Monday, April 6, 2020

Audible Original Review - The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel by Erin Macdonald

One of the many fun things about science fiction is its ability to explore and inspire. So many of the common, everyday technologies we use today were dreamt of and explored in science fiction of the past.

The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel by Erin Macdonald is a look at the science behind popular science fiction. It is available as an Audible exclusive Audiobook and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Explanations. The author does a great job breaking down concepts in an understandable way without sacrificing the science.

Scope. This book covers some of the more useful and popular subjects of science fiction such as transporters, warp drive, and time travel. She uses more up-to-date scientific theories than most books on this topic and covers several experiments that have actually been performed that may lead to making this science fiction science reality.

The Bad


...

What I Would Like to Have Seen


...

Overall


The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel by Erin Macdonald is a great look at the science behind science fiction: what fits current theories and what doesn't; where science is in its progress to achieve science fiction dreams; and what science fiction shows provide the best examples of new and old theories. The author also narrates this book and does a really good job. She's fun to listen to and breaks down concepts in an understandable way without sacrificing the science. She uses more up-to-date scientific theories than most books on this topic and covers several experiments that have actually been performed that may lead to making this science fiction science reality. I highly recommend this audiobook and give it 5 out of 5 eReaders.


  

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Book Review - Good Intentions by J. D. Trafford

While I'm not a fan of legal shows and movies, I really enjoy legal thriller books. Most are about lawyers and their criminal cases. To read one about a judge and family law was refreshing.

Good Intentions by J. D. Trafford is a legal thriller about a judge and family law. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Concept. The idea of exploring family law and the way it is handled in the courts is something not usually done in fiction without a lot of heavy handiness. This book treated it as a fact of life acknowledging both good and bad and not trying to force a certain position down the readers' throats. Also dealing with it from a judge's perspective and the twist about innocence and guilt made for a story I haven't read or heard a dozen times.

Story. The story is very solid. The characters are well developed. The mystery is well constructed. Nothing felt like it was coming out of left field or was a cheat. It is well paced and held my attention the whole time. I'm excited to read more by this author.

Twists. This book took several twists I wasn't expecting but that made perfect sense. It was nice not knowing the ending of the book before I even reached the middle.

The Bad

Consequences. The author made several unusual choices about plot points taking unexpected turns, people not being as clear cut as TV tends to make them, and being more honest about situations, that the resolution at the very end where the judge learns the consequences of his actions seemed untrue to the tone of the rest of the book.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the very end where the judge learns the consequences for his actions was handled with as much thought and realism as the rest of the story.

Overall


Good Intentions by J. D. Trafford is a legal thriller about a judge and family law, something really unusual for a legal thriller. The story is very solid. The characters are well developed. The mystery is well constructed. Nothing feels like it was coming out of left field or is a cheat. It is well paced and held my attention the whole time. This book took several twists I wasn't expecting but that made perfect sense. It was nice not knowing the ending of the book before I even reached the middle.
I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


   

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/

Monday, March 30, 2020

Audible Original Review - Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw

I love science fiction, but it's really hard to find something you haven't read a dozen times before.

Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw is a science fiction, space opera, comedy about how starship pilots deal with the introduction of new technology and find a new future for themselves. It is available as an Audible exclusive Audiobook and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Concept & Execution. While the disruption of technology has been explored in many fiction and non-fiction books, it's rarely been explored so personally and without a political agenda.

Comedy. This is a comedy more in tone than laugh-out-loud jokes. It takes itself very seriously, and the characters face serious situations with consequences, but there is a tone of humor that makes this story really enjoyable.

The Bad


Convenient Resolutions. All the problems in this story are resolved quite easily and cleanly. While that fits with the humorous tone of the book, it doesn't fit with the realistic world with realistic consequences the author has established.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


The world set-up was great, but the author didn't always follow thru in the story.

Overall


Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw is a fun science fiction space opera comedy. While the disruption of technology has been explored in many fiction and non-fiction books, it's rarely been explored so personally and without a political agenda. This is a comedy more in tone than laugh-out-loud jokes. It takes itself very seriously, and the characters face serious situations with consequences, but there is a tone of humor that makes this story really enjoyable. I recommend this audiobook and give it 4 out of 5 eReaders.


  

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/


Friday, March 27, 2020

Comic Book Review - Robin 80th Anniversary 100-page Spectacular

I've been a fan of Robin since I first saw him star with Batman in their Saturday Morning Cartoon adventures. I collected the issues with Tim Drake becoming the third Robin and followed his three mini-series and solo series for several years. And now he's 80. He still looks like he's in his 20s. Why can't I age as well?

