SpeculativeFiction


Legion (Season 1)

Legion is a TV-form production licensed from Marvel, set in the X-Men side of the universe. Unless you are familiar with the character from the source material, it's not going to feature any well known characters. The first season is very odd, as you might expect from a series revolving around a main character whose defining characteristic is his paranoid schizophrenia. Or, in other words, he hears voices. And occasionally sees things. And occasionally blows up his kitchen with his mind, and then forgets about it.

There's a weird, 60s-70s psychedelic vibe to this. If anything, it reminds me a bit of Twin Peaks. There's that weird, funny, accept-it-or-run-away thing going on.

There are very, very few references to the wider Marvel universe. The show reluctantly describes some characters as mutants in one or two episodes. There are some subtle touches (a window with an X in the background). But mostly, it's a story about a guy who maybe has powers and maybe it's all in his own head. And of the other mutants involved, one has the power to throw things very very far away, another has the power to conduct group therapy, and the last is a man named Carrie whose superpower is literal gender dysphoria.

I wish I was kidding, but that's really it.

I get the impression someone wanted to make a show about that, found a Legion comic, and pitched the idea to Marvel so he could make something like what his muse was asking for.

In the end, it's watchable, reasonably interesting, and holds your attention for all 8 episodes of the short first season. But it never really breaks out of the idea that it's all relevant only to what's happening in the main character's head. I'm left with no real desire to follow the show into its' second season, though I might do so eventually from sheer boredom.

One final note: the fight scenes (and there are not many) are really badly done. The actors can't fight, the special effects can't even handle people being thrown into the distance, and the faceless goons look like they are wearing masks because they are ashamed of being taken down by a girl 6-to-1 in a full speed shot where the actors look like they are moving in slow motion. The show would have been better off if every single fight scene had been removed.

Thu Aug 30 13:39:10 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

Kiss the Dead

When the best think you can say about a book is that you don't remember reading it a year later, it's not very flattering. That's the only way I can describe Kiss the Dead, another Anita Blake novel from Laurel K Hamilton. Even reading the plot summary on Amazon just now failed to bring back any signifiant elements of the story. So why am I writing this review, you ask? Even the fact that a book is that forgettable is useful information. If it was really bad, I would remember that. If it was really good, or even just interesting, I would remember that too. But instead, it's just another Anita Blake novel. It'll probably entertain you for a few hours.

Sat Aug 25 13:35:40 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

Hard Magic

Set in a richly realized world roughly analogous to the 1930s, Hard Magic diverges from known history with the discovery of many forms of magic accessible to relatively ordinary humans. The main character is known as a "Heavy", someone with the capability to alter gravity and mass. Heavies are stereotyped as slow and stupid, if physically capable -- but despite the book's opening scenes in a prison for the supernaturally inclined, it rapidly becomes obvious that appearance isn't everything and we're dealing with a very smart cookie indeed.

Hard Magic is the first book in a trilogy, and a masterwork equal or superior to Correia's breakout Monster Hunters series. The world building is flawless, at least to someone who didn't live through the period being portrayed; the characters are distinctive and have their own motivations that don't always line up properly. The magic system is very well thought out, presenting a coherent and self-limiting explanation for the abilities of the characters. As applied, the result is somewhere between comic books, gangster movies, and steampunk; it's an engrossing mix that feels both realistically gritty and over the top, somehow at the same time.

Fri Aug 24 13:14:32 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

Odysseus Ascendant

The 7th book in Evan Currie's Odyssey One series, this book adds a few new elements to the series that are less than ideal. Still, the writing is good, and the story remains entertaining. There are still space battles, but less exploration.

If you've enjoyed the series up to this point, there's no reason not to continue reading, but I can't give the series a full thumbs up because of the unnecessary and intrusive virtue signaling. If that continues, and gets more intrusive, I might have to give up on the series; but it's not there yet. I'm just baffled as to why the author thinks that has any place in the story.

Thu Aug 23 13:29:54 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

Wearing the Cape

Wearing the Cape is the first book in a rather interesting, if not especially deep, superhero series. As you might expect, the first book is the origin story, but it covers a bit more than that. It's obvious by the end of the book that we're not dealing with a comic-book level plot. These heroes have grown-up problems.

It's worth reading at certain price points. I started the series when it was on Kindle Unlimited, but it's no longer there, and the books are currently priced at $8 each (about half a traditionally published new release, and roughly the same as an older traditionally published book). The writing and editing merits the price. The length is ... less so, as the books usually come in around 200 to 300 pages. I held off on finishing the series for that reason, at least for a while.

If you want pro-quality writing and a superhero series, this isn't a bad choice if you aren't sensitive to price.

Tue Aug 21 13:58:40 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

Serpentine

The latest in Hamilton's Anita Blake series, Serpentine continues the series with the planned wedding of "Ted" and Donna. Of course, things never go quite according to plan, and there are the usual supernatural complications that seem to follow Anita whereever she goes. Since we're talking about book 26 in a series, this is not the place for new readers to start.

Further, we're talking about a series where the closest thing to a Dark Lord threatening the world was killed off something like 10 books ago. So we're basically running on fumes and leftover melodrama.

What this book has: Edward, Anita, Otto, and Bernard, the "four horsemen" boogiemen to the supernatural. It has wedding drama, a few of the old characters, a new supernatural monster, a chapter or two of pornographic sex (I skipped them and didn't notice any resulting plot holes), and a sort of half-hearted investigation.

It gets positive marks for having less sex than some of the recent books. The rest of the book is wedding arrangements, investigations, and interpersonal relationship drama. There are some interesting developments there that will likely pay off in future books. One of them hints at a possible future OH JOHN RINGO NO moment.

The author is clearly still going through the motions rather than writing from inspiration, but there are some positive signs of a return to form. I don't regret reading it, just paying full price.

Mon Aug 20 13:46:11 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

A Knight of the Word

A Knight of the Word is the second book in Terry Brooks' loose trilogy The Word and the Void. This book focuses on John Ross and his crisis of faith, with Nest (from Running with the Demon) trying to save him from himself. In my description of the first book in this series, I felt it was important to note that it wasn't one of Brooks' Shannara titles. The same applies here, but there's also some stylistic differences from the first book in the trilogy as well. A more adult perspective, more grounded in reality and also more grounded in magic.

Ross has a definite sense of identity. The problem is, that identity is that of a pained, broken, nearly crippled man.

Categories Terry Brooks

Thu Aug 02 13:31:10 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments



This website is an Amazon affiliate and will receive financial compensation for products purchased from Amazon through links on this site.