Teenage Thomas awakens without memory, surrounded by boys around his own age. They are forced to survive in a manufactured environment of monsters and...moreTeenage Thomas awakens without memory, surrounded by boys around his own age. They are forced to survive in a manufactured environment of monsters and puzzles, The Maze. Then a girl arrives.
This is a kind of Lord of the Flies meets Cube. Only this book is not quite as thoughtful nor thought provoking as either. I thought the story had a lot of promise, and do recommend it for young male readers, if for no other reason that it's hard to find a good SF/F book for that age bracket these days.
But, that said, I was disappointed by the ending. I thought is was a cop-out and predictable for anyone with a background in the SF genre. I was really hoping to be surprised.
However, it was fast paced with some unexpected twists and younger readers, or new readers to the genre, may not be as disappointed as I.
The precursor to her Vorkosigan saga, this is an omnibus of two books featuring Miles's mother, Cordelia. It is amazingly well written and not only a...moreThe precursor to her Vorkosigan saga, this is an omnibus of two books featuring Miles's mother, Cordelia. It is amazingly well written and not only a wonderful sweeping Space Opera but quite romantic and sweet. The first installment is essentially a survival story on an alien world with enemies forced to survive, and uncover treachery, together. The second half is more political as Cordelia, now an outcast from her own culture, enters Vor politics in her own fierce and indomitable way.
Cordelia is witty, snarky, and tough, with an innate sense of right and wrong and true grace under fire. I'm more interested in her character than in the events leading up to Miles' birth, as I've never had the time or inclination to commit to the full (seemingly endless) Vorkosigan saga. Please don't tell me how sad this makes you, or how I should rush out and buy now now now, it's my retirement plan.
The true beauty of this omnibus is that it stands alone, and gives great insight into Bujold's brilliance. (less)
Military Space Opera written by a woman who really knows what she's writing about. Marvelous characters and alien races, extremely snappy dialogue, an...moreMilitary Space Opera written by a woman who really knows what she's writing about. Marvelous characters and alien races, extremely snappy dialogue, an endearing and tough heroine, and lots of fast action. Torin Kerr is one of my favorite main characters ever written, and I am a particular fan of this book (the first in the series) because it opens with a post sex pheromone hangover and ends with a battle based one of the early moments in the Zulu War (late 1870s).
Please, don't make the mistake of comparing Tanya Huff's different series to one another. She completely changes her author voice depending on the genre. A truly remarkable ability in an author.
The tone of Valor is entirely different from that of her UF stuff (Blood and Keeper) and both in turn different from her fantasies (Quarter). SO if you have read Tanya before and not liked her, I suggest giving Valor's Choice a try.(less)
This is the second book in her series started with Freedom's Landing. The series is not about the invasion and conquering of Earth. Like Douglas Adams...moreThis is the second book in her series started with Freedom's Landing. The series is not about the invasion and conquering of Earth. Like Douglas Adams, McCaffrey essentially blows up Earth in chapter one (well not completely, but Earth is basically irrelevant).
The point is, a group of earthlings and other conquered sentients are dumped on an alien world to see if it is habitable, in other words, to survive to be conquered again or die. The main character is a brilliant tough Nordic lass and her hero a disgraced member of the conquering aliens. The books are fun space opera but in a Land of the Lost survivalist vein, with a wonderful romantic element and great alien species. I adore them. (less)
Oddly apt for a winter read, this book centers on Major Yanaba Maddock, a disabled veteran, sent to the icy planet Petaybee to die, but also on one la...moreOddly apt for a winter read, this book centers on Major Yanaba Maddock, a disabled veteran, sent to the icy planet Petaybee to die, but also on one last mission, to spy on the locals and find out what is really going on there. This book has a naive sweetness to it. It reminds me of early McCaffery books, like the Dragonsinger series. (Which is also my favorite of her work, and feels very YA to me.) Or even like a Mercades Lackey book. The story-line features a native culture full of good people having nice parties and being very accepting of alternative lifestyles versus a counter culture that's more stiff and traditional. This is a trope McCaffery is fond of exploring, like the Weyrs verses the Holds. I find it interesting to read about, but in my older years I could wish it were less black and white.
