I just finised reading Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer of the upcoming Mass Effect video game by BioWare. I heard about itI just finised reading Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer of the upcoming Mass Effect video game by BioWare. I heard about it when reading E3 2007 coverage, as the book was given out free to some attendees. I think Mass Effect is one of this Fall's most exciting game releases, so I figured I'd pick the novel up while I had some reading time and give it a shot.
The story is a prequel to the video game, taking place mostly in the year 2156, about 27 years before when the video game starts. It involves an Alliance soldier named David Anderson and his involvement in an investigation of what happened to a top secret military base. His involvement leads him into political intrigue, a "will they or won't they" relationship, and several encounters with the major baddie of the video game, an alien agent named Saren, who is conducting a parallel investigation, with an entirely separate motive.
Overall I think it was a good read. I think the characters could have maybe been fleshed out a bit more, as there were a few familiar clichés, but I think it does a good job of setting up the video game without giving away too much of what is to come. The major races of the game are all represented, and the backdrop for what is to come is nicely set up. From what I have seen and read of the upcoming game, I wouldn't call the novel a "must read" before getting the game, but if you are excited about the upcoming game and want some background/context to it beforehand, give this book a read. You will definately have a better grasp of the Mass Effect universe, as well as what appears to be its major villian, Saren....more
ust finished up The Stand by Stephen King. It was originally written in 1978 and was revised and expanded in 1990. About 400 pages were added back inust finished up The Stand by Stephen King. It was originally written in 1978 and was revised and expanded in 1990. About 400 pages were added back in that were originally removed by King at the suggestion of the original publisher to make it more marketable/profitable. The story is about the survivors of a superflu that is accidentally released by the U.S. military and wipes out nearly all of the world’s population, setting the stage for an ultimate confrontation between Good and Evil.
I bought the paperback of the expanded edition in the early 90′s and started reading it, but put it down at some point to read something else, and never went back to it. Since I’ve read the majority of Stephen King’s works via audiobook, I had hoped to be able to do the same with The Stand, but audio versions are hard to come by. There is a Books On Tape version of the original book, and a UK Royal Institute of the Blind version of the expanded book, but no official U.S. release of it. I picked it up and started it again about the time the Marvel comic series started (see below), wanting to stay ahead of the comic releases, and was about 200 pages in before again stalling out. When the Kindle spurred my love of reading on again, I bought the Kindle version, and finished all 1140 pages (if the Kindle actually had pages, that is).
The plot. 99.4% of the world’s population dying by the accidental release of a man-made virus. The ways in which people trying to cope with everyone dying around them. The gathering of the good people and the not-so-good people. Epic apocalyptic confrontation between good and evil, in the classic sense where Good is pretty hands off (ok, well, “hands off” most of the time), and Evil is very proactive.
The characterizations. There were a lot of characters in The Stand. But most were pretty distinct and not always one dimensional. You can’t sustain a novel that long without a good cast of characters, and The Stand has it. M-O-O-N, that spells good characters. Not that there was any one character that I could identify with (I’m no Trashcan Man), but it’s definitely a story where you say to yourself as you go along “what would I do if this happened?”
The miniseries. Ok, so this is supposed to be about the book. But I watched the miniseries in 1994 and couldn’t remember much except some very basic things. The rewatched it this week. It’s good. It follows the story very well, and I find it hard to criticize much in it without getting too nitpicky. It’s showing its age a little, in terms of the production values, but it’s a decent visual abbreviation of the book. Watch it if you can find it on DVD somewhere.
NOT SO MUCH
The world view. Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I couldn’t help wondering quite a bit about what was happening outside the U.S. Not that the survivors would know in 2009 any more than in 1990. I’m sure communications would break down as rapidly as anything else. But was some guy in Turkey seeing visions of the Walkin Dude? Was a Japanese lady trying to figure out how to get to Nebraska?
Vegas motivations. I never did understand the motivations of the population that was drawn to Las Vegas. You almost always heard that the dreams from Flagg were nightmarish. Evil people are not necessarily attracted to frightening things. Maybe some were seduced by thoughts of power or something, but what about the average man that goes there and ends up on street cleaning duty? My best guess was that it was a compulsion, but that answer is somehow unsatisfying to me.
