Book Review: The Ophian Rising (Soul Cycle Book IV) by Brian Niemeier

The Ophian Rising, Soul Cycle Book IV by Brian Niemeier

With a heavy heart, I finished reading The Ophian Rising, the fourth and final book in Brian Niemeier‘s Soul Cycle. And thus closes one of the most interesting, unique, satisfying, and fun book series I have read in a long time.

In my review of the first book, Nethereal, I described it as such:

Take the good parts of Dune and Star Wars, mix them together with a heaping dollop of Dante, a dash of high fantasy, and a whole lot of horror, and you’re beginning to almost approach Brian Niemeier‘s self-published Nethereal, book one of his three-part Soul Cycle series.

Is it sci-fi? Is it science-fantasy?

Who cares? It’s fun.

This description works across the entire series.

I refuse to get into spoiler territory here, as interested readers need to experience the Soul Cycle for themselves. What I’d like to do instead is explain why this series works so well, and encourage you to read it for yourself.

All I’ll say about The Ophian Rising is that:

  1. Brian’s writing, good to start with, gets better and better with each book.
  2. The Soul Cycle needs to be read from front-to-back in order to pick up on everything Brian has subtly wove into it. I plan on doing a re-read of the whole series soon.
  3. Brian knows how to tell a lean story that’s still satisfying (more on this later).

And here is my only complaint about The Ophian Rising: I wish that it, and the series itself, was longer. That’s right: Brian has left me wanting more. Thankfully, I know he has no plan to stop writing anything anytime soon.

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Why You Should Read The Soul Cycle

Regular readers know that I’ve written about Brian before. He edited the manuscript for my own novel, The Rust Man, and writes about many topics on his own blog that I’ve used as springboards for further discussion here.

I’m going to distill a few of Brian’s biggest points for you, and then explain why, if these sound good to you, you should read his work.

  • The era of the doorstop novel is over.
  • Readers want something they can pick up that will grip them from the start and keep them reading–the key word here is immediacy.
  • Favor clear writing over clever writing.
  • People crave heroes that are actually heroic–good and evil matter!
  • Books are competing with TV, social media, movies, video games, and streaming video.
  • Keep your politics out of your writing–shoehorning contemporary issues into your fiction is a recipe for disaster, or at least for severely limiting your audience.
  • The era of big publishing is over. Indies are where it’s at.
  • Indie does not equal low quality. Not anymore.
  • And finally: If it has nothing to do with your story, get rid of it.

I can safely say that The Soul Cycle series embodies all of these principles. Continue reading “Book Review: The Ophian Rising (Soul Cycle Book IV) by Brian Niemeier”

Movie Review: Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

Movie poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie poster

I was going to write more about The Last Jedi. A lot more. I was going to get into the plot points and offer various, in-depth critiques.

But screw it.

I will give this movie the level of effort and care that it showed to the Star Wars franchise. Forget the original movies, The Last Jedi even manages to piss all over the previous installment, The Force Awakens.

For the record, I liked The Force Awakens, especially after some re-watches with my son. I think it’s a good movie that’s a few tweaks from being a great movie. J.J. Abrams at least understood what Star Wars was about: heroic characters, diabolical villains, space battles, lightsaber duels, and yes, moral conflict. Yes, there were some sops to Current Year; but it didn’t seem fully converged.

Or maybe I’m just not as attuned to that kind of stuff as others. I don’t know. But while The Force Awakens might have been a bit of a re-tread, but it did what it had to do for the new trilogy of films. It served up a nice fat one right over the plate for Rian Wilson and the rest of The Last Jedi‘s crew to knock out of the park.

And they whiffed. Spectacularly. As though intentionally. While flipping off the audience.

Continue reading “Movie Review: Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)”

Introducing Low Budget Video!

Low Budget

I said I was going to do something, and then I did it. How’s that for delivering?

That’s right! Per my last post about video, I actually recorded something courtesy of Twitter’s Periscope app yesterday morning before work; this is why I stop at times to answer questions people watching the ‘Scope posted. I would have posted it yesterday, but uploading stuff to YouTube wasn’t working quite right.

Oh yeah: I have a YouTube channel now!

So for my first installment of Low Budget Video, I decided to discuss a topic I’ve hit on here before: Politics and Art. Specifically, the ways in which all of that ancillary stuff spouted by creators can, fairly or not, overshadow the art itself in a negative way. This thought was on my mind because I’m going to take my son to see the new Star Wars movie this weekend.

Anyway, if you ever wondered what I really look like or what my voice sounds like, here’s your chance! I hope you enjoyed the video, and if this seems to be a thing you wonderful readers like, I’ll do more in the future.

And I’ll try to keep them under 10 minutes. This one went a bit over because of my introductory preamble.

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

My YouTube channel is here.

And check out my Instagram here.

What We Want In Stories

Star Wars: Rogue One controversy, blah blah blah. 

The writers popped off online about being explicitly anti-white supremacy or whatever and casting no white men as heroes, they faced a predictable backlash and subsequent boycott, and the world of pop culture is in a tizzy. 

Whatever. 

Look, I’ve seen an overtly hostile and political piece of pop culture before to make up my own mind about it, and it was a piece of something else. 

Yes, new Ghostbusters suffered the unpardonable sin of just being a flat-out bad movie aside from any political axe to grind, real or imagined (but mostly real). 

So Rogue One…yawn. I wasn’t planning on seeing it anyway for a few reasons:

  1. I am not a huge Star Wars fan: Give me the original three any day. 
  2. I did not care for the prequel trilogy. 
  3. I did not care for The Force Awakens
  4. I am suffering from sequel, franchise, and extended universe burnout, and
  5. I find it wearisome when politics is injected into entertainment. 

So what do I personally want in stories? What will make me happy? Continue reading “What We Want In Stories”