It wasn't quite what I'd hoped it would be. It started off very promising, but eventually devolved into some onion-like, self-indulgent existentialistIt wasn't quite what I'd hoped it would be. It started off very promising, but eventually devolved into some onion-like, self-indulgent existentialist spaghetti monster that I felt had been better handled by other authors. The extra short stories that came after the main narrative ended were excellent and did much to make up for the let down I'd felt. I also liked the way he played with tenses.
Pros: The nod to Star Trek, interesting characters Cons: The eventual conclusion was a hot mess (which I guess was the point) but I feel it could have been tightened up or handled better...more
This was essentially the Orient Express in space. It's a pulpy closed door murder mystery set in a luxury space liner. (Yes, there is even a space traThis was essentially the Orient Express in space. It's a pulpy closed door murder mystery set in a luxury space liner. (Yes, there is even a space train.) Nothing new is added to the genre, except for some aliens, alien psychology and future tech and even they don't read so differently that say... a train full of foreigners.
It's still fun popcorn fare that's good for the airport....more
Avatar before Avatar came out. The main male protagonist is whiny and unlikeable - but he's supposed to be that way. He does grow and change throughouAvatar before Avatar came out. The main male protagonist is whiny and unlikeable - but he's supposed to be that way. He does grow and change throughout the story, but I wish he'd done so a little more and sooner. I wish there'd be a some more politics or lifestyle sorts of things for both the human and alien sides, but that would be like saying an action movie should have been a mini series. Fun and sturdy writing.
It also avoids a lot of the racial issues the Avatar movie had by having aliens that are, well, alien enough to justify their being unable to do certain things humans are capable of. Who knew lacking prehensile thumbs, and well, HANDS, would have such a profound effect on a race's ability to create industry and tech? *laugh*...more
...I ate this entire series up like cereal. I don't really know why I love this series so very much. I pretty much dislike most of the female characte...I ate this entire series up like cereal. I don't really know why I love this series so very much. I pretty much dislike most of the female characters and the 'love' relationships but they seem to work better (as in palatable) in this volume than in previous ones. Steele and Blue have both become more likable, which can only be a plus, considering how much my eyes crossed whenever their segments popped up. Pretty much no one ends up where I want them to be but I can't think of any other possible ending that wouldn't require a reboot. And regardless of wishing for an entirely different ending, I still find the one we're given to be satisfying - at least in terms of how everything is entirely in character and I can see clearly why and how it ended up the way it did. That doesn't keep me from my wish fulfillment though. Hopefully she decides to write about the original, marginally happier timeline? Am I the only one that feels this way?
We finally get to see more of the Romans, which is a plus. Augustus and Farragut, what little there was of their interaction, is manfully Epic in galactically Epic ways. More thoughts once I've reread the thing. I think I zinged through it a little too fast and it hasn't settled yet....more
It was a really fun space-opera whodunnit mystery. It felt a lot like I was watching something fun on television. Think Han Solo doing his thing and rIt was a really fun space-opera whodunnit mystery. It felt a lot like I was watching something fun on television. Think Han Solo doing his thing and running amok with a speech capable Chewbaca. It probably won't satisfy the hard scifi or intellectual crowd and I have no idea if it will hold up if I actually thought hard about it - but it had enough tech, aliens and shenanigans to satisfy my needs while delivering in an entertaining and easily grasped voice.
Surprisingly readable; especially as I hadn't been expecting much of anything. It reads as a 'futuristic'(and clearly, fictional) Generation Kill sortSurprisingly readable; especially as I hadn't been expecting much of anything. It reads as a 'futuristic'(and clearly, fictional) Generation Kill sort of thing where an embedded reporter follows a group of a lobotomized-and-reprogrammed marines on a mission, only to discover that there are some Very Bad Things out there. There was more of a political twist than the basic monster survival story I had been expecting. Which... I'm not sure why I thought that, considering the game world and its story, which this is a retelling of from an outside POV.
This is a retelling of Scalzi's Last Colony through the perspective of that main character's daughter. Scalzi wins points for managing to tell essentiThis is a retelling of Scalzi's Last Colony through the perspective of that main character's daughter. Scalzi wins points for managing to tell essentially the same story twice, without rehashing the old information; when he is forced to do so, he spins it well enough that it felt mostly new. His teenage girl voice is believable; too smart, too flip, and half coasting on her own youthful immortality. The problem is that this is the sort of teen girl I tend not to like reading about. The flipness irritated me when it cropped up during what I felt was inappropriate times. Granted, I already know what the end is, but that didn't keep me from the sinking, angered feeling that I was watching a horror movie and the wise cracking idiots were about to get killed because they were all too busy arguing over nothing.