Yes. I’d put it up there as one of my favorite Stephen King books (and I’ve read quite a lot of them). I was a bit daunted by the length at first, and the fact that I’d started and stopped it twice since 1994, but I’m pretty sure that happened previously not for lack of interest, but because I put it aside to read some new release I’d been waiting for, and then never went back to it. This time around I stuck solely with it and looked forward to getting back to it day after day. If you’re not daunted by the length, I’d highly recommend it.
If you’re not much of a reader, as I said before, there’s always the miniseries. Also, Marvel Comics has been adapting the novel to comic form during the last year. The first five comics have been combined into a hardcover volume entitled The Stand: Captain Trips, which is available at comic shops and online retailers. The story continues in the second group of comics, entitled The Stand: American Nightmares, which is currently being released monthly. So far they are very detailed and true to the novel.
Finally, Twitter lovers can follow Mother Abigail, Randall Flagg, Frannie Goldsmith, Stu Redman and a host of others as they seem to be twittering out the whole story. Beware of the swine flu... err, Captain Trips. ...more
Upon hearing of upcoming adaptations of The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub, I decided that it might be a good time to read the novel, befUpon hearing of upcoming adaptations of The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub, I decided that it might be a good time to read the novel, before those adaptations hit. The Talisman was published in 1984 and is the story of 12-year-old Jack Sawyer, and his cross-country journey to find an object that might cure his ailing mother of the cancer she is dying of. But of course, this is King and Straub we’re talking about, so you have to throw in a good mix of parallel worlds you can “flip” to where your “twinner” might exist, and werewolves and maniacal preachers and … well, all manner of things you might expect from those two authors.
The writing style. I’ve never read any Peter Straub novels before, but I’ve read a lot of Stephen King. The foreshadowing of events, giving you a teaser of what’s to come to whet the appetite without ruining the suspense, is way above par compared to other authors I’ve read lately. The tying together of plot elements in satisfying ways is masterful. Can you say Hallelujah!
The audiobook. Frank Muller’s reading was once again superb. When deciding whether to read the book on my Kindle or listen to the unabridged audio, I went for the audio immediately when I learned that Frank Muller did it, and I was not disappointed. His character voices, his inflections, his pauses at just the right moments… I almost felt like I could not have read it in my mind as good as he read it aloud.
NOT SO MUCH
The talisman. Why does it exist? How did it get trapped in the Agincourt Hotel and by whom? How do people not know of it? It seems to be an immense power that spans endless worlds, yet it’s ultimate use is for one rather mundane task (by comparison) in one world, that only affects two worlds, as described. I almost feel as though it would have been better to call it a “magic thingy” and leave it at that. Instead I feel like King & Straub only went halfway with it. Sure, there’s plenty of fodder for a sequel, but it left me feeling a bit unsatisfied with this story.
The long journey. The pacing felt very odd. Way to much time is spent in the Oatley Tap for its significance to the story. The same is true for Sunlight Gardner’s School, although the people there hold more significance. The time spent with Wolf… the same. His transformation felt like it played out just because he was a werewolf and that’s what you were supposed to do in a story that has a werewolf. After going from New Hampshire to Illinois at an agonizingly slow pace, Jack travels basically from Illinois to California in 2 days by “train.” The journey back was even quicker, but you would expect that, much the same way that Bilbo’s journey There and Back Again was much more about “there” and very little about “back again.” But the pacing of Jack’s journey there just seemed a little wordy in parts and forced in other parts.
I found The Talisman to be a strange book. Maybe just not what I expected, although I really knew nothing about it when I started. I haven’t really read anything about the book since I finished it, such as how King and Straub divided the writing and so forth. As a King fan, it might be interesting to know what the Straub bits were, if that is easily discerned, to see if Straub’s influence is what threw me off in this story.
While it was engaging enough to finish, and I’m going to start reading the sequel Black House right away, I’m not sure I’d pick it over other King novels were I to recommend just one. So I guess I’d recommend it with reservations. If you’re going to delve in, though, get the Frank Muller audiobook.
As a side note, the success of the comic adaptations of The Dark Tower and The Stand have lead Del Rey to announce an upcoming version of The Talisman in comic form, reportedly to start in a few months and span at least 24 issues. It remains to be seen how that will play out, but given the past comic series quality, I might even recommend just reading the comic over the book (something I would rarely do).
