Monday, 28 April 2014

SF & Fantasy on Kindle - Cheap Deals (April 2014)

I just spotted a couple of real SF & Fantasy bargains on the UK Kindle store, so thought I'd hunt down as many bargains as I can find that're available at the moment. Some of these will be Amazon's monthly deals, so presumably will only be around for another couple of days. Other deals are because the publisher (or author) decide to promote one or more of their books. You'll often found a book gets really reduced just before the next book by the author comes out. Anyway, here goes.

'Anathem' by Neal Stephenson - £0.99. 1000 pages of Neal Stephenson has got to be a good deal!

'Among Others' by Jo Walton - £0.99. This was the winner of the 2012 Hugo Award & the 2011 Nebula Award. It's about a teenage girl who's a big science fiction fan, who gets caught up in ancient magic... Also available for 99p by Joe Walton is 'Farthing' - Book One of the Small Change Trilogy.

'The Dreaming Void' by Peter F Hamilton - £1.19. First book in his Void Trilogy, and at over 800 pages a real bargain. It helps if you've read the Commonwealth books first (Pandora's Star & Judas Unchained), but it is not essential by any means.

'Blue Remembered Earth' by Alastair Reynolds - £1.99. First book in his Poseidon's Children series, but works well as a standalone too.

'Old Man's War' by John Scalzi - £1.19. Debut novel for John Scalzi. Good, if simple military SF. Several of Scalzi's other books are cheap too.

If you know of any other good deals, let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Castle TV Series - really cool crime drama

I'm not usually big on long running TV crime series, but was stuck for something to watch the other day (waiting for our weekly fix of Game of Thrones and Nashville), and so decided to try out Castle. Interesting but slightly cheesy scenario - in the first episode there's a string of copycat killings, with the modus operandi the same as those in crime novels by bestselling author Richard Castle. The detective on the case, Kate Beckett, brings Castle in to help her. They solve the crime, and the higher up powers that be in the police force decide that Castle is useful (and good for PR), so they team up on a regular basis - much to Castle's delight and Detective Beckett's dismay.

On the face of it, the storyline each episode is nothing earth shattering. What makes this series so good is the characters, Castle & Beckett and the interplay between them. Castle in particular is a great character, a witty, charming lovable rogue. Detective Beckett makes an excellent foil to his charm and there's something of a love hate relationship. A will they, won't they thread runs through the series too.

If that wasn't enough, there's a couple of other interesting things about Castle. Castle plays a bestselling crime novelist, and periodically has poker nights with actual real life bestselling crime writers including Michael Connelly and James Patterson. These scenes only last a minute or two but are slightly more than cameos, with the writers  discussing Castle's latest case.

In episode 1, Castle has just killed off his main character and during season 1 creates a new character for a series of novels. The main character is a female detective - Nikki Heat - and is based on Castle's crime writing partner Kate Beckett. This work in progress is mentioned regularly throughout series 1, but - and here's the kicker - if you go on Amazon there is a series of novels by 'Richard Castle' starring Nikki Heat. Now Castle is a fictional character so obviously he couldn't have written the books, but no one knows who is writing them. The only clue we have is that it is someone who has appeared on the show, and Michael Connelly has confirmed it isn't him. So there's a bit of added mystery to enjoy!

There are 10 episodes in season one, I'm on the last of them now, but so far there are 6 seasons and counting, all the rest of them with 20+ episodes. So lots more to enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 - Thoughts so far

I have been neglecting my blog of late, despite having lots to blog about so am going to try to rectify that over the next couple of weeks. Some board gaming posts coming up, but first I wanted to share my thoughts on Game of Thrones Series 4. Major spoilers coming up for the first three episodes of season 4 (episode 3 aired in US on Sunday 20th April, UK Monday 21st April).



"Switch to red alert."
"Are you sure sir, it does mean changing the bulb?"

Sorry, little off-topic quote there, not from Game of Thrones. You probably have to be in your 30s to get that old science fiction reference though!

Anyway, back to Game of Thrones.

Firstly, the first two episodes were a bit so so I thought. After the drama of the last season, I felt it started quite slow but maybe that was just me. Plus I'm watching episode by episode now rather than having a full season's boxset to consume in one go, so only getting bitesize chunks at a time which makes it a bit different. The ending of episode two really shook things up a lot with Joffrey dying and a whole whodunnit thing going on. Though if you've read the books you'll know of course. Unless they change things.

Episode Three had a lot going on, with bits of rather a lot of storylines. The most interesting of which (if you don't count Danaerys marching on yet another city, always a fun watch particularly as she's far and away the hottest female character in the series) is events in King's Landing, with a new King soon to be crowned, Tyrion standing trial for poisoning Joffrey (which he blatantly didn't do) and a rather unsettling encounter between Cersei and Jaime Lannister which looked a lot like rape. This is causing a lot of debate, not because it appeared to be rape, but because in the books it isn't rape and the context is very different. Plus it seems completely at odds with Jaime's redemption character arc. 

Anyway, on the subject of a new King, I can't quite remember what happened to Gendry, Robert Baratheon's bastard son, but I'm sure he's still around somewhere. Could he be putting in an appearance at some point? Of course I'm not sure who would support him, maybe Margaery Tyrell could marry him and they could kick out the Lannisters? Wishful thinking, I couldn't see it happening, but you can dream...

My biggest problem, after the Red Wedding, is I just don't know who to root for, certainly who to root for that can actually do anything about the Lannisters... Other than Danaerys that is, but she's across the Ocean and not looking like she'll be coming to Westeros anytime soon. 

Oh well, that's it for this week. As compelling viewing as ever, roll on the next episode.