Turn the Page

It has been over three months since my last post.  I’ve always known that I was quite horrid with blogging, so I came up with the crazy idea of doing reviews of books. I love reading for the most part, however I hate writing reviews for things. Proof of this is in the fact that I’ve read a great many books since my last post, but haven’t come close to doing a review on any of them. At first it was to do with the fact that I was unsure how to review the rest of the Lensman Saga since it felt it would be far too similar to the review for Galactic Patrol. Soon after that it just turned into having proceeded through a few books relatively quickly and worried about crossing wires for the reviews.

I soon came up with an idea to return to blogging on a more generic level, this would allow me to review if I so desired but also do more posts about various other things that are going on. Granted part of the problem is that there isn’t very often something going on, but perhaps we’ll see what kind of posts I can come up with as time goes on, perhaps some will be short, others might be long, some might seem pointless and others might shake the very foundation of the basis of your beliefs…but not likely. Either way we should hope that I’ll end up making a more active presence upon this site, it may be cliche but at this point only time will tell.

“Galactic Patrol”

Galactic Patrol is the third book in the E.E. “Doc” Smith’s classic Lensman series, however it proves to be the true starting point of the story. Triplanetary was originally serialized in Amazing Stories in 1933 and was not initially a part of the Lensman story until it was ret-conned in at a later date, First Lensman was written as a connecting novel to help alleviate some of the discrepancies between Triplanetary and the Lensman saga on the whole. Galactic Patrol was originally serialized in Astounding Stories in 1937-1938 and later combined into its novelized format and then altered slightly to allow further cohesion with the stories of Triplanetary and First Lensman. In truth if one has a desire to investigate the Lensman saga it is probably best to start with Galactic Patrol, it proves to be the real start of the overall storyline and the caliber of writing is much more enjoyable than the other two books, which really only serve to give unnecessary background to the Lensman universe.

The writing in Galactic Patrol is interesting, by today’s standards it feels juvenile and generic many aspects of how things happen remind me of the sort of writing I did in early highschool. Too much faith and luck happens to the main character in the story than one can easily believe early on, although the author certainly seems to be a fan of language and spreads a lot of larger words throughout the text, as well as attempting to supplant the common “OK” with “QX”. The modern audience that has been raised on sci-fi such as Star Trek and Star Wars may find difficulty in finding sympathy for the heroes of the tale, they mercilessly kill and destroy entire groups of people and there are also a great deal of social views that have long since been left behind. Assuming you can get past the dusty feel and gigantic leaps of faith that the book requires, the story proves to be quite enjoyable and is written in a fairly quick no-nonsense style that endeavors to bring you into the action right away. Many people insult the series for being a typical space opera filled with more clichés than you can shake your fist at. However the series is actually the origin of many of those clichés and understanding that helps one accepted many of the things done.

Overall Galactic Patrol proves to be a short and entertaining read viable for any sci-fi reader to add to his library. I would definitely recommend investigating the Lensman series and should one do so to start with this book, if you want the back story you can always read the other two later without detracting from the experience of either.

Frank Herbert’s “Dune” Series

It has been a while since I’ve made a post here, after Pebble in the Sky the next book I read was Heretics of Dune and since Chapterhouse Dune was the next book in my pile, I felt that I should complete that novel thus finishing the entire Dune series and write a post on the series on the whole, instead of writing two posts about the last books. Now that I’ve gotten my pithy excuses out of the way, I shall dive right into my review of the Dune series.

Frank Herbert’s Dune series has the lofty claim of being the best selling sci-fi series ever, consisting of six books Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse Dune released over a period of 2o years (1965-1985). The series was cut short due to the death of Frank Herbert in 1986, this has given the series the fell of not having a proper ending with many questions not only being left unanswered but even being introduced at the end of Chapterhouse Dune. While the series was eventually completed by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert’s son) and Kevin J. Anderson they have faced much criticism and debate from fans of the series, and are not included as part of this particular post, though they might see some time here in the future.

