Reviews: Area 51 1/2: July-August 2015



Greenings Thirders,

We have been asked where we find the time to not only peruse your various documents, pictures, and videos but also provide you with feedback of our findings. Well, first, it is our mission to learn about you and while most of this is done through direct observation, it is also important to balance this out with the study of what you say. Surely you would not want us to base our beliefs solely on things we see you doing? So, we have a large pile of materials that occupy prime space in the extraction room and, while we travel about your system, we occupy our intelligences while we are otherwise occupied. We find that there are three types of materials. Those that we find ourselves still studying even though we are done with extraction, those that find their way into the actual extraction process before it is done, and those that Klaarg calls the klangers. A klanger is one that holds promise but does not deliver, that keeps you at it only to let you down, that leads you to the grand finale only to fail in a grand way. So, a klanger. Which, by the way, is the sound that a thing makes when it strikes an iridium hull with just enough force to leave it incapacitated. It is a sound of both joy and of sorrow.

Well, it is time for us to head into the ether so we need to make our regular attribution. Lawyers please pay special attention as we would like to continue to avoid your legal system. This time we believe most of this came from Oz. If you have complaints please feel free to go directly to him. Let us point out, however, that he is a wizard. You can find him in the Emerald City. And, as always, and especially in this case, good luck

clash-of-eagles-300wClash of Eagles, Alan Smale, Del Rey, ISBN: 978-0804177221, 412 pgs.

We enjoy a good reading that involves Romans. We feel, in many ways, that your Roman experience might have been the best of you. Most of it. Well, at least parts of it. Besides, we liked the helmets and thought the capes quite complimentary. In this case the Romans involved are involved in one of your alternative histories. As we have pointed out before, all of your history is alternative. You just make it up as you go along and have no compunction about designing the past as you would like to have had it been. This time the Romans, with the help of the Vikings, have made it to North America. It’s not actually called North America but if we called it what it is called in the book you would not know where it was.

Everything, at first, is peachy. The Romans land and start building and setting things to right, just like they did in most of Europe. Then they start marching, which is something else they did extremely well, mostly in Europe. But North America is not Europe and the native Americans (the various tribes that inhabited the place not really called North America) are not the Gauls. The Romans soon find themselves under constant attack. These attacks include ambushes and, in the later stages, aircraft.

Being a good Roman, Praetor Gaius Marcellinus knows nothing of aircraft. What he does know is that his 33rd Roman Legion has been decimated ten times over. As the only survivor he finds himself at first ignored but then slowly accepted, sort of. Turns out the natives were a bit smarter than anyone in the legion figured. As time passes Marcellinus befriends the natives and finds himself drawn into and admiring their society. He even begins training some of them in the Roman way of fighting.

Unfortunately, this is not a complete history. It ends at the most inopportune time and we do wish that it mentioned it was going to do that some place right near the beginning so we could make an informed choice. While we do not find it troublesome to recall five impossible things before morning cleansing, having to remember any number of half histories for more than a few cycles is really quite tiring. Still, we enjoyed the way this history was alternated and we found the sequencing quite enjoyable. You most likely will as well, especially if you enjoy Romans. But seriously, who does not?

when-the-heavens-fall-300wWhen the Heavens Fall, Marc Turner, Tor, ISBN: 978-0765337122, 544 pgs.

We quote directly from this work: “Shroud is the Lord of the Dead. Long ago he hid the Book of Lost Souls, a terrifying repository of unspeakable power…” First we believe that the word hid is really misplaced and what is truly meant is lost or loaned. We hide a lot of things, mostly from Klaarg, but we generally do not get so upset when they get found as this Shroud apparently did. On the other hand, we have lost things or loaned things and in those cases we have gotten indescribably angry.

