Star Trek 7 Review

As all listeners to the main show know, I’m relatively new to Trekdom.
I’ve seen roughly sixty eps and five movies of the more than six hundred episodes and dozen or so movies.
Also, folks who know me know that I always go looking past what appears on the screen to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of the various characters and universes that tickle my fancy.
In that regard, why should Trek be any different?
Let’s figure out together what I think of this book, because it’s a bit more complicated than normal.

As per usual, this should be taken as your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

Published in July 1972, this book is a short story collection that adapts 6 episodes from Star Trek’s original 1966 series into prose.
Now 1st of all, I have to say up front here that I have never watched any of the Episodes that are adapted within this book, and in my research, I found that author James Blish apparently hadn’t either, and boy does it show a few times!
According to Wikipedia, Blish reportedly wasn’t a fan of the TV series, but the books paid well and kept him afloat.
Never is it more apparent that he didn’t watch the show than when he writes of people slamming doors in frustration aboard the Enterprise.
Even I, in my limited (but ever growing) Trek knowledge know that the doors on the 1701 are automatic!

The 6 episodes he adapts are “Who Mourns For Adonais?”, “The Changeling”, “The Paradise Syndrome”, “Metamorphosis”, “The Deadly Years”, & “Elaan Of Troyius”, the most famous of these episodes (at least from my feeling) being Metamorphosis.
I’ve heard a lot about this one after watching TNG eps and watching all 4 of the TNG era movies.
Zefram Cochrane, the man who was responsible for humanity’s warp travel and introducing Earth to the galaxy at large makes his very first appearance.
Here, still alive after more than 150 years after he was presumed dead, is the dude being kept alive by a malevolent energy force on a far flung planet.
It’s interesting to see how this character went through such a change between this and the TNG era.
As I’m hopeful the episode itself does, this adaptation gets across that he truly is a legend in the universe, and it’s fun seeing how Kirk and the other icons that the audience watch form before their eyes interact with a character like that.

There are some batshit wacky stories in these here hills too, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad.
For instance, Who Mourns For Adonais?, where we learn that the Greek gods were real aliens who craved our devotion, then left Earth when humankind turned our backs on them.
It’s a pretty clever exploration of our mythologies and where they may have come from.
Another great example of wackiness is The Deadly Years, where the landing party of The Enterprise is infected with a rapid aging disease that calls into question the mental facilities of the commanding officers.
It’s a solid sci-fi exploration of aging and experience.
Both stories are way out there, but both are fun and interesting.

To start wrapping up, I think the weirdest thing about this book is that it yet again points out the huge difference between 60s TV and modern TV shows that I’ve talked about many times in regard to Scooby, and it’s never meant as a slam.
Not a one of these stories runs over 40 pages, and while reading it’s hard to believe these stories filled an hour of TV at any point in history.
While they are great stories, there’s a lot of hallway walkin’.
And I’m not quite sure if the lack of detail is a result of the time or Blish’s alleged disinterest.
But my most important take away after reading this is that while I’m only halfway through Season 1 of TOS, I know for I certain have more high quality stories to watch.
Because if a dude who doesn’t even like it can pull this much fun out of it, the actual episodes have to damn good.

Tell us what you think or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

TNB Book Club 6.01: Shadows Over Baker Street pt 1

511NAV28TQLWelcome back to The Nerd Blitz Book Club!

In this 1st episode of a 9 episode series, we crack open a book we have wanted to dive into for a long time, the Sherlock Holmes meets H.P. Lovecraft pastiche short story collection, Shadows Over Baker Street.

This week sees us discussing and dissecting the 1st 2 entries in the book, A Study In Emerald & Tiger! Tiger!, by Neil Gaiman & Elizabeth Bear respectively.

So find yourself a copy of this book and read along with us, gang, as the game is afoot when a dark cloud settles over the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and things get spooky at 221B.

Also, a special thank you goes to @gigiamk30 for making this Book Club series possible.

