The High Ground by Melinda Snodgrass

thehighgroundWhen you have Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin giving praise about this book, it got my attention.  The High Ground – The Imperials Saga is the first book in an epic science-fiction trilogy by author Melinda Snodgrass.  The heart of the story, a handsome lower-class boy Thracius Belmanor aka Tracy working his way up the class-system falls in love with Princess Mercedes Adalina Saturnina Inez de Arango.  It’s mix of BBC drama and a Kdrama love triangle set in outer space worlds.

By year 2100s the Earth is mostly uninhabitable and humans have conquered other worlds in galaxies far away.  In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek when Warp engine technology was discovered it was about the search of new worlds and exploration, but here in this universe, when Fold technology is discovered, humans created a backward class-system hierarchy to control the galaxy and subjugated all the aliens they have conquered like the Haijin, Isanjo and Cara’ot races into “servants”.  The Imperial Family, the father and king Fernan Marcus Serverino Beltran de Arango has a dilemma on his hands.  His 5 wives only gave him daughters and no sons to inherit the throne.  He wants his eldest daughter Mercedes to inherit the kingdom.  The Princess has other plans like attending the military school – The High Ground.  She will be the first woman admitted to school on a large city-port space station.   On the other side, is Tracy whose father is tailor to the “rich” and while Tracy wants none of the class system BS, he is “forced” to go to the High Ground military school.

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Escapology by Ren Warom

escapologyThe post-apocalyptic future Earth is unkind to the masses.  It’s little like Kevin Costner’s ill-fated Waterworld and Mad Max: Fury Road, well kind of.  The world is more of a mix between anime Garganita on the Verdurous Planet without the mechas and Brian Wood’s comic The Massive as an environmental disaster destroys most of the Earth.  Land dwelling places to live are scarce the exception of mega-cities or large ship-cities that rule the seas.  And the internet is run by one gatekeeper, this is the first novel by author Ren Warom – Escapology.

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SoHo Sins by Richard Vine

sohosinscoverMessed-up marriages, adultery, temptation, jealously and power all come to play in this pulp novel SoHo Sins.  With a long career in the modern art scene, author Richard Vine pens his first novel using New York City art world as the backdrop.

In SoHo Sins the art scene golden couple is Philip and Amanda Oliver.  Philip a techy millionaire is in a broken marriage with his current wife Amanda Wingate, the art collector heiress.  The art world is rocked when Amanda is found murdered in her home.  Art dealer and friend of the couple Jackson Wyeth and his P.I. buddy Hogan are on the job to investigate Amanda’s grisly death.

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The Art & Making of Independence Day: Resurgence

independencedayartbookI remember sitting at the Cornet Theater, an iconic large single-screen theater in San Francisco, before all the crazy IMAX 3D stuff and mega-mall multiplexes watching the summer blockbuster Independence Day.  Twenty years have past with a new sequel ID4 Resurgence.  The nasty aliens are back to drain Earth’s natural resources.  Okay, I admit Resurgence may not measure up to the classic summer hit ID4, but if you want some popcorn action with no thinking – then you might want to see ID4 Resurgence.  Along with the movie, Titan Books has released The Art & Making of Independence Day Resurgence.

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The Age of Treachery by Gavin Scott

ageoftreacherycoverI recently watched Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)” on rental.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  And by coincidence my next book review takes place around this post-WWII/Cold War era, it’s “The Age of Treachery” by author Gavin Scott.

World War II has just ended and like many soldiers returning home to England, Duncan Forrester is trying to adjust into normal civilian life.  The ex-Special Operations Executive agent, Duncan is back at Oxford College as a archaeology researcher. A fellow colleague David Lyall is murdered on campus and everything points to Duncan’s best friend Gordon Clark.  Duncan Forrester begins his own investigation.

