Wednesday, January 16, 2019

OMG I'M EXCITED!!!!!!!


(Video courtesy of Youtube)

Did you watch that trailer? DID YOU WATCH THAT TRAILER!?!??!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?! THE 'BUSTERS ARE BACK BABY!!!

Listen, I know I'm generally against remaking old stuff. I keep meaning to share my opinion on reboots and that day is coming, but this isn't a reboot. We're supposedly getting the original Ghostbusters cast, or at least part of it. This isn't some political correctness generated all female cast created to appease a feminist crowd. It's the guys who made it work the first time.

DUDE!!!

Listen, pretty much everything I know about this film is that it was announced yesterday and the trailer dropped today. That seriously completes the list. That's enough to get me going though.

I'll be honest. Storywise there's not a whole lot (as in nothing) that has been released. But watch it all the way through. Did you hear the proton packs activate? I heard the proton packs activate. Let me say that again: I HEARD THE PROTON PACKS ACTIVATE.

Note to people who do sequels or reboots/remakes of old movies: This is how you get your fans excited. You give them something they liked about the product you're reimagining. There's no need for fancy new touches and craziness. If you want to sell tickets (and my crystal ball says this movie will do well at the box office) give the fans what they want, instead of what you want to give them.

Seriously.

The Ghostbusters reboot flopped because it was made to please people with a political agenda instead of the people who loved the originals. That's why Wonder Woman succeeded. DC didn't get rid of what made  Wonder Woman who she was to all of her fans. They gave the fans what the fans wanted and they made phat bank. Movie studios are for-profit ventures right? Learn a lesson here, folks.

Do you hear my excitement about this? Can you feel me about to burst with excitement? If not I've failed and I'm embarrassed because I'm a better writer than that.

I'm no William Shakespeare. Hell, I'm not even a Larry Correia or a Declan Finn. But you have to have gotten that much out of this, right?

I, Jim McCoy, the guy who hates all of the remakes is nostalgic as all get out and can't wait to blow ALL OF THE MONEY on this movie. I don't even know what it's about. I mean, that's a barn so there's a good chance that at least part of the movie takes place in a rural area, but that's all I've got at this point. Here's the thing though: I would like to know more and I'm willing to lay down some hard earned coin to do it.

And if anyone with influence over this movie is listening, can we get a tacky hip-hop/R+B track for Ghostbusters 3 like we got for Ghostbusters 2? I want to find out about Vigo the master of evil everytime I hear that track, and I've got it on a Spotify playlist.

I've got to cut this short and head off to work. But just know that I'm as happy as a pig eating shit right now and I'm waiting impatiently for Summer 2020. Who's with me?

Some Ghostbusters related items are available for purchase at the links below:








Monday, January 14, 2019

Call for Submissions/Suggestions for Our Memorial Day Event

(So I wrote this a couple of days ago as part of a batch I did on my day off. I've since managed to track down a couple titles. I still need more and if I get a bunch I'll do my best to extend the event. Our vets deserve the recognition.)

We here at Jimbo's (all one of us) love our veterans. We appreciate what they've done for our country and we want to do what we can to help them out. Unfortunately, Jimbo's is a blog and not a medical service that works better than the VA. Sorry vets, I have to stick to what I'm actually qualified for. So, what can a Science Fiction and Fantasy blog do to help out our vets?

Well....


Some vets are authors. Some of those authors write science fiction and fantasy. Some of the books they write feature members of the US Military in action, often in the future. I'm looking for those books because I do a Memorial Day event where I do a review a day on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That means I need four books to read. Right now, I have one for sure: David Guenther's Zombie Airman. It sounds good, but I haven't really read something that I'm not going to review for another four and a half months.

Every year I've done this, it turns into a behind the scenes shit show (although people have told me they loved the finished product) as I try to figure out what I'm going to review and how I'm going to get it all read in time because dammit, I need to plan better. I mean, some people came through for me last year, but it was a close thing. And I mean, it's my blog, but why should I do all the work?

