The Micro Reviews From Planet Procrastination: Escape from the Bloodthirsty Giraffe of the Hunger Games Nebula!!!

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Last time on The Micro Reviews From Planet Procrastination:

Our intrepid heroes inadvertently opened up a wormhole while journeying to the planet Neptune in the Solar System (so named by the “dominant” inhabitants of the third planet). Due to a badly planned mass nap, none of the crew discovered they were grossly off-course until the Lieutenant in charge (an incompetent but generally well-intentioned individual named Huh) awoke from his slumber to the sight of a huge blue planet, very unlike the frozen Neptune, looming in front of him.

Despite knowing his crew would not be pleased with him for falling asleep on the job and in doing so pressing the Create Wormhole controls, Huh wasted no time in awakening them by activating the ship-wide alert siren. Waking up suddenly from a good nap is not the most pleasant experience, and being woken up suddenly via a load siren trumps the plain sudden awakening in order of unpleasant experiences. As the standard alert siren for the Micro Reviews ship is the high-pitched, and impossible to ignore, shriek of Procrastination’s native Skreeeeeeet (a small animal similar to Earth’s bats, named in a onomatopoeic manner because its discoverers were too busy fleeing the awful noise with all six of their arms blocking their ears to come up with a more fitting one), the crew did not exactly wake up in good moods.

Commander Whatzat Distraction stomped down the corridors to the main control room, steam positively erupting from his three sets of ears (this may have been just a figurative expression of anger, but then again the siren could have been so piercing it heated his brain and caused some of it to reach a gaseous state and flee out the nearest exit. Most likely the former). He arrived to the already chaotic scene of several senior crew members, in various states of undress (and various very embarrassing sets of bed attire) talking all at once, and quite loudly at a cowering Lieutenant Huh. When the Commander finally got all the crew members to calm down (one of the first things one learns in Commander training) and heard the whole story from the stuttering mouth of Huh, he quickly decided that an irritating awakening was of no importance when ones ship is in an unknown section of the Universe, about to collide with a pretty intimidating, and very blue planet.

Showing a rare moment of decisiveness, Commander Distraction ordered the crew to ready the landing gear and scan the planet’s atmosphere and surface to see if it was suitable for an exploration team – in his expert opinion if they were going to crash-land on a strange planet anyway, they may as well land with style and investigate a little. An initial scan showed what Lieutenant Huh had first suspected – the blue planet was quite dead, and there were none of the basic requirements for sustaining life. The exploration team donned their survival suits and helmets and when the ship landed with barely a bump, disembarked. When the Chief Scientist, Doctor Flurry Waitawhile took a sample of the blue earth she discovered that it was in fact a fine dust of organic, and recently living, matter covering the surface of the planet which itself was hard, inorganic, and not very kind to her six feet. A spin through the Universal Microscopic Matter Machine (or UMMM) told her that the blue powder use to be a large cold-blooded life form (or several of them in fact) which were most likely the former inhabitants of the planet (this made her feel a bit uncomfortable and she sorely wished she could rush back onto the ship and wash her shoes).

As the team explored the surface further they started to ponder what could possibly wipe out the natives of an entire planet so seamlessly, because there was nothing as far as their collective eyes (four each) could see except the blue dust of the deceased and the sinister black trees. Doctor Waitawhile scanned one of the trees with the Handheld Material Matching Machine (HMMM) and found that whatever it was composed of wasn’t on their vast database. They certainly weren’t trees, living or otherwise as the make-up wasn’t close to any organic material, but it also wasn’t similar to any known minerals the Micro Reviews had encountered in their millenia of voyaging through the Universe.

It wasn’t until Assistant Geologist Ponder  noticed a gold glint on one of the “trees” branches that they had any clues to what had occurred there, and the clue was certainly not a happy one. Closer examination of the gold object showed that it was a tiny pin, the kind often seen attached to clothing for decorative, or bragging purposes (in the case of an awarded pin) which showed the simple design of a sleek bird flying through a hoop with an arrow held in its sharp beak. At the sight of the pin Chief Cultural Advisor Daydream McDillydally turned from his healthy natural shade of green to a pale, soupy grey. He recognised the pin as a key cultural symbol from the Earth craze “The Hunger Games” and if it indicated what he thought it did, then they were all in serious danger.

