Book Review: Smuggler’s Run

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’ve been trying to make an effort to catch up on reading the new cannon Star Wars books lately. The series is still small, but I have yet to fall in love with the books, though perhaps in time and with the right authors and stories I will.

I figured that I can’t go wrong with a Han Solo story. Who doesn’t love that scruffy looking nerf herder? This story focuses on an event that occurs between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes back.

I thought that the story was pretty good. It had a decent flow to it and the portrayal of Han was pretty spot on. One aspect I liked was how it explained just how difficult it is to pilot the Millennium Falcon, and how it really relies on having a pilot and a co-pilot in order to properly get the ship to respond. I never really gave any thought before as to why Chewbacca was the co-pilot, I just figured he was there because he was Han’s friend.

The story had a decent amount of action scattered throughout, which I feel really helped me enjoy the book more. Without that, the book would have been a bit bland. Plus how can you have a mission to rescue people important to the Rebellion if there aren’t a few blaster fights and ship battles along the way.

One thing I find strange about this book, and all of the other “Journey to” books that I have read so far, is that the 99% of the events within the book happen sometime during the orignal trilogy, yet they are labeled as a Journey To: The Force Awakens. Okay, yes there tend to be small things that will be referenced in The Force Awakens that you will read about in the book, but I just feel like it’s sort of faulty advertising. If it was truly a Journey To The Force Awakens story, then it should help to fill in the thirty year gap between the original trilogy and the new movies, not focus on something that happened during the original trilogy.

Though this book is labeled as Young Adult, I really don’t feel like it falls into the category. I guess it was the easy way the story unfolded that puts it in that genre.

Overall, this book was okay. It wasn’t great but it held it’s own in a fledgling series that is trying to build itself up to what the Expanded Universe what was – though I feel like it will take quite some time to reach that caliber of books. It is a worthwhile read for Star Wars fans that want to absorb every bit of the new cannon, but honestly for the average person it can probably be skipped.

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Movie Review: Zathura

One of the movies I have had on my to watch list for a while now was Space Jumanji…I mean, Zathura.

I don’t really know what to say about this one. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, but I’m glad I can finally mark it off my to-watch list.

Am I the only one that was glad that Kristen Steward spend most of the movie either sleeping or frozen? Because that was my favorite part of this movie.

There were aspects of it that I did like. The Zorgons were probably the best part of the scifi aspect of this movie. These strange heat seeking lizard aliens certainly made the movie, and the game, so much more interesting. Without them, I feel like I would have struggled more to finish this movie. Also the whole story surrounding the Astronaut was interesting, though I do feel like there were some unanswered questions about him.

Overall it was good, but I felt I would have enjoyed it if a) I was younger and b) if I had never seen Jumanji.

Fun fact: This was the first movie my son ever sat through from start to finish without moving or talking. He was completely enthralled by it and it was only when the credits started to roll that he snapped out of his daze. He was three years old at the time.

Book Review: Binti

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About a year ago I noticed the book Binti. I can’t recall exactly where I started seeing it, though it was probably on Twitter or several book blogs, but I was admittedly intrigued. I made a note to get the book and read it. But I then got absorbed into my already enormous TBR and swept Binti to the bottom of the pile. Then recently I started seeing more people talking about this book, and it’s sequel, and I was once again reminded of my desire to read this book. Fast forward to October, when I received a copy of this book from a friend and I finally got around to reading it.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Despite all the times I had seen this book online, I had never paid attention to what it was about, nor any details in various reviews – minus the fact that everyone seemed to love it. So, I decided to not read the blurb and dive right in.

I really loved this book. Right from page one I was pulled into the story, wanting to know more about Binti, her world, her purpose, all the technology, just everything. The world building in this novella is great, with each section you learn something new and more of the story fall into place. There is a nice variety of characters, though the focus is on Binti and the Meduse. The pace of this story is very solid. There are no slow parts, and despite very little action, there is always something happening, always new pieces to the puzzle been placed, Nnedi’s writing really brings this story to life

Really my only complaint is that it was too short. I get it, it’s a novella and therefore it’s supposed to be short. And yes, I do agree that the story was wrapped up nicely so there wasn’t too many questions, but enough left open to lead into the sequel. But I still wish it was longer. I wanted to know more, see more of the worlds, learn more about some of the species that appeared near the end of the novella. I’m sure that will happen over the course of the series.

Overall, I’m very happy that I finally got around to reading this book and I will definitely be continuing on with the series to see where the story leads. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Movie Review: Mars Needs Moms

Wanting to add some variety to my SciFi movies this year, I decided to include some kid friendly movies because why should scifi be restricted to adults only. A quick internet search led me to a long list of kid friendly SciFi movies and my biggest problem then became picking which ones to watch. Among these many movies listed, I spotted Mars Needs Mom and thought what the heck, why not start with this one.

I honestly had no idea what to expect. I remember seeing it advertised a few years ago when it first came out, but back then I didn’t really have any interest in seeing it. So I went into this one only knowing that it involved aliens from Mars kidnapping moms from Earth. It seemed like a pretty straight forward idea.

To be perfectly honest, I figured this would be a silly movie, as so many kids movies tend to be regardless of genre, but to my surprise I really enjoyed this one.

The overall story as a whole was an interesting one. I was curious as to why exactly the martians were stealing moms. I mean, obviously it was because the needed moms, as the title of the movie states. But why? How could an entire alien society need moms? Were there no alien moms? And if so, why as that? So many questions to be answered and the movie does a great job of explaining all of it. It takes a little while to get to this answer, but if it happened too quickly then there wouldn’t be enough left to show to have a full length movie.