I wasn't sure I liked how the entire story seemed to be told through dialogue, though considering the situation the kids were in, I am not sure what Scalzi could have done otherwise. It's still not a badly done tale, though. Strong female lead. Interesting explanations for the plot holes and unexplained bits in the previous story. ...more
Serviceable writing, characters I wanted to shake or punch thoroughly, and teenage level breathless angstful-romance tropes -- I shouldn't have likedServiceable writing, characters I wanted to shake or punch thoroughly, and teenage level breathless angstful-romance tropes -- I shouldn't have liked this book, yet somehow I couldn't put the thing down. Reading it was like ingesting a heady, emotional dose of crack.
I'd heard bad things about Stephenie Meyer, and hadn't been able to work my way through a small chapter sample of 'Twilight' that I had gotten at a convention, so I went into this story expecting very little. She might not be the best writer around; she's not bad, but I think what she really excels at is her storytelling.
Good: I liked the world building. She creates a believable set of aliens with a strong level of individuality and logic that I found interesting. These aliens bring up some good questions about what humanity is, what is death, what is good stewardship and personal right? What is morality? Who gets to decide what that morality is? How does hypocrisy come into play? The breathless emotional tone really sucks a reader in and allows you to dwell and wallow in sweet, wild, emotion. Some well sketched characters that I found truly interesting.
Bad: These questions are not really the focus of the story. The main part of the story dealt more with cohabitation, love and romance. I have difficulty believing that the human race is so special that other alien minds do not have something that going for them that may balance out whatever it is they 'lack'. The story is a little too pro-human. The breathless, emotional tone can also seem bizarre or sophomoric when read with the wrong mindset. And due to its lack of variance, it can sometimes feel overdone - making you feel less sympathetic than you might otherwise be, though the story's logic does give you the option of making allowances for the characters as they create their Drama. The romances were addictive, but in a strangely train wreck sort of way. I'm not entirely certain some of it was particularly healthy. And if you don't like aggressive, potentially violent (and in some cases, not so potentially) large men who literally lift their nearly underage girls up and run off with them -- you may find yourself turned off. Especially when these violent men suddenly become 'actually sweet'.
Conclusion: The expression of the story might have done with some more editing, but I found the framework workable. And if you are able to suspend disbelief or can make your mind blip over certain... slightly off things in the relationship aspects, the romance is quite enjoyable as well. And really, as unbelievable things got at times, the voice was strong enough that there wasn't a moment where I couldn't sit back and think, "Oh. Well. There are unbelievable people like this in reality. I guess it's not that unreal." I don't need to like all the characters in a story to accept that they are built with enough personality and are a part of the world. Throughout the reading of 'The Host' I found myself sucked in a lot farther and with a lot more strength than I have felt from a book in quite some time. As long as I didn't allow my brain to engage too strongly, I found it quite fun....more
As well written as "Android's Dream". This military space sci-fi was funny at the right times, serious at the others, a bit of a man's romance to bothAs well written as "Android's Dream". This military space sci-fi was funny at the right times, serious at the others, a bit of a man's romance to both adventure, life and love. The technology is just as complicated, with long character discussions of space engines and theoretical physics. The key thing I enjoyed about it, however, had nothing to do with the tech itself, but Scalzi's approach to it.
Here, with all the 'experts' running about, no one is really all that clear on how the tech actually works. The guns are smarter than the people working them. The focus is less on the "Gee-wiz! Fancy Space Tech!" and more about what the characters think about the tech during the instances they need to. Ironically, this brings back that exploratory feeling, adding new energy and spin to concepts that aren't actually all that new in this particular brand of space genre.
I particularly love some of the psychology involved when battling the enemies they encounter, and the scene partway through the book when one of the characters has a bit of a breakdown (And understandably so.) It's a military story, so unfortunately, people will die. There's none of the character safety nets that you might find in other books. But no matter how little a particular character shows up, they are often fleshed out just enough for you to know who they are and what they think.
Slightly less happy than "Android's Dream" but definitely worth reading....more
Second book in the series. I found this one stronger, in that the plot didn't fly about nearly as much and wasn't quite as sidetracked by the necessarSecond book in the series. I found this one stronger, in that the plot didn't fly about nearly as much and wasn't quite as sidetracked by the necessary description of what just makes the aliens alien. (being as most of it was covered in the first book) This story is far more contained. There is excellent coverage of the emotional backlash and follow through for the events in the first book.
