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#21 RJDiogenes

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 06:17 PM

I didn't even know that there were Supernatural or Stargate tie-in novels. :mellow:
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#22 Niko

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 10:56 PM

^ A company called Fandemonium has been putting out Stargate books pretty steadily since SG-1 days, but I don't think they've ever had much marketing presence, so I'm not sure how people find out about them nowadays if they aren't already aware of them.  They do have a website at stargatenovels.com.   I've read maybe a dozen of them, between the SG-1 and SGA lines.

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I've never read any Stargate tie-in novels, though. Any recommendations?

I've been really loving the "Apocalypse" series by Sally Malcolm & Laura Harper, which starts with "Hostile Ground".  There are three books, but I've only read the first two so far.  The first one is a traditional "team stuck offworld and can't get home" scenario, but it ends with a big old twist/cliffhanger, and then the second volume builds from that with a cool dilemma for the team to work through.  It gives all four of them interesting things to do, and the character voices are *so* well done.

On the SG:A side of things, I like both of the books written by Martha Wells (she's a favorite author of mine outside of the tie-in world, so I may be biased), and GoodReads is telling me that I also enjoyed "ExoGenesis" by Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen... though I can't honestly remember what it was about, and the publisher blurb isn't ringing any bells. :p  

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I like to read tie-ins though some are pretty bad.
Yeah, I think for me, the biggest deal-killer is that I really need the books to be ABOUT the characters that I love.  I really hate when an author spends half the book setting up some new character they've invented, while the actual characters I care about are relegated to guest-starring in that new character's story.  I've only read a couple of the Supernatural books, but one of the ones I read was pretty bad in that regard.  It had these long chapters focusing on various victims of the monster-of-the-week, all of whom would've gotten maybe three minutes in the actual show, while Sam & Dean seemed like they barely had any "screen-time" until it got to the end of the book when they needed to actually solve the case.   I know tie-ins are somewhat hamstrung by the requirement that they not make major changes to the canon, but for shows where the character dynamics are a huge part of the draw, they really need to put that element front-and-center.  (It's been quite a while since I went looking for more Supernatural books, so I'd welcome some recs there. :) )
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#23 Virgil Vox

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 08:44 PM

Thanks for the recommendations Niko. I'll have to hunt some of those books down.

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Yeah, I think for me, the biggest deal-killer is that I really need the books to be ABOUT the characters that I love.  I really hate when an author spends half the book setting up some new character they've invented, while the actual characters I care about are relegated to guest-starring in that new character's story.  I've only read a couple of the Supernatural books, but one of the ones I read was pretty bad in that regard.  It had these long chapters focusing on various victims of the monster-of-the-week, all of whom would've gotten maybe three minutes in the actual show, while Sam & Dean seemed like they barely had any "screen-time" until it got to the end of the book when they needed to actually solve the case.   I know tie-ins are somewhat hamstrung by the requirement that they not make major changes to the canon, but for shows where the character dynamics are a huge part of the draw, they really need to put that element front-and-center.  (It's been quite a while since I went looking for more Supernatural books, so I'd welcome some recs there. :) )

I get that. If I'm reading a Buffy book or a Supernatural book or a Doctor Who book I want the main characters to be front and center. I have no problem with new characters being created or given prominence as long as it isn't at the expense of the main characters.

There are three Supernatural books I'd recommend that you hopefully haven't read yet.

Supernatural: Myth Maker by Tim Waggoner. Sam and Dean head to a town that for some reason is suddenly full of brand new guys fighting each other for followers and for ultimate supremacy. It's a fun book and the gods themselves are pretty creative. Plus there are flashbacks to a teen Sam and Dean.

Supernatural: Night Terror by John Passarella. I actually reviewed this one back when it first came out. The brothers investigate a town plagued by various random evil things like a headless horseman, a possessed car, Nazi zombies, and a giant spider. I love this book. It does put some focus on the townspeople but not to the detriment of the brothers. They're still front and center but the author lets us get to know some of the townspeople enough so that when they start dying it has an impact.

Supernatural: Fresh Meat by Alice Henderson. Another favorite of mine. The boys (plus Bobby!) investigate a series of deaths in a national forest. Things go from bad to worse when they encounter vampires, a wendigo, a blizzard, and the still unidentified monster that is picking people off one by one. It's a pretty creepy read and had a nice twist to it and a very cool monster in it.
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#24 Niko

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 08:30 AM

^  Thanks. :)  I'll take a look at Myth Maker and Fresh Meat.  I'm afraid Night Terror was the one I had a bad experience with. It's been a while since I read it, so its issues may have been inflated in my memory over time, but as I remember it, it was like every other chapter was just devoted to some big involved nightmare by a random red shirt, and I got to a point of just skimming them.
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#25 Virgil Vox

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 05:21 PM

^I figured Night Terrors was the one you didn't like but I thought it might have been Coyote's Kiss. I haven't read that one but from what I've heard it puts the focus on a new character and pushes the boys (mainly Sam) to the background.

Fresh Meat is a good one. It creeped me out in a few places, something most tie-ins fail at. I want to re-read it now.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
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It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#26 Virgil Vox

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Posted 15 January 2017 - 10:42 PM

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I didn't even know that there were Supernatural or Stargate tie-in novels. :mellow:

While I haven't read any Stargate tie-in novels, I've known about them forever. I always saw them grouped in with the Star Trek and Star Wars tie-in novels. Now that section has expanded to Supernatural, Doctor Who, Arrow, The Flash, and video game tie-ins like Warcraft and Mass Effect.

Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

Looking for Group is a sweet romance story set in the world of MMORPGs. Drew is a 19 year old gamer who was part of one of the best raiding groups in Heroes of Legend (think World of Warcraft) until that group screws him over. He joins another group, one more focused on enjoying the game and being friends than on just being top in the rankings. There he meets another gamer named Solace. He starts to fall for her, though he realizes the pitfalls of falling for someone on the Internet. He eventually learns that Solace is a 19 year old guy named Kit. Drew feels hurt and betrayed, but he also feels confused because his feelings for Kit are still strong and when they meet in real life he finds himself attracted to Kit.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a little out of my normal reading wheelhouse since I usually don’t read books that are romance based and don’t have some kind of sci-fi or fantasy trappings. I ended up reading the entire thing in a day because I couldn’t put it down.

What I loved about the novel is that all of the characters felt real and believable. Drew is a great main character and you sympathize with him as he struggles with finding out that he likes Kit and whether that means he’s gay or not. Once he comes to grips with that, he has to find out how to be in an actual relationship with Kit, and he doesn’t always make the right decisions.

The book can really be split into three parts: The beginning with Drew falling for Solace without realizing that Solace is a man; the middle with Drew coming to terms with being gay and falling for Kit; and the end with Drew screwing the relationship up and then trying to save it.

There is a lot of time devoted to the game. That’s how Drew and Kit meet and where their romance first takes place. It’s where a good chunk of the characters reside as well, since, aside from Kit, we never physically meet any of the characters in the raiding group. The novel uses a lot of gaming and MMO terms but it does provide a glossary at the back. There’s also a lot of description of the group playing the game and fighting the various bosses and such. I had no problem with that since I’m a gamer but I did see in other reviews people that wished the gaming aspect had been downplayed a little.

That wasn’t a problem for me, but I can see how it might be for others. I like the detail put into the game world and I loved all the discussions about actual games the characters have played. There was even an Alpha Protocol mention which made me happy.
Looking for Group is a nice, feel good novel about a sweet romance between two young guys who are also avid gamers. They encounter the same problems that everyone encounters when first starting a relationship, but the game does add some stress as Drew believes Kit spends too much time in the game and not enough socializing with actual people.

It’s also pretty funny. There were several moments when I laughed out loud. Even when the novel is in a dramatic moment, like when Drew’s friends try to help him figure out if he’s straight, gay, or bi or when Drew wrecks the relationship it never gets too dark or dreary. There’s also humor sprinkled throughout those scenes. The two friends who are helping Drew are polar opposites of each other. One is your typical straight college guy who likes to make jokes while the other would be labeled a SJW by conservatives but is really just a modern day hippie who despises labels and just wants Drew to be happy.

I get that a gay romance story that revolves around gaming isn’t for everyone. I’m surprised it was for me, honestly. Still, this is a good book to read when you’re feeling down and want cheering up or just want a few laughs.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#27 Virgil Vox

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 04:30 PM

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig is the first book in a trilogy that shows what happened after Return of the Jedi. I didn’t get the book when it first came out (I actually bought it fairly recently with book 2 of the trilogy out and the third book about to be released) mainly because while I like Star Wars I’m not a huge SW fan. I decided to buy it for two reasons: I had just read the Thrawn Trilogy which up until the release of Force Awakens was considered the official canon of post-RoTJ events and I was curious to see what the new official canon was like and because I’m a fan of the author. I highly enjoyed the book but, just going by Amazon reviews, there were a lot of people who didn’t. From what I can tell, there are three main reasons for this:

1. People just genuinely didn’t like it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Some people didn’t like the new characters, or they didn’t like the writing style, or had problems with the direction the story went. I can understand this even if I don’t necessarily agree. The book does have its problems but I think it was extremely well done.

2. It isn’t the Expanded Universe/Thrawn Trilogy. I also understand this.  The EU had probably well over 100 novels, and at least 60 or more of those followed the exploits of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, etc. after RoTJ. The Thrawn Trilogy definitely sets things up nicely for the series to continue to build and expand in exciting ways. I myself am a huge fan of the post-series Star Trek books that are being published right now. If they were to be cancelled and replaced with a new set of books that tell a drastically different version of events I would be pretty upset because I like what the Star Trek novels are doing. I don’t know if I would be able to judge the new books fairly right away.

There’s also the fact that Aftermath focuses on all new characters. Leia gets a very brief cameo thanks to a holovid and Han and Chewie appear in a short chapter. Luke is mentioned but doesn’t show up. While this sucks, I can understand it. There are still two new Star Wars films coming out, and who knows how many one and done movies like Rogue One as well. Any of them can fill in back story between RoTJ and TFA. While these books apparently go before a canon committee to make sure they don’t contradict the movies, the less use of major characters the better, probably.

