Prey Video Game

guest post by Anthony

2017’s Prey is a game I’ve been meaning to get around to playing for quite a while now. Thankfully, I finally got it this winter and I’m glad to report that it exceeded all my expectations.

Prey primarily takes place aboard Talos 1, a research space station run by the TranStar Corporation that orbits Earth. The station is an expansive environment that includes the various labs, offices, and community spaces that the hundreds of scientists and other workers stationed aboard the station need. It turns out that TranStar has been secretly studying alien life aboard the station until they break containment and infiltrate the station leading to the deaths of the majority of the population aboard the station (shocking how these types of things anyways happen to mega-corporations who secretly find alien life in sci-fi stories). You play as Morgan Yu, Vice-President and head of Research for Transtar. You explore the now near deserted station trying to find a way to stop the aliens from reaching Earth while also trying to save the few remaining humans left on board.

Prey does an excellent job building a very interesting setting aboard Talos 1. The different areas of the station are full of interesting details about the world of the game, the work that was done in each of the locations, and the people who worked there. Prey also gives the player a variety of interesting tools to explore and interact with these spaces. There is an upgrade system that depending on which options you choose will change how the aliens, the surviving humans, and the security systems aboard the station react to you. The system also gives you different options on how to approach each problem in the game and gives plenty of opportunities to fight through encounters, sneaking through them, or talk your way through them. While the initial set up for the plot is a little cliché the game does a really good job with a few key plot twists and some interesting details to make the world feel very unique. I really enjoyed playing through Prey and would highly recommend it to any action or adventure game fans out there.

This game is available in XBOX ONE and PS4 formats.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

As someone who doesn’t read a plethora of science fiction books, it has been a while since I have read anything like Christopher Paolini’s latest release, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. While I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book while browsing at the library, this title has been on my to-read list since it was announced due to my love of the Inheritance Cycle series, a fantasy tetralogy Paolini began writing at the age of fifteen. For anyone who has read Paolini or enjoys a good space opera, I assure you that this title will not disappoint!

Taking place in a future in which humans have established colonies on planets beyond Earth, this story revolves around Kira Navárez, a xenobiologist who studies new planets to gauge their habitability for human life and future societies. While Kira is truly passionate about studying and discovering new worlds, she and her fiancé, Alan, decide they want to begin a life of their own together in one of the established colonies. They plan to marry and settle down after their last mission on Adrasteia, an Earth-sized moon they had been surveying for a few months. Just before this mission ends, however, Kira stumbles upon an alien relic that quite literally transforms her life and world. Soon afterward, she finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic war in which she becomes humanity’s greatest hope for surviving in the face of a violent extraterrestrial species.

While this book is full of aliens and space travel and warfare, as well as a string of catastrophic events that never seems to end, this book was also full of introspection and camaraderie, capturing the true resiliency and depth of what it means to be human. I will admit that this book was intense – definitely more so than Eragon and the rest of the Inheritance Cycle series, but it truly was out of this world (pun fully intended!). It was both exhilarating and humbling to find myself lost among the stars alongside the unforgettable characters in this story. Another neat aspect of this novel was the obvious research Paolini did to familiarize himself with the scientific background of space travel and space itself. While some of the explanations went right over my head (physics class was a long time ago), it was still interesting and didn’t detract from the story at all.

Additionally, according to Paolini’s website, this book is the first of many in the Fractalverse series and it is slated to become a movie, scripted by Paolini himself. While I find that movies rarely do their respective books justice I am, nevertheless, excited at the prospect of losing myself in this story on the big screen.

Overall, I cannot wait for the rest of the series to be released and would highly recommend this book! Despite its nearly 900 pages in length, I flew through the story and didn’t want it to end upon reaching the last page.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book on CD

Overdrive eAudiobook

Overdrive eBook

Playaway

Spanish text

Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle

“Bright, colorful, and whimsical—yet charmingly familiar—Stranger Planet is out-of-this-world fun.”

One of my major habits as a reader is balance – I always need to balance out the heavy with the light, the sweet with the salty. It’s how I stay sane, ESPECIALLY when the sweet, light books are like Strange Planet and Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle. There’s nothing like a book of comics as a palate cleanser, and there’s nothing like Pyle’s comics, period.

