The SFFaudio Podcast #497 – READALONG: Dune (Appendices) by Frank Herbert

October 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #497 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, and Bryan Alexander, talk about Dune: Appendices by Frank Herbert aka the appendixes of Dune, the adaptations, and the book’s influence.

Talked about on today’s show:
the Appendix, a world first?, The Lord Of The Rings, Tom Bombadil, Tom Baker, most science fiction books don’t have appendices, Ringworld, Hal Clement’s Mission Of Gravity, The Ecology Of Dune, The Silmarillion, more fiction, out-takes from world-building, Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, glossary, what makes an appendix an appendix, non-fictional matter that explains and develops a world, really wants to be Dune, Christo Empire Silence , an empire must be get-able to, Aba – loose robe worn by Fremen women, usually black, another episode, Kynes came first, his babies, doing all that work, so fully thought through, the seams are as smooth as the desert sand, a skeptical point of view, past the point where you need it, the American edition of A Clockwork Orange, a glossary of the slang, a weird supplement, you don’t need the map, Eric Rabkin, transformed language, new or repurposed vocabulary, lasgun, a demystifier, the terminology of the impreium, demi-brother, cone of silence, Get Smart, a superfluousness, a playground of the imagination, peons, he put it into the book but he doesn’t use the word, the real reason, Dune lives beyond the last chapter, there is only one Dune movie, the Sci-Fi channel miniseries are fucking terrible, wasn’t there a book too, heartplugs, there’s no heartplugs in the original Dune book, a life much greater than the final word of the last sentence of the last book of Dune, sequels by other hands, Star Wars, Jesse’s spirited defense of the weirding modules, David Lynch’s Dune doesn’t capture the Paul – Duncan Idaho relationship, whiny Paul, “I just want to see my dad”, “Paul we don’t need your sarcasm”, Paul is the receiver of a long tradition, the Harkonnens, they’re not joking around, William Hurt, casting, ending scenes with a rhyming couplet, the Jodorowsky Dune, Pink Floyd, a fantasy dream, Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary, stories and stories, visual matches, Hollywood loves to pilfer from foreign films, movies that come out in pairs, Deep Impact and Armageddon, psychedelic, using drugs to expand consciousness, a sixties novel, a seventies novel, the ecological part, the rain at the end, the reward for the ritual sacrifice of Sting, the galactic setting, the mythical part, Beatles, El Topo (1970), a psychedelic western, The Holy Mountain (1973), it makes Zardoz looks like an after-school special, Santa Sangre (1989), Lynch was the wrong director, the anti-epic, the greatest science fiction film every made, trying to turn Dune into a movie, the Allan Smithee version, the Japanese laser-disc version, we gotta lot of characters, we gotta infodumping, all the things that happen, more than enough for a season of a television show, Francessa Annis, Leonardo Cimino, the Baron’s Doctor, your diseases made love to me, Brad Dourif, he treats everyone like an idiot, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, and his co-stars, there’s nothing about eyebrows in the book, the kind of detail Jesse is loving, visualization, The Death Of Stalin (2017), Steve Buscemi, Brezhnev, Richard Jordan, Kyle Maclachlan, a blank slate, Blue Velvet, The Trigger Effect (1996), The Twilight Zone, very present for its time, Virginia Madsen, Silvana Mangano, Everett McGill, Twin Peaks, Jack Nance, Nefud, they’ve even got his music in there, it’s unbelievable, Jürgen Prochnow, Patrick fuckin Stewart, a battle pug!, dogs, Atredies, RPG launchers, Long live Duke Leto!, no pets on Dune, if Queen Elizabeth showed up with her corgis, Lynch added, he worked on the script for six months, so full, it works really well if you know the story, how come everybody isn’t watching this every night, the third stage guild navigators, giant slug people, Sardaukar Terror Troops, visually what is happening, Wellington Yueh, Asian, international casting, red haired, every grunt is ginger, a horrible sex scene, the heartplug is the symbol