Also, there has been a reported 6-hour miniseries of The Talisman in the works by Stephen Spielberg for several years now. I think it’s been on hold due to budget issues, so I’m skeptical that it’ll ever see the light of day. There is also a fun demo video made by up-and-coming filmmaker Matthieu Ratthe that gives you some sense of how good a movie of The Talisman could be. ...more
I never played any of the Warcraft PC games, but I’ve played World of Warcraft since November 2004. I own all of the Warcraft novels, but have only goI never played any of the Warcraft PC games, but I’ve played World of Warcraft since November 2004. I own all of the Warcraft novels, but have only gotten around to reading one of them (Warcraft: Day of the Dragon by Richard A. Knaak). I was excited to read that Dick Hill had recorded 3 of the Warcraft books as audiobooks, only to be disappointed when their release was delayed indefinitely. So when I saw that World of Warcraft: Arthas – Rise of the Lich King was coming out, I thought it might be a good opportunity to read one that was highly related to the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion, without being tied to a three book series. Downloaded it to my Kindle and gave it a whirl.
True to the Lore. I have read articles by people who played Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne are very faithfully represented in the book, sometimes word for word. After really getting into World of Warcraft, I regretted that I never played either of those games, though real time strategy games are not my forte.
Many World of Warcraft References. There were many World of Warcraft related references in the story. It’s obvious that Golden is very familiar with the MMO. Jaina igniting the Wicker Man for the Hallow’s Eve festival, as well as other festivals. Appearances by Tuskarr and Taunka in Northrend. The ghostly Matthias Lehner (anagram of Arthas Menethil).
NOT SO MUCH
To The Point. I’m probably conditioned by reading a lot of Stephen King and Robert Jordan lately, but I thought as I was reading the book that it could have gone into much more detail about the characters and what was going on. Because it spans so many events, it seems like you are lead from one event to the next with no read character or story development in-between. In the wowwiki post about the book, it references that “The story is set over an extensive period, and has many duplicate scenes from other works, including Tides of Darkness, Beyond the Dark Portal, Day of the Dragon, Reign of Chaos, The Frozen Throne and Wrath of the Lich King. However, while the scenes themselves remain the same, they are experienced from alternate viewpoints.” I think this worked to the detriment of the book, which probably could have been twice as long to fully do justice to the story.
Motivations. This ties in with the previous statement, but I don’t think that the characterization of Arthas was strong enough to make his descent into darkness believable. Perhaps it’s just that so much happens to fast that there just isn’t the depth.
If you are a World of Warcraft fan, this book fleshes out the lore very well. It will give you a new appreciation of the world of the game. For non-fans, it is a very accessible fantasy novel, so it might appeal to some who might not otherwise read the genre. For those who are strictly fantasy story fans and not WoW players, there are plenty of other works that you would probably appreciate much more. ...more
The very first book I bought for my Kindle 2 was Ur by Stephen King. It is currently a Kindle exclusive, and being a sucker for all things King (a ConThe very first book I bought for my Kindle 2 was Ur by Stephen King. It is currently a Kindle exclusive, and being a sucker for all things King (a Constant Reader, if you will), I just had to pick it up.
The story revolves around college English professor Wesley Smith, who was chided by his former love as to why he can’t just “read off the computer like the rest of us.” He orders a Kindle from Amazon, and is surprised when a pink one arrives overnight. He soon discovers that not only can he download books from Amazon, but books from different Urs, alternate realities past and future. When he discovers that he can also download newspapers that way…
The Dark Tower Connection. That came out of left field for me. I wasn’t thinking it or expecting it at all, although it makes perfect sense in hindsight. My first thought was “No way” followed quickly by “Of course.”
The price. It’s a quick read, being a short story / novella, but the price is nice at only $2.99. It was a smart move by Amazon to team up with a high profile author to promote the Kindle 2.
NOT SO MUCH
UR or Ur. How do you spell it? Even Stephen King’s own website uses both. Inside the story, it’s shown as Ur, but the cover picture depicts UR, so I decided to compromise and use UR in the title and Ur in the text.
