Never a dull moment in this wicked fun tale. The story is sort of mix of Dune, Moby Dick, Star Wars, and The Thing. The action takes place on the dang...moreNever a dull moment in this wicked fun tale. The story is sort of mix of Dune, Moby Dick, Star Wars, and The Thing. The action takes place on the dangerous planet of Spatterjay. With the exception of a few islands and tiny atolls, Spatterjay is mostly a vast ocean teeming with very hungry, very aggressive wildlife. One of the most common life forms on Spatterjay are the leeches. The leeches are anywhere from finger-sized to elephant-sized things who want to eat anything and everything. If you spend longer than a few seconds in the water you're going to have some chomping on you. (Spatterjay doesn't do well as a vacation destination.) To get bitten by a leech is to become infected with a virus. One of the side-effects of this virus is near immortality. And wounds seems to heal extremely quickly. But if you're then not too careful about your diet you'll find yourself slowly turning into a leech. It's happened. These immortals, known as Hoopers, are very tough to kill and the older they are, the stronger they are. Spatterjay was named after a pirate named "Spatter" Jay Hoop, a man hated by everyone for reasons I won't go into. About seven centuries ago, Hoop and his crew did some very bad things and one man, Sable Keech has been relentlessly hunting them down ever since one of Hoop's crew killed him. Huh, what? Yeah, Keech is a corpse, a reification who has some of his original brain left and one eye and the rest of his body is kept from rotting away by a special filtration system. He's sort of a cyborg-corpse and very dangerous (as some contract killers find out). Keech is intent on finding Hoop himself who is known as the Skinner for gruesome reasons you could probably guess at. And get this, the Skinner's head and body are living apart. I could go on and on about this cool book. Some other elements in it involve some nasty aliens, war drones, a planetary AI monitoring system, an intelligent hornet hive mind, dragons that work as sails for the Old Captains of Spatterjay, and some very tricky characters and nasty villains whose paths all intersect in one crazy, exciting sci-fi yarn, that's equal parts adventure, revenge tale, and horror story. What a rush. I loved it. (less)
Back in 1993 I picked up Jumper, the first novel featuring Davy Rice. It had a queer-looking cover but I bought it anyway on the strength of the premi...moreBack in 1993 I picked up Jumper, the first novel featuring Davy Rice. It had a queer-looking cover but I bought it anyway on the strength of the premise. Davy Rice is a teenager who learns how to teleport himself instantaneously from one location to any other location he has fixed in memory or can see. It was okay, other people liked it more than I did. Last year I read Helm by the same author and really enjoyed that one. And now Reflex continues the story of Davy Rice ten years later. (It's got a much less embarrassing cover too.) It's a fun read and an improvement over Jumper. This time some baddies figure how how to imprison a teleport and they capture Davy with the intent of conditioning him and using his talents for their own nefarious ends. But what no one realizes is that after being countlessly teleported by her husband over the years, Davy's wife Millie stumbles upon the ability to jump as well. And she wants her husband back. It's a pretty cool little story and a fast read. (less)
Sometimes trashy sci-fi can be the best kind of fun. Helm is a fun, cool, fast-paced adventure story. Here's the book's description (snagged from the...moreSometimes trashy sci-fi can be the best kind of fun. Helm is a fun, cool, fast-paced adventure story. Here's the book's description (snagged from the back cover):
"After global devastation, the last remnants of Earth sent a handful of colonists of a distant terraformed world to give humanity one last, desperate chance. Unable to provide the technology required for an advanced civilization, the founders instilled in the colonists a strict code of conduct and gave them a few precious imprinting devices: glass helmets that contain all of Earth's scientific knowledge.
Once in a generation, the heir to the province of Laal begins the arduous training required to survive the imprinting of the Glass Helm and acquire the knowledge of the lost Earth. But Leland de Laal, the youngest son of one of Agatsu's greatest leaders, has climbed the forbidden rock spire where the Helm is kept and donned it, unaware that its knowledge has a terrible price. To an unprepared mind, it brings madness, agony, and even death."
