Mar 182018

Olympus Union Jovian WarsOlympus Union: Jovian Wars: Omnibus by Gary Bloom
My rating:
(Click here to go to Goodreads)

This book is Science Fiction at its best. It’s an interesting blend of Tom Clancy and George R. R. Martin (GRRM). I feel like Bloom captures the essence of Clancy in that he brings the political depth and tumult to the science fiction genre. He also brings quite a cast of characters, like GRRM, (without murdering every character to which you have become endeared). Olympus Union Jovian Wars begins by describing the political landscape of Earth’s solar system. The Jovian Moons (aka Jupiter’s moons) have been populated by man and each has a minister, a ruling representative from the overall governing body, the Olympus Union. As robust as the system seems, rumors begin to circulate about a group wanting to secede.

War is Visceral

Conflicts involving emancipation inevitably lead to war. Those hidden members of the Jovian Free League emerge and announce their declaration of independence from the OU. Now the mercenaries of the JFL face off against the Ares Elite, the well-trained guerrillas of the Olympus Union.

The first half of the book sets up the conflict, so that is where you are going to get a lot of your politics. I know sometimes politics can feel like it slows a book down, but I did not feel that way. Besides, war is visceral and when you reach that half way point, you will become fully engaged. Bloom does well to keep you guessing whose side a character might be loyal to but there are a lot of characters to keep straight. The Olympus Union website is a great companion to help you keep characters sorted out (a lesson GRRM should have learned), so make good use of it.

I would definitely recommend this book especially to Sci-Fi fans and if you enjoy books similar to Tom Clancy. This is a book I will re-read, mostly so I can revisit the politics leading up to the conflict. I think this will be especially useful because I don’t think this is the end of the conflict between the OU and the JFL. I will also be adding more of Gary Bloom’s book to my “want-to-read” list.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss


Mar 092018

Last Jedi Haters Are WrongThe Last Jedi seems to be the most polarizing movie among fans in the history of the franchise. This is the impression one will get while reading social media and blogs. Granted it is difficult to believe everything you read because there are numerous trolls intentionally trashing the movie and driving down audience scores. I think the percentage of haters is far lower than we are all lead to believe. However, to that end I thought I would select a few particular themes these obtuse and belligerent fans allege are “wrong” with The Last Jedi.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading now.

Rey’s Parents

Let’s begin with the most highly anticipated question we wanted answered: Who are Rey’s parents? There were so many fan theories scattering the Internet, I even proposed my own. I think everyone was expecting one of them to be right. When Kylo Ren told Rey that her parents were nobodies; drunken junk traders looking for their next fix, I think we were all pretty shocked. I was not disappointed but apparently that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

I admit that I may have felt a little let down, perhaps even confused. Her Force abilities seem too exceptional to be from humble beginnings. While I could learn to appreciate the existential explanation (that Rey and Kylo are essentially the yin and yang of the Force), I don’t think that is the truth. I think either Snoke implanted images in Kylo Ren’s visions or Kylo chose to lie to Rey about her parents to bait her into joining with him. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the facts about the protagonists parents were skewed.

Snoke’s Back Story

Speaking of Supreme Leader Snoke, why do we care about who Snoke is? Since when does every supporting character suddenly need a back story? When the “Empire Strikes Back” came out (and, subsequently “Return of the Jedi”), we weren’t clamoring for Emperor Palpatine’s backstory. We just knew he was the “head bad guy” who was manipulating Vader. Sure, the various theories are exciting and entertaining (ex: Darth Plagueis, Mace Windu, Revan etc). I’ll admit that I was trying to conjure up my own theory about Snoke but after his death I realized that he’s just another pawn. He is the Count Dooku of this trilogy. He is simply a means to an end and who he was is completely irrelevant. Complaining about his lack of a back story is simply belligerent.

New Force Abilities

This one makes absolutely no sense to me. Apparently some of the complaints were regarding some of the new Force abilities. I guess mind tricks and floating things are the only acceptable Force powers? The Force is so much cooler than that, why on Earth would we want it so limited?? Luke’s ability to create a Force illusion of himself, in his stand-off with Kylo Ren, was one of the powers that received criticism. This isn’t some random ability Disney conjured up, it’s always been a Force ability. In The Jedi Path it’s referred to as Doppleganger.

This also includes Snoke’s Mind Probe ability. We know that Kylo Ren has the ability to perform a Mind Probe, we see him use it several times in The Force Awakens. Kylo Ren is Snoke’s apprentice, therefore one can assume Snoke taught Kylo Ren the Mind Probe ability. This is the same ability Snoke uses not only to manipulate Kylo Ren but also to bridge the connection between him and Rey. The Dark Side has always been notorious for clouding and manipulating the minds of the innocent and righteous; what Snoke has done is well within those expectations.

The list of Force Powers is quite extensive. It’s built upon by decades of books and video games and never has a complaint been lodged. The Force Unleashed is one of the most popular Star Wars console games. The Force abilities players could use were unparalleled and awesome. It would be incredibly short sighted of Disney to not introduce new Force abilities and it’s obtuse to expect less.

Luke’s Demeanor and Fate

I think the trailer painted a pretty clear picture as to Luke’s demeanor. If he’s on a secluded island, disconnected from the Force, he clearly doesn’t want to be found. I don’t know what people were expecting. Perhaps they were hoping for Luke to become some wizened sage, eager to train new Jedi. We know from The Force Awakens that he failed training his own nephew. The Jedi have a known history of disappearing into seclusion after a major loss. Remote locations, such as the swamps of Dagobah or the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine, are common places of escape for reflection and meditation.