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Warcraft: Durotan

durotanBefore we start this review, let us take a moment to explain that I’m not a Warcraft fanatic or even a Starcraft hardcore gamer.  In college, I was more of a Command & Conquer fan and played a lot of it, especially during final weeks from what I remember.  With the release of the live-action Warcraft film this weekend, this paperback novel Warcraft: Durotan is the prequel storyline for the Warcraft movie.

This tale begins with the young Durotan learning how to be a leader of the Frostwolves orc clan from his dad Garad and mother Geyah.  For generations, the Frostwolves have been living in Frostfire Ridge near the Greatfather Mountain, which provide food and shelter.  A mysterious warlock Gul’dan appears and tells of a new evil coming to destroy their lands.  Gul’dan asks Garad to join their united orc clans – the Horde.  He promises a land to the South where there is much food, fresh water and better lands.  Chieftain Garad dismisses Gul’dan as evil, but over the years the area of Frostfire Ridge becomes increasingly harder to hunt for food with harsher summers and winters.

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New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey

titanbooksnewpompeiiOne of our favorite sci-fi genre’s is about time traveling.  In pop culture entertainment, we have a fetish for the “past”, like what if we could travel to the 1950s era or Roman times and so on, and then have the ability to change the future?  I remember having a dandy of a time reading Timeline (1999) by Michael Crichton.  A footnote, please do not watch the lame movie adaptation of Timeline (2003), but do read the book instead.  In the vein of Timeline and Jurassic Park, Daniel Godfrey’s New Pompeii is this and more.

The protagonist Dr. Nick Houghton has been stuck in limbo as a part-time college intern and researcher, due to his dad’s outspoken negative comments against one the world’s biggest energy company Novus Particles.  NovusPart has created technology to grab matter from the past and bring it into the future.  For instance, the company saved the ancient Roman town of Pompeii which was destroyed by volcanic eruption.  NovusPart was able to build a replica town called New Pompeii and saved many of the townspeople.  With this incredible technology, history buff and researcher Dr. Nick Houghton is offered a job to see New Pompeii.  He’s excited to see what real Roman’s are like and to learn how they interact at pubs, bath houses and in the homes. But as he steps into New Pompeii, he notices some discrepancies in the town and among the people.  He wonders what happened to his predecessor Dr. Samson?  And why are many buildings empty, when many of the poor townspeople have nothing?  Nick begins to wonder if there is deeper conspiracy by NovusPart.  It’s up to Nick, Roman leader Barbatus and his daughter Calpurnia to stop NovusPart from changing history and the timeline.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review

Uncharted 4 Title

 

Uncharted 4 came out just last week, May 10th, but with it having not only a Singleplayer campaign but also a Multiplayer, I wanted to play this game a little while longer before I wrote anything about it.  I had been waiting for this game since they first talked about it, and I pre-ordered the collector’s edition of the game back in September of 2015.  Learning that it was going to be the final chapter in the Uncharted series, I was a bit nervous on how they would end his journey.  Would he get a happy ending?  Would this adventure be to much for him and have him perish at the end?  As the day of release came closer and closer, I sat down and played through the three games that came before it, getting ready for my final adventure in this great series.  Half way through the third game my doorbell rang and a large package was left outside my house; my collector’s edition had finally come, and it was time to set aside all responsibilities and play through both the single and multiplayer game.

Uncharted 4 Collector's Edition [Read more…]

Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse

fireflyshiniestdictionarybookWhen you see a book with the words ‘Dicitionary Book.’  You might think to yourself, this is going to be a boring reference book or just a plain Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  But this ain’t know ordinary dictionary, friends!  It’s the Firefly:  The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse.

