Seeing the new Star Wars movies as someone who spent 7 years as the kind of fan who could rattle off all of the components necessary to build an astroSeeing the new Star Wars movies as someone who spent 7 years as the kind of fan who could rattle off all of the components necessary to build an astromech droid is frankly, weird. Rogue One, with its chronological proximity to the films of my youth, was a treat. My dad and I left the theater trying to name everything we recognized from the original trilogy.
So this book was a fun combination of new details to add to my database, but also a source of a lot of cognitive dissonance. The council's jackets being based on "traditional Alderaanian military livery" is hard to reconcile with "Alderaan is a pacifistic planet with no weapons". Another disquieting bit was the continued erasure of established pilots like Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter, Wes Janson, and Hobbie Klivian. Jek Porkins gets a mention, but not Biggs? Hrm. That all added to the bummer that was the confirmation of what I saw in the film - a few token background rebel women and POC pilots and infantry, but 85% white men. If they had kept pilots we already had names for for the white guy coalition and made everyone else a woman, I would have been a lot happier....more
I really enjoyed this. There were a couple of plot points I was concerned about, but I've started reading volume 2 and they're already cleared up! HanI really enjoyed this. There were a couple of plot points I was concerned about, but I've started reading volume 2 and they're already cleared up! Handy....more
Okay, I'm going to admit it right up front - I did not read this book for a long time out of spite. If they had not cast Matt Damon in the movie, I stOkay, I'm going to admit it right up front - I did not read this book for a long time out of spite. If they had not cast Matt Damon in the movie, I still would not have read it. It was published (professionally) not long after Ancillary Justice was (which I could not get in Japan and only read when I moved back to the US) and people would not listen when I recommended Anne Leckie. They wouldn't stop going on about this WONDERFUL sci-fi novel about a straight white male protagonist having an adventure. The Bernie Sanders campaign kicked off. I read Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut. I basically set everything on fire with my mind and vowed to move to Antarctica.
Then the movie came. Bah, whatever.
Then the movie came out on DVD/Blu-ray, with Matt Damon's face on the front. It's possible I made blood pact when I was 12 to watch everything Matt Damon has ever made. Also, everyone started making gifsets on Tumblr and potato jokes. Passionate articles were written about The Martian being a huge celebration of science and math...
...and the part of my brain that wasn't in Antarctica went, "go on..."
So I saw the movie and loved it. I am not one of those "you have to read the book first" people, nor do I think the book is always better. The book usually has more detail than can be encompassed by the movie. In my view, the movie usually adds something visual that my brain cannot - my brain is excellent at imagery, but movies involve more people's imagery and that is fun. Being a detail-oriented person, however, as well as a woman, I usually prefer the book. Books are kinder to women, on the whole. There are more books than movies. I would venture that there are more books featuring interesting, intelligent, complex females characters than movies featuring the same.
Anyway. I liked The Martian as a movie more than a book. Why? Because there's easily a third of the book that is covered by a five-minute musical montage in the movie. In the movie, shit is going wrong right up until the last second. They get closer and closer and closer and everything breaks on a smaller and smaller and smaller (though still deadly) scale right up until the last second. The book is WAY worse. Movie!Watney overcomes ridiculous odds, book!Watney is basically cursed. That cut/compressed third of the book dragged like your cat's ass on a new carpet.
The humor in Watney's voice and the interactions of the characters, the general plot, the wholehearted reveling in science, all of these were good things. Some tighter editing might have been nice, both plot and copy. For a NYT #1 bestseller, there were more typos than I've seen since 2006....more
Quite a bit more fun than I expected. I was wary of reading this at first since chronologically I stopped reading EU novels as soon as the Yuuzhan VonQuite a bit more fun than I expected. I was wary of reading this at first since chronologically I stopped reading EU novels as soon as the Yuuzhan Vong war ended. However, there isn't much focus on the intervening years between Solo Command and Mercy Kill - there are some flashbacks to the Vong war, but the new enemy is clearly laid out, the Wraiths are designated, and the con(s) begins. It was funny, it was complex, I had a good time.
Now for thinky thoughts.
I reread Wraith Squadron every year and the other X-wing novels about every year and a half to two years. I've done this since I was 13 or so. Most of the time it's comfort reading, but sometimes I'll have a mini-epiphany. In 2013, I realized that the novels were composed of well-known tropes. Which, duh, but it hadn't occurred to me because when I first read these novels, it was the first time I encountered many of these literary tropes, thus making them New and Exciting. See, when I was 11 or so, my mom realized that 1) I could read at a high school level and 2) I was using my giant brain to read the Boxcar Children series and Eyewitness books. Since Timothy Zhan's books were on the NYT's Bestseller List and I was a Star Wars obsessive, she figured "what the hell" and bought me Heir to the Empire.