for that kind of perversion, it is the novel in a very real sense, the cat’s job is to show that Thufir is being controlled, they had to cut stuff, whole scenes added at the beginning of the film, it really almost is the book, its awesome!, so accessible, people who’ve read the book tend to be dismayed by it, the tradition of epic film, Akira Kurosawa, Kubrik’s Spartacus, the Battle of the Five Armies, The Straight Story, a really weird noise, finally a David Lynch moment, Inland Empire (2006), Mullholland Drive (2001), a perfect horror film in three minutes, a very strange scene, the floating fatman, never before never since, every war movie, the sense of pageantry, the sense of scale and heat, desert coloured fatigues, a sense of scale that the book can’t, the production history, Dino De Laurentiis, watching people on stage, the worms are fabulous, a universal film, Star Wars for grown ups, this is not Buck Rogers, completely belly-flopped, way the minority, a punchline, the existential bleakness of the Dune Coloring Book, let’s color the Baron’s Doctor, incredibly abbreviated, 129 theatrical, 176 minutes, how weird it is, whispered though narration, “My Duke. How I’ve failed you!”, literally weird as in weird fiction, hypnotizing, straight out of the book, the banquet scene, My Dinner With Andre, a whole episode, everything about the miniseries is terrible, more Irulan in the TV mini-series, disembodied head, nice and Lynchian, Dune Messiah, more cat-milking, the goddamn weirding modules, all the other versions of Dune, a jazz album from the 1970s, a board game, the real time strategy game, The Dune Encyclopedia, The Dune Companion, this isn’t a concordance, creative stuff, Game Of thrones, where it could have gone beyond, not-ordinary fan fiction, its the Talmud, oh my god!, especially Jesse, expanding out that universe, what’s in this that inspires that?, what would hook him?, that whole weird trip, the world-building that went into the book, historical novels, Steen Hansen, thank you Steen, Steen’s spirit animal is the Baron from the movie, he’s the ID unleashed, such a fucking evil shit that you love, little Alia, Rabban rips the face off a cow, “Yeth my Baron!”, this is not a rip-off of Star Wars, Tatooine, we got some moisture vaporators, some bantha tracks, Carrie Fisher back from the dead flying through space with magic woo powers, the comparison, the centerpieces, Paul Atredies and Luke Skywalker, the National Lampoon, the Dessert World, “my god I’m good, my god…I’m God!”, power fantasies, such a period piece, staying power beyond the 1960s and 1970s, the spaceship earth mode, oil and scarcity, the attitude towards sexuality, the homophobic strain, will that power last?, that’s just the way the world works these days, absent an adaptation…, Altered Carbon, a book compressed and shoved into a film medium, it’s time to talk about the weirding modules, untranslatable to film, much easier to film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Harry Potter is much more influenced by film than other fantasy novels prior to it, Rowlings books have scenes and sequences, rich and deep themes about psychology, loyalty, love, the weirding way, a specialized athlete, very hard to translate that to film, yoga mats, aligning chakras, montage, “you have the weirding way”, why these people are special, the new army, a second level guild navigator cleaning up urine with a broom, making small-talk, you are transparent, the emperor spills his guts, a filmable film, set the film in motion, a through-line, the training scenes, “kick it, punch it, yell at it”, they have laser swords!, some sort of gimmick item, Krull (1983), how the voice can control people, “My name is a killing”, Usul no longer needs the weirding module, a perfect film, “THE (film) adaptation of DUNE full stop end of story”, watching, listening, Dune Messiah, how we’re going to overthrow Paul, we once made a Kwisatz Haderach but we had to kill him, a prophet, many such prophets, Joseph Smith, Jesus, a lost of thread of Dune, that’s the kind of passion, a flying Dutchman of space, dates mentioned in the book, the history from 1980 to Dune’s future, so generative, Stephenson tells you everything, CHOAM, Noam Chomsky, why Jesse is completely wrong about the weirding