I thought the animation in this movie was pretty good. Motion capture is definitely one of those great animation tools that I don’t feel is used often enough, though I realize plenty of movies do take advantage of it. Getting to see the actors in their motion capture suits acting out certain scenes was a nice bonus at the end of the movie.

I found it interesting to have mars aliens living underground and thus the rovers never find evidence of their existence.

There is plenty of humor scattered throughout the movie, especially whenever Gribble was involved.I found myself laughing at several points and it just made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. But it wasn’t all humor, as there were a number of serious moments as well.

 

I did have a couple of issues with this movie. First was the many scenes where Milo, and one occasion Gribble, end up falling a really long way down and then land in a pile that basically consists of metal and not a single injury was seen. No scratches, bumps or bruises. Even with the lesser gravity on mars, there should still have been some negative repercussion from these drops, especially since they happened a number of times.

Secondly, I had a slight issue with the whole alien falls in love with a human thing. I felt it was completely unnecessary to the movie. I didn’t care that Gribble decided to return to mars, but why did it have to be because he’s in love with Key, the female rebel of the aliens.

Overall a great little movie that would be perfect to watch as a family, as kids and adults are sure to enjoy it.

Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

You know a movie is going to be good whent he first line is “Holy Mackerel!” Especially when it’s followed very shortly by, “Holy Christmas!” So good!

I will admit, that initially I was a bit annoyed that the alien looked so much like a human, but I quickly pushed that thought away. After all, if he didn’t look like a human, then we would have one heck of a time blending into society.

The pace of this movie was really good. Sure, it was slow at times, but overall, I felt like the time just flew by while watching this and suddenly it was done.

I am so glad that I watched this one, especially since I didn’t think I would like it. I often find older movies to be lackluster due to a variety of reasons, but this was such a treat to watch. I would definitely recommend people to watch this one if they haven’t.

I know that this one has been remade and I may watch it at some point, if I can get past the fact that Keanu Reeves is in it, but I feel like it just won’t hold a candle to the original movie and will be too bogged down by CG and special effects that take away from the story – if they remember to include any. We’ll see. Perhaps that will be a review that will appear in next years SciFi Month.

Movie Review: Elysium

A couple of years ago, my husband watched the movie Elysium and told me that I should watch it. Of course I added it to my to-watch list, but as inevitably happens, I kept putting it off. Finally, this year, I made time to watch it, because I wanted to knock several scifi movies I had been putting off for some time now.

I found that the pace of the movie was a bit slow. I understand that things need to be established, but sometimes I just wished that there was more action or other things to pick up the pace a bit.

I did find it realistic feeling that in the future, as the world crumbles, it is the rich and privileged that escape to this paradise in space, leaving the poor behind. Yet, despite all this, they still seem to rely on those poor in ways, such as manufacturing robots. It makes total sense for this to happen. Even in the future, as we leave earth behind, the rich will still run things and make the poor suffer.

I didn’t feel any real connections to the characters. There was a nice mix of different characters, but overall, I didn’t get that pull to root for certain characters like I would have liked to.

As far as technology goes, which is often the best part of scifi, overall, I didn’t find too much in this movie to be unique. The medical beds that could diagnose and cure everything, at least it seemed like everything, was very intriguing. I mean, come on, that guy had his face blown off and a few seconds in a medical machine and boom he’s back to normal.

Overall, this was an okay, borderline good, movie. If you haven’t watched it yet, and are thinking about it, I say give it a shot. There is a very good chance that people will enjoy this one.

Book Review: Old Man’s War

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I will admit, that I was hesitant to listen to this audiobook. After listening to Redshirts, which I reviewed earlier this month, I was worried that this book would be bogged down with “he said, she said” dialogue much like Redshirts was. While there was a lot of “said” used in this book, there were at least other descriptors used as well, so that alone made the book more enjoyable.

The narrator, William Dugris, was a bit boring at times. His voice often had a flat, almost monotone quality to it, which at times made listening a chore, because my mind would wander away from the story. Overall, it wasn’t too bad to listen to, I just had to make sure to really pay attention. He did do a pretty decent job of giving each character their own unique voice.

I found the concept of the book interesting. The idea to recruit old people to a war effort, seems very unorthodox, even with the promise of anti-aging, so I was definitely curious to see how it would work out.

I felt like things were explained well enough. It didn’t feel bogged down by scientific jargon, but some explanations weren’t perfect – like the discussion about how the “beanstalk” didn’t follow the laws of physics. I get that things like that need to be explained or else readers will complain that it was missing valuable information, but then at times those descriptions feels like they go too deep.

It was nice to have a book where the main characters are older. So many books have characters from their teens to thirties, with the only older people being grandparents or elders, and they get small roles. Of course this changed as the book progress, what with the anti-aging process happening, but it was entertaining while it lasted. And yes, I understand that, in a way, those characters are still 70+ mentally, but it certainly changed things to have them also younger again.

Things got a little weird after the “anti-aging process”.

My interest started to wane a bit about the half way point when the characters were going through all their training. I don’t know if it’s because my interest in the story had lessened or if the narrators voice was just making me not care, but I definitely had to keep reminding myself to pay attention and listen to it or else I might miss everything.

There was a decent amount of action in this book, especially in the last quarter of it. I found a few of the characters to be great additions to John, but overall, I didn’t find that any of them stood out. I get that it was technically Johns story and thus the focus was on him, but I would have liked to see a bit more from the other characters – though maybe I will if I continue with the series. I also wish we could have seen more alien species, as there were only a few mentioned and most of those were just minor “oh look there’s a __” and that was it.

I may eventually continue on with this series, but I am in no major rush to. I am glad that I finally got around to this book.