Stargate Archives

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

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Wind Raker by Melissa Scott & Jo Graham

Wind Raker (The Order of the Air, #4)Wind Raker by Melissa Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gilchrist Aviation is riding out the depression but it's not been easy so when an a lucrative job is offered by a major aircraft manufacturer to test the Catalina Flying Boat it's too valuable to turn down. The job is in Hawaii a location which is considered suitable for the civilian applications of an island hopper but by some strange coincidence Jerry is also in Hawaii supervising his first dig since his injury. Those who understand how the world works can't help but be troubled by this unusual "coincidence" that will bring all the members of the Lodge together far from their usual stomping grounds. Jerry is looking for evidence of early Chinese influence on the Islands based on an intact Ming Vase discovered on a pineapple plantation but the identity of who is funding the dig is a mystery and with dark influences growing throughout the US and the world as shown when a German warship visits the islands everyone's on edge. During testing of the new seaplane the Gilchrist crew meet a young woman named Lily who has a dark history and is believed to be a bit of a jinx or as she believes the victim of a very strong curse. Alma of course can't help but get involved which brings together her people and the local Lodge and renews hostilities with a very dangerous acquaintance from a few years earlier.
Wind Raker is the fourth novel in The Order of the Air series of novels written by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham and I think I enjoyed this novel more than the others as the writing/plot seemed to be faster paced. This of course could be the result of some of the narrative tying together early elements as it would in a series of novels and the hints of future events and the speculation the reader then brings as to the impact on the characters didn't hurt either. I enjoyed the subplot of the children that Mitch and Stasi take under their wing and as always the interactions between the family of Gilchrist Aviation and their willingness to or at least attempt to always do the right thing gave a positive slant to the story even when in sunny Hawaii there was darkness and evil lurking just out of sight.
I have as I type this review just bought the fifth book in the series entitled "Oath Bound", says it all really.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Sensitist by John-Paul Cleary

The Sensitist (Convergent Space Book 3)The Sensitist by John-Paul Cleary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sensitist is the third novel in the Convergent Space series written by John-Paul Cleary and continues the story of Earth, the Renaissance, the Phelgars, Nimits and various other vested interests in the galaxy as it is after the "first wave" which changed so much many years earlier. The Shadow Ship and the revelations of its origins and capabilities continue to echo within this novel but itself takes a step into the background as the Renaissance leader Prime Validor Kodova seeks out the man who controls the weapon that destroys worlds. If he is alive then the weapon can be taken and war can begin, if he is dead then the weapon is lost and war can begin and if there is no weapon to use then yep war can begin. In this volatile mix the human Sensitist Amilla Haretra and her companion "Uncertainty" are drawn into the cold war but find their abilities and opportunities expand to meet the numerous challenges as they cross the stars and learn some of the dark secrets of the galaxy and beyond.
The Sensitist is very entertaining installment in this series, the inclusion of the world of Estia and the intriguing character of Bretch added much to the narrative and there were certainly amusing concepts with a world and its civil war between the young and the old and the Deathist culture where advanced social media helps create a persona that lives on after a being dies.
A worthy addition to the series and highly recommend and still holds up fairly well as a standalone novel although why would you begin with the third book in the series:)

View all my reviews

Grunts by Mary Gentle

GruntsGrunts by Mary Gentle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I originally bought Grunts on hardback more years ago then I care to remember and like many a weighty tome it's not ideal for reading during a lunch break or commute so when I noticed Mary's work had been released on ebook I snapped up a copy of Grunts and settled in to once again enjoy the gut wrenching and blood spilling antics of the Orc Marines. As many a review will mention this is certainly not a book for youngsters, it's brutal in places but you'll find yourself grinning and laughing as you experience situations from the "bad" guys perspective and at least in this world so close to our own nothing is quite black and white. Highly recommended for anyone who may be jaded with the usual sword and sorcery epic or is looking to enjoy some dark humour which for all of it's in your face over the top action remains so recognisable.