I admit that I was really bummed when we saw Luke poetically vanish into the Force. I had hoped that he would come out of his funk and stick around for Episode IX to complete Rey’s training. Alas, the Force has other plans for him. While many fans were really sad to see Luke fade away and become one with the Force, I think we are all forgetting one, inevitable fact. We will see Luke in Episode IX, in the form of “Force Ghost”!

So there you have it. The Last Jedi is a worthy entry into the saga, those who wish to continue to lament and cry, please opine on Twitter, where the rest of the butt-hurt vitriol lives.


The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.


Feb 212018

Thrawn book reviewThrawn by Timothy Zahn
My rating:
(Click here to see this review on Goodreads)

It has been a long since I have read a book written by Timothy Zahn; far too long in fact. The last books I read would have been the first time Grand Admiral Thrawn was introduced to the Star Wars Universe. Sadly those books are now considered “legends”, as they are part of the defunct post-Jedi canon. So it is quite the understatement to say I was excited to see a new Thrawn book by Timothy Zahn. What makes this book even more exciting is that it’s an origin story that also positions Thrawn to be apart of the new “Disney canon”.

Brief Synopsis

As I already mentioned, this book is an origin story of our favorite Chiss Imperial Grand Admiral. It’s the origin story of his rise to power, it does not take us through his childhood. It begins on a desolate Outer Rim planet where Mitth’raw’nuruodo has been exiled. He finds his way onto an Imperial Star Destroyer where he is taken to Coruscant and becomes the Emperor’s new pet. His military successes causes him to climb the ranks quickly.

Biggs’ Review

So this book has two big positives; it’s written by Timothy Zahn and its about Grand Admiral Thrawn. The Chiss is one of my favorite, under appreciated, species in the Star Wars universe. If you are looking for the classic confrontation with Jedi and the Rebellion, that is not in this book. The premise covers a lot more of military strategy and Imperial politics. Trust me, it is not as boring as it sounds. Zahn does an excellent job keeping you engaged. In fact you forget that you are reading about the “bad guys” of the Star Wars universe. You will become invested with characters of the Empire.

Each chapter begins with Thrawn sharing some of his military philosophy, which is a really cool story mechanic; easily one of my favorite things about this book. The only caveat I would have to provide to the reader is that the book does often jump forward in time. The leaps in time are not always immediately obvious so pay attention to each chapter to better understand how much time has passed. For a book that never includes a single Jedi or Force moment, it’s a really fun read. I’m excited for the next book in the series!

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss


Feb 132018

During my recent run, I was really pushing myself mentally to keep from slowing to a walk. I read about several running tricks to help push through that urge to slow down. Pump your arms more, pick landmarks to reach, occupy your mind and focus less on the distance. It was thinking about distance that made me think of some advice my dad once gave me a long time ago. I was your typical blue-collar youth, meaning yard work was a regular chore. I remember one particular day I was raking the back yard. The task felt daunting. I would randomly stop and stare at how much of the yard remained. Apparently my dad noticed this so, being a seasoned landscaper, he came out and gave me some advice. He said:

Stop focusing on how much you still have left to do. Only focus on what you’re doing now and it will go a lot faster.

He was right, as parents usually are, and that advice stuck with me. It’s sage advice for anything you are doing in life and another trick I use when I’m pushing myself to make it “just one more block” before slowing down.

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day


Feb 082018

Me and friends with Dierks Bentley (circa 2003)

It’s not very often that you get to meet a celebrity. I have had very few celebrity encounters but the time I got to meet Dierks Bentley was pretty cool. The picture you see above is from several years ago, circa 2003 (as is evident by my skinny stature). There is a country bar in Lafayette called Riehle Brothers. I frequented it a couple of times while I was attending Purdue. I don’t even remember what we paid to see Dierks Bentley and Brian McComas, who were performing in front of a meager bar crowd. It was a fantastic concert. I even danced (which is rare and I’m sure I was coaxed into doing it by one of my friends, also in the picture above).

Before He Was Famous

Dierks’ only hit at the time was “What Was I Thinking“, now he has an amazing career. Sadly Brian McComas wasn’t quite as fortunate, although many songs on his album were still pretty good. It was one of the best nights I spent with my friends in that picture, Beth and Alan. I became a quite a big Dierks Bentley fan after that concert, and I still enjoy all his music. I haven’t had the opportunity to see him in concert again since Riehle Brothers but that’s not saying I wouldn’t.

TBT is one of those crazy Facebook trends. It stands for “ThrowBack Thursday” and often times people post pictures. I know the old adage “A picture is worth 1,000 words” but most of the time the pictures I want to post have a great story behind them. In my traditional nerdy fashion, instead of just a picture I want to provide a blog post for my TBT moments to share those great stories. I will not share stories in which the context will embarrass or incriminate myself or my friends and family.

Feb 042018

UPDATE: The trailer that we saw during the Super Bowl was merely a teaser trailer. I have updated the link below to be the real official Han Solo movie trailer. Again, we have all been waiting a long time to finally get a trailer and it did debut on Good Morning America (which seems to be Disney’s choice media outlet for debuting Star Wars content). See the full length trailer below.

A Good Star Wars Story?

The development and production of this movie has been under a lot of scrutiny since it was announced. The success of Rogue One has set a pretty high bar for all remaining Star Wars spin-off movies. I want to be optimistic about this movie. Rogue One was a great movie so it’s difficult not to use it as the basis for comparison. I know that a Han Solo spin-off movie was not everyone’s top choice.

So will this be a good Star Wars Story? I don’t think Alden Ehrenreich is that good of an actor so I don’t have confidence that he will provide a fitting portrayal of Han Solo. However Donald Glover looks amazing! Despite the questionable quality of this movie, I still can’t help but feel excited.


The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.