Category Archives: SciFi

Received in March

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received last month for review and/or giveaways:

DVD/Blu Rays:
Krypton Season 1 Blu-Ray
Bumblebee 4K Blu-Ray
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Blu-Ray

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox

Angry Robot:
Hidden Sun: Shadowlands Book I by Jaine Fenn
Broken Shadow: Shadowlands Book II by Jaine Fenn

Berkley:
Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

Clarion Books:
Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Daw:
Finder by Suzanne Palmer
The Master of Dreams by Mike Resnick

Del Rey:
Inspection by Josh Malerman
Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove
Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion by Gina McIntyre
The Stiehl Assassin by Terry Brooks
Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

Disney Hyperion / Freeform:
The Odd Sisters: A Villains Novel by Serena Valentino
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Where I End and You Begin by Preston Norton
The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi
Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Available Light by Dayton Ward

Harper Voyager:
Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
Mahimata by Rati Mehrotra
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst
The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell
Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood by J. Michael Straczynski
The Dragon Republic by R. F Kuang
The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

Penguin / Dial:
This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni

Scholastic:
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Shadow Mountain:
Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Simon Teen / Simon Pulse:
Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody

St Martin’s Press:
We Are Mayhem by Michael Moreci

Subterranean Press:
Atmosphæra Incognita by Neal Stephenson
The Girl on the Porch by Richard T. Chizmar
In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant
The Best of Greg Egan by Greg Egan
Fan Service by Gail Carriger

Titan Books:
Captain Marvel The Official Movie Special by Titan
Firefly: The Magnificent Nine by James Lovegrove

Tor:
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Uproar Books:
Wild Sun by Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad

First Look at Krypton Season 2…Under Zod’s Rule

ABOUT KRYPTON SEASON TWO:
What if Superman never existed? Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, KRYPTON follows Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, as a young man who fights to save his home planet from destruction. Season 2 brings us back to a changed Kandor, locked in a battle over its freedom and its future. General Dru-Zod (Colin Salmon) is now in control. He’s on a ruthless mission to rebuild Krypton according to his ideals and to secure its future by conquering the universe. Faced with a bleak outlook, our hero, Seg-El, attempts to unite a dispersed group of resisters in an effort to defeat Zod and restore hope to their beloved planet. Their chance at redemption is threatened however, by their opposing tactics, shifting alliances and conflicting moral boundaries – forcing each of them to individually determine how far they’re willing to go in pursuit of a better tomorrow.

Blu-Ray Review: Bumblebee

Bumblebee

Synopsis:
CYBERTRON has fallen. When OPTIMUS PRIME sends BUMBLEBEE to defend Earth, his journey to become a hero begins. Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager trying to find her place in the world, discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot, who’s disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. As the DECEPTICONS hunt down the surviving AUTOBOTS with the help of a secret agency led by Agent Burns (John Cena), BUMBLEBEE and Charlie team up to protect the world.

Review:
Bumblebee is a prequel to the Transformer movies. It’s set in the 80s and has a great soundtrack. Besides the setting changes, this story focuses mainly on Bumblebee with a couple Decepticons in pursuit. He is helped by teenage Charlie, who lost her father years ago and is trying to find direction.

This is easily the best movie in the series since the original Transformers. This story has focus and direction. And it’s still action-packed and full of humor and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, especially Charlie and her awkward friend Memo. And fan-favorite Bumblebee really gets to shine, of course. And finally someone (Agent Burns) comments on the obvious “They literally call themselves Decepticons. That doesn’t set off any red flags?” It’s kind of silly that the government would work with the Decepticons, but they believe they’ll gather advanced technology out of the deal. This is a light-hearted, exciting and just plain fun movie for all ages.

BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTRA HD COMBO, BLU-RAY COMBO & DIGITAL*
• Sector 7 Archive
o Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7
o Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome (All-New Motion Comic)
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Outtakes
• Bee Vision: The Transformers robots of Cybertron
• Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen
o The Story of Bumblebee
o The Stars Align
o Bumblebee Goes Back to G1
o Back to the Beetle
o California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane

And this mini Sector 7 comic was included with my 4k copy!