URL: TNB Book Club 6.01: Shadows Over Baker Street pt 1
Direct Download: tnbbc006001.mp3

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Death Warmed Over Review

I’m not gonna bullshit you here: I’ve been talking up this series since Episode 37 (nooch!) of The Main Show and Ep 88 is on the cusp of dropping in the next fortnight or so.
To put it bluntly, this is a Dan Shamble book, so you know damn well that I love it.
Now if that’s all you came here to find out, that’s all good, man!
Sincerely, I thank you for taking the time and visiting the site.
Take a look around and read some of our other features, reviews, and articles, I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.

But if you’re still here, if you want to know exactly why I love this book, let’s dive into it, gang.

As per usual, this right here is your requisite ***SPOILER ALERT***

Still reading?
Okay, groovy.
Now for those keeping score, this is the very first Dan Shamble novel, but this was not the first that I read.
I was curious after reading the third book first if reading them chronologically would make an impact on how the world unfurls and since it’s been a while and I’ll be rereading them all in order I’ll be better able to answer that by the time I write my review for book three.
I’ve also wondered how this origin story plays out in context too, and the answer is pretty damn well.

We meet Dan a month post mortem, he died when some sneaky prick snuck up on him and blasted his brains all over the sky…or at least the alley that he was walking through at the time.
We’re quickly introduced to his world and learn about the string of coincidences that caused all monsters and mythological creatures to come to life (a.k.a. The Big Uneasy) ten years ago, which include a particularly perfect planetary positioning, a copy of the Nerconomicon, and a virgin with a paper cut.
We meet his ghost girlfriend, Sheyenne, and find out she was killed by a poisoned drink not long before Dan himself got popped in that alley, and that they suspect their murders are connected as he was investigating hers when his went down.
His partner in Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations, Robin Deyer, is introduced to us as a lawyer that fights for her clients as if they were her family, never backing down from the struggle of Unnaturals and their still murky rights and privileges.
In short, Kevin J. Anderson sets up the entire world of the Unnatural Quarter efficiently and effectively.

I take the Stan Lee approach when I write these reviews, every review is somebody’s first.
Now I know I have talked about a fuck ton of Mr. Anderson’s work in these reviews, and certain phrases tend to pop up time and time again.
But that doesn’t make them any less true.
The dude is one of the most economical writers I know of.
In every book of his I read I never feel like I’m muddling around in an ocean of words waiting for him to dive in and drag up from the depths some deeply hidden objective like I have with other writers whose work I’ve reviewed.
You can tell he’s having fun, but he’s not wasting pages with some boring story about some random dude that our main characters once passed by and never did, or will, see again.
If he mentions a character or place, you best be damn skippy that off handed mention is gonna mean something or play into the story later.

Unlike a TV detective, Dan & co are always juggling multiple cases at any given time.
For this first go round the Chambeaux & Deyer gang’s caseload includes trying to get a divorce settlement finalized favorably for a monthly werewolf client who happens to be married to a former adversary of Dan’s, a nervous Vampire who keeps receiving threats from an anti-monster hate group and whose neighbors are disappearing, a witch whose sister was transformed into a pig due to a typo laden spell book, a family whose drunken uncle won’t stop bothering them now that he’s died and returned as a ghost, a mummy who doesn’t want to be museum property, trying to track down a giant creature that’s smashing windows all over town, all while trying to solve Dan & Sheyenne’s own murders.
All of that is jam packed into just about three hundred pages.

Look, gang, the bottomline here is that I love a good origin story and this is a damn good one.
After just a few chapters of Dan’s Noir-ish narration, you understand exactly how this world works.
I’ve said many times that this series feels like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and a great detective show like The Rockford Files or Monk were thrown into a blender, and I stand by it.
It’s odd, mysterious, fresh, interesting, quirky, fun, and enthralling every step of the way.
It’s a great pick me up, and it great if you want something that fits the Halloween season that isn’t super heavy, because while it may be a story of death and monsters, it has a solid heart under all of that necrotic flesh.

Tell us what you think or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Star Wars: The Weapon Of A Jedi Review

I’ve seen his name around on various guides and such, but this is really my first exposure to the fictional stylings of Jason Fry.
Also, this is the first prose story I’ve read from the Journey To The Force Awakens program from all those years ago.
But the question is, what did I think of both?
I say we figure that out together.

