Saturday, March 06, 2010

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posted by Gil T. @ 2:25 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Time's Eye" A Time Odyssey, Book One by Arthur c. clarke and Stephen Baxter

"Time's Eye"
A Time Odyssey, Book One
by Arthur c. clarke and Stephen Baxter
read by John Lee
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Unabridged Approx. 11.5 hours

When It comes to science-fiction there are some authors that just have to be read. Any true sci-fi fan has read at least one Arthur C. Clarke novel, the most often mentioned would be "2001, a Space Odyssey." "2001..." was only book one of what turned out to be a four book odyssey in Arthur C. Clarke's future vision of religion, intelligence and mystery. This time around Sir Clarke has teamed up with Stephen Baxter to create another odyssey through space and time.

The total series came out to three books but the third book was published as the final chapter in the series and yet did not conclude the plot. The final book was published in December of 2007 and Arthur C. Clarke died in March of 2008 so we may never really know if there was a fourth book intended. However each of these books can be read as independent works of great science-fiction.

Blackstone audio has recently produced the first book, "Time's Eye," with John Lee as the reader. John Lee does what seems like a nearly impossible task of singlehandedly voicing the characters and brings them to life by using a diverse range of accents. This is no easy job since the characters range from British soldiers from the 1880s, ancient Greeks, Macedonians, Babylonians, Mongolians, Afghanis, Russians and Texans. John Lee keeps each character separate with their own accent and attitude.

The premise of this book creates a great "What if?" scenario. What if Alexander the Great were to battle Ghengis Khan? That question is answered in what turns out to be a great mashup of historical figures in a new world.

The story begins with an Australopithecus being (the possible missing link) observing a silver orb in the sky. She is then captured by British Empire (circa 1880) soldiers who are guarding a fort in India. The discovery of this strange creature and the floating silver orb is interrupted by the crash of a strange flying object. This object turns out to be a U.N. peacekeeper helicopter with its 3 crew members from the year 2037. The British Soldiers investigate the crash and soon befriend the crew, even though 2 of the crew turn out to be of Indian and Afghan descent.

After talking with each other the time castaways figure out they are some how in a strange timeslip that has something to do with these suddenly appearing "eyes," the silver orbs. Soon the 2037 castaways, the moderns, discover that they are not the only ones from 2037. Floating above the Earth, or whatever this newly formed planet consisting of slices of various times from Earth's history is, a Russian Soyuz capsule is returning from the space station and gets caught in the timeslip and returns to earth. They contact each other using ham radios and more is learned as the 2 cosmonauts and one astronaut from Texas, send pictures from space of the new planet they dub "Mir."

With no ground control the Soyuz capsule lands in the middle of Mongolia. The ruler of the nomadic tribes of Mongolia is the great Genghis Khan. One of the warlords immediately beheads one of the cosmonauts, leaving the other two to think fast. They go to Genghis Khan as emissaries of Heaven. Back in India, the armies of Alexander the Great meet up with the British soldiers and the first band of Moderns. Both groups decide to trek to Babylon, since that is the location of a mysterious radio signal each group of Moderns has detected.

After many months the two groups reach Babylon to battle for rights of the land.

In what turns out to be a very interesting social commentary on the ideas of peace and humankind's ability to hold the peace, Arthur C. Clark and Stephen Baxter have created an intriguing time odyssey.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:02 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"All Together Dead" Book 7 of the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris

"All Together Dead"
Book 7 of the Southern Vampire Series
by Charlaine Harris

Once again I dive into the world of telepath/part fairy Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie is a bar maid from Bon Temps, Louisiana that has a special gift/curse of telepathy and can hear people's thoughts, but only Human people. You see, in Sookie's world, vampires have "come out of the coffin," which is to say they have revealed themselves to the world and want to live alongside humans. With the invention of synthetic blood (True Blood) they no longer have to hunt humans for food. So humans and vamps live side by side, but that's not all. All sorts of creatures from the supernatural world live in the world, only they are waiting to see how the vamps fare before revealing themselves.

