Forces of Geek Best of 2014


Best TV Shows: Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Key & Peele, Brooklyn Nine Nine
Best Books (fiction): The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Pines by Blake Crouch, S. by J. J. Abrams, The Martian by Andy Weir
Best Books (non-fiction): The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Best Albums: ‘The Endless River’ by Pink Floyd
Best Comic Books / Graphic Novels: Saga Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan, The Wake by Scott Snyder, In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Alex C. Telander writes the column, Book Report, for Forces of Geek.

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Bookbanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 1: The Mistborn Trilogy on Forces of Geek


Finding a good epic fantasy series to read can sometimes be a troublesome thing.  There are a number of them out there that go on for a number of books, ranging from the trilogies to five-book series to ten-book series and beyond.  I’ve tried a number of them myself, and it can be hard to assess whether any of them stand up to say the holy trinity trilogy of The Lord of the Rings

A number of them start out strong, and then eventually devolve into redundancy and boredom, such as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, while others just lose their way after the first three books; Song of Ice and Fire, I’m looking at you.  Now, these are just my opinions, and I know there are many many readers who would disagree with me, but there is one particular trilogy I know most epic fantasy fans can agree is excellent from start to finish, and that is Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. 

The series has in fact continues sell very well and is so popular that an RPG is now in development for it.  And while the trilogy is complete with The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages, Sanderson has announced that he’s not done with the world by any means and has plans to write two further trilogies set within this world, though further in the future, a good example of which is his recently released Alloy of Law

What can be best said about the series, other than the fascinating world, the interesting and complex characters, and the riveting plots, is that the magic system is simply mind-blowing.


BookBanter Column: “The Only Zombie Books You Ever Need to Read” on Forces of Geek

If you’re a reader and a fan of the horror genre, then chances are you’ve read a zombie book of some sort; maybe more than one.  In case you haven’t noticed, this living dead sub-genre simply won’t go away, as more and more zombie books are being churned out, to the point where most horror authors have now tried their writing hands at bringing an unlikely character back from the dead.  In an earlier Book Banter Column I discussed the short history of the zombie genre, which you can read here.

The big problem I find with most zombie books is that that’s all the story is really about: zombies attacking humanity and how humanity fights back, kills them for good, and ends up winning.  End of story.  This is fine as a story premise, except that it’s been done so many times, not just in books, but in movies, comic books, as well as various other forms of media.  For me the unique zombie story is one that has an interesting, captivating story in a world where there are zombies.

Enter Mira Grant.

Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire.  Seven years ago she came up with an idea for a zombie book that was a small idea that became a big one, then a trilogy.    The first book, Feed, was released in 2010 and was nominated for a Hugo Award.  The second book, Deadline, was released in 2011 and received just as much support and good press as its predecessor.  The final book in the trilogy, Blackout, was released just this week and has already been getting lots of coverage and hurrahs from fans.

So the complete trilogy has been released, and it honestly feels more like one long book, making it the perfect time to check this series out and give it a read.


Book News: Book Report for Week of May 6 on Forces of Geek

Toni Morrison to Receive Medal of Freedom
President Barrack Obama announced recently that renowned author Toni Morrison has been chosen to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom,awarded to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Locus Finalists Announced
Last week, the Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced its finalists for the 2012 Locus Awards, winners of which will be announced at the Science Fiction Awards Weekend in Seattle on July 15-17, 2012.

May’s Reads From SF Signal
SF Signal has revealed its top releases in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror for the month of May with 148 titles.

Cover for Next Halo Book
The cover for the next Halo book, The Thursday War by Wendy Traviss, has been revealed by its publisher, Tor. The book will be released on October 2, 2012.


BookBanter Column: The Art of the Book Review Part II – Fiction vs. Nonfiction on Forces of Geek

There are many different types of books that have been published; all shapes and sizes, lengths – some short, some very short; some long, and some behemoths! Accordingly, there are many different types of reviews to go with these books. Sometimes there is a correlation: a short review for a short book, a long review for a long book (I tend to do the latter, especially if it’s a long book that I enjoyed, such as Under the Dome and The Way of Kings). But when it comes down to the type of book, different thoughts and processes need to be employed, especially in the case of the fiction book versus the nonfiction book.

The Fiction Review
When it comes to writing a book review on fiction, the two parameters to keep in mind are the story and the characters.  (There’s a minor third, writing, that I will get to later.) I’m a story kind of guy, so if it’s a good story, I’m hooked right away, and that tends to be what I look for in a book I’m interested in reading.  I certainly get picky with books that take a while to get going, especially if the world isn’t interesting enough to get me engaged or at least keep me interested. The second parameter is character, which can pretty much always save a book, even if the story isn’t doing it. Now, I’m not saying that a terrible story can be miraculously saved by a strong character or two, but a story that doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere, or is dragging along, trying to pick up steam, can be kept alive with its characters. Some people read books solely for characters, and decide to read certain books on this premise.  Characters can be interesting, or complex, or have some unusual tic that the reader may identify with or just keeps them interested; or it can be all these things.