modules, Arnold J. Toynbee, history, challenge and response, The Dosadi Experiment, Babylon 5, why the Fremen are such great fighters, the Vorlons are the democrats, the Shadows are the republicans, and the solution is to get out from under both, deliberately creating these conditions, serving wench, God Emperor Of Dune, unless you squeeze and squeeze the human race will be killed off, one Sardaukar throws two Atredies, the training montage, training a unit, “fit him with the weirding module, Doctor Yueh”, activate a fighter, paralleled in the back end, the fighting machine, this could have been a great theme, Denis Villeneuve, visuals, music, favorite actors, Arrival (2016) had scale, Blade Runner: 2049 (2017), if you’re doing the book, look at The Hobbit, they’re doing it wrong, five dwarves too many, where’s the poetry, to film the impossible film, Brian Herbert, Eric Roth, War And Peace, the Soviet 8 hour film, Lynch put such a stamp, when you’re watching the miniseries, sentences, spun and respun, the previous incantations, the power of the word, Soviet movies, formally possible, production, do a TV show, The Man In The High Castle, Sharknado 5, sigh, Sicario (2015), HBO, Westworld, cinematic universes, The Expanse, back into the book and the books, all those cultures and all those secrets, such depth, if you could read the book and enjoy it you could be my friend, in 1983/4, Starlog, the stills, one more adaptation, the Audible multiple narrator edition, George Guidall, a 2010 music video starring Christopher Walken, check out my new weapon, walk without rhythm you won’t attract the worm, the wonderful dance, this crazy book line, the power of these words, still influencing, an ars technica discussion, Second Life, three different Dune re-enactment levels, a still suit, a chrysknife, scheduled reenactments, Prim Perfect, a tottaly VR game, oh my love girl, knife fight with Sting!, prescient visions, the appropriate use the media, infeasible/unfeasable, nobody loves every episode, there’s more interest in Dune podcast episodes, independent of hype, Luke Burrage, Comic Book Girl 19‘s Dune show, holy crap she’s a genius, becoming hyper-intelligent when talking about it, doing something profound to the reader, fake excitement, New Releases/Recent Arrivals, most of it is artificial, Bryan do you want to show on Greenmantle by John Buchan?, the best of a bunch of bad books, revisiting Dune with you, is that the end? it could be the end, but there’s no sequels, that was just the excuse, the trigger for the movie talk, shitting on the Bene Gesserit for being a little dumb, the Religions of Space Travel, published by Chilton, what it did for Chilton, when you break the mold, people want the mold, the publishers tell authors what to write, John W. Campbell, the Golden Age, Extra Credits, the book business, the Golden Age for some people?, the dignity, a new golden age?, stuff was really great back in that time, The First Golden Age of SF 1938-1946, 1947-1959, the rise of the paperback, writing paperbacks, from short stories to novels (and then series), changing the SF genre immensely, a whole new market, Del Rey, The Sword Of Shannara, extruded fantasy product, the grim dark era, a piracy show, never underestimate the power for the demand of a product, Tolkien didn’t want his books published in paperback, the ACE The Lord Of The Rings, an authorized paperback edition, not-piracy per-se, the history of their own industry, demand that isn’t supplied, suppression, getting that supply, the words must flow, paperbacks and pockets, “you could get hardcover books of Tolkien at the library”, in the modern era, a digital copy, Tolkien’s feelings about the wretchedness, Dune rules as a paperback, piracy is just demand, Wayne June is super-popular, beneficial to Wayne June, they are loving giving him money, not knowing what the market’s actually like, fictional author: Alice Beth Chatham, both sides, look to your own experience, piracy is a way of getting stuff when you don’t have any money, really complex, sometimes flattering, a weird argument with the head of the RIAA, steal this episode, pay for this episode, obscurity is the big problem, somebody got mad, an author dropped by the publisher, lost sales, save it for the pirate episode?