Quickly and breathlessly he told the rest of the team about The Hunger Games Nebula, a bizarre dust cloud located on the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy which had spontaneously appeared shortly after the Hunger Games fandom on Earth had been established. He had heard about the fascinating phenomenon from a colleague who had been studying it for several years. Apparently the cloud was formed from pure fan energy and was composed of hundreds of details from the books and subsequent films which the fandom embraced. Aliens from all over the Galaxy flocked to the Nebula as tourists, wishing to see the miracle, but this activity in turn attracted a deadly predator, a by-product of the fandom’s creation.

The predator was referred to only as the Bloodthirsty Giraffe because it somewhat resembled the tall, placid animals that dwell in Earth’s continent of Africa. The beast was said to be a terrifying thing that towered over many smaller ships, its long serpentine neck supporting a massive head filled with rows of dripping teeth. Personal accounts varied as not many who had encountered it survived, and those that did were too traumatized to give a clear description, but the repeating characteristics were its immense size, deadly jaw, anywhere from a dozen to a hundred legs that propelled it toward its victims, a set of black, fathomless eyes and the blood-curdling scream it emitted before attacking. McDillydally had heard that little could stop the beast in its rampage, it didn’t obey the basic laws of Physics for it was a creature formed from pure energy, and that when it ate its prey only a fine dust remained, adding to the famed Nebula.

The exploration team looked down at the blue film of dust covering the planet with new-found disgust and horror, and McDillydally began to sweat profusely, his wire spectacles slipping down his double nose. In a moment of unanimous terror the team forgot their exploration and hurriedly headed back towards the ship just as a bone-chilling scream sounded behind them…

And now for the reviews:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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A thrilling start to an amazing YA dystopian trilogy. Even though I had seen the film adaptation previously I was still hooked in the whole way through, and emotionally invested. Suzanne Collins has earned another fan girl!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Cover - Catching Fire

Wow. Even better than the first book with further character and plot development and insight into the different districts. I read it in 3 days and whenever I wasn’t reading it (like when I was at work) I wanted to get back to it as soon as possible. I can’t wait to see how they bring it to the big screen 😀

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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An action-packed and highly intense final installment to the trilogy. I shed a few tears at several points near the end, both out of sadness and joy and I gasped so many times its surprising that I didn’t pass out from excess oxygen O.O

Blood, Guts & Whiskey by Various

Blood, Guts and Whiskey

A fine collection of Neo-Noir short stories. Some were sad and tragic, others were bizarre and funny, and pretty much all of them included crime (usually of the bloody and organised variety) and alcohol so it certainly lived up to its name.

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

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Another lovely book in this very entertaining series. McCall Smith’s words drip with a deep love of Africa, its culture and its people and this instantly transports you there. I am completely in love with the clever and kind-hearted Mma Ramotswe, her hilariously uptight Secretary/assistant detective Mma Makutsi, and the sweet Mr J. L. B Matekoni and I am so glad there are many books in this series 🙂

So there you have it my splendiforous Bookbaggers – the second installment in the rebooted Micro Reviews Saga! Sorry this one’s a bit longer than the last – as the action continues I suspect that will happen more and more, but I’ll try to keep them relatively short for you – I know I don’t like to read giant slabs of text in a blog post! Also a special shout out to Vasiliki– I know I said it was less sinister than it seems, but then it just sort of turned (as stories do) and ended up MORE sinister…opps 😛 Hope you enjoyed it ‘tho!

As with the last installment, feel free to sound out your opinions or predictions in the comments, or in an email and as always:

Happy Reading!

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REVIEW: Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead

Zombie: An Anthology Of The Undead

I’ve been reading this collection of short stories on and off for nine weeks, not because they aren’t good, but because sometimes reading stories about zombies gets a bit too creepy (especially at night or after eating – ew).