Sounds simple, right? Not really, especially not for Sookie, because with Sookie's curse she has never been able to maintain a relationship with a fellow human. Then walks in Bill Compton a vampire from the civil war era. Vamps seem to be blank when it comes to the brainwaves Sookie tunes in on. So she fell in love with Bill and they dated for a while. Then Bill went back to his former lover/maker and this pretty much ended their relationship, then to make matters worse the she finds that the Vampire Queen of Louisiana actually commanded Bill to seduce her because her gift could benefit the queen. Sookie then found herself working for the vamps and solving mysteries, but with Bill and her finished she dated other people, a werewolf and a weretiger. The latest, Quinn, a weretiger seems to be THE relationship.

In this latest episode in Sookie's life Louisiana has just been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. I should mention here that the author, Charlaine Harris, did a very good tribute to the devastation and the rebuilding that hit Louisiana during this "real life" event. This book has some really nice references to the troubles still affecting that area of the U.S.

The world's Vampire community has decided to hold a major trade show, this trade show also includes some major events that affect the vampire world. The main event is the trial of the Queen of Louisiana to decide whether she is guilty of murder in the death of her husband, the King of Arkansas. As you may recall in the last book the King tried to kill the Queen and then he would take over both states, but Sookie foiled that plan and the King got offed.

The trade show or summit is being held on the shores of Lake Michigan in a newly built vampire-friendly hotel built to look like the Great Pyramid of Giza. With all the vampires in one place this seems like a perfect place for the vamp hunting Fellowship of the Sun Church to strike. Also many vampires don't want the Queen of Louisiana to succeed in her trial. So Sookie has to solve not one by many mysteries as she "enjoys" being with the Queen at the summit.

While this book was not one of the better books in the series, it did provide a nice homage to the victims of Katrina, and did have some mysteries that featured some serious twists and turns. I'm ready for the next book now.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:57 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Demon Apostle (Part 3 of 3)" The Demon Wars Saga Book 3 by R. A. Salvatore

"The Demon Apostle (Part 3 of 3)"
The Demon Wars Saga Book 3
by R. A. Salvatore
Multicast performance
produced by GraphicAudio (2009)
approx 5 hours.

R.A. Salvatore created a world of fantasy in which the magicks rested in gemstones, the elves trained one ranger in each generation to protect the forests and people of the outlying areas of the kingdom of Honce-the-Bear, and the Abellican church seeks power over the the state. In this magical Land of Corona, wherein lies Honce-the-Bear, there are many mythical and magical creatures; elves, centaurs, dwarves, giants, and goblins, but the enemy of man turns out to be none of these. Instead man's worst enemy is himself, especially in the form of Religion and Politics.

GraphicAudio has produced the first three books in Salvatore's "Demon Wars Saga" and this audio book brings to a close the third book in the first trilogy of the Demon Wars. Each book in the trilogy has been divided into three parts making it, in my opinion, easier to consume the "Movie In Your Mind" production. While each segment leaves you ready to dive into the next installment, with the superb sound effects, music and acting, the mind needs the intermission. If only enough time to grab more popcorn and begin the next.

In this final section of the final book of the first trilogy of "The Demon Wars Saga," Elbryan the Ranger, Bradwarden the centaur and Roger Lockless have escorted 5 Abellican monks to Mount Aida on a quest to view the place where the renegade Abellican monk-named-heretic, Avelyn Desbris died defeating the demon dactyl Bestesbulzibar. This battle, while defeating the physical form of the demon, released the demon's spirit so it could possess the father of the Abellican Church Father Abbott Markwart. Markwart has, under possession of the demon, has turned the church in a direction away from God and the young monks wish to turn the Church back by possibly canonizing Avelyn. Markwart will do all he can to stop this.

Back in Palmaris, one of the major cities of Honce-the-Bear, Elbryan's wife and disciple of Avelyn (she can battle with the best and use the magic of the gemstones), Pony, is pregnant with Elbryan's child and in hiding. When Father Abbott Markwart pays a political visit to Palmaris, Pony tries to exact revenge on the man who killed her adopted parents by attempting to assassinate Markwart throught he magic of the gemstones. Her plot seems to have succeed by sending a lodestone through Markwart's skull, but to the amazement of the monks the father abbot survives. He now seeks revenge on Pony. In a battle between the spirits of Pony and Markwart, Markwart removes the baby from Pony. Pony believes the baby to be killed but the elves Belli'mar Juraviel and queen of the elves, Lady Dasselrond, take the baby back to the elven lands.