Consider this to be your usual ***SPOILER ALERT***, gang.
React accordingly.

Now, right up front I will tell you all that this is a young adult/kids book, and it’s the second Star Wars YA story I’ve reviewed (read my review of Ahsoka).
And some would adjust or soften their assessment based on that.
But I tend not to adjust, I feel like YA should stand up and face the same scrutiny as full fledged novels.
I say this not as a way to prepare you for some shots that will feel cheap, but to prepare you for the praise that’s about to follow.
No back handed compliments of “well, it’s really good…for a kids book…” here, gang.

The main portion of the story is set just after Episode IV, where we see Luke coming to terms with his new found force abilities and trying to figure out how to better tap into them.
While on a scout mission for the Rebellion, he starts to have force visions of training droids, dark forests, large creatures, and a ruined Jedi temple.
Despite that, he tries to continue with his main mission but after an imperial run in is forced back to Devaron for repairs.
Once there, he feels a stronger pull to search the nearby ruins for guidance on his path to Jedi Knighthood.

Let’s just get this out of the way now, the worst part of this story is that it feels slightly inconsequential.
What I mean by that is though it does show a big leap forward in Luke’s abilities, if you just watch the three Original Trilogy movies you won’t be left wondering what the hell is missing.
There’s enough on screen that this just feels sorta like something you assumed, but didn’t need to see.
Now, having said that, it is one hell of a fun ride!
Even in the slightly darker or mysterious moments, this feels like what it is, a fun story about a young character trying to find out where they go after they save the Galaxy.
R2 & 3P0 are along for the ride to help lighten those more serious moments too.

Fry handles these legacy characters with the respect of a long time fan.
He plays well with the toys, and puts them back in the toy box with no added damage that would upset or hinder future players/writers.
And when I say he’s a fan, it’s clear that he’s a REAL Star Wars fan, not one of these people that says they love Star Wars but shits all over the Prequels or anything post 83.
Because, while this was part of the Journey To The Force Awakens program, the connections to The Clone Wars and the entire Prequel Trilogy are stronger than any ties I could find to the Sequel Trilogy/ Episode VII.
He subtly drops little nuggets along that way that strengthen the ties between the first six movies and makes the entire universe feel more cohesive, which is what I think the real strength of this story is.

To wrap up, this is not a book that you’ll be heartbroken you missed, but you will be damn happy you read it in the end.
There’s enough set up of potential future storylines to get nerdy brains wondering, the writing is so solid that you’ll breeze through it, and it’s nice to see the PT integrated into the OT in a way that George himself wasn’t able to do simply due to the order he made the movies.
If you want a quick and easy Star Wars story, look no further.
I, myself, am left wondering if Fry’s novelization of The Last Jedi has the same level of fun oozing from it as this does.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Fantastic Four: Redemption Of The Silver Surfer Review

In my experience, Marvel’s First Family has, no pun intended, a rocky history outside of the four color realm.
I’ve read a few novels over the years that have been dull, to put it lightly, and, though I enjoyed the first two, the movies have been been generally derided by the vast majority of fans.
So going into this, I was a wee bit worried.
But were those worries unfounded?
Let’s find out, gang!

As per usual, consider this your official 22 year ***SPOILER ALERT***

Michael Jan Friedman is a dude whose work I have always dug.
I will admit I haven’t read all of his books and stories, but what I have read has never disappointed me.
The Marvel stuff he has written has always left me feeling like this is a guy that spent his time wallowing in comics and nerddom (a fact I also noticed while reading his X-Men/Star Trek The Next Generation novel, Planet X), this book does nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
To put it plainly, he fuckin’ gets it, man!

It’s beyond obvious from the jump that he knows these characters well. Specifically Silver Surfer, who he quickly and economically gets across the back story and guilt of.
For those who may not know, this is a dude that spent too many years condemning entire planets, races, and civilizations to death for the devourer of worlds, Galactus.
Silver Surfer has spent all the years since he broke away from Galactus trying to balance the scales in anyway he could, which gives us our title and a solid A-plot that’s deftly disguised as a potential B-plot.

