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?


Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems have brought peace to the Galaxy and are ready to live their happily ever afters on Earth. With no more wars and no more conflicts, everything is now as it should be. However,  their sentiments might be premature; someone is not content with the new status quo…

Take the lighthearted yet deep character-driven narrative of Steven Universe and combine this with a musical format. What do you get?  An end result that I simply cannot resist. 

I love this movie. Although the plot is not necessarily among the strongest, it’s interwoven with beautifully complicated themes such as trauma and identity. The way the story deals with this is simply brilliant, thanks in part to the collaboration between the lovely characters and the diverse songs.

For the people familiar with the series, this film is like a reunion with old friends, and a strong conclusion to that story and the narrative of its characters. I suspect others, unfamiliar with the series, will have a slightly different experience. In principle, the film is structured in such a way that prior knowledge of the world of Steven Universe  is not required. The first scenes contain a concise summary of what happened before and what the primary motives of the characters were. This should be enough to enjoy this movie as a stand alone, though probably at the cost of some storytelling depth.

Children will love this movie in any case.

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Desperate to save the life of their ill father, two brothers embark on a perilous journey to obtain a magical medicine. Along the way, they have to work together to overcome obstacles, as well as their own shortcomings.

I liked this game. Neither the plot nor the characters are particularly deep, but the story is skilfully supported by the unique game mechanics and the atmosphere of the art. Several times I was truly intrigued by the landscapes through which I passed, and I enjoyed most of the puzzles (even though they were largely simple). Only once was I taken out of the story, in this case by physical improbabilities that went beyond my suspension of disbelief. However, I expect that most will be able to condone this particular part of the game too.


I played this game on my desktop, both with Jasmijn and on my own. I can recommend both playing styles, each having their own merits.


A nice little story. A fairytale to escape into, with both cheerful and dark elements.

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In a ship that is stuck on the highest dune in the city lives a small boy with a big captain’s hat and a brass trumpet, waiting for the big wave that will lift his ship and wash it back onto the sea. And when that moment finally comes, a few of the town’s children follow him on his quest to find the lost members of the Gray Skipper’s crew.

De Kleine Kapitein

As classic Dutch children’s tales go, The Little Captain is near the top of the list. It is full of great children’s logic, iconic and sassy characters, flailing adults and clever kids. It recounts the tale of the Nooitlek (‘neverleaky’), the little steam ship carrying the little captain and three other children across the sea towards the Island of Great and Growing, where they can become grown-ups in a single day, so they can do what they want everyday. And on the way, they’ll look for the missing crew of the Gray Skipper, whose men were scattered in a storm long ago and who have never been seen since. 

I love this little book so much. There are so many iconic elements: The little ship, the copper propellor, the six-bucket steampipe, the pancake-eating cods… I started smiling the moment I started my reread, and the smile never left my face. There are no heavy themes in this book, only the virtues of bravery and having fun. 100% recommendation for children up to about 10 years,  who love silly sea-tales and would love to hear about brave, sassy little kids sticking it to the silly adults.


Lampie lives in the lighthouse, alone with her dad, until a ship is wrecked in a storm one night because the lighthouse fire was not lit. Her father is punished, and Lampie is sent to work in the creepy Black Manor, where a monster lives in one of the towers. But Lampie knows how to deal with monsters…


This Dutch children’s book is an instant classic. Though there are moments of light-heartedness and children’s logic, at its core, it is a beautiful story of how people deal with sorrow and how you should not try to be something you are not. It is heavy for a children’s book, and scary at times, but there are also moments of fuzziness to balance it out. 


The book has a great setting the way only children’s books have them, featuring  a coastside town with a sheriff and a schoolteacher with equal authority, the lighthouse and the Manor, a circus, and most important of all: the sea. 


Lampje is written in a child’s voice and I will admit that that was an element I didn’t particularly like, but it helps keep the books tough topics manageable.


This book is a definite recommendation for readers (or listeners!) of about 10 years old. 

The instant I picked up Lampje, I knew it was the kind of book I wouldn’t be able to put down.

What I loved about this story is the way it tiptoed between reality and fantasy. At first, I wasn’t too sure whether this book was going to be a fantasy book at all, but between the little rhymes and the nostalgic atmosphere that was set, I was immediately sold.

Having won the Gouden Griffel, this isn’t just a children’s book. The writer doesn’t shy away from harsh realities such as child abuse and alcoholism. Lampje is a character who tries to take fate in her own hand, but doesn’t always succeed, for she is still a child.

The mix between fantasy, harsh realities and children’s literature works perfectly. It makes the story bittersweet at times, but there is always a silver lining.

This book is one I will reread again and again. I will read it to my children, and recommend it to anyone who asks what to read next. A gemstone of Dutch children’s literature.


Ye Wenjie sees her father murdered as part of China’s cultural revolution. That event will continue to hang over the rest of her career and will influence her actions as an astrophysicist in the Red Coast Observatory. When Wang Miao is recruited into the Beijing police’s investigation of a secretive society of scientists connected to a series of unexplained suicides, he did not expect to get drawn into the organisation itself. He takes up a mysterious video game, Three Body, and finds that it is the first step on a road that will take him some place he had never imagined…

The Three Body Problem

Listened to the audiobook with Bruno Roubicek (fine narrator, no particular opinion on him). I picked up this book due to the Hugo win and went into it with high hopes. I was really fascinated by the first chapters that took place during the Cultural Revolution, and expected  perhaps a bit of an alternate history telling of the rise of China. I was wrong. 

