Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recommended Reading: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher

17262540Book Description:

Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language—and William Shakespeare—here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations—William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.

A surprisingly great book! It's not just a bunch of "thous" and cheap jokes -- it really is a Shakespearian Star Wars. It's in full-on iambic pentameter, and Shakespearian style come through in the characters and structure. It works remarkably well. The plot sticks along closely with the movie, but the characters can stop and monologue, bringing something new to the story without changing the plot. It's full of Shakespeare references and Star Wars jokes, but all very gentle, not parodic. For instance, at one point Luke says something like "I couldn't be more invested in this rescue if Leia was my own SISTER!" My favorite part in the whole book is that R2-D2 can talk, but decides (Hamlet-style) to act like he can't.

My one criticism is that I'd actually like to see it diverge more from the movie plot, to make it function more as a play. In a movie, you can have a little two-minute scene with the villains and then go back to the main story. In a play, that many rapid scene changes would be cumbersome and impractical. I didn't affect my enjoyment of the book, but I would've liked to see how things might change to make it more stage-friendly. 

Check your local library for location -- it may be in juvenile, adult fiction, or classics.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Recommended Reading: You Are Here by Chris Hadfield

Book Description:

Divided by continent,
You Are Here represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. This planetary photo tour -- surprising, playful, thought-provoking, and visually delightful -- is also punctuated with fun, fascinating commentary on life in zero gravity. In the spirit of his bestselling An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, You Are Here opens a singular window on our planet, using remarkable photographs to illuminate the history and consequences of human settlement, the magnificence (and wit) of never-before-noticed landscapes, and the power of the natural forces shaping our world and the future of our species.

Chris Hadfield is now well-known for his tweets from space and his talks on being an astronaut. In October 2014, following up on his previous bestseller, he released this book of photos taken from the International Space Station. The pictures are gorgeous, and Hadfield's perspective really comes through in his creative choice of subjects... He provides just enough text to explain what you're seeing without overwhelming it, keeping the focus on the pictures themselves. It's not just any coffee-table book, it's a trip around the world from a brand-new perspective.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Recommended Reading: "X-Men: Age of Apocalypse"

Book Description:

Charles Xavier is dead - killed twenty years in the past during a freak time-travel accident - and the world that has arisen in his absence is dark and dangerous indeed. The Darwinian conqueror Apocalypse rules with an iron fist, ruthlessly enforcing his dictum that only the strong shall survive - and in Apocalypse's long shadow, hidden among a downtrodden humankind, are a group of ragtag freedom fighters led by Xavier's oldest friend, Magneto: the Amazing X-Men! When Bishop, last survivor of the true Marvel Universe, locates the X-Men and explains how the world went wrong, these embittered mutants and their tenuous allies must risk everything - and undertake a dangerous and multi-pronged quest - to put things right!

Get ready for the next X-Men movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, with the classic four-volume graphic novel! It's a complex story, so you'll enjoy it most if you have some knowledge of the X-Men already, but there's no need to be an expert. This collection organizes a wide variety of comic issues into a coherent story that flows remarkably well, and you really get the feeling and the atmosphere of being on Apocalypse's Earth. This story showcases a compelling set of alternate characters who have remained popular in the Marvel universe ever since, including a heroic Magneto, a dark Nightcrawler, the new character Blink, and many more. A fantastic story on its own, it's also a must-read in the X-Men canon.