RUIN’S WAKE Blog Tour – Book Excerpt

Today, we have a book excerpt from Ruin’s Wake by Patrick Edwards on this stop of his blog tour!

The City
They saw more signs of fighting as they got closer to the center of the great wheel. The backdrop to their cautious, darting route was a jumbled multitude of burned-out vehicles, pockmarked walls and the acrid tang of cordite. They passed a ground car, flattened under heavy treads and still on fire. The wall behind it was perforated in several places, the distinct patina of plasma fire coruscating around the edges.

Not far down the road a Factor’s checkpoint had been torn open by an explosion. Bodies lay in a jumbled heap, one man hanging over the crumbling lip of the crater, his legs a bloody crush of bone and torn flesh. A little further on a row of troops in stained army uniforms lay against the wall where their execution had taken place. Cale saw the look of fear still painted on the face of one of them, the hole in his forehead absurdly neat. The military had not been prepared for this.

An enormous pounding shook the earth and they dove for the safety of an alleyway. Threading through its narrow darkness, they found their way through to the other side, the close walls channeling the echoes of gunfire until it sounded as if the battle was on top of them.

At the other end they came upon a dun expanse: one of Karume’s state parks. A section of trees had been toppled by an enormous battle tank that squatted at the end of its ripped-up trail like a monster of steel and smoke in the center of the lawn, its turret sweeping the area.

They took cover behind a powered-down skimmer truck just as a war-walker erupted from the other side of the park, its massive feet churning up great chunks of grass as it closed on its prey. It was a patchwork of parts, unpainted ceramic plate showing through the soot that coated it, engines roaring as it brought its weapon arms to bear. The ground tank fired but missed, the concussion from the shell knocking the walker – but not toppling it – before obliterating two floors of a building. The walker dug ruts in the turf as it skidded to a stop, centered itself, then fired both cannons at once. The tank split open like a fruit as the heavy shells ripped into it; there might have been screams, but they were quickly swallowed by the howl of superheated air and metal. The walker made sure its prey was dead, then took off in the other direction.

Guest Post: Author Amber Royer

Author Amber Royer joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about researching for her Chocoverse books. Her latest novel, Pure Chocolate, book 2 in The Chocoverse series, is available now!

“Research and Empathy”

At a recent science fiction convention, someone asked me what was the craziest thing I’d done in the name of research for my Chocoverse books.

A few images popped into my head.

One was me with a hairdryer and an extension cord attempting to winnow cacao beans on my apartment patio. (Cacao has a papery hull that must be removed if you want to achieve a smooth texture when you process it into chocolate.). But many a would-be craft chocolate maker has done the same thing. Because commercially-purchased chocolate processing equipment is expensive.

The second was me in the passenger seat of a jeep, trying to take pictures of the many cows tethered along the side of a road. While we were moving at speed. I wound up with a ton of pictures of blurry foliage — and of cow butts. We had visited Samana, Dominican Republic, to take a tour of a cacao plantation, and someone gave us a whole pod, directly off a tree. Everyone we were traveling with seemed to think we were crazy for eating raw fruit in a foreign country. But we didn’t care as we were sucking tart-pineapple flavored pulp off the cacao beans. And we suffered no ill effects, so that wasn’t really crazy either.

Third, there was me watching the World Cup, trying to get into it the way a true fan would. Which probably doesn’t sound crazy at all, until you realize that prior to designing Brill (my story’s male lead) and Bo’s brother Mario (who is a HUGE soccer fan) I’d never really watched sports. What IS crazy is that I lied about this fact back when I was in high school to get a job as a sports intern for the local paper.

I learned fast and hard that you can’t fake fandom, of any sort. The first time you go looking for Arnold Palmer in the football photos file, everyone is going to know you have no idea what you’re doing.

There are a ton of geek references in the Chocoverse books, and I come by them honestly, from a lifetime of consuming science fiction films and books, starting with The Flight of the Navigator and Space Camp when I was a kid. So I didn’t have to actively research that at all.

