Sunday, 18 March 2018

Star Brigade: Quartet by C.C. Ekeke

Star Brigade: Quartet (Star Brigade Books 1-4)Star Brigade: Quartet by C.C. Ekeke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the first Star Brigade novel a few years ago and then a collection of the short stories and a few weeks back noticed the promotion for a four novel collection, it was pretty much a no brainer to purchase and delve once again into the world of Star Brigade.
The galaxy as it stands is controlled by various empires and humanity is a major player in the Union however Earth has long since gone having been accidentally wiped of life by the Korvenites who then had their homeworld taken from them in recompense. Unbeknown to most the Korvenite survivors are now treated as a slave labour force and their mental abilities controlled by suppressors and a freedom/terrorist faction rises amongst them and battles for the return of their homeworld. Star Brigade a force in decline finds itself in the center of the battle to save a world and bring justice to a race. That is the very basic story of the first two novels (Resurgent and Maelstrom) and the third and fourth (Supremacy and Ascendant) sees Star Brigade sent to handle a burgeoning civil war which could have galactic ramifications. The collection also features a number of short stories set in and around the novels which add even more value to what is a superb collection of science fiction. The characters created by Charles are strong and complex and still sufficiently larger than life to allow their feats using their "maxim" abilities to ring true without falling into the realm of fantasy. The Political framework of the stories adds a little more structure to hang the plot elements on and also allows the covert and intelligence complications to have free reign.
I've been delighted to get back into Star Brigade and annoyed I lost track of the novels for a while but looking forward to their further adventures which given the growth of the military force within the novels and the relationships of the characters creating a wonderfully entertaining world will hopefully not be too long .

View all my reviews

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Chronicle Worlds: B-Movie

Chronicle Worlds: B-Movie (Future Chronicles Book 16)Chronicle Worlds: B-Movie by Samuel Peralta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My latest dip into the collection of anthologies under the Future Chronicles banner deals with the good old "B-Movie" genre and the authors who contributed work really let themselves have fun. This anthology contains nine stories with subjects covering the whole spectrum from Invading Aliens, Vengeful Spirits, Kungfu Mummies and of course Clowns. I enjoyed every single story and that has to be perhaps the best recommendation I can give, they were all different but entertaining and Samuel can be proud of putting together this anthology.

  • Plagued by Matthew Stott
  • Bubbles by Eamon Ambrose
  • Friendship is Forever by Jessica West
  • Gorillabot vs Mermaids from Neptune by Christopher J. Valin
  • Nightmare by Stefan Bolz
  • Attack of the Kung-Fu Mummies by Daniel Arthur Smith
  • The Legends of Boone Ridge by Artie Cabrera
  • Jeffboy at the Drive-In by Forbes West
  • Drop Bears by S. Elliot Brandis

View all my reviews

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Into the Void by Joshua A. Johnston

Into the Void (Chronicles of Sarco, #2)Into the Void by Joshua A. Johnston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Into The Void is the second installment of the Chronicles of Sarco written by Joshua A. Johnston and takes up the story soon after the fall of the powerful entity known as Malum. The major and minor races of the Confederacy are still in turmoil, vast fleets of warships have been lost but crew casualties have been light due to the unusual nature of Malum. The political climate is volatile and as with the Invasion of 1124 many would want to consolidate and lick their wounds however Admiral Garvak sees no recourse but to venture beyond the void and gain intelligence on Malum and the beings that created it and sent it to destroy the worlds of the Confederacy. Commander Jared Carter is promoted and given command of the Hattan and secret orders to cross the void on a reconnaissance mission, what he finds pushes the ship and crew to their limits and could tip the balance of power both sides of the void.
Into The Void is a more action packed and fast paced novel and for me that resulted in a much more enjoyable read, the expansion of the universe with the revelations of what exists on the other side of the void added immensely to the excellent world created in the first novel. Existing characters have evolved and new characters added to the mix seamlessly and the "big bad" written with depth and continues the conflict between the physical and metaphysical both on the grand scale and the personal, I'm looking forward to the continuation of this story in a third novel.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Time Titan of Tomorrow by Barry J. Hutchison

