Thursday, January 23, 2020

Review: Master and Apprentice

Master and Apprentice Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable look at the early relationship of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. It was not as good Claudia Gray's Star Wars: Bloodline, but I still enjoyed it. The story itself raises interesting questions about the role of the Jedi in the Republic and the Galaxy--both what it was pre-Civil War and and what it ought to have been. Rael is an interesting character that is explored a bit more. The vague, background references to Dooku added a bit of intrigue. Reading this so soon after listening to Dooku: Jedi Lost both helped and hurt. It helped because it gave me some background to the connections between Qui-Gon, Rael, and Dooku. Hurt in the minor sense that there were ways in which the stories were not always seemingly in line. I wouldn't say conflicted or inconsistent, but I felt like that the authors maybe have had different visions of Dooku post Jedi/pre-sith lord. I liked some of the quirky supporting cast as well. And the way the story unfolds was well done.


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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Review: Dooku: Jedi Lost

Dooku: Jedi Lost Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An entertaining exploration of Dooku's fall from grace. In the prequels and Clone Wars, Dooku is a pompous villain with no regard for anything but his power. In Jedi Lost, we see that he was not always that way and makes the character all the more tragic in his downfall. Told in flashback from Ventress's reading of Dooku's journals, there is an element of how much of the story is true--though in keeping with Star Wars, it is true 'from a certain point of view.'

The fact that this was an audio performance, with different voice-actors and sound effects, adds to the overall experience. (Though there are a few voices hear and there that are hard to decipher clearly.)

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Review: Resistance Reborn

Resistance Reborn Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enjoyed this immensely. A good lead up to Episode 9.

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Review: Bit by Bit: How Video Games Transformed Our World

Bit by Bit: How Video Games Transformed Our World Bit by Bit: How Video Games Transformed Our World by Andrew Ervin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The subtitle of the book: “how video games transformed our world” is probably a bit too ambitious and overstates what the book is really about. It is far more of a memoir of the author’s, Andrew Ervin, jaunt through the history of video games. I get the sense the point of the book changed over time: that at first Ervin was looking to write a history of the video game — and the book largely tracks that history. Ervin tracks down original versions of old games to play them. He talks with some of the original designers. But along the way, we get more and more of Ervin’s experiences—not just of the game but of his life story. Not a lot, mind you, it’s not an autobiography. But his life forms the context of much of the storytelling about video games, just like the way such narratives set the backstory for many video games.

The other layer is the cultural impact of video games. Ervin weaves in cultural, art, and literary criticism into the discussion of video games. These parts were uneven. Sometimes insightful, other times insipid, and occasionally pompous or overwrought.

The book is definitely at its strongest on the first two fronts: as a history and a memoir of a gamer. Ervin’s own experiences playing Minecraft or Adventure resonated more with me than discussions about Dadaism, Moby Dick, or militarism. Much of the history can be gathered elsewhere, but Ervin’s conversations with the creators and designers added a novel aspect to the standard histories. Lastly, some of the games Ervin plays and discusses are ones that are outside of the mainstream (or are at least ones I had never heard of). This broadens the subject to include different kinds of video games to show how varied and diverse the genre really is.

Overall, the book is interesting and worth a read if you are interested in gaming.

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