Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Welcome to the Escape Velocity Collection!

We are an opinionated group of friends reviewing all sorts of fantasy and science fiction media. Don’t forget to get to know the curators and visit our curated Collection, where we discuss the stories that never cease to transport us to another world.

Will you escape with us?


Red and Blue are agents fighting on opposite sides of a time war. When Red finds a letter from Blue that is addressed to her, she knows that reading it could be dangerous: even if it isn’t a trap set by Blue, her own side could view reading the letter as treason. She does read it however, and the letter starts off a secret correspondence between the two women. Writing to each other from the different strands of time in which they are fighting their battles, they start to question what winning the war would really mean to them.


This is quite an elegant little novella, putting a science-fiction spin on the classic story of Romeo and Juliet. When it comes to worldbuilding it relies mostly on creating atmosphere and giving the reader some hints as to the underlying mechanisms of how the time war is being fought out, but many things are left up to the imagination of the reader. The two main protagonists travel frequently to different times and places, but their activities in these places are never the main focus of the narrative. Instead, these locations form the backdrop against which we see Red and Blue’s relationship develop. Nevertheless, I found the setting very interesting and creative, and I did not mind the lack of technical details and explanations.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the lyrical language and the descriptions of the ways in which Red and Blue manage to write to each other (they almost never write their letters on paper, but find a different way each time to get their messages to reach each other in secret). Both of them are likable enough as characters, and I did care what happened to them. However, on the whole I found I did not connect to them as deeply as I might have liked to and expected, considering that this is mainly a character-driven narrative.

I listened to the audiobook performed by Emily Woo Zeller and Cynthia Farrell, both of whom did a very good job voicing the two protagonists. But because this book switches narrators and settings so often, I regularly found I had missed out on something important if I got distracted even for just a little bit. I think if I had read the book on paper I would have been better able to appreciate some of its smaller details and subtleties.

See also:

Two centuries in the future, humanity has colonised the solar system. Political tensions have risen between Earth, Mars and the people living in the outer asteroid belt. When a young woman goes missing, a detective in the outer Belt discovers there might be more behind her disappearance. In his search, he teams up with the crew of a spaceship who are searching for answers about a recent encounter where many of their crewmates were killed. 


(This review relates to season 1 and 2)


I really like the set-up of this series. The world and its political situation are believable and made more so by some of the realistic details, such as that the bone density of people living on Mars and in space is different from those living on Earth. The main problem for me with this series is that I find the main character James Holden very annoying. He is self-righteous and arrogant, but mostly he is just very boring. Naomi seems to have a lot more potential as a character, but once she becomes the love interest for James, she becomes almost as boring as he is. 


Plotwise I liked the first season better than the second season. I enjoyed the different storylines and how they came together to uncover the mystery at the heart of the story. However, after that the second season felt a lot slower in pacing and I was not gripped by it as much. Perhaps it picks up again in the later seasons, but I’m not sure I am invested enough to find out. 

See also:

The story of Order of the Stick follows the story of a (not so ordinary) D&D adventure group traversing a lich’s dungeons and combating classic conventions of storytelling and Dungeons and Dragons. Hopefully, they won’t become responsible for the fate of the world…  

Passepartout The Order of the Stick

(This review relates to  a story that’s still ongoing)

I’ve been following this story for over a decade, casually checking the Giant in the Playground website for updates each day. It’s kind of wild how far we’ve come.

Key recommended this web comic to me shortly after we started playing D&D within our group of friends. At first it was little more than a story full of lighthearted (meta) jokes – not all of them good – pertaining to D&D game mechanics and narrative structures, told by simple stick figure art. However, somewhere during the trip, the story became something more. Both plot and characters evolved, till eventually even the stick figure art got more elaborate.  

