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.

The Flavor Of Other Worlds Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thirteen Science Fiction Tales from Master Storyteller, Alan Dean Foster!

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of The Flavors of Other Worlds: 13 Science Fiction Tales from a Master Storyteller, by Alan Dean Foster!

From fighting giant bugs to defeating an interstellar empire without firing a shot; from scientific idiot savants toying with the universe to how the robots will really win the robot apocalypse, these thirteen flavorful tales are guaranteed to entertain, amuse, awe, and maybe even enlighten.

Includes the first appearance in print of the Icerigger novelette “Chilling” and a new novelette, “Valentin Sharffen and the Code of Doom.”

“A winner for all ages.” from Publisher’s Weekly, (for LOST AND FOUND)

“Packed with action, intriguing human and alien characters, and a message of strength through diversity “. Library Journal (for DROWNING WORLD)

“Inventive and packed with flavorsome incident.” Kirkus Review (in re CARNIVORES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS)

About the Author: Alan Dean Foster is the author of 125 books, hundreds of pieces of short fiction, essays, columns reviews, the occasional op-ed for the NY Times, and the story for the first Star Trek movie. Having visited more than 100 countries, he is still bemused by the human condition. He lives with his wife JoAnn and numerous dogs, cats, coyotes, hawks, and a resident family of bobcats in Prescott, Arizona.

The Flavors of Other Worlds:

Trade paperback $14.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-958-4

Ebook $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-959-1

Hardback $25.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-986-7

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

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Horror And Dark Fantasy Review

This collection is intensely curious.
I, and I’m gonna guess many others, never pegged Kevin J. Anderson for a dude with a dark side.
I listen to his Pod (Creative Futurism), I have heard his Building My 1st Lightsaber/Popcorn Theory Of Success talk (which I highly recommend all creative types watch here), and I’ve seen and heard countless interviews with the man and he really comes off easy going and unflappable.
But this book feels like he’s purposely out to break your preconceived notions of him, his personality, and his style and I loved nearly every word of it.

As is usually the case round here, consider this your official ***Spoiler Alert***, gang.

1st and foremost, just to get this out of the way, the best story in this book is Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Role Model.
I was hoping he would include a Shamble story in one of these Fantasy volumes, I would have been supremely disappointed had he left out this character.
I talked a bit about this story in my review of Working Stiff, so I won’t go over it again.
But I have 2 things I have to say in regard to this entry.
1. We are going to go over this story with a fine tooth comb next month in Series 5 of The Nerd Blitz Book Club, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
And 2. The little intro revealed something I didn’t know, I love this Shamble story almost as much as KJA himself and, though it should be obvious, his love for this story is apparent in the extremely short intro.
At least until Services Rendered comes out, this is the best of the Shamble short stories, I really can’t recommend it enough.

The 2nd best story is the 27th of 29, The Sum Of His Parts.
It’s a Frankenstein story that KJA developed for the 2005 Dean Koontz novel Frankenstein: Prodigal Son as background and went unused.
It’s the story of how Victor Frankenstein acquired the various body parts to create his monster and it is delightfully chilling.
This one plays like the best anthology movies, a little bit Pulp Fiction and a heaping helping of Trick R Treat.
Seeing certain events from multiple perspectives and how they impact characters is a stroke of genius that I don’t have the confidence many other writers could pull off.
Reading this I couldn’t help but wonder why this hasn’t been turned into a movie itself, it is a great twist on the classic story.

But showing his love for the old Universal icons, Frankenstein’s isn’t the only classic monster on display here, there a few Vampire/Dracula stories in here that really pop as well.
Rude Awakening, The Fate Worse Than Death, & Much At Stake all handle that specific monster in inventive and fresh ways.
Two deal with the monsters being awakened from their slumber, but diverging down vastly different paths and one features a doped up Bela Lugosi and Vlad The Impaler having a meeting through time to discuss the power of fear and reputation.

As I said above, this volume of short stories seems to be about bucking your expectations, and it does.
One of the earliest examples of this trend is the story, written with musician Janis Ian, Dark Carbuncle.
I have to say, on behalf of Thornton Velbiss, KJA is a real torturous bastard!
Velbiss is a swear-slinging rockstar (my kinda guy!) who died, but a particularly dedicated group of his fans aren’t ready to let go just yet.
They resurrect him in the hope of getting him to play his classic song for many years to come.
Exasperated due to his hatred of the hit, he drops to his knees and bellows for mercy from the almighty…and ends up possibly playing the tune for all eternity.
It’s the M. Night-esque middle finger twist I’m coming to love from Anderson.
Keeping with the musical theme, he includes 2 stories written with legendary RUSH drummer, and his long time friend, Neil Peart that are fun and make you want to find the other stories they wrote together.

