Book Review – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

fire & blood

Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series, Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin is volume one of a history of House Targaryen’s reign over Westeros, including over 75 black-and-white illustrations by Dough Wheatley. Set about 300 years before the first novel, A Game of Thrones, it begins with Aegon I the Conqueror and concludes after the end of the Regency of Aegon III. This book is uniquely set apart from the main novel series because it is written as a historical text from that literary universe, rather than the narrative form fans of the series are accustomed to. As such we see this history through the lens of Archmaester Gyldayn, about whom we know little as a person, yet he serves as a passive in-universe perspective who offers academic commentary and brief tangents when appropriate.Read More »

Book Review – Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker

star wars aliens

Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens is a collection of short stories by Landry Q. Walker set in the Star Wars universe, targeted at a younger reading audience aged 8 to 12. Contained within are six stories about some of the aliens that make up the background characters of the film The Force Awakens, some more conspicuously than others. The book is labeled “volume one,” but whether or not another book is in the works is unknown to me. I don’t typically read books written more directly for children, but as a fan of the franchise I was drawn to it for the promises of stories more lighthearted as well as outside of the norm by focusing more on aliens than humans.Read More »

Book Review – The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is the latest fiction novel by Canadian author Craig Davidson. Neurosurgeon Jake Baker knows that the brain is a much more complex organ than we realize. He even paints himself as nothing more than a glorified mechanic; he can help treat a physical malady like a tumour, but the deeper workings of the mind and memory are a mystery even to him. In this novel Jake recounts when he was twelve years old living in his home town of Niagara Falls—or Cataract City, as the locals called it—and the summer of the Saturday Night Ghost Club. It was organised by his eccentric uncle Calvin to explore the supposedly haunted places of the city. During this life-changing summer Jake discovers that this club is unearthing something more horrible buried in his uncle’s past, something that has been kept from him all his life.Read More »

Book Review – I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I, Robot

I, Robot is a “fixup” novel of short stories by Isaac Asimov, telling stories about positronic robots, their interactions with humans, and the way the author’s famous “Three Laws of Robotics” influences robot psychology and behaviour. A “fixup” novel is a novel collecting stories that were previously published separately, not initially intended to be a part of a collection. A positronic brain is the technological device conceived by Asimov that gives a robot consciousness similar to that of a human being. The framing device around these stories is an interview between a reporter and Dr. Susan Calvin, who has led a long and storied career as the chief robopsychologist for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. Though not all of these stories are directly about her, she recounts each to the reporter (our narrator) as particular points of interest in the history of robot development.Read More »

Book Review – Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Bloodline

Bloodline by Claudia Gray is a standalone Star Wars novel following Princess Leia Organa long after the events of the film Return of the Jedi. Set decades after the fall of the Empire and the birth of the New Republic, Leia has served as a Senator in the unofficial Populist party, who believe member planets should retain full sovereignty over themselves. Their counterparts are the Centrists, who believe in a stronger centralized power in the government with significant military prowess. The story begins at a time when the senate has trouble getting anything done, as these opposing sides spend more time bickering than trying to work together. Years of these divisive politics has left Leia tired and jaded, longing for the days of danger and adventure with her friends and loved ones that was her time in the Rebellion. Resolving to retire at the end of her term, Leia decides to spearhead an investigation into criminal activity disrupting certain worlds as a final deed in service to the galaxy, which begins to unearth a greater threat hiding in the shadows.Read More »

Book Review – Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett is the 11th novel in the comic fantasy Discworld series and the second book in the Death subseries. The Auditors of Reality, godlike beings that act as bureaucrats for the cosmos, have decreed that Death (the being) of the Discworld has developed too much of a personality, which they believe is improper for his position. As such, Death is suddenly issued a new timepiece counting down to his impending demise. Officially retired, with the populace left to sort out manifesting a new reaper to fill his shoes, Death decides to do what he’s never been able to before; spend Time. Meanwhile, the Wizards and other citizens of Ankh-Morpork must deal with the consequences of excessive life force filling the world during this transitional time when passage to the afterlife for all living things has been interrupted.Read More »

Book Review – Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

aftermathempiresend

Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig is the final novel in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, which take place after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Norra Wexley and her crew of Imperial hunters have been tracking hunting down a lead on Grand Admiral Rae Sloane for months after her flight from the New Republic planet of Chandrila, where a devious attack by the Empire killed many officials and nearly ended the life of the Chancellor Mon Mothma. Their search leads them to Jakku, a world at the edges of known space, where they discover a massive Imperial fleet of Star Destroyers. Determined to track down Sloane, Norra launches herself to the surface in an escape pod, accidentally taking bounty hunter Jas Emari with her. Her son Temmin’s droid Mister Bones is sent in a pod after her to protect her, while Temmin and ex-Imperial Sinjir evade TIE fighters and return to Chandrila to report the Imperial presence to the New Republic.Read More »

Book Review – Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Alice Isn’t Dead is the latest novel by Joseph Fink, adapting his podcast series of the same name. This novel marks Fink’s first solo outing as an author, usually teaming up with Jeffrey Cranor for the novels based on the podcast series they created together, Welcome to Night Vale.

The novel follows Keisha Taylor, a woman working as a trucker who is searching for her wife Alice, who went missing some time before Keisha started trucking. After months of searching and turning up nothing Alice was presumed dead. Keisha mourned and tried to work through her grief, until she started to notice something strange during news reports of tragedies and accidents across America: always in the background, never the focus, was Alice staring right into the camera. Alice wasn’t dead, and Keisha meant to find her wife, uncovering clues in Alice’s personal documents pointing to Bay and Creek Transportation. Following these leads further she embarks upon a road trip into a world that exists on the backroads and highways of the country full of misshapen creatures, otherworldly forces, and conspiracies that go well beyond a simple missing person.Read More »

Book Review – Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation

Elevation is the newest book by Stephen King, taking place in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, the setting of a great number of his stories. This novella follows Scott Carey, a recent divorcee who suffers from a bizarre illness; he keeps losing weight, yet it has no effect on his physical appearance or how he feels. If anything he feels better. He has more energy and feels lighter on his feet. Despite this, he does wonder whether it will stop, or if a day will come where he weighs nothing at all and what that will mean. His troubles don’t stop there, as tensions develop between him and his lesbian neighbors over dog poop on his lawn, which ends up cluing him in to the way the largely conservative community of Castle Rock has alienated the couple, who struggle to keep their new restaurant up and running.Read More »

Book Review – House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a bit of a tough novel to define. It is a labyrinthine book riddled with footnotes that weave throughout the text, multiple unreliable narrators, and frequently disorienting formatting. I’ve heard it labeled a horror novel before, which in a way it is—it does deal with the perversion of physical laws and a terrifying journey into an oppressive, unknowable void. It is also a scholarly text, breaking down an examining a documentary film. It is also a man documenting his personal descent into lust, alienation, and obsession. It is also a collection of letters sent from a mother to her son. It is not technically all these things at once.Read More »