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Firefly: The Official Companion, Volume One

fireflycoverDuring the 2002 Fall TV Season, FOX aired Joss Whedon’s sci-fi western ‘Firefly’ and then it was cancelled before it could gather a TV following.  Over the years, “Firefly” has been a cult hit with fans with the help of DVD sales and Firefly panels at various comic-cons.  If you’re re-watching the ‘Firefly’ series on DVD at home, this Titan Books’ Firefly: The Official Companion Volume One is a great guide to “Browncoat” fans.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Art of the Film

batmanvsupermanartofthefilmHave you been hiding under a rock or hibernating underground?  Go and watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Critics and haters be damned!  It’s a solid movie by director Zach Synder, though I did have some issues as a comic book fanboy, but I digress.  What I’m here to talk about is Titan Books latest behind-the-scenes movie book, this is the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Art of the Film book series by author Peter E. Aperlo.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Tech Manual

batmantechmanualcoverWhenever there is a new Batman flick, like James Bond, Batman always has cool new toys to use on the bad guys.  In Batman v Superman:  Dawn of Justice, Batman has a new Batsuit, Batmobile and Batplane to get all the fanboys excited.  Well, almost everything you need to know about all the Bat-vehicles and Bat-gadgets, and even Superman’s suit and Wonder Woman’s uniform and weapons are in this book by Titan Books, it’s the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Tech Manual.

bvs003If you’ve seen the movie, Batman is a mix of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and as director Zach Snyder explains: “My Batman is the late 40s, and war weary” (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Tech Manual, page 19).  Zach and the design team not only focused on Batman’s overall Batsuit, but went into detail about the body armor, the tech inside the cowl/mask, the cape and the utility belt.

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The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen’s Dossier

blacklistelizabethkeenIf you’re done binge watching Daredevil Sesaon 2 on Netflix, then it’s time to pick another cool action-thriller, that is NBC’s critically acclaimed The Blacklist starring James Spader (Raymond “Red” Reddington) and Megan Boone (Elizabeth Keen), which is currently on it’s 3rd TV season.  The first two seasons of The Blacklist are on Netflix and I have to say I’m hooked on the characters and the story.  Hardcore fans of The Blacklist may want to take a look at this new Titan Books release, Elizabeth Keen’s Dossier by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry.

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Arrow: Vengeance

arrowvengeanceI admit, I’m a huge Arrow fan, since it’s CW TV network debut 4 seasons ago.  I’ve watched every episode so far with pure enjoyment and also gone back to buy classic Green Arrow comics and toys, so yeah, I’m a Green Arrow fanboy.  Fans of the show will know when watching Arrow on TV, there are lots of characters and world building and sometimes certain characters don’t get enough back story, so Titan Books recently released a brand-new paperback novel “Arrow: Vengeance” which focuses on the villains point of view.

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The Little Prince: The Art of the Movie

alittleprincecoverThe Little Prince animated film is based on a 1943 story by author Antoine de Saint-Exupery about a pilot meeting a boy from another planet.  Author Ramin Zahed takes us on a journey with writer/director Mark Osborne known for his Kung-fu Panda animated hit on the challenge of making a classic story with new twist and animating it.  This is Titan Books’ The Little Prince – The Art of the Movie.

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The Final Programme (The Cornelius Quartet 1) by Michael Moorcock

michaelmoorcockIf director Guy Ritchie’s 1960’s themed “The Man from UNCLE” film didn’t float your boat, why not tried this underground British sci-fi novel first published in the 1960s – The Final Programme by author Michael Moorcock.  Titan Books is reprinting the adventures of rock star scientist Jerry Cornelius.

First, if you’re a little unfamiliar with Michael Moorcock’s writing style, the meanings and so on, writer John Clute intros the character Jerry Cornelius and his thoughts on British sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock’s 4 book collection.  Jerry Cornelius’s brother Frank and the sexy evil Miss Brunner have concocted a plan to build the world’s ultimate super computer.  Jerry Cornelius is the key to all this and his unique family background keeps things interesting.

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Rebel Galaxy Review

Rebel Galaxy

Rebel Galaxy came out on Steam in October, but it just recently came out for the PlayStation 4 at the beginning of the month, January 5th.  I had never heard of this game before it came to the PS4 but the opportunity to be a “Space Cowboy” was too much to pass up.  The game played a lot like the naval side of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.  You sail the ocean of space in a straight line, not being able to pitch up or down, however your opponents are given that option and the smaller crafts will often fly above and below you, while the larger ships are stuck flying on the same level that you are.  Think of it as a less maneuverable version of the “Freelancer” game.

