Tag Archives: sci-fi

I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire! (Web Novel)

Title: I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire!

Author: Mishima Yomu/Wai

Volumes 1-4 (series ongoing)

Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/im-the-evil-lord-of-an-intergalactic-empire/

After a miserable life and untimely death, a man is offered a second life. He reincarnates as Liam Sera Banfield, who inherits his parent’s house as a Count at a young age. But believing this is going to be a blessed second life, Liam somehow continues to turn misfortune into fortune, all the while holding on to his real goal, which is to be an evil overlord. Somehow everyone misunderstands him as a righteous young lord.

This is caught my interest for the usual reasons—it’s a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, with the misunderstanding between Liam and his noncorperal “guide” one of the biggest plot drivers. But it does one thing I really like, which is the key misunderstanding. Liam doesn’t know his previous life and this one are under attack by his guide, who is a demonic force that feeds on evil and is hoping to crush him utterly. Instead, Liam believes the lie that this is going to be a better life—and his faith, and most especially his gratitude, end up turning the guide’s deceptions into reality.

This IS a blessed life for Liam. Because he’s always thankful.

I can safely say I never saw THAT plot twist coming. The fact that his gratitude literally tears the guide to shreds is a funny side note the reader is privy to that Liam can’t see. The guide grows ever more desperate to stop Liam from being thankful to him, but since every scheme ends up benefiting Liam in the end, Liam sees it all as machinations to bless him, and responds with even more thanks.

Other jokes fall more in line with Liam’s utterly failed attempts to be an evil overlord. He likes doing things like raising taxes, but since he raises taxes with no idea how he’s going to spend it (he just wanted to tax people), and lets his far more competent staff invest those extra funds, it ends up working out that his staff is spending those taxes to better the lives of the people. So even though he’s raising taxes, he still enjoys a lot of support among his populace.

On the other hand, his idea that he’s an evil lord allows him to make the sensible decisions in all sorts of places where stories usually have protagonists falter—like cutting off his parents, who passed off all their debt to him but come back to relieve him of his future earnings.

I’m not fond of the harem aspects. The major girls all end up fairly brainless in their pursuit of him. I did like how his attempt to win Rosetta came back to bite him—he wanted her simply because she said no to him, but once they’re engaged it starts looking like he’s the one trapped in a relationship he didn’t want.

Overall this is a light, fun read. I hope future novels do more with his friendship with Kurt, and give him more friends who aren’t just trying to get in his pants. I rate these books Recommended.

Dr. Stone (Anime)

Title: Dr. Stone
Episodes: 1-13

Senku was a high school student with a lifelong love of science and a single goal: to go to the moon. Unfortunately, a civilization-ending disaster strikes first, turning everyone in the world to stone. Three thousand years later, Senku breaks free. And from a second stone age, he’s working on restoring all the civilization—and science—he knows and loves.

This is an odd show with some crazy character designs in places, but it’s also a huge amount of fun. Senku is a genius, but he’s the kind of genius who is just so passionate about his favorite subject he wants everyone else to love it too. And because he’s been doing experiments from a young age, it feels natural for him to have the know-how to recreate some of the many things that were lost.

On a personal level, he’s a bit snarky, likes to tease his friends, and holds intense loyalty to them. So he mostly avoids the more annoying sides of being a genius.

The situation with other characters is a little weirder. The beginning of the show sets up a certain group of friends and enemies, but the author seems to have given up on that plotline rather early in favor of moving Senku to a village populated by people he hasn’t known in his pre-statue life.

Overall, even if the more typical elements (a tournament arc, really?) don’t really work for me, the science is always fun, and it’s a bit of a game guessing what Senku will try to create next. I rate this show Recommended.

Dragon Seed (Archemi Online #1)

Title: Dragon Seed

Author: James Baldwin

Series: Archemi Online #1

Hector is dying of an artificial virus, but he’s determined not to go out quietly. When he receives a message from his estranged brother, he returns home to find an unexpected opportunity to extend his life via the first full virtual reality game. The only problem is that the game’s still in progress. Still, Hector decides it’s worth the chance, and plunges into a fantastic world with the goal of becoming a dragon rider . . .

This has amazing characterization. From the very beginning, Hector’s reckless personality shines bright, and the various humans and NPCs he runs into are equally compelling. (I’m not totally ditching the “this is actually another world” plot twist, but for now they do appear to be actual NPCs).

Hector’s start in the game is plagued by some disturbing glitches. He’s dumped straight into a nightmare-grade quest, the safety measures that the devs assured him were in place don’t seem to be working for him, and he somehow caught the interest of one of the local gods (which really wasn’t supposed to happen given the game’s background lore).

Of course, my absolute favorite character is Cutthroat, the dinosaur-like mount used to haze the newbies, which of course ends up as his gifted steed. Cutthroat has all the tricks of a bad horse and then some, and her antics frequently had me laughing out loud.

Given where this ends, the next book is going to be really entertaining.

The litRPG element is fairly light, with most of the game elements confined to the character creation scene. Most of the rest of the book plays out like a more typical fantasy adventure, just with a few skills to use during battles.

