Looking Back at April 2014

Another month, another look back at how my last month of reading went. April was a pretty busy month for me personally as I made trips to Denver and Los Angeles to see family for various reasons, but thanks to a couple of plane rides, I still managed to stay on pace towards my 100 books read in the year goal. This month I had a book to read provided by a publisher, the chance to finally finish one of my incomplete series, a couple of unknown authors, and a couple novels by a favorite.

The list of books I finished in April:

Somewhat surprisingly, Fortune’s Pawn was probably my favorite book of the month. I love all of the books in The Seafort Saga, but Fortune’s Pawn was an awful fun time while I was reading it. I think I really had been starved for some light-hearted sci-fi action and didn’t really know it. The same could be said for Crimes Against Magic, it was good fun, exciting characters, and off the beaten path for me personally. Looking back on the month, I have to say none of the books were disappointing, which isn’t always the case. Usually I have one or maybe two that really didn’t do it for me, but not this time.

I was really happy that I managed to finish the final books of The Seafort Saga after so long of trying to get that series completed. Those books might not be for everyone, but I really liked them a lot, and now I can say I’ve read them, and that I’ve finished off one of the bigger uncompleted series on my list. It’s all smooth sailing from here now, right?

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Book Review: “Deadman Switch” by Timothy Zahn

Deadman SwitchDeadman Switch was written in 1988 and I think it might be one of my favorite Timothy Zahn books to date. There was something about how this story played out that really resonated with me and I was really impressed when I was finished. Zahn has a knack for creating characters that play well off of each other in order to tell his stories with dialogue and interaction to go along with the action. He is in fine form with all of the characters he introduces into Deadman Switch.

The Solitaire system is rich with mineral asteroids, but there is a catch. The only way to get into the system is to sacrifice a convicted felon so that a mysterious force can take over the body and guide a starship through a strange field effect that surrounds the system. This means that for every ship that wants to enter and then leave the system two people must die. Obviously this creates an interesting situation for the ruling coalition of planets, the Patri. If they want to keep mining the Solitaire system, they better hope that people keep being convicted of crimes and sentenced to execution.

Gilead is a member of a group called Watchers. From a very young age he has been trained in the art of observation and has the ability to read facial expressions, behavior, and emotion to determine if someone is telling the truth or not. Watchers also have a very high level of moral altruism which means they do not support the idea of the Deadman Switch which requires a human life to operate. As a member of an expedition into the Solitaire system he has a difficult time watching a convict be executed to make the trip and after speaking with the convict scheduled to assist in their departure from the system he discovers that she is innocent.

With the discovery of the convict’s innocence, Gilead begins a vendetta to prove her innocence to the man he works for and find a different way to get their ship out of the system. His employer is sympathetic to Gilead’s cause and wants to help but his ability to do so is limited. He does help though, and in the end Gilead somehow manages to find the results he needs in order to blow all sorts of things wide open. During the investigation and search for a local convict to use instead of the one on his ship, Gilead discovers an as of yet undiscovered alien race that just so happens to be the reason the field effect exists around the Solitaire system as well as responsible for the operation of the Deadman Switch technology so ships can enter and leave.

Why these aliens have created the field, and why they have allowed humanity into the system to mine the minerals in the asteroids comes to light and Gilead discovers he’s unwrapped a very juicy morsel of misdirection. Deadman Switch deals heavily with morals and ethics as well as themes of religion and belief. Those are not themes you see in a lot of science fiction today. If you are a fan of Timothy Zahn you should definitely try to get a copy of Deadman Switch, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Open Road Media Pleased to Announce eBook Release of Several Timothy Zahn Novels!

I’ve been a huge fan of Timothy Zahn since I read his superb Thrawn Trilogy and wound up hooked on the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The thing is, Zahn has a plethora of work he’s done over the years not related to Star Wars at all. My favorite book of all time is one of his standalone novels, Icarus Hunt, and I’m a very big fan of his Frank Compton series as well. I’ve always known he had many other books to offer but finding them in a format that worked with my Kindle was always difficult. Not so anymore!

Open Road Media contacted me recently and asked if I’d be willing to pass along the great news that several of Zahn’s other works have finally been released in ebook format. I am very excited to oblige and help them get the word out about these books now available in electronic format. To go along with this great news, Open Road Media prepared a short film/documentary about the author himself:

Although best known for reviving the Star Wars Expanded Universe with his Thrawn Trilogy novels, Zahn’s excellent original works, including the Blackcollar Series, Spinneret, and A Coming of Age, have been release as ebooks this past week.

“You could say my work is like Star Wars played on a chess board.” –Timothy Zahn

Other novels include: Deadman Switch, The Backlash Mission, Triplet, and Warhorse. For more about these new releases and to see the brand new covers, visit Open Road Media’s dedicated Timothy Zahn page.

  • A Coming of Age is a tribute to what it means to come of age, face your fears, and even save the world. Reminiscent of other legendary coming of age literature, readers of Dune, A Wrinkle in Time, The Ender’s Game, and The Chronicles of Narnia will be delighted to discover another tale that records the difficult yet crucial passage into adulthood.
  • The Blackcollar Series is a military science fiction series about a group of superhuman combatants who may be the world’s last chance at survival.
  • Spinneret poses a scientific puzzle whose answer could threaten humanity’s salvation, or destruction.

As a reader and massive fan of Timothy Zahn I’m incredibly stoked for the chance to add all of these books to my collection at some point. If my past experience holds true, all of them will be great to read and I’ll probably be recommending them to people long into the future. If you haven’t read any of Timothy Zahn’s work before, or if you’ve only had the joy of experiencing his Star Wars work, do yourself a favor and pick one of these up, you won’t regret it in the least.