Stranger Planet is the second book of Pyle’s comics (originally shared on social media) and a worthy successor to the first. In both cases, it’s a pared-down world of bright pinks, blues, greens, and purples, where genderless aliens navigate a strangely familiar world of “cohesion” (marriage), “mild poison” (alcohol), “offspring” (kids), “elastic breath traps” (balloons), and much more.

These comics are charming for me because I love the quirky, gentle humor of examining everyday activities through a fresh perspective. I’m also a huge sucker for wordplay, which doesn’t hurt. Basically, if you’re looking for a quick break or to rediscover a sense of wonder about the world, I definitely recommend you check out Stranger Planet by Nathan Pyle.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Love Hank and John Green? Devoured An Absolutely Remarkable Thing? Worried about our society? Then boy, do I have a book for you: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green! A fresh installment in the saga of April May and her friends shows us a world after first contact with an alien intelligence, bitterly divided over the aliens, their intentions, and what it means (and should mean) to be human. This is, like its predecessor, a timely book perfectly plugged into the realities of online communication, internet fame, and the deep ideological divides in our nation and our world. (Psst – no idea what I’m talking about? Check out our previous blog post about the first book.)

SPOILERS AHEAD: Maya, Andy, and Miranda are all processing their grief over April’s disappearance (or death, depending on who you ask) differently. Maya refuses to accept April is gone and chases conspiracies and mysteries trying to find her. Andy has stepped into April’s fame and struggles to feel worthy of the task. And Miranda, returning to her research, recklessly joins a suspicious scientific venture to protect April’s legacy. Meanwhile, as tensions rise between the bitterly divided camps of pro- and anti- alien (and anti-April, honestly), an intelligence beyond their comprehension continues to meddle in their reality, with intentions unknown…

This book really made me think, and debate with myself how I feel about it. I like that it’s written in short, addictive chapters that rotate between April’s friends’ point of view. Downside: all three of her friends are on different, very exciting paths, and it can be hard to switch back and forth between them and remember what’s going on. I also like that it picks up not long after the events at the end of the first book and continues the story in a believable way, creating cohesion and continuity between the two books. Downside: too much continuity! It’s been a long time since I read the first one and I no longer remember all the important details this book is referencing.

However, the characters are brimming with wry, self-deprecating humor, relatable 20-something angst, and deep thoughts about humanity, identity, and fame. Overall, this book rings with truth, and for me seems to hold up a mirror to our society, showing us the good and the bad about the path we’re on.

Trees Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

2014-05-28-treesTen years ago, they arrived. Silently they landed – enormous, tall cylinders settling all over the Earth. No communication, no signs of life. Just standing there, like trees, unaware of humanity, it seemed. Or, perhaps they simply didn’t care.

Their appearance causes global chaos. The Trees landed in oceans, on top of glaciers and the middle of crowded urban centers.  Governments collapsed and then slowly recovered. With no communication or interaction after ten years, the Trees have become almost normal, and humanity has adapted to their existence.

In China, a special cultural zone has been established around a Tree, called Shu, where none of the usual cultural and economic restrictions are enforced. Tian Chenglei, a young artist from the country to study art. He joins an artists commune and shyly makes friends with a transgender woman, eventually falling in love with her. But the freedoms the Tree’s arrival brought cannot last forever.

In the northern-most reaches of Norway’s Spitsbergen island, a scientific team assigned to study the Tree there struggles to maintain order and their sanity. One determined scientist discovers black poppies growing in the shadows around the Tree, areas where nothing should grow. He eventually discovers that the flowers are composed of metal filaments arranged in a mirror image of the Tree’s external symbols, and that they transmit faint RF signals. He reasons that the flowers are a method of communication and once there is enough of them, the Tree will “speak.”

In Somalia, a technocratic dictator deals with the economic and political impact of one of the smallest Trees landing in the autonomous state of Puntland within Somalia. The Tree’s arrivals resulted in a vast influx of wealth and economic growth into Puntland, while the rest of the country only grew poorer. Convinced that the Tree does not care about the land and people around it, Rahim is determined to take control of the Tree and Puntland, by any means necessary.

The Trees changed the world when they arrived. The uncertainly of their intent and the implication of another intelligent species irreparably changed civilization – it was, in fact, the end of the world as we knew it. The story is less about the Trees (although the forthcoming volumes promise more) than how humanity reacts to them.  Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Planetary) has a lot of ground to cover initially, but by end of the first volume, the action and dread intensifies to a cliffhanger of an ending. Trees is a great choice for sci-fi fans and for those who wonder what might happen when we learn we’re not alone in the universe.

