SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Cobalt Squadron

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Cobalt Squadron by by Elizabeth Wein

Synopsis:
Will Rose and Paige help save a planet, or will their actions lead to all-out war?

Review:
Sisters Rose and Paige Tico are a part of the resistance and the bomber group Cobalt Squadron. Paige is a gunner and Rose a brilliant technician. Cobalt Squadron assists Atterran citizens from a First Order blockade. The people of Atterra are dying from a lack of resources – a scene all too familiar for the Tico sisters.

Star Wars fans were introduced to Rose and (briefly) Paige in The Last Jedi. The sisters have a sweet relationship and unbreakable bond. This is an exciting story with plenty of drama and intrigue. However, I would have liked a bit more character development – especially from other members of the Cobalt Squadron. Not knowing some of the characters better, lessens the impact of events. This quick, fast-paced read is a just one short adventure that ties in to an event in The Force Awakens – and ends just before The Last Jedi. I can’t get enough of these new characters.

Fantasy Book Review: Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction

Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction by J Scott Savage

Synopsis:
Arriving in San Francisco and investigating the area in secret, the young riders are reunited with Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, who reveals that the humans in the city are working as slaves to the dragons, but that they don’t want to be rescued–himself included. He says they are being protected by their new master: a huge, powerful white dragon who lives in an impenetrable tower fortress overlooking the city. Kallista is stunned by the news. Why would her father ever willingly want to work for dragons?

Trenton and his friends are confronted by the guards and their mechanical dragons are seized. Evading capture, the young riders escape and begin looking for a way to break the white dragon’s hold over the city–and over Leo. Working with the kids from the city, the young riders track down the source of the dragon’s power to an underground chamber that is accessible only through an underwater passageway below the tower fortress.

With the white dragon watching their every move, Trenton and Kallista will need every bit of creativity and ingenuity they can manage to find a way to retrieve their stolen dragons, enter the tower fortress, and take down the dragons once and for all.

Review:
Kallista, Trenton, Plucky, Simoni, Angus, and Clyde have been hunting dragons when they arrive in San Francisco. But this is a city of humans who are serving the dragons and seem to live in harmony. Even Kallista’s father seems to be brainwashed into using his skills to help the dragons rather than his own kind. A large white dragon rules the city and seems impossible to defeat – especially when it doesn’t look like the teens can trust anyone.

Embers of Destruction is the final installment in the Mysteries of Cove trilogy. This wonderful steampunk fantasy has built to an exciting finale. The characters are engaging and this latest story is the best yet. San Francisco is a dangerous and mysterious place where no one can be trusted and a new, deadly breed of dragons patrol. This action-packed, dragon-hunting episode doesn’t disappoint. And there were some fun surprises along the way that tied up the arc from the previous novels. I thoroughly enjoyed this last adventure.

Book Giveaway: Daughters of the Storm

Courtesy of Del Rey, I have an extra early review copy of Daughters of the Storm, by Kim Wilkins 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 16. I’ll draw a name on March 17, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Daughters of the Storm

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.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi In-Home Trailer (Official)

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!

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