Rebel Galaxy - 2

Most of this game will be you flying your ship from one end of the solar system to the other, complete a mission and head back across the solar system again.  One of the best way to make money in this game will be doing missions that you can pick up during your stops at different space stations; however, after you jump to the next solar system, you will be able to join the mercenary guild which will give you a lot more money but for a lot more risk of course.  This means you will be going back and forth in one system just to scrounge up enough money to to buy upgrades or new weapons/armors for your ship.  Speaking of the stations, the game will automatically save your game when you visit one so always remember to stop by one before heading off to a difficult mission.  Missions and mercenary work aren’t the only way to make money in this game though.  You can also scavenge for parts scattered around space, which to be honest will probably take the most time since you can barely find cargo floating around, look around the space system for bounties to collect or mine asteroids for goods.  Everything you find can then be sold at the commodities market, but be warned as the price for different goods fluctuates.  Then once you get enough credits to buy the new spaceship you’d been eyeing, you’ll be doing missions, mercenary work, scavenging for parts, hunting down pirates and mining asteroids all over again to get more money for new upgrades.  In other words, you will probably be spending most of your time trying to make enough money to use on your ship than actually going through the games story.

Rebel Galaxy - 3

So is this game fun?  Should you try it out or pass on it?  Well I’ve been having a blast with it myself, though it really depends on if you have the patience to play a game like this.  You won’t be getting into space battle after space battle unless you are actively looking for them.  Most of your time will be flying through the emptiness of space.  For a game created by a two man team, this game is amazing.  Still it would have been better if you could fly up and down because there are times when your enemies or certain asteroids are above or below you that your guns can’t seem to shoot at.

In the end, I give this game a solid 8/10.  The price point of 19.99 may drive off a few customers, but for those who enjoy these types of games, I say go for it.  It’s a good PSN game to pass the time with.

Review Rewind: Final Fantasy 7 (PS4)

Final Fantasy 7

Man… when this game showed up on my PS4 on the PlayStation Store, I didn’t even hesitate to buy this game.  I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan, and this was one of my favorites growing up as a kid.  So I buy it, install it and get ready to play through a game I haven’t touched since the turn of the century.  I couldn’t wait, it had to be as good a I remembered it to be right?

Well, they added three mechanics to the game this time around.  Three cheats to get you through the game faster.  While I was fine with one of them, and used it probably throughout the whole game, the other two were game breakers.  The first, and only one I really used, was a ‘3x Speed’ cheat.  After playing with it on for most of the game, I couldn’t switch it off; I had forgotten how slow this game was.  The second was was a ‘no random encounters’ cheat.  With that on you could make your way down to Sephiroth without having to deal with any of the tough enemies in the Northern Crater.  Lastly… the worst offender of all was a ‘power-up’ cheat.  This cheat kept healing you, meaning you couldn’t die unless you were hit with an instant death attack or their attack did more damage than you had health.  Not only that, but your Limit Break meter would refill every time you used it.  It broke the game and took most of the fun away from it.

Final Fantasy 7 - Zolom

So there were two reasons I wanted to replay this game.  The first, and most obvious one, was that I wanted to refresh my memory for when I played the Final Fantasy 7 Remake; the second reason was to actually pay attention to the story.  As a kid, back in 1997, I never fully paid attention to what they were talking about.  I always just mashed away at the buttons to get past the long dialogue parts of the game, and you know what?  I didn’t miss a single thing.  Now I’m not saying the story for Final Fantasy 7 sucks, but it’s not that great either.  The story just felt silly if you sat down and thought about it.

But in the end it all comes down to the remake.  Will it be good?  Will the episodic style hurt the game?  Will they be taking out or putting in content in the remake?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  All I can say is ‘Lady Luck don’t fail me now…’.