So here's what I'm asking for:

I need another three books like the ones I described above that I haven't already reviewed. If you happen to be an author that fits into the category and want to submit your book ala the normal submission process (IE emailing a .mobi, .epub or .pdf to thatjimboguy@gmail.com) that's awesome. If you know of someone who fits the category and you're not an author, let me know and I'll at least consider picking up an ebook. DO NOT send me pirated copies. I don't believe is stealing other people's work and I DAMN SURE don't steal from people who have risked their asses to protect mine.

One year (I think it was my first one) I did do a review of Amy Lynn by Jack July. It was an awesome book by a vet about the US Military in action but it wasn't a work of Science Fiction or Fantasy. At the end of the day, I'm glad I did it. It is a damn fine book and I've since gotten to know the author a bit on Facebook and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Going forward though, I'm going to try to stick to SF/F because this is a SF/F blog.

Also, and I wish I knew of a way to do this more sensitively, if anyone knows of a SF/F author that fell in the line of duty, please let me know, especially if the royalties are going to any family that has been left behind. I want to pick up a copy and feature it. I don't know if such a thing even exists, but if it does, please let me know about it. If it was your father/mother/sister/brother/cousin/aunt/uncle/friend that's okay. I want to feature them here and I can't do it if I don't know they ever existed.

If you know any of the details of their service (or you are the person who served) include a few details about their service. What branch were they in? What did they do in that branch? Did they get deployed anyplace cool or serve during any wars (and yes, people, anyone who served in the military is a veteran. It's not their fault if we weren't at war at the time.)? Did they get to play with any of the really cool hardware? I do a little bio before I do the main part of the post and not every vet has their own Wikipedia page. I need the details so I can write them up and make sure whoever gets the proper credit.

And yes, I did state that I'd accept submissions but I usually end up buying the books for my Memorial Day event and that's awesome. Somewhere out there is a veteran who made the extra money they needed to get a larger sized Slurpee from me. Just think, twelve extra ounces of sweet and syrupy goodness and it all came from me.

Yes, that WAS humor. And no, this isn't Good Morning Vietnam. I can get away with corny jokes on my own blog.

I'm not particularly concerned with what sub-genre the book falls into. Let's face it: Most will be military science fiction, but nothing is impossible to a true Spec Fic fan. If Harry Turtledove can do a story about the American Civil War and flip everything backwards and add magic... Yeah, it's possible. Horror seems like a natural thing and an urban fantasy could work really well too, and that's just off the top of my head. I'm not even a published author.

Also, I'm working on a fiction piece for Memorial Day Weekend to feature here. I don't know if I'll get it done though, because I have a really bad history when it comes to finishing my stories. If I make it, I guess I'll start the event a day early though, because I don't want to cheat a deserving author out of a spot. And anyway, I'm not promising to have it done. It's the product of an idea I had for a contest that took place a couple years ago and I figured it's a natural fit IF I ever finish it...

And now I'm off topic.

Oh, and for the record, don't think I don't still want regular submissions from other authors. I totally do. It's just that  I need a particular type of author/book for a particular event. I honor veterans here four days out of the year and the rest of the population for three hundred and sixty-one days.

So seriously guys, let me know what you know about that would work. The hard part of doing this event isn't the reading or the writing it's trying to find out what in the world is even available that fits the criteria. And yes, I could relax the criteria, but the problem with working for myself is that the boss is a real prick sometimes and he won't let me weasel out of this. So please, if you've got a suggestion, drop it into the comments below, or email me, or hit me up on Facebook. I've got a group there for the blog and we'd love to have you. Thanks!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

David Weber's Uncompromising Honor

(First, the disclaimer: I am a member of The Royal Manticoran Navy, which is the official fan club of David Weber in general and The Honorverse in particular. My judgement may be a bit skewed here. Then again, when isn't it?)

