The Sci-fi Fantasy Reader's Review

My Comments on Science Fiction / Fantasy Books and other related media.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Doctor Who, Season 9 episode 2 "Witch's Familar" part 2

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"Witch's Familiar" what an odd name for this episode, is the Doctor the witch with Clara as his familiar or is it Missy to the Doctor? I'm not sure but it was an exciting episode. Recap, Davros is dying and wants to talk to the Doctor. Missy and Clara have been exterminated by the Daleks in episode 1 but the opening scene in episode 2 has Clara tied upside down outside the Dalek compound with Missy saying how peckish she is then starts explaining how they're still alive. She tells a story about how the Doctor escaped death by using a similar trick.
Davros and the Doctor are talking, there's some dream sequence of the Doctor pointing a Dalek gun at the young Davros. Davros is spouting regrets and we see the Doctor eventually soften to the Dalek leader. We, as a viewer are soften to Davros's words, but we know where he came from and why he made the Daleks so we shouldn't be. Spoiler alert! The Doctor is not moved and in the end outwits Davros. It was a really good episode, I was taken aback by Davros's knowledge of the Doctors past and at the inference that he travels the universe to escape Galifray.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Doctor Who: episode 1, part 1

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What a strange trip the Doctor is on this season 9 premiere! Starts out with Missy (Master) doing some bad stuff to get Clara and Units attention. Where's the Doctor everyone wants to know?
They find him somewhere in Medieval times and rocking out with an electric guitar on top of a army tank. Wow, what a beginning.
Another twist is Davros as a little boy who is in need of help. Then Davros is on his "deathbed" and sends out a creature to look for the Doctor.  Clara and Missy find the Doctor in a most dangerous situation and in a most dangerous planet.This is a two part episode so we will see how the Doctor gets out of this predicament.
I have to say that I'm getting to like this new Master. I didn't care for her last season but she's growing on me. I am totally over Clara. She's become too attached to this Doctor that is very unhealthy if this was real life. Is she a kinda of girl friend? Or a parent/child relationship? I think it's time for a new companion, an alien would be cool like how Tom Baker's Doctor had Leela, Adric, and Romana (she was another time lord), and Peter Davison had multiple companions 3 at a time.
 But we will see how this season goes. For now, I can't give out too many spoilers for those who didn't watch the season's opener.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book review of Resurrection: A Col Sec thriller by Jan Domagala novel

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Resurrection is another novel in the Col Sec series by Jan Domagala.  In this novel, the Wildfire Team along with Kurt Stryder and Zara Hardy are going back to the planet Tartaran. They have to stop the Elysium Alliance for gaining knowledge from the research done on the planet that they deem as dangerous technology in the wrong hands. This novel has two running stories, one with the wildfire team and another with a member of the team, Matt.  Matt is on another mission that has him following Tara Wilde, the clone daughter of Jonas Wilde. She murdered her father in the last book and has taken over OMEGA. We also get to know some characters from the Alliance; Major Solon, who is the son of General Solon from “Discovery”, General Tillic, and Senator Tovaric.   The two storylines eventually converge on the planet Tartaran.  

This novel is one of Jan Domagala’s best because of the two story lines and of the two opposing perspectives. He does a wonderful job transitioning between stories. The theme of this book of two opposing governments, one with advanced technology not wanting the other to know about or have is reminiscent of what’s going on in our world. This is another really fast paced book and one that I would recommend especially if you have read his other stories in the Col Sec series.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review of "Extintion: A Col Sec novel by Jan Domagala"

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Extinction is the 5th book in the Col Sec series by Jan Domagala. The story is a bridge between Jan Domagala’s Retribution novel and next book, Resurrection.  The Recon Delta headed by General Sinclair is on another vital mission, saving the world from a computer virus. 

The background story is 25 years earlier in a research facility on Tarsus II.  The head of research at this lab is Doctor Henkel, who was in charge of developing a program that stimulates certain areas of the brain via the NI. Most citizens in this universe have NI, a neural implant that gives them direct access to computer databases and communications. But  this program was coded to search other NI and link with it then download the program. It became viral that any infected person can transfer the program to any others with a NI implant.  This virus was designed to make the super soldier with increased testosterone and endorphins but it also increases aggression to the point of uncontrollable rage. To contain the computer virus the research facility was abandoned and put under quarantine with no one allowed to enter.  

While in Col Sec, Jonas Wilde leader of OMEGA, used his security clearance to delve into the sensitive files and found out about the project on Tarsus II.  The action begins with OMEGA infiltrating the Tarsus II facility. They plan to release the virus via an array that is connected to the computer. Once the array is functional it will then target the military base on Tarsus Prime with the intention of the virus spreading throughout the human population.  Alarms are triggered and the base leaps into action. The only problem is that only a handful of top personal know about the severity of what the facility on Tarsus II holds. General Sinclair is alerted and quickly notifies one of his Recon Delta teams which happens to be on Tarsus Prime. They are  looking for a new candidate to join Red Team.  Will they be able to save the world? Read Extinction to find out.

