Blog Archives

Hardship by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

My first experience with Jean Johnson was back in 2012 when I heard her on the SF Signal podcast with host Patrick Hester. During the podcast she talked about her military SF series Theirs Not To Reason Why that features a female protagonist who happens to have some powerful natural abilities such as pre/post-cognition, telekinesis and the like and who is on a quest to save the galaxy from an extinction-level threat that will not occur for hundreds of years yet. I read the first three novels in the series last year and they all happened to be quite excellent stories that made me a Jean Johnson fan for life. And now, with the fifth and final book in the series just days away from publication, here’s my review of the fourth novel, which I read last month.

Hardship was originally intended to be the fourth and final book in the series, titled Damnation at the time. But as I learned from Jean herself lately, the final volume ended up being too big and the decision was made to split it into two parts. So Hardship is technically the first of a 2-part finale for Jean’s highly ambitious and grandiose story of Theirs Not To Reason Why. And it is just as excellent as the previous books. With things moving towards a conclusion, there’s a sense of finality in the novel and that there is a big confluence of events happening, so the novel checks off on all the things I wanted to see from it, and more.

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Hellfire by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

The third novel in Jean Johnson’s Theirs Not To Reason Why series of military space opera was published last year in the summer and it proved to be almost as good as the two novels before it, which is saying something since both A Soldier’s Duty and An Officer’s Duty stand as some of the best MSF books I’ve read to date. The fact that the protagonist Ia is also an uber badass is just icing on the cake and should there be a day when a movie series on these books is released, I’ll be the first to line-up in the theaters to watch it. The series has that kind of potential in it. Hellfire also made it to my “Best of 2013 Part 2” list last year as one of the best novels I read last year.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

Jean Johnson’s A Soldier’s Duty got me heavily invested in the SFvision she had created and when I came back for the sequel, I was astounded by the consistency of pretty much everything, whether character or plot, pacing or action, or what have you. Being how good it is, An Officer’s Duty made it to my “Best of 2013 Part 1” list last year as one of the best novels I read last year. Together, these two novels offer something very different to the norm, and I do recommend them most highly.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson (Book Review)

Jean Johnson is a writer who wears many different hats, and writes in different genres, one of them being military space opera. Her series Theirs Not To Reason Why is, for me, one of the best such series out there, with a protagonist that I absolutely love and a setting that I absolutely enjoy, no matter what I read of any of it. For me, A Soldier’s Duty was one of the best novels I read last year and it would have made it to be “best of the year” lists if I hadn’t read the sequel soon after. All the same, I highly recommend this novel (and indeed the series).

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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Predator: Fire and Stone #2 (Comics Review)

Last month Dark Horse kicked off yet another Fire and Stone crossover book wih Joshua Williamson and Christian Mooneyham’s Predator, that is the tail-end of the stories being told in this crossover. With Galgo sacrificing his crew yet again to get out of a tight scrap, it was a very fun issue that also showcased the utter deadliness of the Predator and it seems that both the writer and the artist have the monster alien hunter down pat, since they imbue him with all the hallmarks of that which made the original films so good all those years ago.

This week’s Predator: Fire and Stone #2 continues Galgo’s story as he tries to fight against the Predator who took over the Perses in the last issue. Well, more like ineffectual resistance since the Predator pretty much caught by the end of the issue and now Galgo is basically Ahab the Predator’s servant. Of sorts. It is pretty awesome. Joshua really ups the stakes with this issue, giving us some background on the Predator early on, and then launches off on a really fun story. And the art? It is pretty damn perfect too!

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Comics Picks For 12.11.2014

Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40″ with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.

My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1  from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were  Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.

The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Ep 8 (TV Show Review)

In last week’s “The Writing on the Wall” we got to see something rather incredible. Phil Coulson finally managed to solve the mystery of the alien writing that he had been doodling of late, and which had driven John Garrett madder than the hatter last season. And it was pretty incredible, setting the scene for what I think is going to be a fantastic addition to Marvel’s line-up of upcoming movies. You can read my review of the episode to see all the spoilers and speculation since I don’t want to mention any of that here.

In the latest episode, “The Things We Bury“, we see the antagonism between Grant Ward and his brother, Senator Christian Ward finally come out in the open as far as the characters are concerned, and as far as the readers are concerned as well. The web of lies and half-truths that the two of them have been weaving around each other all their lives is exposed and it is a pretty powerful moment. The episode brings back Milan Cheylov, who directed the debut season’s third episode last year, one of the best of the entire season, and it is a pretty good foot forward by the show that has gotten only better in the second round.

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Fast-Shot Comics Reviews 12.11.2014

Given how many comics I usually get to in any given week, anywhere from about 25 or so and all the way up to 40 even, it is not possible for me to review everything. Especially when I watch a lot of television in the week as well, and review as much of that as I can, or anime or even book reviews. Hence this new effort, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, which I’m hoping to make a regular weekly thing on the blog. But no pressure! Every week on Wednesday, I’m going to try and review about 6 comics from the week prior that I didn’t get to in that week, and see where things go from here!