3. The last reason I saw that people hate this book is the character of Sinjir. He’s gay. It has basically no impact on the story and readers don’t even learn he’s gay until about 300 pages in. There’s also a lesbian couple who are on maybe 20 pages and honestly the page count is probably lower than that. Despite the fact that there is nothing “in your face” about Sinjir or the couple, their mere existence seems to have caused quite a few people to explode in anger. I saw one reviewer accuse Wendig of pushing a liberal agenda. That same reviewer said that never before had there been a gay character in all the movies, TV shows, comics, and other books so why did we need one now? My answer is because there hasn’t been one before but obviously I’m going to have a very different opinion about that.

The novel takes place some months after the Battle of Endor. The New Republic is pushing the Empire back and freeing planets left and right. The Empire is shattered, with no central authority. Instead it is more or less a bunch of semi-autonomous regions. Grand Admiral Rae Sloane wants to change that. She has called a summit of some of the most powerful leaders in the Empire on the backwater world of Akiva. She hopes that they can come up with a way to re-forge the Empire and crush the rebellion. Unfortunately for her, a random group of people on Akiva are going to make her plans almost impossible to pull off.

The main one is Norra, a Rebel pilot who only joined the Rebellion after her husband, a rebel himself, was taken from their home a few years back. She left her young son Temmin behind on their home world of Akiva and now, with the New Republic on the rise, has gone back to retrieve him. Once there though she hears an emergency call from Wedge Antilles, who has been taken captive by Sloane. Norra has to once again balance duty and family. Norra makes for a great main character. She’s obviously flawed since she did abandon her son by joining the Rebellion to try and find her husband and she now wants to drag him off Akiva even though he’s made a life for himself there for the past three years. She also seems to be suffering a slight case of PTSD after the events of the Battle of Endor. At the same time she’s to be admired because she is trying to be a good mother again and because she can’t just ignore her duty to help bring down the Empire.

Temmin is Norra’s 15 year old son who is more or less a mechanical genius. He’s turned their home into a junk shop where he fixes up and sells old scrap. He’s also got himself on the radar of a local crime boss because he stole something very valuable from said crime boss. Temmin is understandably upset that his mother has come back in to his life and demands that he leave behind everything he’s created and follow her to who knows where. He has some severe abandonment issues. He has also created Mr. Bones, a droid that I love and wish to see appear in the movies or on a TV show or something. Mr. Bones is an old Trade Federation battle droid that Temmin has upgraded and made into a fierce fighting machine. Bones is also pretty crazy, with a love for violence as well as dancing and singing. He is loyal to Temmin and has been Temmin’s only real friend.

Sinjir, as stated above, is gay but that’s the least interesting thing about him. He’s an ex-Imperial loyalty officer. Basically, he’s the one who threatened and tortured any Imperial that was doing, saying, or thinking the wrong thing. Sinjir goes AWOL at the Battle of Endor and has been drinking himself into a stupor ever since, feeling great remorse over what he used to do. He could be a dark character, and in a sense he is, but he also has a very cutting wit and is probably the funniest character in the novel. He really doesn’t want to get involved with Norra and her quest to take down Sloane and the other Imperials but he does partly out of atonement. He is a great character and it’s sad that some fans won’t give him a chance simply because he’s gay.

Jas Emari is a Zabrak bounty hunter currently working for the New Republic. She has come to Akiva chasing down an Imperial target, unaware that her target is going to be meeting other Imperials. Once she realizes that, she decides to try and take them all down to collect a substantial bounty. She eventually hooks up with Norra, Sinjir, Temmin, and Mr. Bones and agrees to work with them because it’s her best chance of accomplishing her mission. Jas has her own code of conduct and she has no problem taking whatever bounty comes her way but she’s glad to be working with the New Republic. Still, that doesn’t mean she will kill any slime ball.  She has a chance to take out a tyrannical ruler and slaver and doesn’t because he’s not one of her targets. She’s an amazing fighter as well and is the muscle of the group.

The last member of the group is Jom, a New Republic commando who is sent as part of a group to infiltrate Akiva and report about what’s going on back to NR HQ. He’s the only one of his team who survives and is largely separate from the other characters as he does his own thing. I like Jom, but we really don’t learn much about him here.

Rae Sloane is a much better character than she has a right to be. It would have been easy to make her a straight up villain and be done with it. Instead, she’s a multi-faceted character who truly believes in the Empire. It isn’t that she doesn’t see the harm the Empire has done. She just believes that the Empire does far more good and that the universe needs the Empire. She believes the New Republic will bring only chaos and that if the Empire doesn’t return to power than the universe will be more or less doomed. Wendig does a good job of presenting her side of things and even gives us some chances to actually root for her as she tries to handle the other Imperial leaders at the conference. Don’t get me wrong; I want to see Sloane jailed or killed by the end of the trilogy but until than I’m just fascinated by her.

We also learn that Sloane, who seemed to be in command of most of the Imperial Navy and the strongest leader left amongst the Imperials is actually working for someone else. This person is only in the epilogue and seems like a much more chilling villain than Sloane. This admiral doesn’t want to put the Empire back together, at least not with the leaders still left alive. In fact, it turns out that he set up the conference partly to get some of those leaders out in the open and eliminate them and actually used the New Republic to do it. He believes that the Empire grew into a terrible thing and deserved to be shattered. He wants to create something new and better out of its ashes.