I am grateful that the author has a realistic understanding of injuries and wounds and the sorts of stresses that weird science can place on a person's body. Enjoyable with a cup of coffee and a bit of pie. :P...more
While this wasn't a book that was without some flaws, it's still a pretty good read. It has been quite some time when I've last enjoyed something I woWhile this wasn't a book that was without some flaws, it's still a pretty good read. It has been quite some time when I've last enjoyed something I would term 'hard-soft sci-fi'. Hard in the sense that it deals strongly with biology and various aspects of science (The lead character is a salmon researcher) and soft because, in the end, it is about how one can relate to another species based on this science.
Politics, space travel, intergalactic tourism, xenophobia and cultural issues when dealing with a culture that does not acknowledge that other intelligent species outside of themselves could possibly exist.
The lead is a strong minded female, a bit emotionally and socially stunted (and self aware in this fact). She isn't entirely without emotion, she just has difficulties expressing them properly. Some of the plot seemed a little scattered for my tastes, like pieces of a mystery that's so spread out all over the place that a reader can't figure out what is happening or why things relate until the very end of the story--but not because the story is that intricate, or so convoluted-- it's because the plot threads are so spread out and the reader isn't really told that they actually have anything to do with each other.
Still, I did enjoy all the description and detailing of various aliens and the human understanding of them, or at least attempt to understand.
The end was kind of heartbreaking, but effective and really worked well....more
I suppose it would make a difference to read the previous two installments-- or as I hear it, two books and prologue in the rewritten version that wilI suppose it would make a difference to read the previous two installments-- or as I hear it, two books and prologue in the rewritten version that will be coming out-- however, I'm not entirely certain I care enough to do so.
The cover compares her writing to CJ Cherryh. I don't see it, no matter how many years they've worked together.
Perhaps this sort of story was ingenious when it first came out, however, anyone that's dipped in fandom for long enough will recognize the old hurt-comfort trope of sexually abused-yet-extremely-talented pretty boys preyed on by evil evil people and saved by the dashing old man (And dashing older man's bits) with a bow to the occasional female friend.
I'm not entirely certain I even understood what this 'Net was. I don't think it was ever clearly explained-- at least not up to where I read to-- and I was hampered by my own recognition of the term as a dated reference to the internet. That 80-early 90s feel didn't help in the least, and kept me from accepting that the story might take place in the far far future....more
**spoiler alert** Hm. I suppose I should add the caveat that the following review rates this as a fluff piece. I enjoyed it thoroughly. However, if yo**spoiler alert** Hm. I suppose I should add the caveat that the following review rates this as a fluff piece. I enjoyed it thoroughly. However, if you are looking for Good Literature, or even Serious Writing... it fails on a number of levels.
There is nothing I hate worse than a military story written by someone who obviously has never served in or had prolonged contact with anyone that has served in any sort of military anywhere in the world. Or, wasn't at least a historian in the subject. From the first few paragraphs I could tell that Tanya Huff, whose friends and family have served, wouldn't have any problems in terms of writing military.
This is a very solid space military story in a softer, but similar vein to David Drake's Hammer's Slammers series. She doesn't shy away from the morality involved in killing, or species/cultural clashes, or the sorts of hairy issues that might come up when attempting to integrate many different alien species together. She doesn't delve too deeply, and at times I think she might have been a little bit too pat in her solutions, but she doesn't shy away from mentioning that these issues do exist.
Then again, this is the military, and not some free wheeling democratic culture. Also, I think that Huff is focusing more on the way these species are actually quite alike, rather than their differences. They also sound very North American military. Aside from some deliberately mangled popculture references, and some fancy sounding new rank names, what is described in the pages of this book may as well have been the US army/Navy. As I slung through the pages at high speed, I had distinct flashbacks to the game Starcraft and even the Firefly tv series/movie.
I suppose the only bad thing about this is the fact that it is a military story and therefore one is resigned to have to deal with casualties... Oh, and I suppose the love interest that shows up in the second novel in this omnibus. I suppose he was meant to be endearingly quirky-- however, his quirks ended up irritating me. I can't deal with people who deliberately get in the way during a serious situation by mocking people who are only doing their jobs/standing in their path/forcefully distracting people by constantly demanding their attention. I don't find that quirky. I suppose he redeems himself in the end, but... by the time the end of the book arrived, I was so irritated that I wish he'd gotten blown to bits.
Alright, and everything is a bit cliche, the alien species aren't different enough, and the military bits reads as a little too 20th American (which David Drake mostly manages to avoid, at least in the Hammers Slammers series.)
Still, for what it is, I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on the third installment of this series. The Smoke series was an intense disappointment, but Valor has renewed my faith in Huff's ability to spin light, engaging stories with realistic characters and entertaining interactions. Literature? Not really, but still worth passing the time with, even if you don't end up keeping it. I think the first book/novel is the stronger of the two, but the second is still quite enjoyable....more