Star Trek: The Rings Of Time Review

Space, The Final Frontier.
These words have long been used as almost a rallying cry for Trek-dom for years.
But what happened as humanity took those initial monumental steps in to the place where no man had gone before?
What happened when the first impulse engine took its maiden voyage into that wild black yonder?

This book from Greg Cox intends to tell that tale, which has been a story of interest since Star Trek debuted back in the 60s.
But does finally learning the story behind that off-handed mention live up to the wonder that imaginations have conjured in all the ensuing years?
Is learning what that moment in history entailed satisfying enough?
Let’s strap in and find out, gang!

As always, this is your requisite ***SPOILER ALERT***
Act accordingly.

On June 28th 2020, Colonel Shaun Geoffrey Christopher, son of USAF Captain John Christopher, made his historic trip to Saturn in the U.S.S. Lewis & Clark.
In 2270, the U.S.S. Enterprise answered a distress call from a mining moon orbiting the ringed planet Klondike VI.
Both ships witness the hexagonal storm on the respective planets they’ve arrived at in turmoil.
While trying to understand that, both ships encounter a strange alien probe.
Through a series of exploratory events in both places in time, the Captains of both ships come in contact with the probe and in a flash of bright white light swap bodies and kick off our plot.

Season 1, Episode 19, production number 6149-21: Tomorrow Is Yesterday.
One of the most iconic and memorable episodes of Star Trek The Original Series.
In that episode, Kirk and crew accidentally end up in the 1960s and beam Captain John Christopher aboard, he learns too much about 23rd century technology and they fear they can’t send him back to his time because his experiences aboard Enterprise may cause him to, intentionally or not, change the future.
The only problem is that his son is a crucial part of the space program.
This is that long speculated story!

I’ve known Greg Cox’s name since I was around 14 years old, I had just made the big jump into comic books, after a childhood of loving comic book based cartoons.
Having recently discovered the wonderful world of media tie-in novels, Marvel had a new line of books through Pocket Books and I found and read Fantastic Four: War Zone.
From that book forward, Greg Cox was a sign of quality and easy reading, particularly when dealing with sci-fi.
This book does nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
His prose is crisp, economic, and some how encourages an unencumbered need to devour page after page.

If I were to have a complaint about this book, it would be the same I’ve had in many of these reviews.
And thinking about it, it’s actually probably what any good storyteller should be doing, he leaves you wanting more…and that is one hell of a feat in a novel that weighs in at 370 pages!
His focus, understandably, is mainly on the 2020 crew that we don’t really know.
Is it bad?
Not at all!
But I wanted to spend more time with the crew we know and love.
I wanted to see more interactions between Christopher, in Kirk’s body, with the iconic crew members.

If you love the adventures of the 1701 crew, episodes or movies, then this just may be the book for you.
It is a call back/forward jizz fest we nerds adore, and it never comes off feeling hokey like he’s just trying to make references for the sake of making them.
Continuity wasn’t the biggest deal in the 60s, but logically if you were in a 5 year mission, such as Kirk is leading, if you didn’t always reference or ponder what experiences you’ve had it would feel cheap and unimportant.
And that is how most of these references are fit in, reflections on the encounters they’ve had over the course of their extended stay in space.

Unsurprisingly, this had everything and more that I want out of a Star Trek novel.
The characterization is spot on, it has a solid Sci-Fi hook, there’s an unexpected conflict that I didn’t even touch on, and it has that sense of wonder and hope that stories of space travel should have.
Gang, if you always wondered what happened on that historic trip to Saturn, wonder no more.
I doubt there could be a better telling of it than this!

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Star Wars: Most Wanted Review

If you’ve listened to the five or so most recent episodes of the main show, you have heard Fitz talk about reading this a few times.
You listened as my interest grew while he spoke about his downs and ups with it.
So the question is where do I stand?
Do I agree with ol Fitty or am I my own man?
Gather round and let’s find out, gang.

As always, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Just to start, this book is curious.
Obviously, if I’m reviewing it, I liked it well enough (more on this later, trust me!) to tell you about it.
But for the first two sevenths of it, shit was looking really damn gloomy on the “ooo, this is gonna rock!” front.
That first hundred pages or so is just bland and uninteresting, it’s just a hell of a slog that feels completely uninspired.
Right around page 100, that all changes and this quickly becomes one of the most enthralling, engaging, and entertaining Star Wars books I’ve read in my decade of reading them.