Tucker’s Grove (the fictional Wisconsin small town I was first introduced to when I read Selected Stories: Fantasy) is really the star of this book.
I’m damn skippy between these 2 Fantasy volumes he has republished nearly, if not, all 13 of the stories from the 2011 short story collection focused on the town.
The depth of thought that he put into the history of this little hamlet over the years is admirable.
It’s his “Derry, Maine” or “Arkham, Massachusetts”, and you can tell he has the small town experience to draw on and make it feel legitimate.

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of explaining this grouping of prose, but I know I’m running long.
I’ll start wrapping up by saying that this book features horror of all stripes, it feels like it covers more bases than the previous two Selected Stories collections combined.
You get classic monsters, modern slasher, humor, and psychological horror.
There is murder, abduction, betrayal, revenge, thievery, and magic curses in abundance, not to mention all of the sex, drugs, & rock ‘n roll that comes along with all of that.

Despite my love of the Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series, I almost feel ashamed for still viewing KJA as the guy that just writes epic Science Fiction novels.
Stories range from back in 1984 up to flash fiction written during his MFA courses in 2018, giving a sense of how prolific and various he has always been.
And that has been my main take away from this Selected Stories series.
I have never hated a single thing I’ve read of his, but I, and a lot of people, had this dude pigeon-holed.
Age Rings (which he told me on Twitter he wrote in 15 minutes) alone should shatter all of that.
He can shift gears and write any genre with the best of them and he fuckin’ knows it.
Welcome to the dark side, sir, I hope you visit more often.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Horror And Dark Fantasy is available October 15th in Paperback, E-Format, and Hardcover.
Pre-order it on Amazon or wherever you buy books.

Special thanks to @acferrell1976 for her editorial help on these reviews.

Share this on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Fantasy Review

You remember what I said in my review of the Sci-Fi volume of this planned 4 volume collection about somebody contacting Kevin J. Anderson for the upcoming Twilight Zone reboot?
At its best, Twilight Zone pinballed between Sci-Fi and Fantasy with ease.
But can KJA, who I feel is best known for his Sci-Fi work, bounce between the genres with the same effortlessness?
I say it’s time we find out.

As per usual, take this as your official warning of ****SPOILERS**** and let’s dive in.

I almost want to bury the lead here and make you dive deeper to find the answer to the above question, but I just can’t.
He does.
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of his 2nd of 4 planned Short Story Collections and I can say for sure that there are some stories in here that rival anything Serling and Co. came up with on their best days.
For instance, the story Time Zone (which even KJA calls out as Twilight Zoney) ends with that same amazing stomach dropping feeling of episodes like Time Enough At last or the horrific unavoidable feel of eps like Spur Of The Moment.
A dude who just moved west gets a call from his panicked parents who just saw on the news that a devastating earthquake hit his area.
But he doesn’t know anything about what they’re telling him, thinking they must be confused by the change in timezones again, when the time they mentioned strikes and he feels a rumble.
That is such a fucked up and genius, but extremely terrifying, idea that leaves your head swimming, and I love it.

While I love the stories, his intros shine again.
Most writers seem to be okay giving off the vibe that they are distant, reclusive, stuck in their own imaginations, but these intros give you a peek inside.
He again talks about what inspired each story.
He shares stories about his childhood, when he and his wife (fellow author and frequent collaborator, Rebecca Moesta) were dating and newly married, Christmas traditions, friends he has known and worked with for years, and anything in between.
If you are subscribed to his readers group, you know these personal anecdotes aren’t in here as some attempt at being pseudo friendly while slyly slipping a nimble finger or two into your wallet for a dollar…or twenty.
He genuinely seems to want to connect with his readers, not unlike another well known Kevin we mention around these parts from time to time.

It adds a new layer to each story, specifically the ones set in and around a fictional small town called Tucker’s Grove Wisconsin.
I was not disappointed by a single one of those stories, Loco-Motive, Just Like Normal People (which has a great nod to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, aka The Laughing Bird, that I loved), & Mirror, Mirror On The Wall.
My grandparents came from a small town that we often made trips to so they could visit their siblings and these stories feel like they could be set there.
The dark history and suspicious attitudes he gives to this otherwise idyllic town are as real as you can get, chillingly so.

