Saturday, January 20, 2018

James Review -- Andromedan Dark: Darkness Falling

This week I decided to review Andromedan Dark: Darkness Falling by Ian Douglas. 

When the novel begins, the colony mission led by the Tellus Ad Astra has found itself displaced four billion years into the future to an age where the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies have merged. The expedition has fended off an attack by the Andromedan Dark. When the expedition approaches a world believed to have once been Earth, they encounter the Galactic Cooperative, an alliance of civilizations fighting the Andromedan Dark.

The Galactic Cooperative offers the humans a new world and support in exchange for the expedition doing battle against their enemies. Grayson St Clair, the expedition’s military commander, questions why such an advanced force needs the Tellus Ad Astra’s assistance, but the Cybercouncil, the mission’s civilian leadership, agrees to the alliance without consulting him. This leaves the human forces facing the rapidly approaching Bluestar, an Andromedan Dark attack platform. 

After a scouting mission goes horribly wrong, St. Clair is forced to attempt to convince the Cooperative’s leadership to give him the resources needed for a desperate attack plan. Meanwhile, the ousted former leader of the Cybercouncil has been trying to turn the population against the alliance with the Cooperative. This leads to the Cybercouncil sending an assassin after him, and they swiftly add St. Clair to their target list because they're angered by him exercising the authority granted him during military emergencies. And St. Clair is still exploring many questions regarding ties between the Cooperative and the Dark as well as the role one of, or both of, the factions played in bringing the Tellus Ad Astra to this era.

I give this book 9 out of 10. It has a nice variety of scenes, problems and questions for the characters to deal with. I also enjoy a lot of the characterizations, and the number of view point characters. That being said, there are some plotlines that I wish had received more attention then they did.     

Saturday, January 13, 2018

James Review -- Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours

This week I decided to review Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack. 

The story begins on the Federation colony world Sirsa III, with a mining operation accidentally awakening an ancient automated ship, which is nicknamed Juggernaut. The Juggernaut swiftly destroys the mining station then launches drones to attack the colony’s capital city. In response, the USS Shenzhou, where Michael Burnham has just been promoted to acting first officer, is sent to aid the colony, but with each drone assault repelled the next attack force becomes stronger.

Soon the USS Enterprise, commanded by Christopher Pike arrives. But he reveals that part of the reason the Enterprise was sent is that Starfleet fears Shenzhou’s Captain Philippa Georgiou will refuse to carry out their orders. The Federation Council and Starfleet Command feel that the Juggernaut is so dangerous that it must be prevented from leaving Sirsa III at all costs, including wiping out the colony and rendering the world uninhabitable. This nearly leads to a battle between the two Starfleet vessels, but Burnham manages to clandestinely contact Enterprise’s science officer Spock, the biological son of the couple that raised her after she was orphaned, and suggests a plan to infiltrate and disable the alien craft from the inside.

Burnham and Spock are sent to attempt to enter the Juggernaut, and once inside, they find themselves facing a variety of tests. Eventually the only feasible way to pass one of the tests involves a mind meld between the pair. However, Burnham has experience with melds that is tied to a great trauma in her life and is hesitant to submit to another meld even as the two Federation starships struggle against the Juggernaut and its drones becomes increasingly desperate.

Meanwhile, evidence is discovered that the corporation that surveyed the planet and the colonial leadership have helped cover up evidence that Sirsa III was once inhabited by an ancient civilization destroyed by the Juggernaut. In response, a team is deployed to arrest the colony’s governor, leading to a firefight between Starfleet security personnel and the colonial security forces. And when some of the colonists discover just how far Starfleet is willing to go to contain the Juggernaut threat, they take the Starfleet medical teams deployed to the planet hostage, leading to another crisis for the crews of the Enterprise and the Shenzhou to face.

I give this book 8 out of 10. It does a good job exploring the characters, those created for the novel, the Discovery TV series, and the original Star Trek TV series alike.  I also enjoyed the combat sequences, and I especially liked how the novel explained part of the Star Trek Discovery series premiere, the only episode of the series I’ve seen so far, that didn’t fit at all with pre-existing Star Trek lore. However, there are two major intertwined issues I have that decrease my score for this book. First I feel that Starfleet Command was willing to destroy Sirsa III far too quickly, and, second, I feel that the Enterprise and Shenzhou were too eager to turn on each other when that order was revealed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Games I want to see on a Retro-bit Dreamcast Console

I've decided to shift my focus to videos instead of mainly articles. You'll be seeing a lot more of this ugly mug, but don't worry; there will still be reviews and other content on this blog. In the mean time, here's my most recent YouTube video. You can find a lot more of moi on my YouTube channel:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

James Review -- Mass Effect: Initiation

This week I decided to review Mass Effect: Initiation by N.K. Jemisin and Mac Walters. 

The story begins with Cora Harper returning to the Sol system after her tour of duty with the Asari commando unit Talein's Daughters. Her Asari commander recommended she join the Andromeda Initiative, and Harper moves to do so. She is soon assigned to work with Alec Ryder, humanity’s Pathfinder, a disgraced former soldier who was long at the forefront of humanity’s space efforts. and the creator of the Simulated Adaptive Matrixes, or SAMs, bonded to the Pathfinders.

At first Ryder is leery of Harper because she joined on advice of someone else rather then for her own reasons. But when a vital kernel of SAM programming is stolen, Harper is equipped with an experimental SAM-E implant and sent in pursuit. She recruits a mercenary unit led by Ygara Menoris, one of her colleagues from her time with Talein's Daughters, to help her raid the space station the kernel is traced to. But after the raid Menoris betrays Harper and steals the kernel for herself.

Harper escapes and pursues Menoris to Illuim, where Menoris plans to auction off the kernel. But by the time Harper and SAM-E catch up Menoris is dead and the kernel has been taken by her killer. The pair soon trace the killer to the Pamyat system. Harper, who visited the system aboard her parent’s freighter as a child, remembers it as a haven for numerous pirate bands. But when Harper and SAM-E arrive they find the pirate bands gone. Instead they find a Systems Alliance black ops research base.

Inside the base they find that most of the inhabitants have been slaughtered. Eventually they meet a group of survivors who explain that one of the base’s projects was to create a sentient AI that would willingly coexist with organic life, and the SAM code was stolen to aid this project. But another project was working on creating cybernetic supersoldiers and the base’s AI went rogue then used the supersoldiers to wipe out all the personnel it could find. With an Alliance cruiser en route to eradicate the base Harper and SAM-E find themselves in a race against time to lead the survivors to safety before its too late.

I give this book 9 out of 10. I like the story in general and enjoy many of the characters. However, I wish the book had gone into more detail on Harper’s past. Also, there is a part that adds an extra reason to why the player character is chosen over Harper to be the second Human Pathfinder during Mass Effect: Andromeda in addition to the reasons given in the game. Usually, I would applaud something like this but the explanation in the book doesn’t make sense to me, and isn’t explained in enough detail to stop it from raising new questions that are left unanswered.

Monday, January 1, 2018