Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

best-served-cold-us-pbBest Served Cold is the 4th book set in the world of the First Law. Books 1 to 3 were a trilogy and were brilliant. Best Served Cold is a standalone novel set in a part of the world called Styria and is also brilliant.

Here is the synopsis:

Monza Murcatto is mercenary who leads an army of mercenaries called the 1000 swords. There have been 19 years of warfare on the continent and Monza and her brother Benna are great at what they do. A little too great in fact, and their employer, Duke Orso, grows concerned that they might try and take over. So he has them both stabbed a lot and thrown off a balcony and down a cliff. Unfortunately for the seven people involved in this literal backstabbing party, Benna dies but Monza lives. So she sets out to get revenge. It is basically a fantasy version of Kill Bill.

Everything I like and slightly dislike about Abercrombie is present in Best Served Cold. What I like far outweighs what I don’t.

What I like: It is exciting, well written and violent, with superb characters. Some of these characters are from (or at least mentioned) in the First Law trilogy, some are new. It doesn’t really matter though. They all have pretty satisfying story arcs and are believable. The story is told in shifting third person POV and not one of them are dull. To alleviate the often brutal happenings in the book, there is quite a lot of Abercrombie’s dark humour. While each revenge is a bit episodic, there is a satisfying arc to the whole tale. Also each episode is great – like a series of incredibly violent capers.

What I didn’t like: It is all pretty bleak, which isn’t a bad thing I guess, but don’t read Game of Thrones then this or you might get a bit down. There is a lot humour though, so it is lifted somewhat. Most of the characters have a pretty shit time of it, which I suppose is to be expected, but I hoped for a slightly happier arc for some of them.

On the whole though, I bloody loved Best Served Cold. It is probably not quite as good as the First Law trilogy, but if you enjoyed that, you will like this.

In summary then – GREAT BOOK. I LOVED IT. BUY!

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Suicide Squad trailer

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

I quite enjoyed the first Suicide Squad teaser but wasn’t massively impressed. It looked ok. So when the new trailer came out I didn’t bother with it for a couple of days and when I finally got round to viewing it I loved it. Possibly because of Queen in the background but only possibly. It looks pretty goddamn fun, which will make a nice change in the DC cinematic universe. This has been all over the internet in the last couple of days but I was tardy to the party. Enjoy.

 

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Cooperworld by Jason R Ward

I recently wrote a long short story called Cooperworld. Or a short novella. Whatever. It is 17,000 words. If you have a shiny new kindle or tablet, here is something to put on it. My gift to you. Except you have to pay a few pennies, so it is also a gift to me. It is science fiction, but it is more philosophical than a lot of my stuff.

Cooperworld

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.25.49 PMThis is a 17,000 word short story. Which is quite a long short story, I’ll grant you.

Here is the blurb:

In the near future, AI research is strictly controlled by paranoid governments. When a renowned Artificial Intelligence expert illegally decides to create digital life in an simulated universe, he doesn’t at first realise the implications of what he has done. Implications not just for him, but for everyone.
In this short story, journalist and writer Jason R. Ward has a light-hearted but fairly philosophical look at what constitutes consciousness and has a good hard look at how we perceive reality.

For US customers:

For UK customers:

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Welcome to the year 2016!

Happy new year to all my Scifiward readers! Welcome to 2016!

A sad loss in 2015 but always a nice message.

A sad loss in 2015 but always a nice message.

As I get older each annual digit change seems to come more quickly and feels more like something from science fiction. I guess I grew up watching things like Space 1999, Escape from New York (set in 1997), 2001, 2010, Blade Runner (2019), Back to the Future 2 (a couple of months ago). Even in the Buck Rogers (TV show) he set out in 1987. So quite a lot of things that seemed futuristic and painfully distant in my young brain should have now happened. Some have, most haven’t. I am writing this on a ridiculously thin laptop and beaming my pointless observations to the world, which is pretty damned impressive. I am doing this from the planet Earth however, so that sucks.

I am not one for resolutions as I have grown bored of disappointing myself, but regular readers should notice some changes this year. I write non-fiction as my profession and the dream is to slowly get rid of the ‘non’ and write more of what I enjoy. One thing I also enjoy is writing shallow sarcastic comments on my websites, so expect to see more of that too.

Whatever your dreams are for this futuristic age we live in, I hope they come true. As the late and lamented Leonard Nimoy said in some show or other – Live long and prosper – and try to have a little fun. (This latter sentiment was edited out for characterisation reasons.) Happy 2016.

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Merry Christmas from Scifi Ward!

scifisantaMerry Christmas Scifi fans! I think, by and large, it has been a pretty damn good year for the genre. I hope your stocking was filled with science fiction goodness. I know mine was.

I have written a new short story called Cooperworld, which I am pretty excited about. I will shamelessly promote it when I have the energy and am less full of Christmas meat, but if you need something for a new tablet, check it out.

I will keep this short as I am going to binge some more. Be happy scifi fans, and merry christmas! Cheers.

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Star Wars The Force Awakens International Trailer #2

SW-THE-FORCE-AWAKENSOk there have been about a million Star Wars trailers now but this is very probably the last one before the film comes out. I have tickets for the 17th and am jabbering with excitement already. As it is the last trailer, and a good one, I thought I would do a final Star Wars trailer share for old times’ sake.