Robin 80th Anniversary 100-page Spectacular is a one-shot comic featuring several Robins over the years with stories by many different teams. It is available as a comic with several variant covers and as an eBook. It is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


A Little Nudge. This story explores Robin as he literally leaves the nest of Wayne Manor to go out on his own. Marv Wolfman and Tom Grummett write and draw a very classic tale in a very classic style. There's nothing stand out here as it plays out exactly as you expect it too, but for those who like their classic Robin, this is your cup of tea.

Aftershocks. This story is a brief incident during the Cataclysm story line that preceded No Man's Land. Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel write and draw like they're still on the original Nightwing title in 90s, so for those who were reading comics then, this will be a nice trip back to the past.

Team Building. This story features Nightwing leading The Titains fighting bad guys and makes a pretty obvious statement about team building and leadership. The art is very stiff.

The Lesson Plan. This story features Dick Grayson as Agent 37 during his Grayson faze. It's basically a long fight scene where Dick shares the lessons he learned from Bruce with his newest partner. The contrast and parallels are well done. The art is not the best.
 
More Time. This story features Jason Todd as Red Hood remembering a time when he was Robin and finishes something he started back then. The art is scratchy, but it fits the tone of the story.

Extra Credit. This story features Tim Drake in High School speaking with a guidance counselor about his future while contrasting it with his nighttime activities as Robin. This was my favorite story, because it does the best job of getting inside Robin's head and exploring him as a character in an everyday situation. The art was not my favorite style, but well done.

My Best Friend. This story features Damian writing a report about his friendship with Superman's son. The art and fight scene that make up the story are very weak and uninspired, but the narration and exploration of the Super Sons' friendship is really good and what saves this yarn.

The Bad


Boy Wonders. This story takes place in the present and features Tim Drake as Red Robin talking to each of the other past and current Robins for advice about what path his live should take. While the idea was good, the art and execution were very poor.

Fitting In. This story features Stephanie Brown, the least interesting of the Robins and is the weakest of the stories in concept, art, and storytelling. It basically shows her struggles to fit in as Robin and the problems she has with the suit and the legacy. Very prosaic, obvious, and disappointing.

Bat and Mouse. This story features Damian Wayne, Batman's son. The story basically shows the conflict between father and son and that there are secrets between the two. The art is weak. The writing tries too hard. The story doesn't succeed very well.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Where was Carrie, the Robin from Dark Knight?

Overall


Robin 80th Anniversary 100-page Spectacular collects several stories from several different teams about several different Robins over the years. Being an anthology, there are some real gems and a few misses. The best stories are the ones that explore Robin as a person in an everyday situation. The art isn't the best, but there are a few stories that shine. I  recommend this book and give it 4 out of 5 eReaders.


   

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/

Monday, March 16, 2020

Movie Review - Parasite

I watch a lot of foreign flicks, and sometimes they are pretty good. A lot of critics were praising this film, and while I don't agree with most critics' views, the fact they were all in agreement made me think this is one of the two times a day the broke clock was right.

Parasite is a 2019 drama film. It is rated R for language and a brief sensual scene, and is appropriate for teens and older.

The Good


Story. The story was really strong. It's focuses on a poor family scamming a rich family, and really explored the idea and all the places it could lead.

Characters. Each character was really well developed, individual, and interesting. And every single one was a horrible, selfish person which made it even more interesting to watch, because there were no good guys, only bad guys taking advantage of each other.

Pacing. Foreign films have a bad habit of moving too slowly, but this film did not suffer from that. It held my attention the whole time.

The Bad


Ending. Up to the last twenty minutes, the story just continued to build and the characters continued to be backed into a corner. I had no idea how it was going to end. Neither did the filmmakers, apparently. The ending felt like it was thrown together at the last minute, because the filmmakers had no idea how to end the film.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


A better ending.

Overall


Parasite is a fascinating Korean film about a poor family who scams a rich family. Each character was really well developed, individual, and interesting. And every single one was a horrible, selfish person which made it even more interesting to watch, because there were no good guys, only bad guys taking advantage of each other. Up to the last twenty minutes, the story just continued to build and the characters continued to be backed into a corner. I had no idea how it was going to end. Neither did the filmmakers, apparently. The ending felt like it was thrown together at the last minute, because the filmmakers had no idea how to end the film. I give this film 4 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


   

 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Audiobook Review - Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I am fascinated by the whole culture that has grown around this drug, similar to cultures that grow around any drug. I wasn't sure whether this book would reveal anything of interest, or if the author--who is a coffee addict--would be honest about all aspects of caffeine or just gloss over the less savory ones.

Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan is a history and analysis of caffeine, it's rise and spread as something humans consumed throughout history, and its benefits and harms. It is available as an Audible exclusive Audiobook.

The Good


Honesty. The author readily admits that coffee is a drug, that people who drink it (including himself) are addicts, and that while there are a few benefits from drinking caffeine (either in coffee, tea, or soda pop) there are many serious harms as well. And yet he keeps drinking it because of the how powerful the lure is and has no reservations about it despite freely admitting it is a poison further showing just how addictive it is.