The Time Titan of Tomorrow (Space Team, #8)The Time Titan of Tomorrow by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Space Team return with a non-stop all action adventure dealing with time and space mainly it has to be said thanks to the lack of Mush (food replicator resource). As we know when Cal gets it in to his head to solve a problem anything can happen and after a mission to capture an evil fiend leaves them with a huge bill the lure of a rich folk filled space passenger liner in distress is too good to pass up. Of course things go poorly but never fear it gets worse and with the fate of freedom in the universe at peril and Space Team are the only ones on scene well we are all space mush!
Barry once again delivers a fast faced and fun filled comedic space adventure and I'll admit this novel delivered emotional high and lows and a couple of times I had to just put the book down and take a breath, unexpected emotional knife in the guts both in a good and bad way:)
For me this novel is back to form after the previous one didn't really hit the high bar set by the series and it sets up what I expect to be a tremendous next novel, no space pressure.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 11 February 2018



Last year Sideshow Collectibles the purveyor of all things beyond my price range announced a figure of Toothless the dragon as depicted on the two theatrical features based on How To Train Your Dragon. Now I love the first movie, the second not so much and the tv series I can just take or leave but this figure immediately demanded attention. I placed a deposit and even though a UK based supplier had offered them in the meantime I stayed with the US import which worked out ok, import duties were not so bad (DHL not the PO).

Saturday, 10 February 2018

From The Depths by Amy Griswold

STARGATE ATLANTIS: From the Depths (SGX-08)STARGATE ATLANTIS: From the Depths by Amy Griswold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"From The Depths" by Amy Griswold is the latest novella from within the Stargate Franchise and focuses on Atlantis post television series and after the 8th novel in the Legacy series. While the continued growth of the Atlantis storyline is most welcome it is not critical to make this novella work although an alive and well Elizabeth Weir may give pause depending upon how much of the tv show you've seen:) As with most scifi in fact all narratives some things you may just need to accept to really enjoy the story but if you have kept pace with the books published by Stargate Novels/Fandemonium then you'll be right at home.
In this story Atlantis still exploring its new home investigates the behaviour of some large squid like creatures, their ability to alter their skin colours hints at communication and well the Ancients have done some weird stuff as they tried to make Pegasus as they seemed fit.
I'm not going to go into any more detail as the novella packs in a lot of story and while there may be nothing really new here the concept sits nicely into the world view of Pegasus and the Ancients any fan of the tv show would recognise. Elizabeth and John interacting was and remains entertaining and the ancillary characters worked well and who couldn't picture the expression on Jack as his fishing pole went bye bye, a good read for fans of the franchise and Atlantis in particular.

View all my reviews

Bridge Across the Stars: A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology

Bridge Across the Stars: A Sci-Fi Bridge Original AnthologyBridge Across the Stars: A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology by Rhett C. Bruno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been very partial to scifi anthologies in recent years as a gateway to new authors or established authors teasing new or existing works. In this case Bridge Across the Stars: A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology hits the mark perfectly offering up a bunch of new authors for me to sample at a minimal cost and a few recognisable names whose work I've read before.
In this novel there are seventeen stories covering much of what we consider to be science fiction and as you would expect not everyone hit the mark but each reader takes something different from each story which is where an eclectic mix of styles/stories pays off.
"As the Sparks Fly Upward" by David VanDyke is an excellent opening to the anthology with its mix of military scifi and a deeper look into humanity (in any form) while Guardians of Earth by Felix R. Savage was highly entertaining with the look at a purely fantastically future of mankind driven from Earth as our sun got eaten by "void dragons" and a young boys secret kept until a chain of unexpected events. The Trenches of Centauri Prime by Craig Martelle had me laughing as it tied together human history of war in a far flung setting but the attitudes of the footsoldier (any species) not having changed one iota. Further stories cover the birth of AI, Space Pirates, Humanities spread across the galaxy and the end of life on Earth.
Overall every story gave me some pleasure and selecting a few to mention seems unfair but that's the way it was meant to be, a great anthology and well worth picking up.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Slayers and Vampires

Slayers and Vampires: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized, Oral History of Buffy the Vampire Slayer & AngelSlayers and Vampires: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized, Oral History of Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel by Edward Gross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I watched both Buffy and Angel when they were broadcast and own both series on DVD having watched them at least once more. I haven't really been then interested in the behind the scenes events both small and large which occured and led to what the audience got to watch on TV but this book just turned up at the right time when I was at a loose end reading wise.
The interviews were both current and taken from previous articles/interviews from the full range of cast and crew, Joss Whedon himself did not provide any new input so all his comments are as stated from earlier interviews. That said I learnt a lot about the highs and lows of bringing first Buffy and then Angel to the screen and it certainly ignited a desire to rewatch Buffy once again which I am doing and currently in the third season. The show was always excellent but armed with some of this information I am getting so much more from the viewing experience.

