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.

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Every year on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue Sargant accompanies her clairvoyant mother to a graveyard outside their town to watch a yearly procession of spirits. Since Blue is not clairvoyant herself, she normally cannot see these spirits. But this year is different. When a boy that appears to her in spirit-form turns out to be a student from a nearby private school, she cannot stop her curiosity to find out more about him. But the spirit’s appearance on St. Mark’s Eve is only the first in a long list of increasingly strange occurances, and Blue is determined to find out the reason behind them.

I am often a little weary of books in the Young Adult category, because endlessly reading about teenagers and their romantic drama tends to get a little old once you have outgrown the age to be it’s intended audience. While the books of The Raven Cycle definitely fall in this category, I still found myself enjoying them a lot more than I expected going in. The main characters are well-written and all have their own stuff going on apart from the main plot of the books, which allows for an impressive amount of character growth. One character whom I did not care for at all in the beginning even managed to become my favourite by the end of the series. The paranormal events which play a large role in the books give the series a very mysterious, slightly ominous atmosphere which I really enjoyed.


The four books in the series are a continuation of the same story, so they cannot really be read on their own. While I enjoyed the first book, the story does get better and picks up speed as you get to know the characters and get deeper into the plot. The books are also relatively short compared to most fantasy books, so reading all four is not the massive time investment it might seem. If you can overlook a bit of teenage drama, I would recommend this series even for a more mature audience. I also especially recommend listening to the audiobooks performed by Will Patton.

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Underneath the buildings of The University lies a vast maze of forgotten spaces that no one ever enters. No one, except a girl named Auri who has sought her refuge there and has made it her home. This story is about her. 

As Rothfuss warns in the introduction: this book is not for everyone. For starters, you need to have read one, or preferably both Kingkiller books before this story will make sense. And it doesn’t even concern any of the main characters of those books. On top of that, it could be argued that this book lacks… a plot. It almost feels more like a long character study than like a conventional story. But that’s not to say that this book is boring. Despite its short length of 150 pages, I felt myself completely invested in Auri’s daily struggles. While this book is in many ways quite heartbreaking, I also find a lot of hope in the courage with which Auri attempts to mend, as best she can, a little bit of what was broken. I’ve already read this book twice and I am sure I will keep coming back to it whenever I need to be reminded of this courage.

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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.

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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…

Lampje

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.

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Review: The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

Part 1 of the Raven Cycle – Every year on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue Sargant accompanies her clairvoyant mother to a graveyard outside their town to watch a yearly procession of spirits. Since Blue is not clairvoyant herself, she normally cannot see these spirits. But this year is different.

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