Map of Arrakis

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Star Wars: Bloodline

August 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Bloodline by Claudia GrayStar Wars: Bloodline (New Republic)
By Claudia Gray; Narrated by January LaVoy
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 3 May 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours, 14 minutes

Themes: / Star Wars / New Republic /

Publisher summary:

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE
 
When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.
 
Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.
 
As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .

Review:

To start I will say that I was about to give up on Star Wars books because I haven’t been enjoying them lately, but now I’m telling my friends that do like Star Wars book to go read this one because we might be turning a corner here.

What starts out as a slow, politics-laden story became a fun Star Wars book that actually had meaningful events. The recent flow of Star Wars novels have felt like filler more than content so it’s about time a story actually starting to really fill in some of the events between Episodes 6 and 7. The book isn’t perfect by any means but I enjoyed it well enough and it gives me hope that more good novels could still happen. Did you miss all the politics that didn’t happen in Episode 7? Well you are going to love the beginning of this book. Glad there weren’t politics in Episode 7? Be patient with the beginning of the book and you’ll be rewarded with some redeeming adventure afterwards!

The story begins with tension in the senate between Democrats and Republicans in the senate….err I mean Centrists and Populists. Really the whole two party system felt like an allegory for the current political climate in many ways. If you’re sick of all the primaries and partisan stuff going on, you’ll be able to relate to the nonsense going on here. Both sides of the New Republic government see each other a villains or weak and their bickering means nothing gets accomplished (see what I mean about it being just like our government???). Enter a real threat and everyone is too busy arguing to pay any head so lets send a bipartisan contingent to investigate! Leia (populist) volunteers to go on a mission to investigate this criminal organization and an annoying, pompous centrist volunteers to go with her.

Enter Ransolm Casterfo. This guy starts out pretty annoying but I actually came to really like him after the first little foray of adventure. He has more depth to him than many other Star Wars characters and is given many nuanced decisions to make throughout the book while dealing with the fact that he becomes friends with his political enemy. He has a big role to play in this story and does not disappoint. There are a couple of other interesting characters that are introduced in this novel and they are also often more than they seem…but Ransolm Casterfo is the best of them.

Speaking of adventure, the action has a bit of a rocky start but gets to be more interesting as the story progresses. There were some moments early on when I got pretty tired of Leia being some kind of expert of the criminal world and acting pretty reckless, but a lot of that pulpy behavior faded out as the story continued. Star Wars is still the kind of world where you don’t send special forces or spies to investigate criminal organizations, you send some of your most important leaders (Like how Star Trek always seems to have the top ranking officers of the ship on dangerous away missions).

As for the audio side of things Star Wars continues with its great formula of great narration, music, sound effects, and atmospheric sounds. January LaVoy does a great job with the narration even though her range of distinct voices isn’t as varied as some. The music and special effects were great as usual with some odd music choices for some scenes but some very poignant choices for others. Most of the atmospheric sounds were good but some scenes go on a while and I felt like the background noise was on a bit of a loop – a problem I haven’t heard from a Star Wars audiobook since Star Wars: Kenobi (thank goodness it wasn’t very distracting).

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Aftermath: Star Wars by Chuck Wendig, Read by Marc Thompson

October 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Star Wars AFtermathAftermath: Star Wars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
By Chuck Wendig; Narrated by Marc Thompson
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: September 04, 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 Hours and 16 Minutes

Themes: / Star Wars / rebels / empire /

Publisher summary:

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance – now a fledgling New Republic – presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial star destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former Rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world – war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’ urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is – or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit – to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies – her technical genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector – who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Star Wars Aftermath is the first book of the newly renovated Star Wars timeline to take place after the original movies and it doesn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it. We were enticed by the potential for details of what happens after Return of the Jedi but details of the main heroes are doled out sparingly while the main part of the story involves mostly new characters. This isn’t quite the journey to the Force Awakens I was hoping for.

The main plot follows those new characters, Wedge gets some screen time in there, and we get small glances of the rest of the universe through small little interlude chapters – which are the most interesting parts of the book. We get to find out some hints of interesting things going on elsewhere in the universe and it’s the unclear nature of those hints that make them so interesting.