The soccer thing isn’t huge to the plot, and I still couldn’t tell you the names of all the real-world players, but I learned enough to understand the rules of the game and WHY my characters enjoy watching it. I understand them better now. (And I enjoy watching soccer sometimes now too.)

Different aspects of a book are going to require different levels of research, depending on how much of the plot centers around them, and how detailed you will need to be in your explanations, and how much you already know. (Even if you think you know facts, though, you should probably still look them up to verify you remember things correctly.

There’s a lot more detail in the series about chocolate production and botany, so I needed to do more hands-on work to get it right, so that the reader would feel like they’d actually traveled with Bo inside that rainforest to obtain a forbidden cacao pod. This book also involved a lot of YouTube time, from trying to get a feel of what an arial approach to Rio would look like from inside a helicopter to seeing how it really looks when a corgi tries to sit with those impossibly short legs. (The answer is they don’t— they just sort of sploot backwards from standing to lying down in one motion — and sploot is an actual term corgi lovers use, so better get it right. And yes, now I want a corgi, but no, I haven’t gotten one. Yet.)

I once heard writing described as a sustained act of empathy, and several people have permitted the advice to write what you know to instead writings what you would like to know. Put those two ideas together and you can begin to understand how much each project changes a writer, if you let yourself be true to the details.

SciFi Book Review: Captain Marvel: Liberation Run

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe

Synopsis:
Carol Danvers–Captain Marvel–narrowly stops a spacecraft from crashing. Its pilot Rhi is a young Inhuman woman from a group who left for a life among the stars. Instead they were imprisoned on a planet where an enslaved Inhuman brings her owner great power and influence. Horrified by the account, Carol gathers a team–including Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho–and they set out to free Rhi’s people.

Review:
Carol helps a young woman as she crashes to Earth. Rhi is a refugee Inhuman who has been living as a slave on a distant family. She fled only to get help to free her friends and family. So, Captain Marvel gathers a small team of Mantis, Ant-Man, and Brawn and forms a plan to free Rhi’s friends. Unfortunately, the power inhibitor on the planet affects most of Captain Marvel’s team – and they need a new plan.

Liberation Run is a standalone adventure set in the recent Marvel comic universe. The story is dramatic and poignant. Yet when Captain Marvel and friends arrive, the danger doesn’t seem as intense – even without some of their powers. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-developed story with plenty of colorful characters and humor to round out the grim situation. I love comics, but prose novels like this can cover more ground and have a bit more depth sometimes. Sure, it’s a bit predictable (superheroes have to win, right?) but it’s a lot of fun and was another great story to get my Captain Marvel fix.

Blu Ray Review: Krypton Season 1

Krypton: The Complete First Season

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Synopsis:
What if Superman never existed? Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton follows a young Seg-El, the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, who is faced with a life and death conflict –save his home planet or let it be destroyed in order to restore the fate of his future grandson. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray and the House of El ostracized, Seg fights alongside Earthly time-traveler Adam Strange to redeem his family’s honor and protect the ones he loves while saving the future of his legacy from DC Super-Villain Brainiac.

Review:
Seg-El is visited by time-traveling Adam Strange who claims to be from the future. He has returned to help Seg-El stop Brainiac – who has returned to end Superman by changing the past. Seg-El resembles his future grandson, though is more flawed and conflicted. He’s certainly more relatable than Kal-El.

This first season of Krypton is only 10 episodes. But there is a lot of story that unfolds. Krypton’s politics and deep-rooted mythology is a fascinating background, but very different from what we’ve seen in previous portrayals of a Utopia. Then, adding Brainiac’s infiltration adds another layer of chaos. This is a dark and suspenseful season with plenty of mystery and intriguing characters. And the season finale ends with a big cliffhanger that leaves fans impatient for more.

BLU-RAY & DVD FEATURES:
•Krypton: 2017 Comic-Con Panel
•Krypton: Bringing the Home World to Life
•A Lost Kingdom: Life on Krypton
•Gag reel
•Deleted Scenes