The World's Most Awesome Girlfriend (TM) hit me up on Facebook Messenger one day to ask if there were any Baen books out that I hadn't had a chance to buy and/or review yet that I wanted. This was a couple of weeks before Christmas. Now, being The World's Most Awesome GF, she's usually really good at figuring out what to buy without my input, but I was happy to provide it this time. I immediately replied "Latest Honor Harrington" because I had just woken up and could not for the life of me remember what the title was before having sucked down any caffeine. About twenty minutes later I looked it up and remembered that it was Uncompromising Honor.

I'm glad I did too, because this was a really good book. It seemed to have a manufacturing defect though. Once I picked it up it wouldn't let go of my hand. Seriously. It's almost like this inanimate object didn't understand that I have responsibilities I need to attend to and that I had to get moving out the door and off to work. Maybe Baen should have named it Uncompromising Attention Whore instead of Uncompromising Honor. I mean, it just wouldn't leave me alone.

Now, to be fair, this one did start off a bit slower than I probably would have preferred. It takes a moment to get up to speed. David Weber's book, particularly in his Honorverse and Safehold series, do tend to be a bit on the talky side. Usually that's a good thing because it's how Weber keeps us informed on what's going on with his massive and far flung universes. This time though, I'm wondering if an action sequence at the beginning of the book wouldn't have spiced things up a bit and drawn the reader in a bit sooner.

That's not to say there's no action in the book. I remember one particular passage that lasted for a good chunk of the book and had my eyes glued to the pages. It was definitely an action sequence and a bit gut wrenching. I loved it though and not just because it was an awesome action scene. Weber did something in that passage. He is simply the best at it, bar none.

Something that a lot of authors of military science fiction, and both other forms of military science fiction and non-fiction forget is that militaries have histories and traditions that go farther back than just the people they're writing about. When Hal Moore was ordered to form an air cavalry unit to fight in the Vietnam War he asked for the same designation that the Cavalry unit that fought at the Little Big Horn had. Thus was the Seventh Cavalry reformed. They damn near go wiped out like their namesake too, but that's a subject of its own book and movie. My point is that these traditions do exist. They're real and the memory of what has gone before is a source of inspiration for the current generation. Weber gets that and he weaves it so well into his narrative that the story wouldn't work without it. Weber was once a history major at the graduate level and he has obviously done some serious research into the way that real militaries work.

Like pretty much every other Honorverse novel, Uncompromising Honor is a war story. In war people die. Something else Weber does very well is exposing us to the sense of loss of those left behind. A lot of authors of fiction will show the reactions of the rest of the unit when a warrior passes. Any work of military history includes at least one table of casualty figures. What often gets left out is the cost to non-combatants, at least in a non-financial sense. Weber gets that and he makes sure to let us see the other side of the conflict.

I, of course, am a huge fan of the strong female protagonist, and Honor Harrington will kick your ass. That's if she decides not to shoot, nuke or drop a kinetic energy weapon on it. I hear that she's pretty good with a laserhead too, and that's not just a weird 80s insult for nerds. She's more than that though. Honor is both a mother and a warrior. She has to deal with the problems faced with many of members of the US Military have to deal with in the real world, planet Earth, circa 2019. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. She still has the edge that she's always had. There's just so much more to her now. I wish I could force all of the people who talk down about "military fiction and its cardboard heroes" to sit down and read Uncompromising Honor. They might actually learn something.

The only truly bad part of my experience in reading this book comes from my own stupidity. See, when I have a book made in honest to God Dead Tree Format, I have a tendency to flip to the end and find out how many pages are in the thing. I've done this since probably the first time I read a book that had chapters. THIS time though, I noticed that there was an afterword. Now, the whole point of an afterword is that you're supposed to read it AFTER you read the book. I know this. I'm college educated. I read it anyway. I am -officially- a dipshit for reading the afterword first.What I'm saying here is that if you buy the book (and you should buy the book) you should not read the afterword first because there's stuff in there that you don't want to know about until after you read the dadgum book.