History & Insights. I wasn't very familiar with the history of caffeine beyond the story of chocolate, so this was really interesting. I didn't realize how caffeine helped promote slavery both for growing plants to make hot drinks and sugar to make them palatable, the Opium Wars with China and the drug problems those created, and several class systems in history that are still going one to this day.

Narration. The author narrates this book and does an excellent job. He has a good voice and lots of character and energy.

The Bad


Understanding of Evolution. The author is amazed that caffeine could exist and tries to use evolution to explain it and while saying evolution is just chance ascribes it a deliberate conscious with a purpose.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


...

Overall


Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan is a fascinating and insightful look at the history of caffeine, the positive and negative effects it has on both the individual and the development of society and business, and the personal and social harms it has caused from sleep dysfunction to slavery and the Opium Wars with China. I highly recommend this audiobook and give it 5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Movie Review - 1917

I have a great interest in The Great War, The War to End All Wars (if only it had), so I was curious to watch the latest flick about that time. The trailer looked okay, but it was the overwhelmingly positive reviews from nearly everyone that really got me excited to see this film. But would it deliver?

1917 is a 2019 action war film. It is rated R for language, violence, and harsh images, and is appropriate for adults.

The Good


Cinematography. This movie was very well shot with it looking like it is nearly one continuous shot. The way the camera moves and captures the scenes makes you feel like you are in the middle of the war with the main characters. Unlike so many modern films, this one lets the camera step back and see the scene around so you can enjoy the great environments instead of pushing the camera in everyone's face so you feel like you are in tight quarters and can't really see anything.

Variety. This movie had a lot of variety in setting, in action, in peril, and everything else. I was kind of afraid I'd get bored with the same soldiers walking thru No Man's Land for two hours, but there were scenes in rivers, towns, grassy fields, trenches, underground, in the day, at night, and more.

Not Gratuitous. The Great War was a horrendous affair filled with scenes that could give anyone nightmares. The filmmakers really held back the gristly imagery showing only what was necessary for the story and no more. I appreciated that. I was afraid I was going to be sick if I saw this film.

Surprise. Most of this film is what you expect, but there was a shocking surprise in the film that wasn't even hinted at in any of the trailers, ads, or reviews and it occurred at a very unexpected time. I'm amazed with as much as had been said about this film, no one let this cat out of the bag.

The Bad


Peril and Suspense. There was real peril and real suspense in this film, but not as much as I would have thought, and I was fairly comfortable the whole time and almost never at the edge of my seat. They could have ramped up the peril and danger just a little bit.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Put me on the edge of my seat more.

Overall


1917 has been called a near perfect movie and a cinematic masterpiece, and that praise isn't much of an exaggeration. This is an excellent film filled with amazing visuals, a unique storytelling device with the "uninterrupted shot for the whole movie", and a variety of action and peril. Being a Great War flick, this could have easily turned into a horror fest, but the filmmakers kept the gristly visuals to a minimum only showing a few necessary images to convey the proper mood. The story is good and the pacing, while a little slow in parts, mostly keeps moving. I give this film 4.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


   

 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Movie Review - Sonic the Hedgehog

I love classic video games and think they could make great movies and TV shows if someone would just do it right. Someone? Anyone?

Sonic the Hedgehog is a 2020 action comedy film based on the Sega video game of the same name. It is rated PG and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Solid Story. The story is fairly simple and straightforward, but for this kind of movie and the younger audience it's targeted to, that's okay. It's solid, logical, and for the most part makes sense even if it's not the most compelling or original.

Characters. While most of the secondary characters were very flat and generic, the main characters were very likable and fun.

Action. The action was great! It was fun, fast, and lots of it. It did a good job mimicking the action and feel of the video game.

Comedy. This film had some pretty good jokes, although most of them were aimed at and would only be appreciated by a younger audience.

The Bad


Young Audience. This film is definitely aimed at a younger audience and feels a little juvenile with much of it talking down to the audience, which was unnecessary. The core audience will be adults who were kids when Sonic came out on the Sega who loved the game and are adults now with a lot of nostalgia. There's no reason it couldn't have been a little more intelligent and appeal to all ages.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish this film hadn't been mainly targeted at a young audience, but instead had something for all ages.

Overall


Sonic the Hedgehog is an entertaining flick with great action and visuals and a few pretty funny jokes. The main characters are likeable and do a good job. The story is solid. The main flaw is the movie is targeted for a young audience with a overly simple story and many jokes only youngsters would laugh at. The core audience will be adults who were kids when Sonic came out on the Sega who loved the game and are adults now with a lot of nostalgia. There's no reason it couldn't have been a little more intelligent and appeal to all ages, especially considering that is the trend right now. I give this film 4 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.