View all my reviews

Edge of Oblivion by Joshua A. Johnston

Edge of Oblivion (The Chronicles of Sarco, #1)Edge of Oblivion by Joshua A. Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Confederacy consists of a number of advanced space faring races each bringing their own particular traits for the benefit of all but few would claim it is an easy alliance of worlds. The galaxy is shaken when a threat from beyond explored space "folds" into the Ritican frontier and close to a manned listening post, soon there is nothing left of the listening post and the entity/ship moves on slowly wiping out all things in its path. Combined fleets engage the invader but as desperation mounts a single ship is sent out to track down remnants of an old parchment with similarities to the invader. As technology and courage continue to fail the fate of the known galaxy could rely on myths and prophecy and a belief in what many would consider things long grown out of.
Edge of Oblivion written by Joshua A. Johnston was a recommendation and overall an easy read, I liked the juxtaposition of science and mythology as they vied to solve the problem of the invader and the complex world he wrote with the five main species and ancillary peoples worked very well. The sequel to the novel is out soon and I have preordered it for my kindle.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas Prezzies 2017

I must have been a good boy this year because in addition to the usual stocking fillers I also got a few nice surprises.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

New Frontiers by Joshua Dalzelle

New Frontiers (Expansion Wars Trilogy, #1)New Frontiers by Joshua Dalzelle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New Frontiers is the first book of the Expansion Wars trilogy and takes place not long after the conclusion of the "phage" war as detailed in the Black Fleet trilogy of novels. Captain Wolfe the "hero" of the first series is moved into a more administrative position and Captain Celesta Wright takes her ship to the frontier where a mysterious signal is being received from, what they find provokes more questions than answers. Meanwhile the Confederacy already on shaky ground begins to fragment and proves to be a very bad time to encounter another alien species who on the surface seem to be amiable to diplomacy but there is more to them than meets the eye just as there is with humanity.
I've really enjoyed the Omega Force novels by Joshua and the Black Fleet was a different type of scifi story but still containing good characters and well written plot lines and action sequences. New Frontiers continues this theme and I'm more than ready to read the second and third novels in this series as once again a fragmented human race is faced with a threat that could end their existence.

View all my reviews

Shield of the Gods by Christopher L. Bennett

Department of Temporal Investigations: Shield of the Gods (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)Department of Temporal Investigations: Shield of the Gods by Christopher L. Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not a regular reader of current Star Trek related novels and certainly not those dealing with the Department of Temporal Investigations but I liked the blurb for this novel and thought I would give it a go. Overall I enjoyed the story, the plot elements that linked to original series and Gary Seven were satisfying and you can never really go wrong with time travel in scifi. That is perhaps why when they paid a big nod to a scene from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure I burst out laughing, I was in the canteen at work at the time so got a few "looks". The story itself deals with a theft of some highly advanced and classified time tech from the vaults of the DTI by an individual who may have come from the future, the agents investigate leading them across space and time to an event that change events on a galactic scale. The narrative embraces the more personal aspects of the characters giving a little more weight to the events and that I think that made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the novel. I would probably have got more out of it if I was familiar with this part of the Trek franchise but still a good story, well written and entertaining.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 25 November 2017

I, The Constable

I, The Constable (Star Trek Deep Space Nine)I, The Constable by Paula M. Block
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the death of a very successful member of Quark's family he is disturbed to find that the changing face of Ferenginar as guided by Rom and Leeta means Quark is not inline for a windfall. Not to be outdone he returns to his homeworld in the hopes of manipulating the beneficiaries of the will and generate some cash flow. When Quark goes missing Odo is asked to investigate and he once again dons the mantle of constable and equipped with a well read library of classic "noir" and pulp detective novels goes in search of one wayward ferengi.
I've got to admit that I really enjoyed Odo with a noir slant, he kinda fits into hard boiled detective mould and yes has his own issues with dames and flat foots as well as hysterical clients, that latter being Rom :)
A very enjoyable novella and an excellent read for a DS9 fan.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 11 November 2017

