Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review and Terminator Rant T: Salvation Rise From the Ashes by Timothy Zhan

Terminator Salvation: Rise from the Ashes by Timothy Zhan

*** 1/2 Titan books 320 pages

I have more to say about the Terminator franchise than I probably have to say directly about this book, but I am going to do in this review since this book inspired to think about it. It is not a stretch for me to say that the first and second Terminator movies are two of my favorite movies of all time.

After the excellent sequel, it seemed like the franchise ended perfectly. T2 was genius, I didn’t believe they could turn Arnie into a hero, but Cameron pulled it off while making the T-1000 even more frightening. The strongest element of T2 for me however was the development of Sarah Connor from wimp to warrior. This was done so effectively through actor Linda Hamilton training with mossed agents, training so hard it strained and help end her marriage with director James Cameron.

T2 also effectively ended the story, creating a viable ending that left the possibility of believing that John and Sarah Connor had in our past saved our future by destroying Skynet. It was possible to believe this story had happened and thanks to the effort of the human resistance we could go on to act like morons at Y2K and skynet never came to power.

Somewhere in between T2 and T3 noted sci-fi author SM Sterling wrote a genius Terminator Tie-In novel called Infiltrator. Actually would have made a great T3 even having a plausible excuse for casting an older Swarzenegger, as the novel featured the character who skynet used as a template for the Terminator. Not sure this novel is even still in print anymore. Too bad, I remember it being good.

It has been my policy to avoid all further entries in the franchise. It has nothing to do with the studios cutting out Cameron, but it was early reviews that scared me away. Sarah Connor is one of my favorite fictional characters, so I was excited at the first Ain’t It cool news post mentioning the TV in development – The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The studio blew it in a serious way. The show could have worked had the focused on the right elements. They needed a team of writers willing to keep Sarah Connor a half crazed revolutionary and an actor willingly to train and devout herself to the role like Hamilton. No offense to the actor they hired but she didn’t bring it. I also wondered if the producers ever watched T2 or gave a moment’s thought to making a TV show about the same character. For no other reason, and there were plenty the show was a total failure.

When T:Salvation was greenlit I was excited by the idea of a movie about the Machine war, the short scene in the first movie was always one of the coolest parts in the movie. Christian Bale as John Connor was also great casting. Then they hired McG to direct it. I can’t stand his movies. Then I read interviews with him, and the interviews were so bad I couldn’t bring myself to see it. I was convinced his ideas and mine about the Terminator just could not co-exist.

So why then did I bother with this tie-in novel? Well for starters I am a fan of Zhan’s Star Wars novels. I think he writes excellent military sci-fi and did such a great job Lucas toys I wondered how he would do with Cameron’s toys.

This novel is a prequel leading up to the events of this film. Basically it’s the story of how John Connor gets his first major victory that sets him up to be the leader of the human resistance to Skynet. That’s not really a spoiler as if you see the movies you know that happens at some point.

Zhan was a wise choice, although it seems Titan books has just hired Star Wars Vets to do the T novels. The characters are rich, the details pulled from various movies are put to excellent use in the action of the novel.

I can’t judge how well this book feeds into the movie, as I have not seen it. I can only look at this novel as a stand-alone Tie-in with the first two movies. Zhan does a great job of telling the story if there is a serious weakness is sometimes to so fast that the suffering of the machine war survivors gets glossed over in the second half. However that is addressed with skill in the first half.

If you’re a Terminator fan, and enjoy reading tie-in novels I would suggest giving this novel a spin. Zhan writes effective battles, has created a connecting story worth reading.

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