Set just before the opening segment of Solo, we meet Han and Qi’ra as two kids with hopes of getting to be the leader of the White Worms pack.
With a near contempt for each other, Lady Proxima sends them, unwittingly to each other, on separate sides of the same mission, a high dollar auction for a new piece of cutting edge tech.
When the deal goes sideways, Han & Qi’ra are forced to work together and trust each other with their deepest secrets to survive.

Coming hot on the heels of possibly the most controversial movie of the franchise (The Last Jedi) and battling against poor promotion and a very public firing and replacement of the original directors, Solo was an unfairly maligned movie that had the true heart and soul of George Lucas’s Original three movies infused in its DNA.
It’s definitely the most fun of the new movies, desperately in need of a sequel or follow up of some kind (#MakeSolo2Happen!).
To say I want more of this era, these characters, and their world is a MASSIVE understatement.

In this book, we get to travel to at least four different distinct areas/districts of Corellia: the sewers, the posh upper crusty area, an industrial nightmare, and a grave yard for star ships.
Once Rae Carson hits her stride, she doesn’t fuckin’ stop, man.
What’s truly astounding is that this novel dropped before the movie, because it feels like Carson studied this movie for months to get that feeling of fun, adventure, and wonder locked down.
She captured it all, particularly in the scene where Han breaks atmo for the first time and gets his very first taste of space and flying.
His sheer glee at finding the thing that he desperately wants most in life is awe inspiring and wonderful.
I’ve never read a damn thing Rae has written before, but I’ll be watching more closely for her name from now on.

One thing I liked and have to mention is an observation Qi’ra makes about Han.
While watching his interactions with other folks of all stripes, different species, robots, filthy rich, or dirt poor, she notices that Han treats them all with the same level of dignity.
While this sounds like it may come off heavy handed, obtrusive, and forced, I can assure you it most definitely is not.
It’s handled incredibly well and doesn’t at all feel like you’re being beaten over the head with “a message”, it’s almost off-handedly mentioned.
It’s a good message to subtly send in this day and age of constant division, especially given the target audience of this novel.

The bottomline is this, gang, it has a more than rocky start, but if you stick with it it is wonderfully satisfying.
Carson has an uncanny grasp on this world, and these characters in particular.
I know she’s gone on to bigger assignments in the Star Wars galaxy, but I’d definitely love to see her return to Han’s roots and show us what she can do with this set of toys now that we’ve all seen the movie.
If you can, hunt this book down and give it a shot.
Like Jason Fry and E.K. Johnston before her, Rae Carson proves that the Young Adult arm of that galaxy far far away is producing some of the best stories it has to offer.
And yes, it’s incredibly eerie how much Fitz and I have ended up agreeing about this one…SEND HELP!!!

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Nobody has ever said “What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been”, Right?

Seriously, I just coined that phrase right?

7 years ago today I was bored on a car ride and made this dipshit little video.
https://youtu.be/OBrVxZaKcT4
If you had told me all the shit that would follow I probably would have said “AHHHH, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!?!?” mostly cause I can’t remember if I knew you way back then.

Over the course of the last 7 years everything has changed, for me personally and for the world at large.
In that time, I’ve gone from decidedly friendless, but I’ve made and lost quite a few folks that I thought were friends, I’ve said goodbye to family members, and I’ve watched things on this planet take dangerous turns.
Sometimes, it truly does seems like we live in the darkest of all possible worlds.

But for these last 7 years, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, “I have tried, Ringo, I’ve tried real hard to be a shepard.”
I’ve spent hours writing, talking, recording, editing, worrying, and doubting myself, alone and with good Ol Fitz (& others), because the world (and life in general) can be a harsh, unrelenting, shitty place and it has knocked me and many others that I know and care for on our asses and dared us to stay there.
But most people, when they get knocked down like that, go looking for something to make them feel better.

5 and a half years ago, I wrote a piece for my TS-D/JA Productions blog titled Then Why Do It?, in which I explain why I kept going.
But just incase you don’t want to reread it, I will reiterate here just exactly why.
When you hear from somebody that they have had a shitty day and were the lowest they have been in a while, but that all changed because they read a dumb little book review I wrote and could feel my passion oozing through their screen, or they listened to a podcast and we made a joke that made them laugh for the first time in days, or they watched or heard a skit we put out somewhere and it gave them a little boost…that shit is powerful, man!

