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.

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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.

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.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #42

Some say this week will be the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
Let’s find out.

This week we are staying in Space and asking: Who do you think is the greatest space ship captain in all of fiction, and why?

Leave your answer down in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #41

Week 41 brings about supreme nerdery, so let’s dive in!

This week, we are going Trek and asking: Using TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager, who would you draft into your ideal bridge crew?

Leave your answer down in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo.

Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown Review

This book ended up being the final novel released in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, aka Legends, timeline.
I have no clue if Joe Schreiber knew at the time he was writing it that he was the penning the swan song for an entire line of continuity or not, but none the less he was swinging for the fences.
The question at this point is did he get it over the wall or did he swing wild and fling his bat at the pitcher, slamming him in the face and unleashing a torrent of blood, causing a bench clearing brawl the likes of which have never been seen before or since that will go down in history as…I may have gotten carried away just then, and I don’t even like baseball, but I think you see my point…let’s answer that question in less gory detail.

Consider this your official ***Spoiler Alert***

Sidious sends Maul undercover into a prison to meet with a mysterious weapons dealer to get a device to further one of his many secret plans and bring forth the Sith takeover we all know is coming.
Through algorithmic match making, this prison is a hub of fights and high stakes betting that brings the attention of the galaxy and some of its more seedy underworldy types.

This is the 3rd and final of Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars novels and I’m trying to decide if this is better than the 1st or not.
The race is so damn tight.
Death Troopers brilliantly handled Han & Chewie appearances while mixing in some kickass Zombie attacks.
This has Maul, Sidious, Plagueis, and Jabba in Pre-Phantom Menace action.
He has a way of dealing with these legacy characters that makes them feel less like untouchable art pieces and more like action figures that are going to get beat up and thrown back in the toy box for the next writer to take out and toss around for a bit, and I mean that in the best possible way.

His handling of Maul is great, displaying the pure stoicism of this brutal fighter is spot on.
Sidious takes lightsabers and the Force out of the arsenal of the horn headed apprentice, to keep his dark side allegiance secret, and it gives us a great insight into how his mind works and how he has been trained to adapt.
We see a new detective side to him as well as we follow him chasing down leads and rumors in the prison, hunting the arms dealer and coming to multiple deadends.
He almost comes off like The Punisher in that respect, and I loved it.

There are twists aplenty, and not a one had that all too familiar feeling of “are you seriously gonna try this hokey shit?” that can often be found in books/story that try to be too clever or deep for their own good.
They all have an air of “aw hell, why didn’t I see that coming?” to them.
One unexpected twist I’ll share is when Darth Plagueis shows up and starts undermining the plans of Sidious, confronting him about it to pretty much let him know he’s aware of the ongoing shenanigans, and then he cooly moves past it to discuss the grand plan for the approaching Sith takeover.
It’s tense as hell and almost worth the price of admission alone.

Tip to tail, this is a damn good book.
And while I enjoy the new main continuity, I hope at some point in the future that Disney/Del Rey will open the door and let the EU/Legends continuity thrive again.
Because if this is the level of story they were pumping out at the end, there were plenty more great stories to come.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.