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Review: Alien Affairs

Alien Affairs by Scott Skipper is a very well-executed first contact science fiction novel. The book gives the author's take on how the alleged UFO crash near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 might have transpired. As the story progresses, it covers the subsequent ramifications decades in the future.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the events and character actions seemed plausible. Even though the tone of the drama is light-hearted, the author still took the time to think through the logistics of how first contact with a more advanced species might truly unfold. In fiction, the underdog triumphs over a superior force all the time because it's satisfying. Such a feel-good result emboldens us to believe that we can each transcend whatever stands in our way. But in real life, Goliath slays David the vast majority of the time. With that in mind, the struggles and failures of humankind's efforts against the aliens in the story rang true, and the bittersweet ending concluded the tale appropriately.

The characters, while seemingly dry at first, eventually show a great deal of personality through their dialogue and actions. This, as opposed to descriptions given in prose, is a sign of effective writing. Along those lines, the story unfolds very fluidly. It was an easy read. I tore through the novel in a pair of four-hour flights. However, in the last quarter of the novel, the author increased the level of detail and made his prose a bit meatier. This is in contrast to the first three-quarters of the story where the exposition was more bare-bones.

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Review: The Lost Spell

The Lost Spell (Tales from the Lost Horizon) by Michael Eging is an entertaining short story within the sword & sorcery (S&S) subgenre of fantasy. When the cantankerous old wizard and main protagonist, Thondric, suspects the theft of one of his spells, he embarks on a quest to reclaim it.

Along the way, Thondric's viewpoint is engaging enough to maintain reader interest. Some of what transpires does so a little too coincidentally, and the tale has its typical S&S pitfalls (lack of firm magical rules, a character casting or not casting the right spell at the right time for the convenience of the plot, etc.). The characters are quick to make assumptions or resort to violence and slow to find more clever or diplomatic solutions. This results in each character coming across as a bit cliche (the cranky but wise old wizard, the honor-bound knight, the evil ogre, and so on). There are no deviations from what's typical of the genre.

All that said, none of these finer points detracts significantly from an otherwise well-written tale. Fans of the genre will feel right at home, while the story should also satisfy the casual reader (4/5 stars).

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Review: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

In short, go see this movie. It's awesome. Alita: Battle Angel (2019) features an endearing main character who kicks butt, a plot and story far better than what the critics are claiming, edge-of-your-seat excitement, and excellent world-building. Refreshingly, the movie honors the source material. I rate Alita 9/10 = 4.5/5 stars. For a much more detailed review, keep reading.

Overview

Opening weekend, I had the opportunity to see the Alita: Battle Angel (2019) movie. I don't often write movie reviews (never mind the fact that I don't post to my blog anywhere near as often as I should). The exception, of course, is when the movie is based on something I've loved for a long time. Since the early nineties, I've been a fan of the original Battle Angel (1993) Anime and Gunnm comic (manga) by Yukito Kishiro on which Alita is based. My writing draws significant influence from Anime, and I would include Gunnm/Battle Angel as one of those influences.

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Beyond Saga

Beyond Cloud Nine

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Ace star fighter pilot Brooke Davis dreams of becoming the first human being to fly faster than light.
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Beyond the Horizon

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Ensign Maya Davis must foil a plan to exterminate a benevolent exospecies during the first interstellar mission.
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Beyond Yesterday

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Captain Maya Davis travels back in time to learn how a piece of modern tech ended up in the past.
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Beyond Existence

COMIN SOON. With the Earth conquered, Admiral Maya Davis must travel through space, time, and alternate universes to prevent mankind from being wiped out of existence.
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Future Works

Destalis

Lyana, an orphaned martial artist with bio-augmented abilities, embarks on a quest to liberate her home world and prevent the fabric of the universe from unraveling.
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Bears in Space

Roz and his goofball crew must save the galaxy from cliche alien invasions, trite zombie apocalypses, and bad rom-coms.
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Goodbye, Mars

Ryssa Nilsson must avoid the deadly stings of heat-loving bugs known as thermophiles and escape Mars before the Sun's expansion sterilizes the planet.
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