Honestly, there’s a lot to love here. I like all the characters. It’s a good mix and they work well together. The plot moved along at a brisk pace and offered plenty of action and good character moments. There are also Interludes spread throughout the novel. These short vignettes show what is happening in the wider universe. A rebellion has started on Coruscant; Han and Chewie see an opportunity to free Kashyyk from the Empire; a new Senate is being created; a man who lost his wife and daughter to cross-fire between New Republic and Imperial soldiers goes to the farthest planet he can to escape the war; a group of Vader worshippers springs up; people are trying to bring law back to Tatooine, etc.  It’s a great way to show that life goes on and that just because the Empire has been dealt a serious blow it doesn’t mean everything is happy and fine.

I do have a few complaints. Wendig really overdoes the whole “OMG this character just died but Ha-ha not really” bit. Seriously, it seems as if every character almost dies at least once and in the case of Norra he pulls that trick twice. Sure it’s an easy way to create tension but it’s used too often.

Also, while I understand not using the main SW characters, I do wish Luke had been mentioned. We are given no idea what he’s up to at all. We at least know what Leia, Han, and Chewbacca are doing.

That’s really all I can think of. This was a highly enjoyable book and I do recommend it if you’re a Star Wars fan and want to see what happens after RoTJ.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#28 RJDiogenes

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 05:40 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 02 April 2017 - 04:30 PM, said:

2. It isn’t the Expanded Universe/Thrawn Trilogy. I also understand this.  The EU had probably well over 100 novels, and at least 60 or more of those followed the exploits of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, etc. after RoTJ.  
It's kind of a shame that they're ignoring all that. I'm not a big Star Wars fan, but one of the reasons that I almost never read Star Trek books is that I know they're not canon. I can't really take them seriously.  Were I to have my own "universe," everything would be "real" in context, no matter what medium it appeared in.

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Despite the fact that there is nothing “in your face” about Sinjir or the couple, their mere existence seems to have caused quite a few people to explode in anger. I saw one reviewer accuse Wendig of pushing a liberal agenda. That same reviewer said that never before had there been a gay character in all the movies, TV shows, comics, and other books so why did we need one now?  
It amazes me that people like this still exist in the 21st century.

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We also learn that Sloane, who seemed to be in command of most of the Imperial Navy and the strongest leader left amongst the Imperials is actually working for someone else. This person is only in the epilogue and seems like a much more chilling villain than Sloane. This admiral doesn’t want to put the Empire back together, at least not with the leaders still left alive. In fact, it turns out that he set up the conference partly to get some of those leaders out in the open and eliminate them and actually used the New Republic to do it. He believes that the Empire grew into a terrible thing and deserved to be shattered. He wants to create something new and better out of its ashes.  
That's an interesting idea, giving the villain a goal that is at least superficially admirable. It's a better approach than just reviving the good versus evil scenario like they did in Force Awakens.
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#29 Virgil Vox

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 02:27 PM

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It's kind of a shame that they're ignoring all that. I'm not a big Star Wars fan, but one of the reasons that I almost never read Star Trek books is that I know they're not canon. I can't really take them seriously.  Were I to have my own "universe," everything would be "real" in context, no matter what medium it appeared in.

I understand where you're coming from but for me personally I'm not bothered if something is canon or not. If it's a good book or video game or comic or whatever then I'm going to enjoy it even if it doesn't fit into the main property's continuity. I've read a ton of tie-in novels, most of which aren't canon but are still fun reads.

Plus, as the Star Wars debacle shows, what is canon one day isn't the next. Once TFA came out, all of the books, games, comics, etc. that all SW fans were told were canon were suddenly invalidated. If that happens to the Aftermath trilogy down the line it will suck but I'll still enjoy the books.

Heck, sometimes canon changes within the same franchise. Look at how the Ferengi and Trill were portrayed on TNG as opposed to DS9. Some big changes in both species. Same with the Klingons and even to an extent the Borg.

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It amazes me that people like this still exist in the 21st century.

It really doesn't surprise me. The LGBT community has come far, but there's still a lot of people out there that want to see us stripped of the gains we've won. Heck, look at the mess that happened when Beauty and the Beast was revealed to have made LeFou gay and was said to have an exclusively gay moment (which was like a two second scene where LeFou is shown suddenly dancing with a man). There were boycotts and cries of how Disney was hurting children and all that other claptrap.

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That's an interesting idea, giving the villain a goal that is at least superficially admirable. It's a better approach than just reviving the good versus evil scenario like they did in Force Awakens.

Yeah, the Aftermath trilogy did a good job with both of its main villains. They're more than your regular cardboard cut-out villains.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#30 RJDiogenes

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 04:04 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 09 April 2017 - 02:27 PM, said:

I understand where you're coming from but for me personally I'm not bothered if something is canon or not. If it's a good book or video game or comic or whatever then I'm going to enjoy it even if it doesn't fit into the main property's continuity. I've read a ton of tie-in novels, most of which aren't canon but are still fun reads.  
You're right, it's ultimately the quality of the story that counts and you can always look at it as an alternate universe or whatever. But in my mind, it's just sloppy at best-- or at worst a grab for cash, putting out a book that they know doesn't fit with the source material.  It even drove me crazy when Arthur C Clarke was inconsistent in the Odyssey sequels, and he's my favorite author.

