HALO--The Thursday War offers up a sequel to the first episode of the Kilo Five Trilogy by Karen Traviss, in which a black ops team tries to prevent a military regrouping by the Covenant Elites while rescuing a fighter from behind enemy lines. This military sci-fi novel, based on the X-Box game, has all the earmarks of real war, including terrorism, revenge, betrayal, and special operations tactics. Who's right, the humans or the aliens? Well, if you're human you're "supposed to" believe we are. Just like both sides in the Arab/Israeli conflict claim the other side is evil, albeit one side is more obviously playing defense against an offense that claims defense. Of course in the world of space opera, the question of "right and wrong" is either "black or white" (expanded racism to the stars) or it's totally relative and so never asked. For example, here one character says, "Asking about morality is a waste of time, better to figure out how to get away." As an aside, wouldn't it be great if an alien being, even more advanced than the Forerunners, could just step in and organize a friendly game of checkers to determine policies and truces? Boring, perhaps, unless you're the one to be sliced and diced otherwise. A very different literary branch of science fiction attempts to postulate how society itself might change with the progress of ideas, with the premise that human evolution is not complete, albeit it moves on a slower path than the 26th Century here might provide (if we survive.) Anyway, The Thursday War is narrated by actor Euan Morton, whose narration style evokes what Star Wars characters do at times, (if in an obviously more complex setting.) Tone is as grim as it needs to be in places, and with Earth accents such as Scottish in the case of Phillip. If you're a fan of the game, it definitely provides much backstory as an entertaining saga, and in a similar manner as do the Star Wars based novels (albeit without their melodramatic sound effects.) / An interesting new title is How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor, which is an exhaustive non-fiction history of the franchise from beginning to the latest Star Wars 7 directed by J. J. Abrams. Everything you've ever wanted to know about Star Wars is here, including not just the movies and behind-the-scenes directorial methods, but also marketing and cultural influence. LucasFilm is definitely a worldwide empire, and whether that's evil or not depends on if you're trying to compete for eyes and ears! / The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination is a tongue-in-cheek collection of stories introduced by editor John J. Adams, including offerings by 22 authors such as Daniel H. Wilson and Diana Gabaldon. Some are funny, some ghoulish, some foolish. Hand a beaker to an evil genius in a lab, and you aren't likely to get your typical romance or mystery story. Chief narrator is Stefan Rudnicki, with Mary Robinette Kowal and Justine Eyre.