Ad-like. By its nature, it feels like a bit of an ad for a Kindle. King’s a professional, and the story moves beyond that, but you still think about that as you’re reading.
Yes. The story ‘s premise is decent, and if you can get past the fact that it’s a story available (currently) for the Kindle and it’s about a Kindle, it’s very enjoyable. For King fans that can’t get enough of The Dark Tower series and all of King’s other connections to it, it’s a must-read. ...more
Hot on the heels of finishing The Talisman on audio, I started up the sequel, Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub, as my next audiobook selecHot on the heels of finishing The Talisman on audio, I started up the sequel, Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub, as my next audiobook selection. Black House picks up the story of Jack Sawyer when he’s all grown up. He’s now a retired copisman… err, cop who once solved a murder in French Landing, Wisconsin, and decided to retire early and move there just prior to the start of child kidnappings and murders in the scenic, sleepy town.
So did this sequel, written by King and Straub 17 years after the first book was published, live up to the original?
Dark Tower Universe. Being a huge fan of the Dark Tower novels, I picked The Tailisman and Black House to read for two reasons. First, the same people that make the excellent comics of The Stand and The Dark Tower are prepping for a new series on The Talisman, and I figured I better finish the novel(s) first. Second, I read that there was a connection to the Dark Tower series in the books. The Talisman had very connection if any, but Black House… wow! Huge, huge Dark Tower connections.
Henry Leyden. Probably the most fully formed character in the novel is more like four characters in one, with his radio personalities “Henry Shake,” “Symphonic Stan,” “The Wisconsin Rat” and “George Rathbun.” I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a character that wasn’t the main protagonast in a book in quite awhile. While other characters like Beezer St. Pierre were unique and stand out, none were as well defined as Henry. His actions play heavily into the plot, and King and Straub tried hard to really make the reader care about Henry. Even a blind man could see that.
NOT SO MUCH
The first 100 pages. Ok, I listened to the unabridged audio, so I don’t know how many pages it was, but the first part of the book was really slow. There was a lot of character introduction and not a whole lot of story. When the story did pick up, it took off fairly rapidly, but it took awhile to get there.
Didn’t feel like a sequel. For reasons that are fully explained in the novel, there is very little acknowledgement in the first half of the book that there was a previous story about Jack Sawyer. He could have been a brand new character. Then when the past story did enter the plot, it was very selective. You really got a limited view of the Territories in The Talisman. And you got even less from the sequel. It’s not that I didn’t like what we did get. It’s that my expectation was far different from reality.
This is a tough one. If you are a Dark Tower fan… yes. You should enjoy the connections to Roland’s world. If you read and enjoyed The Talisman… yes. It’s definitely not the same type of book, but you should enjoy the further adventures of Jack Sawyer. If you are a Stephen King and/or Peter Straub fan… yes, although I might recommend other books by those authors first. If you are just looking to pick up a book and don’t qualify for any of the above… maybe. You might enjoy it, but you’d get much more out of it being one of the above as well.
If you’re an audiobook fan… I can’t say enough about the audiobook version read by Frank Muller. He did the unabridged reading of The Talisman as well, so it’s nice to have the continuity there. And he describe a pile of dog poo and make it sound appealing. Probably even give it a voice that would make you think that’s what dog poo would really sound like. Often when I listen to other narrators, it will remind me of how good Frank was. ...more
I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve gotten some of my reading inspiration over the past year or more from the reading selections of The Sword and Laser gI think I’ve mentioned that I’ve gotten some of my reading inspiration over the past year or more from the reading selections of The Sword and Laser group. I don’t participate in their discussions very often, and I’m a pretty slow reader and am usually behind their pace, but I’ve read quite a few things I would not have looked twice at before because of the The Sword and Laser group. One of those is A Game of Thrones, Book One of A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin.
It’s been made into a board game, a LCG, a CCG, an RPG, and soon an HBO pilot, but somehow it all slip past me. So is the novel worthy of all the attention?
Epic Story. The book has everything that an epic story should have: love, fear, hatred, war, death, betrayal, conspiracy, innocence, intrigue. A world that seems to have as much history in it pre-novel as it may have going forward. A story in which so much happens, and yet you barely scratch the surface. It’s no wonder that Martin has been called “The American Tolkien.”