STARGATE SG-1: Behind Enemy Lines by Sally Malcolm

STARGATE SG-1: Behind Enemy Lines (SG1-31)STARGATE SG-1: Behind Enemy Lines by Sally Malcolm
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once there was an Asgard named Loki who did unethical and illegal experiments on abducted humans from Earth in the hopes of finding a way to solve his people's inherent flaws in cloning technology. One result of this experimentation was a clone of Colonel Jack O'Neill (SG1 S7E3) whose development was arrested during the clones teenage phase, the young Jack complete with the life experiences and knowledge of older Jack was let loose upon the Earth to find his own path. However young Jack had the desire to make a difference so when nearly a decade later SG1 get themselves into a mess and the opportunity arrives to once again don the mantle of Stargate Command he steps through the gate (Off Balance novella).
Behind Enemy Lines is set not that long after the events depicted in Off Balance (the novella is included in the novel) and we find the not so young Jack has got himself captured by some very dangerous individuals in Syria. What makes it worse is that video footage has been released which also features the firing of a Zat (given to Jack by Teal'c). Sam and Daniel with SGC support raid the compound and rescue Jack and other hostages but the cat is out the bag and the IOA is demanding Jack be restrained and kept for study. However John Sheppard has been infected by an Ancient repository of knowledge and McKay and Co believe analysing a brain that has undergone the cleansing procedure will allow them to reverse the procedure. As General O'Neill is perhaps to valuable to risk the Jack clone at this point is expendable and so off to Pegasus he goes and his wildest adventure begins.
Behind Enemy Lines written by Sally Malcolm is a very fast paced novel, I was surprised I finished it so quickly but the narrative never lets up and you are thrown from major event to major event with very concise build up in between. There is no real surprise in the overall story but by focusing on events in and around the SGC and Atlantis/Pegasus it covers all the bases which adds flavour as we see most of these through the eyes of clone Jack. It's both gratifying and depressing to see the wonders of the universe offset by Jack learning of the deaths of friends and colleagues during his time out of the SGC sphere of influence. The addition of the Wraith dynamic worked well and to readers of The Legacy series a lot of this will be familiar, there has been some great work done on expanding Wraith culture in the novels after Atlantis finished it's run on television. The novel is a fun read, works well especially if you are familiar with the TV episode and novella (why wouldn't you be) and gives us a most satisfying conclusion.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Cauldron of Fire by Jay Allan

Cauldron of Fire (Blood on the Stars #5)Cauldron of Fire by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cauldron of Fire is the fifth novel in the Blood on the Stars series and as you would expect continues the ongoing story of the conflict between the three main powers in this particular area of the galaxy. The Union and Confederation are pretty much stalemated at this point but the political establishment of the Confederation seeing growing discontent within the populace are looking to strike quick and hard to finish the Union once and for all. Of course the Admirals know that what minor positives will be brought forward by committing major assets are overshadowed by chances of a disaster which mounts as supply lines extend and they dive deeper into Union space. They also know that the Union are secretly backing the coup that has fractured the Alliance, if the Union secure control/influence of that huge military force then the Confederation will be destroyed between two fronts.
Commodore Barron and his highly respected Dauntless with other destroyer support are supporting the genuine government of the Alliance in this civil war but know that in time they will lose unless they do something rather unexpected.
Cauldron Of Fire continues the excellent military scifi storytelling we've come to expect from Jay Allan and builds upon characters we already know as well as introducing others to add more depth and flavour to the story. The combat both in space and on the ground is compelling and exciting and leaves us wanting more and combine that with the investment in the character then you are onto a winner. Fortunately the sixth novel in the series "Dauntless" is due early in the new year.

View all my reviews

Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli

Another Girl, Another PlanetAnother Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Government agents are confronted with a mystery when three graves are found on Mars and on one grave marker a business card with a name and address on it. Dave Shuster the man identified through this information is confronted and he relates a story of another timeline/reality in which the cold war never developed and the US and Soviets joined forces to colonise space. Within decades humanity had a large functioning lunar colony and a young and vibrate facility on Mars. After a failed senate run this Dave Shuster takes a senior administration job on Mars in 1985 and finds himself embroiled in a long established plan to use the advanced robotics pioneered by Asimov and perfected by the powerful Tesla corporation to overthrow the established order. Here on Mars the future of the human race will be decided and a few good men, women and yes androids will swing the scales.
Another Girl, Another Planet was a kindle recommendation and I enjoyed reading the sample, I bought the novel right away and finished it that night, I really could not put it down. I enjoyed the look at an Earth that went down a different path after WWII and the use of real world characters in different professions and impacting in different areas was clever.
A highly recommend novel, something different yet very satisfying.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Pew! Pew! - The Quest for More Pew!