The Order of the Stick contains a well-crafted plot that somehow even manages to retain the feel of a homebrew D&D campaign. The main characters might seem superficial at first, but each one of them gets an admirably deep arc interwoven with the plot.  The worldbuilding is interesting, borrowing from real-life pantheons and classic fantasy tropes, and then mixed with some fairly original concepts. 

I hesitate to say if the earlier strips of The Order of the Stick have aged well. At least the first hundred pages of the comic badly reflect what the story has grown out to be. That’s not to say these strips are without merit, for even here groundwork is being laid for later parts of the plot. I would say the story starts to pick up around page 250, with the storytelling getting really good from around page 700 and onwards.

Profound knowledge of D&D mechanics isn’t necessary to enjoy this comic. The story contains enough interesting elements to cater to lovers of epic fantasy and/or Sword & Sorcery also.

In Unearth, each player leads a group of delvers (represented by 5 dice of different types) in digging up the ruins of an ancient civilisation. The players take turns to roll their dice and compete with each other in order to claim the ruin for themselves. In the meantime, they are also busy collecting stones to build wonders and earning cards that can help to change the outcome of their dice rolls.


‘Bend-your-luck’ is a very apt term to describe this game: it is mostly based on rolling dice, but if you play your cards right (literally), you have a lot of influence on how the game plays out. It has quite original game mechanics but overall it is not too complicated. I really love the artwork and the design of the game itself: the colored dice and the hexagon shaped tiles make it look very good on the table. It’s a fun game that doesn’t require you to be too focussed, so it’s easy to play on a relaxed evening while chatting with friends or family. 


Just days before Shadow Moon is supposed to be released from prison, he finds out that his wife Laura has died in a car accident. On his way home to her funeral he meets a mysterious and enigmatic man who calls himself Mr Wednesday and who offers Shadow a job as his bodyguard. In the service of Mr Wednesday, Shadow finds himself drawn into a world of myths and legends. Not only does he discover there is an ancient war going on, he himself soon becomes complicit in this war. 


(This review relates to seasons 1, 2 and 3)


I am always a little weary when books I really love are adapted for the screen, and I am pretty sure I would have hated a movie adaption of American Gods. However, by turning it into a tv-show, the whole story and its characters have been given much more room to grow than they would have in a movie. To my own surprise I found myself actually really enjoying this series. The actors are fantastic, especially Shadow and Wednesday could not have been cast more perfectly. The makers of the show managed to find exactly the right balance between staying true to the book, and changing some elements to make it speak more to the current ‘zeitgeist’ (the book is 20 years old after all). I especially love the large role they have given to Laura, who is one of my absolute favorite characters in the series and has been given a much more interesting narrative than in the book.

My only hesitation in recommending this series is that I do not know what the experience would be like if you have not read the book first. The book itself is already pretty weird, and in the series they have leaned into this weirdness quite heavily and turned it into an almost surreal viewing experience. I really loved this about it, but without the context of the book you might need some patience before it starts to make any sort of sense. Perhaps consider starting with the book, which is what I would recommend in almost all cases anyway.


Princess Dennaleia is betrothed to the prince of a neighboring kingdom to seal an alliance. As she does her best to learn the ways of her new home, something that proves to be hard enough by itself, she has to do everything within her power to conceal her magic abilities. After all, magic is strictly forbidden in her future kingdom.

Meanwhile, Princess Amaranthine – called Mare for short – cares little for the arrival of her sister-in-law. However, when tensions in the kingdom lead to an assassination, the two princesses quickly find they need each other to puzzle things out.


Of Fire and Stars is primarily a romance story in a pretty generic fantasy setting. Neither the worldbuilding nor the plot are very original, so those things are not what you should be reading this story for. I would recommend going in with the same expectations as when you watch a romantic comedy: you pretty much know what you are going to get when you start, but sometimes that can be just what you are in the mood for. The writing itself is decent and I liked the story well enough while I was reading it. However, once I had finished it I did not feel the need to pick up the sequel as well.