Diverse Characters. Characters coping with situations they are unsuited for. Unlikable characters you grow to love. The diversity of character types in this book astounds me. The bastard son. The crippled boy. The drunken ruler. The clueless snobby sister. The dwarf. The incestuous royalty. The driven wife and mother. The exiled prince. The court liar. The tomboy sister. The savage’s bride. The boys who would be kings. The all-knowing spy. The rescued wolf pups. Martin weaves these characters together almost flawlessly, and nearly every one of them believable.
NOT SO MUCH
Slow Start. It took me awhile to really get into the novel. I listened to the unabridged audio, and it normally takes me a little time to adjust to a new narrator. But probably no more than a half hour… Roy Doctrice does a masterful job. But the story itself took me 3-4 hours to get into. About 2 hours in I almost gave up. I think there are so many characters and plotlines that you jump back and forth between that it feels very disjointed when it’s all new.
Lack of Foreshadowing. Maybe I’m used to a lot of Stephen King. King will write something like “John thought it was a perfect summer morning. Little did he know it would be his last.” Then as you read the next 200 pages, that plays on your mind and your anticipation builds. Martin doesn’t ever really do that, instead going for the instant shock value.
Chapter Structure. One thing that struck me while reading was that I felt a little cheated by the chapter structure. Every chapter is told through the third person point of view of a major character. The problem with that is that when something happens, or is about to happen, to that character, and the chapter ends, you don’t really find out what happens until that person’s POV comes back around in a chapter, even as time passes in the world. Now, all authors control the flow of their stories and will read the reader on with little cliffhangers and such. What bugged me is that the chapter format sort of emphasizes that you’re being led along, because with each passing chapter that doesn’t return to the character in question, you get pulled out of the story by noticing that it didn’t. For instance, one character has 14 of the first 49 chapters, meaning you switch to that characters point of view roughly every 3-4 chapters. Then something happens to them, and you don’t see their POV again for 9 chapters. It really jumped out at me and dragged me out of the story.
Despite my misgivings about the way some of it was written, it’s the story that makes the novel. And the story is so rich and full that once I hit that 3-4 hour mark, I was sucked in and there was no stopping. It was probably one of the fastest 33-1/2 hour books I’ve ever read on audio. I started the second novel (which is 3 hours longer!) the next day, because I wanted the story to continue. There are four books published to date, out of a potential seven, and at the rate I’m going, I may just blow through all four (the release of a fifth book was pushed back several times, and may or may not come this year).
With the HBO pilot looming on the horizon, now’s your chance to start reading where it all began. If you like epic fantasy, you owe it to yourself to start this series. ...more
I jumped right from A Game of Thrones to A Clash of Kings, Book 2 of “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin. Once again I listened to the unabI jumped right from A Game of Thrones to A Clash of Kings, Book 2 of “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin. Once again I listened to the unabridged 36+ hour audiobook read masterfully by Roy Dotrice. The book unapologetically picks up right where the first book left off, with very little in the way of recap. What else would happen to the Starks, the Lannisters? How would Daenerys and her newborn dragons play a part? Or John Snow up in the frozen north? Most improtantly…
…is it a worthly continuation of the series?
Perspectives. I like the fact that not every main character is a king or queen. Rather than have Cersei Lannister or Rob Stark, major influencers in the world, as narrative characters, the book introduced two new narrative characters, in Davos Seaworth the Onion Knight and Theon Greyjoy. Seeing the events of the Battle of the Blackwater unfold from an unrespected smuggler-turned-knight’s perspective, rather than from a great commander like Stannis Baratheon, makes the novel much more interesting.
Unknown Future. Because of the genre and the epic feel of the tale, people often refer to Martin and Tolkien in the same breath. But when you read the first 50 pages of The Lord of the Rings, you know where the characters are ultimately going to end up. You know where Roland of Gilead has to end up at in the Dark Tower series. In this series, I have no idea where things are headed. Given that this is Book 2 of a seven book series, I’m more than okay with that, as long as the story remains engaging. As I read further I would expect to see some foreshadowing of that, but at this stage it’s refreshing to not have a clue what’s around the next corner.
