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.

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Plumage From Pegasus Press Release

From Word Fire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A calculatingly crazy and refreshing romp through the wildest headlines, personalities and peculiarities of the science fiction and fantasy field.

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the upcoming release of Plumage from Pegasus: The All-New 25th Anniversary Collection, by Paul Di Filippo!

In the manner of Robert Sheckley, William Tenn, Harry Harrison, Douglas Adams, Tom Holt, and other great science fiction satirists, Paul Di Filippo takes on the foibles and follies, tropes and tics of the genre he loves in a wealth of short, sharp flash fictions. Using his four decades of experience in writing and publishing, he skewers authors, editors, artists, readers, retailers, librarians, and book companies alike with fantastical and visionary humor.

It has been three years since the Naplian Empire invaded Science fiction is serious business, full of morality plays, allegories and apocalypses–but not in the hands of Paul Di Filippo! His sparkling short humorous essays force the genre to reveal its absurdist, silly side, where every writer is undone, and all the fans are gonzo. After reading this laugh-out-loud collection, you’ll never be able to cry over Flowers for Algernon again!

About the author:

Paul Di Filippo sold his first story in 1977. In the forty-plus years since, he’s had published forty-plus books: a record he is unsure of continuing into his decrepitude. His latest novel from 2019 is the crime thriller THE DEADLY KISS-OFF. He lives with his partner Deborah Newton, who appeared on the scene a year before that first sale and made them all possible. A native Rhode Islander, he inhabits Lovecraft’s Providence, his home about two blocks from the monument marking HPL’s birthplace.

Coming December 4, 2019

Plumage from Pegasus:

Trade paperback ISBN 978-1-61475-999-7

Ebook ISBN 978-1-68057-000-7

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Times bestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us at wordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.

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.

Strife’s Cost Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With Terran forces drawn deeper into war and intrigue, their actions could spell the doom of millions…

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Strife’s Cost, by ACFW Speculative Fiction Award winning author, Steve Rzasa!

It has been three years since the Naplian Empire invaded Terran space in a desperate gamble to secure serjaum fuel reserves. They conquered the Baedecker Star System, but not without making a dangerous new enemy.
Humans.

Squadron leader Taggart “Tag” Wester is neck deep in battles across the Great Desert Rift when Terran Intelligence drafts him for a vital secret mission. But he’ll only succeed if he can put aside his prejudices and learn to trust the least likely allies.

Lira Lin Reen’s career as renowned thief has come to an abrupt halt.

Her only way out is to play both sides of Tag’s mission, with more than a payday in the balance.

Elden Selva has come to terms with his new existence as a Truppen cyborg. What he can’t figure is why his warriors are disappearing. Someone isn’t telling him the truth—and worse, he isn’t the only one.

About the author:

Steve Rzasa has written numerous novels, novellas, and short stories of science-fiction and fantasy since 2009. Broken Sight won the ACFW Speculative Fiction Award, and three of his other novels have been nominated for similar awards. He is a former journalist and currently the technical services librarian in Buffalo, Wyoming, where he lives with his wife and two boys. Steve’s a fan of all things science-fiction and superhero, and is also a student of history. Follow him at http://www.steverzasa.com.

Strife’s Cost:

Trade paperback $15.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-987-4

Ebook $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-988-1

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Times bestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us at wordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.

Shadow Warriors: Retaliation Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Shadow Warriors are back! Will they defeat not one, but two enemies to save mankind?

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Shadow Warriors: Retaliation, by Nathan B. Dodge!

Shadow Warriors forces, led by Cal, Letty, Tony, Sasha, and Opi, have defeated two Horde invasions.

The team was kidnapped by the Molethian civilization and forced to become a fighter crew to battle against The Horde, the most vicious, predatory enemy in all the Milky Way galaxy. At first, only Letty could get along with the rest of them, and they basically hated each other. However, due largely to Letty’s efforts, they became not only the top fighting crew in the Shadow Warriors, but also a close family that love and support each other. Due to Opi’s amazing strategic thinking, Letty’s organizational skills, Sasha’s unparalleled ability as a weapons officer, Tony’s crack talent as a navigator, and Cal’s icy nerve as a battle leader, they have found a way to defeat two major Horde invasions.

Opi, their planner, decides that they’ll need new methods to defeat another invasion. The team searches for and finds the main Horde base in the galaxy and strikes…but in the midst of the attack, they are assailed by a new enemy!

About the author:

Educated in electrical engineering, Nathan worked as an engineer and engineering manager, primarily at Texas Instruments, before joining the University of Texas at Dallas as a teacher. He taught full-time for 16 years and continues to teach half-time. In his “spare” time, he loves weight lifting, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and solving crossword puzzles with wife Faye Lynn.

Shadow Warriors: Retaliation

Trade paperback $18.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-992-8

Ebook $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-993-5

Coming July 10, 2019

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Times bestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us at wordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.

Episode 081: That’s A Nerd A$$hole

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In this episode, Game Of Thrones is nearing it’s end and Fitz is all a-scared of what could happen to all the thrones made of games, the talk about a sparkly new Batman as well…oh, and Doom is a huge dick about spoilers!

Doom brings a book based Pimp Spot that leads us down a rabbit hole of recent reads and spurs on a 10 minute rant about 1 of the most influential writers of the 20th century and his most famous works…then continues that rant into bitching about superhero casting and the internet…can you guess which one of them is doing the ranting?

After 3 years, Fitz has finally turned into a shill, the new version of Pet Semetary is broken down and compared to the original, and then we play Wizard Magazine staff yet again and dream cast the MCU’s Fantastic Four…and it goes…let’s just say it happens, also a tease of an upcoming segment!

URL: Episode 081: That’s A Nerd A$$hole
Direct Download: tnb081.mp3