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Batman vs Superman trailer

Superman vs Batman

Batman vs Superman

Well, this aired a few hours ago and I have to say it has made me pretty excited. And I’ve seen the last Superman film. Actually, I think the last Superman film was ok. Not great, but not as bad as people say.

So far, the trailers for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice have all been pretty damned spectacular. Even though 99% of my subconscious is currently running around in excited circles yelling ‘Star Wars! Star Wars! Star Wars!’ the remaining 1% is quite excited about this. On the surface you’d think Superman could easily squash Batman but his main nemesis is Lex Luthor – a smart rich guy – so it isn’t guaranteed. Except… really… Superman would easily beat Batman and that is actually hinted at here. Also, any comic book fan knows how this will end up, with the formation of a certain league implied strongly in the title.

Anyway, I have waffled enough. The trailer looks superb and even has a couple of seconds of Wonder Woman. A couple at the max. No Aquaman though. See what you think:

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The Expanse Pilot episode

The_Expanse_TVThe Expanse TV series is finally here. Well, technically it starts on Syfy on the 14th of December but you can watch the pilot online now. I was pretty nervous about it as I loved the books, but I am pleased to report it’s bloody great! I should warn you that the video below is only available to watch in the US, which is where most of my readership lives. For the rest of the planet, you will have to wait. Or if you even vaguely internet savvy, you might work out a way to watch it. I highly recommend you do you so (obviously legally). Here is the Expanse pilot episode:

In case you are one of the poor bastards who were unable to watch this episode and lack the creative internet skills necessary to find it online, here is a 3 minute youtube clip about the worlds featured in the show. Not as good as a whole episode, but better than nothing.

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Play Dungeons and Dragons in VR!

Listen to the Dungeon Master!

Listen to the Dungeon Master!

From 10 years old and throughout the most of my teens I played Dungeons and Dragons. Because it was awesome. You get a load of friends round and you go on adventures. The fact that it was spoken, and that the story existed in the collective imagination of those present, made it special. Plus there are really cool dice and little action figures.

As an individual who has a pathetic psychologic need to have his views and stories heard by others, I was frequently a dungeon master (DMs rule). You are in control of the story. You can buy pre-scripted modules, but cool kid as I was, I used like writing my own dungeons and adventures from scratch. You create stories and plots and incidences. You get to draw intricate maps on graph paper. And finally you have people play through your story live. It was great and possibly influenced my developing brain to the point where I now write and just make shit up for a career.

1d20 where have you been for the last 20 years?

1d20 where have you been for the last 20 years?

People still play Dungeons and Dragons but it has largely fallen out of favour as you can interactively fight orcs and role-play on the interweb these days. Games like World of Warcraft kind of recreate the ‘get together with your coolest friends and smite some goblins’ vibe but it isn’t quite the same. Your imagination is peaked by computer games as you explore, but the story isn’t in the mind of the group of friends chatting round a table. You are walking through someone else’s imagination. (Not that I don’t love computer games as well.)

Unless you have actually played D&D you are unlikely to understand. Sorry if that sounds patronising but it is true.

Sit around a virtual table and have adventures!

Sit around a virtual table and have adventures!

As there are less people playing Dungeons and Dragons, it can be hard to find a game. Well, now there is a passable solution. You can play D&D using virtual reality! I’m not talking a Skyrim-type experience. I’m talking the sitting around a virtual table and talking experience. I guess you could Skype these days, but then only one person gets to play with the dice and you don’t get character sheets littering the table and the little figures moving through a dungeon and… ah whatever.

Basically a company called AltspaceVR designed a VR Skype kind of idea. Behind intelligent engineer types, quite a few grew up playing D&D and tried to recreate it. It worked brilliantly and they have the full backing of the Wizards of the Coast. That is the company that owns Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering by the way, not a Cornish cult or anything.

For this post I just meant to just write – hey cool! You can play D&D in VR – look at this video. But I went on a bit. Sorry. Happy memories. Here is the video…

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Jar Jar Awakens

Evil Jar Jar

Evil Jar Jar

With Star Wars The Force Awakens on the near horizon, the web is abuzz with Star Wars theories and rumours. But there is a recent one that has been surprisingly popular and is absolutely brilliant – Jar Jar Binks, the most hated Star Wars character of all time, may actually have been a Sith Lord and was behind everything.

The rumour started when a poster on Reddit called Lumpawarroo put forward a theory that Jar Jar Binks was actually a trained Force user and his whole bumbling, annoying idiot persona was just a front. A bit like when we were first introduced to Yoda.

He then goes on to provide a lot of evidence that is actually pretty damn convincing and if true, makes Jar Jar one of the best characters ever. The theory addresses things like the annoying battle scene where Jar Jar seemingly stumbles around but coincidentally only takes out droids – a lot of droids. People got annoyed (myself included) because that level of luck made the whole thing stupid and detracted from the film. But as Lumpawarroo pointed out – Obi Wan said in ‘A New Hope’ that in his experience there is no such thing as luck. Obi Wan wouldn’t lie.

There is a lot more evidence and even film footage to back it up, including some clips of Jar Jar actually doing force powered stuff. Check out the page here, it is genius.

As the internet is a thing of wonder, this theory immediately spawned a website called Darth Jar Jar.

As if that wasn’t enough, someone has taken the ‘Jar Jar Binks is a Sith’ theme and spliced it into the new trailer called Jar Jar Awakens. It too is a work of genius. Have a look and enjoy you will.

 

 

 

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