This is not only one of the best of the new Star Wars books, it is one of the best Star Wars books ever.
I have been looking forward to this book for quite a while. I actually sort of met Daniel José Older. I did an online workshop called the Brainery for a YA novel I’m working on and he was one of the guest speakers. So I got to video chat with him and all the other workshop members. It was fun. Anyway I have always wanted to check out his work and never have, but with a new Han and Lando adventure on the horizon there was no way I could stay away any longer. I pre-ordered this from audible the day it was announced and eagerly downloaded it when it released last week.
I love all the Zahn Star Wars books and really enjoyed Scoundrels. Some of the new Star Wars books have just been ok but I usually end up really liking the characters. Sinjir Rath Velus comes to mind as a character I really liked and he was the first openly gay Star Wars character in the Canon if I’m not mistaken. There are so many characters and things to like in this book. Lando’s wardrobe alone needs at least a paragraph. There is a a narcoleptic Ugnaught, a slicer Ewok, a well spoken Gungan and more droids than you can count. There is even a non-binary character. Taka is excellent and the non-binary they/them confused me at first but I thought Older was going for non-binary. I love how they advertised themselves as Han Solo to get people to try and hire them. Its fantastic that no one treats being non-binary as a big deal.
I’ve really enjoyed the voice acting on the audio book and Older even does some sections. I can practically hear the smile beaming through his voice and can feel his excitement during the chapters he reads. Marc Thompson does a fantastic job as always (he’s been the voice for the majority of the new Star Wars books i’ve listened to) and January LaVoy is also sharing the audiobook duties and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard her before but she is fantastic. I’m having a really great time listening to this book and I like it so much I picked myself up a signed copy.
So this Star Wars book pretty much has it all so far and I’m having a hard time not listening to it all the time and I will definitely be doing a re-read because it’s that friggin good. More Daniel José Older Star Wars books, now please.
Quickly in other news I’m submitting my story to the tor.com novella open entry. I’m sure it will be soundly rejected but its the first time I’ll be submitting to a publisher and someone in the industry will hopefully read my drek and professionally soundly reject it. Exciting times.
I was recommended the Expeditionary Force series by my buddy and I really enjoyed it. The author has an interesting story according to my buddy. He couldn’t find a publisher or an agent and so decided to self publish using Amazon. Now I don’t know if this is true (I couldn’t find a blog post or biography to corroborate) or how effective it was but I do know that this series and author is definitely worthy of a big fat book deal. I listened to the audio book, which was narrated by R. C. Bray, who is just fantastic. Bray does such a great job with all the different voices and I’m intrigued to check out more audio books with him as the narrator.
Columbus day follows Joe Bishop, a Mainer who is on some shore leave from his post in the Army. I love the way Bray does the Maine accent, it’s fantastic. I say ayuh a lot from my reading of Stephen King as a lot of his characters are Mainers as well. Joe Bishop and his accent felt familiar to me. It’s Columbus day in America and the sky and stars start sparkling strangely. Turns out it’s an alien invasion by these Hamster like creatures called the Ruhar. Craziness ensues and Earth is introduced to the wider milky way galaxy and it’s variety of alien inhabitants. A different species called the Kristang show up and kick the Ruhar off of Earth and form an alliance with humans. Having somehow capturing one of the hamsters that has shown up in Bishop’s little town in Maine he becomes infamous and dedicates himself to kicking some Ruhar ass however he possibly can.
The United Nations Expeditionary Force is formed and head out with the lizard like Kristang to learn how to fight and prove themselves. Bishop signs up and is accepted into UNEF of course. After some training with sort of new technology that the lizards allow us to have, the UNEF is given its first assignment on a Ruhar planet that is slowly being evacuated. Turns out the lizards are more like space Nazi’s than allies and the Ruhar aren’t so bad after all. The hierarchy of species and how the seemingly never ending war is fought was interesting but I still don’t have all the names and such down so I won’t go into the details of that.
