I never thought I'd rate a book by Jack McDevitt this low. (Okay. Time Travelers Never Die was a real dog.) I don't like the Alex Benedict books nearl...moreI never thought I'd rate a book by Jack McDevitt this low. (Okay. Time Travelers Never Die was a real dog.) I don't like the Alex Benedict books nearly as much as the Priscilla Hutchins series, but that aside, Firebird was still kind of a mess. There are two stories in this plot: one is the mystery of space ships appearing and then disappearing without warning; the other deals with the question of whether AIs are sentient. The two are barely related to one another--the AI thing arises as Benedict and Chase Kolpath are investigating the mystery ships and plays out as a separate storyline McDevitt occasionally comes back to. Since neither story is sufficient to support an entire novel, the book comes across as limp, especially since it takes over one hundred pages for anything to start happening. Dull, uninspired, and if you really want a good example of why Jack McDevitt is worth reading, pick up Seeker or Chindi instead.(less)
This third and final volume in the Milkweed Triptych was enjoyable, but ultimately a disappointment. Tregillis continues to deliver on the fast-paced...moreThis third and final volume in the Milkweed Triptych was enjoyable, but ultimately a disappointment. Tregillis continues to deliver on the fast-paced action, and handles the rewriting of the timeline of Bitter Seeds and The Coldest War well. With two Raybould Marshes running around, his decision to make Old Marsh's perspective first person and Young Marsh's third person kept the two narratives clearly separate. Some of the suspense is lost when it becomes clear that this "new" timeline is our actual history, which presumably isn't going to be obliterated by Eidolons, but the internal suspense (such as Liv and the baby heading off to doomed Coventry for safety) keeps the story moving.
It's the ending I object to, in which all the loose ends are tied up and Gretel finally receives her just reward: (view spoiler)[She's not killed, but marooned on a barren island by Marsh and Marsh with her wires cut off, and left with an ongoing supply of food so she'll live a long life in torment, without being able to use her power. (hide spoiler)]. It's said more than once that Gretel is evil, but aside from those assertions I don't see much evidence for her being anything but criminally insane. In particular, the interludes where we get inside her head reveal that she's completely doolally and focused entirely on creating a reality in which Young Marsh falls in love with her. Her attempts to kill Liv and Agnes are evil, but I'm not sure a person with her type of insanity can really be said to be evil. She is definitely not in the same class as von Westarp, who murdered and tortured children to achieve his goals in perfect sanity, and I don't even think she's in the same class as the necrophiliac Reinhardt, who burned a dozen kids out of vengeance. Gretel, like von Westarp's other children, needed to die to prevent the apocalypse; the two Marshes' justice for her is nothing more than personal vengeance, and it makes them less than heroic. What's unfortunate is that it fits with their personalities, so my question is, why should I have any respect for either of them?
I'm no less a fan of Tregillis's work because of this book, but I hope his next novel is less disappointing for not being part of an otherwise very satisfying trilogy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I think I need to set boundaries on my Tom Holt reading. Specifically, I need to stop reading his early works, because I really don't like them. They...moreI think I need to set boundaries on my Tom Holt reading. Specifically, I need to stop reading his early works, because I really don't like them. They seem unfunny and tedious to me. In this case, the main character was kind of a wet blanket, the other main character was surprisingly bland for a rock star, and I never got interested in the story. I don't know why the gags (like the robot "agents" who kept dying and being reassembled, or the fact that Guy invariably hit the hat of anyone he aimed at, regardless of where said hat was) fell flat, but they just didn't work for me. I like Tom Holt's work, but I don't think he really hit his stride until 2000 or so.(less)
What a fun book! I read this at just the right time, as I began re-watching classic Star Trek episodes with my son, and it's such a clever story. I pa...moreWhat a fun book! I read this at just the right time, as I began re-watching classic Star Trek episodes with my son, and it's such a clever story. I particularly liked that even though I figured out what was going on early in the book, I had no idea how it was happening and it kept me engaged the whole way through. (I don't get any credit for being clever here, because I never figure out plot twists in advance if they aren't really obvious, and this one isn't. I just had one of those rare flashes of insight that would be far more useful if they involved, say, the stock market.) It also explained why there was only one woman in the team--I started out being a little annoyed by it, right up until I got the joke.