Uncompromising Honor is, I think, the 25646464654654654564465456th book in the series. I may be exaggerating slightly. At any rate, the Honorverse is a huge series with multiple complex relationships and you really need to start it at the beginning, with On Basilisk StationYou'll thank me.

Bottom Line:  4.5 out of 5 Laser Heads

On Basilisk Station
David Weber
Baen Books, 2018


Uncompromising Honor is available for purchase at the following link:



And, since I mentioned them, We Were Soldiers Once... and Young and  We Were Soldiers are available at the following links as well:





Saturday, January 12, 2019

Morgon Newquist's Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One





So yup, I'm reviewing two superhero novels in a row. But sometimes that's a good thing. One of the weirdest things about being a book reviewer is the mental shifts I go through between books. I mean, I read the entire Honor Harrington series up to At All Costs in one fell swoop and only stopped there because that was the last book that was available at that time. I read through The Drangonlance Chronicles straight through and then Dragonlance Legends starting the next day. But when I'm reading things in an order that goes SF Comedy, Space Opera, Urban Fantasy, Superhero novel, etc. it get a little weird sometimes. As soon as I come down from the last book I read and its universe I end up in a completely different one. At least this time they were similar and my poor, abused brain didn't have to suffer as much. Come to think of it, I didn't suffer at all because Heroes Fall is a really good book.

Don't get me wrong. Heroes Fall starts quickly but you don't really get a full taste of what's to come right up front. This novel is a slow burn and a long build. I liked that about it.As you're reading pay attention to what is going on. It will be important later and that includes some of the stuff that you're convinced doesn't matter.  The stakes keep on increasing right up until the end.

Victoria Westdale is our heroine and she goes by her actual, real name. I found that a bit strange in a superhero novel. I mean, I had thought that I was going to get someone with named after a power or an bird or something but nope.. She's Victoria and she rocks. Victoria spends her time using her superpowers to bust small time crooks and working in a gas station. She's about the most unpretentious superhero I've ever heard of. In a weird way, her lack of pretense is what makes the whole story work.

Look, I like heroes in the Superman mold and I think Green Lanterns in general, and Hal Jordan in particular, are the greatest things that ever happened to the Superhero genre. I love watching those guys fly off to save an entire star system that's at war with itself armed only with their powers and a plucky attitude. I really do. That's not Victoria though. She doesn't set out to save the entire world. She starts out the novel trying to save one girl from a gang of thugs. That's the single biggest reason that Heroes Unleashed makes sense.

Victoria is a small time hero that gets caught up into something she hadn't anticipated. I like this approach because it allows her to learn what is going on. While she is learning what the problem is, so are we. We're not dealing with long bouts of exposition while someone takes us by the hand and walks us through the problem. We're actively learning about the world that we've been dropped in and we're not being talked down to. I really liked this approach.

Now that I think about it (Don't tell my mom I was thinking. She'll tell you it always gets me in trouble.) Victoria is pretty much the answer to anyone who has a problem with the "strong female protagonist" movement, and not just because super strength is her superpower. While it is true that Victoria is quite the asskicker there's more than just that to her. One of the strong themes of Heroes Unleashed is Victoria's caring nature. She's not just a woman with lots of muscle, she's a woman that wants to help. The superhero culture in the work is one of crass commercialism and Victoria rejects that, deciding instead to work someplace where she can make a real difference. I don't want to spoil too much, but she remembers her roots and works really hard to protect those who are like she once was. I have a lot of respect for this chick and I don't say that about too many people, real or fictional.