Book Report: Book News for the Week of April 8th on Forces of Geek

Book Report

Three Cups of Deceit: Last year bestselling author Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven and Into the Wild) released a short book on Greg Mortensen and his use of the Central Asia Institute charity’s money to fund personal and family trips in excess of the amount of $1 million.  60 Minutes also did an expose on the issue.  Mortensen, who co-founded the charity, has now come clean and admitted to this and will be repaying these funds and has also faced repercussions with the charity.

2012 Hugo and Campbell Awards Nominees: The 2012 nominees for the Hugo and Campbell Awards were announced on Saturday with a nice wide range of authors, writers and artists, making this one of the more interesting award celebrations in some time.  The award ceremony will take place on September 2 in Chicago at Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention.

Seanan McGuire: The bestselling author of the October Daye series got a number of Hugo nominations, as well as under her other persona, Mira Grant.  The cover for the next Toby Daye book has been released, Ashes of Honor, coming out September 4.  And Mira Grant has just signed a contract with Orbit books for two new novels and three novellas.

Gaiman’s Musical:  Neil Gaiman, the man known for trying just about every type of writing medium at least once has announced another project he’s also working on: a musical.


“The Penultimate Truth” by Philip K. Dick (Mariner, 2011)

Penultimate Truth

The Penultimate Truth, newly released in the wonderful new edition from Mariner Books, is a perfect example of Philip K. Dick at his best: a future story that immediately draws the reader in with its complexity and interest, as well as taking its characters to interesting and unexpected places.  Like most of his books, it’s a short one that leaves the reader contemplating on what they’ve just read and what it might mean for his or her life and world.

It is the future and a devastating world war of epic proportions has taken place and most of humanity now lives deep beneath the ground in massive bunkers which is all the world that these people know.  To them the battle still wages above, and they continue about their daily lives, manufacturing weapons and making supplies to send up above, while eking out a pitiful existence in this regimented and hopeless society.  That is until Nick St. James, president of one of these “anthills,” makes the decision and digs himself to the surface to get help to his people.  It is there that he discovers a shocking reality he never could’ve predicted.

The Penultimate Truth has a great message to it at the end, which may not be completely clear, but unavoidably asks questions of our own society and where we might be headed in the future.  Given that Dick was writing this in 1964, it is an astonishing revelation and foresight that many have come to expect from this master of science fiction.

Originally written on March 14, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Penultimate Truth from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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BOOK REPORT: Book News for the Week of March 19th on Forces of Geek

Book Report

Ernest Cline at Wondercon
Bestselling author of the “nerd crack” book Ready Player One and screenwriter for the cult hit Fanboys, Ernest Cline, was at Wondercon this past weekend and was interviewed by Bleeding Cool where he talked about his movie and his book, as well as what else he has in the works.

Joe Hill at Wondercon
Joe Hill, bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns (and who also happens to be Stephen King’s son), was also at Wondercon this past weekend where he talked about his comic book series Lock & Key, as well as his two next books, NOS4A2 and The Fireman, as well as about some other things.

Walter Dean Meyers is Ambassador to Young People
Walter Dean Meyers, the young adult author of Monster and many other books has been chosen to hold the recently created position by the Library of Congress as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, with the goal of raising awareness of the importance to literature to teens.  In this video he talks with CBS at the position.

Digital Downloads From Marvel
In a smart move that may be the first step in the ever changing book industry, Marvel will now be offering a digital download edition with each purchase of the physical comic.


BOOK REPORT: Book News for the Week of March 11th on Forces of Geek

France to Digitize and Sell Half a Million Out of Print Books 
The French government has passed a law to digitize and make available half a million books written and published before 2001 that are out of print and no longer available.  France’s Bibliothèque nationale is compiling the list of ebooks to be sold online.

Scholastic’s Storia 

Scholastic Books, the renowned children’s publisher, is working on their own ereading app called Storia, featuring about 1300 ebooks and 250 “enhanced offerings that are available to teachers and parents who purchase books through the Scholastic Book Clubs and other Scholastic sales channels.  It is currently in the beta version, with plans for the full release in fall 2012.

Paypal’s Demands 

The popular online pay site, PayPal, recently ruffled some e-feathers, when it demanded that the self-publisher, Smashwords, take down all the ebooks that it deemed “obscene.”  Smashwords has worked out some breathing room time, as it tries to decide what to do about this.

ABFFE Joins the Fray 
As things begin to heat up with PayPal and Smashwords butting heads, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has stepped in, joining with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protest this move by PayPal.