Today I'm starting a new segment in which I give a synopsis of this week's Doctor Who for those who missed it. Spoiler alert!
In tonight's episode "Into the Dalek," the Doctor saves an outer space soldier named Journey Blue from dying. He takes her back to her ship Aristotle to find it was a medical vessel but has now been militarized to battle the Daleks. The commander takes the Doctor to see the one remaining patient, and he finds it's a Dalek. However, the prisoner gives a surprising declaration: "Daleks must be destroyed." Somehow this one has realized the rest of its kind is evil. Intrigued, the Doctor and Clara, along with several soldiers including Journey, shrink themselves down and go inside its head, whereupon the Doctor names it Rusty. Rusty explains that even after many years of Dalek destruction, it witnessed the birth of a star and realized life would always prevail. The Doctor, excited about finally finding a good Dalek, proceeds to repair Rusty's radiation leak. Unfortunately, this causes Rusty to go back to normal, and it breaks free of its confinement and starts killing everyone on board the Aristotle.
In order to help the others escape, one of the soldiers named Gretchen sacrifices herself and ends up meeting Missy, the mysterious woman from the season premier. Meanwhile, the Doctor laments that all Daleks are irreversibly evil. However, Clara convinces him otherwise. She believes that Rusty has the potential to be good, and together they journey to its brain to retrieve its suppressed memories and remind it of what it has lost. They succeed, but Rusty looks inside the Doctor's mind and sees his hatred for the Daleks, which it then adopts. Once again convinced that all Daleks are evil, Rusty helps them fight off a Dalek boarding party which arrived when it sent a signal after being repaired by the Doctor. The Daleks are defeated, but the Doctor doesn't consider it a victory; it was achieved through hatred and not goodness. They go to leave, and Journey asks to accompany them on their journey. But the Doctor is through with soldiers after this experience, and refuses.
Afterwards, the Doctor and Clara discuss the question he posed earlier: "Am I a good man?" She replies she doesn't know, but he wants to be, and that's what matters.
I feel this week's episode is solid. It's always enjoyable when the Daleks come to visit, and we got a little more insight into their nature. Peter Capaldi continues to impress as the new Doctor and I think he's going to do repeat. Also, the continuing mystery of Missy is keeping me intrigued, and I can't wait to see where they're going with this.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Friday, August 29, 2014
This week I decided to review Bones of Empire by William Dietz The main character of the story is Jak Cato, a genetically engineered empath created by the Uman Empire, which is inspired by the Roman Empire based on its titles and what we see of its sports--though I have no clue why the H in Human was removed-- able to detect disguised shapeshifters by sensing their minds. The book begins with Cato helping to fend off an assassination attempt against his patron on the imperial capital world of Corin. Soon afterwards, Cato attends an Emperor’s Day parade, but when he sees the Emperor, he’s shocked to realize that the supposed Emperor is actually a Sagathi, a species of alien shapeshifters, named Verafti whom Cato thought he had killed. Soon the race to prove that the Emperor is an imposter while evading Verafti’s attempts to kill Cato is on. Eventually Verafti flees and Cato, who knows that Verafti would have hated every minute he spent as Emperor, and his allies are left trying to discover the Sagathi’s goals. Eventually it is revealed that he had been searching imperial records for signs of other Sagathi that had escaped their quarantined homeworld. More specifically, Verafti is searching for a female named Demeni whom he had fallen in love with. The trail leads to Therat, a small world recently handed over to the neighboring Vord Empire. After convincing the Vord of the danger even one Sagathi on the loose can pose, Cato receives permission to lead a team to the world to hut the Sagathi down but once there he finds himself caught in the struggle between the Vord Government and an Uman resistance movement while being targeted by cultists who believe that Demeni is a goddess.
I give the book an 7 out of 10. It was a very interesting story over all, though it was more of a science fiction detective story whereas I was expecting a military scifi story. Still, what you saw of the Uman and Vord cultures was interesting, though you learn very little about Sagathi society. The ending was mostly happy but somewhat bittersweet. Still, while I didn’t really dislike the book and will read any sequels, they won’t be the top priority of my to read list unless it’s a dry period for books I like. It wasn’t bad but it just didn’t excite me enough to make buying any follow-ups a higher priority than books in several other ongoing novel series.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
This week I decided to review Theirs Not to Reason Why: Hardship by Jean Johnson. When the book begins, Ia, who becomes known to history as Bloody Mary has just destroyed her ship and arrived on the planet Dabin which is being invaded by the Salik, a race which view most sentient species as a convenient food source. Ia, who has the ability to see every possible future, knows that she only has a limited amount of time to arrange the defeat of the Salik force on Dabin before the Salik blockade of the world is broken and she and her command must leave to carry out the next phase of her plan to prevent the Milky Way galaxy and its inhabitants from being wiped out in a few centuries. Unfortunately the general in command of the Terran Army forces on Dabin refuses to corporate with the battle plans she gives him despite knowing that she can see the future, and orders the units flanking the position of her encampment to hold position no matter what while a Salik strike force attacks Ia’s unit driving it into a long retreat. Afterwards Ia discovers that the general is being influenced by one of the Feyori, energy beings who view the entire galaxy as their game board and its inhabitants as little more then game pieces, that oppose the Feyori faction allied with her. She confronts the Feyori on the Timeplains and makes it clear that they can no longer be neutral regarding her--they will either help her or be destroyed by her.