Especially for young adult readers who do not read a lot, I think this book can be a good place to start. I wish there was a longer list of other fantasy or sci-fi books featuring F/F romances that I could recommend, but sadly these are still somewhat hard to find. Some books that come to mind are Wilder Girls by Rory Power (although this book is quite a lot darker than Of Fire and Stars), and the graphic novels The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg and On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden.

First of all, it should be said that this book is primarily a love story. The fantasy murder mystery plot and worldbuilding are quite simple, never reaching their full potential. This leaves the two female protagonists and their slow-burn relationship as the main driving force of the story. If you can’t seem to care for either one of the princesses or their romance, this book has little to offer you.

That said, I would say Of Fire and Stars is in no way a badly written (or even constructed) book. However, I think it is better suited for a younger public than an experienced reader, who’ll probably see all the plot twists and answers to mysteries coming from afar. 

Dealing with themes concerning identity and independence, and also the fact that the story contains a F/F romance, makes that Of Fire and Stars is a perfectly fine addition to the fantasy genre.

I really wanted to enjoy this novel because of the queer main characters, but unfortunately it just didn’t really work for me. The plot is quite predictable, which I don’t mind at all if the writing is good. Unfortunately Of Fire and Stars doesn’t offer much more originality than the fact that it is a queer twist on a usually very straight trope.

It’s been quite a while since I read this book and I briefly considered rereading it for this review. However, I quickly realised that I didn’t really want to? Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t hate the book, I just didn’t really take anything from it the first time I read it, and I feel like my not wanting to reread it is probably as good an indication of how well (or poorly, I suppose) I enjoyed it as if I reread it and gave you a very in-depth overview of why it left me unphased.

If you’re desperate for an easy read and you like the idea of a queer fantasy romance,  I suppose I can recommend it. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it, personally.


This is the worst book I have finished, at least in the past five years, and maybe ever. The prologue captivated me, and then it was one big ride of irritation turned to frustration turned to anger to the end. If it wouldn’t have been on a list for a book club, I would have tossed this right out of the window a few chapters in.

The premise of the book is all about the twist: a princess is married off to a prince, but then falls in love with his sister instead. A bit of a gotcha, but a welcome variation on an old tune. Except everything else about this book is just… awful. There is no other way to put it.

The fantasy setting is so generic there is literally nothing to say about it. For some reason, half the book is about horses instead of the plot.

The main characters act like – and are – spoiled children. Their parents put reasonable restrictions on them. Everytime the children break the rules, they find themselves in mortal danger and end up needing to be saved or surviving by a hair’s breadth. Somehow, the parents are still the bad guys for trying to keep them inside.

The sister that our main character falls for is a literal princess who lives in a literal palace and gets offered a seat on the literal ruling council while the peasants break their backs in the fields to support them, but she throws a temper tantrum and embarrasses her family because her little brother and not her will inherit the throne – and this is somehow a great injustice to her.

There is a murder investigation going on, but because there are literally so few characters in the book it is immediately obvious who did it.

The characters are horrible. The writing is childish. The plot makes no sense. The fucking unnecessary focus on horses. Even writing this review is slowly filling me with rage over this book again.

For me, this book embodies a lot of what I dislike about a sub-section of the modern fantasy genre. It is reduced to a quaint, rainbows-and-unicorns Disney-fairy-tale setting, thinned down to a veneer, a tasteless sauce to spread over your uninspired YA love triangle story.

At best, this is fantasy for 13-year-old-horse-girls (and that’s being really generous). At worst, this is a blatant cash grab, a horrible book that is sold to the woke crowd on the premise that it is gay – but really, it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.


Review: Of Fire and Stars – Audrey Coulthurst

Part 1 of Of Fire and Stars – Princess Dennaleia is betrothed to the prince of a neighboring kingdom to seal an alliance. When she meets her fiance’s sister, princess Amaranthine, the two girls together start investigating a secret that could threaten the kingdom.

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