Book Review: Vector Prime

1Twenty-one years have passed since the heroes of the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, breaking the power of the Emperor. Since then, the New Republic has valiantly struggled to maintain peace and prosperity among the peoples of the galaxy. But unrest has begun to spread and threatens to destroy the Republic’s tenuous reign.

Into this volatile atmosphere comes Nom Anor, a charismatic firebrand who heats passions to the boiling point, sowing seeds of dissent for his own dark motives. And as the Jedi and the Republic focus on internal struggles, a new threat surfaces from beyond the farthest reaches of the Outer Rim–an enemy bearing weapons and technology unlike anything New Republic scientists have ever seen.

Suddenly, Luke Skywalker; his wife, Mara; Han Solo; Leia Organa Solo; and Chewbacca–along with the Solo children–are thrust again into battle, to defend the freedom so many have fought and died for. But this time, the power of the Force itself may not be enough . . .

TLDR?

A bit flat, but fun filler if you need a little more Star Wars.

The absolute first thing one needs to know when approaching The New Jedi Order series is that these books have been written over the course of the last ten-or-so years, and in now way reflect The Force Awakens or any of the modern generation of Star Wars.  Think of it, if you will, as a parallel universe.

Once that is out of the way, each book of The New Jedi Order series must be approached as its own entity, because with any fandom-based storyline, each story is written by a different author.  Vector Prime, written by R.A. Salvatore, falls short of his usual lyrical storytelling.  It is, more or less, what you might expect from a sequel in print written by someone other than the author of the original story. There are, however, a few intrigues within the individual characters.

For me, the character that stands out is Jaina Solo (one of the three Solo children).  She is a strong character written into the story at a time when Star Wars didn’t have many strong female characters and she quickly outshines (in my opinion) her mother, the renown Leia Skywalker-Solo.  She also stands head-to-head with her aunt Mara Jade, and characters like these make the story an interesting read, if not particularly exciting.  Jana is certainly a breath of fresh air after going between her two brothers, each with their own interpretations about the Force that they’d really, really like to share.  Over and over.

The plot, unfortunate, has been overused in science fiction and the story itself is flat, with too many characters doing too many things I simply cannot bring myself to care about.

I would recommend this story to science-fiction fans with an open mind (as these books are no longer considered canon) and a taste for Star Wars.  I would also advise readers that if Vector Prime does not suit your fancy, other books in the series written by other authors settle a little better.

Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Audible.
Available on Kindle, Nook, & iBooks.

 

Book Review: “Armada” by Ernest Cline

1

Rated? Four Stars

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Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

TLDR?

It’s all been done before.

Generally speaking, I found this book to be rushed and not as original as Cline’s first book. The plot has been done in film and literature before, and there was nothing to add to the story that made it any better than a pre-existing story. If anything, there was an excess of forehead-slapping cliches. I’m not sure what bothers me more – the fact that it was so rushed and cheesy, or the fact I believe it was ridden that way intentionally.

That said, it still was entertaining in its own way and it’s great to see a different kind of science fiction falling into the mainstream. The book started with the slur of excellent references, even if that familiar theme from Ready Player One disappeared about 30% through. With a lot of suspension of disbelief, a reader can still enjoy the book. I would recommend this for those who are not well-read in science-fiction, who are looking for a light introduction to the genre (outside of the ever-popular dystopia). Avid sci-fi readers will be quickly frustrated with the juvenile characters and lazy writing… not to mention the cliches.

Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Audible.
Available on Kindle, Nook, & iBooks.

 

Books Require Lots of Words

I’m not sure why this is still surprising to me, but books have so many words in them.  No matter how many words I write, they want more.  For example, I can write 8,000 words and in that time, my character can travel from one town to another and accomplish nothing because there weren’t enough words.  Or I can have a running total of 27,000 and still be in chapter three.  Because words.  I don’t have enough.  Yet.

That’s the beauty of writing. I am the mistress of the words and if I need more, I have them.  They may bring unwanted friends that I’ll need to evict later, and they may get a bit jumbled between my mind and my fingers, but they are there and they are free and I can have as many as I want.

I love words.

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 1

Another year, another NaNo! I woke up early this morning and had all my words pushed out by about 9:00am. I’ll try to write a little more this evening, but things are dragging along a bit and the writer’s greatest nemesis (my cat) is very playful and seems to have acquired a taste for my feet, assuring this will be a long day.

This year, I’m novelling through Novlr, a relatively new cloud-based feature.  The last few years I’ve used OneDrive, and prior to that a trusty flash drive and Microsoft Word.  I’ve nothing against word, but the simplistic design of Novlr is wonderful for me, as well as easy statistics and chapter breakdowns.  I also love the quick-save features (automatic and constant) and the daily DropBox backup.  One can never be too careful.  I was lucky enough to snatch one of the few lifetime subscriptions to Novlr, and I have a feeling I really got my money’s worth.

So that’s the technical side of things.  On the story side, I find I’m already leaning a little too dialogue heavy.  It’s definitely something I have to work on because I hate reading stuff like that.  I have these vivid images in my head of my protagonists, and I need to find better, less clunky ways of getting them out there.  I’m also world building and in my head I’ve got this epic fantasy world.  It actually has the potential to be the biggest and most detailed world I’ve built since Arefuy, and I built that in 6th grade.  I’m not as attached to these characters as I am to Jessica and Sean, but I think there are things that Ember and Night have yet to show me and I really think this one will be a fun one.  I’m excited.

The hardest part will be finding time to write around work, especially since I’m at a computer all day.  I’m hoping to split the writing time between morning and evening and hopefully by demanding less on myself all at once, I’ll get a better result.

In the meantime, I built a cover for it and I am hoping it prints reasonably well.  The image I used was not meant to be so large, but it was absolutely perfect and I can’t tear myself from it.  Either way, my final printed copy is just for my collection anyway, and last year the cover was all topsy-turvy so it can’t be any worse than that!

The Story Collector

Her Day

Wind softly plays through the grass,
outside her window.
It sings frost into the autumn air
and whispers of snow.

She pulls her knees to her chest
and huddles ‘neath an old blanket.

Four white walls,
the computer’s low hum,
and a black and white cat
(sound asleep)…

she looks around,
but she’s all alone.

With the wind,
she sighs.

The frost enters her lungs,
a plague that chills her veins
and stills her heart.

In her hands she cups
the lonely cupcake,
sweet chocolate frosting
brushed against her thumb.
She inhales the bitter, sweet aroma
of childhood parties,
of sweet sixteen…

she lets it fade away,
erased on the white walls
of her empty apartment.

In a whisper so low,
even thawing strains to hear,
she says:

“Happy birthday,”

and blows
the candle
out.