Review of Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

May 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Firefight by Brandon SandersonFirefight (The Reckoners #2)
By Brandon Sanderson; Performed by MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 17 February 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours

Themes: / YA / fantasy / magic / superpowers /
Publisher summary:

Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Words of Radiance, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn Trilogy, presents the second book in the Reckoners series: Firefight, the sequel to the #1 bestseller Steelheart.Newcago is free. They told David it was impossible, that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart—invincible, immortal, unconquerable—is dead. And he died by David’s hand. Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers. Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is flooded and miserable, but David is sure it’s the path that will lead him to what he needs to find. Entering a city oppressed by a High Epic despot is risky, but David’s willing to take the gamble. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic—Firefight. And now he will go on a quest darker and even more dangerous than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

I really liked Steelheart and this book was a good continuation of the story even though I didn’t like it quite as much. A new location, different situations, new epics, and even worse similes come together for a new adventure for David and The Reckoners. If you enjoyed the first book you will almost certainly like this one too…unless you throw the book through a window due to one of David’s many terrible similes.

The story is kind of similar as Steelheart except that it takes place in the remnants of Manhattan where many strange things are happening. I had more trouble following the details of the world this time around because the descriptions of the world are a bit harder to imagine. The world as described is really interesting in concept but it’s hard to follow sometimes with how things actually play out.

Sanderson is known for magic systems and he is no slouch here. The new powers and weaknesses of epics coupled with the the heck is going on with Calamity (the light in the sky that coincided with people attaining super powers) makes for interesting developments in the overall plot. I do like how Sanderson always has a plan for developing the magic system with each book and we definitely learn more in this book. I still really love the concept of a world with super heroes that are all corrupted – it’s such an interesting spin on the normal super hero story.

On the audio side of things MacLeod Andrews does a fine job narrating the story. He does some good voices that fit the characters well and puts sufficient emotion in his delivery. I think the audio version of this book is a great way to experience it.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Willful Child by Steven Erikson

March 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Willful Child by Steven EriksonWillful Child
By Steven Erikson; Read by MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours

Themes: / science fiction / space / spoof / homage /

Publisher summary:

These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the.…And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.

Willful Child by Steven Erikson tells the rambling adventures of Captain Hadrian Sawback and his crew after his appointment to the A.S.F. Willful Child. It’s a broad comedy Star Trek spoof that feels as episodic as the TV show with no bigger story arc to tie everything together. What begins as an often interrupted quest to bring an AI to her home system (a quest that turns out to be pointless as the AI neither learns nothing of her origins nor cares) becomes a haphazard rescue mission requested by the seemingly unrelated, quickly forgotten characters from the prologue. But in a book like this, the plot is obviously a vehicle for the antics of our heroic captain.

Hadrian Sawback, the recently assigned starship captain, is much like if Captain Kirk was played by Stan Smith from American Dad. While possessing all of lewdness of Captain Brannigan, he lacks his naivety and instead acts with reckless abandon and no thought as to the consequences of his actions. His crew, chosen from head shots, is either incompetent or disapproving. Like most of the secondary characters, they are underdeveloped and reactionary. One of the exceptions is the rather disgusting, mucus-y aliens who are the main villains of the story. While their body fluid-based comedy is not to my taste, they do have their own goals and help provide a sense of continuity. However, they do not provide much of a challenge to Sawback, who, to be fair, experiences little difficulty with anything.

The whole story relies heavily on science fiction tropes and gets more and more slapstick as it goes. Erikson is a good writer but your enjoyment of the book will be dependent on your sense of humor. If you enjoy excessive alien mating, awkward cross-dressing and frequent Star Trek parodies, this you’ll love this book. MacLeod Andrews does a wonderful job with the narration and manages to bring life to even the most minor characters. It’s a perfect light summer read.

Posted by Rose D.

Review of Jumper by Steven Gould

July 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Jumper by Steven GouldJumper (Jumper #1)
By Steven Gould; Performed by MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] 10 hrs. on 9 CDs
ISBN: 978-1469298801

Themes: / teleportation / coming-of-age /crime /

Publisher summary:

What if you could go anywhere in the world, in the blink of an eye? Where would you go? What would you do? Davy can teleport. To survive, Davy must learn to use and control his power in a world that is more violent and complex than he ever imagined. But mere survival is not enough for him. Davy wants to find others like himself, others who can Jump. And that’s a dangerous game.

It’s actually interesting to note the timing for my reading of this book. I’d just finished Larry Correia’s Hard Magic and jumped (pun intended) right into Jumper by Steven Gould, the new SFWA president.

I absolutely loved Hard Magic and Correia’s book dealt with a wide variety of different magics, from the Pale Horse who can make people die to the Heavies who can use magic to move objects (and much more as we find out) and even teleports who can disappear and appear anywhere they want. Jumper, on the other hand, only deals with one power, teleportation. How could this book even compete?

And yet as complicated and well-thought-out as Hard Magic is, even going so far as to explain what happens when you teleport into a bug (it melds with your skin and really hurts), Jumper was an excellent story in its simplicity. Jumper explains some of the nuances of the powers of teleportation, but not nearly as in-depth as Correia (I know, even with all the other powers it deals with).

Davy learns about his powers through some pretty brutal circumstances. His dad is an alcoholic who regularly beats him, but in the middle of one episode, he suddenly “jumps” away to his local library. From there, he decides not to go back, but that doesn’t mean he understands or even knows how to use his newfound skills. Davy gets into more trouble out on his own with scumbags who try to rape him and again he accidentally teleports out of the situation and back to the library.

And so begins Davy’s use of his powers and his fledgling understanding of what he is able to do. This, this right here, is the genius of this story. I can’t imagine finding myself with these powers, especially at a young age and with such brutal circumstances, but I’m sure it would be something very similar to this. Okay, with a few less problems because not everyone encounters one problem after the next, but overall it works so well.  The performance by MacLeod Andrews is a good capture of being a teenager, crackly voice and all.

I’m also happy to report that the book is leaps and bounds better than the movie. With such a cool premise and such great previews, how did that movie suck so much? Oh yeah, they got the worst actor in the world to be the lead.

On the topic of the movie, if you are one of the poor souls who sat through it (it did have its moments of not being terrible I have to admit), the movie follows the book pretty well for the most part although there are some things that are added, but I’m wondering if those elements don’t appear in the sequels to this book which I’ll have to read and get back to you about.

To recap. Jumper is much better than the movie and works well because of its simplicity. It’s nothing that will change the world in terms of ideas or writing, but it’s great for what it’s meant for – action and exploration. It displays a power we all wish we could have and does so brilliantly and realistically.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Posted by Bryce L.