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terms_of_enlistmentI read Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos pretty much on a whim. I finished something else and hadn’t really thought ahead of when I was going to read next. Terms of Enlistment was on a list, but not that high simply because it is a part of a six part series. In the end I decided that not only would I read the first installment,  but I would also power through and read the second and third, is I ended up liking it. I ended up liking it. There was nothing truly great about it – it reminded me of Starship Trooper, which I read back in high school – but it was written well and kept me engaged. In short, its your typical military science fiction story surrounding a couple of characters who are in their first tour when the first intelligent life, outside the human race, is discovered. Off course, it’s on the worst of terms as this new alien species is taking over a human terraformed colony planet. From there it’s all action and explosions. Like I said nothing super special about the plot or story, but it was well written and kept me reading. Enough so that I’m already fifty pages into the next book of the series, Lines of Departure.

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Last year (2017), like most, I wasn’t exactly happy with the amount that I read. But hey, that’s how it goes – life often gets in the way and goals get pushed to the side. I was happy, however, that I finally read Dune. It had been on my list for a few years.

I must say, when it comes to this years reading list that I am a bit confused – or, maybe uncertain is a better word – on what to read. I have started way to many series and feel like I should focus and finish a few of them out before moving on to something that involves reading another new series. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin is one such book that is on my list to read this year. Should I stop there? Or should a power read straight on through and continue my Game of Thrones journey by immediately starting A Feast for Crows? Like I said, I’m not sure. I love the Martin books but often, when I finishing any book I like to mix things up and move onto a new book and/or new author. Plus these books are often over a thousand pages…It makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.

Green Mars is another such book series. I read Red Mars when I was in college, so it has been years – years! – since I read it, but I still I remember lots of the detail about that book, which is always a clue to me that I really enjoyed reading it. That’s not to say that I couldn’t go back and read it again and realize that I missed or forgot a lot of things.

Mars Life by Ben Bova is yet another. I read the first two books – Mars and Return to Mars – years ago. More then that, however, is that these series of books are only a part of a broader arc of books known as The Grand Tour series of which there are MercuryVenus, and Saturn just to name a few. Some of them I have read – and not in order – while still some are at home on my book shelf waiting to be read.

Finally, there are the Han Solo Adventures books by Brian Daily. While I realize that the books that came before Disney acquired the rights for Star Wars are now labeled as non-canon, that doesn’t mean the books aren’t still worth reading. And with the new movie coming out, what better way then to get hyped up by reading something from the Star Wars universe even if it isn’t relevant to the upcoming movie?

Hopefully there will be more books added to this list, and hopefully in the coming year I can do a better job and get off my ass and reading a little more. This could easily be accomplished by putting down my XBox one controller and picking up my Kindle instead. Small steps…small steps.

childrenIt’s getting towards the end of the year again and I’m starting to think about what I would like to read next year. I haven’t come up with a definitive list, but I have been thinking.

The worst part about reading is that there are only so many hours in the day and so many books to read. Worse still is the fact that there are so many great books out there that I have already read and would love to read again. So that got me thinking. What I would really love to start doing is to mix things up and focus not only on new material that I want to read, but other books that I would love to read again.

For example, a few books that immediately jump to mind are Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildMars and Return to Mars by Ben Bova and West of Eden by Harry Harrison. I read all these book when I was in high school. Relic especially was a book that really captured my attention. It was brand new, nobody had ever even heard of Lincoln Child or Douglas Preston, or Penergast for that matter. Today there are over fifteen books in the series that started with Relic, with more coming out all the time. Same thing with Ben Bova and Mars. Mars is part of his ever growing Grand Tour series that began even before the publication of Mars and is still going today.

These books make up the Something Remembered part of my list. They are books that immediately grabbed me as a young adult and books that I still think about today.

west_edenThen there are books that are Something New, just been published but end up in the back log of things to read. The End of All Things by John Scalzi is in this list. Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos are another that spring to mind.

And then there is Something Old. These are books that were publish more than ten years ago; books that I know about but, again, are back logged in the list of things to read. This list can be pretty big, but a few examples of these would be Dune by Frank Herbert (which has been on previous years lists), Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, Venus, by Ben Bova, or Forge of God by Greg Bear.