Faith, Volume 1: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage

faithFaith, Volume 1: Hollywood and Vine is a refreshing step back from the traditional female superhero tale. This first volume introduces Faith Herbert, a woman orphaned at a young age who has always wanted to do something great. Faith is a psionically gifted psiot, which basically means that Faith can fly and has telekinetic powers. She’s a body positive plus-size superhero known as the Zephyr. Pretty cool.

Now Faith is striking out on her own, having broke up with her superhero boyfriend and her crime-fighting superhero group all at almost the same time. She has decided to take control of her life and live how she’s always wanted to be: in control of her own destiny. This means that Faith is working a day job as a reporter with a secret identity and a group of colleagues who have no idea that she is Faith Herbert OR the Zephyr.

Patrolling at night, Faith stumbles upon a conspiracy revolving around the disappearances of multiple psiots around the city. Her private and public lives come to a screeching collision at her work place, where Faith is forced to mesh her two worlds together and hope things work out. The missing psiots occupy Faith’s mind, leaving her to patrol more and ask questions. She uncovers a mysterious plot to use the psiots by aliens. Of course it’s aliens. This conspiracy is deeply-rooted in entertainment, politics, and regular societies. Faith uses her superhero savvy to save the world, but finds she may need help.

Make it a Miniseries

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Well folks, it is that time of year again when our favorite shows wrap up for the summer leaving us lost and alone until September. I’ve already started to think about what I’ll be watching while I wait for my besties to come back on. There is always the option to get caught up on the shows I have fallen behind on, or I could even start a new series. But what I really want is a sense of accomplishment this summer. So I am going to do something a little out of the ordinary and make it a Miniseries Summer.

The great thing about a miniseries is that it has an end and you know that going in to it. We all have those horrible memories of the show that was canceled too soon and left us devastated and confused. A miniseries guarantees a great story, thought out plot, and it won’t drag on for years and years or end too early. You also won’t have to hunt around the library catalog to find out where all the seasons are!

Here is my list of of new miniseries I want to watch this summer along with some of the library’s other new miniseries titles.

Science Fiction

Childhood’s EndAliens just don’t ever get old. Hollywood keeps on making stories about what it would be like if aliens landed on planet Earth, and we keep watching them. Childhood’s End  is the story of peaceful aliens that have come to Earth. Yep, you read that right. Usually it is death and destruction or abduction when aliens land, but these aliens are nice. Well…at least we think so. In fact these aliens are so great, they have taken over the planet and turned it into an Utopian society. Decades later the people of Earth start to wonder if everything really is as it seems.

Also available: Ascension; Heroes Reborn

Comedy

Spoils of Babylon: The title alone was enough for me to be interested, and then I saw Toby McGuire on the cover and was pretty much sold. But there is actually a little more to it. This miniseries is in comedy for a reason. It is a spoof on the traditional TV epic miniseries (think Thornbirds as it doesn’t get anymore epic than that). The story is of the Morehouse family who has made a fortune in the oil business. Rags to riches, forbidden love, battlefields, boarding houses, and power are just a few of things in store.

Drama 

The Lizzie Borden ChroniclesIn 1892 a Sunday school teacher was accused of killing her father and stepmother and later acquitted. The made for TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Axe tells a fictionalized story of the murder and trial. The network decided to keep going with the story and created a miniseries that cover the events that happened after the trial. Sounds interesting, plus the cover is an image of Christina Ricci holding a bloody ax. I know Christina can definitely do creepy, so I can’t wait to check it out.

Mercy Street: American history will get me every time. In this dramatization we are taken to Alexandria, VA in 1862 where the war is just a blink away. Union soldiers have taken over the town and converted a luxury hotel into an army hospital. Nurses from opposing sides are forced to work together in what has become a melting pot for the Civil War.

Also available: Bible Stories: In the Beginning; The Book of Negroes; The Casual Vacancy; Dancing on the Edge; The Great Fire; Texas Rising

 

Letter 44, Volume 3: Dark Matter by Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque

letter 44 vol3Series books of any kind are one of my favorite things to read. I get hooked into the characters’ lives and find myself wondering just what is going to happen to them in the next volume. This is what was happening to me as I sat waiting for Letter 44, Volume 3: Dark Matter to be released for me to read. (I have previously read and reviewed the first two volumes, so check out the reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2!)