The authors use a lot of Intuit culture and mix it with Irish traditions and some simplistic teraforming in a far future science fiction setting, like the Pern books or the Ship Who Searched series. This ends up feel far more fantasy than scifi. One can come up for a scientific explanation as to why the horses would evolve one horn, but one has still stuck a unicorn on ones ice planet. I know, I know, it sounds like I'm belittling the book. I'm not, but it is a creature of its time. It's like an 80s rock anthem: cheesy, and nostalgic, and taken SO seriously my the musicians who played it. Now it makes me wince a little but I still put it on and dance naked around my living room. And I feel guilty and ashamed any time it comes on streaming, or is mocked in some youtube video, because I know all the words.
Powers That Be is kind of like that only in book form. I know as I read that everything is going to be alright for the characters, the romantic thread is going to pull through, no one is going to hurt too bad. The SF concepts are going to be pretty basic and predictable, basically I kind of know all the words. Even if I've never read it before.
But there is comfort in that. There's a joy in reading a book like this, particularity when it's a cold blustery winter day outside. It's the book equivalent of a decent cup of tea. Not a really good tea with nibbly bits and company, but still tea. And you know how I feel about tea. Mmmm.(less)
Blade Dancer by S. L. Viehl is a sexy space opera about ninja-style assassins. Set in her StarDoc world this book is one of those most wonderful of th...moreBlade Dancer by S. L. Viehl is a sexy space opera about ninja-style assassins. Set in her StarDoc world this book is one of those most wonderful of things, and stand alone novel! It features a tough if embattled ex-sportswoman surrounded by engaging characters, strong romantic elements, high action, and some pretty gruesome moments. It's one of my keepers and I reread it often.
S.L. Viehl is a master of high action, bloody drama, sexy aliens, and true love. This is her at her very best. If you are interested in StarDoc but daunted by the length of the series, give this fabulously fun book a go.(less)
I like my ending HEA and so Lee and Miller give me problems with their romantic resolutions in some of their books. Not so with this one. Probably the...moreI like my ending HEA and so Lee and Miller give me problems with their romantic resolutions in some of their books. Not so with this one. Probably the most "romance" of their space opera / anthropology Liaden Universe series, that's also probably why I like it best. I started the universe with this book, and it's the only one I ended up keeping. (Though I did dither over a few of the others during one of my many book shelf purges, but this is the one I always come back to.)
If you are a fan of romantic sci-fi this book should be on your too read list. More sci-fi and anthropology than it is romance, there is just something about the details of this universe that seem to have wide-scale appeal.
Be warned, though, some of the later books in this series are OP and ridiculously hard to get hold of.
A word on co-authorships. I love love love male-female author pairingd. I don't know why but this dynamic always seems to add richness to the books, with excellent characterization and brilliant world-building. Doyle & McDonald and Feist & Wurts also have this dynamic in the bag.(less)
If Adrienne Martine-Barnes is the best forgotten fantasy writer of the 80s, Ann Maxwell is the best forgotten sci-fi writer of the 80s. She's like Pat...moreIf Adrienne Martine-Barnes is the best forgotten fantasy writer of the 80s, Ann Maxwell is the best forgotten sci-fi writer of the 80s. She's like Patricia McKillip in space: lyrical and brilliant although it's often hard to relate to her characters. I simply don't mind because reading her is transporting entirely because of her language. Be prepared for lack of resolution, though. I usually hate this, but for Maxwell, it's worth it.
She may also be one of the most quotable authors I have ever read, and Timeshadow Rider is probably her best work.
I won't try to describe what the book is about, that's like trying to talk about an amazing piece of music. Be prepared to work hard, though, if you try one of her books, it's like a museum visit, you really have to concentrate and think about the art of it all.
Amended: Ann Maxwell [aka Elizabeth Lowell] is a prolific writer better known for her romance novels then her science fiction, of which her last was Timeshadow Rider in 1986. (I still live in hope that she may finish the Firedancer series, three of which came out in the early 80s and ended on a cliffhanger). I can’t fault her, since her romances afford her a living, we writers must eat. But if you can get ahold of some of her stand alone science fiction, you’re in for a treat. Timeshadow Rider is my favorite. Where Tarr is a master of brevity, Maxwell dances with words. Her prose is lyrical, poetical, and flowing but not flowery. Her science fiction reads like some surreal myth about the future. Her aliens are precisely that, so alien I feel, as a reader, like they are almost beyond my comprehension, and yet I am eager to try to understand them all the more because of that. Each time I reread her books I feel like I am learning something different about her dream-like vision of the future.(less)