Archive for Joe Schreiber

Review: Red Harvest

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on 20 December 2015 by Megan

by Joe Schreiber.

redharvest

In many respects, Schreiber (whose name, deliciously, means writer in German!) redeemed 21st century Star Wars books for me. He writes gory scifi horror,  so it’s kind of sad/frustrating that a lot of Star Wars fans, those who don’t like horror or can’t stand gore, will never get to experience him. But with as haphazard as post-2000 Star Wars books are, the Schreiber stuff is always gold.

Essentially contemporary with Star Wars: The Old RepublicRed Harvest
focuses on the Sith Academy at Korriban, where a Sith lord is seeking the ultimate prize of immortality.

It also touches on the Jedi, the famous Agricultural Corps where Force-sensitives who don’t make the grade are often sent. Hestizo Trace is a young Jedi who did make the grade but whose gifted skill with plants has left her assigned to a rare orchid — which just so happens to be the key to the immortality ritual. When Hestizo is kidnapped for the rare orchid, her Jedi brother chases across the galaxy looking for her.

To the mix of kidnapped Jedi horticulturist, semi-sentient orchid, and Liam Neeson as Jedi Knight in Star Wars: Episode Taken, throw in a healthy dose of undead plant zombies with lightsabers.

Yes, what I’m telling you is that this book is a lot of fun. Yes, it’s got quite a bit of cheese, but it’s done right — and cheese done right can be like macaroni and cheese or cheesecake, too good to pass up!

taken_redharvest

I see what you did there ;) No, I wasn’t kidding about the main character being Liam Neeson.

All that being said, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much if I hadn’t started playing SWTOR. It’s a typically great Schreiber horror ramble, wonderfully atmospheric with gore, jump scares, and tropes turned Star Warsy — so I’m not saying it’s not worth it if you haven’t played TOR. I’m just saying that if you do play TOR, you’ve got an extra special journey in front of you.

I’m really convinced Schreiber must’ve played some before writing this. So much of the book feels like it’s straight from the game, with mad lords, scheming acolytes, morally nebulous bounty hunters, stubborn Jedi, and plant zombie “mobs.” The description, atmosphere, plot all seemed to come out of my favorite planet arc, “The Thing that Czerka Found,” so it made me enjoy the whole book that much more. A great bit of Old Republic realcanon!

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Review: Death Troopers

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 24 August 2014 by Megan

by Joe Schreiber.

The grim undead

The grim undead

This may be the only time I’m going to do a repeat review. Death Troopers was one of the first things I reviewed for this site, back before I had a format or any real formula for reviewing, and even before there was a consideration about canon vs. non-canon. It was suggested on the Facebook page that I review this book in my current sweep of reviewing, and when a recent comment on the site suggested a possible conflict between this and the canon A.C. Crispen trilogy, I decided it was worth re-evaluating. After all, it’s been three years. Does the Star Wars zombie book hold up?

In a word, yes. Joe Schreiber has a real sense of story and a gripping way of describing things. The good news is, I am pleased to affirm that this book is canon. The bad news is, you may not want to read it if you don’t want to read gripping descriptions of vile gore. He does not balk in the description department and this book deserves all the R rating of the best-done zombie pictures from Dawn of the Dead to Zombieland and back to 28 Days Later.

It’s 01137, the year before A New Hope. The Imperial prison barge Purge is cutting its way through deep space toward the final destination for most of its passengers, a penal colony on the outer rim. Among the hardened denizens of the ship are a couple of adolescents, Kale and Trig, whose grifter father was just murdered by a guard. But all in all, life on board seems pretty typical.

Until the barge freezes in deep space for no obvious reason, tantalizingly close to a derelict Star Destroyer that any good horror buff would tell the crew to stay leagues away from. Just as obviously, they don’t follow this advice and send in two investigatory teams that become Purina zombie chow within half an hour — if they didn’t, there would be no book.

I really enjoy the way Schreiber describes things, as well as the way he twists the storyline this way and that. He is by far the most skilled 21st century author of Star Wars books, which I guess could be construed as unfortunate that he uses his talents for evil. By evil, I mean writing books that many Star Warriors won’t want to read due to the scary content and gore.

I’m not exaggerating when I say scary. Both times I’ve read this, I’ve done so with the Star Wars soundtracks on my headphones, and more than once gotten creeping terrors by the combination of John Williams’ music and the artful descriptions. While reading this straight after Lockdown made Schreiber feel a little “one trick pony” (seriously, can you do anything not set in a grungy prison?), I maintain that it’s a high-quality zombie movie any fan of the genre should enjoy.

