Bookit Review: #22 Voyager

Title:  Voyager (Outlander #3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication Date: October 2004 (Originally 1993
Genre:  Historical Romance/Science Fiction/Time Travel
My Final Grade:A

So far, Voyager is my favorite of the Outlander books.  This is for several reasons.  One, it has multiple point of views, even though Claire’s POV is still told in first person while everyone else is told in third person which can be a bit awkward at times.  It gives us a better sense of how Jamie views things, as well as Roger and Brianna who play major roles in this story, and even more so in the next book, Drums of Autumn.  It also varies away from some of the troublesome aspects of the first two books, although not completely.

Voyager begins in the 1960s with Brianna, Roger and Claire searching for the truth about Jamie.  They found out he survived Culloden, and follow the trail down to finding him as a printer under an alias.  As they search, we get to see the story from Jamie’s point of view of the missing years.   We also wrap up a few lingering questions from the first book, and get a few flashbacks to Claire’s life with Frank and Brianna over the last 20 years.

Brianna eventually convinces her mother to go back, and the bulk of the book is Claire’s adventures in the mid 1760s, including traveling from Edinburgh, to Lallybroch to eventually Jamaica and the American Colonies.  This book also explores several different types of relationships.  It brings back Lord John Grey, who was featured as a teenager in Dragonfly but now is a Major in the British Army. He is in love with Jamie (as it appears most of the characters are – another criticism I have of this series), but unlike the previous two homosexual characters isn’t portrayed as a horrible person.

I was slightly uncomfortable with the portrayal of Yi Tien Cho, in a related notion.  I couldn’t tell if it was the character himself or the fact that it was a portrayal of the first major minority character for the series (outside of Joe Abernathy who is barely seen).  However, from what I have found out, he is loosely based on a real person and perhaps some of that comes from that.  Still, I wasn’t sure if the portrayal was fair or not.

The relationships in this book that are explored are the several different types of family.  It explores the idea of adoption/step-parenting (Jamie & Claire with Fergus, Frank with Brianna,  Jamie with the McKimmie girls. Roger Wakefield & his great-Uncle, John Grey & Willie), Multigenerational (Jenny, Ian and the Murrys), separation (Jamie & Brianna as well as Jamie & Willie) amongst some.  It also takes into consideration the aftereffects on Claire’s relationships outside Jamie – like with Jenny and Geillis.

While this book is still full of misadventures, and Jamie & Claire are rarely in a moment of calm, it does seem to be happier (outside of Ian) and some issues are addressed instead of either of the main characters pushing it aside like has happened in previous books.  It also has a decrease in the amount of sexual violence that seemed to be prevalent in the previous two books.  There is one scene towards the end with Yi Tien Cho that was concerning in regards to sexual violence but in comparison to the other novels this book is quite an improvement.

My final grade is A.

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Bookit Review #21: Dragonfly in Amber

Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Published: October 2004 (current edition) (original Print in 1992)
Genre: Romance/Sci-fi & Fantasy/Historical
My grade: B

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Bookit #20: Outlander

Title: Outlander (Part 1 of the Outlander Series)
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Publication:  2004 (ebook) 1991 (original Publication)
Medium:  Kindle eBook
Grade: A

NOTE:  Some minor spoilers for the TV show and a trigger warning for rape.
Many months ago a good friend of mine told me I should read Outlander. It did in fact seem right up my ally as far as books I like to read (History, science fiction, mystery and romance), but I kept pushing it off.  But I finally watched the first season of Outlander last month and decided to read the book.

Usually I read the book first, then watch the TV show/Movie based on it.  However, this time I did not.  It did allow me to appreciate some of the narrative changes the TV writers made.  The show is relatively close to the events of the book up till the last few episodes, although they expand on things in some places and leave out others.

I am not a big fan of first person, as Outlander is (from Claire’s POV).  There are some exceptions though (such as the Hunger Games) and Outlander has ended up being one of them despite the fact that I wish some of it was in Jamie’s pov.  The story is about Claire Beachamp-Randall, a combat nurse from WWII.  She’s visiting Scotland with her husband in an effort to reconnect after the war when she is accidentally whisked from her time (1945) to another (1743).  She finds it difficult to adjust to live 202 years before what she knew, and it causes a few adventures.

Writing wise, it’s not the best novel I ever read, but it kept me interested.  As I said, some of the narrative changes in the early episodes of the show made sense to fill in some of the gaps in the book.  It smoothed things out as it were,  However, later changes made less sense.