So what about the main story? It’s fairly standard pulpy Star Wars action that I honestly can’t really remember a whole lot of because nothing particularly stood out. Some of the remnant of the Empire decide to hold a secret meeting somewhere they don’t have firm control (or also not somewhere in deep space) so that Rebels (or New Republic people) could stumble upon them and we could have some nice “stuck on a planet” moments. I’ve seen some criticism of the writing style but I think the main problem this book has is that the plot doesn’t really seem to matter in the grand scheme of things. Besides, I don’t look for fine writing in a Star Wars book anyway – I look for fun and action.

As for the audio side of things, Marc Thompson and the sound engineers did a great job as per usual. Thompson does a great range of voices and impressions even though he didn’t really get to use many of those impressions in this book. His Wedge sounds a lot more like Luke but Wedge doesn’t really have as much of persona from the movies anyway. The music and sound effects were great as they usually are in Star Wars productions.

Posted by Tom Schreck

The SFFaudio Podcast #329 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

August 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #329 – Jesse, Scott, Jenny, Tamahome and Paul talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
ecomic, The BOZZ Chronicles by David Michelinie and Bret Blevins, Dover Publications, Iron Man, The New Mutants), a “plucky prostitute”, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, the Guardian Podcast, a tyranny of circumstances, The Cold Equations, The Coode Street Podcast, Interstellar, interestingly depressing, Ali Ahn, Hachette, this is all Paul, City of the Chasch: The Tschai, Planet of Adventure, Book 1 by Jack Vance, interesting language, strange customs, fun books, Blackstone Audio, Resurrection House, Reading Envy, Archangel (Book One of the Chronicles of Ubastis) by Marguerite Reed, beasts, military SF, on a planet?, she’s a mother, Terpkristin, Octavia Butler, Dark Disciple: Star Wars, Marc Thompson, Random House Audio, sound effects?, The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science fiction 7, Infinivox, read by Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari, Bryan Alexander, Elizabeth Bear, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Michael Swanwick, Peter Watts, The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka, Keith Szarabajka, scientists in labs, Robert J. Sawyer, FlashForward, Blackstone Audio, throwing on a throwback, Thorns by Robert Silverberg, Stefan “the great” Rudnicki, Skyboat Media, from 1967, Ultima, Proxima Book 2 by Stephen Baxter, wild galaxy spanning stuff, Tantor Media, Per Ardua Ad Astra = by struggle to the stars, the Xeelee books, “Traditional Fantasy”, no homosexuals or gender swapping, Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb, lots of fantasy, she writes books people really like Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan, read by Steven Brand, “urban or contemporary fantasy”, The City And The City, Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville, WORKING FOR BIGFOOT Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Buffy, American Harry Potter?, James Marsters, The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1 by N.K. Jemisin, secondary world fantasy, post apocalyptic fantasy, City Of Stairs, Deceptions A Cainsville Novel by Kelley Armstrong, The Tale Of The Body Thief, Anne Rice, The Undying Legion by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith, The Conquering Dark: (Crown & Key Book 3) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith, read by Nicholas Guy Smith, paranormal romance, Earth Bound (Sea Haven #4), Christine Feehan, horror/suspense, Finders Keepers, Stephen King, audiobook exclusive, Drunken Fireworks, a sample of Tim Sample’s audio narration, THE BLUMHOUSE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES: The Haunted City edited by Jason Blum, The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy podcast, Joel and Ethan Cohen, The Purge, Ethan Hawke, Eli Roth, Alive, Scott Sigler, Empty Set Entertainment, the warping of society, contemporary criticism, nonfiction, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, Geoff Colvin, could our jobs be replaced by robots or computers?, Tam is their pet, Ex Machina is idea heavy, audio drama or “Audio Dramer”, an Idahoan accent?, And the Sun Stood Still, LA Theatre Works, Dava Sobel, Nicolaus Copernicus, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, how do we get access to plays, television seems insane to Jesse, there should be a Broadway channel, new podcasts: the Black Tapes podcast, SERIAL, NPR-style audio drama, fake pop journalism, The Great Courses’ The Torch podcast, Eric S. Rabkins course, The American Revolution (Great Courses), Neil deGrasse Tyson’s courses on Netflix, the GENRE STOP! podcast (a readalong style podcast), Ancillary Justice, The Martian, engineering fiction, applied science, readalong style, The Writer And The Critic, The Incomparable podcast, Read-A-Long, “when you hear a chime turn the page”, Books On The Nightstand podcast, The Readers podcast, Booktopia, Readercon, Fourth Street Fantasy, deep discussions, book centric panels, reader centric panels, a Roger Zelazny panel, a Jack Vance panel, Anne Vandermeer on Reading Envy, The Guardian Podcast, whooooah!, paperbook: The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath And Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Jason Thompson (adaptor/illustrator) The White Ship by H.P. Lovecraft, Sergio Aragones, Groo, the marginalia in Mad magazine, page composition, J.H. Williams III, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, the final episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a map of the dreamlands, it’s a map man!, illuminated maps,