Overall this was a very fun book, and I’m eager to see where the series goes from here. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Planet With (Anime)

Title: Planet With

Episodes: 1-12 (Complete)

Soya has no memories of his past, but he’s intensely interested in the weird UFOs that have suddenly started appearing in the world. A group of mysterious heroes shows up to fight them—but Soya’s companions, the maid Ginko and the gigantic cat Sensei, have asked him to fight. Fight the heroes, that is. It turns out Soya may be the key to this odd invasion of Earth. But whose side is he fighting for?

This is an odd little show. Despite only being 12 episodes, there’s enough packed in to feel more content-rich than some 26+ episode series I’ve seen (although really, did they HAVE to include a hot springs episode?).

If the amnesia plotline bothers you, at least there are enough twists that it’s not totally standard. Soya is male, for starters, and the dream he’s having in the first episode is a big clue as to why he lost his memory—shock. Soya isn’t from Earth, and neither are his two housemates (well, that’s patently obvious once Sensei shows up, even before he turns into a giant robot). But the details of the alien conspiracies, Soya’s history, and why that matters, get doled out bit by bit.

In particular, the moment when Soya finally broke down and started crying as he expounds on his true feelings was powerful. The show is too short for anything to get excessive time, but I like how the plot humanized everyone. Soya’s grief, anger, and confusion in particular come through loud and clear.

He’s also got an extremely colorful cast of characters surrounding him. Whether it’s Takamagahara of the difficult name, the normal and not-so-normal hopes and dreams of the Grand Paladins who all have their own hangups that the UFOs target in interesting ways, the tangled relationship between cat and dog . . . There’s a lot of humor, but also a lot of good character moments, as people wrestle with ideas about power, responsibility, duty, and forgiveness.

Overall this was an enjoyable ride, and given the extremely short length it’s easy to watch in a session or two. I rate this show Recommended.

Your Name (Movie)

Title: Your Name

Format: Movie

Taki lives in Tokyo, and Mitsuha lives in the country. They’ve never met, but one day they begin waking up in the other’s body. They want to find each other, but it’s difficult when their swaps are their only clue, and the memories fade like a dream . . .

This was an interesting movie. It’s kind of a romance, but the main characters have never actually met. They get to know each other through friends and family, setting, and living each other’s lives. Eventually they start leaving notes for each other to try to keep the other person aware of the important things going on, but they haven’t directly talked.

I liked the twist of why the comet is so central to the story, and what that means for the two of them. And what Taki, especially, tries to do about it.

I watched the movie in English. One surprising touch is that this meant the music RADWIMPS provided ended up playing with English lyrics as well. That helped during some of the dramatic scenes, where the lyrics were just as important as the sweeping melody. The voice actors were also good. I liked how Taki sounds more feminine when Mitsuha is in his body, giving him a vocal tic as well as the physical ones to indicate he’s not who he used to be.

Overall, even though I’m not sure why it got as popular as it did, this is still something I would watch again. The sci-fi angle on this unconventional romance is fun, and the movie is something that can be enjoyed by anime fans and non-fans alike. I rate this Recommended.

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

Title: Rogue Protocol

Author: Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #3

Murderbot isn’t having much luck with its grand escape plans. After interfering with a human conflict while trying to learn its own history, it needs to get away again before more awkward questions come up. But when an opportunity arises to probe more deeply into the corporation that nearly killed it, Murderbot arranges for a personal visit to an abandoned terraforming base . . .

I liked this one a lot better than the previous two. The story is finally long enough to feel more satisfying, and the cast is small enough to flesh out all the major characters.

Murderbot is also dealing with new emotions this time around. When it meets Miki, a robot who likes humans and calls them friends, all sorts of confusion results. To Murderbot, there’s a divide between human and AI that goes far beyond physical capabilities. To Miki, that wall may as well not exist.

I liked the way the battled played out in this book as well. Particularly the way Murderbot can split its attention between multiple parallel tracks, or the way bot “biology” means that brains are in the torso, not the head, which changes fighting styles a lot (headshots aren’t useless, but they’re definitely not fatal).

Overall this is a good continuation of the series. I rate this book Recommended.

Parasyte (Movie)

Title: Parasyte
Format: Live-Action Movie

Shinichi wakes up one night to a bug in his room—one that burrows into his right hand and replaces it with an intelligent parasite. Now Shinichi and Migi must learn to live together, in a world where both humans and parasites pose a threat to their continued existance.

The live-action movie is probably best seen after (or in addition to, at any rate) the anime. Although the story preserves some of the main highlights, cutting down 12 episodes to one movie means a lot of the more extended character development just doesn’t have time.

That said, it was fun. The CG worked out better than I expected, and Migi looks suitably more creepy in a closer-to-life format. The parasite battles also looked more understandable than a lot of the similar fights in the anime.

I think what bothered me the most was taking Shinichi’s dad away. They probably decided to do it to give more pathos between Shinichi and his mom, but one of the more interesting parts of the anime to me was contrasting the way Shinichi and his father both handled the major event. And Shinichi’s concern for his father drove a lot of his later decisions.

Overall, if you liked the anime, or are just curious about the series and don’t feel you have time for the whole anime, this was a decent movie. But it doesn’t offer a whole lot above and beyond what the anime already did, so I would recommend if the movie interested you at all, then check out the anime too. I rate this movie Recommended.