The stories are a lot more diverse than I was expecting. There are apocalyptic ones; ones where zombies are created to work for the living; a story of Lazarus; a voodoo zombie story; stories where people choose to become zombies; stories of people who love zombies; people who have sex with zombies; mindless zombies; fully functioning zombies; and a whole lot more.
Some of the stories were straight out gross or disturbing or violent, but others were really bittersweet or thought-provoking and a couple were really funny. I was surprised about the big moral issues brought up in many of the stories too. Questions of a person’s rights after death and whether the walking dead can feel pain or should be treated with respect arose in many of the stories. A lot of them also made me think about humanity and how we act in disasters, which is what a zombie plague is in essence. In several of the stories humans (live ones that is) were the real monsters, using the fact that zombies were already dead and sometimes violent as an excuse to fulfill their own sick violent tendencies, and some of them made me feel really sick because there is people out there that would act that way and the situations were almost like a spooky prophecy of the future.
My favourite stories were:
Family Business by Jonathan Maberry.
One of the stories that showed the darker side of humanity – the kind that tortures zombies for fun and sport – while also being one of the bittersweet stories, one of an older brother teaching his 15-year-old brother the “family business” and along the way changing his perceptions of the dead and the living and the thin line between.
The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky by M. B. Homler
The only story which made me laugh out loud throughout. It had really snappy one-liners and events that were ridiculously humourous kind of like Shaun of the Dead but more like a graphic novel played out in text – very visual and fast paced.
The Storm Door by Tad Williams
A really interesting story, especially considering most of it played out as a conversation between the main character, a paranormal detective and his ailing godfather. I liked this one because unlike a lot of the others, zombies are smart, cunning and powerfully evil and how the dead bodies rise is explained (basically they are possessed by a kind of ghost/demon that enters as the departing spirit is leaving its body).
Second Wind by Mike Carey
This story was unique as it was about a man who chose to turn into a zombie and then hide away from humanity. The main character is a stock-broker who has already had a couple of stress-induced heart attacks and fears his next one will be his last so he outfits an old building and organises his money in preparation for his death. I enjoyed it because besides being dead and having to takes precautions against decomposition, the zombie in this story was the same as he was living and continued his life to some extent.
Weaponized by David Wellington
In this story dead soldiers are being used in combat, being controlled by chips inserted at the top of the spinal column with preset directions such as walking or picking something up that can be administered remotely. This one was really fascinating because the “zombies” weren’t technically living dead but more like dead people turned into robots.
The story that creeped me out the most was:
Kids and Their Toys by James A. Moore
Only one word can describe this story: *shudder*. It was the creepiest and most disgusting of all, maybe for the fact that the horrible immoral humans in it were children.
And then there was one story that seemed totally out-of-place because as far as I could see it had  nothing to do with zombies at all O.O :
Shooting Pool by Joe R. Lansdale
I finished that one completely baffled – why was it even included?
Overall I really enjoyed this anthology, and I would recommend it to zombie movie lovers, or lovers of good horror stories 🙂
I give Zombie: an Anthology of the Dead:

4 ½ / 5 Stars

From Bread to Zombies (and some stuff in between)

So, In my adventures  I have often noticed that the books I’m reading either have eerie similarities or are a bit of a mixed bag… mostly the latter. The current group is definitly a bit on the strange side. We have a mystery about a baker turned reluctant detective:

Heavenly Pleasures By Kerry Greenwood

A quirky YA (young adult) romance about a guy called John “Beatle” Lennon and a girl called Destiny McCartney:

Beatle Meets Destiny By Gabrielle Williams

A YA fantasy/action about a teenage criminal mastermind and faerie criminal mastermind: 

Artemis Fowl And The Opal Deception By Eoin Colfer

 A vampire romance/mystery starring one Sookie Stackhouse:

All Together Dead By Charlaine Harris

And a little Zombie anthology to top it off:

Zombie : An Anthology of the Undead

So a fun mix 🙂 And that’s the only connection I can really find between the five – they’re all fun and pretty easy reads. Plus there’s whole bunch of supernatural critters 😛

Reviews to follow (when i finish one).