View all my reviews

Friday, 8 September 2017

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dial D for Deadman by Barry J. Hutchison

Dial D for Deadman: A Space Team Universe Novel (Dan Deadman Space Detective Book 1)Dial D for Deadman: A Space Team Universe Novel by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dan Deadman makes his move from a supporting character in the Space Team series with this fully fledged adventure "Dial D for Deadman".
Dan is a detective, well sort of as he is not known for his hardcore analytical investigative skills but he knows the streets and the people of Down Here and oh by the way he is dead hence his name and the rather abrupt reactions of everyone he meets, even with a galaxy full of aliens Dan is a rather startling individual to come across especially down a dark alley.
A routine (for Dan) prevention of a mad serial killer opening a portal into the malwhere (demonish dimensions) leaves him with a dame tagging along who has some very unusual skills, she remembers her name (Oledol) but lacks a translation ship and has no memory of where she is or even more basic things such as using the bathroom, lots of comedic opportunities revolve around Oledol and how Dan deals with them. Dan begins an investigation into a missing child case and unable to shake Oledol finds himself with a partner who to say complicates his life would be an understatement, it doesn't help that his arm got ripped off earlier and was replaced by a womans arm complete with painted nails so Dan is not in a great mood. The investigation takes them all over Down Here and we meet many interesting characters, suspects, passers-by and there is no question that the setting and character interactions are very entertaining, the mystery in itself works well but it's the main and ancillary characters that won't allow you to put this book down.
The novel certainly pays homage to film noir and the classic private dick and dame with an agenda narrative but set within the Space Team universe the humour just keeps on coming. Dan is returning in "Dead Men Don't Get Paid" and for me a certain purchase.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Miracle Workers - S.C.E.

Miracle Workers (Starfleet Corps of Engineers Omnibus, #2)Miracle Workers by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second book in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series presents three stories under the title "Miracle Workers". The first story is a direct continuation from the first novel as the Da Vinci deals with the USS Defiant and the Tholians in Interphase Book Two. Events are spiraling out of the control as the Tholians look to bury a dark secret and the Federation diplomatic corps seem more willing to sacrifice Starfleet personnel than stand up to this alien power.
The second story is Cold Fusion and this where Deep Space Nine makes its presence felt post the Dominion War as the Da Vinci is tasked with meeting with Lt. Nog to salvage the fusion core from the Cardassian station Empok Nor for use on DS9. Complications arise when they find that they are not alone.
The final story "Invincible" concentrates on Commander Sonya Gomez who has been on detached duty from the Da Vinci and working on the planet Sarindar on a project which has been suffering many issues. The Nalori in a reversal of nearly two centuries of mild xenophobia invited Starfleet into their space to help fix the problems and in return will open up their space to Starfleet long range exploration ships. Gomez (formerly of the Enterprise) has immediate success until a number of the workers are slaughtered by something thought to be legend and no help is forthcoming.
Miracle Workers maintains the strong character driven elements of the SCE series, the second part of Interphase demonstrates the publishers/editors will embrace longer stories when required and this mix seems to be a winner.

View all my reviews

Have Tech Will Travel: Star Trek S.C.E.

Have Tech Will Travel: Star Trek S.c.e.Have Tech Will Travel: Star Trek S.c.e. by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The series of stories/novels under the Starfleet Corps of Engineers banner is focused on a rarely used aspect of the Star Trek universe (at least on tv and the movies). This branch of Starfleet are the futuristic equivalent of the Army Corp of Engineers and like their illustrious predecessors are often tasked with both military and civilian missions all of which continue to have a strong construction/development/maintenance aspect while still retaining the ability to act as a fully fledged arm of Starfleet when required. The books are primarily focused on the USS Da Vinci and her crew under the command of Captain David Gold and while they contain many stand alone stories there are many multi-part and a continuing/developing narrative throughout. Diversity is also a big factor in the series as a wide range of authors and styles come together to keep things fresh while remaining true to the original concept/characters.
Have Tech Will Travel consists of four stories, the first is The Belly of the Beast in which the Enterprise disables a huge unknown alien starship and leaves the Da Vinci to do a full investigation of the technology and determine who built the ship. The second story is Fatal Error which deals with a malfunctioning AI which has been responsible for generations for guiding/controlling the economy/infrastructure and society of the non-federation world of Eerlikka. The third is Hard Crash which deals with a mysterious alien vessel which slams into a city on the world of Intar and the revelations as the Da Vinci delve into the remains found on board. The final story is called Interphase Book One and is tied to the original series episode The Tholian Web, the SCE are invited into Tholian space to retrieve the Defiant which has reappeared in the spatial rift, there are time constraints but what they find onboard could spark renewed hostilities with the Tholians.
I've planned to read this series for a while now but was put off due to the shear amount of content but gotta start somewhere and now I am glad I didn't put them off any longer.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Battlestar Galactica Model