Pew! Pew! - The Quest for More Pew!Pew! Pew! - The Quest for More Pew! by M.D. Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well here we are with even more Pew! Pew! for your space cash and this anthology does not fail to deliver with nine varied scifi tales with a comedic slant, some out and out humorous others less so but all with the ability to make you smile. I was quite pleased that a number of the authors contributed stories to the anthology with characters from the first so we got the further space tourist adventures of Charles (the redshirt), Ben and his sexbot as the return to Earth from Europa and of course Delta Team who run foul of the magical kingdom/world of Disknee. Along with them are six other original stories and from all of them my favorite was Miss Planet Earth by S.E Anderson a tale of young woman crowned miss universe a month or so before first contact who is then cryofrozen for the intergalactic trip to well the real Miss Universe pageant, 13000 years later when she wakes up well things have changed :)
Overall an excellent follow up to the first Pew! Pew! anthology and a third collection Pew! Pew! - Bite My Shiny Metal Pew! is due to arrive this November.

View all my reviews

Space Team: Planet of the Japes by Barry J. Hutchison

Space Team: Planet of the JapesSpace Team: Planet of the Japes by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So Space Team saved the Universe, well multiverse if we're being accurate and they had an awful lot of help if we are being totally honest but hey they are now awash with cash and are feeling pretty good about things. Of course that doesn't last long as their systems are hacked and the cash stolen yet a clue is left as a secret partition within the memory of Mech is revealed which contains a map to a mysterious location. In pursuit of their cash there is nothing Space Team will not do so Funworld here they come and yep you will not be surprised they find adventure and danger and maybe more than a few references to Scooby Doo as the theme park world does it's best to hide it's secrets and kill the visitors in many a varied way.
Planet of the Japes for me didn't quite hit the same high mark as previous novels in the series, it felt a little too limited and compressed in scope but Barry did say he wanted to write something a little more contained after the epic plot line of the previous novel. For fans of the series is still an enjoyable addition and opens up narrative avenues that will not doubt pay off as the series continues and I'll be waiting to read the further adventures of Space Team.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Star Trek Discovery

Star Trek Discovery

So I thought I would put down my thoughts on the opening two episodes of Star Trek Discovery entitled "The Vulcan Hello" and "Battle at the Binary Stars" which I've watched a couple of times on Netflix UK. 
I do have to lay some groundwork, I believe if you are going to produce content from an IP that has a pedigree, tradition and a fanbase covering five decades then you better well respect that IP. That of course doesn't preclude you doing some totally new but the framework that has been established should be maintained. This gets more complicated when you decide to do a prequel but even then we've seen that creative writing and plotting can explain elements of stories that initially seem out of place or contradictory. A good example of this from Enterprise is the Borg episode which initially has you scratching your head but linking wreckage on Earth from the vessel taken down by Enterprise in the movie First Contact which featured a temporal element it can be to coin a phrase "logically" explained away. However also from Enterprise the use of Romulans and Ferengi were more amateurish explained away and let's not get into portraying the Vulcans as war mongering back stabbing space fiends. Ok that may be a little over the top but their portrayal went against everything I viewed the Vulcans to be in that timeframe and that is something Discovery has to take heed of, or doesn't depending upon your point of view.

My first viewing of both episodes were simply for pure enjoyment, no note taking or analysis just sitting back and watching the first new and official Star Trek on the small screen for far too long. Initial impressions were pretty positive, the characters were intriguing and interaction seemed smooth (rare for what amounts to a pilot) and the two episodes back to back certainly helped keep things flowing. I was delighted to see a return to an instrumental even classical (Style) piece of music for the opening credits and the look of the show is certainly what you would expect from a well funded piece of scifi especially when compared to its TV counterparts and even the average theatrical release. If you are reading this then you've seen the episodes and I am not going to bother with the narrative (yet) only to say that the two episodes were laying the groundwork for the next batch of episodes and then later onto the second half of this first "season" and they did their job extremely well. This is the Klingon war that was often referred to in the original series which ultimately lead to Organia and the truce imposed on the two warring factions. The creators always said from the beginning (yeah way back when) this was a tale not yet told and they are delivering and only time will tell if it satisfies.

