Stories retold or further explored:

Compared to the original works, these might come off as fan-written fiction. That’s OK, I’m a fan, too! The charm or longevity of a character or their world can invite you back repeatedly. All of these titles get high marks for quality representation of their inspirations.

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Aliens: Phalanx | Scott Sigler, 2020

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Summary: On an isolated world of medieval castles, varied cultures, and conquests, life was vibrant until the demons rose and spread relentless destruction. Swarms of lethal creatures with black husks, murderous claws, barbed tails and dreaded “tooth-tongues” raged through the lowlands. Terrified survivors fled to hidden mountain keeps where they eke out a meager existence. A trio of young warriors discover a new weapon and see a chance to save humanity from the demons that have already killed ninety percent of the population on the isolated world of Ataegina.

Recommendation: Being a fan of the film franchise, I looked up novels based on the Alien-Aliens films, not just the novelizations of said movies. Boy, are there a lot more than I imagined! The first one I read (for no reason whatsoever but that it was available) was Aliens: Phalanx, an intriguing fully-fleshed world of thousands (once hundreds of thousands) of people separated into individual city-states with organic differences like religious philosophy and gender roles or age expectations. The main character is an excellent foil for everything she comes up against, even when she’s feeling weak and questioning herself. If you read this work with no prior knowledge about the creature-monsters, AWESOME! I want to hear your take on the story. Tell me how you enjoyed Sigler describing his antagonists through the human perspective. Highly recommended.

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The Return of the Pharaoh | Nicholas Meyer, 2021

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Summary: Consider this a previously unpublished case as written by Dr. John Watson about the world’s first consulting detective. In 1910, Dr. Watson travels to Egypt with his wife Juliet – her tuberculosis has returned and her doctor recommends a stay at a sanitarium in a dry climate. But while his wife undergoes treatment, Dr. Watson bumps into an old friend–Sherlock Holmes, in disguise and on a case. An English Duke with a penchant for Egyptology has disappeared, leading to enquiries from his wife and the Home Office. Holmes has discovered that he’s only the latest Egyptologist to die or disappear under odd circumstances.

Recommendation: I love retellings of Sherlock Holmes stories. Finding one that is wholly original (and not the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) is often a roll of the dice – you never know how good it is going to be. Meyer does a fine job making all the characters sound like they belong to the Victorian age and to their respective homelands. I particularly enjoyed the author’s note at the end regarding Carter and the real find he made (and made famous through touring it around the world) and how Victorians looked through lenses colored by assumed supremacy and white privilege.

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Star Wars Visions: Ronin or Ronin: A Visions Novel | Emma Mieko Candon, 2021

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Summary: Far on the edge of the Outer Rim, one former Sith wanders, accompanied only by a faithful droid and the ghost of a less civilized age. He carries a lightsaber, but claims lineage to no Jedi clan, and pledges allegiance to no lord. His history is as guarded as the red blade of destruction he carries sheathed at his side. As the galaxy’s perpetual cycle of violence continues to interrupt his self-imposed exile, and he is forced to duel an enigmatic bandit claiming the title of Sith, it becomes clear that no amount of wandering will ever let him outpace the specters of his former life.

Recommendation: The pace of the action varied, but it’s a complicated world with many factions and elements to be discussed. If you are not already quite familiar with the Star Wars universe, not much is going to make sense – the names of places or people, the droids’ functions, the witches, Jedi, mercenaries, etc. Enjoy this new tale of a time long ago in a place far, far away and tell me your favorite character wasn’t “The Fox”.

About the author

Smithton Public Library

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