NOT SO MUCH
Cheap Turns of Events. Without revealing too much for those who have yet to read the book, the way two events unfolded in the narrative cheapened their plotlines. In both instances, events were drawing to their inevitable conclusions, only to be completely reversed in the final moments. It hearkens back to the first novel, and the events surrounding Eddard Stark at the Great Sept of Baelor. Surprising the reader with an unexpected turn of events should rarely happen, and only if skillfully done. In this novel, I felt as though I was reading an Agatha Christie novel, and was told that the murderer was the butler’s daughter, who was barely mentioned and not even a suspect. I hope future novels don’t continue the trend.
Chapter Structure (Again). I said previously that while reading A Game of Thrones that I felt a little cheated by the chapter structure. I still feel that way in this book, though perhaps I’ve come to expect it. I still feel a bit too led along by the author, which pulls me out of the book. For instance, when the focus of novel turned towards The Battle of the Blackwater, the story shifts only to that, and chapters told from the perspective of the three people in the area. For quite awhile, the story bounces between these three characters, and all other plotlines are set aside, until things reach a dramatic peak, and then we’re shifted off somewhere else with little explanation. Don’t get me wrong: I understand this is part of the storytelling structure and the author’s dramatic license. I just think it feels a little ham-fisted.
My interest never waned throughout the story, although I thought some of the pacing was off from the first novel. Some of the main characters (Sansa, Catelyn) were less developed this time through, but the stronger ones (Tyrion, Arya) continue to shine. I’m not sure I liked it as much as the first novel, but it’s a strong followup. I’m definitely going to continue reading the series, though I might take a slight detour to read another thing that was just recently released. More on that in a few weeks, I hope. ...more
So this frood named Eoin Colfer, well known for his Artemis Fowl children’s books, was asked by the widow of the late great Douglas Adams to “finish”So this frood named Eoin Colfer, well known for his Artemis Fowl children’s books, was asked by the widow of the late great Douglas Adams to “finish” the Hitchhiker’s Guide series. Finish H2G2?! Well doesn’t that just take the biscuit! What do you call Mostly Harmless, for Zark’s sake!?
Actually, I don’t care about all that. Hitchhiker’s Guide isn’t sacred, and has appeared in so many forms that it’s almost too difficult to count. That Colfer was approached by Adams’ widow Jane Belson, not the other way around, is the right start for me, meaning it wasn’t a vanity project. That Colfer has always been a fan that appreciates the uniqueness of the series is a critical next step. And that Colfer was quoted as saying that “this is a wonderful opportunity to work with characters I have loved since childhood and give them something of my own voice while holding onto the spirit of Douglas Adams and not laying a single finger on his five books” says to me that this is a serious effort that deserves open-minded consideration.
So now that I’m finished with And Another Thing: Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Part Six of Three, I can truly and unequivocally say whether this Colfer chap really knows where his towel is, or whether I now have this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.
Nostalgia. I listened to the audio, read by Simon Jones (who portrayed Arthur Dent numerous HHGTTG iterations), and I have to say that for the first 10-15 minutes of listening to him speaking new Hitchhiker’s, I was grinning from ear to ear. Nostalgia is not always good, as frequently the reality is not as good as you remembered it to be. But I’d say that overall the book was upbeat and fun, didn’t take away anything from what came before it, and gave us just a little bit more.
Unmistakably Hitchhiker’s. The Part Six detractors will hate me for even thinking of saying this, but the book felt like a Hitchhiker’s book. Possibly more so than Adams’ last two entries into the series. There really isn’t a series that feels like Hitchhiker’s, and someone with less appreciation or imagination might not pull it off. Colfer definitely pulled it off. Taking a new trip with Arthur and Ford and Trillian and Zaphod felt good because the tone and essence that makes Hitchhiker’s so special was there. It was a good romp in the Hitchhiker’s universe with all the trappings we know and love.
NOT SO MUCH
Guide Notes. I think it’ll probably be a universal criticism of this book that the Guide Notes were over-played. If I remember correctly, Adams phased them out and they did not appear in later novels. I appreciate Colfer bringing them back, as it’s one of those distinctly Hitchhiker’s type of things, and the early Adams’ novels that used them were more popular with fans than the later ones that did not. But they interrupted the flow of things way too much, and I really don’t remember any of them like I do about what happened to all the biros (ballpoint pens). So I appreciate their use, but wished they had been used more sparingly.
