Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pulp of the Week - Death Star

Japanese Book Cover that I like better as it highlights main characters.

Death Star
by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry - 2007

Death Star takes place in the moments just before and during the events of the original Star Wars - you know, the real one where Luke blows up the Death Star with a proton torpedo shot through a tiny vent the size of a womp rat.

What is interesting about this story is that the heroes of the original story are only minor characters here. The Imperial characters are the leads, especially Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader. Leia is also featured.

One of the unique features of the book is that in each of the first twenty chapters a new character is introduced. These include (in no particular order) a bar owner, her bouncer, a prison guard, an architect, a smuggler, a librarian, an ace TIE Fighter pilot, a doctor, and the Superlaser trigger-man.

The tales follows the construction of the Death Star and follows through its life and death. I appreciated that the events of the original movie are not retold (mostly). The book sees those events through other eyes, and shows the effects of them on the characters. I liked the second half of the book far better than the first, but it is tough introducing that many characters without just having a lot of exposition. Once everyone is in place, the story hauls ass.

As I was reading, I first thought the book would be the story of the creation of the Deathstar, but it went farther that that and the characters were forced to consider their part in the war and the in the Empire and make some tough choices. If the authors, Reaves and Perry, had faltered here, the book would have been a bit of a dud. However, as the stakes grew higher, and the choices tougher, the book got better and better.

Grand Moff Tarkin is a strong presence throughout the story and he is written as a ruthless, driven man. Human, but heartless (almost) and played well. Tarkin is somewhat irritated by the presence of the Emperor's domineering foot soldier, Vader. But Tarkin is believable and well written. However, as with Vader, our sense memory of the film's classic performances by James Earl Jones, David Prowse, and Peter Cushing (?) help enormously with the characterizations. Especially Tarkin, who is given some backstory and relationships that are new (to me, anyway.)

This book takes place after Death Troopers and before (and during) Star Wars (the one you younger folks call A New Hope. To me it will always be Star Wars.) I would give Death Star a 7, but the last third gets an 8.5. This is a fun read.

There was one boneheaded reference in the book where there is a blaster battle in a Death Star corridor and reference is made to the walls and floor being coated with a substance that prevents blaster fire from going through to other levels. I think the Empire might have won the war had they used this coating on their storm trooper armor...

For this review I read the hardcover novel from the Burbank Public Library. I'll give Death Star a 7.5 out of 10 for the weird every chapter is a new character for the first half of the book, but an 8.5 overall. This was a fun read and I'll be reading more Star Wars novels.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New York Comic Con Saturday

On to Saturday... VERY crowded throughout the con. Artists Alley was very crowded, the IGN theater was always full, and the cosplay was over the top. They were everywhere, and it really helps make a con fun.

And the demographics - I think in 10 years I have watched cons have go from 90% male to (at least at NYCC) over half female. The cosplayers and steampunkers are all very much gender equal, if not leaning heavier to female. I like the trend and I hope that adding half the population as potential readers will help sustain the comics industry. 

Twilight, Hunger Games, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter are major contributors to the gender balancing trend.And here are the pictures...

The Javits Convention Center in Manhatten
The calm before the Saturday onslaught.

The first panel of the day for me was for Sega's upcoming game for PS3 and X-Box 360 - Aliens: Colonial Marines - the authorized Alien universe sequel to James Cameron's Aliens. Fox considers the content of the game as part of the official canon of the Aliens universe. These fan Marines were ready and the man on the right had a fully articulated Smart Gun. Great stuff.

Lance Henriksen was a surprise guest. As you can see the fans were thrilled. He told lots of stories about Aliens and the game uses quite a few of the actors whose characters survived the events of Aliens. It was great to see him again since it had been so long since I edited him in Nature of the Beast. Lance is a great guy and a great actor.

No costume, just had cosplayers sign him...

Bruce Campbell came out for the Evil Dead (reboot) panel to massive applause. The footage played great as well.

Bruce Campbell and Jane Levy
Here's the scoop on the Aliens: Colonial Marines Collectors Edition. It releases Feb 12th and this fancy edition is $100...

Farewell, NYC! Maybe I'll be back again next year!