One of the coolest consequences of Leland's premature imprinting is that he's picked up knowledge of aikido. With further training he hones his martial arts skill and the fighting in the story is filled with slick descriptions of it. This story is filled with chases, battles, double-crossing, betrayal, dark dealings, and many fights with sword, staff, and arrow. Although set in the far-future, Agatsu's society is medieval. Makes for a very fun tale. (less)
Hyperion is a book you'll find in many top ten lists of science fiction. I'd never read this author but I'm certainly an SF geek so I thought it time...moreHyperion is a book you'll find in many top ten lists of science fiction. I'd never read this author but I'm certainly an SF geek so I thought it time to check out what the fuss was about. Thankfully, I knew going into this book that it ends on a cliffhanger and gets resolved in the sequel, The Fall of Hyperion. The story is set about a hundred years or so into the future and many worlds are populated by the Hegemony of Man. One of those worlds is Hyperion. And on this world lives a mysterious entity known as the Shrike. The Shrike mostly hangs out by the mysterious Time Tombs, said to be moving backwards in time. Seven pilgrims are on a voyage to meet the murderous Shrike, each for their own reasons. It's entirely possible most of them, if not all, will die. As they travel towards the Shrike, these pilgrims relate their stories to each other and these stories make up 90% of the book. For the most part these stories are very interesting, sometimes exciting, and always unusual. But the Poet character is so annoying and his story was the weakest. I hope he dies gruesomely. None of the stories are like the others. Some of the other pilgrims are the Scholar, the Soldier, the Priest, the Detective, and the Starship Captain.
I tried to read the followup: The Fall of Hyperion, but I got bored about 30 pages in and chucked it. Come to think of it, I don't much care for this author's writing style.(less)
Couldn't resist this one since the hero discovers he can teleport at will, my superpower of choice. I enjoyed the movie version as well but I've enjoy...moreCouldn't resist this one since the hero discovers he can teleport at will, my superpower of choice. I enjoyed the movie version as well but I've enjoyed some of this author's other novels better than this one. The sequel, Reflex, was also better. (less)
From the back cover: In the year 2018, a daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dr...moreFrom the back cover: In the year 2018, a daring bank robbery has taken place at Hayek Associates. The suspects are a band of marauding orcs, with a dragon in tow for fire support, and the bank is located within the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. But Sergeant Sue Smith discovers that this virtual world robbery may be linked to some real world devastation.
The story is told from the perspective of three characters (and in the second-person style of video game instructions). There's Sargeant Sue Smith of Edinburgh's finest; Elaine Barnaby, a forensic accountant; game-developer Jack Reed (who has a few well-hidden secrets). This techno-crime thriller has a number interesting ideas (some of which are waaaay esoteric). Along the way, there are various terms like LARP, griefing, and nerfing that it helps to be aware of. It's pretty cool and of course, as the characters start digging into the mystery, it gets bigger and more dangerous. Although I'm not a gamer, I enjoyed the story, but I imagine gamers would get even more out of it. Much of the author's ideas seem all too plausible. (less)
I took a slight detour from the fantasy neighborhood into the world of military sf* with this story. At the age of 75, John Perry visits his wife's gr...moreI took a slight detour from the fantasy neighborhood into the world of military sf* with this story. At the age of 75, John Perry visits his wife's grave and then enlists in the Colonial Defense Forces. The CDF only takes recruits who have reached the age of 75 -- they only want people with a lifetime of experiences to draw on. Then these recruits are whisked off Earth to one of the many CDF spaceships and given new genetically-enhanced bodies. Soon after that they are off killing aliens and protecting human colonists on other worlds. Moves quick enough and kept me interested, but not so interested that I'm rushing out to get the sequel. I think it's time for some non-fiction next. * Those in the know refer to science fiction as "sf", never "sci-fi." (less)
I've read this one before -- 29 years ago. But I was feeling nostalgic for some of the stories I'd read as a teen and I tracked this one down and deci...moreI've read this one before -- 29 years ago. But I was feeling nostalgic for some of the stories I'd read as a teen and I tracked this one down and decided to re-read it for kicks. It's a sf book in a light-hearted vein with a bumbling anti-hero named Roger Tyson who gets caught up a time warp. He meets a comely agent from the the future named Q'nell and the pair of them are pursued by the mysterious Oob the Rhox through a series of time portals. They try to figure out how to repair the damage caused by these as various people all over Earth and from different times find themselves reliving the same day over and over again. Silly, fast-moving stuff. (Written in 1970.) (less)