The picks for this week are: Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1, Deep State #1, Django/Zorro #1, Hexed #4, The Kitchen #1 and Unity #12. As you can see, four of this comics are brand-new series, with the very first one being a spin-off of Valiant Comics’ hit title Archer & Armstrong. I picked these six comics because they are undoubtedly among the best comics I read this week, but also because they are all incredibly diverse, very different to each other and to other comics on the shelves this past week, especially Unity #12 which is a superhero comic, but deals with something rather different than the norm.

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Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

Gav Thorpe is rightly considered Black Library’s resident Dark Angels expert, for he has written more about them than any other author and he even had a hand in shaping their lore back when he worked in the Games Workshop Design Studio on the Dark Angels codex, among other things. Last year, he started a new Dark Angels series called Legacy of Caliban that followed on from one of Black Library’s best novels to date, Angels of Darkness, and continued the tale of the Knights of Caliban as they sought out their traitorous brethren from the days of the Horus Heresy itself and brought them to justice in the innermost deeps of The Rock. Ravenwing was an excellent novel in many ways, and the wait for the sequel was a long one for me, especially since I dropped off on my Black Library reading this year.

But I read Master of Sanctity earlier this month and the wait has been quite fruitful indeed. Gav made the long wait worth every moment since the novel is a brilliant follow-up to what he did in Ravenwing, giving a more thorough insight into the many mysteries of the Dark Angels and exploring their many secrets. The duality of the Dark Angels, in their oaths to the Imperium and to themselves to hunt down the Fallen wherever they may be found, is at the heart of this novel, and our primary lead-in this time is none other than the chapter’s Master of Sanctity himself, Grand Master Sapphon, and we even get a look at the fiercely conservative Chaplain Asmodai, with whom Sapphon clashes again and again in the novel.

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Comics Picks For 05.11.2014

After several weeks of trying to get back to the magical 40, I hit that number once again this week and the great thing was that this one consisted of 37 singles and 3 graphic novels, which was pretty fun in itself!

My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1  from Valiant Comics, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 from Dynamie Entertainment, both the new Death of Wolverine tie-in issues of Life After Logan and Weapon X Program from Marvel Comics, All-Star Western Volume 6 from DC Comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1 from IDW Publishing. The most disappointing comics of this week were Superman Unchained #9 from DC Comics, Jennifer Blood: Born Again #4 from Dynamite Entertainment and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, there were lots of other great titles such as the new John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 from Dynamite, Trial of Jean-Grey from Marvel Comics, Batwoman Volume 5 from DC Comics and Vampirella #6.

The graphic novels for this week were All-New X-Men & Guardians of the Galaxy: Trial of Jean Grey by Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen and Sara Pichelli, Batwoman Volume 5 by Marc Andreyko and Jeremy Haun, and All-Star Western Volume 6 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Staz Johnson and Darwyn Cooke.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Ep 7 (TV Show Review)

Last week’s episode was pretty damn intense, especially with that killer ending when Grant Ward escaped the government troops who took over custody of him from Coulson’s SHIELD agents. Throughout the episode, we were treated to one twist after another as we saw how Grant and his brother Senator Christian Ward manipulated the people around them to get what they wanted. And we got some great dynamics between two of the team’s recent additions, Bobbi and Lance, which was pretty damn great. Going forward, the implications were pretty clear.

This week’s “The Writing on the Wall” is set in the aftermath of Ward’s escape and what the team is doing about it. Moreover, a big chunk of the episode is taken up with the strange alien carvings that Coulson has been doing for a while now, writings which drove John Garrett crazy last season and which seem to have affected at least one more person as of a certain cliffhanger a while back this season. More flashbacks to the days of the TAHITI project mean that this episode is all-out awesome and we finally get a true idea of what the entire project was really all about.

Note: This review contains spoiler speculation about the ending of this episode, a possible spoiler about at least one upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.

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Alien vs Predator: Fire and Stone #1-2 (Comics Review)

Dark Horse Comics’ big re-energising of its various Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator franchises began last month when the publisher launched new 4-issue mini-series for each franchise, and also another one for Ridley Scott’s last, Prometheus, which is the prequel to the first Alien movie. All four books have been quite amazing so far and the great thing about them is that they all flow from one to the other, to show how Prometheus‘ LV-223 came to be infested with Xenomorphs and how they spread out and how the Predators got involved. Really fun stuff!

Christopher Sebela and Ariel Olivetti’s Alien vs Predator: Fire and Stone is the story of how the survivors of the Geryon and the other ships get off LV-223 and how they bring xenomorphs aboard thanks to the android Elden who is somehow corrupted during Prometheus: Fire and Stone and becomes the big bad monster of this series. Following the scientist Francis and the gun-arm Galgo and even Galgo, this is pretty much how I expected a fight between the Xenomorphs and Predators to go down. Ariel Olivetti’s leaves some things to be desired, but the sheer ferocity of the Predators and the horror of the Xenomorphs is captured very well!

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