Selfishly, hearing shit like that pulls me up, even if only a little bit, from whatever I’m going through.
But taking that out of it, and to go back to what I used to say when I wrapped up almost every post on the old site, the world can be a terrible place so do whatever you can to change that, no matter how many people that hits.
I’ll keep trying to improve the day of the 50-60 people that regularly listen to the pod or read this site.

Alright, gang, WHORE TIME!

And if you want more of us and our goofy ass stylings, don’t forget to read & answer a brand new edition of The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week every Tuesday, a New Fitz’s Toy Chest at least 1 Thursday a month, New installments of The Nerd Blitz Book Review usually once or twice a month, continuing New episodes of the 3 shows (The Nerd Blitz, The Nerd Blitz Book Club, & The Nerd Blitz Commentaries) we’ve always done!

The best ways to support us would be spreading the word on Twitter or following us there @NerdBlitzPod, subscribing, rating, and reviewing where ever you listen to podcasts, getting yourself a shirt over at our RedBubble (we hope to have new designs coming soon), buying any of our albums on our Bandcamp page, or by going over and kicking in to our brand new Patreon page Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod (where we will be posting podcasts, new & old, and creating brand new skits).

Thanks for reading, gang.

Day By Day Armageddon Beyond Exile Review

Ya know, sometimes it’s truly fucked up the way that life can imitate art, and this novel/series is a perfect example of that disturbing little notion, given our current global situation.
But let’s not get into all that, we’ll instead stick to…*swallows hard*…fiction?

As this is a sequel, the near inevitable comparisons to the original (which you can read my Review of right HERE!) book are bound to happen.
So how does it compare?
Let’s find out!

As per the usual round these parts, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Picking up after the battle that closed out book one, we learn more about the carnage and aftermath.
Things soon ramp up again as a militarized group appears, wanting to take Hotel 23.
This forces our main character to out himself as a Naval officer, and unexpectedly take command of this remnant of the US Military.
After a few missions to fortify the missle silo, and collecting quite a few new survivors, our main character heads out in a helicopter to scope out Shreveport, Louisiana.
The helicopter crashes and sets us up for the body of this journey in to the wastes of the now zombie infested US.

I forgot most of this book in the ten years since I first read it, and I’m really glad I did because it made the suspense of it hit as well as it should all over again.
That wondering if the narrator has the skills and grit to survive through the ever growing onslaught of zombies that have been mutated & irradiated thanks to a drastic attempt to save the world in book one.
And the introduction of a new advanced military-esque group and their tech adds a new player to the universe, bringing with it a strange glimmer of hope in an incredibly dread filled world.

One of my only complaints from the first book does get addressed…sort of…?
After receiving a drop of gear from the new Remote Six group, and in an effort to cut weigh in his trek back to Hotel 23, our main character finds a house and leaves one of his guns in the fridge with a note and the old military graffiti Kilroy Was Here.
Once a man tracking the narrator catches up, our main is known as Kil from that point on.
We even have a higher ranking military leader mention/threaten that he found the narrator’s name on a list of people who didn’t show up on base when the shit hit the fan.
I’d still prefer to have an actual name, but I guess that works well enough.

One of the great things about zombie fiction is knowing what the cause of the infection is.
Sadly, more often than not, we normally don’t really get one, but we do here!
I won’t flat out spoil it here, but I will say that I wonder how much the origins of The Walking Dead played into the reveal.
If you know what that means then, you are pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

Bottom line: These books are as easy to read as blinking.
The pages fly by quick and before you know it it’s all over, leaving you intensely curious to find out what happens next.
I have the same feeling I did when I first read both of these back to back a decade ago, I’m hungrily on the hunt for the next installment.
My hope is that I can find the next two books soon, because I don’t really want to leave this world hanging for another ten years.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Five Decades Of The X-Men Review

A collection of short stories following the most marvelous merry mutants mankind mustered are meticulously mashed together into one mega mob of miscellanea!
Thank you thesaurus.com for the help in keeping that amazing alliteration going in true sensational Stan style.

Anywho, the question I pose to you and yours is this: does this collection of short stories give a good taste of the X-Men, their universe, and their various storylines through the five decades of their existence up to the point this book was published?
Let’s cut the chitter chatter and find out, gang!

This is your obligatory ***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m not sure why, but diving into this I was weirdly uncertain if I would like it.
But there was one lone name that gave me the courage to do so: Sholly Fisch!
Long time listeners of the main show should recognize that name as the genius behind the damn superb Scooby-Doo Team-Up comic, so seeing he was involved gave me a tremendous amount of hope.
But I was not prepared for what else lie ahead of me.