And like any good zombie movie, there are inevitable deaths. No one is safe (at least mostly no one). Yet — and this is another interesting thing about zombie movies — most of the deaths have more meaning than those in your average flick where people get killed. From Doyle in 28 Weeks Later, who sacrifices himself to facilitate a potential cure making it out safe, to the deaths in Dawn of the Dead where members of the team sacrifice themselves so the others can get out, zombie movies have a recurring element of nobility and sacrifice, and the least likely people discovering these traits in themselves. And Death Troopers is in fact no different.

Which really means there’s some philosophy tucked up and hidden deep in what on the surface looks like any random, cheap Star Wars novel with zombies thrown in just to attract some shallow 21st century readers. It’s definitely more than that. It is a very good book, and good canon.

Review: Maul–Lockdown

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , on 29 June 2014 by Megan

by Joe Schreiber.

Rawr?

Rawr?

I loved Joe Schreiber’s Death Troopers. I loved the idea of weaving horror elements with Star Wars tropes, and I thought the whole thing was surprisingly well written. So I determined then I’d read Schreiber’s other contributions to the expanded universe. I’m doing an alphabetical book challenge on my other blog and had no real idea what to read for M. And then I thought, you know what, two birds, one stone — Maul: Lockdown. So here it is.

In general, I enjoyed this book. If Death Troopers was zombies, this was nearer a slasher type book, and Schreiber writes the most unflinching violence I’ve ever seen in EU novels. So if you don’t want to read descriptions of gore and violence, you will definitely want to give him a skip. As far as canon is concerned, it turns out this book is too closely interlinked with another for me to come to a verdict just yet, but I’m leaning toward “Yes.”

It’s sometime before the events of Episode I. Darth Maul has been sent by his master to infiltrate a penitentiary where inmates are pitted against each other in gladiatorial death matches for the enjoyment of gamblers the galaxy over. His task is to locate but not kill a man who may not even exist, and deliver such and such an item to him. If he fails, he will never leave the prison and his master will not protect him. He is also forbidden to use the Force or do anything that might compromise his identity as a Sith lord.

How could anyone not take this mask and voice seriously?

How could anyone not take this mask and voice seriously?

Darth Maul is an extremely popular character, particularly for his fighting, and therefore I think fans of his will seriously enjoy this book in which he goes up against various creatures with lethal cunning. However, one of the things I struggled with was the view from Maul’s brain. To me, his character has limited appeal, and in Episode I that appeal comes only from his mysteriousness. Listening to him negotiate, interrogate, and intimidate verbally was a let down to me. While I appreciate that very few individuals are truly one-sided or lacking any complexity, I never could think of him as the protagonist and was always put off every time he was talking to someone. Frankly I found his protection of the boy Eogan strange, and the end of the book downright puzzling.

But apart from these few stylistic annoyances and some distractingly brief chapters, I really had no issue with the book. It was enjoyable, and there were definitely some moments of outright chilling horror even if the basic premise wasn’t meant to be horror. I have to defer my vote on whether or not it’s realcanon, however, because I was deeply troubled by Darth Plagueis’ presence, and unfortunately feel I must plow through the James Luceno book before I can come to any real conclusion. My main complaint would probably be that this book doesn’t feel like a stand alone; I didn’t understand what was happening for too much of it, and have the impression this is because there’s another book with the rest of the pieces. I suspect I’ll be back to update this review when I’ve put myself through the James Luceno pile.

Read Death Troopers

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 17 June 2011 by Megan
Death Troopers

Troopers and “Troopers.”

This book has been on my “to-read” shelf for ages and I finally got it from the library and read it. I was confident enough in it that I would’ve been willing to buy it without reading it, and my confidence was not misplaced.

Joe Schreiber is a good writer with a grasp on the realistic aspect of the Star Wars universe, and this example of Star Wars + horror is well done, captivating, and definitely does not disappoint. When I went into it, I knew absolutely nothing about it, and that’s making a review very difficult, because much of my delight in the book came from pleasant surprises all through it. (I was apparently the only person on the planet who didn’t know it was about zombies. I was pleased with that surprise, but I’ll tell you and it won’t spoil much.)

Set the year before A New Hope (year 01137), the plot follows a few prisoners — two boys, a couple of smugglers — one of the guards, and the medical officer of the Imperial prison ship Purge. It does indeed follow the standard zombie protocols — outbreak, infection, death — but I deny the accusations that the SW elements are merely “pasted on top.” True, it’s about a bunch of random characters, but enough takes place in the universe that we don’t always have to have main character adventures. It is, to my knowledge, the only adult SW horror book, and is a light read, perfect for the approaching summer months. Highly recommended!

(The only thing I would note is that it is a zombie book and as such does contain a few instances of pretty intense gore. Not much, but enough you might want to be forewarned.)

Check it out on Amazon.