So then came the second viewing with notebook in hand:

The Kahless reference is spot on, the focus of everything Klingon had to be a pivotal aspect of a show about the Klingon/Federation war and the idea that elements of the Klingon Empire where feeling closed in and slowly herded into what they considered extinction as a people. This makes sense if they see the Federation expanding sometimes through treaty and other times after conflict so given the Klingon mindset seeing the Federation as a threat makes perfect sense. My immediate issue is that we saw plenty of Klingons in Enterprise a hundred or so years before and they were not shy. We can of course see the birth of the Federation (10 years post Enterprise) as shaking up the immediate galactic order which could have destabilised the Empire and put them on a back foot but hard to believe the two entities had little or no contact for a century. The Klingons themselves, an interesting look and you've got accept that alien designs change with budget/skill and it's not as if it hasn't happened before. However I think they should have referenced a number of the other designs given we've seen them in Prime continuity and with 24 "Houses" why not a few of them more recognisable? The use of subtitles was perfect though, a modern audience should have no issue with this choice given the intelligent creation of languages in shows like Game Of Thrones and if you've got a language then use it. The rallying cry referencing "We Come In Peace" was chilling but again made perfect sense, twisting a narrative to support a mindset, the Klingon T'Kuvma as not an idiot.
I really liked seeing the Federation willing to intervene with civilisations rated below first contact level, save a species by a simple act and then let them be. That said allowing the exploitation of resources within that star system is denying that very species they are saving those resources millenia down the line, the Federation needs to work on their regulations and foresight.
The introduction of Captain Georgiou and Commander Burnham worked well for the reasons above and the chemistry between the two rang true although the Delta in the sand was a little cringe worthy and I don't believe the USS Shenzhou would have had any difficulty tracking two humans on the planet or why they didn't take a shuttle, if you want to avoid alien interaction then bringing the ship a few hundred metres above the planet is not a good idea.

The bridge, well that looked pretty spectacular and again design aesthetics change with production capabilities, the key for me at least is that the technology on display doesn't eclipse what was the norm as presented in continuity. So in this case the Shenzhou can not be more powerful than corresponding ships in the original series and we see it's a mixed bag. The display/window is certainly far more advanced than a Constitution class heavy cruiser and given the Shenzhou is an "old" design that makes little sense as does the robot/android on the bridge. I will point out I am discussing only what we've seen so far, explanations may be forthcoming in future episodes but hey people have dumped shows in the first few eps for far less. I really like the look and character of Saru and as he and Burnham jostled for access to his station I had to grin and more so as the Captain obviously was well aware of their clash of characters and natures and was willing to play along with it. I did wonder where ergonomic design philosophy got to though, surely his station can be raised to prevent obvious long term back strain for him. So they detect an object in the mass of debris surrounding this gorgeous stellar formation, very surprised the ship itself didn't have optical sensors rather than rely on a telescope but hey adds depth I guess. I can also question the use of the first officer heading out alone to investigate the object, no AI equipped drones aboard that don't rely on direction from the crew or a mono-filament to remote control a drone I suppose but even then surely regs demand backup. I did however like the use of joysticks to maneuver the ship slightly, not sure that is practical but it seemed to fit and Burnham laughing as she gazed upon the wonder of the universe struck a chord. Was it just me that the "robot" sounded just like V'ger Ilia?

