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Book Probe: MetaWars, Steam Patriots, Spaceman
Reviewed by Sarah Arnold, Joe Crowe, © 2012

Format: Book
Genre:   Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror
Review Date:   November 20, 2012

Book Probe finds new geek-related books, so you can spend your money more exuberantly. Links to buy are in the titles. Thank us later.

MetaWars by Jeff Norton

"He was frozen in shock as people screamed and ran around him. He felt the gryphon’s paw on his shoulder again."

MetaWars will draw comparisons to Matrix and Tron, but that's from people who have not read it. In several ways, it's more fun than both.

A kid is the hero, and he takes on his father's mission in an online universe. Of course it's ruled by someone not very nice. I've seen that before, but the nifty part is how writer Jeff Norton makes this work. The imagination in the Metasphere is infectious. The character's interactions with his father and grandmother are the best part; they provide touching realism inside a way-out fantasy realm.

Frank Herbert: The Works by Bob R. Bogle

This book covers Herbert's work outside Dune, inside Dune, and all about Dune. It delves into how Herbert imagined unimaginable stuff, and breaks down how he postulated time and space.

The writer crams this thing full of everything I didn't know I needed to know about Frank Herbert and Dune. It's a reading guide, a concordance, and a textbook. Do you know about the biology of sandtrout? You will.

Golden Kingdom by Jeremy Jaynes

"Mortality is a bitch."

This one combines sci-fi, military action, and fantasy and gets itself a stew going. It's about people outside when huge domes appear over major chunks of the world. Monsters come out of them, naturally. The good guys try to get into the dome, naturally.

Some copy editing would've helped me. I weep for the unused comma.

Each chapter is titled with a classic rock song, and the titles fit what's going on, from "Killing in the Name" to "Who Made Who." I couldn't get the chapter's song out of my head, each time. I recommend trying the book, but if you're in a hurry, just skim the chapter titles.

Steam Patriots by Richard Monson-Hafael

This book does not exist yet. But it looks so great. It's a Kickstarter for stories about the American Revolution fought steampunk style. The Kickstarter has art of Benjamin Franklin shooting a lightning gun. That should line up supporters right there.

Spaceman by Brian Azzarello

Late in 2011 Vertigo published this limited series by Brian Azzarello. Nnd fans can own the complete work plus extras that the penciller Eduardo Risso kindly provided as an inside look on the mini-series.

Spaceman is set in the dystopian future where NASA, in an under the table conspiracy, created a group of modified humans to send to Mars. These simian-looking humans were focused toward the physical worries of long-term space travel, and not the science side of things. Their speech is broken and they seem to have very simplistic goals. But the majority of the story ignores terraforming Mars and this (going back to this story only after the main character is asleep/ in a drug stupor/ knocked out). Instead it focuses on Orson (one of the Spacemen) on present day Earth.

Orson is a loner and scrap metal picker. After failures on Mars and the shutdown of NASA, Orson and his brothers are sent back to Earth to try and scrape by a living. While he’s working, a missing child star falls into his lap and the story takes off as a lukewarm action adventure. The art is well done in Risso’s capable hands but nothing too exciting and it matches well with the story being told. The most disappointing aspect isn’t the story; it's the constant distraction of the character’s "future speak." There are few new slang words, but everyday words are typed on the page with shortened spellings, similar to reading a text from someone with poor grammar. It's hard to simply sit and read the story.

The biggest appeal when the series came out was the $1 price tag to entice readers. There should be more in a deluxe edition for the higher price tag. There are some first-draft pages in the back from Risso’s sketchbook but not much more qualifies this book as deluxe.

I am not as enamored with this mini-series as Azzarello’s earlier work, 100 Bullets, but rumors point toward 3 more mini-series in progress from Azzarello and Risso. Maybe the first one is working out a few kinks before we get to another great book. I strongly recommend this book for a fan of Azzarello or of the Spaceman story from when it was first published, or someone who, like me, prefers to read the whole story in one sitting rather than waiting weeks for the next chapter. -- @sarah_arnold



 
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