Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Six Months of Fiction

Going into the beginning of this year, I had a decent number of books to read. I made this more by taking big advantage of a Walden Books going out of business. I recently finished my fiction backlog. I know for big time readers, this is quite honestly a fairly pathetic list, but considering I squeezed these books into everything else I have going on. . I feel pleased with it. After three years of Seminary reading, I am still wanting the most basic escapist reading I can find, which is why the vast majority of the books I have read this year are licensed science fiction. Here is a description/thoughts on the books I read in the order I read them:

Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
This book combined two of my favorite things: Star Wars and Zombies. They did a decent job getting Zombies to fit in a Star Wars setting, though the author tried to hard to create horror movie set pieces that really came off as cliche and forced. However, it was a nice surprise to find Han Solo in this book as it gives a lot of weight to his "I've seen a lot of strange things" comment in the first Star Wars movie.

Halo: Evolutions by Various authors
This book is a collection of short stories set in the Halo Universe. I read most of the books on this list in about a week or so. However, this one took me about a month. This was partially because it was a bit bigger, but also because the short story model made it hard to get really involved in the book. The stories ended to quickly to make me want to keep flipping the pages. Some of the stories were garbage (like Pariah). Some were neat side stories (like Dirt). Some filled in neat elements of the Halo Universe (like The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole) and others, like Human Weakness, are required reading to truly understand the storyline told in the video games. The biggest problem with this book is that the vast majority of the characters all died in the end. I know this makes the stories tie up really neatly, as well as helps to reinforce the hopeless struggle humanity finds itself in, but it go annoying story after story.

Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht
This is one of the books I got at the going out of business sale, and it is a Zombie novel. The book follows the idea of zombies being caused by a virus, and follows what happens when the virus goes global. It is a good zombie story, but it is a bit of a downer that the book was written as part of a series, but only one sequel was ever published so I know that even if I read that book as well the overall story is never really completed.

EVE: The Empyrean Age by Tony Gonzales
This is another book I got from the sale, and I bought because the front cover is awesome:
The book is based on a Sci-Fi MMO and this book was a tie in to some sort of major expansion they released for the game. The universe they have created is an interesting one, though I do find the way that they essentially explain in-game respawning in a book form. What makes sense in the confines of a game system can be a little silly when put on paper. Despite that, the story was not bad. It had four separate stories that all slowly got closer and closer together until the final mashup in the end, where the actions of one character directly impacted that of another. The biggest problem with the book is that it was a fantastic set up for an expansion to a game I am never going to play.

Agincourt byBernard Cornwall
I tip-toed closer to my goal of reading a history book this year, by reading a work of historical fiction. This book follows an archer as he goes from an obscure English village to being an archer at the battle of Agincourt. The author does a good job at creating likable characters, relaying the grittiness of history, and telling a good story. However, the author did rely a bit to heavily on Dues Ex Machima, as the voice of a Saint speaking to the main character is what drove a lot of the character's actions and thus the story. Despite that, it was a very good read and after the previous three books it was nice to have a full novel with a full ending.

Halo: The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Bucknell
At this point I have played all of the Halo games and read the books, so I figured I should continue. The Halo universe is really a good sci-fi universe, and I much prefer the UNSC vs. the Covenant to the dryness of the Federation vs. Klingons/Romulans/Cardassians/ whoever. I also think the Halo universe is best when the stories do not have Master Chief in them. This is just a fun story that is steeped deep in Halo lore. It uses Lt. Keyes as the main character, reveals a lot about the inner workings of Elite society, and is all about fulfilling the Cole protocol. I know that last sentence only means something to a dedicated Halo fan, but those touches were the accents on a solid story.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
How in the world, have I lived 29 years and not read this book? This books was originally published before I could read, so I really have no excuse. This is an absolutely excellent book that was way ahead of its time, and in many ways still is. a Sci-fi war between Earth and an insect alien species is the backdrop for a story that explores human nature, as well as creatively speculates on the power of the internet (and this was back in 1985), as well as the use of video games in education. This book should be considered a must read for everyone.

Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn
After loving the Mass Effect video game, I read the first book that served as a prequel of sorts to the first game. The second Mass Effect book serves a prequel to the second game and uses the same character as the first book. This was an enjoyable story and I am really looking forward (even more) to playing Mass Effect 2.

Now that I have read all of the fiction books it is time for me to begin reading my history book, and after that I plan on reading more books like the ones on this list from the library before reading a more academic book about video games and Christianity.


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