These events all come to their apex in a battle between the powerful Markwart and the spirit of the demon within and Elbryan and Pony. With superb sound effects in this production you will easily lose yourself in the land of Corona and the magical battles within.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:56 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"52" Parts 1 & 2 by Greg Cox

"52" Parts 1 & 2
by Greg Cox
Multicast performance
Produced by GraphicAudio
Approx 12 hours

"52" was a weekly comic published by DC comic beginning May of 2006. This comic covered a year in the DC Universe where just following the "Infinite Crisis" The world's greatest superheroes were missing but there was no lack of super powered heroes. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are missing after saving the world, the universe, and the multi-verse from a version of Lex Luthor trying to make his perfect world. But the world is not without its superheroes. The main heroes in this year long comic publication are a mixed batch of interesting characters.

Booster Gold and his robot/computer sidekick , Skeets, are in Metropolis. Booster is a time traveler from the 25th century and with the aid of Skeets they prevent crimes and disasters by referring to the timeline recorded in Skeets memory.

Supernova, whose identity is unknown and at the same time key to the entire "52" plot line, is a hero that makes a sudden appearance in Metropolis, surprising both Clark Kent and Booster Gold.

Black Adam, who was originally a villain, an opposite to Captain Marvel/Shazam. At the beginning of "52" Black Adam is somewhat of a dictator over the country of Khandaq. He is trying to form an alliance with countries like, Iraq, Iran et. al. to protect their citizens. A world wide crime organization called Intergang tries to gain support from Black Adam by offering him a woman they captured as a slave. Black Adam retaliates and kills the gang representatives and through her frankness the woman becomes Black Adam's wife. After showing Black Adam "how to be good," he takes her to the Rock of Eternity, once guarded by the wizard Shazam, now guarded by Captain Marvel. There he pleads his case and she becomes Isis. Isis and Black Adam seek out Isis brother who was enslaved by Intergang. When he is found he has been severely beaten by Intergang to the point he cannot walk. Black Adam gives the boy some of his own powers and he becomes Osiris. Now Black Adam has a family similar to that of the Marvel family. But Intergang is not happy with Black Adam's rejection.

The Question and Officer Montoya play the parts of catalysts between all the goings on. First they thwart a terrorist bombing attempt at Black Adam's wedding. Then they prevent the death of the new Bat-Woman, by stopping intergang and their twisted religion of crime from sacrificing Gotham City's new hero. Montoya discovers The Question has terminal cancer and discovers he has been training her to become the new Question.

Through the one year publication of the comic Booster Gold becomes an anti-hero, Skeets begins taking on an evil identity bent on domination. Super Nova takes Booster's place as Metropolis' new hero and through the help of Rip Hunter, another time traveler attempts to stop Skeets' evil plans. (Great time travel paradoxes in this plot line.) Black Adam saves his country from famine, only to have his family destroyed by the Four Horsemen and he then seeks his revenge on the Horsemen, Intergang and the scientists that created them and starts World War III. Montoya and Nightwing then assist Bat-Woman in protecting Gotham City from Intergang.

With a sprinkling of some of DC's minor superheroes; Nightwing, Captain Marvel and a few others the world is protected, but is it enough, these new heroes are a big help as the Multiverse attempts to be recreated.

Greg Cox novelized this year long publication and GraphicAudio in all their audio splendor brought the comic back to full color production with sound.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:58 PM Comments: 0

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Definitely Dead" Book Six of The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

"Definitely Dead"
Book Six of The Southern Vampire Mysteries
by Charlaine Harris
Published 2006 by Penguin Group (USA)

You know, I still can't figure out what it is about these books that have me eager to read the next book in the series, but that is the case in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries based on the life of Sookie Stackhouse. I was intrigued when I read a short story from the Sookie Stackhouse world, and then when HBO made the series "True Blood," I just had to read the first book. Now here I am finished with book 6 and eager to get into book 7. Normally I'm not one to go for romance stories featuring vampires, I would rather stake the undead than kiss one, but Ms. Harris has thrown in enough other creatures from the supernatural world that keeps the books lively and entertaining. In this book we have vampires (of course), werewolves, were-panthers, were-tigers, demons, fairies and witches. Let me warn you now before you read too much further into this review that if you haven't read any of the books in the series, this book has some spoilers you may want to wait to read about. In this book a lot is found out about Sookie and her bloodline, Vampire Bill and his relationship with Sookie and a few other surprises.