Missing the Mark. In addition to the Guide Notes, a few other things didn’t work for me. It’s hard to say that Colfer should not have done this or that, as he shouldn’t try to imitate Adams. But I found a few things distracting. Names that are puns was one of them. They didn’t really make me laugh, or groan. More like just roll my eyes. There were also a few too many references to previous things from Hitchhiker’s radio, TV, novels and so forth. When you’re on Part Six, it’s hard not to mine that previous gold for more nuggets, and even Adams may have done the same if he were the author. Not that I’d advocate getting rid of them all, but each reference used was an opportunity wasted to come up with something new and just as unique and fun.
To people unfamiliar with Hitchhiker’s, I’d say start at the beginning. There’s too much history here to start at Part Six. But for Hitchhiker’s fans, I would definitely recommend it. There’s not much of a point in the story/plot, but is there ever in Hitchhiker’s? If you go into it expecting Douglas Adams, you’ll find ways to be disappointed. If you go into it expecting the essence of Douglas Adams, I think you will be entertained. Colfer does know where his towel is. And for Zark’s sake, listen to it read by Simon Jones! ...more
**spoiler alert** I feel immersed in all things Mass Effect lately. Aside from playing Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360 and playing Mass Effect Galaxy on**spoiler alert** I feel immersed in all things Mass Effect lately. Aside from playing Mass Effect 2 on the Xbox 360 and playing Mass Effect Galaxy on my iPod Touch, I’ve been reading the Mass Effect: Ascension audiobook. Author Drew Karpyshyn was the lead writer on the first Mass Effect game, is co-lead writer on Mass Effect 2, and also wrote the first Mass Effect novel, Mass Effect: Revelation. I read and reviewed that novel. How does this one stack up?
Side Universe. I like the separation of the plots of the games and the novels. It gives the novels a little more credence that they aren’t just tacked on money grabs, and gives Karpyshyn an opportunity to expand the universe. References to the events of the first Mass Effect game feel natural and not forced. (As a side note, references to this novel are found in Mass Effect 2 as well.)
Uncharted Territory. I enjoyed the attention given to the Quarians in the novel. Of the alien species in the Mass Effect universe, the Quarians are probably one of the more interesting ones. They created the Geth, who rebelled on them and drove them from their home world (and played a huge part in the first game). They live as part of a vast Migrant Fleet that roams the galaxy, and live most of their lives in environmental suits, giving them an aura of both mystery and suspicion that’s well suited for exploration. They do get a little attention in Mass Effect 2 during Tali’s loyalty mission, but their lifestyle was not really given the attention it is here. Also, the effects of the environmental suit on Gillian played perfectly into her story as well, like a natural fit. I hope other species get fleshed out a little more in the upcoming third novel.
NOT SO MUCH
Assumptions. (Spoilers) I was really distracted by the reaction of Kahlee to Gillian’s changes after they leave the Academy. My first though was that she was acting strangely due to unknown effects from the Cerberus medicines she was given, but that’s not even considered. But when there is some discussion about how her autistic tendencies are lessening and her biotic growth is improving, it’s immediately assumed that it’s because she is no longer affected by the Cerberus drug. It just seemed a little convenient that their assumptions were correct, as they didn’t seem like the right ones at that stage of the novel. Grayson also rightly assumes exactly where the group flees to from Omega.
Character Missteps. The lesser characters in the novel seemed a little one-dimensional. Jiro’s motivations seemed unclear. Nick, the student who mocks Gillian and gets tossed across the cafeteria for it, is given multiple scenes to establish his character, when he could have easily been introduced in the cafeteria scene to similar effect.
I would not recommend this book to anyone unfamiliar with the Mass Effect universe. But it works well as a gap-bridger between the first two games, and it was nice to see references to some of the events of the story built into the game, like the introduction of Omega, or Talia’s antagonism towards Cerberus because of what they did on the flotilla. It’s not a long read, and if you are craving more Mass Effect, give it a shot. Don’t expect a literary masterpiece, but rather a solid tie-in novel....more