Extinction is a shorter read than the previous books of Jan Domagala and it isn’t as fast paced either but the action picks up towards the end the book.  There are new characters in this book but I feel they will be in other stories of Domagala’s Col Sec series.   I would like to see more character development but I realize that these books are crisis driven stories with little time to really know the main players.  Domagala gives enough background information that Extinction could be read as a stand alone book.  I recommend this book because it’s a good science fiction story with action.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book review: Retribution; A Col Sec Series, Book 4

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Retribution is the fourth book in the Col Sec series by Jan Domagala and is a continuation from the last book, Discovery.  It begins with Zara Hardy, who wakes up as a captive of the terrorist group, OMEGA. She remembers being held captive by an Alliance operative, Pavel Norsky who shot her dead. She also remembered being bled on by Kurt Stryder and with her knowledge of the damages that he can endure, it causes Zara to want to know more about her own abilities. Pavel Norsky is also back from the dead and wants revenge. She escapes her captives and finds her way back to Kurt Stryder.

All the members of  Col Sec Recon Delta team are on leave after the Tartaran rescue mission and each is confronted with bodily harm by strangers that are similar in appearance. They are being assessed on their abilities of their genetic enhancements.

Later in the book, we are given more information about the terrorist group, OMEGA. OMEGA is always one step ahead of the team, you know the saying, “The good guys always win.”  The problem with that scenario is OMEGA is playing by their own rules and haven’t told the Col Sec team how to play.  Another problem for Col Sec is the seemingly unlimited resources at OMEGA’s disposal. The main force are made up of clones with major resources for the best weapons.

The Wildfire Team and Kurt Stryder are able to counter each attack by OMEGA and find an outpost on the Moon, but not the secret headquarters on the planet RH426. The climax of the book is suspenseful with a last minute escape of our heros, Kurt Stryder and Zara Hardy, even though we all know that very few authors kill off their main characters. There's a surprise at the end for the head of OMEGA, Jonas Wilde that will cause more trouble for Col Sec in the future.

It’s a very action packed book and an easy read.  I like that Domagala put thought into character development with this being a series we will probably see them again in future books. The dialogue between characters is believable.  And with each book, the characters personalities are recognizable, there is a familiar quality to them. You want the Col Sec team to win over adversity and want the bad guys to be obliterated. But you know that having the villain get away makes for a known adversary in the next book.  The issues that I had in the previous book weren’t apparent in this one. The transition between scenarios was more fluid and smooth. I like that Domagala has a few female characters in the series that aren’t one dimensional. All though, they aren’t average looking women but buffed and beautiful.

I will read his next book in the series since I’m invested in the characters. I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading action science fiction.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review, Havoc: The Dred Chronicles, Book 2 by Ann Aguirre

Ann Aguirre is a science fiction writer whose characters tend to be strong women in dangerous situations. This novel isn’t an exception, Havoc is about a prison ship called Perdition, drifting in space. It’s where dangerous criminals are sent for life. The prisoners have the run of the prison, where the strongest have carved out territory and strictly enforce their rule.

Desdemona Devos or “Dred” is the leader of Queensland. She is a strong woman who has a secret, she has psi abilities. She used it to kill which is why she is an inmate on Perdition. Her second is Jael, a enhanced humanoid, grown in a laboratory which makes him hard to kill. Along  with an inner circle, they try keep Queensland from falling under another gang’s attack. They are always in survival mode.

In this second book, the Conglomerate have sent mercenaries to Perdition to wipe out the inmates with a sucker’s guarantee of freedom to the last man standing. Dred and her followers know in their hearts that it’s a trap so they are on the offensive to stay alive against all odds.
The mercenaries soon realize that this isn’t as easy as they were told, the ragtag prisoners are fighting back.

It's a fast paced book with multiple character insight. It's a strange twist that you get engaged in their desperate situation that you will be routing for the Queensland convicts. Her characters have a likeable human quality which isn't far removed from the readers view point. If you take away why they were put in prison, they are just people fighting trying to survive. The author gets into the psyche of her characters, we understand their reluctance for intimacy and friendship but they will surprise each other with their loyalty of the Dread Queen. I haven't read the first novel, Perdition but Ann Aguirre fills in the gaps so the reader is able to follow the story.  I recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed reading Ann Aguirre’s other novels.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Discovery: A Col Sec Novel: Volume 3 by Jan Domagala

I have read many science fiction books over the years and I would say that “Discovery” is a good representation of this genre.

The Colonial Confederation and Elysium Alliance are two opposing governments that for decades have been at war over the colonization of planets but are now at an uneasy truce.

The main character, Kurt Stryder, is an ex-military black operations soldier with Recon Delta in the Confederation. He is genetically enhanced with regenerative abilities which makes it hard to kill him.  He can also access any computer using NI, a Neural Interface.  

Kurt is grieving for his lover Zara Hardy, who was killed somehow, and is in turmoil over his decision to leave the Recon Delta unit.  So he books a room on a luxury liner, the Colonial Queen. There we are introduced to Prince Aswan, the son of a very rich and powerful man, who has booked most of the rooms on the ship and has persuaded the Captain of the cruise liner to make a quick stop.

The ship makes its unplanned jump to the Taranan Battlefield, “the largest debris field in the galaxy” which is a Forbidden Zone due to high radiation levels from a major battle.  The field is also the hiding place for pirates, whom board the ship and murder passengers. Kurt manages to escape the ship with Prince Aswan and his bodyguard, Natasha Garvey, who is military trained for diplomatic security. They are the only survivors.

General Sinclair is another character who heads the Recon Delta and Col Sec Intelligence Division on Earth. The Recon Delta team are also genetically enhanced, they one group that will take part in the rescue operation at Taranan Battlefield.

The majority of the book is about the rescue mission on the planet, which is in the vicinity of the battlefield.  Kurt Stryder has many questions about the planet, the Taranan Battlefield, and his arising abilities that gets answered by the end of the book.

I thought “Discovery” was an easy reading book. I have read books which delve into similar scenarios before but Jan Domagala has some surprises, especially the epilogue cliff hanger.
Domagala successfully transports the reader to a possible future with genetic enhancements, war between two super factions, and the politics that runs these governments.

This novel isn’t a stand alone story.  While reading the book, I felt like I was missing some information that is probably in one of the previous books.  The author explained some of the history of this period in later chapters but it wasn’t enough, and the transition between scenarios wasn’t conveyed well.  As the reader, I was confused with some of the jumps from one scene to another.   The author did this a few times but eventually I was able to catch on.

I would recommend this story even with some of the quirks in Jan Domagala’s writing, and would like to read a sequel because the ending peaked my interest.  I need to know what happens next.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Netflix Produces Anime

If your like most people, Netflix has become the top streaming Internet viewing source. It has also become a producer of original programming especially in Anime. The Knights of Sidonia is an anime acquisition by Netflix with sole licensing for streaming. It was first released in Japan then release in the U.S. a month later probably so we had all the episodes available. It is a manga by Tsutomu Nihei who is also the artist for Blame!, NOISE, and Biomega.

The Knights of Sidonia is about the future of the humans where Earth was destroyed by alien beings called the Gauna. Sidonia is their ship and is a piece of Earth where inside humanity resides.  The people have been in space for a thousand years and have been genetically engineered to photosynthesize, are asexual, and the youngsters are trained as pilots to combat the foe.

The hero is a low-born youth, Nagate who has lived with his grandfather underground. The series follows him as he navigates through Sidonia's culture and his inevitable recruitment as a pilot. As the series unfolds we learn more about him and about the original citizens of Sidonia.

I would recommend this fast pace anime but it's not care free, funny, it can be very heartbreaking with the deaths of Nagate's fellow pilots.

Another Netflix anime series that I really enjoyed is The Devil is a Part-timer. It's a funny anime about the Devil King (Sadao Maou) who is from another dimension called Ente Isla where he is moments away from conquering the world when the Hero arrives and foils his plans. He and his General Alciel are caught in a vortex that transports him to modern day Toyko. He soon realizes that he has no magic in Tokyo but his ambitions are the same take over this new world. It's not until he has to live among the common folk that he starts having feelings that he's never had before. He cares what happens to them especially Chiho Sasaki who is a fellow employee at McDonald's fast food restaurant. With his personality for domination he becomes a conscientious employee and he works hard for his pay. General Alciel (Shiro Ashiya) becomes the house caretaker with duties of grocery shopping, making dinner, and still on the Satan's beckon call while on a budget.

Meanwhile the Hero (Emi Yusa) is also in modern day Tokyo and is following Satan. She can't believe he has changed his ways from Ente Isla. She is quick to temper, suspicious, and has a job as a call center agent.

There are other characters that are pieces of the ensemble that become friends. The dichotomy of the characters from Ente Isla are shown with them working together in modern day. The Hero sees the irony of their life as they struggle with the day to day business in Tokyo.

Psycho-Pass is another anime I would recommend. It's set in the future of Japan where your psyche is measured daily by monitors on the streets of the city. The system is called Sybil.  There is a range that registers the individual as normal but if the number gets too high that person is now deemed dangerous to society is either locked up or terminated on the spot with a gun the police carry that changes power from stun to death. The main character is Akane Tsunemori, a rookie cop who also has a perfect psyche no matter what her emotions are. The force is made up of people with perfect psyche and enforcers who are used as police dogs. It's that adage of "It takes one to know one" is why these people are enforcers. Their criminal mind can profile the ones their after. Akane, is that caring individual who has feelings for an enforcer,  Shinya Kogami who was once a police officer but his psyche went too high. He thinks like a criminal and is also a "Dirty Harry" type that takes things in his own hands 

I'm hoping Netflix buys the rights for the next seasons of these animes.