If you have read the books up to this point you will realize that Sookie doesn't have the greatest luck with suitors. So far she's been with two vampires, Bill & Eric, and a werewolf, Alcide Herveaux. She has also been "hit on" by a were-panther. But here in "Definitely Dead," Bill is dating another woman, Eric is trying to stay away and Alcide is dating another woman. She finally tells Calvin, the were-panther, that she's not interested. So with all the bad luck with men, can Sookie find someone? That answer seems to be yes and he's in the form of a were-tiger, Quinn. Quinn and Sookie met when Quinn was moderating the battle for pack leader in the Shreveport werewolf pack. As we begin book six Quinn asks Sookie for a date and she accepts. If you're wondering why she doesn't just date a regular human, well that's where her "disability" slips in. You see, Sookie is telepathic, she can read the thoughts of all humans, and that really puts a damper on human relations. With the supernatural folk, Sookie seems to draw a blank, but every once in a while she can pick something up from the supes.

Some background info you should know is that Sookie once killed Alcide's former girlfriend, a were-fox, by the name of Debbie Pelt. But no one knows this and everyone thinks that after Alcide abjured her she just took off. Not only did Sookie kill her but Eric hid the body, the bad thing is that this was when Eric was an amnesiac, now he doesn't know where he hid the body. This is probably for the good but Debbie's family is eagerly searching for her. Also, in Sookie's background (told in the short story "One Word Answer" in the compilation "Bite" {2005}) Sookie's cousin, Hadley, has crossed over to being a vamp, and the lover of the Louisiana Vampire Queen.

So with that in mind, Quinn and Sookie are attacked by two freshly bitten young weres as they are leaving the theatre from their date. Quinn then warns the Shreveport pack that since Sookie was a friend of the pack they should not allow this to happen. Sookie then has to go to New Orleans to attend the party celebrating the marriage of the Queen of Louisiana and the King of Arkansas. This marriage is purely a political thing, but Sookie soon discovers there is something more going on.

Sookie and Quinn are captured and make their escape through a Louisiana swamp. Sookie and the witch landlady for Hadley's apartment, Amelia are attacked by a freshly made vampire and a major war begins between two vampire factions. All this action and Sookie manages to out wit the bad guys and manage to maintain that level of humor that is Sookie Stackhouse in the Southern Vampire Mysteries. These books are really fun to read.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:44 PM Comments: 0

Monday, February 01, 2010

"Eldest" Inheritance, Book Two by Christopher Paolini

Inheritance, Book Two
by Christopher Paolini
Published 2005 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Christopher Paolini continues to amaze me. After reading "Eragon," the first book in what is book one of the Inheritance series (three books have been written and it is rumored there is a fourth book on the way.), I was totally sucked in to the fantasy world where dragons, elves, dwarves and magicians exist and an evil king has tried to destroy all Dragon Riders. Now with book two I just couldn't hardly put the book down. When finishing the first book I looked up information on the author and found out the book was written when he was only 15 years old. An amazing feat in and of itself, but to be able to create this fantasy world with many depths that's a serious job for any author,no matter what the age. This second book was published when the author was in his early 20s so now that he's got his style and his world created the books can only get better, as this one does.

In book one, "Eragon," the reader was taken on a quest in which Eragon and his Dragon, Saphira, learned of the reason behind their bonding and the development of their skills as Eragon sought revenge on the Ra'zac for the killing of his uncle. He eventually was taken to the Varden, both to save Arya (the elf that sent the dragon's egg to Eragon, and to escape King Galbatorix's wrath. Along the way Eragon learns his travelling companion, Brom, is a former rider. They also are rescued at one point by Murtagh who joins them on their trip to the Varden, although he says he cannot complet they journey to Farthen Dûr, the home of the Varden. When they arrive in Farthen Dûr, Eragon is led to the leader of the Varden, Ajihad. Ajihad imprisons Murtagh after finding out that he is the son of Morzan, Galbatorix's right hand man.