Any superhero novel is going to include a number of fight scenes and Newquist has done her job splendidly. Not only are the fight scenes fast paced and exciting but she groks that which lies at the core of a superhero fight: A battle between the participants and their powers.  When characters in Heroes Fall go up against each other it feels right because they're taking advantage of  everything they can, using both their powers and the way they interact with the environment around them. Newquist could teach a class entitled "Superhero Battles and How to Write Them." I'd probably sign up.

Of course someone out there is going to consider my praise for the battles as being a condemnation of the plot. They're wrong. I've mentioned the slow burn aspect of Heroes Fall previously and that's a big part of it. There's more to it than just that though. There is a lot of backstory here and it is woven into the plot seamlessly and in a way that makes it not just relevant, but important. There isn't a wasted page here. What is here makes sense though. It moves quickly and we're constantly trying to keep up, but it is about as logical and entertaining as is humanly possible. This is one of those books where I knew you had to go to work and that meant I should've been in the shower ten minutes ago, but let's fact face it, I'm a Lyft driver and I don't have a schedule so I can go ahead and read this next chapter and... uhhh... I was supposed to leave half an hour ago and I'm still in my pajamas. It's a good thing I don't have a boss.

I can't quite believe that I'm just now mentioning this, but Heroes Fall is the first in a new series. I believe it's going to be a magnum opus with multiple contributors along the lines of Chris Kennedy Publishing's Four Horseman Universe. I hope I'm right because the Heroes Fall universe is one with a lot of potential and more authors means I get new books faster. I'm Mr. Greedy Fan. I like that.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Thrown Vehicles

Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One
Morgon Newquist
Silver Empire, 2019

Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One is available for purchase at the following link:

Friday, December 28, 2018

RJ Batla's Death Cloud



I hope to one day meet RJ Batla, like maybe at a con or something. On that day, I will initiate a three step process:

1.) Shake his hand and congratulate him on his awesome books.
2.) Offer to buy him a drink sometime
3.) Give him a dirty look and a lecture about keeping people up all night when they have to pick their kids up the next day and take them to celebrate Christmas with their extended family. 'Taint fair

Seriously guys, be careful with Batla's newest, Death Cloud. It causes this weird disease where you can't take your eyes off of the page and sleeping becomes something that other people do. I couldn't put this thing down. That can be a problem if you've got some weird real world stuff going on like,  oh, I dunno work or family or school or something. It's worth it. Just plan a vacation or send the kids to Grandma's house or something. I mean, who doesn't need some time off?

Death Cloud is a mix between  Steampunk, Fantasy, Superhero Fiction and a fight movie (ala Bloodsport) or a fighting game (similar to like a Mortal Kombat or Soul Blade) although the Steampunk elements are a lot less pronounced than in the first book. It's a really entertaining mix. Given the fact that the supers in the book have levels to their powers, I kind of wonder if maybe Batla hasn't done a bit of pen and paper RPGing as well. This one sets up and moves.

Those of you who have read the first book will remember that it revolved around the trials and travails of one Jayton Baird and his training and journey to compete in a tournament. Well, now he's there and the fights are intense. watching Jayton try to navigate these fights and plan for his enemies and their abilities is fascinating. Remember when you were a kid and you'd sit across the lunch table at school and argue over who would win in a fight between Green Lantern and Superman? (hint: Green Lantern. Kryptonite is green.) This book is like a series of those fights, except that most of the heroes in Death Cloud have more powers than your average comic book superhero.

And it gets better too, because not only is there a tournament going on, there is a war going on too. This is not Marvel's Civil War either. It's  a war fought the way real wars are fought: As a battle royal, two sides against each other and piles of bodies. It's entertaining but it's a little crazy. I mean, how many different powers can hit all at the same time? What kind of carnage could that cause? And what does war look like on a world where people's most potent weapons aren't the ones in their hands, they're the powers locked inside their bodies? It's an interesting look at something I hadn't really considered before, at least with these kinds of powers.

