Category Archives: Science Fiction

The Emperor’s Railroad by Haley

emperorA slow moving novella that leaves the reader wanting more.

The Emperor’s Railroad
by Guy Haley
read by Tim Gerard Reynolds
Macmillan Audio / Tor
April 2016

UPDATE: The previous version of this review was based on a copy where there were parts of the audio book missing from the recording. The whole fight with the [SPOILERS] dragon was MIA. [END SPOILERS] It turns out there was a glitch in the audio book format causing a large, important portion to be cut out. If you are missing the fight then delete and redownload your Audible book to fix. Trust me, this new (full) version makes a huge difference in the story and enjoyment thereof.

Without giving too much away, [BUT SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE] this story starts out with Abney, our narrator, and his mother on the road fleeing their home city, which was overrun by the dead (zombies, but slightly different.) Their wagon hit a pothole, broke an axle and their driver, a postman, has broken his neck and passed away. Into this dire predicament rides Quinn, a knight of the “dreaming city of Atlantis.” Quinn agrees to take the two survivors to a settlement north of Charleston in the Kingdom of Virginia.

Along the way we run into a few zombies, a railroad with carts that are driven by teams of animals rather than steam, and a town with hydro-electricity. [CLEAR SPOILERS] At the end there is a battle with the dragon – who is the physical embodiment of punishment by the “angels.” We are left with a lot of questions in the end.

Where is Atlantis? What are “Angels?” What exactly is the dragon? How do the Angels control the dead and the dragons? Why are there knights with swords when guns exist? Very little is answered here. And in fact, this novella is one of two (later in 2016) intended, it seems, to whet the appetite of this new fantasy world centered on the exploits of Quinn. Like an old fashioned Western film, the hero rides off at the end, but unlike a Western, there is clearly more to this story. [END SPOILERS]

When I read the description of a post-apocalyptic world with zombies, angels, dragons and knights I was intrigued. It’s more than that though. It’s methodical, slow paced and at worst times prodding and at best wistful. We don’t know much about what happens prior to or after this story, but we get an interesting primer into what to expect going forward. As Abney says in his final words, “I know that out there Quinn carried on his search. What was he looking for? I don’t know. It bothered me for years that I never found out. I guess I made my peace with that. Maybe he found ’em. Maybe he didn’t. Whatever fortune did to Quinn, wherever he went and why I’m sure as the good lord is enthroned in Heaven that someone, somewhere knows what happened to Quinn next… if you find out, stop by my grave and whisper it to the earth when you come home. It will be much appreciated.”

Note about the reader (audio book version): Reynolds does an outstanding job on his Virginia drawl and slow, methodical narration. The complexity of his gravelly and at times gentile voice worked really well as the voice of an older Abney. Very easy to listen to.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Off to be the Wizard by Meyer

Martin was a completely normal geek. Until he found a hidden program and became a god.

Off to be the Wizard
Magic 2.0 #1
by Scott Meyer
narrated by Luke Daniels
Brilliance Audio
March 2014

The hidden file was on a hidden server and looked completely harmless. It seemed to contain random numbers and words, but Martin’s habit of searching for himself turned into the discovery of a lifetime. Or well, all life times. His name was there. And with some fidgeting and problem solving so was his age, weight and height, and – interestingly – his bank account balance. After thinking he was going crazy when messing with his height in the machine and seeming to actually change height, he changed the amount in there and checked. His bank reflected what the file said. In fact, everything in the file changed “reality.”

Quickly finding ways to shut down aging and making himself impervious to injury, he decides to make his life easy – way easy – by giving himself a lot of extra money. Of course, banks and the Fed have questions when bank accounts start getting money with no deposits. So they come a calling leaving Martin the option of trying to explain this to them or running to a safe place and time. He chooses England in the middle ages.

Thinking he would wow the residents of the first town he comes upon he quickly finds that he isn’t the only “wizard” who had the idea to go back and time and live like a king. He just happens to be the most recent hacker to find the file. Navigating friends from foes, keeping the “wizard” powers secret and living life as he wants to is going to be hard but with almost unlimited power, money and time, Martin looks forward to the challenge.

This very funny book, similar to Robert Asprin’s Myth books, with interesting comedic characters that exist mostly for the silliness of living in a Matrix-type world that they can control. Whether Martin defeats the evil [SPOILER] Merlin [END SPOILER} or not isn’t really the point. It’s the journey rather than the destination. And I enjoyed every minute of this laugh out loud journey.