Which leads me to my only real, and admittedly minor, issue with this novel.
The Surfer is the star of this book, he’s not a guest in any sense, but our titular heroes do feel almost like guest stars.
I don’t hate that Norrin Radd is in the spotlight at all, but it does feel a bit like the Fantastic Four title was used for the wider general name recognition.
And believe me, it works perfectly to hook you in!
But I did finish the story wishing that I had gotten at least 1 chapter that focused on the FF together before the trip to the Negative Zone and maybe one at the tail end just to beef up their presence a little.

The fact that the Negative Zone and it’s inhabitants haven’t been the focus of one of the movies is a damn shame, and this book is full of all the evidence you could need to support that.
Reed, Ben, and Johnny are prompted into the alternate universe when an old foe, Blastaar, sets hostages up for slaughter right near their outpost in the zone.
Blastaar lures them in, not for a fight this time but for their help, having felt their combined power first hand, to defeat a coming threat – a destroyer of worlds, much like Galactus, named Prodigion.
The trio decide to look on as Blastaar tries to destroy Prodigion’s ship and crew as something feels off.
Johnny is injured and taken aboard the vessel, Sue and the Surfer show up to help, and things get even more complicated than any of them were led to believe.
The turns in this are great.
Prodigion going from villian, to hero, and back and forth again until his final reveal leave you with a great sense of mystery and suspense until the end.

Bottom line: Surfer’s story is suitably heartbreaking and involves a chance at happiness, and the aforementioned redemption, he has so desperately craved for the 1st time in ages and it’s handled with the care and ease of somebody who has the writing and in universe experience to give it the weight it deserves without being laughable.
If you are a fan of the FF and their supporting characters, snap this up if you stumble across a copy.
Now I’m gonna go searching for more of Michael Jan Friedman’s TNG work.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories Science Fiction Vol. 2 Review

The fourth and final (at least for now) volume of Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories short story series was released back in February.
This outing was another visit to the much beloved genre of Science Fiction which, for those among you who haven’t been keeping up with the main show, is a genre I have taken a deep dive into since I read the first volume.
With these new experiences in that area, I was wondering how this collection would hit me.
Strap on your space suit and let’s space find out…in space!

I have to say, as per the usual with this series, I think the short intros he writes to each story may be my favorite part.
It really seems to give each story a bit more depth to hear where it came from, who or what inspired it, or how long he kicked it around before he dropped the final product on his editors.
Even with the stories that aren’t my favorites, it is at least interesting to have the back story.

As for the stories themselves, this go round I found myself engaging more with the shorter among them.
Not that the longer ones are bad, but I think it may be a bit of brain training and expectation with this anthological format.
The shorter stories here tend to have a bit more of a reveal or “Ah-ha” feel than the longer ones do which, to use TV as a comparison, I feel like most anthologies shows do better than episodic series.
And I like that.
I like the quick and clever economic nature of it all.

I think every subgenre of Sci-Fi gets its day in the sun in this volume, and a few have fun and interesting spins that almost make you forget you are reading a Science Fiction story, which I think is something that some of my favorites do best.
If you need some Military Sci-Fi stat, you are covered with a few novellas.
But there are also stories of time travel, genetic manipulation, alien contact, and a transformational hooker…you know, that tired old trope!

I always try to give you some of my favorite stories when I talk about short story collections, so in no particular order, the top 3 stories that I would say you can’t miss are:
Technomagic, a story of a stranded alien that becomes a world famous magician.
Prevenge, a time travel tale that is reminiscent of Minority Report, with a bit more investigation.
A Delicate Balance, a dark story about seed colonies and a severe miscalculation that leads to forced population control.
All are wonderfully distinct and showcase the variety of this writer and this genre.