Anyway. My mini-epiphany this time around (last month) was "The X-wing books are the opposite of diverse". I mean, if asked I could have told you that years ago, but it was especially clear to me this time around for some reason. They're written in third-person limited, so we're following a few people around, able to hear their thoughts and see what they see. And who are we following? Well, Wedge, duh. I mean, obvious main character choice, amiright? But even when the perspective shifts from Wedge, it shifts to Corran. Or Kell. Or Face. Or Myn. All male. All white. All human. All straight. Ho hum. Plus, squadron make up is relatively stable - 3/4s male, 2/3s human. It's fun to see how the fractions remain the same even when you break it down - 3/4s of the original Wraith Squadron's alien roster is male, and 2/3s of the original female roster is human. 12 is beautiful, beautiful number people. This doesn't hold, of course. By Isard's Revenge, Rogue Squadron has gotten ridiculous - Wedge, Tycho, Hobbie, Janson, Corran, Gavin, and Myn* are all there, making the squadron more than half straight, white, human, and male. If that's not enough for you, however, don't worry! Three of the four aliens are gone by the end of the book, two of them female, leaving Inyri as the last woman standing.
So that's what I went into Mercy Kill with. How did it do?
Better, by a bit. Voort is the perspective character here - still straight, still male, but definitely not human and not white either! Still, I could have used more women - the 3-1 ratio remained (if you count Face, I'm counting Face) and honestly I couldn't tell you about the aliens because none of them stuck in my head besides Huhuuna and Scut. I don't know. (view spoiler)[Though it did tick me off that one of the speaking, named POC (Wran) changed his surname because his dad wasn't in the picture. What were you saying, Allston? That the only reason for somebody to take a surname from their mother's family is because dad walked out? It couldn't be because his mom is awesome? Or because dad took her name when they married? Galaxy far, far away starting to look a lot like 20th century America, hmm? AND you do this to the Black kid? (hide spoiler)]
*Er, I think he's there. Anyway, 7/12 of one, half a dozen if the other....more
In short, this is Independence Day mashed with that post you see on Tumblr that points out, hey, why can't humans be the badasses of the galaxy? WPros
In short, this is Independence Day mashed with that post you see on Tumblr that points out, hey, why can't humans be the badasses of the galaxy? Who says we have to be weaker, dumber, slower, etc.? I love Independence Day, so...
Weber takes his usual approach to character diversity - I swear he sits there with a coin for sex and a die for race and flips/rolls them for each new character it introduces. This is certainly not ground-breaking plot-wise, but it is a fun vacation read with women and POC characters just doing their thing, being badasses and civilians and politicians and spouses and kids and soldiers.
(view spoiler)[Vampires make a surprise fourth act appearance and kick alien butt. Like, seriously, in the last 50 pages, vampires. WTF? (hide spoiler)]
Weber takes his usual approach to warfare - i.e., you finish his books with a doctorate in 1800s naval tactics. Does the reader really need to know that the civilian version of the P90 takes a smaller magazine than the military one?
Take it or leave it
One main character's name is Dave and he lives in South Carolina. Just like David Weber. ::side-eyes::...more
I liked this well enough that I'll read the rest of the trilogy, but meh. The set-up was great but it reminded me of skating on a rink that is in needI liked this well enough that I'll read the rest of the trilogy, but meh. The set-up was great but it reminded me of skating on a rink that is in need of a Zamboni - that wobble of dissonance as you slip into the ice groove cut by someone else's skates. I kept getting flashes of the Hunger Games and the Divergent series - the imperiled little sister, the two romantic possibilities that may or may not be allies, the kind stylist, the snarky protagonist.
The plot starts off with a bang, but trails off from there. All of the action in this book could have been edited down to a 100, maybe 150 pages. Insert "get off my lawn" speech about trilogies for the sake of trilogies here. There's no good reason for a book to end with a cliffhanger....more
Stopped reading after the third page of dialogue focused on the fatness of the American woman. Actually, stopped reading immediately after the descripStopped reading after the third page of dialogue focused on the fatness of the American woman. Actually, stopped reading immediately after the description of violent oral sex that one of the characters wished to inflict on her, because she was fat....more
My least favorite of a favorite series, the one I never reread. I bought the New Millennium edition, as the author is updating the outdated tech fromMy least favorite of a favorite series, the one I never reread. I bought the New Millennium edition, as the author is updating the outdated tech from the original 1980s novels and fixing some things about the timeline. Unlike the new edition of So You Want to be a Wizard, it felt less heavy-handed - only one reference had me rolling my eyes.
The scene on the moon made me cry again, damnit. ...more