A NOTE ABOUT THE AUDIO: Luke Daniels does a great job with differentiating voices, pacing of sentences, evenness of volume and – importantly – in comedic timing. His voice still comes into my head at times during the day, “Marrrtiiiin!” Excellent job.

The Eighth Day by John

eighthShawn Jaffe had just talked to the man staring with dead eyes at the ceiling with the bullet hole in his chest. He had said, “Nothing you know is real” (p2), which would have been easy to ignore if not for his sudden murder.

The Eighth Day
by Joseph John
Obsidian Dawn
April 2016

[SLIGHT SPOILERS] The events in the café set in motion a series of intriguing and frustrating attempts by Jaffe and Detective Harrington to figure out what was going on. Bodies disappear. Attempts are made on their lives. Lives are digitally erased. And then an unthinkable murder / suicide takes place and it all unravels even more. [END SPOILERS]

Part detective and part science fiction, John’s novel is the written equivalent of a Bruckheimer popcorn summer movie. It’s fast, moves faster, and includes lots of “on screen” violence. John does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing and even when we understand we are still engaged in the resolution – one that is highly satisfying in terms of pure aggression and excitement.

It is surprising to find a novel by a first time author that has the polish this one does. It’s slick and easy to read, deftly builds a world 25 years in the future, including future past events without being heavy handed about them. Some things may not fit exactly (will we still carry physical mobile phones in 25 years? Probably not) but it flows easily. There isn’t much work to imagine this world of the future, which allows the reader to enjoy the show without getting bogged down.

This is a very strong first novel. Science Fiction and action fans of summer blockbusters will definitely enjoy it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Admiral by Danker

Admiral“Admiral?” I blinked, taken aback… “I’ll be damned,” I said gazing at it.”I’ve been promoted…”(p5* galley; subject to change).

Admiral
An Evagardian Novel
by Sean Danker
ROC
May 2016

The Admiral awakes on ship he shouldn’t be on, with a title he didn’t remember having, with three trainees who shouldn’t be there, somewhere they shouldn’t be in space and apparently alone. It looks like someone sabotaged things on the ship, and one of the trainees in particular thinks it is the “Admiral.” Not only does he need to figure out where they are, what they are doing there, and how they got there but also stave off the trainee and keep them all from panicking.

The frantic pace of this book takes the reader from problem to problem, from possible solution to another problem. It harkens back to the very best intentions of survival horror or apocalyptic stories where a small band of survivors try to save themselves with limited time and resources. Like the first few episodes of Stargate Universe, where the ship needed life supporting power, then water and food, then location and so on, this story moves from location to location and just when we think there is a solution, things change for the worst.

The general lack of understanding of the characters and who they are drives the story rather than hinders it. Especially the Admiral, who has secrets very early on but aren’t explained to the reader until the end. Unlike some survival stories that stick with a single genre this book moves from that genre to others in a universe that the author builds thoroughly and well. By the end readers are ready for a sequel that will be a much different type of book than this one, but with a hero they can get behind.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Justice by Scudiere

JusticeSin is a warrior, a trained assassin, a former police officer and the daughter of a Crime Lord.
In Book 1 Vengeance, Sin’s family is assassinated by the Kurevs Crime Family, leaving she and her sister alone. At age 12, Sin swore vengeance on the entire family. She would kill each and every person in the family and in the worse way possible. Thus, Sin began her training to become the best and seek her revenge.

Justice
The Sin Trilogy 3
A. J. Scudiere
Gryffin Ink
October 2015

In Book 2 Retribution, Sin meets and teams up with Lee. As a team they become unstoppable. No one even remotely connected with the Kurevs family is safe from them. These assassinations drew the attention of FBI Special Agent Owen Dunham who spent his entire career trying to capture them. He dubbed them the “Red Ribbon Bandits” as they always left their victims tied up in a big red bow, Sin and Lee eventually fell of the grid and retired to a small cabin in the mountains in a place that doesn’t exist on any map. They continued to train and hone their skills just in case they were every located.

In Book 3 Justice, Sin and Lee’s quiet lives take a very unexpected turn. In the middle of the night two trained assassins invade the cabin. Sin escapes but Lee is no where to be found. Sin visits all the places they were to meet should they ever be detected, but Lee is not any of these places. Sin must located Lee at all cost. His very live depends on it. This is a job, however, that she can’t do alone. She must seek help. Perhaps her brother Nick will help. She has keep in touch with him in the past and at one time worked together as Police Officers for a small community. Nick is the head of a rival crime family, but no one is aware of this, and he is also one of the Kurevs family as they all have the same father. Perhaps ex-Special Agent Owen Dunham would help, but how could she contact him and still remain free to look for Lee? Agent Dunham had retired, stopped looking for her and became a friend of sorts.