Well after I finished my Space 1999 Eagle model I was looking around for something else to do and of course I recalled like the Eagle I had a model of the classic Battlestar Galactica as a kid which went the way of the dodo many years ago. So a quick internet search later I found Moebius Models who had a classic Galactica kit along with many other wonderful models. I sourced the kit from a UK dealer and then got to work, I didn't have any intention of lighting the model just wanted something that looked nice on the shelf and while the decals were a pain (the ship ends up being the Pacifica) it did eventual turn out well enough to have been worth the time and money.

Overall build quality of the parts was high although some issues with putting all the major components together, I had to fill a few gaps in but fortunately the base paint allowed me to cover them after the fact so that don't stand out too harshly. The decals as I said were not great although I may not have that gentle touch required :)

Stunning Cosplay

Alicia Marie

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Space Team: Return of the Dead Guy by Barry J. Hutchison

Space Team: Return of the Dead GuySpace Team: Return of the Dead Guy by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An unlikely, improbable but not impossible distress signal originating from Earth is received by Space Team. Cal knows that level of technology should not exist but never the less they warp towards this dead world, as they approach the location is refined and Cal decides to go alone to investigate. Not long after he is facing a multi-verse of issues, a creature from the beginning of time which is intent on eating the Universe and any others it can gets its teeth into and well there is only one Cal to solve the problem and save life as we know it...
Return of the Dead Guy is for me a return to form for the series, a total mind fonk of wild ideas and situations yet retaining every nuance from each member of Space Team and adding more layers of character and chemistry as the story unfolds. Barry continues to surprise and entertain and the threat to Cal and Space Team and pretty much everyone they've ever known or will know sets the scene for their greatest adventure and achievement.
It's been an absolute delight reading the Space Team novels over the last month and while Barry is writing other novels at this time I patiently await any further adventures of the most inept yet successful team in space.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Scifi Art

I am a firm believer that some content benefits from a more restrained presentation, perfect examples are these two posters for Star Trek Discovery and Stargate Origins.

Space Team: The Guns of Nana Joan by Barry J. Hutchison

Space Team: The Guns of Nana JoanSpace Team: The Guns of Nana Joan by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The galactic war between Zertex and Symmorium continues, the team rescue the survivors of Commander Junta's warship but later they learn of a tragedy with the slaughter of thousands of Symmorium civilians at the hands of Loren's Zertex brother. He is now due to be executed for war crimes and the Space team are split over their course of action which ends up with most of them stranded on a world that demands full employment and well what are the Space team really equipped to do in the day to day job market, you may not be surprised.
There was a lot about this novel I liked, the ongoing humour always hit the mark but the overall narrative didn't quite grab me as much as the other novels but it's difficult not to enjoy the antics of Cal as he tries to put together a new space team and adjust to his new duties working for Nana Joan.
Ah Nana Joan, an interesting addition to the narrative and the expansion of this "world" with new characters and of course Kevin who is just pure comedic gold so lots to enjoy. The President continues to be a total megalomaniac and obsessed with Cal which could be his major weakness but if Space team can get their shizz together they may be able to stop a full scale galactic war.

View all my reviews

Space Team: Song of the Space Siren by Barry J. Hutchison

Space Team: Song of the Space SirenSpace Team: Song of the Space Siren by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Space Team are back together although the loss of the Shatner was a blow but they do have a new ship and maybe a new member of the crew, that still has to be decided but so far he seems to be fitting in. The team take on a new job, it's small and maybe beneath them but an hour or so later they are surrounded by dead bodies, blood and gore and one young child who had been kidnapped but on the plus side there is a reward for returning her to her people. Of course with a million credit reward and the whole galaxy aware of Space team and their current cargo there will be some interest from space pirates and the original kidnappers associates. After some as I said interesting interactions the young child is returned and well things were not exactly as they seemed and the Space Team well Cal more than any of them can not just fly away no matter how much cash they have.
Song of the Space Siren is a story where you knew the Space team would end up in the shizz and no surprise they would have totally the wrong end of the stick but no surprise either that Cal has to get involved. Of course that means attempting to rip down a world's religious beliefs which normally goes well (at least on tv) but in this case not so much. An entertaining adventure for Space team and good times with Kevin the latest member of this dysfunctional family.