It can be difficult to explain the plot of the series on the whole, as the story takes place over a 5,000+ year period, though each book focuses on a small period of time with each of the larger jumps occurring between the books. The first book is relatively straight forward, telling the story of Paul Atreides and of the desert planet Arrakis, also called Dune. His rise to power upon the planet a great deal of political intrigue as well as an epic battle, and it certainly proves to be the best book of the series. Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides and deals with how he has affected the galaxy at large and deals with his eventual fall from power. Children of Dune focuses on Paul’s children Leto II and Ghanima as well as his sister Alia, and the changing face of Dune and serves to setup the situation that leads us into the next book. God Emperor of Dune is place some 3,500 years after the previous book, where a heavily mutated Leto II has been reigning over the galaxy in tyrannical fashion according to his prescient vision of a ‘Golden Path’ to allow humanity to survive. The final two novels are based at least 1,500 years after the death of Leto II and deal with a galaxy very different from the one introduced in the original novel, though some of the major players are still around. The book follows the Bene Gesserit order, and chooses to focus upon those that are descended from the Atreides line, of which there are many by this point. These books deal with how the Bene Gesserit deal with a new threat of a new group calling themselves the Honored Matres that have returned from something called the scattering, which was a group of humans that had left the known galaxy to explore after the death of Leto II. While the stories are slanted to follow the Atreides line, there is one person that appears in each novel. Thanks to a technology in the books that allows the cells of a dead person to be cloned, and have their memories restored, the character of Duncan Idaho appears in each book, with increasing importance in each story.

As far as quality goes Dune proved to be an excellent read that I would recommend to everyone, it is a novel that easily stands alone and there is no need for the casual reader to proceed any further into the series unless they are a completionist like myself, or have absolutely fallen in love with Herbert’s writing. Herbert follows one of the best sci-fi novels written with Dune Messiah which is decidedly among the weakest books of the entire series and may lead some to give up the series at this point, although it does prove to be useful for setting up the following story. Children of Dune is a return to form for Herbert and proves to be nearly as enjoyable as the first, not quite as much for myself but enough that it could stand out for some as their favorite of the series and I would not blame them. God Emperor of Dune also proves to be relatively enjoyable, but not near the level of Dune or Children of Dune. It can drag at parts, and it effectively focuses only upon Leto II, but for some this may prove to be a enjoyable exploration into the galaxy. Heretics of Dune suffers from starting off with very little familiar to readers, all new characters, new names for familiar places causing one to feel displaced, it proves to be one of the most difficult of the books to get into tune with at the start, however as the story progresses it becomes a very good book. Chapterhouse Dune suffers similarly to Dune Messiah not quite as poor as that book, perhaps due to its distance from the original, it takes a very long time to get interesting. In fact the book is effectively over by the point it becomes a fully enjoyable read, the book ends on a high point that served to set up the potential for an exciting followup that looked to turn the entire story over on its head, in a good way. As indicated earlier though Herbert died before being able to release the following story, which is a large detriment. However one could stop at this novel and feel decent with the open ending and let your imagination take you the rest of the way, unless you want to delve into the books of Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson.

Overall Dune provides a highly recommended read from me, the rest of the series proves to be uneven but still enjoyable. The series on the whole however is something that could be passed, I spent just over a year reading the series (with other books being read in between some of them) and some of the books have left me wondering if my time would have been better spent focusing on other series or one-offs, in the end I am happy I went through the whole thing and do plan to at least read the finale released by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson.

“Pebble in the Sky”

Pebble in the Sky is claimed to be the first book by famed author Isaac Asmiov.  Considering that most people associate robots with him, this novel is quite devoid of the mechanical miscreants. This book is based upon a small insignificant highly irradiated planet in a large empire spanning the galaxy. The small planet is Earth, it follows an archaeologist from the Galactic Empire that is visiting Earth in an attempt to prove that it is the source of all human life, as well as a Scientist and his Daughter that are working on a device that is supposed to make people smarter, and a retired tailor that was accidentally thrust forward in time from 1949. These individuals with noting in common must come together and put aside their preconceptions and prejudices to save the empire from a vile and secret plot of destruction.

