Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: Holiday Decoration Time!

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they’ve encountered during the week, etc.).

It’s been a couple of weeks since I participated in this meme. So, this one may be longer and slightly less focused than usual.  You have been warned. Continue reading

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Comic Review: Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines

Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines (Back to the Future #1)=Back to the Future is one of those movies I’ve seen so many times, I could probably recite the dialogue from start to finish. And yet any time I surf past it on cable, I’m inclined to stop and watch from wherever I’ve jumped in until the end.

So when I heard that there was a new series of comic books that filled in a few untold tales from the popular trilogy, I immediately decided to give it a try. Thankfully, the collection includes original movie author Bob Gale as a contributor. And while none of what we get in the collection would necessarily be canon, there are still some fun tales here.

Collecting five issues of stories, this collection has something for everyone. Whether it’s the story of Biff going back in time to the age of dinosaurs or the circumstances of Marty’s first meeting with Doc Brown, there are several winners in the collection. And unlike other media tie-in comics, it’s easy to recognize the characters we’ve come to know and love over the course of three movies. (It’s a pet peeve of mine when the art becomes so abstract that it’s hard to tell who is being depicted in a tie-in comic book).

If you’re a fan of Back to the Future, this is a fun collection that will remind you of just why you fell in love with the original movie to begin with. And if you’re like me, it may even tempt you to dust off the movies and spend some time with a few old friends again.

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Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

ArtemisAfter the runaway success of The Martian, it would have been easy for Andy Weir to publish his grocery list and have it race to the top of the bestseller list.

Instead, Weir made fans wait what seemed like an eternity for his sophomore effort, Artemis. Good things come to those who wait.

While not as immediately engaging as The Martian, Weir’s Artemis avoids a sophomore slump by delivering an entirely new narrator and story. Set in the near future, Artemis introduces us to Jazz, a citizen of the lunar colony Artemis. Jazz wants to help guide tours of the lunar surface, but while she trains for that role, she makes ends meet by running the lunar black market. This leads her to a complicated plot to pull off what should be a perfect crime and earn a reward that will see her set for life. Continue reading

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Doctor Who: The Sea Devils

sea_devils_1972_400In the argument over which story could be considered the best example of the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who, it’s interesting to note that some of the most popular choices (“Inferno,” “The Daemons”) only check off a couple of the boxes of elements most associated with that era of show.  It’s probably because the stores in question feature an iconic moment or two or at least enough of the iconic elements that (before the age of VHS, DVD or streaming video) that fans could easily remember elements from one story carrying over to the next. (Indeed, there was an entire column in my days of reading Doctor Who Magazine in which fans wrote in with pieces of memories of stories and tried to have the columnist identify which story it might have come from. Not realizing how spoiled I was by my PBS station at the time airing the entire run of complete Doctor Who serials, I often wondered how the fans could mix up details from stories that were in the BBC archives).

One such example of this is the popular third Doctor era story, “The Sea Devils.” Continue reading

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Review: Machine Learning by Hugh Howley

Machine Learning: New and Collected StoriesIn an afterword to one of his stories, Hugh Howley suggests that the sci-fi trope of AIs rising up and going to war against humanity probably won’t be the way things really happen. Instead, he sees how AIs could go into battle with each other, with humanity being little more than ants in the /8956-9battle between intelligences. We’d be a distraction and little else..*

Several stories in his short-story collection, Machine Learning, delve into this question with varying degrees of success. One memorable story finds humanity falling because of an oversight involving a Roomba. Other stories look at what will happen when we have artificial lifeforms and people begin to fall in love with them and engage in a romantic relationship.

Howley’s stories (collected together by theme) show a wide range. Howley includes a story he thought was long lost from his website as well as several short stories set in his popular Silo universe. If you’re a fan of the Silo universe, those stories alone make this a must-read collection.

Howley also offers an afterword to the stories, giving us a bit of insight into the creation of the stories or further reflections on some of the central themes and questions raised. Using the afterward to address these questions allows the reader to go into each story fresh and without having anything of what’s to come given away by a well-intentioned introduction.

If you’re a Howley fan, this collection is a worthy addition. If you’re not, this collection is a nice way to dip your toe in and see why Howley is one of the more respected writers in the business today (though I will warn you that having a familiarity with his Silo universe lends more enjoyment to that section of stories).

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

 

toptentuesdaychristmasIf it’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish).  This week’s meme asks us what is on our to-be-read list for the upcoming winter season.  Here’s some of what I plan to try and read.

