Star Trek: Discovery Ep 3 (TV Show Review)

The great grand premiere of the first Star Trek series in some fifteen odd years fell rather flat last week when Discovery premiered its first two episodes, The Vulcan Hello and Battle at the Binary Stars. In what was a mess of characterization and plot, closely matched by some intentional technological leaps that should not exist, the premiere was deeply unsatisfying. It was doing too much of the unconventional without justification, presenting too much history without justification. None of which set a good tone for episode 2.

However, some of my hopes did pan out and episode 3, Context Is For Kings proved to be a much better episode in many ways although some of the core concepts behind the show are still flawed. With some better acting, a return to some of the roots of Star Trek and an interesting mystery and mission for the USS Discovery, I think that this episode can be a vital pivot for the show to survive and improve in what it should be.

Note: This review contains major spoilers for the first two episodes. Continue reading “Star Trek: Discovery Ep 3 (TV Show Review)”

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Star Trek: Discovery Eps 1 & 2 (TV Show Review)

It has been some fifteen odd years since last we had a Star Trek series on-air. While often looked down as a weak successor to the legacies of the Star Trek legacy in the 80s and 90s, Star Trek: Enterprise nevertheless covered one of the most interesting periods of human history in the franchise, the years before the Federation existed and when humans were still finding their way in a complex Alpha Quadrant. As such, Star Trek: Discovery aims to capture a similar feeling since it starts some ten years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series and is thus another prequel in an ever-expanding universe.

Debuting last night on CBS’s premier streaming service, CBS All-Access, Star Trek: Discovery posits itself as a hard-hitting action series set in the Star Trek universe. Covering as it does the years of a Federation-Klingon war that, to my knowledge, has not been mentioned before in the lore, this was perhaps inevitable and is also exciting because it carries on a theme from ST:E that being mere explorers is not enough. You need some big guns too. With a brand-new crew and a new ship, it is a ripe time to dive back down into the franchise, given the parallel lines of the rebooted movies, but unfortunately much of the series opener falls flat, either due to the writing or production choices.

Note: This review contains major spoilers for the two episodes. Continue reading “Star Trek: Discovery Eps 1 & 2 (TV Show Review)”

The Defenders Season 1 (TV Show Review)

It has been two and a half years since Netflix began releasing shows based on Marvel’s various superhero characters. It all began with Daredevil, then moved to Jessica Jones, then Luke Cage and rounded off the introductory cast with Iron Fist. And all of this has now culminated in The Defenders, which brings these four heroes and their supporting cast together for what’s meant to be a big explosive start to a shared television programming from Netflix.

Sure, we’ve had some crossovers in the superheroes’ individual series, but it has been rather light aside from Luke Cage debuting on Jessica Jones as a main character. And now The Defenders takes it all to a whole new level as each of these four heroes follows their own investigations and then teams up for the greater good, realizing they are better off when working as one unit. The Defenders is a fairly good show with lots of fan-pleasing and wonderful moments throughout, but often it suffers from terrible villains and a rather weak overall plot. Undeniably however, it is still a far better outing than either Luke Cage or Iron Fist, both of which were rather lackluster.

Note: This review contains  some spoilers for the four individual Marvel Netflix series and also for this show.

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Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Book Review)

Going by his Shadows of the Apt novels, Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of my favourite SFF writers by far. Empire In Black and Gold and Dragonfly Falling are very enjoyable novels that focus on something very different for a fantasy series, sentient insect-human cross-breeds as a dominant species and their wars against each other. Having gotten that foothold into Adrian’s work, and getting back on the reading train a few months ago, I was excited to try a different track with his Children of Time novel, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award last year. Much acclaim has been showered on the author and novel alike, and now having read it for myself, I am very much inclined to agree. As with his Shadows of the Apt series, Children of Time tackles a very different sort of space opera that does indeed hearken back to some of Arthur C. Clarke’s best work and presents it as something truly wondrous and intriguing.

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Garro by James Swallow (Book Review)

I started listening to the Black Library audio dramas back in September 2011, well after they’d been established as an important by the publisher. Ranging from stories set in Warhammer Fantasy Battles or the various shades of Warhammer 40,000 the audio drama series have definitely carved for themselves a niche among Black Library’s many products. None however have been as enjoyable as James Swallow’s stories featuring Nathaniel Garro, once a captain of the Death Guard legion and then a Knight-Errant for Imperial Regent Malcador following the Isstvan III treachery. Garro is the collected edition of all these audio dramas and also includes a brand-new novel, telling the story of Garro’s journey from being a legionnaire to a legion of one.

Note: This review contains some spoilers.

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Crossfire by Matt Farrer (Book Review)

Some of the best Warhammer 40,000 fiction that I’ve read to date has been rather unique in that it hasn’t focused on the “war” aspect of the setting so much. Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn and Ravenor books for instance, have shown us how Imperial society works at a remove from all the wars in which the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines fight, and it has been really good. The same goes for some recent novels like Chris Wraight’s The Carrion Throne. However, as it turns out, one of the early pioneers of such was Matt Farrer with his Shira Calpurnia series which focused on an Imperial law-officer, Arbiter-Senioris Shira Calpurnia as she transfers over to a bustling Imperial world and has to navigate its politics and other less obvious dangers. The first novel, Crossfire, does a lot to set the stage for Shira’s new adventures and it is a fantastic read that really takes us across many levels of Imperial civilian life through a very unique perspective.

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The Damnation of Pythos by David Annandale (Book Review)

Getting back into the Horus Heresy series after such a long break has been a great experience. Legacies of Betrayal and Garro: Vow of Faith helped ground me and remind me of many of the ongoing storylines while The Crimson King continued the story of the Thousand Sons and Magnus. It also helps that you can jump back-and-forth between novels given how many narratives are in play and that certainly is key for a returning reader since you are not bound to a specific reading order. And in that respect, The Damnation of Pythos by David Annandale is a good example since while it continues a narrative introduced in the Veritas Ferrum micro-short, it is also a standalone. It is also one of the most bleak stories in the series, very intense and emotionally draining even, which fits right in with the horror of the Horus Heresy.

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