characters – even a snarky robot. A fast-paced plot with plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, drama, and humor round out this thrilling story. This impressive debut novel is a lot of fun. It works well as a standalone, but this creative universe and cast of engaging characters demands a series.

SciFi Book Review: Batman: Nightwalker

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Synopsis:
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
The city’s elites are being taken out one by one as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is about to become eighteen and inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he loves. But on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice and is sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most nefarious criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
The most intriguing inmate in Arkham is Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. A girl who will only speak to Bruce. She is the mystery he must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?

Review:
Bruce is sentenced to community service, cleaning at Arkham Asylum after angering the police with reckless behavior. While there, he meets the mysterious killer Madeleine – and feels an immediate connection to her. His fascination with Madeleine puts him in danger, but he may be the only who can get the truth from her.

Batman: Nightwalker is an exciting story set before Bruce becomes Batman. This Young Adult story is engaging and exciting. Despite being young and brash, Bruce has a good head on his shoulders and his priorities straight. The story will keep you guessing to the end. It’s fast-paced and full of mystery and drama. This was a lot fun, despite the darker setting of Arkham. Young Batman fans will enjoy this one.

SciFi Book Review: Star Trek: Discovery: Drastic Measures

Star Trek: Discovery: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward

Synopsis:
It is 2246, ten years prior to the Battle at the Binary Stars, and an aggressive contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV and the eight thousand people who call it home. Distress signals have been sent, but any meaningful assistance is weeks away. Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca and a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost are caught up in the escalating crisis, and bear witness as the colony’s governor, Adrian Kodos, employs an unimaginable solution in order to prevent mass starvation.

While awaiting transfer to her next assignment, Commander Philippa Georgiou is tasked with leading to Tarsus IV a small, hastily assembled group of first responders. It’s hoped this advance party can help stabilize the situation until more aid arrives, but Georgiou and her team discover that they‘re too late—Governor Kodos has already implemented his heinous strategy for extending the colony’s besieged food stores and safeguarding the community’s long-term survival.

In the midst of their rescue mission, Georgiou and Lorca must now hunt for the architect of this horrific tragedy and the man whom history will one day brand “Kodos the Executioner.”

Review:
The events in Drastic Measures was referred to in the episode “The Conscience of the King” of the original Star Trek series. Governor Kodos decides to murder thousands of colonists in order to save a small group to survive a looming famine. After the devastating massacre, Starfleet steps in to aid in the relief effort and hunt down those responsible. Lieutenant Commander Lorca loses someone close to him and takes the job personally. And Commander Georgiou arrives to take charge of the situation.

The story is told from varying points of view that feel like reading a news article about what happened on Tarsus IV. It’s a shocking premise that leads to plenty of drama, heartbreak, and suspense. We get to see a different Lorca – one who is pushed to the edge and broken from losing a love interest. This novel was hard to put down. And fans of Discovery will love this early look at Lorca and Georgiou and several fun cameos from other familiar characters. Even knowing that Kodos escapes to show up years later with the Enterprise, this stirring read does not disappoint.

Fantasy Book Review: Ink



Ink by Alice Broadway

Synopsis:
There are no secrets in Saintstone.

From the second you’re born, every achievement, every failing, every significant moment are all immortalized on your skin. There are honorable marks that let people know you’re trustworthy. And shameful tattoos that announce you as a traitor.

After her father dies, Leora finds solace in the fact that his skin tells a wonderful story. That is, until she glimpses a mark on the back of his neck… the symbol of the worst crime a person can commit in Saintstone. Leora knows it has to be a mistake, but before she can do anything about it, the horrifying secret gets out, jeopardizing her father’s legacy… and Leora’s life.

Review:
Leora lives in a land where everyone is tattooed with their life story. People without tattoos are considered “blanks” and outcasts. When she realizes that her deceased father had a mark on his neck that labeled him a traitor, everything she believes is put into question.

Ink is a thought-provoking, dramatic fantasy for teens and adults. This inspired world is fascinating and beautifully written. It’s a quick read with plenty of intense suspense. There are some fun and surprising twists along the way. And this gripping story had me hooked until the surprising finale.