The problem with many of these books is that they make up a part of a larger series. And while I love series, I also like to mix it up when it come to my reading. It’s hard for me to start with Dune, for example, and then read the next five books in the series, one after the other. If they are really good, it’s no problem, I did that with the first three book in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

This, however, doesn’t even begin to touch books on my History or writing lists that I hope to read in the next year as well.

star-wars-trilogySo, I did some digging and it appears that there is a book coming out for the new Rogue One movie, but it won’t be out until mid December. Also, as the Lengends books go, Timothy Zahn is coming out with a new Thrawn book in April of 2017. Not really clear about what the specifics of this book are, but given how much of a fan I am of the Heir to the Empire trilogy, I’m more than thrilled to see more new material coming out. Also, there is a second Rogue One book being written by James Luceno, who has written a few books in the Legends world and has apparently jumped over to the official cannon universe of Star Wars.  There new titles can be found herehere and here.

wedges_gambleSince Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars I have been a little concerned about where this could lead with the franchise. This concerned turned into panicked when I learned that Disney was categorizing ALL the previous books in the Star Wars series as Legends – stories having nothing to do with the actual Star Wars Universe. My fear was that this would lead to eventually those books being removed from off of bookshelves completely. This frightened me because if it wasn’t for Timothy Zahn and the Heir to the Empire trilogy, Kevin Anderson‘s Jedi Academy trilogy, along with a few other authors outside the Star Wars universe, my high school years and early college years might have involved a lot more trouble-some behavior if I wasn’t at home reading or discussing the latest in the Star Wars universe with friends. Needless to say, this hasn’t happened. The books are still being sold in book stores and available for purchase on Amazon. Not to mention, the latest Star Wars movie was pretty good, and the next one, Rogue One, looks decent. So, having said that, maybe it’s time I ate my words and expressed my opinion that Disney, thus far, seems to be doing alright by the franchise. Which brings me to the next order of business: what I’m reading now. There is no book out for the new Rogue One movie, but there are a ton of X-Wing books in the Star Wars Legends cannon.  Among those is Wedges Gamble, the second is a series of books centered around the X-Wing pilots in Star Wars. I read the first book many years ago and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to read the second. And what better time than just before the movie comes out?

the_deepI’m not sure where I first heard about The Deep by Nick Cutter. It must have popped up on amazon in relation to something else I had read or purchased or looked at. In any event, I like the description and decided to purchase it. I’m over half way through the book that tells the story of a group of scientists that are desperately trying to find the cure for a horrible plague that is ravishing the entire planet. The name of this disease is The Gets. It makes you forget. First you forget where you put your car keys, and eventually you forget where you live, and they you forget other things, things more vital to your well being, like how to breathe, and then…the end. A possible cure is found deep in the ocean – 8 miles down – in the form of a substance name Ambrosia. But is it really a cure?

This is one of a couple of books I have recently picked up that are written by author that I have not only never read anything by them, I haven’t heard their names before. Depth by Lev Ac Rosen is another book and author. As for the deep, so far I like the writing style. It is clear and not confusing and everything makes sense. If there is one complaint that I have so far it is that there is a little too much background given at times. But that’s a minor point. So far I’m pretty pleased with the author and the writing.

ghost_brigadesI’ve been snooping through the web trying to figure out what is new in the Science Fiction world – books, movies, etc – and what I have found is…not much. And at the same time, a lot. We have known for some time that HBO is making a show based on Asimov‘s science fiction classic, Foundation series, but as of today, there is no release date. The same goes for other books that are thought to be in pre-production to be brought to the small screen such John Scalzi‘s Old Man‘s War and Redshirts, Frederik Pohl‘s Gateway, and Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary Justice. Although, the Old Man’s War television series does seem to have a show name of The Ghost Brigades after the second book in that series. The only thing we do know is that 3001 by Arthur C. Clarke does seem to have a tentative release date of 2017, which is good because I’m currently reading 2061 and will move onto 3001 when I’m done. New additions to the list of soon-to-be T.V. shows are Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Dark Tower by Stephen King (which has actually been thrown around for several years as possible T.V. show), Lock In by John Scalzi, and Hyperion by Dan Simmons. So…yeah, a lot happening without much of anything happening, all at the same time. Being a huge Old Man’s War fan, though, I can’t wait to see that story being told on television. So I guess stay tuned. As for movies, well…apparently re-bootes for both The Mummy and Interview with a Vampire are in the works. And Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed.

foundationEvery year I come up with a list of books that I would like to read. This year is a little different as I have finally put pen to paper and organized which books are at the top of my list. The list is rather large, but I least I have all these books together and which format the books are in so they are easy to reference when it comes time to start reading a new book.

