The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #70

70 weeks in and still rollin’, what with this week bring?
Same as always, NERD QUESTIONS!
Let’s get to it, gang.

This week, with the launch of Disney+ rolling out in more territories, we’re asking about The Mandalorian.
And, despite the Disney & Star Wars social media accounts spreading spoilers, we ask that you don’t spoil anything here or on Twitter as there are still a few areas of the world that don’t have the service yet.

Anywho, onto this week’s Question: What Did You Think Of The First Two Episodes Of The Mandalorian?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

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.

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.

Share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

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.

Share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

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.