The initial story, covering the ’60s, “Baptism Of Fire, Baptism Of Ice” by John J. Ordover and Susan Wright, is a tale of Charles Xavier’s first class of X-Men, through the eyes of Bobby Drake, A.K.A. Ice Man.
As they are training for their first mission we see Bobby’s frustrations with being the new kid on the block and not getting many challenges or much time to shine in the Danger Room when they get a new team/class mate in the form of one Jean Grey, the first girl on the team.
It’s a simple yet effective story of the earliest days of this groundbreaking institute and its founding members as they struggle with their burgeoning powers and raging hormones.

Story two, set during the ’70s, “Firm Commitments” by the good sir Sholly Fisch, sees a guy named Jay make a gigantic scientific break through at think tank Genetech that leads him into a twisted underworld of mutant hate that he can’t get down with.
He takes the bull by the horns and actively works against this nutso group in the only way a relative nobody can.
Sholly has a voice that’s so incredibly easy to read, on the level of some of my other favorite writers and this story alone makes me want to hunt down any and all other prose work he has.
He seems the most comfortable with the X-Men and their world, and the outsider perspective of them feels real, well thought out, and solid.

The third tale, taking place in the ’80s, “Up The Kill Backwards” by Tom Deja, might just be my second favorite story here.
And it’s definitely one of the least complicated stories in this volume.
A new class of X-Men are thrown together and tasked to take over while the big guns are off on their own disparate personal sojourns.
Their new trainer, Sean Cassidy A.K.A. Banshee, is trying to whip them into shape and make the brother of a legend get out of his familial shadow and step into the role of leader.
To try and force some like mindedness on them, Cassidy sets up a training exercise with a secret government organization and things go badder than batshit as things go sideways!

The fourth story, getting us planted firmly in the ’90s, “The Cause” by Glenn Greenberg, delves into the darkest areas of the X-Men world.
We see news reports of hate crimes against mutants spiking as Reverend William Striker, the poster boy and leader of one of the most well known anti-mutant hate groups is set to be released from prison.
Greenberg takes us inside this group and shows us, through one of fictions greatest allegorical set-ups, the inner workings of the group and the stupid bullshit that the morons that inhabit it believe in.
This one is not at all my favorite, but it’s definitely the most weighty and sadly still relevant to the times we live in, further illustrating the versatility of these characters and their little corner of the Marvel universe.

The fifth and final story, set in the early ’00s, “Gifts” by Madeleine Robins, covers relatively similar ground as the first story in that it’s dealing with teenage romance and flourishing powers, but still manages to eek out a fun story of its own.
The highlight of this story is definitely the badass climax in a cemetary with Psylock trying to talk down a teen who’s telekinetic abilities have caused catastrophic damage to a New York airport and highway due to factors beyond her control.

From the near goosebump inducing intro by the legendary Stan Lee (that feels like a loving and warm hug from the universe) to the two hundred and sixty-first page of the final story this book was the one thing I crave in these superhero novels, it was sheer fun.
All five stories have the big splashy set piece superheroics you expect from comic books, but with the added benefit of your mind’s eye being the artist.
The world of the X-Men, and all of the ups and downs of real life that that entails, is captured in the most loving detail by these six authors.
And whomever came up with the concept to do five stories set in five different decades is goddamn brilliant!
The big touchstone moments in the illustrious history of the X-Men are hinted at, if not flat out mentioned.

The only real problem I can point to would be an issue I’ve found in a lot of these late ’90s/early 2000’s novels of this ilk, they are riddled with typos.
Missing words and letters that are particularly troublesome and occasionally pull you out of the story as you try to figure out just what the hell the author meant.
It needed another thorough pass by a good copy editor to clean up some unfortunate sloppiness.

The bottomline, gang, this is a perfect collection for old fans wanting fresh stories from these different eras or new fans trying to find a way into the notoriously daunting X continuity.
No character feels out of step with my experience with them, even the characters I have limited exposure to.
Prices online can be disrespectfully overpriced, but if you just so happen to stumble across a decent priced copy, I’d highly encourage you to pick it up and give it a chance.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

And finally: If my count is dead on, this is my 40th book review in just over two and a half years.
So to all of you that dig these and keep checking them out, thanks.
Reading has always been one of my main joys and it has been incredibly fun sharing it with you, gang.