I have said it before and I will say it again and again, Kevin J. Anderson is one of my favorite writers because he gets important information across in the most economical way possible.
With both of these short story collections, all of the Shamble stories, and his DC work, he crams them so full of details without boring the shit out of you for a half page with meaningless minutae about a rocking chair that damn near makes you want to rip your eyes out and stomp them into jelly.
I feel he is legitimately on the level of J.K. Rowling in that regard.
Of the twenty-six stories included, I loved twenty-four.
The two that I didn’t love were enjoyable but in the end their focus was on subjects that I just didn’t care as much about.
That’s a great average no matter how you slice it.

The last stories I have got to mention are Dark Angel, Archangel & Heroes Never Die, they are among the grandest included.
The first features the former grim reaper and his replacement as they are waging a war for the future of humanity, and it is awesome.
The way he cross cuts between the combatants and humans, showing who is winning through the fates of random people is brilliant and a must read.
The second showcases a Thor-like hero of old in modern times as he relays stories to a young kid who just moved in next door and loves superheroes.
The whimsy from the kid as this man of failing physicality spins his yarn is both hopeful and beautiful.
His defense of his elder friend is the same.

The bottom line is this, the fun on display here is stunning.
It’s hard to express just how much I loved this book.
In here, he plays with the toys of Jules Verne & H.P. Lovercraft, fictionalizes the inspirations of H.G. Wells & Charles Dickens, takes us through time to before man walked the earth and into feudal Japan, and the beautifully trippy cover art is the cherry on top.
In short, this book is the perfect personification of what short fiction can and should be for me.
This is going to be a tough act for other writers to follow.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Fantasy is available September 15th in Paperback, E-Format, and Hardcover.
Pre-order it on Amazon or wherever you buy books.

Special thanks to @acferrell1976 for her editorial help on these reviews.

Share this on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories Science Fiction, Vol. 1 Available Now!

Hey Gang, just a heads up for anybody that’s interested, the KJA Sci-Fi Short Story Collection I reviewed last week is Now Available!
The 1st of 4 planned collected volumes, this one has a Dune entry, a sequel to a famous Harlan Ellison story, and much more, plus the cover design is so delightfully trippy.

If you are a fan of the genre or the Author, I highly recommend you check this out.
Read my review here and then head to your nearest bookstore for the Hardcover/Paperback or pull up your favorite E-Format (many of which can be found here) and snap up a copy.
You won’t be disappointed!

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Science Fiction, Vol 1 Review

With all of the negativity in the review world lately, folks battling to be the most snarky and faux witty as they can to try and snag the most clicks, I’ve made a specific effort to keep these Book Reviews positive.
That’s the main reason for some of the gaps in between them.
I’ve read a few stinkers and didn’t want to have to come on here and be shitty, so I just quietly moved onto the next book.
So when I got the chance to get an advance copy of this book, I leapt at it…but then I started to worry.

KJA has said this is the 1st of 4 volumes, so far, collecting a bunch of his short stories.
And with that announcement, the middle 2 were the ones I was most interested in and excited for (see what they are planned to be focused on here).
Now I was worried because I do love Sci-Fi, but my taste in it has tended to be more mainstream.
Firefly/Serenity, Star Wars (I say it is Sci-Fi, damn it!), Star Trek TNG & DS9, Bruce Campbell’s Bulgarian work, things that everyone instantly thinks of when they hear talk of the genre.
I’ve never taken the dive into the hardcore stuff, which is what caused my worry.
I’ve long talked about my love of The Last Days Of Krypton (my introduction to KJA), but that’s Superman tinged Sci-Fi, not Issac Asimov or Philip K Dick.

So, with all of that in mind and now out of the way, what do I think of this Collection of the hardest of the hardcore type Sci-Fi?
Can my fandom of the man and his writing style outweigh my inexperience and trepidation with the genre?
Buckle up for a longer than usual ride, and let’s find out!

As per usual, ***This Is Your SPOILER ALERT***

For the most part, I loved it.
My main take away is that somebody desperately needs to get in contact with KJA for the upcoming reboot of The Twilight Zone.
Some, but not all, of the stories have that classic “Oh man, that’s ballsy” moment that a lot of the the best eps of Twilight Zone still elicit to this day.
The variety of the stories is another reason I think this dude needs to be in that room.