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Heck, sometimes canon changes within the same franchise. Look at how the Ferengi and Trill were portrayed on TNG as opposed to DS9. Some big changes in both species. Same with the Klingons and even to an extent the Borg.  
Yeah, but if it's within the same context then it becomes a creative and intellectual exercise to make up reasons for it.  :lol:

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It really doesn't surprise me. The LGBT community has come far, but there's still a lot of people out there that want to see us stripped of the gains we've won. Heck, look at the mess that happened when Beauty and the Beast was revealed to have made LeFou gay and was said to have an exclusively gay moment (which was like a two second scene where LeFou is shown suddenly dancing with a man). There were boycotts and cries of how Disney was hurting children and all that other claptrap.  
It's just crazy. If somebody had told me forty-five or fifty years ago that the 21st century would be like this, I never would have believed it.
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#31 Virgil Vox

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 03:37 PM

Godzilla Returns by Marc Cerasini

Godzilla Returns was a 1996 novel that launched a four book series chronicling the exploits of the King of Monsters. It ignored all the movies except the original, and acted like a sequel to that movie. It also looks like he’s basing this on the American version of the original since he mentions journalist Steve Martin, a character only in the American version of the movie.

The novel focuses on Brian Shimura, a Japanese-American college student who has taken an internship at the Tokyo branch of INN, a giant news media corporation. He arrives just in time for the return of Godzilla, who once again makes landfall in Japan and who once again heads to Tokyo.

It’s funny. Years ago when these books were first published the first one I saw was actually the third one. Then the book left my mind until I started watching the Godzilla movies again and so I tracked down the other three books in the series. It’s nice to live in the Internet age where tracking down out of print books is as easy as going on eBay.

Godzilla Returns is a successful novel, IMO. It introduces the Big G to new and old audiences alike. While author Cerasini ignores all of the movies he does obviously respect them and he includes nods to them in the novel, and actually takes ideas from the movies and incorporates them into his book. For instance, in The Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985, it’s stated that Godzilla has a bird like brain and a lure is created to take advantage of that and used to send Godzilla into a volcano. The novel uses that same idea, but has Godzilla lured out to sea instead.

The novel also acknowledges that the true name for Godzilla is Gojira, and that Godzilla is just the name Americans use.

Brian makes for a good introductory character. While both his parents grew up in Japan, he was born and raised in America so Japan is as strange to him as it probably is to many of the readers. Of course he gets involved in a lot of the action thanks to his uncle, a well respected admiral in the U.S. navy.

The other main character is Nick Gordon, another intern who has been in Japan for a while and shows Brian the sights and helps him with all the customs. He longs to be a science reporter and thinks he can do a better job than current INN science correspondent Max Hulse.

The monster action translates well to the page, thanks to Cerasini. He’s able to describe the devastation that Godzilla causes in ample detail, and has quite a bit of military knowledge to write engaging battle scenes as the military tries and fails to stop Godzilla’s rampage.

He also doesn’t forget about the human element. The characters are always front and center, and not everyone survives Godzilla’s destruction. There are some well done, affecting deaths in the novel.

He also creates a vivid picture of Tokyo, a city that rose from the ashes of Godzilla’s first rampage to become, as the book calls it, “the most modern city in the world.” Which makes it all the sadder when Godzilla destroys it once again.

If you’re a fan of the Big G I recommend the novel. It offers up plenty of Godzilla action and some entertaining characters. The entire series is actually really good.

The Haunted Forest Tour by James A. Moore and Jeff Strand

This was a book that showed up as a Kindle recommendation and at only $2.99 seemed like a good purchase.

Overnight a giant forest pops up in New Mexico, destroying a small town. Rescue workers that enter the forest are never seen again. It’s eventually discovered that the forest is populated by countless monsters, demons, and spirits. For whatever reason, they never leave the confines of the forest. As time goes by, a company starts selling tours. At first the trams just go around the edges of the forests but eventually they cut through the forest as well. On Halloween night the company is doing a special tour, thinking it will be safe and easy like all the others. The tourists soon find out differently as the creatures proceed to attack and eat them.

The Haunted Forest Tour feels like Jurassic Park on a bunch of steroids. It has a similar premise: A group of people taking a tour of creatures that shouldn’t exist but do and wind up getting eaten by said creatures because the protections in place to keep them safe fail.

The story moves along at a brisk pace, introducing quite a few characters quickly and then getting to the action as soon as possible. Readers don’t have to wait long for the carnage to begin and when it does things get bloody.

The authors don’t play around. Characters die in rather gruesome ways and the first onslaught lasts a while with a lot of different creatures killing people in a lot of different ways.

That’s both bad and good. Bad because most of the characters have no personality and so it’s just gore for gore’s sake. Nothing wrong with that, but if I’m not connected with a character I’m not going to care that they die. It’s good because it shows that anyone can die at any time, and that no one is safe in the forest. It’s also just a well written, harrowing sequence.

Once the initial carnage dies down the novel focuses on a main group of survivors and these characters get fleshed out a lot better so when something bad happens to them I cared.

THFT is a stand-alone novel so you don’t need to invest in a series to get the complete story. It’s rather nice. I have nothing against book series and am reading quite a few but it makes for a good change of pace to read a one and done novel every now and then.

I was never bored reading the novel because there’s always something going on. The characters are in peril all the time, even those outside the forest because the forest denizens are no longer staying in the forest. It creates a nice sense of dread that permeates the whole novel because you never know when something terrible is going to pop out and eat someone.

