Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope


Review by: coolkid73

Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope is the fourth chronological movie in the Star Wars series. It was the first movie made, released in 1977. When it came out it was just titled Star Wars. Episodes V and VI were released afterwards, but did not have the Episode V or Episode VI in the titles. Episodes I, II, and III were released as a prequel trilogy, which causes this movie and the others to be re-releases with the titles we know them as today. Now, back to this movie.

Darth Vader has kidnapped Princess Leia in an attempt to regain the plans to the Death Star. She hides the plans in the memory of a droid known as R2-D2. He and his friend C3-PO escape and land on the planet Tattoine, where they are rescued by Luke Skywalker. After revealing Princess Leia’s message, R2-D2, Luke, C3-PO, and Obi-Wan Kenobi seek Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbaca to fly them to the planet Alderaan, only to find out it has been destroyed. The wind up on the Death Star where Han and Luke leave to search for Leia. They manage to rescue her, but can they escape? The only way to find out is to watch this movie yourself.

This movie is filled with action and I recommend it to any action movie lovers out there.

Empress of a Thousand Skies (Book Review)


Review by: apiazza4

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an of Kalu is the only surviving heir of the Ta’an dynasty. The rest of her family was killed when the current Crown Regent, Seotra, exploded their ship. Rhiannon, or Rhee, only has days left until her sixteenth birthday and coronation when her own teacher attempts to assassinate her. She is saved by a Fontisian boy only a few years older than herself and they go on the run. Even though they get away the news still states she was killed because Seotra wants to keep his power and declare war. Rhee decides that she needs to end Seotra and his reign, so they travel to Tinoppa where he will be attending her “funeral.” She comes extremely close to killing him but she finds out a shocking truth that sets her on a different adventure.

Alyosha Myraz, UniForce soldier and star of The Revolutionary Boys has the misfortune of being with the wrong person at the wrong time. His co-star on the show is actually a spy for the United Planets, an organization that tries to keep peace between the planets. His mission was to get information on the UniForce, which he strayed from until he got a message that there might be an attempt on the princess’s life. Alyosha finds out he can’t  go back to an UniForce base anyway because a video was put out of him saying that he was going to kill the princess. Only he and his co-star know he never actually said this- someone messed with audio from the show to frame him. Alyosha is now the most wanted person in the universe and while on the run he meets someone he thought to be dead.

I liked Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza because it was fun with cliffhangers every chapter. I recommend this book because it is not like anything I have read before and it was very interesting.

Only You Can Save Mankind


Review by: notverygeneric

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett is a book where Johnny Maxwell, a gamer, gets involved with the aliens who he was trying to kill in a game.  Suddenly, they tell him that they don’t want to be killed.  Then, he starts going into the game in his dreams, and eventually his friends join him in his quest to save the aliens.  He also has to deal with a mutiny on the ship and they ship cereal (super-civilization-sized boxes), milk, and chicken nuggets to the alien fleet.  They make it onto the ship and the fleet eventually leaves the game-playing map.  The gang had figured out that the same thing was happening in other discs, and it’s hard to find the fleet and fight them.  On the way, they had discovered that the ship was imagined, so before they left the map (humans can’t), Johnny imagined there were escape pods.  They found them- with the paint still wet.

Enjoy watching Johnny and his friends try and save the aliens from destruction!  His posse includes:

  • Wobbler, a person who is VERY good at hacking and bad at game design.
  • Yo-less, called so because he never says “Yo”
  • Kirsty, a girl who’s really good at the game

So read Only You Can Save Mankind and watch this not-so-daring trio try to save the ScreeWee Empire!

2001: A Space Odyssey


So, I’ve been going on a classic literature binge, and I found this book. 2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Arthur C. Clarke.

Two astronauts, three hibernating passengers, and an AI named HAL are headed for Saturn on an exploratory mission.  Strange discoveries on the moon change the mission plan a little. And if being the only three sentient beings awake for millions of miles wasn’t enough danger, something is systematically sabotaging their ship.

The plot has probably been copied by about a thousand people because it’s just. that. good. The suspense grows with every chapter until you can’t look away.

Clarke’s word choice is absolutely stellar. (Yes, I meant to do that.) The images he conjures are loaded with detail and stick with you for hours.

Clarke even (spoiler, highlight to read) and I wasn’t even a little mad. That in itself should tell you this author is fantastic.

My only major problem was with the exposition. A full third of the book is irrelevant to the plot. The first fourth or so could have been compressed into a few pages. Some of the descriptions later on in the exposition section are gorgeous and give the reader a much better idea of society and technological advancement on Earth, but the rest of it… nah.

Blocks of indigestible scientific gibberish are randomly shoehorned throughout the main plot-relevant section. I could understand it, and the reasoning behind the technology was pretty cool, but it was  jammed into the middle of a perfectly good plot-driven chapter.  Scientific information only propels a plot when there’s real in-universe importance attached to that information.

Another pet peeve of mine was the characters. Actually, the non-characters. They were pretty flat. Granted, 2001 is a short book and there isn’t much room for character development in the middle of the plot. Clarke did make an effort in several spots to paint his main characters’ lives, but they’re still cardboard with a bit of throwaway character development to make them look 3-D. This book is all about the story, so the characters are pretty much window dressing anyway, but I was slightly annoyed by the lack of backstory.

Okay, it’s fair to say this isn’t the 2001 I was born into.  In the words of someone else: “God bless you, old sci-fi, you had such high hopes for us.” We obviously aren’t sending manned missions to Saturn, or putting humans in cryosleep until we need them. But no matter what year it is set in, (2001, 2023, 2323…) this book is timeless.

Yes, I know a full two-thirds of this review so far was my quibbles with this book. Well, READ THE BOOK ANYWAY. Even if you don’t like the ‘drops exposition on you like a ton of bricks’ aspect, this book is well worth reading despite that. It brings up deep questions logically, within the boundaries of the story. The suspense is masterfully written. The settings are vivid, and the plot is amazingly original (keeping in mind the publication date of 1968, it’s likely that anything written later with a similar plot drew at least some inspiration from 2001). There’s an ending that hits you like a ton of bricks and leaves you thinking about it days later. Basically, all the ingredients of a book that lingers. 2001 stays in your mind. You remember HAL every time you hear the letters AI. You hear the words “My God, it’s full of stars!” in the back of your mind, and stare blankly at the nearest wall as you struggle to comprehend the vastness and implacability of the universe.

(Well, 2001 might not do that to you, but that’s what it did to me.)

This book fully deserves its place as a classic of science fiction. I have no regrets about reading it, and the problems with the writing are vastly outweighed by its good points. 4 and 1/2 stars.

The Gruesome Cycle, Part 2. By Yasadu De Silva


Here is the second short part of a story I made, based on the setting, Deathworld. The premise of Deathworld is an alternate history world that diverges at around 1940, and the present time is at around 2010.  In it, both the Nazis and the Soviet Union invade North America, Europe, and Asia. Deathworld involves a lot of magic and supernatural forces. In Deathworld, the war has lasted until the present time. If you would like to see the first part, click here.

Waves of thousands of Red Army infantry charged down the hill. Behind them, a legion of tanks churned the mud as they rushed forward. The force meeting them was composed of occult terrors: demon-human hybrids, along with a line of conscript cannon-fodder. The demons tore into the Red Army like a meat-cleaver through butter. But for every one soldier they ripped through, 10 took their place. The front line of tanks smashed into the demons, crushing them and blowing them apart.  Yatsev’s tank was in that front line. He lifted a shell into the main gun. “Krylov, aim straight ahead. Vitaliy, full speed. Zhukov, eliminate any grenadiers.” “Understood” they chorused together. The gun boomed, and the shell tore through the demon-hybrid ahead.  As the Soviet line crushed the enemy, Yatsev began to feel like this was too easy. He was right.  Up ahead, in front of a mass of soldiers, a large hulking shape, built like a man, but with horns and claws, was summoned up. Thousands of bullets ripped through the thing, but it kept going.  Its claws sheared through 10 men at a time.  Yatsev heaved another shell into the gun. “Krylov, fire! Zharkov, aim for the monstrosity!” Yatsev opened the hatch and peered out. He could see a contingent of 5 tanks break off and go around the flank. “Krylov, another one. Bring its attention here!” The demon turned toward the direction of Yatsev’s tank, and took one step forward. Suddenly, the five tanks that peeled off slammed into the side of the demon. Yatsev could see the forms of the crew jump out. Just as they made it out, the tanks exploded.


Thank you for reading this,

Yasadu De Silva

Review of Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn

I Hunt

Recently, I had the chance to read a casual sci-fi novel called Icarus Hunt. It was actually pretty well written, suprisingly. It might not be an epic or particularly deep sci-fi novel, but Icarus Hunt makes decent light reading. It opens with Jordan McKell, a pilot and smuggler, taking on a new job. From none other than a man in the pub, of course. Except this man in the pub is an eccentric billionaire with an amateur interest in archeology. He’s commissioning him to fly a very strangely oriented ship that a lot of people seem to want. Before even making his first refueling stop, one of the crew is found dead. Another turns out to have a debilitating disease that is only treatable with illegal drugs. Someone on the crew is out to get the mechanic… and the mystery only deepens as the Patth, a race with near-monopolistic control of interstellar trade, start pressuring major governments to hand over their ship. Icarus Hunt is an interesting novel, but not the greatest I’ve read- 3-3.5/5 stars. It makes fine reading for casual little bites but isn’t really something with much depth. In conclusion, if you like lighter science fiction and adventure you might appreciate it, but if you’re a hardcore science fiction fan it isn’t the greatest ever.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Ah, The Monstrumologist, first of four books in Rick Yancey’s, author of recently made a major motion picture series, The 5th Waveless popular yet, dare I say, more brilliant The Monstrumologist series.

Official synopsis:

Monsters ARE real.

Will Henry is the orphan apprentice of a doctor with an unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. When a midnight visitor brings them the body of a young girl entwined with the corpse of an Anthropophagus, it is the start of the most mysterious case of Will Henry’s life. Anthropaphagi are headless monsters whose razor sharp teeth are in their stomachs–and they are supposed to be extinct in this part of the world. Now Will and the monstrumologist are in the race against time to put a stop to the plague of monsters before they kill again.


Alright, so a book about monsters. What’s so special about that? Even the characters seem stereotypical, with your young orphan and “mad scientist”. However, several things make this book stand out from any other YA fiction.

First, and most obviously, there’s no romance! Or any (living) female characters, for that matter. Whether you find this a good thing or not, is up to you, but it certainly makes the book unique.

Next, character relationships. Despite the lack of romance, there is a constant “tug-of-war” in Will Henry’s relationship with the monstrumologist, making the book much more interesting and complex. This is one of several things that continues to be explored throughout the series.

The premise. Rather than it being simply a book of fiction, Yancey incorporates a prologue and epilogue, explaining how the story within is actually being told from Will Henry’s diaries, written as a grown man, and left behind after his death at a retirement home. The man who was William James Henry is shrouded in mystery, as he disclosed nothing but his name and the year in which he was born, which by his claims, would have made him 131 years old. The question, “Who was Will Henry?” persists throughout the series.

The writing. The writing is incredibly poetic and evokes a clear image in the reader’s mind. Everything from the gore to characters’ features and actions is written wonderfully detailed, fulfilling purposes from giving readers a good scare to character development.

Yancey’s hidden theme. Though there are tangible monsters, capable of stripping away human flesh like ripping wings off a fly, the book implies that these are perhaps not the real monsters, shown through the characters’ contrasting beliefs and the demons that govern them. The idea of “When does man become what he hunts?” is started here and continued throughout the series.

I can’t write everything that makes this book great, but I can tell you this. If after reading, you persist in thinking that its just an unoriginal monster hunting book, then you were not paying attention. This book is definitely worth reading and even rereading, to fully understand the message Yancey tries to convey.

Note: This book is officially marketed to those who are age 14 and up.

Yee-Lynn, 9th grade