Perhaps there is a disconnect between Western and Eastern storytelling styles, or there is a lot lost in translation here, but to me this book felt highly original in concept but very primitive in execution. All development and exploration of characters and all technique of storytelling are sacrificed in favour of advancing the plot and science fiction concepts. Scenes which could be exciting are either narrated  in retrospect or experienced by characters from a distance. Often reveals are forced onto the characters as opposed to truly discovered. There are a lot of interesting concepts in the book, and it is full of conversation starters. It is not a bad work of fiction, but apart from the earlier chapters taking place during the cultural revolution and the chapters inside the Three Body video game, I just didn’t enjoy reading it from page to page. 

To me, the book is reminiscent of some of Asimov’s earlier work, like the first Foundation book, and can even be compared in its focus on wowing the reader with complex science to Herbert’s Destination: Void. I would not generally recommend it, but I can imagine it will please some of the hard-core sci-fi nerds out there that don’t read books for the characters but rather for the cool concepts.


Nahri, a shrewd young woman who grew up in the poor streets of Cairo, aspiring to be a professional healer, is unexpectedly plucked from her human life and ends up in an unknown world of magic and supernatural jinn. Meanwhile, Ali, a young jinn prince, finds himself in the midst of the political tensions of the royal capital, where he must choose between loyalty to his family or his own values.

City of Brass

The City of Brass was a refreshing read for me, one I quite enjoyed.

This book has very solid characters. This applies to both of the protagonists, as well as all of the supporting characters. They are all well-developed and clearly play the protagonist in their own stories, even though we only follow the perspective of Nahri and Ali.


As for the plot, this is clearly the first book of the trilogy. Many mysteries are introduced and remain unresolved by the end of this book, serving as a set-up for what is yet to come. The plot follows the protagonists closely. Every choice they make, has its consequences. Despite several action sequences, most of the suspense comes from the political schemes that are plotted, some clearly visible, others in the background. 


The world of The City of Brass offers an intriguing fantasy setting, based on old-Islamic and Zoroastrian cultures and interwoven with the ambiance of the stories from ‘One Thousand and One Nights’. As someone who has studied the history and religions of these cultures, I recognise (and appreciate) the research that underlies the worldbuilding of this book. However, the lore can be somewhat overwhelming at times.


I can really recommend The City of Brass to all fantasy-lovers. Especially the ones that are looking for a diversion from the more common medieval Western-European fantasy settings. The quality of the sequels is sublime, so all I can say is that this trilogy is worth the investment.

Listened to the Audiobook with Soneela Nankani (who was not my favourite narrator but not actively annoying once sped up little bit). I know I am in the minority amongst the reviewers on this site, but City of Brass didn’t really click for me. To me, City of Brass is a book with a great setting but a mediocre story. In many ways, it felt a bit too much like the (admittedly very original) fantasy setting was a veneer smeared over what was effectively more of a modern-teenage-YA-love triangle-story. The characters felt too modern-thinking, at times a bit childish, the politics a bit flat, the setting though original just a bit shallow.


I really wanted to like this book and was into it for the first few chapters, but in all honesty it dropped off very steeply for me once Nahri left Cairo. This reflects a pattern for me, where I feel that the book was at its best when it focussed on the intersections of the human and deava world. Overall, it strikes me that Charkraborty’s style would fit a more light-hearted story a whole lot better. 


People around me are telling me to give the later books a chance since they address some of the issues, so I might come back to this review later. Until then, I would recommend this book only to people who either don’t mind a bit of puberty in their storytelling or who are desperate for an original setting.

The Daevabad Trilogy is one of my all-time favourite fantasy series and as a whole I definitely give it five stars. I’m sure I will even add it to the collection at some point! The characters are absolutely fantastic and the worldbuilding is some of my favourite ever. It is clearly very well-researched and full of fascinating references to Islamic mythology. I am already looking forward to doing a re-read of the entire series soon! I also really love the way the audiobooks are performed by Soneela Nankani.


However, this first book is not the strongest of the three in my opinion, and so I give it ‘only’ four stars. I still really enjoyed it, but does contain a lot of set-up which only starts to pay off in the two sequels. In order to understand the political situation in Deavabad you will have to learn a lot of different names of the tribes and families and the way they are connected, which can definitely feel a bit confusing or daunting. However, I really recommend making the effort because it will be worth it when you get to the later books.


Definitely give this book a try if you are a fan of character-driven stories. And if you like the first book, be assured that it only gets better from there!

See also:

The Three Body Problem

Review: The Three Body Problem – Liu Cixin

Part one of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past Trilogy – Wang Miao is recruited to infiltrate a secretive organisation of scientists connected to a series of suicides, and takes up a mysterious videogame, Three Body, in the process.

Read More »
City of Brass

Review: The City of Brass – S.A. Chakraborty

Part 1 of the Daevabad Trilogy

Nahri, a shrewd young woman from Cairo, is unexpectedly plucked from her human life and ends up in an unknown world of magic and supernatural jinn. Meanwhile, Ali, a young jinn prince, finds himself in the midst of the political tensions of the royal capital.

Read More »