I’m also not sure how historically accurate this book is, but it kept me interested enough that I didn’t really need to know – though I did look some of the outside characters like the Duke of Sandringham (Not a real guy) and Lord Lovat, Jamie’s Grandfather (actually a real guy).  A lot of the characters are interesting, even if they are fairly minor.   Black Jack Randall is creepy in all his scenes (which makes me feel sorry for his great-great so forth grandson Frank), and Dougal I can’t get a hold on whether he is someone I shouldn’t mind or someone I should place in the enemy column (Both in the TV show and the book.  More so the TV series).

I know that the next book takes place in France but I will miss the lovely characters of Castle Leoch and the Scottish Highlands.

My only real issue with the book is that rape is used a bit too often as a cause for drama.  Some of it makes sense with the characters used (mainly Black Jack Randall) but other times it just seems repative and even more uncomfortable it is by default.

I am glad my friend convinced me to read this, and I’m looking forward to reviewing Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) soon.  I feel this is also a book that once I finish the series I’ll be back to re-read and connect some of the dots I missed the first time around.

As a final note, the book is not nearly as R rated as the TV-show (since it is on STARZ) ended up being.  There is a lot more fade to black.  Still, it is an adult romance novel, so I would probably not let your younger kids read it yet.

TV Review: The Orville 1×10

Episode: Firestorm (1×10)

Original Airdate:  Thursday, November 16, 2017 (Watched via Hulu on 11/17)

Notable Guest stars:

Richard Picardo (Ildis Kitan):  Known for being on Star Trek (As The Doctor/EMH) , and Stargate (as Richard Woolsey), as well as promoting science.   He’s one of my favorite guest stars to see.
Molly Hagan (Kitan):  I looked her up because I couldn’t figure out why she looked so familar.  Turns out that Ms. Hagan is a Frequent Flyer guest star on several programs I like.  Usually for only one episode.
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TV Review: The Orville 1×05

Episode: Pria (1×05)

Notable Guest Stars:

Charlize Theron (Pria) – I don’t really think I need to explain why Charlize is a notable guest star.  I first saw her in That Thing You Do but that is far from the most famous film she’s been in.

Jonathan Frakes (Director) – Star Trek Alum.  He played Will & Thomas Riker in TNG and several spinoffs.

Rachel MacFarlane (Computer Voice) – Seth MacFarlane’s sister.

This episode’s A plot starts with the crew coming across a distress signal coming from a comet.  They rescue a mining pilot named Captain Pria Lavesque.  Pria explains she works for a mining consortium and was investigating the comet when she ran into trouble.  Kelly’s instincts are telling her something is wrong, helped no doubt by her jealousy, so she starts to investigate, pulling Alara in with her.  Ed isn’t happy that they are treating a guest this way.  He is also biased, because he is interested in Pria, and its mutual.

However, just as Ed thinks he might have a chance to finally move on, strange things keep happening.  Turns out Pria is a future traveler from the 29th century who goes back in time to grab ships and artifacts to sell on the antiquities market back home looking like they are in prime condition.  Ed gets his heart-broken, and I think everyone is taken aback when she tells them they were meant to be dead so why does it matter.

The question remains though…does anyone remember this after the end of the episode?  Erasing the wormhole and Pria’s existence in the past so she has no need to come back seems like it might change their reality but I don’t know if everyone forgets her or if this buys into the new timeline theory.

The B plot is Issac learning about Human humor, which doesn’t turn out that greatly for Gordon who ends up losing a leg, literally, and having to regrow it because Isaac hid it.  The b plot filters in and out of the A plot, and ends up connecting to how Issac lets the crew know he’s still around.

This episode, plot wise, probably won’t be my favorite, but it wasn’t a bad episode.

Notable Quotes:

Ed: Kelly! Kelly, wait! Hey, listen – I don’t want to play the blame game here.
Kelly: That’s because you’re the one to blame.
Ed : Look, we all made mistakes.
Kelly : Nobody made mistakes but you.
Ed : Let’s not do the “I told you so” thing.
Kelly : I told you so numerous times.

Pros:

  • Charlize Theron
  • Female friendship

Cons:

  • Once again they were overhanded with the hints that Ed and Kelly aren’t as indifferent towards each other as they appear
  • Do we remember or not remember?  I’m a tad bit confused here.
  • Charlize’s outfits all make me think of bugs.

Final Grade: B

TV Review: The Orville 1×03

Regularly scheduled posts that are not tv episode reviews will happen for those of you who are interested in my writing and/or reading posts.  As I said previously, I am trying to catch up with the “live” episode, which airs on Thursday.