In any case, or in additional cases, this book (the Lost Souls one not the book describing the Lost Souls book) is now in the hands of a renegade mage named Mayot. Now, right off we need to tell you that mage is simply another way of saying wizard. Just so you know. Mayot has the book and has trotted off to sit in the middle of the haunted Forest of Sighs in order to read the thing or at least understand parts of it. He knows enough to start raising the dead. Did we mention that the Forest of Sighs was haunted? Needless to say, when you start playing with power like this others sit up and take notice. Not just Shroud and his minions who he has tasked with returning to him the book, but a number of other really powerful beings such as Lurker, a former Guardian of Erin Elal; Romany, the high priestess of the goddess Spider, Shroud’s rival; Ebon, heir to the throne of Galitia who is himself possessed by a goddess; and finally Parolla, a deadly young woman who has been seeking to confront Shroud for some time and sees this as a really good opportunity to do so.

This is a very complicated story and we are reminded of Erikson. Not the bad, crappy science fiction Erikson, but the marvelous fantasy Erikson. There is complexity of character and motive and story and everything slowly weaves and interweaves together until all is in the same place at the same time. Chilling and captivating. We loved it and would seek out more by this Turner fellow.

innocent-blood-300wInnocent Blood, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, Harper, ISBN: 978-0061991073, 598 pgs.

This is the second book in the series that is called Sanguines. It picks up right after the first book. If you remember, vampires are searching for mysterious relics that will help them destroy the world, while vampire priests are working against them, trying to find the relics themselves in order to stop the destruction. Added to this are two humans, the warrior man and the woman of knowledge. We should mention also, that Judas is still floating around and that the odd angel is hanging out as well.

Essentially, this is a race across continents as everyone scurries hither and yon, and to and fro, trying to find this there and that here and never quite managing to pull all the pieces together in quick enough time to put an end to anything. Both sides are thwarted by the other time and again and a lot of people are stabbed, hit, beat, shot and blown up in the process. Yay!

The issue, of course, is that this is book two. Book one sets the stage and establishes characters and plot and gets you excited. Book three is where it is all going to come together (more about book three next time). But book two is simply a bridge between one and three. Middle books are like those poolings that are neither first out of the water or last out. There is, quite simply, not that much that is special about them. The best one can hope for is that they manage to crawl to safety without getting eaten or hurting anything. Thus it is with this work. It does not get eaten and it does not hurt anyone. We did like the plot progression even if it seemed at times as if the characters were just going places for the sake of it. The writing is certainly done well, as well as the first book so that must count for something. But almost 600 pages is a lot of toing and froing to put up with. And they kill a horse purely for the sake of empathic audience connection. We are never fond of such things. Usually it is dogs who get such treatment and we don’t agree with that either. On the other hand this is all about Armageddon so we suppose it all can be justified. In any case, we got through it fine. You will as well and we look forward to the third and final book in this grouping. Did we mention the Pope makes an appearance? He’s not a vampire priest though. Not to give anything away but we thought there might be those of you who would want to know straight out.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 5.55.43 PMAnamnesis, Finite Films, Written and directed by Alex Calleros & MIchael Tucker, Starring Mallory Marie Wedding, Zach Brown, and Brad Wilcox.

This psychological treatise explores your lucid dream states. It follows Hannah who has suffered a terrible tragedy, not once, but twice — first in her lucid dream and then again when the dream turns out to be true. At the same time, Sean and Noah are also having lucid dreams. Noah’s are more of a nightmare while Sean dreams of Hannah. Vera also has lucid dreams and hers are no festival either. It seems humans cannot find joy even when presented with all of the mechanics to make it. We enjoyed this although we struggled as to why a species which already has so much trouble with reality feels the need to explore the process that their minds use to dispose of the garbage of the day. It is one of those things that makes us wonder whether we will ever really understand you. As for you, well, you should all watch this. It might give you insight into your dreams, although we know that most of you do not remember the dreams you have, never mind have any control over them. Still we carry hope for you. We liked it and we think you will like it as well. It is well crafted and presented and the end state is quite complimentary to provoking thought and wonder.

Time for us to change locations again. Feel free to follow us on whatever social media your government may allow. And remember, believe. If you do not, someone else will.

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