At this point I was actually starting to get sick of Joe Bishop a little bit. It just seemed so damn obvious to me that the Kristang were space Nazi’s but Bishop doesn’t finally take the leap and believe they are the bad guys until a decent way into the book. Everything changes when the Ruhar take the planet back and then Joe finds an Elder AI that he dubs Skippy. I got super back into the book and Joe started annoying me way less once Skippy showed up. Their interactions are seriously hilarious and they are actually able to get some shit accomplished like getting the hell of the Ruhar world that humans have dubbed Paradise. Crazy space adventures ensue and Joe and a band of merry pirates, as they dub themselves, return to Earth and save the day.
I honestly can’t wait to listen to more Expeditionary Force. The world and characters that Alanson have created are really fantastic. It also helps that the main character has the same name as me.
In general I have been much more of a fan of the MCU than the DCEU. Even growing up I never read DC comics, I was all about X-men and Spider Man 2099 (Which they need to make into a movie or TV show). The Marvel movies have been far superior, in my opinion. However, DC hit it out of the park with Wonder Woman. After the horrible Batman Vs. Superman I really had my doubts about whether or not they would be able to make Wonder Woman work. Only a few weekends ago did I finally watch Justice League and I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed it. Wonder Woman was probably the best part but the Flash was a close second.
Back to the Wonder Woman movie I think that DC and Patty Jenkins made a lot of excellent choices that really made the movie work. We get a decent amount of time with the ass kicking Amazons on Themyscira and they also set the movie in WW I. There was a decent amount of humor and the casting, especially of Gal Gadot was pretty spot on. I think I could watch Gal Gadot read the phone book for 2 hours and I’d pay to watch it. The fight scenes were also fantastic.
That leads into my main complaint about the movie. It lasted a little too long and I didn’t particularly care for the big bad. The final fight scene just dragged a little bit for me, I honestly thought the movie was over and then there was another 15 minute fight scene. I thought the big bad in Justice League, Steppenwolf, was much better than Ares who didn’t even reveal himself until the very end of the movie. Overall Wonder Woman was awesome and if you haven’t dipped your toes into the DC cinematic universe I would suggest you watch Wonder Woman first.
As a frequent visitor to tor.com I have of course heard of Murderbot. I didn’t really know anything about the story or the author other than I thought the name was kind of cool. So when Tor made All Systems Red the free e-book for April I immediately downloaded it and gave it a try. I found it really hard to put down.
It immediately hooked me in and I didn’t want it to let go. I’m already plotting the next Murderbot book I’m going to read. Which for some reason isn’t out yet and won’t come out until May this year followed by books in August and October. Having to wait that long for more Murderbot just makes me want to scream, NooooOooooooOooooo (#Vader). In doing a little more research on the author it looks like she’s written a Star Wars book, which is one of my life goals, so I’ll have to check that out and she has some fantasy series that I’ll have to give a read as well. I haven’t read any of the other nominees from this category yet but if they are even a fraction as good as All Systems Red, it’s going to be a tough choice for which nominee to vote on.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around for a while now. Back when it first started the three movies that came out were Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. I watched the first two and absolutely loved them. Then I watched Thor right after my first viewing of Captain America and all I could think was meh.
I’ve re-watched the first one several times since then and while it isn’t my favorite MCU film it’s still pretty damn good. Loki is one of the best villains in the MCU and I’ll even admit that Chris Hemsworth is dreamy. And really funny if given the right director. The 2nd installment into the Thor series was pretty meh for me but I was really looking forward to the third. The director, Taiki Waititi, has done some other hilarious shows like, What We Do in the Shadows.
So when I was down in Vegas visiting a friend I snagged us IMAX tickets for Thor. We don’t have fancy IMAX round Tri-Cities. I thought it was fantastic. While again it’s not my favorite super hero of the universe his films have generally been a good time. This one had the Hulk as well as Jeff Goldbloom and was really funny. I also enjoyed Black Panther which was 2018’s MCU entry. With Avengers Infinity War at the end of April there are plenty of reasons to keep watching and interested in the MCU.
I’m a huge Star Wars fanatic. As you can see from the picture above with my home made Jedi robes, plastic light saber, and frosted tips (It was 1999 believe me they were super cool back then). I like Star Wars a lot. I have my Episode I ticket that I camped out for in a 1/4″ thick plastic case. I don’t even really like The Phantom Menace and I’ve seen the movie in the theater 9 times. So of course the release of a new Star Wars film is kind of a big deal for me.
