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.

Share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

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Walpurgis III Press Release

From WordFire Press…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Who is more dangerous, the man who kills from compulsion? Or the man who kills from calculation?

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Walpurgis III, by Hugo and Nebula Winning Author, Mike Resnick!

Conrad Bland has slaughtered tens of millions, a butcher vastly worse than Hitler. He has never considered not killing anyone who stood in his way.

He takes refuge on Walpurgis III, a planet settled by various cults of devil worshippers. He is the manifestation of the evil they revere, but now that they have come face-to-face with their beliefs, the cults desperately want Bland to be removed from their lives, their world, and entirely from existence.

So Walpurgis III contacts Jericho, the greatest assassin in the galaxy, to rid them of Conrad Bland. But once the assassin arrives and begins to make his bloody way toward Bland’s headquarters, the people—especially John Sable, the top policeman on the planet—must face an excruciating choice.

About the author:

Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner for short science fiction. He is the winner of 5 Hugos (from a record 37 nominations), plus other major awards in the USA, France, Poland, Catalonia, Croatia, Spain, Japan, and China (where he recently won an award as Most Popular Foreign Author). Mike is the author of 78 novels, 10 books of non-fiction, close to 300 short stories, and three screenplays. He has edited 43 anthologies, and is currently the editor of both Galaxy’s Edge magazine and Stellar Guild books. He was the Worldcon Guest of Honor in 2012.

Walpurgis III

Trade paperback $14.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-954-6

Ebook $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-955-3

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded byNew 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.

Thieves & Beggars Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Space pirates return in this riveting new space opera by C. S. Ferguson!

Monument, Colorado. March 22, 2019. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Thieves & Beggars, a Wild Space novel by C.S. Ferguson.

After the loss of Tamora, the last three Crimson Star pirates are even more desperate to find their hijacked starship and escape the Heracles system. The once-infamous Crimson Star pirates lost their ship to a band of mercenaries, lost their doctor to the Inquisition, and are now reliant on the good will of the ruthless Borjigin crime family for safety. But the Borjigins could be a blessing in disguise … if they and the pirates can survive the tightening grip of the merciless and calculating Inquisition.

The Inquisition is mercilessly crushing crime at every level, and the pirates can feel the icy grip of the law tightening around their necks...

Coming March 27, 2019

About the author: C. S. Ferguson used to be an adventurer. He traveled half a million miles through 55 countries on every continent, circling the globe nine times. Then he had this epic fight vs. a crazy boss monster that was basically a vampiric half-dragon 14th level ranger/7th level assassin. He tried to solo it, which was a big mistake, because that boss was a total badass. Yeah. It didn’t end well. So, after he weaned himself off the pain killers, Ferguson retired from that and looked for something less dangerous. He settled in Seattle, where everyone is an aspiring game designer, so he claimed the same in an effort to fit in. Except, people believed him. His 14 games are in 68 countries. That means people actually buy them, which is pretty cool because now he can afford the high-end ramen. The mail lady and grocery store checkout girl both know him by name, so that’s two diehard fans. And his mom gets his name right half the time, so that’s like two and a half. That’s more girls than would talk to him in middle school, so his life is improving.

Thieves & Beggars

Trade paperback $16.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-962-1

Ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-963-8

Hardback $29.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-971-3

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.

Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2 Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With this new collection of stories, Kevin J. Anderson demonstrates why he has tens of millions of readers worldwide and has won or been nominated for numerous awards.

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Selected Stories: Science Fiction, volume 2, by Kevin J. Anderson.

#1 international bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson continues to demonstrate his versatility and imagination in his Selected Storiesseries, with a second full volume of his best science fiction tales.

These sixteen stories, ranging from flash fiction to novella length, extend from the far corners of space to the edge of time and back to cutting-edge explorations inspired by today’s headlines. Read about clones and combat cyborgs, nanotechnology experiments and giant robots, super-sentient lab rats and immortal dogs, alien magicians and altered timelines.

Anderson introduces each story with a brief perspective about the inspiration or writing process, as well as a compelling introductory essay about his lifelong close relationship with the science fiction genre.

Kevin J. Anderson has published 140 books, 56 of which have been national or international bestsellers. Anderson has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, Dune, and DC Comics universes, as well as unique steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album by the band Rush. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, and the Saga of Shadows trilogy. He has edited numerous anthologies, written comics and games, and the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.

Selected Stories: Science Fiction, volume 2:

Hardback $30. ISBN 978-1-61475-966-9

Trade paperback $18.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-964-5

Ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-965-2

Coming February, 2019

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 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.