Letter 44, Volume 3: Dark Matter continues investigating into the lives of the astronauts on the Clarke and the people on Earth. At the end of the previous volume, President Blades released the knowledge of the presence of alien life in space to the people of Earth despite being warned of the disastrous consequences this could have for everyone involved. After the release of this information, world war broke out. Countries are battling for control of the planet, most notably a coalition of nations led by the United States and a secret second group that is being controlled by former President Francis Carroll and the barrage of secret weapons he had developed during his term as President.

While this battle for control of the Earth rages on, the crew of the Clarke has been captured and is being held somewhat captive by the aliens that they discovered in space. The only way for them to try to escape is to cooperate fully with their captors, much to the chagrin of some crew members. Left with a ship that has been partially destroyed and having no way to communicate with people back on Earth, they are left to rely on the small tidbits of information they can gather from the aliens. Gaining access to information through somewhat back channels and limited access to the aliens’ own communication devices, the crew learns that a massive threat is heading straight towards Earth, a danger that no one on earth knows about. Communications become a dire need and the crew of the Clarke is forced to use any means necessary to find ways to contact Earth. Massive world war, corrupt politicians, alien life, asteroids heading toward Earth, assassination attempts, and crazy high-tech weaponry make this an incredibly fast-paced read, action-packed, compelling, and gripping. I could not put this book down and am immensely looking forward to the next volume!

Letter 44, Volume 2: Redshift by Charles Soule and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque

letter 44 vol 2Previously I reviewed Letter 44, Volume 1: Escape Velocity and was instantly intrigued. As a result, I decided that I needed to find the second volume to figure out how the story progressed. Letter 44, Volume 2: Redshift goes further into the extraterrestrial life the astronauts on the space ship, Clarke, discovered in the first volume.

With President Blades struggling to deal with if and when he should alert the public to the existence of the aliens, he finds himself having to deal with other people in the government who are calling for him to tell the truth and if not, risk being impeached. This alien presence is becoming more than he think he can deal with and instead of following the plan laid out for him by the previous administration, he decides to go his own way and ends up thinking more short-term than long-term. That decision ends up costing the American people dearly.

While Blades deals with threats from inside his administration and tries to balance everything happening outside, the people on spaceship Clarke are struggling just to live day-to-day. Losing one of their own on the asteroid and with a newborn baby on board, they are trying to figure out what the aliens want and what their device is actually for. Learning what the aliens plan to do throws the crew into a state of panic, especially when it is discovered that one of their own has the ability to communicate with the aliens. This second volume is jam-packed with action, sabotage, danger, and the struggle to survive. Personally, I cannot wait for the third volume, so I can catch up the crew of the Clarke and see how Blades is doing as President.

Letter 44, Volume 1: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule & Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque

letter 44 v1What would you do if you were thrust into a situation that you initially thought you could control, but then you found out that everyone who had prepared you had either lied to you or had been unaware of a certain MAJOR event? Would you panic? Would you want to tell everyone about the secret you just learned about? This is the predicament that newly-elected President Stephen Blades finds himself in on his very first day in office in Letter 44, Volume 1: Escape Velocity.

In this first volume, President Blades is ushered into the oval office to find a letter for him from the previous President. Opening the letter and expecting to have to dive headfirst into fixing the critical issues facing the nation caused by President Carroll, Blades instead discovers the one singular event and reason behind the country’s involvement in two major wars, the economy collapsing, and the healthcare system to be failing. It’s a national and world secret that only a handful of people are aware of: seven years ago, NASA discovered an alien presence in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, one that was able to cloak itself somehow and had the potential to be dangerous. In order to learn more about this, a team of 9 astronauts made up of both military members and scientists was sent into space to discover what is really going on.

This graphic novel divides focus between Blades and the group of astronauts who are almost to their destination. As the astronauts prepare to reach their destination, you learn their ship, the Clarke, is becoming increasingly damaged and should not have been sent on this mission so quickly. Secrets abound both in the air and on the ground, leaving readers to wonder what really is the truth and showing that President Stephen Blades has the ultimate power in his hands. All that’s left is for him to decide what to do with it.

Stay tuned for a review from Volume 2 (and be on the lookout for Volume 3)!