"Eldest" begins three days after the events of the preceding novel, "Eragon," in the dwarf city of Tronjheim, inside of a hollowed mountain of Farthen Dûr. Farthen Dûr is in the southeastern part of Alagaësia, the continent in Paolini's world where all this action takes place. Eragon must complete his mission and be trained as a dragon rider, to do so he must journey to Ellesméra, the elven capital city located in the forest Du Weldenvarden, on the northern portion of Alagaësia. Before he leaves,Eragon must attend the funeral for the fallen leader of the Varden, Ajihad. Ajihad is ambushed and killed, with Murtagh while Ajihad's other guards are assumed dead. At his funeral, Ajihad's daughter Nasuada is elected to command the Varden. Eragon travels to Ellesméra where he meets Oromis and his dragon Glaedr, the only dragon and Rider secretly alive besides the Eragon and Saphira and Galbatorix. Oromis and Glaedr, however, are both crippled, and so cannot fight Galbatorix and must hide instead to avoid Galbatorix hunting them down. Eragon and Saphira are taught the use of logic, magic theory, scholarship, and combat, among other things.

Back in Farthen Dûr, Nasuada chooses to move the Varden from Tronjheim to Surda, to mount an attack on the Empire. The Varden suffers financial troubles, so Nasuada decides to fund the Varden and the war with Lace. The lace is magically produced and they can sell it cheap. One night when Nasuada is in her room, Elva saves her from an assassination attempt. Elva is the child which Eragon and Saphira blessed, the problem is that this was before Eragon was adept at the ancient language used in magic and accidentally curses her to BE a shield rather than TO BE shielded. Elva locates the assailant, who is killed after unwillingly surrendering information to Varden magicians about a subversive group based in Surda called the Black Hand, who is plotting to kill Nasuada. Nasuada later attends a meeting with key figures in Surda's government to discuss a potential upcoming battle against the Empire. They learn that the conflict is coming sooner than they initially suspected, and mobilize forces to attack, as well as sending for help from the dwarves.

Eragon continues his training, but is discouraged when the scar on his back, caused by the Shade he killed, causes him to have seizures. At the ancient elven ceremony, the Agaetí Blödhren, Eragon is altered by a spectral dragon. The changes alter his senses, and enhance his abilities, as well as healing all of his wounds. Reinvigorated, Eragon continues training until he learns that the Empire will soon attack the Varden in Surda. He leaves without completing his training, to aid the Varden in battle, much like Luke Skywalker left Yoda before his training was finished. I just found this a very neat similarity.

Meanwhile, Roran, Eragon's cousin, is hunted by the Ra'zac in Carvahall. He eventually persuades the entire village to attack the Ra'zac in the night, and succeeds in driving them off. After more conflicts with the village, the Ra'zac manage to kidnap Katrina, Roran's fiancée. Roran then stirs the village to mobilize, departing on a journey to join the Varden in Surda. He leads them to Narda, and then by sea to Teirm. In Teirm, they meet Jeod, who helps them pirate a new vessel from Teirm. Pursued by sloops from the Empire, the vessel manages to escape through a whirlpool, and eventually makes it to Surda, arriving just as the Battle of the Burning Plains is about to begin between Surda and its allies, and the Empire.

When conflict begins, Eragon is able to repel the opposing army using magic. Eventually, a Dragon Rider appears in favor of the Empire. The hostile Dragon Rider kills the dwarf king Hrothgar, and soon begins to fight with Eragon. The Dragon Rider is soon unmasked by Eragon and is revealed to be Murtagh. Murtagh tells Eragon that he was kidnapped and forced into loyalty by Galbatorix after a dragon hatched for him. Murtagh outmatches Eragon, but shows mercy due to their old friendship. Before leaving, Murtagh reveals that Eragon is his brother, and takes Eragon's sword as well. Ultimately, Galbatorix's army is forced to retreat after the arrival of the dwarves and the departure of Murtagh and Thorn. In the end, Eragon and Roran decide that they will seek out Katrina together.

Lots of adventure, lots of excitement all very well portrayed and with some magical storytelling that will suck you into this alternate world.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:25 PM Comments: 0