Having recently delved into a variety of older Sci-Fi novels, I find that this book certainly stands up to the test of time decently, while there may be a few dated issues here and there, overall it keeps up and turns into a relatively enjoyable read. This being the first book from Asimov I’ve read I find it difficult to compare it to the quality of his later works, however one can easily tell that the author has a great career ahead of him with this book, while it does have showings of a newer author among the pages.  It does prove to be a quick read, and those inexperienced in Sci-Fi could easily find worse books to start with. There’s some obvious foreshadowing used in the book, of the type of indicating how a character’s decisions might effect the universe should they have chosen differently (often indicating that a different decision might have caused the destruction of the universe), but you don’t get much more of a hint as to any indicator of why that is until later in the book, instead it seems to have you running down different directions that don’t seem to fully lead to the ending that eventually occurs.  However the book resolves itself relatively decently, and serves as a good introduction to a great author.

It would be a book that I may recommend to someone looking to get into sci-fi, or possibly already a sci-fi fan looking into older works. It proves to be an enjoyable read that shouldn’t take long to get through for those interested in the book, and is short enough to at least force yourself through should it not immediately appeal to you.

“Death Troopers (Star Wars)”

Death Troopers is a Star Wars novel written by horror alum Joe Schreiber,  some have billed it as the first Star Wars horror book, and it introduces zombies into the Star Wars Universe, though very few are Storm Troopers despite what the book’s title might lead you to hope for.  This book was the first Star Wars book I’ve read in a few years, as I’ve been taking a break from that universe (at least in books). Sadly it didn’t prove to be as good a read as I was hoping for. The book started off decently enough, and it seemed to do a good job of setting a decent tone to the book, but eventually you get to a point where you’re waiting for the real story to start to take place. The settings of the book are described decently, and seem to be somewhat suitable to be stuck with in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, but they end up being used very poorly. I haven’t read any of Schreiber’s other work so I don’t know how his usual fare goes, but with this book he seems to fall short. It never really truly feels to be a part of the Star Wars universe even when you get a few established characters. A lot of the deaths happen arbitrarily and far too quickly, and while the deaths are described decently, the reactions of those around them seem poor, and in some cases, uncharacteristic.

The book is afforded plenty of opportunities to create the proper feeling of a zombie novel, but it never really follows through properly. Sadly anyone looking for a good zombie read would definitely desire to look elsewhere as this book does not deliver any suspense or fright, though it does occasionally give a decent description of gore so if you’re curious as to what an E-11 blaster rifle will do to a zombie head you will get your answer decently. Also the resolution of the novel feels cheap and comes suddenly, there were several other ways this story could have ended that would’ve felt much better, even if that difference were only in the final pages of the last chapter before the epilogue.

As a Star Wars novel the book also felt as if it fell a bit flat, despite the presence of a few storm troopers, a Star Destroyer, various Star Wars aliens, a few established characters, and other universe specific things, you never truly feel like you’re in the Star Wars universe, I’m sure a few tweaks here and there could have gone a long way to helping the story feel more in-line with the rest of the universe, but as it stands I felt that it fell a bit short.

Overall the book was a bit disappointing, but it wasn’t horrible. It was still a passable read. Not something I would go out of my way to recommend to zombie fans, but it might prove to be a unique read for Star Wars fans that haven’t delved into the world of zombies before. So if you’ve read a few zombie books in your day this one will feel a bit lackluster of a read, but if you haven’t read any before and enjoy a few of the Star Wars novels out there you may want to check this one out at some point.  I personally hope that he is able to fix some of these problems in the upcoming prequel to this novel, called Red Harvest.

“Night of the Living Trekkies”

The season of Halloween is upon us, this year I opted to make an attempt to read at least one book during the season that was in line with the spirit of the season. The first such book that I chose for this year’s October reading is Night of the Living Trekkies. The main premise for the plot is relatively simple take a typical zombie outbreak story and make the setting a Star Trek convention. That basic formula actually comes out a winner, though throughout the course of the story we learn that it is not just a standard Star Trek convention, and it’s not a standard zombie outbreak.  As a life long fan of Star Trek and a relatively recent fan of zombie fiction this particular story gave me many ways to be entertained, and continued to do so until the end of the book.