Their efforts to locate Lee leads to an interesting, intriguing and exciting journey. Sin is aware that the remaining Kurevs brothers are her brothers as well as Nick’s , but this makes no differences to Sin. She will locate Lee and terminate the brothers or die trying. She must find Lee alive and tell him the good news. She is pregnant. Will Lee be pleased or dismayed? Their live is no life for a child.

Will Sin, Nick and Owen Dunham locate Lee in time to save his life or will they all die at the hands of assassins sent by the Kruevs brothers? Read this intriguing, page turner book to find the answers.
Ms. Scudiere is an excellent writer. She keeps you on the tip of your seat, reading far into the night. Her books are ones that you have a hard time putting down and will remember long after you have finished them, These books are keepers for sure. Can’t wait for Book 4 in the Sin Trilogy.

I recommend you read the following books written by A. J. Scudiere and my review of them. If you are not a fan of Scudiere you will be after reading her books.


The Golden Reviewer, is an 80 something year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of fiction on top..

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Humble Audiobook Bundle Worlds of Doctor Who


In their newest audiobook bundle, Humble Bundle presents 16 dramatized Doctor Who serials for a minimum of $15 – with you choosing how much of that goes to charity!

We’ve taken a listen and – for fans of the Doctor, like us – we find this a must buy! Each features dramatization with souhnd effects, music and cast.

Our favorites are the Cybermen stories (4 audio serials) by Nicholas Briggs (Published September 20th 2005 by Big Finish Productions) are firmly rooting in the Doctor Who world, although the heroes are all human. Humanity is about to become extinct with the Orion war getting larger, we follow these stories to see how they handle their looming destruction at the hands of the Cybermen. Like true serials we don’t ever get a full conclusion (do you want Doctor Who to end?) but we do get a fun adventure and likeable characters.

Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9

galaxybuckOutstanding production. Lesson learned. One gap.

Galaxy Buck: the Mission to Sector 9
by Phil Vischer
Jellyfish Labs
October 2015

Buck Denver, a Gospel Galaxy with Pastor Paul call center representative, feels like he isn’t doing any good. He doesn’t want to be a “tote bag guy,” he wants to be a “big thing guy.” When he takes a call from Sector 9 that is suffering a service interruption, Buck decides to take the issue straight to the top – to Pastor Paul. The two repair ships are out and it will be weeks before someone can fix the transponder. Fortunately, Buck has been studying to be a ship captain – on an app – and just needs a chance to take the third ship and repair it himself. Why? Because “God wants us to do big things!” Quickly selecting a crew, Buck takes a ship and the adventure is on.

This new story by Phil Vischer, best known as the creator of VeggieTales, uses his popular Buck Denver character from What’s In The Bible. The Phil Vischer Podcast is one that I follow and listen to regularly. I’ve also read Vischer’s book, Me, Myself and Bob (2008), about the rise and fall of his Big Idea Entertainment (the company that owned VeggieTales prior to its sale to DreamWorks Classics.) All this to say that I’ve been hearing about and looking forward to this 40 minute show for most of this year. Overall, I’m very happy with the final product and look forward to showing it to my children.

The production looks outstanding. Vischer filmed his puppets on green screen and digitally inserted the really built sets and very good digital effects. Each puppet is really well animated and looks great. The voices will be recognizable as variations of Vischer’s other characters.

This science fiction story includes quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek references and Easter eggs for fans of both Star Trek and Star Wars. The ship, uniforms, how they solve issues and even the lens flares are all Trek (including Abrams’ Trek). There is a scene under water that is very reminiscent of the underwater scene on Naboo from Star Wars Episode 1. Even the scene wipes are Wars. When Buck finds an Obi Wan-like hermit, he finds someone to break the monotony of his simplistic non-stop “God wants me to do big things!” message.

