“Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge”

51KPpunHkhLI had the opportunity to visit the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge theme park in Disney World last December, just a few months before it closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, it was an incredible experience. I cam away extremely impressed with the attention to detail and the quality of the merchandise, food, and other amenities. Disney’s Imagineers went the extra mile to make the park feel immersive; once you enter, you can’t see anything to remind you that you’re still on Earth.

I had read Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire novel and the Galaxy’s Edge comics before I went, so I understood the importance of Batuu to the Resistance and the First Order. I loved having read about Dok-Ondar and then seeing him. My wife and I had fun trying to identify the Resistance spy.

Unfortunately, the park itself doesn’t make that backstory accessible to most visitors. Continue reading ““Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge””

“Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski


Some of us might know Joseph Michael Straczynski through his work on Babylon 5. Some of us came to know him through his time on the Spider-Man and Superman comic book lines. Some might have found Joe by browsing on Netflix and finding Sense8. Some of us might even know him primarily through his always amusing and often insightful Twitter feed.

Well, unless you’ve read this book, you don’t know Joe. Continue reading ““Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski”

“Contact” by Carl Sagan

Contact_SaganFor me, the film version Contact is still the gold standard for intelligent science fiction in cinema. After having read Carl Sagan’s Contact, I realize that the movie benefitted from exceptionally strong source material. Sagan manages to explore Big Ideas™, but also develops compelling characters. In addition to being a talented scientist, Sagan could write better than most professional science fiction authors.

Continue reading ““Contact” by Carl Sagan”

“God Emperor of Dune” by Frank Herbert

71HPQdub1+L._SL1500_Readers will either love God Emperor of Dune or hate it. It’s quite different from the previous Dune novels, or indeed any other book I’ve read. It takes place 3,500 years after the original Dune. Leto II rules as emperor and has transformed into sandworm. There are no epic battles and Leto’s dominance quickly squashes those few conspiracies against him. Rather, God Emperor of Dune feels like Leto’s attempt to educate the reader about politics and religion. The book is written in a quasi-epistolary format, with significant sections drawn from Leto’s secret journals, Bene Gesserit reports, and other primary sources. The book focuses on the relationship between the Leto, his majordomo Moneo, Moneo’s daughter and rebel leader Siona, and another Duncan Idaho ghola. The narrative follows these four as they attempt to make sense of Leto’s empire and Paul’s legacy.

Continue reading ““God Emperor of Dune” by Frank Herbert”

“War for Planet of the Apes”


Many things about the past few years have shocked me. 2007 me I would never have believed that George Lucas would sell Star Wars to Disney, that I would come to love my cell phone, or that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election. Most surprising of all, 20th Century Fox’s Planet of the Apes reboot is the best movie trilogy since at least Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, if not the original Star Wars trilogy. War for Planet of the Apes is an unexpectedly emotional conclusion to this unexpectedly thoughtful saga.  Continue reading ““War for Planet of the Apes””

“Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein

9780441783588_custom-687c1628bad756253c64b990e70fb559a6a8b6e4-s6-c30On a superficial level, Starship Troopers is a book about humans fighting alien bugs. As an action/adventure story, it works quite very well. However, Robert A. Heinlein also uses the novel to explore the relationship between citizens and government. The book is a surprisingly deep exploration of what it means to be a citizen in a political community. Starship Troopers is set on an Earth with a quasi-democratic government. Only those individuals who serve in the military are permitted to vote and participate in governance. The rest of the populace, “civilians,” are allowed to engage in commerce and lead productive lives, but are notably second-class citizens.

Continue reading ““Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein”

“Watership Down” by Richard Adams

wdI have a lot of friends who adore Richard Adams’ Watership Down. This is a book for adults about a bunch of cute little bunny rabbits. Naturally, I was a bit puzzled, but also intrigued. I finally decided to try it when the Mythgard Academy podcast selected it as the next offering in its free podcast series. I came away impressed with the book, but not for the reasons I’d expected.

Continue reading ““Watership Down” by Richard Adams”

“Tears in Rain” by Rosa Montero

Cover-LARGE11I bought Tears in Rain mostly because it was advertised as a spiritual successor to Blade Runner, one of my favorite movies. The book is not an actual sequel, but it touches upon many of the themes and issues raised in that movie. Of course, anything that claims to follow Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is going to set expectations very high. Remarkably, Rosa Montero succeeds. This was easily one of the best books I read in 2013. Continue reading ““Tears in Rain” by Rosa Montero”