I loved the reference to the Black Fleet which is covered in novels and also referenced alongside Sto-vo-kor so this was canon cement (for me) and again the Klingon element (death cry, batleth etc) enriched the story immensely. Loved the Klingon space suit as well and again while TOS suits were pitiful no worries with the new Starfleet designs. I was a little suspect about the so called Klingon "Terror Raids" which made little sense, privateers/raiders certainly but the way the narrative was going it seemed they certainly did have contact with Klingons and the Federation were doing sod all to prevent such incursions. Of course Burnham is a product of one of these raids although I was a little confused, it seemed to be saying she was orphaned after one raid and Sarek took her under his wing but then later we see Sarek already fully committed to the child when she was found barely alive. That may be explained in much greater deal in episodes to come but hey classic red alert Klaxon, suddenly back in the Star Trek frame of mind. It was very amusing how Saru was so insistent on a more defensive strategy and his people's mindset was explained in more detail but there are still questions, did the race that bred his people die out or did the Federation "free" this sentient species, hopefully we'll find out and loved how those white spindly threads raised on his head when in direct danger.
Now we are back to the point where I get derailed as we see a Klingon ship decloak, yes years before the Romulans stunned the Federation with their cloaking technology this Klingon faction have similar technology. We saw in Enterprise that the Romulans (as we knew them to be) were experimenting with stealth technologies so maybe elements within these two empires were sharing tech if both viewed the Federation as a long term obstacle. I've read this cloaking tech will be explained within the show, here is hoping because otherwise this is the worse case of crapping on continuity because the writers can not come up with an idea that works within established canon. We also get holographic communications technology, you've got to be kidding me. This tech was being used in Deep Space Nine and even then it was bloody pointless, in this era with this technology level I have no idea why they thought they needed to introduce it. I'm not sure if this is worse but when Burnham contacts Sarek, he answers in a heartbeat and references the new star in the sky, this is GOT time manipulation to the extreme. 
Burnham asks Sarek for advice, ok makes sense but I really didn't like the idea that the Vulcans were blowing starships out of the sky if they were identified as Klingon. That said we know from Enterprise the Vulcans were big freaking dicks in this timeline prior to T'pau bringing the teachings of Surak back into the mainstream. Now I hated with a passion the disservice Enterprise did with the Vulcans but I've got to admit in this continuity it kinda makes sense although why Vulcans were probing Klingon territories is still beyond me. Burnham at this point is a woman on a mission and full of her own self importance, no question her attitude was unacceptable on the bridge of ship and well the neck pinch was rather surprising but good intentions/road to hell etc. They chose to ramp up her manic behaviour which bought the Captain time to regain control of the ship but real conflict between friends and comrades, not new to Trek as some have claimed but important I suspect to the series as whole. Then more Klingons turn up which kinda indicates the war would still have turned hot when they came across the wreckage of the vessel after being fired upon by Starfleet.

The second episode opens with a short recap then a flashback to the arrival of Burnham on the Shenzhou delivered by Sarek. Interesting she did not attend the Starfleet academy but maybe an early Starfleet and still young Federation were accepting personnel with far more varied backgrounds and years spent at the Vulcan Academy might allow entry to a suitable candidate. I also enjoyed the banter between the two women which quickly found it's footing in a tentative respect and also liked the reference to the Vulcan Expedition/Survey fleet a non-military arm dedicated to expanding knowledge and first contact. We jump back to the present and Burnham underlines the reasoning behind 24 Klingon ships indicating the 24 Houses of the Empire and we see T'Kuvma again with his rallying cry of "We Come In Peace", again he is strategic. I did wonder why the rest of the Klingons were so quickly taken under the spell, the desire to be led or belief in the legend of Kahless must still have been strong within the Houses. It's pointed out that one ship is hardly a threat but here we see the complex timing and manipulation of events as the Starfleet reinforcements arrive and suddenly an immediate threat is evident, the result is now inevitable.