A minor complaint that I have is that there isn’t diversity on display in the puppets. Buck, Pastor Paul and three out of four ship members are all peach/white. One is blue. The hermit is also blue and says he is from another planet. [SPOILER] The inhabitants of Sector 9 are ant-like, blue creatures. [END SPOILERS] Humans are peach/white. Aliens are blue. Children from non-white households won’t find anyone to identify with. No black, brown, Asian, islander, or native puppets exist. There are also only two females out of the 11 characters on the show and both are “other” rather than normal. One is an old lady and one is an alien. I think this could have been done just a little differently to be more inclusive. Honestly, after listening to Vischer’s podcast I’m surprised this happened.

The message of God Wants You (no: To Do Big Things!) is right on target. It is clear, easy to digest and spot on theologically. The Rule of Love is easy to appreciate.

Congrats to N. Priebe of Rockvale, TN for winning a copy of this!


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This movie screener was provided for the purpose of evaluation.

Firefly w/ Staite & Baldwin Q&A Video #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

BookGateway.com Highlights from the Q&A panel with Firefly’s Jewel Staite and Adam Baldwin from Wizard World Comic Con Nashville on 9/27/2015.

Adam Baldwin is an American actor known for his roles as Animal Mother in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, Ricky Linderman in My Bodyguard, Knowle Rohrer in The X-Files, and Marcus Hamilton in Joss Whedon’s Angel. He also established a cult following as Jayne Cobb in the series Firefly, the movie Serenity and for starring as Chad Shelten in Day Break. He starred as John Casey on the NBC comedy-spy series Chuck, was the voice of Breakdown in the animated series Transformers Prime and played Captain Steven Harris in three episodes of Law and Order: SVU.

Jewel Staite most recently starred as ‘Raquel’ in the CW series “The L.A. Complex,” which premiered in the Spring of 2012. Prior to that, she was seen starring in the Hallmark Channel telefilm “Call Me Mrs. Miracle” opposite Doris Roberts. This premiere was the highest rated Hallmark Channel telecast of the year. Prior to that, Jewel was seen as ‘Dr. Keller’ in the SyFy Channel hit series “Stargate: Atlantis.” Her stellar work has earned her rave reviews, as well as recognition from The Gemini Awards (Canada’s prestigious equivalent of our Emmy) with a nomination for ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role’ in 2008. This was followed up with a nomination from the Leo Awards in 2009 for ‘Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series.’ Jewel made her 2005 feature film debut in Universal Pictures “Serenity,” Joss Whedon’s adaptation of the FOX science fiction television series “Firefly,” of which Jewel was a series regular. Jewel played the ship’s mechanic ‘Kaylee,’ a sweet, happy and sensual farm girl who loves life and is a genius at fixing anything.

Moderator: Jenna Busch is the founder of Legion of Leia and has hosted and written for sites like IGN, AOL, Huffington Post and more. She co-hosted Cocktails With Stan with the legendary Stan Lee and has appeared on G4’s Attack of the Show, Fresh Ink, Tabletop with Wil Wheaton, NPR and Al Jazeera America, covers film/TV/gaming/comics. She’s currently a co-host on the entertainment web series Most Craved. She’s been published in the comics anthology Womanthology, is a chapter author for Star Wars Psychology and Game of Thrones Psychology, moderates and appears on panels at cons around the country and owns a terrifying amount of swords and 20-sided dice. There are also those My Little Pony voice overs that give one nightmares.

**Details taken from Wizard World press releases. See http://www.wizardworld.com/nashville2015.html

Live Blog: Day 2, 2015 #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2015 live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia) David Mason (resident comics-know-it-all), and David Warren (photo and videographer) as we blog everything that happens on during Day 2 of Comic Con Nashville 2015! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! Video will also be posted next day on our YouTube channel. On tap today: Behind the Scenes of CW’s The Flash with Candice Patton, Inside Firefly with Staite and Baldwin, Machete Don’t Text with Danny Trejo, the Dukes of Hazzard reunion, the cosplay contest and a bunch of quick hit interviews with artists and writers. Coverage starts at 9/26 at 12 pm Central. Tune in for updates! (OPEN THIS PAGE TO VIEW BLOG)

Live Blog: Opening Night 2015 #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville 2015 live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia) David Mason (resident comics-know-it-all), and David Warren (photo and videographer) as we blog everything that happens on opening night of Comic Con Nashville 2015! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! Video will also be posted nightly on our YouTube channel. On tap tonight: Strong Female Characters roundtable, Roman Reigns from WWE, cosplay and a bunch of quick hit interviews with artists and writers. Coverage starts at 9/25 at 6 pm Central. Tune in for updates! (OPEN THIS PAGE TO VIEW BLOG)