Dreamlands poster by Jason Thompson

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

July 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Dark Disciple Star Wars cover imageDark Disciple: Star Wars
By Christie Golden; Foreword by Katie Lucas; Read by Marc Thompson
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication date: 7 July 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 11 hours

Themes: / Star Wars / Clone Wars / Sith / bounty hunter / Jedi /

Publisher summary:

The latest story never told in The Clone Wars television saga: A tale of trust, betrayal, love, and evil starring the hugely popular ex­ Sith/ never­ Jedi female bounty hunter, Asajj Ventress! A tale written but never aired, now turned into a brand­ new audiobook with the creative collaboration of the Lucasfilm Story Group and Dave Filoni, Executive Producer and Director of Star Wars: TheClone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels!    

When the Jedi decide to target Count Dooku­­Darth Tyranus­­himself, they turn to his ex­apprentice, Asajj Ventress, for help in getting close to the slippery Sith Lord. But when unexpected sparks fly between Ventress and Quinlan Vos, the unorthodox Jedi sent to work with her, the mission becomes a web of betrayal, alliances, secrets,and dark plotting that might just be the undoing of both Jedi and Sith­­ and everything in between.

Where did this book come from? I’ve never been much of a prequel person and didn’t get into the Clone Wars TV show but man this book is one of my favorite Star Wars books to date. It has a lot more emotional depth to it than your typical Star Wars book and a lot transpires in such a small novel. Yes it still feels like your typical action pulp novel but with even a bit more. This is the novel that will finally get me to go back and watch the Clone Wars.

The general premise of the book is that the Jedi are concerned about the toll the Clone Wars are taking on the galaxy and decide that taking out the head of the snake will reduce the casualties. That means assassinating Count Dooku. If you can get past the very un-Jedi like premise of this, the ride is worth taking. They decide to send one of their most covert Jedi masters, Quinlan Vos, to team up with Asajj Ventress in going after the Sith Lord. Apparently she decided to become a bounty hunter at some point and he needs to stoke the flames of her hate for Count Dooku so she joins the cause…should be interesting!

The story chronicles everything from concept to courting Ventress (choice wording) all the way to conclusion of things. There are some cameos from the mainstream Star Wars characters but overall this story focuses on Vos and Ventress – which I love. It is a breathe of fresh air to see some other characters take center stage. They have a certain spark for each other and play off one another really well. I think their different backgrounds and their issues add much more of a dynamic to what happens.

We all know how Episode 3 starts but I genuinely did not know where this book was headed. I knew that they couldn’t be the ones who finally did the deed, but wondered if they set up circumstances at the beginning of Episode 3 (I won’t tell you if that happened though). The only reason I bring it up is because I’ve seen reviews of other Star Wars books where people said they almost believed Vader would turn against the Emperor (Lords of the Sith) or that some rebellion could succeed even if you knew it couldn’t because of the movie. I guess this book was that to me where the others were just a fun ride I knew couldn’t succeed.

