After seeing “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” my No. 1 movie of 2017, I wanted to spend more time in the world, and also try to figure out just what the heck was going on in a couple key sequences. The novelization (July 2017) by Christie Golden, who was becoming one of the top “Star Wars” Legends novelists before that line’s cancellation, mostly delivers the goods.
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Arthur Byron Cover’s “Night of the Living Rerun” (March 1998), the third original novel in the young-adult line, anticipates future episodes like “I Only Have Eyes for You” (2.19) and “Restless” (4.22), while also calling to mind the already aired “Nightmares” (1.10). Unfortunately, the ambitions of Cover’s writing outstrips the execution.
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Written by John Vornholt with only Season 1 to draw from, “Coyote Moon” (January 1998) – the second young-adult novel – is a time capsule of that period before Joss Whedon and his writing team realized they had the actors to pull off an adult show rather than a teen show. But it’s a readable and nostalgic time capsule that plays like a low-grade Season 1 episode (although it is set in the following summer).
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Did you know that during Season 3, Giles was once tormented by the return of his father as a vampire – something that’s even more traumatizing to him than the death of Jenny? One of the odd things about delving into the “Buffy” Expanded Universe is that my brain holds two continuities simultaneously – one is limited to the events of the TV show, and the other incorporates the novels and comics. I tend to default to the first continuity, but Christopher Golden’s “Sins of the Father”(November 1999) is a prime example of how the further adventures can be fascinating.
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With the very first piece of “Buffy” spinoff fiction, “Halloween Rain” (November 1997), Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder do two things: 1) Demonstrate their love and knowledge of the characters, and 2) Raise a continuity debate that still hasn’t been settled to this day.
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For the “Buffy” series’ first hardcover novel, Pocket Books makes “Immortal” (October 1999) worthy of the format with cleaner copy than what was found in the paperbacks, particularly the previous error-packed entry, “Obsidian Fate.” Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, the best “Buffy” authors to this point, take the reins for this Season 3 tale of a vampire who can transfer her essence to a new vampire every time she is staked.
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One of the fun things about re-reading golden age sci-fi novels is seeing how their predictions compare to reality now that we’re coming upon the dates in which those books are set. Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968) is of interest now because of the recent theatrical release of the “Blade Runner” sequel and because its fictional date of 2021 isn’t far away.
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After the excellent Golden/Holder “Gatekeeper Trilogy,” I braced myself for a letdown with Diana G. Gallagher’s first entry in the “Buffy” series, “Obsidian Fate” (September 1999). While it is indeed a step down, it’s quite readable, with the new character Dem Inglese providing a perspective not explored in the TV show.
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Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder’s “The Gatekeeper Trilogy Book 3: Sons of Entropy” (May 1999) is so epic that Joyce describes it as “almost an entire month of hell, like nothing else you guys have run into” (page 316). It is actually only a few days, as we know from Oz’s three nights of transforming into a werewolf, but indeed, a reader does imagine the Scoobies could use some serious R&R after this one.
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In my review of “Out of the Madhouse,” I noted that it can only take place between “Revelations” and “Lovers Walk,” and that we just have to accept that Faith is for some reason not in the story. But a lot of fans view the “Buffy” novels as a parallel timeline, and with “The Gatekeeper Trilogy Book 2: Ghost Roads” (March 1999), I can see the appeal of that approach.
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