I honestly never thought that we’d get more Star Wars after the critical reception of Episodes I-III. But thankfully George Lucas sold the rights and Disney will churn their Billion dollar making machines out like candy. I started getting super obsessed with Star Wars in high school. I collected the cards, had my mom buy me tons of prequel toys (some of which are worth surprising amounts of money now), and watched the special edition re-releases A LOT. I had my mom make me a Jedi costume (As seen above) for the Episode I premier and I even practiced a choreographed light saber fight with my buddy the entire weekend before. I now am the proud owner of an Obi-Wan Kenobi Cosplay that cost me a shameful amount of money to put together. But I love it and Star Wars.
I really liked The Last Jedi. It was surprisingly funny while still keeping the darkness and gritty feeling that most 2nd movies of the Star Wars triple features usually have. In terms of the overall Star Wars Universe I’d say it’s in my top 5 films. I’ve been thinking about my ranking of Star Wars films lately. Mainly because I’ve been watching Rogue One every weekend for the past month or so. I don’t have any kids and my wife travels to dog shows on the weekends a lot so I have a lot of free time. Sue me.
Rogue One is in my top 3 favorite Star Wars films and probably top 5 or 6 movies of all time. It perfectly captures how I imagine the Star Wars universe to look and feel during that time period. I’ve read almost every Star Wars books and the nixing of what is now termed the “Legends” canon is one of the saddest things about the Disney acquisition. I loved so many of those books but I’ve been voraciously reading all of the new books as well and they are pretty solid so far. Especially anything by Timothy Zahn.
Along with Rogue One I’ve also caught up on the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, which means as usual I’ve got Star Wars on my brain all the time. Rebels has some of the best characters in the Star Wars Universe. Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the best big bads period. He was awesome in the Zahn Legends trilogy and he is awesome in the new timeline and canon. I’m very excited he’s a part of the universe still and I hope he comes back for Episode IX since the finale of Rebels left a lot of unanswered questions. Speaking of best characters ever Ashoka Tano is one of my favorite characters of all time in any universe. so with all that said here’s my rankings of the movies (shows not included but they are awesome).
Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
A New Hope
The Last Jedi
The Force Awakens
Revenge of the Sith
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
One of the goals I’ve set for myself in this crazy journey to become a writer is to work on/write for Star Wars. Someday It’ll happen.
I must confess that I didn’t get into Blade Runner until a few years ago. I had of course heard of the film, and enjoy Harrison Ford, but for some reason I had never watched it before. I decided to take the plunge with the director’s cut. It was really long but I loved it and ended up watching all the other cuts just to see what the difference between them was. The first movie is seriously fucking awesome.
So when Blade Runner 2049 was announced I was extremely excited. I couldn’t really find anyone else who was into it though. I tried discussing the movie with my wife, friends, and co-workers but I couldn’t really get anyone to say anything about the movie other than that they had seen it before. I ended up going and seeing it by myself, which I don’t really mind. If I want to see a movie enough and can’t get any interest from my wife or friends i’ll rock it solo. Plus we just got one of those awesome theaters with the comfy chairs that you can pick your seats online before so I snagged the best spot in the house and rocked it by myself.
So I snagged some popcorn and a giant diet soda and partook. It did not disappoint. I actually ended up liking it more than the original. Probably because I never watched it in the 80’s and don’t have fond memories of the original to look back on. The film honestly blew me away. It was brilliantly acted and the visuals and feel of the world were perfectly captured. If you are into Blade Runner and haven’t seen the new one there are some short films that act as a story lead in to the movie that I highly recommend. Here’s a link to them on Youtube, Blade Runner short films.
I was seriously disappointed in the lack of box office and Oscar love for Blade Runner 2049. I will probably end up voting for this nominee for long form presentation because it is that damn good. I still have two movies to watch in this category so I’m at least going to consider the group as a whole but Blade Runner 2049 is going to be hard to beat. I think it’s now time to watch the new episode of Barry, a new Bill Hader show on HBO. If you haven’t watched it yet, go check it out right now!