If you’re looking for a scary, bloody novel that won’t take long to read and is a lot of fun, you could do a lot worse than THFT. I enjoyed it a lot, and I’m going to try other novels the authors have written.

Arrow: Generation of Vipers by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

This novel is the conclusion to the story started in The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen. Barry is still suffering from the plasma that is slowly eating away at him. Team Arrow and Team Flash are doing what they can, but their efforts are hampered when a team of commandos steal the wormhole generator needed to cure Barry. It turns out that the ruler of Markovia plans to sell the generator at an auction, and Felicity (as head of PalmerTech) gets an invite. Also invited is Malcolm Merlyn. To make matters worse, the head Markovian commando is a man named Ghasi who shares a past with Oliver and Thea and has been enhanced with cybernetic upgrades.

Just as I loved The Haunting of Barry Allen, I love the follow-up. The authors had already shown they know and love the Flash characters, and the same is true for the Arrow characters. All of them are written well and in character.

It was strange though that Laurel doesn’t show up, and isn’t mentioned at all. I’m pretty sure the novel takes place before her death and I don’t remember her being on the outs with Oliver during season 4 so her exclusion makes no sense.

Niko, this is an Arrow book through and through so I’m guessing you won’t read it since you’re not a fan of Arrow. Hopefully you give it a chance because it is a good book. Plus it does feature Barry and Cisco quite prominently.

Just like the episodes, the novel features flashbacks. Most of the flashbacks are to before Oliver was on the island and serve to show Oliver’s relationship to Ghasi. The two were once friends until it was discovered that Ghasi’s father was a Markovian spy and Oliver had a hand in getting the father arrested and forcing Ghasi to flee back to his home country.

It also allows the authors to write dead characters like Tommy and the Queens. It also shows the difference between Oliver then and Oliver now. The other flashbacks are to Oliver’s first months on the island when he was just starting his training with Yao Fei.

While the action in THoBA was focused on meta-human powers and on a grand scale, the action here is much more of the hand to hand variety and on a slightly smaller scale. Oliver, Thea, and Diggle all get time to shine and kick some butt. Barry, due to his waning powers and the increasing intensity of his blurs, largely sits the action out. That was fine with me, because the authors show they can write Oliver’s vigilante style of action just as well as Barry’s meta-human style.

I do wish Caitlin had more to do. She’s in the very beginning of the novel, and then the very end but that’s it. Considering the novel doesn’t have to deal with shooting schedules or budgets I was hoping for more of Team Flash and Team Arrow interacting. I shouldn’t complain, though. Barry and Cisco steal a lot of moments here. There’s a scene where a beautiful woman is flirting with Barry until Oliver drives her off and tells Barry that she was a Markovian spy trying to get information out of him. This actually excites Barry and makes him geek out.

Honestly, there are a lot of good Barry/Oliver scenes here that showcase their unique friendship and the fact that Barry does sometimes look up to Oliver like a father, almost.

While Felicity can’t take part in the physical side of things, she still plays an important role in the novel. Her computer skills come in handy a lot, and she’s actually the only one allowed in the bidding room. She and Lyla team up to pool their resources in the hopes that they get the wormhole generator and not any of the terrorists or dictators that are also bidding.

The climax is suitably tense and action packed as the gang ues the generator to try and extract the plasma from Barry. Of course Ghasi shows up one final time to try and kill Oliver, and if the generator isn’t shut off in time it will lay waste to the city.

I can’t recommend this novel or the previous one enough. Fans of either show should get these books. I’m hoping they do well enough that we get more tie-ins down the road, and hopefully get some for both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#32 RJDiogenes

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 05:29 PM

Wow, I never heard of that four-book Godzilla series. I wonder where they go with it.  Are there other monsters in the later books?

That Haunted Forest concept sounds very interesting, the way it just pops up out of nowhere. I'm not sure if the Jurassic Park-plot makes the best use of it (since the government would probably never let such a tourist industry exist), but I like the idea.  Do they ever explain where it came from or why?
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#33 Virgil Vox

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 10:35 PM

Quote

Wow, I never heard of that four-book Godzilla series. I wonder where they go with it.  Are there other monsters in the later books?

There are a ton of monsters introduced in the last three novels. In fact, the third one takes a Destroy All Monsters/Final Wars approach as the story sees multiple monsters unleashed on the planet in a carnage of destruction.

There was supposed to be a fifth book (and the fourth novel even has a preview chapter) but the publisher apparently lost the rights to Godzilla shortly after the fourth book was published so it was never released. It sounded like it would be really good and it seemed to be hinting at setting up Monster Island and the author had apparently created a new, novel only kaiju.

The books are loosely connected, with characters appearing in multiple books in large or small roles. Brian and Nick are mentioned in all four novels, with Nick having a decent sized role in the third novel.

If you like Godzilla they're worth tracking down.

Quote

That Haunted Forest concept sounds very interesting, the way it just pops up out of nowhere. I'm not sure if the Jurassic Park-plot makes the best use of it (since the government would probably never let such a tourist industry exist), but I like the idea.  Do they ever explain where it came from or why?

Well, the tour business doesn't start up until several years down the road when it appears that the creatures aren't going to leave the forest and aren't harming anyone who goes into the forest. In fact, the tour promotes itself by saying they have a 100% safety record of never losing one customer on any of the tours due to the creatures. Why that is, and why the creatures suddenly attack the Halloween tour, is explained.