I wouldn’t say the book is perfect. A lot of things happen in a short period of time or at least I didn’t feel the passage of time as the story progressed. The characters go through a LOT of change in that time and sometimes it felt a bit rushed, but I give Golden credit for pushing for that much change out of them. Other things typical of a pulp novel are here too; like meeting the bad guy and everyone getting away fine.

As for the audio side of things, Marc Thompson did a great job as usual and the sound engineers added all the sound effects and music we’ve come to expect from a Star Wars audiobook. My one minor gripe is that Thompson’s Mace Windu sounds a hell of a lot like Lando Calrissian. That kept throwing me off when the Jedi would convene but apart from that, the audio was great!

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

July 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Lords of the SithLords of the Sith (Star Wars)
By Paul S. Kemp; Narrated by Jonathan Davis
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 28 April 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 10 hours, 56 minutesThemes: / Star Wars / space / sith / spice /Publisher summary:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice Darth Vader find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.”

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters – and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice”, an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources – by political power or firepower – and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

Lords of the Sith is a decent entry in the Star Wars universe with a familiar setup but good execution. As this takes place before Episode IV, we know this story has many limitations that Kemp works within well. We get a good amount of action both in space and planet-side and a surprising amount of insight and introspection from Darth Vader along the way.

The beginning feels like so many others that have come before: random resistance/rebellion is causing trouble and the Empire must respond. If more books are written in this time period, I really hope some oter source of tension is found because the perpetual rebellions are getting kind of tired (not to say that shouldn’t be happening but there were far more creative issues hitting the New Republic in the expanded legends universe). A lot of time is spent developing characters and their reason for a rebellion that we know won’t be sticking around very long when I really want to see more of the Sith. I kind of felt the same way with the time spent on characters I didn’t care about in Kenobi when I wanted more of the wizened old Jedi Master. Thank goodness that lightens up a good way into the book.

Things really start to get interesting when Vader and the Emperor show up to shut things down in a Star Destroyer only to suffer a pretty crazy attack prepared by the resistance. I enjoyed this part because of Kemp’s clever usage of many of the different technologies and capabilities seen in Star Wars over the years. It was also fun to see Vader flying around in a craft with limited capabilities with only the Force as his weapon. How do you kill a jedi or a sith? Lots and lots of back up plans would give you a shot!

Speaking of using the Force for a weapon, we really get to see Vader and the Emperor unleash a bit on their abilities in this novel. Early on, Vader infiltrates a ship on his own and is scary efficient at cutting his way through everyone on board. It’s kind of like when they storm the blockade runner in Episode IV except just Vader running through the place taking people out. We also get to see the two sith working in tandem to face all kinds of scenarios that range between cool/plausible to just putting random indigenous threats through the meat grinder (that part kind of felt like a, “lets just show how totally badass these guys are by making them kill meaningless things”). There are a bunch of moments where I wondered how they were fooled by something dumb, didn’t just kill someone that was being a nuisance the whole time, etc but overall it was pretty good.

The book isn’t all violence and craziness because we get to see Vader struggling with serving his master. Episode III ended with Vader having submitted to Palpatine but their master/servant relationship wasn’t exactly fleshed out by the end of the film. Vader still struggles with the repercussions of previous events and contemplates attacking his master at regular intervals…as every sith should. It’s interesting to hear his thoughts and struggles and knowing what he’ll become.

On the audio side of things, Jonathan Davis did a great job as usual and the sound effects/music were great. Jonathan Davis always puts on a great performance with high energy and does not disappoint here. Some of the sound effect got to me – mainly the squelching noises that one would normally associate with a sith crushing enemies or smashing an enemy into a wall, but such sounds should make you cringe.

Overall this was not my favorite Star Wars book but was still a decent entry in the universe. If you’re looking for more sith action, definitely check out the Darth Bane book that start with Path of Destruction.

Posted by Tom Schreck

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