  1. Jade City by Fonda Lee
  2. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
  3. Steal the Stars by Mac Rogers & Nat Cassidy
  4. Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card
  5. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
  6. The Midnight Line by Lee Child
  7. Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen by Terrance Dicks (audiobook)
  8. Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah J. Dawson
  9. The Midnight Front by David Mack
  10. Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyre

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Into the Forest I Go

dsc-109-rev-3-640x320With “Into the Forest I Go,” Discovery wraps up its first major arc of the series and gives us another one to ponder until the series head back to our screens in January.

Picking up where last week’s installment left off, the crew finds a way to not only break the Klingon’s cloaking technology but also to take out much of the Klingon leadership.  The story also serves to bring much of the character arc of Michael Burnham full circle.

In addition to the parallels of the war starting and ending on the Klingon ship of the dead, we also got to Burnham use her logic to win over her captain.  The first time it leads to her mutiny and those consequences. This time she’s able to use Vulcan logic to convince Lorca that she needs to go on the away mission since she’s the one who knows the layout of the Klingon vessel the best.

It does bring up an interesting question — why let Tyler go too?  If the logical argument is that she knows the vessel, it also seems logical that Tyler might have some issues going back to a Klingon ship after being held prisoner and tortured for seven months.  But, if we don’t get Tyler over there, we don’t get his flashbacks and we don’t get T’Rell onboard Discovery as a prisoner. It really felt like the writers had an endpoint in mind and this was the only path that could get them from point a to point b.

111313_0646bAt least Tyler and Burnham get to rescue Cornwell, who apparently was only partly dead last week. Seriously, it’s a good thing the Klingons didn’t stab her with bantleth just to make sure she was really dead.

The parallels continue with Burnham battling a Klingon and possibly ending the war. Or at least turning the tide so Starfleet can win and get back to the mission of exploring the unknown and the final frontier. At least that’s what Lorca promises Stamets. But how much of that is Lorca having the heart of an explorer and how much of that was Lorca pushing Stamet’s buttons to get him to agree to the 133 spore drive jumps remains to be seen.

I have to admit I did find there to be some inconsistencies in how Starfleet interacts with Lorca and their expectations. So, Lorca is ordered back to a starbase (in front of the entire bridge crew, mind you) and he then decides to drag his feet, using only warp drive and not the spore drive.  I guess this is the equivalent of taking the long way home from school when you’ve got a bad report card. You’re just postponing the inevitable.  Or in Lorca’s case, finding another way to avoid being taken out of the big chair.

dsc-109-rev-4-640x320Given what we’ve seen about Lorca, I can’t help but think the early dropping of hints about being able to explore parallel universes and then the shot of his hands dancing across the keypad as they were ready to rev up the Spore drive one last time mean that Lorca didn’t necessarily mean he was using the easiest route home. Instead, he’s buying more time — even if that time may have a great cost to Stamet. Again, I think part of Stamet’s reaction in the final spore drive jump was about where Lorca sent them and not as much about him burning out. Perhaps Lorca drove him too hard, asked him to do too much. Or could there be something else waiting out here for them?

Those are questions we’ll have to wait until January to answer.

Once again, the show goes out of its way to earn its TV-MA rating. We got the first f-bomb dropped a few weeks ago and then this time around we get our first, explicit love-scene, complete with Klingon nudity. I’ve got to commend Mary Chieffo for that scene because I can only imagine how long it took to get full body painted and give us some Klingon nudity. I do find it interesting that she’s on board the ship now and teasing Tyler that he will have answers soon. The flashbacks to her torture of him seem to hint that there’s more in play here than just the torture she forced him to endure. I can’t help but wonder if he’s going to play some type of role in T’Rell bargaining to get back to the ship that she deserted V’Latak on a few episodes ago.

111313_0087bMeanwhile, it feels like the crew has finally gelled a bit. Maybe it’s that the crew all had one task — shutting down the Klingon cloak. But the moment when Lorca tells everyone he’s about to disobey a direct order was interesting. Part of me wondered if Saru wouldn’t somehow object to this. And you can’t help but wonder if this will help heal the rift between Burnham and Saru a bit. Saru has violated Starfleet orders here and he had a very good motivation to do so. Could he also begin to see that Burnham had good intentions in the mutiny against Georgiou, even if the results didn’t quite come out the way Burnham hoped or expected?

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, develops from this in the final six episodes of the year.

I also can’t help but think that Cornwell might try and assume command of the ship based on her reservations about Lorca. And that she may try to figure out how to get them back home again.

I also ask myself just how hurt Stamets is and can he help them all get home again.  I have a feeling based on the preview, that’s too simple a way out for the crew.

So much to ponder until we pick the story back up in January….

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