For example, I have been meaning to read the Foundation trilogy for a while now, and with the series/Movie looming on the horizon, this is the year to start. For those books on my list I have organized them in which order they should be read and in which format I have them – nook, Kindle, Hardback, Paperback, etc.

This list also helps me keep a list of not only which books are in a series and how that series should be read, but I know which books in said series I have already read. Sounds silly, I know, I mean everyone should know which books they have already read, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. Take my Jack McDevitt books for example. The first book of his that I read was Chindi even though The Engines of God and Deepsix came first in that series. But that was several years ago. The book Omega of his is next on my list to read. Also with McDevitt books, you have two character series that he writes in: The Priscilla Hutchins and the Alex Benedict series.it

This makes things easier for me as I find it difficult to keep track of what I would like to read next, since my house is filled with books making is distracting; but also, since Science Fiction and Fantasy books all seem to come in trilogies or larger, it’s easy to sometimes forget where I am in my reading.

What I am reading at the moment is The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, neither Science Fiction or Fantasy, but still a book that I have heard nothing but good things about and have been trying to find the time to read for years. Another reason for the list. Also on the list of things to at least try and read this year are A Clash of Kings by George R. R. MartinThe Shining and The Dead Zone by Stephen KingCaliban’s War by James S. A. Corey; and Write-A-Thon by Rochelle Melander.

duneThere will be more to that list as I also like reading history and true crime books as well, but for now that’s what I’ve been up to and/or ready.

I am also trying to make an effort to finish books that I have started reading. There have been more than a few books that I have started in the past few years – last year especially – that I have started and then not finished, and thus have to start again. The Sword of Shannara is one such book that springs to mine, which is a shame because it was a book I got about 150 pages into and really enjoyed, but then got side tracked with other life emergencies.

Now that I have finished reading The Martian (coming to a theater near you in October), I have moved onto reading Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.

I have been on a “read ’em before the movie/television show comes out” kick lately, hence The Martian and now Childhood’s End which is being made into a show and premiering on the Syfy channel this December. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always had Childhood’s End in my library and have always wanted to read it, so the fact that it is being made into a television show isn’t the only reason why I’m reading it, but it has certainly lit a fire under my ass to get it read before the premier. Having said that, Foundation by Issac Asmiov is next on the list because that looks like it will be a T.V. show/series premiering sometime in the near future on HBO. After that will be Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, since that is another show premiering on the Syfy channel this December. After that my schedule is open, but at the rate I read these next books will take me probably to the end of the year.

Just as a side not, I have also been reading a history book on Mark Anthony and Cleopatra which is very interesting so far, even though I am only fifty pages or so into the book. And I am also reading a how-to book on writing and revising and editing, the title escapes me no, but it’s not as boring as I thought it would be and I am actually enjoying it and the suggestions it is giving me to be a better writer. So there you have it!

the-martianWith the New Horizons space probe making it’s flyby of Pluto, it’s interesting to note that everything we thought we new about the planet is quickly being re-thought. For example, many suspected that Pluto was like the Moon or other dwarf and/or minor planets, in that it was grey and pock marked by craters, but had little else in the way of “character” that the real planets do. But as we get closer, and learn more, we see that this is far from the truth. Pluto is red…ish, not grey like the Moon. And far from being riddle with impact craters, Pluto has what appeared to be sand dunes(?), just like Mars, the largest of which is in the shape of a heart. There are also hints that Pluto may have at one time had an active geology, but still there is a lot to learn and interpret about the dwarf Planet. This is all kind of fitting since I just started reading The Martian, which is soon to be hitting theaters in movie form this October. Maybe some day somebody will right a book about going to and exploring Pluto?

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