So to wrap up I have to say that after reading and reviewing all 4 volumes of this series, I feel like a jackass.
For a decade or so, if folks would mention Kevin J. Anderson I’d always say “The Star Wars Guy!?” or “Awww, The Last Days Of Krypton!” and now that almost feels reductive.
Don’t get me wrong, Shamble aside, Last Days is still hands down my favorite KJA book, but the dude has way more shades and layers than just Krypton, Star Wars, & X-Files.
The goal of this series was probably to collect a bunch of stories he had the rights to and get them back in print, but they have been damn eye opening as well.
I’ll call that a happy accident and wait patiently for him to get enough material together for a fifth installment, and whatever else he’s ready to produce.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 and @gigiamk30 for their editorial assistance.

A Million Ways To Die In The West Review

I’m not sure how many people are aware of this little nugget of truth or not, but back in the day, right around say…1882ish in a dusty town located eerily near a place that was somewhat reminiscent of Arizona, it was really fuckin’ rough, man.
And when I say rough, I don’t mean “awww balls, the wifi is down again, how ever am I gonna see porn stars hump in 4K ultra high definition now!?”, no, I mean everything seemed as though it was out to kill you.
To boil it all down, there were, in fact, A Million Ways To Die In The West!…ya see what I did there?
I’m feeling awfully clever now.
So let’s take a look at this filthy bastard of a book and see if there’s any gold in them thar hills!

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

Seth MacFarlane, creator or co-creator of Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, and The Orville made a big splash in the realm of feature films with 2012’s TED.
It quickly became one of the highest grossing R-rated comedies, and the inevitable question was hurled at Seth.
“What are you going to do next?”
His reply was this movie, and for reasons that I still don’t quite understand, it didn’t really light the world on fire.
Part of me thinks folks still aren’t ready to embrace westerns again and part of me thinks folks are still uncomfortable with such raw filthy jokes coming out of actual human mouths.

Whatever the reasons, I actually loved the movie and think it gets exponentially better with each subsequent viewing.
But one of the things I loved most about the entire experience of the movie was that it was announced that there would be a novelization of the movie written by the writer and director himself, MacFarlane.
Now, anybody who reads these reviews regularly knows that one of my favorite types of novels would be media tie-ins, especially movie novels.
And when after years of looking I finally found this, I was pumped to dive in…then I waited 2 years for it to call out and demand to be read.

Albert Stark is a sheep farmer (and not a good one at that) who hates the raw, untamed west with a passion.
It’s hot, everything and everyone wants to kill, cut, trample, squash, harm, or otherwise mame and dismembered you, his heartless girlfriend just left him for a douchenozzle, and he’s ready to head to civilization, San Francisco!
But a strange and breathtaking new woman, that won’t talk about her past, comes to Old Stump and gives him a reason to hang around town for a spell longer.

This novel really is a strange one, since you rarely see comedy movies get novelized.
In a way, this book reads like a narrative joke book.
Which oddly actually attracts me to it more because it’s so different than most movie novels.
Really, the worst thing I can say about this is that it follows the movie too precisely, which is a trend I am noticing more and more in recent years with novelizations.
There is very little flourish or expansion on what you see on screen, at most there are about 10 alternate lines or jokes.
Mostly, the new prose is added contextual content that you can infer from looks and the relationships featured on screen.

Honestly, the real draw here is seeing how Seth’s voice sounds in a richer and fuller story format.
We know he can handle the coldness of the script format, but there are some writers who seem to struggle in jumping between the 2.
Yeah, well, Seth ain’t one of them.
His descriptions pop (especially if you’ve seen the astoundingly beautiful movie), his pacing is brisk but not rushed, the characters feel as defined on the page as they did on screen, and it’s just plain fun.
The only problem I have with his style would be that there are no chapters in this book at all, it’s just one long piece.
Sure, it has the normal transitional breaks you expect, but if you are a goal oriented reader that loves the mini accomplishment of “I’m gonna read two chapters before bed.” you are S.O.L. and J.W.F. my friend.

Bottomline, I love this story in both formats.
I don’t know what his plans are, but I would love to see Seth write more novels, but originals in the future.
Something that allows him to not feel like he has to so closely follow a prelaid path.
I want to see him unleashed.
Or, hell, I’m sure he has an idea for an episode of The Orville that’s just a bit too big for Hulu!

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.