Title: Midnight In The Garden Centre Of Good And Evil
Author: Colin Sinclair
Series: Invaders From Beyond
Publisher/Copyright: Solaris, 2015
This is not how it was supposed to work. A couple months ago, Miller was knee-deep in a graduate degree studying agricultural science. Now, after a bender left him and his future father-in-law’s car upside down in a lake, he finds himself without a fiancé and cut off by his parents to find his own way in the world, working a dead-end job at a garden centre in the middle of nowhere alongside an eclectic crew of fellow misfits. Then just as Miller adjusts to his new life, starts to think the future might not be so bleak after all, that’s when the aliens show up….
Midnight In The Garden Centre Of Good And Evil is a very British book in its language and vocabulary. That’s not a bad thing, to my mind, but is something to know going in. Not everyone watches as much Sherlock and Doctor Who as I do. Equal parts comedy and horror, the book demands comparison with Shaun Of The Dead, possibly crossed with Kevin Smith’s Clerks (I can’t say for sure, not having seen that one). It’s a quick read, and I managed most of it at a single sitting–the last two-thirds, to be precise. While not bad, it didn’t really suck me in until that point. The only real complaint I had with the book is how much information is left obscure, lost between the lines. While Brackett’s establishment is undeniably shady, it took most of the book for me to connect the various offhand hints and realize that its real income is dependent on the marijuana being grown in the basement tunnels. (Admittedly, this may have had something to do with my own lack of experience with that particular plant beyond the requisite stoner characters in various films.) Plus, you never do find out Miller’s first name so far as I can find looking back. It’s not a big deal, given the first-person narration, but serves to illustrate my point. Anyway, if you’re looking for an irreverent comedy-horror combo, this just might be the book for you.
CONTENT: R-rated profanity. Strong horror violence, occasionally gruesome. Moderate sexual innuendo, mostly in the form of crude jokes made by one or more of Miller’s coworkers.
Lost Tribe Of The Sith: The Collected Stories
Title: Star Wars–The Lost Tribe Of The Sith: The Collected Stories
Author: John Jackson Miller
Series: Star Wars (Legends Canon)
Copyright: Lucasbooks, 2012
So here’s the deal on this collection: they needed an antagonist or antagonists for Luke and his New Jedi Order to face in the aftermath of the Legacy Of The Force arc of novels. And of course these villains should be Sith, because that’s how it works (not knocking it, just sayin’). But how? Bane’s Sith are destroyed, dead with Palpatine and Vader, as are all the Executers and Dark Jedi that served Palpatine’s cause. Lumiya’s splinter sect are also destroyed, dead with the Dark Lady and her apprentice, the fallen Jacen Solo. Krayt’s “One Sith” are out there and in play, but not viable antagonists–they have to be able to come out of nowhere in the beginning of Legacy, so a full-scale battle with Luke’s Jedi is not in the cards. So they created the Lost Tribe Of The Sith. To avoid the appearance of Deus Ex Machina spawning these characters out of the void, they decided to flesh out their backstory in a series of free ebooks and gave the task to the excellent John Jackson Miller, writer of the KOTOR comic series. So that ran for eight stories, and then they decided that they should actually get paid for this. So they released this collection and made it the only way you would get to read the finale. Kinda a jerk move, but hey, I can’t complain….I checked it out from the library to read the last couple stories (apparently I missed the memo that they had been released….)
The first several stories tell the tale of the Omen, a Sith cargo ship carrying war materiale for Naga Sadow’s forces, that crashes on the uncharted planet Kesh around 4,000 years BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, i.e. Star Wars Episode IV). The captain and crew are forced to figure out how to survive on this hostile planet and how to deal with its native population–being Sith, they decide on subjugation, but with the caveat that they are impersonating the natives’ gods. Also being Sith, they have a distinct inability to cooperate very well….Miller tracks the evolution of this society through the years in his next several stories, tracing probably the only route that could possibly end in the mostly-stable Sith society we meet in Fate Of The Jedi.If you’re a newcomer to the Star Wars EU (Expanded Universe–if you didn’t even know that much you’re REALLY in trouble) this probably isn’t the place to start. I always tell people that the best entry point into the EU is either Timothy Zahn’s Heir To The Empire or Steve Perry’s Shadows Of The Empire. If you’re really into the Sith you will enjoy this, but still do some background reading first. At the very least to understand the beginning of this collection you should read the Tales Of The Jedi comics from the 90s–Golden Age Of The Sith and Fall Of The Sith Empire are the relevant volumes I believe, conveniently they are also the first. After the first several stories there will be references to the next couple TOJ volumes, but this is less necessary (The TOJ series is actually pretty good, so reading the whole thing woudldn’t be unwise, but not essential for our purposes). All that said, this is a pretty good study of the Sith and how a purely Sith society might unfold if they were extremely lucky and managed to avoid killing each other off first. Good for fans of the Sith or those who want to look at the background material for the FofJ story arc.Other good books on the Sith are Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane novels, the tie-ins to the Old Republic video game (especially Deceived), and James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis novel chronicling the rise and fall of Palpatine’s Sith Master (and thus Palpatine’s rise in the process).