The novel also explains where the forest came from and why it appeared when it did. I wasn't sure it would but all the mysteries are explained by the end of the novel.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#34 Niko

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 08:52 AM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 02 May 2017 - 03:37 PM, said:

Niko, this is an Arrow book through and through so I’m guessing you won’t read it since you’re not a fan of Arrow. Hopefully you give it a chance because it is a good book. Plus it does feature Barry and Cisco quite prominently.
Thanks for the follow-up. :)  I only buy tie-ins sporadically, and already have a couple on my to-be-read pile to get through, but it'll be on my radar the next time I get the urge.
- Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.    (Matthew 25:40)

- Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.  (Proverbs 3:3)

#35 RJDiogenes

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 05:08 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 02 May 2017 - 10:35 PM, said:

There are a ton of monsters introduced in the last three novels. In fact, the third one takes a Destroy All Monsters/Final Wars approach as the story sees multiple monsters unleashed on the planet in a carnage of destruction.

There was supposed to be a fifth book (and the fourth novel even has a preview chapter) but the publisher apparently lost the rights to Godzilla shortly after the fourth book was published so it was never released. It sounded like it would be really good and it seemed to be hinting at setting up Monster Island and the author had apparently created a new, novel only kaiju.

The books are loosely connected, with characters appearing in multiple books in large or small roles. Brian and Nick are mentioned in all four novels, with Nick having a decent sized role in the third novel.

If you like Godzilla they're worth tracking down.  
They all seem to be out of print, unfortunately. I don't know if I'm that interested, but maybe.  The Haunted Forest Tour is available for Kindle, though, so I picked that one up.  Very intriguing concept.
Please visit The RJDiogenes Store. Posted Image   And my Gallery. Posted Image And my YouTube Page. Posted Image And read Trunkards. Posted Image  And then there's my Heroes Essays.  Posted Image

#36 Virgil Vox

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 08:46 PM

Quote

Thanks for the follow-up. :)  I only buy tie-ins sporadically, and already have a couple on my to-be-read pile to get through, but it'll be on my radar the next time I get the urge.

You're welcome. Speaking of tie-ins, I read Hostile Ground, the first book in the SG-1 Apocalypse trilogy. It was a great read. Even though I guessed the twist about halfway through it didn't ruin anything for me. It was fun to see how far they would go with it. I've already bout the next two books in the trilogy.

Quote

They all seem to be out of print, unfortunately. I don't know if I'm that interested, but maybe.  The Haunted Forest Tour is available for Kindle, though, so I picked that one up.  Very intriguing concept.

I hope you enjoy The Haunted Forest Tour. Let me know once you're done, if you don't mind.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#37 RJDiogenes

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 05:51 PM

I will. Of course, who knows when I'll get to it.  I just started beta reading a friend's latest novel.
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#38 Niko

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 06:37 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 03 May 2017 - 08:46 PM, said:

You're welcome. Speaking of tie-ins, I read Hostile Ground, the first book in the SG-1 Apocalypse trilogy. It was a great read. Even though I guessed the twist about halfway through it didn't ruin anything for me. It was fun to see how far they would go with it. I've already bout the next two books in the trilogy.

Ah, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)  I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize the twist until the actual reveal.  I did better at guessing where the second one was going, though.  I haven't read the third one yet.  I read a lot of quick-read books last year (including tie-ins like these) because I was trying to reach a particular goal for number of books read and bit off more than I could chew, so I seem to be overcompensating this year with some big fat ones that I couldn't fit into last year's more rushed timeframe.
- Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.    (Matthew 25:40)

- Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.  (Proverbs 3:3)

#39 Virgil Vox

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 08:39 PM

Justice League of America: Team History by James Robinson, Mark Bagley, and Rob Hunter

Team History is something of an odd duck. It is the start of Robinson’s run on the title but it’s not until the last few pages that the core members of his team are assembled. The cover shows a whopping 11 heroes as part of this new JLA but only three of them will remain on the team going forward. The problem is that these issues take place during a lot of big events (Blackest Night, Batman R.I.P, New Krypton, Brightest Day, etc.) and so most of the characters get pulled away for those events. In the end though I think that’s for the best because the team that Robinson eventually creates is a strong one full of characters you wouldn’t normally associate with the JL but that makes the team all that more entertaining.

The first three issues focuses on the remaining members of a fractured Justice League. Vixen, Plastic Man, Red Tornado, Dr. Light (the female one, not the villainous male one though he does make an appearance), Zatanna, and Gypsy are meeting to discuss the fate of the League since so many of the other members have left. They are attacked by Despero, and after fending him off get sucked into the Blackest Night event and face off against revived friends and enemies.

These three issues are really good. It shows that the state of things for the greatest team of heroes is not good and that there might not be a Justice League anymore. The two Blackest Night issues are great, taking advantage of the horror of the situation and making the issues really creepy. Seeing the hero Dr. Light get attacked by the evil Dr. Light who is a racist and who wants to rape his counter-part is just as terrible as it should be.

After those issues are out of the way, Robinson starts creating his own League. Donna Troy is his gateway hero, going around and recruiting others to the League after Wonder Woman talks her in to it. She recruits Batman (Dick Grayson), Starfire, Dr. Light, Cyborg, Mon-El, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Congorilla, Starman, the Guardian and the Atom.