The characters in the book are pretty amazeballs. Jayton's team is composed of some totally awesome people on it. They're focused on their twins missions of winning the war and helping Jayton win the tournament but they have a lot of other things going on besides. There are romances brewing and personal issues abound. I actually had pegged one of them as a bad guy, but it turns out I was wrong. It looks like they really were who they claimed to be and I'm just a suspicious asshole. Who knew? (Huh? Whaddaya mean everybody?)

There is a cast of villains here as well. Batla did a really good job of making the villains in Death Cloud believable. Most of them want riches and power but how is that different than what ordinary people want? (If you disagree think about it this way: You may be comfortable financially or you may not but you probably want a nicer car or a bigger house. You may claim you don't want power, but there's probably something you'd like to change in society. It takes power to do that.) They're willing to take things further than a lot of us probably would, but those people exist in the real world as well. Gang bangers, mafia members, politicians, etc. are all willing to go to extreme lengths to get what they want. I like villains that make sense. I like villains who do what they do for a reason. Batla did this right.

Our main villain, once again, is the evil Malstrak. He's crazy and wants to run everything. Okay, so that's an archetype from history, but it works. He's got followers and an agenda. He's not going to lose no matter what happens, just ask him. All of Death Cloud is focused on the defeat of this one individual. He's a batshit insane wannabe dictator with an attitude problem. He's the kind of guy I can love to hate. He's perfect.

Our hero, Jayton Baird is believable because he is flawed. He has the same power that makes Malstrak such a complete nutcase (nope, not a spoiler. It was revealed in like the first ten pages of Fire Eyes Awakened, the first book.) and he struggles to overcome it. How he deals with it makes for an interesting subplot. I'm waiting to see where this goes in the next book, because there is something building here and I can't tell what.  I'm waiting for the big reveal. Something big is going to happen because of this power I can't wait to find out what it is. He also finds himself dealing with a major recurring distraction throughout the story. I kept waiting for the distraction to kill him.

Per Batla's mailing list emails,Death Cloud is the second in a four book series. I'm waiting (im)patiently for the next two. The book obviously sets up a sequel and it promises to be a good one. Keep your eyes peeled, because I'm sure I'll be reviewing it here.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Epic Battles

Death Cloud
RJ Batla
Self Published, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

James Young's Aries' Red Sky


So what happens when two groups of humanity that have been separated by so many years and so much distance that they're unaware of each other's existence come into contact with one another? What if one group thought their territory was being invaded by aliens? How would the other group react? If you're not sure (or maybe if you just want to read a good story) ask James L. Young. I'm sure he'll smile and sell you a copy of Aries' Red Sky. He promotes his stuff at cons all the time so I've got to believe he'll have a copy handy. It's worth the price too.

And let's face it. I know it's the holiday season, but pretty soon that'll be over. Your options will be to paint the walls or read a book and you JUST GOT that gift certificate. So I'm here to tell you how to spend that  gift certificate and a few hours of your time and why. And you should spend that time and money on Aries' Red Sky. Keep reading, and I'll tell you why.

Aries' Red Sky is the best kind of Military Science Fiction: It was written by a real veteran, in this case a West Point graduate, so it's got a real military feeling to it. Mil-SF, when written by non-veterans often has one of two flaws: Either the people play second fiddle to the weaponry or they're all just a bunch of paper cutout asshole warmongers. Young, predictably enough for a veteran, gets it. Members of the military are really real people with real people problems, thoughts and emotions. It shows in his work. Yes, his characters have a "proper military bearing" but they also have moments when they're just like anyone else.

But that's not to say that the hardware gets short shrift. Young's warships are built to make war and have all of the fancy little doodads that make them better at it. Aries' Red Sky is a war story plain and simple. It takes place in space so technology is needed and it's there. There is a bit of a conflict between design philosophies and that makes sense too. Anyone who has studied naval warfare during the Twentieth Century can certainly tell you all about the battles between battleship admirals and carrier admirals fought in planning rooms worldwide. It makes sense that different navies would build differently in centuries to come as well.