Cid - Lady Luck

This game is slower than I had remembered, but with the ‘3x speed’ cheat I cut down a game that once took me over 70 hours to complete down to a 30 hour game.  The story isn’t anything wonderful, but the characters are fun.  Raising Chocobos and trying to breed yourself a Gold Chocobo will probably take up most of your time, as well as racing them.  Trying to master every one of your Materia is hassle but feels rewarding after you do, and of course let us not forget about Ruby and Emerald Weapon.  Final score, I give this game a solid 8 out of 10.  Play it and get ready for that remake…… in about 2 years or so.

Sleepy Hollow: Creating Heroes, Demons & Monsters

sleepyhollowcoverWith an explosive and fun second season, the FOX tv series Sleepy Hollow has just launched its 3rd season this past October 2015.  If you don’t know, Sleepy Hollow is a supernatural mystery TV drama takes a “DC Elseworld’s version” of Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with new twists and turns.  Ichabod Crane died defeating the Horseman in 1781, but then finds himself resurrected and trying to adjust to 21st century.  He collaborates with police office Abbie Mills and dig deeper into the supernatural and demonic forces attacking the town.  Now go behind-the-scenes with Sleepy Hollow: Creating Heroes, Demons & Monsters by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry.

sleepyhollow00 [Read more…]

The Art of Stephen Hickman: Empyrean

hickmanartbookIf you ever read a Harlan Ellison, Anne McCaffrey or Larry Niven sci-fi book, usually the sci-fi art cover that catches your eye is drawn by artist Stephen Hickman.  This full-color hardcover art book – “The Art of Stephen Hickman:  Empyrean” is collection of Hickman’s amazing 40 years in fantasy sci-fi art.

hickman00“For me, fantasy imagery is simply my favorite place to work and live, and nature … Personal imagery, much of it inspired or informed by nature, is becoming more important to me the more painting I do, and fantasy is my direction of choice.” Stephen Hickman.

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The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie

peanutsmoviecoverTwo major comic strips that I grew up in my childhood was Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes and George M. Schulz’s iconic cartoon character Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.  I remember having so much fun reading the strips as a kid with my siblings and then watching the Charlie Brown cartoon Holiday specials on TV with my grandparents.  Just pure nostalgia.  After years of waiting, we now finally get an “official Charlie Brown cartoon” from animation house Blue Sky Studios.  Author Jerry Schmitz takes us Charlie Brown fans on an incredible journey inside Blue Sky Studios in The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie.

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Virtues of War by Bennett R. Coles

virutesofwarcoverI read many novels, and you know it’s going to be some heavy reading when the first couple of pages start with a character listings, glossary and military definitions.  Our story doesn’t kick-off until page 13!  Virtues of War is the first in a trilogy of books by author Bennett R. Coles with the second novel Ghost of War available sometime in 2016 and the third novel March of War available sometime in 2017.  Virtues of War follows Lieutenant Katja Emmes and her 10-trooper striker team on Rapier spacecraft.

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Vinyl Pulp #9: The 13 Dunny Series by Brandt Peters

Dunny Box 00Our latest Vinyl Pulp episode 9 takes a look at “The 13” Dunny Series by artist Brandt Peters.  Vinyl Pulp host “The Eddie” buys a case and has an ultimate box break himself, finding the 2 rare chase figures.

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The Original QUARRY Novel by Max Allan Collins

quarrycoverWith a Cinemax television series this season, Max Allan Collins iconic hitman Quarry returns to the pop-culture forefront.  Journey back to the origins and first pulp adventure as Titan Books re-publishes the first Quarry novel from 1975.

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Heroes: Vengeance

heroesvengeancecoverNBC TV recently premiered their new super hero/sci-fi series Heroes Reborn and with the introduction of many new characters and typical large cast for a show like this, Titan Comics offers a new monthly Heroes comic book series where it will profile and highlight a character with a 5-part story arc.  Heroes: Vengeance #1 finds Oscar Gutierrez as a ordinary mechanic by day and the vigilante El Vengador.

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