One of the main reasons I can’t stand those bullshit singing/talent shows on TV is the judges with their inane snarky comments.
“Well, I don’t like country music, so I’m gonna pass.”
It’s just plain idiotic.
If you can’t see talent from a genre you don’t like then you need to get out of the game.
I bring that up because Military Sci-Fi usually can’t hold my attention, and this book features a fair bit of it.
I can’t say it’s bad though.
Sure, some of those stories were in and out of my head as fast as I read them, but even so they were easy to read and featured KJA’s signature style of being detailed enough to get across the important stuff without bogging you down in useless, boring, jargon filled blocks of prose.
Even the worst (process of elimination dictates there must be a worst) story among these has something interesting.
In fact, one of the best stories (Combat Experience) fits into the military subgenre, so he definitely can supercede preconceived biases and hook you in for things you weren’t initially excited for.

2 of my favorite stories (Rough Draft & Music Played On The Strings Of Time) feature a company called “Alternitech” that transports employees into alternate time lines to look for subtle differences, such as movies starring alternate leads or follow-up novels that don’t exist here, that they can exploit and profit from.
The implications of that are damn near horrific, but truly fascinating.
Seeing the impact of these 2 stories on the people involved in them is pretty great, especially for us creative types.

There’s a story that’s Jurassic Park-esque (called Mammoth Dawn), it shines a light on the sadistic streak of some humans and the beauty of others while dealing with the complicated issue of screwing with the natural order.
In short, this book shows you just how versatile Anderson is.
How this genre, more than most, is a perfect fit for allegorical storytelling.

The entire arc of his career is represented here.
The book opens with his very 1st published story (Memorial, which he had published at age 14) and the penultimate story (Ghosts Of Mars) was written for his MFA courses and published online ealier this year.
The latter, you may remember me pushing that one pretty hard for a few days.
It’s a pretty cool tribute to the foundation of Sci-Fi writing.

Before each story he writes roughly half a page about the origins of what follows.
I’ve not read a ton of short story collections in my day, but that was new to me.
It added a nice bit of weight and background to each bit of business that followed.

There are a bunch of other stories in here that I dig, but I can’t wrap up without mentioning 3 others that I really loved, 2 of which he wrote for XPrize.
The 1st one is called The Next Best Thing To Being There, inspired by a true story, this story is a heartbreaking, yet sweet, tale of a climber connecting with loved ones through technology after an accident on a trek.
The 2nd of the XPrize stories is called Terminal, about a plane that travels 20 years into the future (one of those Twilight Zone stories I mentioned) and gives a woman a new lease on life.
Both of these are emotional and oddly hopeful in their own ways.

The final story I have to mention is called Paradox & Greenblatt, Attorneys At Law.
It’s the lightest story, in terms of tone, in this collection.
It feels like Perry Mason meets The Twilight Zone, and like it could be set in the future of the Dan Shamble universe.
This is a case of a dude time traveling to take out his mother’s boss, and he gets off on a paradoxical technicality that’s pure genius.
He says in the preamble for this story that he always intended to write more stories in this series and I really hope he gets around to it because I could see it being just as fun and interesting as DSZPI is.

This being a different genre than what I’m used to from KJA (his DC & Shamble works are what I know him for, so far), it’s great to see his take on a different genre than I’m used to.
So the bottom line is: If you are a fan of KJA, Sci-Fi and all of the subgenres within it, or just damn good writing, you’re probably gonna like this.
It has great variety in the themes, emotions, and styles displayed.
And it’s just a great idea to have this all collected in 1 handy volume.
I really can’t wait for the other 3 volumes to drop so I can see him flex even more muscles.

It’s available on August 15th in Paperback & Hardcover, you can pre-order the kindle version right now by going Here.

Special Thanks to @acferrell1976 for helping me proofread these reviews.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Unnatural Hairy Zomnibus On Sale Now

While I haven’t posted reviews of these 2 Dan Shamble novels (yet!), trust me when I say they rock.
Amazon says the paperback is currently out of stock, but it is available in Ebook (ewwwww) and physical formats.

Book 2, Unnatural Acts, has some frightening parallels to, and Nostradamus like predicting of, our current political situations while expanding and coloring the universe in a nice way.
Book 3, Hair Raising (my 1st exposure to this universe), has Dan & Co trying to bust up a illegal fighting ring.

This and the 1st volume are great ways to get on board and get all caught up with this series that I like to describe as The Rockford Files meets The Munsters.

Get it on Amazon or where ever you order books.