Speaking of philosophy, the two sides on this war find themselves with very different philosophies. There had to have been a temptation to make one side of the philosophical debate the good guys and the other the bad guys but Young avoids that. Don't get me wrong. Anyone who follows this blog knows that I love heroic heroes and villainous villains. Sometimes though, wars are fought by people just doing their job. That really is the case in Aries' Red Sky.There are times when the two sides in the war see each others actions as barbaric but at the end of the day, the characters are doing what's right according to what they've always believed. It's an interesting dichotomy. A lot of the tension in the book comes from philosophical differences and it just works.

Aries' Red Sky is also a work of Space Opera. You get all of the romance your little heart desires. If some of it ends up in a bunk, well... These are adults and I did mention something about people being people earlier, right?I once heard a Navy veteran talk about "friggin' in the riggin'." And, while there is obviously no rigging used in space, the phrase does seem to fit here. It's not just sex though and that's an important difference. There is romance here.

It sometimes amazes me how little Mil-SF authors skip over other real people things like time with family. Listen, we all know that members of the military frequently get deployed and can't see their family like they want to. The fact remains that I've never met, talked to, or heard of a member of the military who doesn't like to see their family whenever duty allows. Young included that in here and it's good to see.

Of course, in any war story there need to be fight scenes and Young is a master. The space battles in this thing are epic. There's plenty of boom-boom and bang-bang to keep that atavistic streak of yours going. We get both fleet engagements and marines in action so it's varied enough to keep things interesting too. It's not pretty. Every one of the combat sequences in Aries' Red Sky is graphic in the extreme. This is good. Bad things happen in war and they should be given full their full weight in fiction. That much being said, if you're like that one chick I dated back in the Nineties who almost passed out at the mere thought of blood, maybe you should try watching House Hunters or something and leave the action and suspense to the people who can handle it.  As for me, I'll be over here watching things explode.

I'm guessing that Young has read some actual military history. There is a lot going on in Aries' Red Sky that works in a historical setting but not so much in the here and now. That said, it works in an interstellar setting as well. I'm not making sense. Let me try it this way. In the real world, Planet Earth in 1814 the Battle of New Orleans was fought. It was the last battle in the War of 1812. It was also fought after the war had ended. How is that possible? It's possible because the Treaty of Ghent (that's the one that ended the war) was signed overseas and word hadn't reach the North American Continent in general or the city of New Orleans in particular in time to stop it. American General Andrew Jackson (yes that Andrew Jackson) and British General Sir Edward Pakenham were fighting what could have been a vital battle without orders because they had no way to receive any. Aries' Red Sky is the first in a trilogy and I'm wondering how that's going to effect the story moving forward. I can't wait to find out.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Dropped Rocks

Aries' Red Sky
James Young
Self Published, 2018


Aries' Red Sky is available for purchase at the following link:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Universal Pictures's Mortal Engines

So this past Saturday was my birthday and I decided to treat myself to a movie as a birthday present to myself. Seeing as my next two days off were Sunday and Tuesday and I had an absolute crapton of stuff to do on Sunday, I decided to go see a movie on Tuesday. And, since I was convinced that both Aqua and Bumblebee had opened this past Friday, I spent all weekend trying to decide which one to go to. So, when the time came to choose, I decided that I would find the one in the most workable time slot. Oops! They're both starting this coming Friday and not last Friday! I suck! But I REALLY wanted to go see a movie, so what's a nerd-boy to do? I know! I'll go see Mortal Engines. GOOD CHOICE NERD-BOY!!!

Seriously, I enjoyed this movie. It's got a post-apocalyptic setting and I love those. The acting was good. The special effects were amazeballs (more about those below) and the story was tight. I've looked for a reason to complain about Mortal Engines and I can't find one. It's that good.