Episode:  1×03 About a Girl

Notable Guest Stars:

Lamount Thompson (Kaybrak) – He’s been on various programs I’ve seen, including several daytime soaps, but he is notable because he was credited with a role on Star Trek Enterprise (my favorite Trek show!).  He also may be known from The O.C.

This episode focuses on Moclan society; in particular gender politics.  The species, though primarily male, does once and awhile have female offspring.  However, this is considered a genetic defect and is often the child is given a sex-change operation as an infant to make them male.  Claire refuses to do the procedure, believing it to be something that is unnecessary to the health of the child and something the child should decide for themselves.  Ed and Kelly agree, although Ed manages to make himself double-check to make sure he’s not policing another culture’s practices by his own.

I’m not sure if theme of this episode is misogyny or gender identity, but I’m leaning towards misogyny because of the rest of the episode.  It seems a heavy subject to barge into 3 episodes in, but Star Trek (which inspired this show) has been known to do this. I don’t think episode really stands up against Star Trek’s The Measure of a Man but it has a similar style and theme to it.  Instead of saying how a AI can be a being, they are trying to prove to a society that prides maleness that being Female is not a bad thing.  Although I think they kind of messed up with some of the issues…like if Klyton was a female, obviously it happens more often than the 75 years it is supposed to be, and the older woman doesn’t look like she’s in her seventies too.  But then they don’t really explain the life expectancy of the Moclans.

Notable Quotes:

Gordon:  I would like a pair of pants to be waiting at the landing pad
Moclan Flight: A pair of pants will be waiting.
Kelly:  He was kidding
Gordon:  No I wasn’t

Pros:

  • Seeing the various characters work together to help their friend
  • Alara being so confident in her abilities and differences
  • Seeing Kelly being proficient at her job that is in no way related to interacting with Ed

Cons:

  • I feel that the Moclan society should have been developed a bit more before they got into such a heavy subject.
  • The random Thought lighting of Ed to search for female Moclans.  It just seemed really sudden a bit like “We need to move this plot along, we only have 10 minutes left.”

Final Grade: B-

TV Review: The Orville 1×02

I’m going to be posting these over the next few days as I’ve caught up with the series, but I want to post the reviews as the episodes come, so I have to catch up post wise.  So expect the first six-seven episodes in succession then it will be weekly.

Episode:  1×02 Command Performance

Notable Guest Stars:

Jeffrey Tambor  (Ben Mercer) – Best known from Arrested Development, though if anyone reading this has toddlers around, they’ve probably heard his voice once or twice on children’s shows.

Holland Taylor (Jeanne Mercer) – She shows up randomly everywhere.  Probably known most recently as the mom in 2 and a Half Men.

Robert Duncan McNeill (Director) – Trek Alum; He portrayed Lt. Tom Paris on Voyager, and has a long list of episodic directing.

Ron Canada  (Admiral Tucker) – Had a recurring role of West Wing (one of my favorite TV shows)

This episode starts off with learning more about Moclan physiology.  They lay eggs.  Which is a subplot of this episode, and from the looks of it a major plot point in the next episode.  However, as Bortus is brooding his egg, this leaves Alara in charge.  She tries to get out of it several times, because she doesn’t think she’s ready for it, but the senior officers all consider her able and ready.

I really liked the fact that it showed that not everyone came out of a bubble primed and ready to be commanders.  While I adore Star Trek, one of the elements that kind of bothered me that outside a few characters, most of the characters were simply naturals at command, and did extremely well.  Alara does well, but the show also shows her going through various emotions like fear, anxiety, annoyance and other feelings that might come with command.

The b plot with Kelly & Ed was interesting, but kind of worked in forcing us into shipping them.  The two actors have chemistry (this whole cast does, good work casting director) but I think they went a bit overhanded with directing us to it in this episode.

Notable Quotes:

Dr. Finn: “I won’t whisper the right answers into your ear, but I’ll try to be your Obi-wan whenever I can.”
Alara: “What?”
Finn: “Nevermind.”

Pros:
Good acting chemistry, relatable responses by characters, and overall character development is done well.

Cons:
While I enjoy the dynamic of Kelly & Ed, I really think that they pushed them too hard in this episode.  Maybe if this episode had happened halfway into the season where we have had time to get to know them first, it wouldn’t seem so awkwardly forced.  The two actors have chemistry, let us grow to love them together.  Show, don’t tell.

Final Grade: B