But I think my favorite part was the codas, which brought all of the (view spoiler)[real-world (hide spoiler)] characters into contact with each other. Scalzi did a fantastic job telling three stories that connected in a very satisfying way. Excellent story for fans of Star Trek as well as fans of science fiction.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Boneyards picks up five years after the conclusion of City of Ruins, but the plot doesn't suffer for it. Rusch handles the inevitable changes in the c...moreBoneyards picks up five years after the conclusion of City of Ruins, but the plot doesn't suffer for it. Rusch handles the inevitable changes in the characters over such a length of time, mainly because so much of it was set up in the previous book--did anyone not realize that Boss and Coop were going to end up together? Boss's team and the crew of the Ivoire have spent the last five years searching for some remnant of the civilization Coop and his crew left behind, five thousand years in the past, and constant failure has taken its toll on everyone. Rather than continue to search for still-active planet-based stations the Ivoire might use to get home, they decide to look to the stars--to seek out ancient starbases that might still have power, and possibly learn why so much of what they've found looks like it was destroyed in war.
The primary storyline is as compelling as the last, with Coop's increasing irrationality as he faces the reality that he and his crew are never going home providing interesting conflicts with Boss. There's more exploration of the Nine Planets worlds and systems and a return to the Room of Lost Souls, and the ending is tense and, as before, has a lack of resolution that makes you eager to see what happens next.
It's the secondary plot that I found most interesting, in which Squishy (a long-time friend of Boss's who was an important part of the first book) organizes a plan, without Boss's approval or help, to destroy the Empire's "stealth tech" research. Her execution of said plan alternates with scenes from Squishy's past that explain a lot about why she got involved in stealth tech in the first place, and what happened to make her so violently opposed to it. My problem is that Squishy was such a thoroughly unpleasant character in the first book, with her irrational and unexplained refusal to help Boss investigate the stealth tech in the first Dignity Vessel, that at first it felt like an attempt at rehabilitating her character. We learn, for example, that Squishy's absolute recalcitrance was because of a loyalty oath she'd sworn to the Empire when she first started working for them on stealth tech. That makes no sense to me. Keeping to an oath when you've already abandoned your committments, fled the Empire, given up completely on the research? When your silence is going to cost *more* lives? Not convincing. It seemed from the way Squishy's story was told that I wasn't supposed to have reacted to her in Diving Into the Wreck the way I did, that she wasn't intended to be so unpleasant, but it just didn't work for me. Despite this, I really enjoyed and admired the way past and present worked together; Rusch played out the revelations from the past at exactly the right pace.
I am even more eager to see what happens next than I was with the last book, which promises not only new discoveries, but new conflicts both with the Empire (thanks to Squishy) and with new forces (thanks to Boss and Coop).(less)
This sequel to Diving Into the Wreck feels very different, and while I wouldn't say it's a better book, I do think it's more suited to an ongoing seri...moreThis sequel to Diving Into the Wreck feels very different, and while I wouldn't say it's a better book, I do think it's more suited to an ongoing series. Where Diving Into the Wreck was a thriller, City of Ruins is science-fiction adventure at its finest.
A few years after Boss (and now it's established that this isn't her name, but a title) and her team discover stealth tech, she's established an organization dedicated to finding Dignity Vessels and securing them so the Empire (which is trying to recreate stealth tech to help them take over the galaxy mwahahaha) can't get them. One of Boss's researchers has found what she believes is a sign of stealth tech; the problem is, it's on a planet, not in space. Boss investigates reluctantly, but she and her team soon discover that what's under the surface of this planet is worth far more than all the ships they've found to date.
This feels a lot less bleak than the first one, as though there's hope for a better future instead of inevitable pain and death. It's a little annoying that the characters only fall into two categories: people who agree with/are admired by Boss, who are worth admiring; and people who oppose Boss, who are greedy, selfish, arrogant, whiny, or some combination of the above. I like the parallel storyline, with Boss's investigation alternating with (view spoiler)[the experiences of the Ivoire's crew from the far past (hide spoiler)] (I won't say much about the plot, because I enjoyed working out what was happening as it happened). And unlike the first volume, this ending leaves a lot of room for future adventures and made me look forward to reading more.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Definitely my least favorite of the three (the first books being Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet). By the internal chronology, the...moreDefinitely my least favorite of the three (the first books being Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet). By the internal chronology, the kids are maybe a year and a half older than when the trilogy started, but they haven't matured even a little bit, and Jane, the youngest, seems to have regressed. Or maybe she really is eight and Nesbit finally figured out how eight-year-olds talk and act. (Hint: They're just learning to be rational.) Her fear of going into strange and potentially dangerous societies seems extreme not because she exaggerates the dangers, but because she's handled other crises far more calmly. What I like about this book is the subplot with the learned gentleman, Jimmy, whose association with the children saves him from his isolation and reminds him of what it was like to be a child. Unlike the other adults in the series, Jimmy has no problem playing their "games" and envies their imagination rather than telling them to grow up, even though his belief that it's all a strange dream nearly gets everyone killed when he insists on staying to see the drowning of Atlantis. If I were making a movie of this book, I'd beef up his role to provide more of a connection between the actual time-travel the Amulet allows and the belief in the miraculous that is the heritage of any human being who chooses to take it.(less)