Don't blink while you're watching Mortal Engines. This flick moves fast and there is a lot to it. Plot twists abound and not everything is as it seems. Characters come and go quickly and you're never sure whether you should trust the newest person to show or not. I looked down to scratch my nose at one point and missed thirty-seven plot points, four new characters and a major clue about something. I think. Or maybe I'm exaggerating, but why take the chance? Seriously, you paid for the ticket, now pay attention.

The special effects for this movie were orgasmic. I don't know who did them (and I'm too lazy to look) but WOW. Big guns, moving cities, explosions, one thing I'm not going to talk about and more. This was one of the most visually impressive movies I've ever seen in my life. Obviously, a lot of the credit for the concepts put forth go to Phillip Reeve, the author of the Mortal Engines novel that the movie was based on. I'm more than happy to give him that credit because he deserves it. The fact remains that translating that writing into the extravaganza that appears on screen. It seems like every scene has some kind of awesome looking something in it.Whether it's a city on treads or an airship or whatever it all looks awesome and that's good because a Steampunk movie demands a Steampunk aesthetic.

And speaking of Steampunk: I know it's a less popular sub-genre of Speculative Fiction than most. I know it's treated like an unwanted stepchild. I just don't know why. It's kind of weird, but it's not like Wookies and Vulcans aren't. The stories are good. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a Mad Max movie or The Walking Dead can get with post-apocalyptic Steampunk. Anyone who like historical fiction can get with actual steam age Steampunk. So why the hate? I don't get it.

I do know this much though: Taking your friend who doesn't like Steampunk to see Mortal Engines is likely to create a new fan. This movie is that good. Seeing it was maybe the fastest two hours of my life. I mean, I could've brained the guy in the row ahead of me who decided to pull out his phone during one of the good parts, but honestly I can't put that on Universal Studios.

Speaking of Steampunk though, I have to ask: Why is it necessary for every single thing to be different than every other? Is it some weird unwritten rule of Steampunk physics that every airship has to be built differently than every other one? Why has no one ever made the same model mining unit as someone else? I get the fact that things are cobble together with whatever is available. I get the fact that modern-day factories either don't exist anymore or never have. But dude: The American West was settle with Conestoga wagons in a time period with a comparable level of technology to most of Steampunk. It was ubiquitous. So why can't one airship maker create an airship that looks like someone else's? I don't get it. I probably never will.

Getting back to Mortal Engines, I have to say that the characters all make sense and feel real. As a moviegoer, I was able to understand what they did and why they did it. Phillip Reeve apparently understands human nature. Yes, there was one incredibly stupid moment for one the characters. I won't spoil too much but given the character's level of knowledge and experience, what he did makes sense. I can't say I'd have acted much different in their position.


The world building element to this story was excellent. It was a slow build, but that makes sense. We learn things as the story progresses and we need to. A good writer (whether book, TV or movie) can teach us about their world without pages (or minutes) of exposition while we're all just sitting there waiting for something to happen in the story. Reeve and the people who wrote the screenplay both seem to have a sense of what to reveal when and how that works. It's really well done, with our questions being answered it's necessary.

Mortal Engines has all of the good stuff you could possibly want. It's got heroes and heroines. It's got villains who think they're heroes but you hate them anyway. It's got a romance. There's fighting. There's honesty moments. There's trickeration. Everything you could ever want you'll find here. So go see the movie and bring your friends. You'll all thank me.

I haven't read the book (I didn't even know that there WAS a book until the end credits popped up) but it turns out that there is a whole series here. That's good news because I was hoping for a sequel. The bad news is that not enough people have seen it and it looks like it will probably lose money. That sucks because there won't be a sequel unless the take is big enough to supply a profit. I really hope things turn around for Mortal Engines somehow because I want to see more. I guess if it does fail, then at least I've done what I could for it.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Traction Cities

Mortal Engines
Universal Pictures, 2018

Some Mortal Engines related merchandise is available at the following links: