Thursday, 28 May 2015

Star Trek: The Motion Picture: The Novel review (Unread 010)

I love Star Trek for a lot of difference reasons. One of the main reasons is that it can provide fans with a wide variety of stories within the franchise’s fictional universe. This is true of a lot of long lasting and ever evolving franchises but Star Trek is still one of my favourites because it does it well and even when it completely misses the mark, there is a lot left to enjoy. That’s true of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and it’s even truer of Star Trek: The Motion Picture: The Novel (that title!).

I didn’t really like Star Trek: The Motion Picture the first time I saw it. I’ve always thought it was interesting – how can it not be considering all the characters begin in a different situation than what we’re used to seeing, the uniforms are different, everything feels fresh and new – but I didn’t think it was good. It didn’t compare to the good Star Trek movies. The more I rewatched it, the more my opinion changed. I started to like it because the more I watched it the easier it was for me to notice the thematic elements at play (on full display but difficult to notice due to the slow pacing of the film), the surprisingly poignant character arcs (mostly Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, again, difficult to notice because they’re portrayed differently than we’re used to seeing and that’s the whole point), just how long those damn lingering shots of spaceships and the Intruder are (way, way too long). It also became apparent that the movie’s pacing actually supports the character development which also happens to be the heart of the movie. Having a slower pace allowed for more character reaction, anticipation, and boiling over of emotions, all of which fuel character interaction and allow for the thematic development of the relationships between humanoid to humanoid and human to unknown sentient beings.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Naruto 3-in-1 10 (volumes 28-29-30) review (Unread 009)

I was very, very excited to start reading volume 10 of the Naruto 3-in-1 editions. Back when I first started to read Naruto in Shonen Jump, I stopped reading somewhere along volume 29 or so. This means that I my Naruto reread would soon become, well, a read. “New” chapters! How can you not be excited for that?

This omnibus edition contains volumes 28 to 30 which are the first three volumes of Part Two of the entire series. With these volumes Masashi Kishimoto gives himself the task of reintroducing familiar characters after a two and a half years jump forward in time. I really enjoyed these first few chapters. Seeing all these familiar faces and finding new elements added to their character such as slightly different personalities and clothing. It seemed a little odd to feel as though I’m supposed to be pleased and surprised by meeting several characters again. In reality that’s the effect good storytelling has on readers. I care for these characters and it’s great to see them grow and change. I really like that Kishimoto wrote an interlude focusing on a young Kakashi in volume 27 because it contributes to the feeling that time has passed since we last saw Naruto and the rest of the cast.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Blog Fantastic 035: Ghost King Review (Unread 008)

One of the best things about this
book is the cover.
David Gemmell is one of my favourite fantasy authors. I first discovered his writing when my brother lent me his copy of Lord of the Silver Bow, the first volume in Gemmell’s Troy trilogy which he was nearing completion before he passed away. His wife, Stella Gemmell, finished the trilogy and has since published a novel of her own titled The City. Since I’m a fan of Greek mythology and The Iliad I was excited to read it and Gemmell really impressed me. He mostly ignored a lot of the specifics of classical writing on the subject. It’s difficult to believe but Homer and Virgil didn’t have as much of an influence on Gemmell’s story as you would have expected. He definitively walked down his own path but that’s alright with me. At that point in his career he knew his strengths and by focusing on soldiers and other characters with strong personalities and by severely limiting the use of magic along with the presence and influence of the gods, he managed to write a trilling and action packed historical fantasy trilogy. This led me to reading several of his books and I’ve enjoyed every one.

After finding copies of most of the Stones of Power series at my local used book store (Bay Used Books) I read up a bit on the series before reading it. The cover of the first two books looked radically different than the other three. As it turns out, they’re two separate series that are tied together by the titular Stones of Power. From what I can tell there aren’t that many more connections between both stories. Sadly, I do not own a copy of the final book in the Jon Shannow trilogy which also happens to be the concluding volume of The Stones of Power. Hopefully I can find a copy by the time I get to that point in the series. I decided to start with Ghost King and its sequel Last Sword of Power because they were published first and they’re also first in chronological order. It’s always fun when that happens. I was really looking forward to Ghost King because it’s yet another book where Gemmell retells a well-known fantasy story. This time it’s the legend of King Arthur. Unfortunately, it’s kind of crap.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire review (Unread 007)

Here it is; the big one. The grand-daddy of all Star Wars Expanded Universe novels: The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. It took me two years of exploring the EU to finally come around to reading Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. To be honest, this is probably where I should have started exploring the EU but for reasons that can be summarized by the simple fact that I had other EU books in my hands before I ever bought a copy of Heir to the Empire, I only got around to reading it two months ago. I’m glad I did because the book holds up as an entertaining follow-up to the original trilogy, despite the praise it’s usually given by fans of the franchise. I was honestly worried this book would be overhyped.

For those who have not heard of this book and its sequels, The Thrawn Trilogy is arguably the most important Star Wars novels as they’re regularly credited with first developing and popularizing the foundations of what became known as the Expanded Universe. All of the Star Wars novels of the 1990s owe a debt to Zahn and his trilogy. To try and put this accomplishment in perspective, Zahn gives the franchise an identity post Episode VI, creates some of the most popular and best developed characters of the EU, successfully writes about Luke, Leia, Han, and other characters from the film by being true to their onscreen counterparts but also providing them with a new identity. He does all of this while also telling an interesting story that mixes old and new tricks resulting in a thrilling first volume of a trilogy. What gives this book such a lasting impression is that it was used as the foundation on which all of the other Bantam Spectra era novels are built upon. It forms the backbone of this publication period of Star Wars novels. Some even credit this trilogy with renewing George Lucas’ interesting in creating the prequel trilogy. It’s uncontested truth that The Thrawn Trilogy has had a lasting impact on the franchise and is at the very least partially responsible for the continued success and popularity of Star Wars today.