View all my reviews

Space Team: The Search for Splurt by Barry J. Hutchison

Space Team: The Search for SplurtSpace Team: The Search for Splurt by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well you can't blame any author especially in the scifi realm from offering a nod to the third movie in the Trek series and while Splurt isn't dead he could very well end up that way after sacrificing himself to save the rest of Space Team. Cal of course is hell bent on rescuing his best space buddy and devises a crazy plan to kidnap the President of Zertex Corp and torture him for the information and regardless of the consequences go wherever the path takes him.
The Search for Splurt was another great read, the characters are now established and the interactions not surprising yet still delivered with a subtle and when required an outlandish style. The story is full of the humour we have come to expect and I quite enjoyed the inclusion of one or two new characters especially Narp's mum who also has her own short story "Nun Shall Pass" in The Expanding Universe Anthology Book 2.
The wild crazy adventures of Space Team continue and so onto book 4 :)

View all my reviews

Space 1999 Eagle Transporter

I've kinda gotten into building models something I used to do a lot as a kid (never very good to be honest) but the extra time I have on my hands seems to suit putting together a model from a science fiction show which has limited options for buying a ready made example. So I probably will never build an Enterprise but I did build a Klingon D7 and a X-Wing and just finished the MPC for the Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. Now the colour scheme is different but that's just my own esthetic sensibilities coming into play.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Space Team: The Wrath of Vajazzle by Barry J. Hutchison

Space Team: The Wrath of VajazzleSpace Team: The Wrath of Vajazzle by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You really can't trust some people especially those that greet with you with a big smile and shower you with opportunity. Cal and the crew of the Shatner learn this the hardway when things go a little helter skelter after undertaking a mission for the President (no not that one). Cal takes a breather and visits Earth and it's not what he remembers, more dead bodies and infected souls for a start and then the Zertex appear at Disneyworld no less. As luck would have it Mizette's finance turns up and returning to her homeworld and parents is just better than being captured and taken back for probable execution, just. As you would expect President Sinclair is not a happy bunny, space bunny even and brings in the dreaded Vajazzle a bounty hunter of extreme competence and ruthlessness. It certainly beginning to look like Cal is not on the President's christmas list if christmas existed in space.
The Wrath of Vajazzle continues the slap stick and yes subtle humour surrounding the space adventures of one of the last humans in the galaxy, at least the only one not on Earth. Cal and his crew continue to live on the edge in terms of a galaxy full of dangers and certainly a spaceship full of eachother. The added depth provided to Mizette with her backstory is most welcome, it may indicate that we are going to learn far more about all the characters as the novels continue and that is never a bad thing. Cal and his relationship with Splurt is fast becoming my favourite part of the story but truth be told there really isn't anything I am not enjoying in this book and the series thus far.

View all my reviews

Space Team by Barry J. Hutchison

Space TeamSpace Team by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cal Carver a relatively harmless conman/grifter is due to spend the next couple of years at a low security prison but ends up at a state facility and is unable to charm the warden, infact quite the opposite. Cal won't be transferred until he has spent a night sharing a cell with a convicted murdered and cannibal and that actually turns out not to be the worst thing to happen to him over the next few days. So the prison is attacked by a well armed and professional group that night, yes most of humanity never see another day and Cal is dumped pretty much head first into a situation that actually favours his skills and allows him to survive and then the real adventure begins.
I came across Space Team as a recommendation after reading Pew! Pew! - Sex, Guns, Spaceships... Oh My! and knowing nothing about Space Team than the blurb opened it up (well on my kindle) and pretty much decided I would be purchasing the whole series after just the first chapter. Yes this novel is that funny and while humour is certainly subjective the cast of characters, their interactions and the ridiculous situations they get themselves into (and out of) are just too entertaining to describe. I can not recommend this novel too highly if you are looking for some hilarious and even silly at times well structured and written space humour yet retaining a solid scifi foundation which keeps the novel from crossing into the spoof category.
I have indeed purchased the five other novels in the series and have no doubt that I will enjoy them immensely.

View all my reviews

Monday, 10 July 2017

Vinyl Idolz - Batman

Picked up a mega bundle of newly released Classic 1966 Batman Vinyl figures. The price was very good when compared to purchasing individually and I have to say the figures are rather nice.