The story follows former US Army soldier Jim Pike, whom now works at the Botany Bay hotel as a glorified bellhop. Those of you whom are decent Star Trek fans may already start seeing the fun references held within the book with that sentence alone. Along the course of the book he teams up with a rag tag group of Star Trek fans and a girl dressed as Princess Leia that has a penchant for quoting Star Wars (at a con that is Star Trek only). The group must figure out a way to survive through the zombie horde and find their way to safety.

For those looking for a good zombie read this book may provide you with a nice enjoyable session of reading, there are points where the story can get a bit gory and descriptive, and they keep the pressure on about what happens next. There’s the added benefit that the zombies in the book aren’t your stock zombies, and not just because most of them are dressed as Star Trek characters. The early parts of the book have the obvious indications of a zombie outbreak, with bites and people not showing up for scheduled appointments. However it takes a different route with this with several of the characters pointing out how similar the events are to the various zombie stories out there. The differences between Night of the Living Trekkies and more standard zombie fare may prove this book a worthwhile read for those that frequent books about slow undead creatures.

The Star Trek fans among you will also find enjoyment outside the confines of the zombie tale, each chapter is a name of an episode of the series and there are many references, quotations, and even fanboy style debates that occur within the pages. The ragtag group also fight to uphold the ideals of Roddenberry’s Star Trek and his view of people overcoming obstacles to create a better world in the end. For you it may feel more like a very graphic story involving the Borg attacking Texas in the 21st century. However the spirit and humor that has been present in Star Trek is alive throughout the entirety of this book.

Overall it proves to be a very enjoyable read, it can be a bit predictable at times but fans of zombie horror and Star Trek have that issue with many of the books available to them anyway. The mixture of the two work very well, and it certainly works as a good afternoon read on a lazy Saturday (It took me around 3.5 hours to read with a few interruptions). I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good book to read during this Halloween season.

“The Lensman Saga” auction

I was just able to win an auction of six books of the Lensman Saga. This is the first six books of the series ad make up an over-arching story across the books, there’s a seventh book, but it is merely based in the universe and apparently has little to do with the story in large. I’ve already read the first two books Triplanetary and The First Lensman and I may give them posts later. But for now I just wanted to share in my victory.

“The Burning Heart of Night”

The Burning Heart of Night is the second (and at this point final) novel from Ivan Cat. It was released in July 2002 and was published by DAW.  I personally had been a fan of Cat’s since his first novel The Eyes of Light and Darkness came out in 1996 and had been meaning to read The Burning Heart of Night since it was first published, but failed to get around to it until now. Sadly the book is currently out-of-print so one needs to head to one of the various used book purchasing options out there.

Let’s start off with the summary of the book.

On the beautiful ocean world of New Ascention, a human colony struggles for its very existence, for their new home planet harbors a dark secret-a fatal pathogen that affects all life-forms. As human ranks are decimated by this native virus and civil unrest threatens to erupt into full-scale war, can the special abilities of a deep-space pilot provide the colony with what it needs to survive this complicated and potentially deadly situation?

Having previously read Ivan Cat’s work I was fairly certain of what I was getting into with his second book, however it had been many years since the last time I’d read his first book that I wasn’t sure if my enjoyment was due to my youth or because of the quality of the book. The Burning Heart of Night did not fail to entertain, it had me intrigued and interested as to what twist and turn the plot would take next, and there were quite a lot of twists and turns. The tone and pacing of the story shifted over the course of the tale, much in the way that actual events might, that once you’re done reading you feel as if you’ve read several different stories instead of just one epic tale.

Overall I found The Burning Heart of Night to be an enjoyable read, and a decent second outing from Ivan Cat. It proved to be a great sci-fi outing and I would definitely recommend it to anybody who enjoys a nice space opera.

Null Partition

Several years ago I purchased the domain name nullpartition.com. During that time I have come up with a variety of different ideas for what I desired the site to be. A vast majority of them have never seen the light of day. However I’ve decided to make a return to the world of blogging. At the same time I’m hoping to keep a primary focus on books, what I’m reading, what I thought about what I read, what I suggest people read. Things of this nature. As time progresses from this point I’m sure you’ll see the general face of the page change several times, as new features come and go. I’m hoping you can join me on this adventure.