I give the book a 6 out of 10. The book is significantly shorter than any other in the series so far and suffers for it in my opinion. Namely there is a distinct shortage of battle sequences. The entire book is told from Ia’s prospective. While this can work well in a war story where the character is involved in the frontline action here Ia spends most of her time strategizing rather than fighting or leading from the front. I do enjoy some strategic planning in stories but I still feel that the story would have been better served if more of the period she spent at the forefront of the fighting had been shown in detail or if it had shown more of the battles against the Salik from the prospective of the soldiers fighting the battles with less of the book spent watching versions of Ia from multiple points in time powwowing to relay all of the data and messages she needs to send in order to prevent the fall of Dabin and the later possible destruction of the galaxy or engaged in similar activities.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Recently I was made aware of a very cool Kickstarter project: Under the Dog. This anime comes to us from an uber-talented group of people who brought us such awesomeness as Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell and Fire Emblem: Awakening. I immediately became a backer for it, and I urge all of you to do the same.
So what is Under the Dog? The Kickstarter page describes it as "An anime science fiction thriller that will explore what it means to live and die well, testing the limits of all we hold dear."
Here is the synopsis, pretty much copied and pasted from the page:
The year is 2025 in the city of Tokyo Bayside Special District, five years following the devastation wrought by a specially enhanced groups of terrorists at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Out of the ashes of that desolation, the UN formed a special covert branch headquartered in Tokyo Bay solely purposed with searching out and eliminating the forces responsible for the attack along with anyone even bearing a remote resemblance to them.
As a cover, the International School for Boys and Girls was established for the ongoing covert operation of discovering and recruiting gifted high school students, each with their own special abilities, and to coerce them in the service of an elite death squad. These troops are tasked with ferreting out and exterminating all individuals with powers like their own.
There is no choosing sides for these recruits and failure is not an option. Failure on the field assures not only their own, but also their loved ones' deaths. In order to assure compliance, each agent’s dearest loved ones have been secretly outfitted with a micro cranial bomb and all agent's actions and speech are closely monitored and recorded through a battle chip embedded in their brain. In the event the UN commanding officer determines an agent falls out of protocol, their loved ones immediately suffer the consequences.
So you take a little Ghost in the Shell, a little Gunslinger Girl, some X-Men, some Suicide Squad and toss them in a blender. Out pops Under the Dog. There's a lot more information at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1300298569/under-the-dog. Go check it out.
Monday, August 18, 2014
A while back I reviewed Mike Reeves-McMillan’s charming fantasy novel Hope and the Clever Man. He recently sent me the sequel, Hope and the Patient Man, for me to review, so here we go.
The story picks up not too long after the first book. Hope and her boyfriend Patient have gotten to know each other very well. Unfortunately, she feels no desire for him. This has to do with the curse she placed on her former beau Faithful (who was anything but) that he couldn’t get it up unless he stayed true to his name. She removed it, but there was magical splash-back, rendering her somewhat asexual. The situation has not improved, and her condition is actually deteriorating to the point where she can’t focus on her job or academic pursuits. She has the opportunity to become the youngest ever senior mage at the academy, but her chances look slim unless she finds a cure. Therefore, she and Patient seek out a mindhealer named Lily who is basically a magic-minded sex therapist. Lily has the couple engage in a series of increasingly intimate exercises to get Hope’s brain and libido back on track.
Meanwhile, a wealthy socialite named Industry of Rosewell (AKA “Rosie”) comes to work at the lab. She takes a liking to Dignified the clever man, but doesn’t know how to proceed. Hope and best friend Briar take Rosie under their wing and give her a makeover. Rosie and Dignified then hit it off and things are looking good for them. However, the mounting pressure on Hope to carry out her work for both the Realmgold and the academy is taking its toll, and she doesn’t know how much longer she can last. Not only that, but she must deal with the stunning secret of her birth and her mother’s disdain for her. Is there a happy ending for her and Patient?
I like this series because it takes a very different approach to standard fantasy fare. Reeves McMilan has worked hard to make this feel like a real world with a rich history and customs. It also has real problems; there is no great world-threatening villain, and the evils it does have are fought with debates and legal action rather than swords and sorcery. It’s certainly not for everyone; if you want your fantasy to be action-packed and intense, you should look elsewhere. But for those willing to give this series a chance, you’ll find your investment well rewarded.