Friday, September 11, 2015

Fiction Friday: Some New Prose Books of Note

Things have continued to be a bit hectic in these parts, as I prepare to transition to a new full time job for the first time in thirteen years and have been doing some work on my house, so I haven't had the time for the intensive reading/research that my usual Friday recommended readings or lost legends entail. I have started reading some books for a lost legends, but I'm not done yet, so today I thought I'd give a quick rundown of some interesting novels/novellas/etc. that have some links to comics that have come out in the past month or so. Not reviews, as they're all on my shelf to be read, but stuff that I think you all might enjoy.

A week ago was Force Friday. For those of you who don't know or haven't read any number of articles complaining about the lack of toys at retailers, this was the day when merch for Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens started hitting stores. I do my best to avoid buying too many toys anymore, due to a lack a space, but books? Man, I'll buy as many of those as I can get my hands on. And aside from toys, five novels, four for the YA crowd and one for the grown-up audience were released. I didn't order them all (yet), but the one that has me really excited is Smuggler's Run. First and foremost, it's a story of Han Solo, who was my favorite of the big three from the original movies, and his Wookiee partner, the inimitable Chewbacca on an adventure. But what makes it even more exciting? It's written by Greg Rucka! Yes that Greg Rucka, the one who wrote some of the best Batman stories of the past 15 years and some of the best crime comics ever. This is the book I'll be reading the minute I finish my current book. And if you like Rucka and/or Star Wars, you should probably check out Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens- Shattered Empire, the comic Rucka is writing that bridges some of the gap between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens, with his Punisher artist Marco Checchetto.

While I enjoy Star Trek TV, I've never gotten into the Star Trek Expanded Universes in the same way I got into the Star Wars one. The notable exception to this has been anything written by Peter David, who I've written about more than nearly any other writer in comics. After doing a series of novels with the Next Generation cast, and a couple with the original series cast, and even one with the Deep Space Nine cast, David was given his own little corner of the Star Trek Universe. He got an original ship, the Excalibur, staffed mostly by original characters (a handful of the crew are one-or-two episode characters from TNG), and a new region of space to explore in the New Frontier series. The series let David develop, change, and kill characters in a way you could never do in novels featuring characters who appear in other aspects of the franchise. It's a great series, and all the characters read like Peter David characters: well developed, witty, a bit arch. The Captain, Mackenzie Calhoun, is an original creation who is the former liberator and warlord of his homeplanet planet (David has likened him to William Wallace). After years of exciting adventures on the printed page, the New Frontier series seemed to end three years ago with the end of David's contract, not the completion of his plans. I bought the last novel, Blind Man's Bluff, the day it came out, and left it on my shelf, unread, until I was sure no new novels would appear, and entropy took it from there until all those years had passed and it remained unread. That, though, has changed, as a three part novel, The Returned, has been released through Amazon as e-books, the final chapter of which came out this week. So I dusted off my Blind Man's Bluff, am about two thirds of the way through, and planning on reading The Returned after Smuggler's Run. Seriously, folks, even if you aren't Star Trek fans, these are great books, and the level of Star Trek continuity you need to know is minor, and is explained in the books. David has stated the future of New Frontier rests in people buying these e-books, so give them a shot. The entire New Frontier series are available for the Kindle, so there's no better time to start. I think I see a recommended reading in the future with more about the series. Oh, two additional fun facts. One: there have been two New Frontier comics, a one-shot from Wildstorm and a mini-series from IDW. Two: Mackenzie Calhoun is the only Star Trek character to never appear on any TV show to get his own official action figure. It was a mail away item, and I spent ages trying to win on on eBay before triumphing. He will have a place of honor in my nerdcave when it's complete.

I'm late to the game with Humble Bundles, I admit. A lot of that has to do with my general preference for physical media versus digital. You see them talked about all over for comics, where you can get large swaths of a series digitally for a reasonable price and part of the proceeds benefit a charity. As a matter of fact, on Monday, I was sitting on the couch and commented to my wife that I was thinking of buying the then current books bundle, a set of nine Star Wars audio adaptations, but I know that this a rabbit hole I could fall down easily. And you know what? I was right. I bought the Star Wars bundle, and the next day, the new bundle was announced, and this one? Neil Gaiman rarities. It's seventeen uncollected or out of print pieces by Neil Gaiman. This has kind of blown up, as many things Gaiman is involved with, and has set records for Humble Bundles, and been featured in various articles on the internet over the past few days. Now, I own about half a dozen of them, but that's a lot of Gaiman I haven't read. And the charities that are being benefited are The Moth, the live storytelling series, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. How could you say no? You can give as much or as little as you like, but to get the full set of books (including Neil's biography of the band Duran Duran that he wrote as a young journalist), you have to pay above the average contribution, which is currently $19.46.  That's a very good price for a lot of interesting material. Here's the link: the bundle is live for twelve more days, so get it while the getting is good.

And finally, The Shepherd's Crown, the final novel by Sir Terry Pratchett, mastermind behind Discworld, is now available to buy here in the states. I have my copy, and will be reading it after the other books I've talked about. I have quite a reading docket ahead of me. There are worse things...

No comments: