As a recent member of Kindle Unlimited – by the way and completely unrelated do you feel that Canadian’s and for that matter anyone not from the US gets gypped by Amazon?  I mean Amazon Prime is actually quite cool … in the States.  There you get Video (similar to Netflix but probably not as good) and unlimited music streaming + unlimited photo storage + free two day shipping + other things … in Canada you get unlimited photo storage and free two day shipping … big whoop! – oh well, there are other positives to living in Canada but I guess we’re never going to get our electronics and gadgets as cheaply or as quickly as they do in the States.

As a bit of a … well lets be honest as a big … geek this is somewhat depressing.  In addition as a huge reader this is even more disappointing as Amazon Prime in the US has access to over 500,000 free ebooks … this isn’t even available on Amazon Prime in Canada!  What is available in Canada is something called Kindle Unlimited and while at first glance it seems somewhat similar – I think they offer 250,000 ebooks – there are only 50,000 that are related to SciFi and Fantasy which is in my very biased opinion a crime! 🙂

What you might not realize until you start really using it is the list of authors available seems to be restricted to either self published authors or ones that are fairly new to the genre or writing in general.  There are obviously exceptions to this – I found some good books by Arthur C. Clarke and some other older grandmasters but finding some of the newer books by authors like David Weber and John Ringo … well you’re out of luck!

Kindle Unlimited seems to be a grand experiment really as while its definitely a good way of introducing newer authors to readers, the restrictions remove some of the advantages and make me question the decision and cost of a $10/mo price point.  I mean if I could read the people and books I wanted to read, this would absolutely make sense to me.  While I realize that authors need to make money and get rewarded for their imagination, I’ve never been able to justify the fact that there is little to no difference in cost between ebooks and paperback books.  It just doesn’t make sense and considering the volume of books I’m able to go through – well simply put I couldn’t afford the habit!

So Kindle Unlimited at the $10/mo price point for up to 10 books – like I said that actually works.  It would be better if it was included in Prime versus being a separate product as now even if I wanted to take advantage of the pathetic benefits of Amazon Prime in Canada I wouldn’t want to spend another $10/mo for that also, but that’s just another gripe.  However if you can’t even get the books you want then it probably doesn’t make any sense.

A bit of a pity really as I’ve found a couple of good authors that I’d like to continue following – so in that respect its worked – but I’ve also had to pay $$$ for some others that simply weren’t available and this is where it fell down for me.  If they roll this out to include more titles and authors perhaps this will work, but right now Kindle Unlimited feels to me like the exact opposite – Kindle Limited!

This novel serves as a continuation of the original series episode ‘What little girls are made of’. In the episode, Kirk and Christine Chapel beam down to Exo III to meet the long missing Dr. Roger Korby who is also Christine’s fiancée. Korby tells Kirk that he has made an amazing breakthrough after deciphering the texts from a past civilization of Exo III. Instead of discussing the discovery or showing it, he places Kirk into the duplication machine and creates a android copy of the Captain. After demonstrating how he can make android copies of anyone, Korby tells Kirk that he intends to use the robotic copies to hold human consciousness that can be transferred into it, creating a type of immortality. Korby, however thinks that mankind is too paranoid to openly accept such technology and insists that the androids must be introduced into Federation society covertly. Kirk, naturally thinks the plan is far too dangerous.

 

In this book, we discover that the androids are still functioning and willing to act out Dr. Korby’s plan. The android copy of Kirk is on a distant planet, ahead of the Enterprise’s arrival. The copy of Kirk makes a phoney deal with local thugs about selling dilithium crystals, they agree to the deal and give him an advance payment. He then makes no secret about spending their all money on rounds of drinks at the local pubs. The Enterprise soon arrives and shore leave parties beam down. It isn’t long before Kirk is mistaken for the android and is kidnapped by the gangsters, giving the android a perfect opportunity to slip into Kirk’s identity and take over command. Androids soon begin to replace crew members of the USS Enterprise and the USS Hood. To add to the trouble, the Romulans have been amassing at the neutral zone, putting Starfleet on a footing for possible war.

This book starts off a little slow and builds up throughout the story and I found that the writing had some flair that flowed nicely. I find that Captain Kirk’s character can be difficult to do justice sometimes, but this book revolves around him the most and really captured his wit and style flawlessly. The Androids make for some gripping villains, underhanded and calculated until the very end, they even square off against the Romulans.

Towards the end, I felt like I got my money’s worth from this book. There’s a scene with Kirk talking to his double on the ship’s view-screen, each accusing each other of being the imposter. There’s also a space-battle between the Enterprise and a Romulan flagship, and my favourite scene in which the Enterprise crew and the androids are having a shoot-out with phasers in the ship’s corridors.

My last thoughts are that this is one of the best Star Trek novels I’ve come across. It was a little slow at times, but this story is the type I really like to see. I also enjoyed going back and viewing the original episode this book branches off from, the story from episode to book flows nicely. With a small amount of changes I think the story could make a really good movie, with cold android villains, space-battles and phaser shoot-outs, how could you go wrong?

This morning I read a recent Q&A Joss Whedon @josswhedon did with Dana Schwartz over at mental floss and I have to say some of his answers really raised my eye brows here and there.

DS: People don’t really stay dead in Marvel movies. I think we’ve had to deal with Loki dying four, five, 12 times. Coulson coming back. Fury comes back mid-film in Captain America: The Winter Soldier … How many more times do you think a character’s death can have an impact if it doesn’t have a permanent effect?

JW: “A lot of people come back in The Winter Soldier. It’s a grand Marvel tradition. Bucky was supposed to die. And the Coulson thing was, I think, a little anomalous just because that really came from the television division, which is sort of considered to be its own subsection of the Marvel universe. As far as the fiction of the movies, Coulson is dead. But I have to say, watching the first one with my kids—I had not watched the first one since it came out—and then watching it with my kids and watching Coulson die but [thinking], “Yeah, but I know that he kind of isn’t,” it did take some of the punch out of it for me. Of course, I spent a lot of time making sure he didn’t. And at the time it seemed inoffensive, as long as it wasn’t referenced in the second movie, which it isn’t.”

“There’s a thing where you can do that so many times and there’s nothing at stake. But it’s difficult because you’re living in franchise world—not just Marvel, but in most big films—where you can’t kill anyone, or anybody significant. And now I find myself with a huge crew of people and, although I’m not as bloodthirsty as some people like to pretend, I think it’s disingenuous to say we’re going to fight this great battle, but there’s not going to be any loss. So my feeling in these situations with Marvel is that if somebody has to be placed on the altar and sacrificed, I’ll let you guys decide if they stay there.”

Fair dues Mr. Whedon your not happy with Coulson being alive again. But arguably you absolutely do not lose under cut the impact or the impact of his death in Avengers because I think it’s a little weak to rely on losing Coulson to be the ONLY tangible link an audience can grasp or really feel.

Given that the sky had broke open and hundreds of thousands of alien monsters poured out to conquer and slaughter anyone breathing in a major American city as the pretext for an invasion. Homes big and small business streets all totally destroyed. No one in recent human history can identify with any of this I guess?

Friends family members being hurt or even dyeing in this massive city wide catastrophe. Credit where credit is due in The Avengers they rescue a lot more people from actual dangers. Unlike Man Of Steel and one of my many issues with it similar in that a major American city and is totally different because this attack is by aliens in massive ships with superior technology. Devastating the city a kin a a few thousand 9/11 attacks but of course the only people we see in actual trouble are Jimmy, Lois and Perry. Because of course the filmmakers “just didn’t want to go there”.

Since the revival of Bucky Barnes it would be fair to say the only character left untouched and justifiably so is Spider-Man’s uncle Ben. Playing devils advocate to myself I’m trying to think a little more like Mr. Whedon in this moment. Could they have done things differently story wise that he would have been happier with? Would a compromise have been a happier solution for him? Coulson might have returned but as a Life Model Decoy everyone was a buzz about for a time.

But then on the other hand the entire first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the character acting wizard that is Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) clawing his way to discover why he brought back from the dead. It was very human it was easily relatable it was so engaging because you wanted to learn with this man why he was chosen to be brought back. He wasn’t an extraordinary guy he was in the background of a few things and he was kind of a jerk sometimes. But he was and he was working really hard to make it mean something and I’m sorry but if that’s not a Marvel story then I’m not sure what is.

Again devils advocate, if the show and stories in general went in a different direction just a speculative idea. If they were to follow the books a little closer and Maria Hill was the headliner. After all she is and was Fury’s right had and his very visible heir apparent as in the books she did take on the role of director over for Fury. It would have been very different the story challenges would be minimal and what real journey does Maria Hill have after The Avengers?

She’s a very high ranking officer at an elite spy organization, we already like her character a lot. There is no reason not too I mean it’s not like she was a jerk to Jane Foster in Thor or anyone else really. We would have started off in a story about an awesome winner who has an exciting spy job continuing to win and be awesome.

Quantum leaping back into myself devils advocate section is done for now. I find it a bit rich that Mr. Whedon is complaining about the continued use a character he did not have a hand in originating. Even more so every single character in The Avengers film originated somewhere else. Granted Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Banner was new but the character certainly wasn’t and it’s not like The Hulk was the focus of the entire film.

That being said it would be fair to say The Avengers film is a lot like a mix tape Mr. Whedon made from all the best songs of all these awesome bands we already know and love. Yes the arrangements the tone the emotions it evokes are fantastic for our road trip. But then to later turn around and complain that someone continued The Ballad Of Phil Coulson to the detriment of your road trip mix is a bit ludicrous.

I also ask if he is really truly so opposed to the idea of Coulson living then why is he his brother and his sister in law writing producing and show running Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D respectively. The vehicle of Coulson’s resurrection. All under his very own company mast head Mutant Enemy.

To wrap things up Mr. Whedon is every Coulson lives t-shirt on the streets and on the backs of loyal fans a dollar in your pocket or a knife in your artist hearts?