Thursday, August 9, 2007

PHESP Review Books

PHESP.Reviews – literature

Aside from the amazing amount of comics and zines that are read monthly in ESPv (and there is allot) there are a couple intriguing novels bashed out as well (believe it or not).
Personally, when it comes to reading novels etc, I like to vary the selection substantially. For one month (yes it takes me that long, so what?) I’ll read something extremely fictional for that guaranteed escapism factor, and when I’m done I’ll get stuck into something more ‘real’ and actually try and learn something new (with comics and zines in between of course).
Check out what’s reviewed below, maybe you’ve heard of them. Leave any comments of titles your reading at the mo or any recommendations you have for peeps out there.
Are you a fiction/non-fiction fan or simply read what ever is appealing at the time?

Reading now - Star Wars Betrayal – Legacy of the Force

Aaron Allston
Arrow Books, 2007

OK, for all you serious SW fans out there (yes, we’re geeks but its cooler then collecting stamps) you would already know that the first of the latest series in SW novels, The Legacy of the Force, is titled Betrayal. The story takes off years after the very last film Return of the Jedi and focuses mostly on the children (also Jedi Knights) of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, one of whom turns over to the dark side and throws his Jedi life away to become a great Sith Master.

Those of you who are NOT avid SW fans and simply thought the movies were impressive because of the cool sound the lightsaber makes when waved around, will probably not understand that the story you see in the movies is but a micro-fraction of the real entire SW story. For a guy like me, brought up with the SW toys and films in the 1980’s, this is a big deal. Whilst there are currently a total of 6 movies made spanning from The Phantom Menace (I), to Return of the Jedi (VI), the true story line portrayed in the novels (written by a select few authors) covers over 100 books, including the story before the Phantom Menace and years after Return of the Jedi.
I know for a fact that many SW nerds (fans) have asked stuff like – when did the Jedi first form? Where did the force actually come from? Who was Darth Bane? When was Yoda born? How was the Sith created? What was the Jedi civil war? How did Chewbacca die? Where does the story go after the movies and so on… and in the books, all is revealed. Although, I really cant be arsed reading them all, so I often turn to the comics which, help in condensing things a bit.
Some of the largest battle scenes and wars in the whole story line (that would poo on anything you seen in the films) can be found in the novels and although not as exciting to watch visually… if you’re a real fan, it’s way more detailed and precise.
If you pick up a copy of Betrayal like most SW novels, you’ll find a list in the beginning of all titles in order, and can also find this on

Just finished - Emergency Sex, and Other Desperate Measures – a true story of Hell on Earth.

Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson
Miramax, 2004

A great read.
I am sure many of us from time-to-time have felt like dropping everything, leaving our mental urban lifestyle behind and joining some peace keeping/aid relief group and get paid to help others and travel the world. Well, this is a true story of some of the pioneers for idealistic escapism in the early 1990’s. Emergency Sex is a story of three young Western change-makers that leave their civilized lives behind in pursuit to help people in developing war-torn countries such as Cambodia, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Rwanda and Liberia.. which, at the time, were knee-deep in shit in a big way.. (and still kinda is).

Fed up after finishing their studies and working mediocre jobs (sound familiar?) the three authors join peace keeping missions through the Red Cross and United Nations.
Andrew is a young doctor who is inspired to work in Cambodia after the genocide as a surgeon and help landmine victims, Heidi is a soon-to-be divorced young woman working with homeless people in NYC and looking to escape her present life, and Kenneth is a post-grad law student bent on a mission to save the world. They bump into each other on their first mission in Cambodia and live the next 10 years working with impossible situations in unbelievable conditions. What you read is basically their personal journal extracts from their experiences in each country.

Although the aim of the book is not to focus on politics, the authors give their personal views on how, why, and what was happening when the shit hit the fan. Why the UN went in, what they tried to achieve, and how effective the peace keeping operations really were. Often frustrated with the pro Western democracy/UN style of trying to ‘save the world’ and just fucking things up instead, the authors give amazingly detailed perceptions of their personal ideals in trying to create a new world order and feel good about themselves in doing so, which seriously back fires at times. As most books, check for more detailed reviews, etc.

Interested in reading – The Gospel According to Judas

Jeffrey Archer & Francis J. Moloney
St. Martin's Press, 2007

Although I am a man of the middle and believe not in one religion alone, I recently picked this book up and after flicking through some pages I can’t wait to read it. Personally, I have always been fascinated with history from Christ’s time and what really happened so long ago, how things developed, how we got to where we are today with religion and faith, etc. Although there are many things I question when reading or hearing certain extracts from the Bible and other religious sources, there are also many things I believe in and find interesting. After reading the Secret Supper not so long ago, a fictional story based around how and why Leonardo painted The Last Supper master piece and the many secrets within it, I became very curious with the character Judas Iscariot as the ‘betrayer’ of Christ. As The Secret Supper illustrates, there is allot most do not realize about this man, and if at all he was truly the real betrayer of Jesus. As I found in both books and research on the subject, allot of the true facts hidden to people over the centuries has purposely been extracted from typical texts and literature and finding evidence of anything contradicting to the bible is difficult today.

The Gospel According to Judas, is co-written by well know Jeffery Archer and an eminent Australian biblical scholar. The result is described as a “story for 21st-century readers” that would be “credible to a 1st- century Christian or Jew”. It is written as though Benjamin Iscariot, son of Judas writes of his own true accounts and experiences of Judas’s real life. If focuses on his beliefs, that his father was a misunderstood man who did not in fact betray Jesus for money. Using real extracts, references and quotes from the bible (don’t ask me which one) the story plods along with some very interesting developments. Archer has also enlisted the support of leading churchmen including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, to vouch for the book. While the archbishops enjoyed reading it, they do not accept all its theories. All-in-all, I don’t think you need to be overly religious to have a go at this short story. But you do need an interest in questioning the questionable. Which, is what allot of ESPv and this blog is about.

* Have you read any of the above? What did you think? Any other recommendations you may have?