Captain Georgiou makes contact and of course as expected she can't help but utter the line "we come in peace" which cements the point T'Kuvma was making despite it being a pretty shaky argument and the battle begins. Now this whole sequence looked gorgeous although the choice of sound effects seemed not quite right but the choreography was good and you got the visceral feeling as you should and often didn't in the VFX of previous Trek. Oh and as with tradition the consoles go Boom!
Burnham is currently in the brig which looks totally over the top and not only for a ship of this age, it looks totally out of place unless this was the Kelvan timeline and even then still nah doesn't work. We get an interesting scene with a concussed Ensign Connor and then boom the ship gets hit hard, we lose crew and a good portion of the ship is vaporized and force fields contain the exposed areas which include just one part of the brig, that was pretty pathetic. This scene unfolds as a unconscious Burnham communes with Sarek, initially I thought he implied she was speaking to a remnant of his Katra (left behind when he saved her after the attack at the Vulcan learning center) but no she is in contact across a thousand light years with his mind, this I actually accept more than the capabilities of the standard communication systems. Sarek pretty much states that the battle was never going to be avoided, the test, the goal now is to save as many people as possible and not just here and now, the path for Burnham reaches across the galaxy.
I was a little confused when a Klingon commander chose not to take the glory of a kill and allow the Shenzhou to drift towards its destruction but the plot required it and allowed the USS Europa to save them and then for the Admiral to address the Klingons. I don't think the destruction of the Europa and it's Admiral ensured a war but got to admit using a cloaked ship to ram the Starfleet vessel was inspired only taken down a notch by using a cloaked ship which shouldn't exist as far as we know. Total respect to the Admiral for taking out that huge cloaked ship with the self destruct after most of his crew escaped but the damage is done, Klingon ships warp away to spread the word, Khaless has returned/reborn under the banner of T'Kuvma the Unforgettable
Burnham escaped from her cell by logically out thinking the computer, gotta love that with it's spin on Kirk so often killing computers with his own brand of logic and we also see that the Captain has not given up and together they plan to strike back and board the Klingon ship and take T'Kuvma captive, in essence prove his "crusade" is flawed. 

This is a very entertaining sequence and I loved the close combat of the two women with their Klingon foes, not sure I quite buy that training/skill is equal to the sheer power of Klingon warriors (Were they slowed down Gorn like?) but damn I didn't like to see Georgiou run though with a blade and what the hell was Burnham doing switching to kill, emotion over ruling logic which while not really changing what was to come kinda proved Georgiou wrong when she thought she could bring out Burnham's more human side. Of course even with a kill setting that damn Klingon still has time for some last words and pass the torch (yeah sorry about that) to the young outsider Voq who now finds himself at the center of the war to come?
The episode wraps with Burnham at a court martial and sentenced to life imprisonment yet why the overly creepy low lighting, if this is the Federation/Starfleet judicial system the transparency element has long since been disposed of. Seriously guys, wrong choice for this final scene when you then write an excellent monologue for Sonequa to deliver.

So final thoughts, I didn't get that much out of the two episodes on second viewing which surprised me. Of course I was also looking more critically at the episodes which is always going to give you a different experience. Sonequa Martin-Green gave a solid performance and Michelle Yeoh was magnificent, supporting cast playing the crew of the Shenzhou were perfectly fine, shame most of them are dead but we will see Saru ( Doug Jones ) again and while I wished they had CGI'd his eyes I look forward to more of his interaction with Burnham.
I was very disappointed that with the fact that the first two episodes ran to what would be traditional US network running time, one of the benefits of original streamed content is that there are no time limits which means fewer cuts which often mean slower character building scenes get left in. The best of Netflix and Amazon in part are down to storytelling not being constrained by a one hour time slot with ads, hopefully this rather short premiere feature is an anomaly.

Will I watch another episode, of course I will but not on Netflix. I cancelled my Netflix because I am not paying £8 a month for a single show and After Trek was bloody awful and if you know me then you know even with Amazon Prime (For free next day delivery) I rarely use the streaming service, it's just not my sort of thing. One thing is certain from the initial numbers for Episode 1 on CBS is that 10 million or so viewers would not be enough to sustain an $8 million per episode series, the question remains if CBS All Access subscriptions are buoyed enough to justify the budget and globally if the huge cost to Netflix is returned with both ongoing views and new subscriptions.

 I do have high hopes for the series, production quality is excellent and the story will be switching gear next week with the war raging and the introduction of the Discovery and her captain. As with all television shows after they get over the first hurdle, time will tell if viewing figures/revenue climb or decline but for now we have Star Trek on television or what ever device you view it on :)

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell

Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie ActorHail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In his latest book the great and ever inspirational Mr Bruce Campbell relates stories and events from his life and his tv/movie career. We learn much of highs and lows of leaving California for a more sedate life in Oregon and how movie industry economics and the fall of communism meant more opportunities to produce content in far off lands. As you would expect nothing is straightforward and Bruce relates all these events in an entertaining and enlightening style with a never failing passion for life. His time on Burn Notice is covered extensively as is the rebirth of the Evil Dead franchise which brings us pretty much up to where Bruce and his friends/family are at this point of time.
If you are not a fan of Bruce then you'll probably not get too much out of the book but for me this was entertaining cover to cover and sits proudly alongside his other two releases.

View all my reviews