Of course, at the end of the trade the only ones left are Donna, Batman, Congorilla, and Starman. That might put some readers off because it feels as if what happens here doesn’t matter but Robinson is already playing the long game, setting up pins he means to knock down many issues later. The main villains are a group of baddies using New Genesis technology that are stealing random pieces of strange technology from across the globe. On the final page we learn what those pieces do, and it just whets your appetite to see where Robinson is headed.

Robinson uses his knowledge of DC to pepper this trade with cameos by a lot of well known and lesser known characters. Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters show up, as does Blackhawk, the Shade, the Metal Men, the Challengers of the Unknown, and more. It’s like a Who’s Who of the DC Universe.

Donna gets a lot of love here, with Robinson setting her up for a long running plot where she deals with the craziness of her life. Donna has been put through the ringer, more than most heroes. Her origin seems to change every other year, she gains and loses codenames and costumes more than most people change their underwear, she was married with a son and then both husband and child were killed only to come back as Black Lanterns and Donna had to kill them both. Here she’s angry and at first just wants to retreat from the world, but Diana is able to convince her that joining the Justice League will do her good.

Dick is, well, Dick. He’s Batman at this moment in time, but a different Batman than Bruce. He’s much more of a team player and friendlier than Bruce is. He brings a different dynamic to the team.

Congorilla and Starman are fun characters. Congorilla used to be a man, until a magical device placed his brain into the body of a magical, basically immortal golden ape that can change size. He has a dry wit and is one of my favorite characters. Starman is a blue skinned, gay alien who gets his powers from a gem in his chest. The two are friends and remind me of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.

Team History won’t be for everyone. It’s the set-up for a Justice League that no longer exists in a continuity that no longer exists. For me though it’s a good trade that started an extremely fun, strange, and lovely run on Justice League.

Quote

Ah, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)  I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize the twist until the actual reveal.  I did better at guessing where the second one was going, though.  I haven't read the third one yet.  I read a lot of quick-read books last year (including tie-ins like these) because I was trying to reach a particular goal for number of books read and bit off more than I could chew, so I seem to be overcompensating this year with some big fat ones that I couldn't fit into last year's more rushed timeframe.

I still haven't read books 2 or 3 yet. I keep getting side tracked by other books. I need to just move them up my mental book reading list.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#40 Virgil Vox

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 07:46 PM

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Ghosts of Empire by George Mann

This is the fourth novel in the Ghosts series, and hopefully not the last. The novel takes place in an alternate, steam punk inspired 1920s and 30s with a pulp hero named the Ghost as the star. It also has elements of H.P. Lovecraft and fantasy thrown in.

Essentially the series center on Gabriel Cross, an extremely rich playboy who lives in New York City. He fought in the Great War and came back a changed man. He now moonlights as the hero the Ghost, fighting crime both mundane and mystical in New York City. He is aided by his girlfriend Ginny who is the avatar for an Egyptian goddess, as well as a NYC detective named Donovan.

This novel sees those three, plus Donovan’s wife Flora, head to England for a vacation after the events of the previous novel. They have plans to meet a man named Rutherford who helped them stop villains planning on releasing Cthulu-like creatures on England in the second novel.

It turns out that Rutherford, who works for the Secret Service, has stumbled upon a plot by Russian wizards who want to start a war with England. The Ghost and his allies have to stop the Russians from completing their plans.

There is a lot to love in this novel, starting with the alternate history that the series has created. Here England, America, and their allies won the Great War. However, England came out as the predominant power thanks to the creation of what are essentially tanks on steroids. Queen Alberta wants to expand the British Empire, and a cold war has existed between England and America since then. It has started to thaw, but not by much.

The Russian wizards, called Koscheis, are formidable enemies. They wield almost unstoppable magic and have created a network of portals all over the country, making it easy to move troops wherever they are needed. There are a large number of them and they can create magical shields to block bullets and any other kind of weapon.

I also liked the avatar of Albion, basically a creature that embodies the British spirit and arises when the country has need of it. That time is now, but the Koscheis anticipated this and corrupted the avatar so that it would attack those it was meant to protect.

The book moves along at a pretty good pace. There are no real slow points. George Mann definitely knows how to write an action scene, and there are plenty here. The ending has some great action as the Koscheis launch an invasion of London.

All of the characters get a chance to shine and display some growth. Gabriel has become more accepting of his dual nature as both Gabriel Cross and the Ghost and knows that both identities are part of him. Ginny continues to struggle with hosting Sekhmet and controlling the goddess’s more violent impulses. Donovan tries to keep his wife Flora safe while also realizing that she is a strong woman who can hold her own and knew what she was getting into when she married a cop.
Some of the dangling plots from the last book are mentioned but not dealt with here. Hopefully is another book is released we will see some movement on those plots.

I was disappointed that Rutherford’s sexuality was never discussed. In Ghosts of War it was hinted that he was gay but the author never did anything with it. I had my fingers crossed that we would get more info on that side of his character here but alas that doesn’t happen.

I highly recommend this series if you are a fan of pulp fiction, steam-punk, and superheroes. All four books are lots of fun and quick reads.

Edited by Virgil Vox, 04 November 2018 - 07:47 PM.

"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman



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