This kind of thing reminds me somewhat of Ben Bova’s Grand Tour of the Solar System series. OK, it’s not quite the same, since The Quiet War leans a lThis kind of thing reminds me somewhat of Ben Bova’s Grand Tour of the Solar System series. OK, it’s not quite the same, since The Quiet War leans a lot more towards Space Opera. But still, there’s a vibe that corresponds, and it’s not just the hard science, either. The concept of war between Earth and the Outers received the treatment in other novels as well, such as Charles Sheffield’s Cold as Ice. Then there’s the blurb on the back cover that cites similarities with Peter F. Hamilton (is it me or is there a lot of that going around?) So… I’ve already name-dropped three different authors and my review isn’t in its second paragraph yet. Bad form. But here’s the thing: my initial impression on reading this was that it would be easy to disregard it as a mish-mash of Science Fiction’s greatest hits. That, however, would be an unfair assessment: The Quiet War does an admirable job of making these conventions its own.
This isn’t a light or easy read. Not only is it a bit of a slow burner, but there is a lot of Hard Science in here (Botanical, Ecological et al). Early on in the book there are a number of expositions on everything from the attributes of mud to Genome Sequencing. I’m no scientist, so it often happens that this kind of thing goes right over my head anyway. However, the story is fascinating, and there are lots of exotic locations and big ideas to sample. Once I was immersed, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. What I’m trying to say is, stick with it, even when it gets technical. It’s worth it.
There is a sequel, Gardens of the Sun. You will want to have it close once you’ve finished The Quiet War.
This book reminded me of a role playing game. Character gets assigned quest and sets off --> when character arrives at destination he finds out thaThis book reminded me of a role playing game. Character gets assigned quest and sets off --> when character arrives at destination he finds out that the quest completion parameters have been amended and that he has to continue to new destination, where more or less the same thing happens. Along the way the character collects items and learns skills, he also meets other characters with different skills and some of these join up with him, creating a "party". In the end, the items and characters come together neatly to tie up the main story arc. Developer credits roll.
Now, this isn't a criticism. I happen to enjoy role playing games. I also happen to, at times, indulge in some Warhammer, Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance fiction, which is just as well, otherwise I probably wouldn't have finished The Dwarves. It's pretty much the same thing, really. This is one of those Fantasy books with highly improbably scenarios and bizarrely fortunate (read untouchable) protagonists, for the most part. I also can't help but feel that some of the nuances have been lost in the translation (the original is in German). Some of the sentences just read a bit nonsensical and seemed slightly out of context.
Okay, now that I've got all that off my chest. This isn't a bad novel, and I will certainly be checking out the rest of the series. BUT, despite the author's best intentions, it doesn't break a whole of a lot of new ground. There are some nice twists, but it isn't enough to make the story great. It's entertaining enough, and I was reminded quite a lot of a Dragonlance novel I once read called Stormblade. Fun....more
I've enjoyed Garfield since I was a kid in Primary School, and while this perhaps isn't quite as brilliant as some of the earlier stuff it's still preI've enjoyed Garfield since I was a kid in Primary School, and while this perhaps isn't quite as brilliant as some of the earlier stuff it's still pretty darn funny. ...more
An unidentified object enters the solar system and an exploration team is sent to investigate. No this isn’t Rendezvous with Rama… In fact, All JudgemAn unidentified object enters the solar system and an exploration team is sent to investigate. No this isn’t Rendezvous with Rama… In fact, All Judgement Fled predates Rama with some three years or so. Where Arthur C. Clarke’s novel is pretty much the genre-defining big-dumb-object, or artifact, story, this is a novel about first contact. Or is it? All Judgement Fled raises a number of pretty interesting moral issues, even though it seems hesitant to deal with them directly, leaving some conclusion-drawing to the reader. It has a definite old school feel about it, which I liked, but the psychological portions were a bit heavy handed at times. Other than that, it’s actually a pretty short novel and time well spent if you like this kind of thing. Yes, the object is a space-ship. And no, that is not a spoiler, as this is made abundantly clear on the first page and the back cover. Once the actual exploration of the alien vessel gets underway, the plot hits some more familiar buttons (Alien, for one thing, comes to mind – although, again, this book predates Alien as well) and things get pretty tense. The tension generated by the story is ambiguous, and you’ll understand it if you read it - that is spoiler territory, so explanations are out. As for me, I quite enjoyed it....more
This is an exceedingly tricky review for me. There’s a lot I want to say, without taking up too much space. This novel is a great amalgamation of postThis is an exceedingly tricky review for me. There’s a lot I want to say, without taking up too much space. This novel is a great amalgamation of post apocalyptic science fiction and horror. It is the first book in the Vampire Earth series, which is thankfully a bit of a misnomer. The Kurians are an alien race that can extend their lives indefinitely by feeding off human auras. In order for them to harvest these auras, they have bred a genetically enhanced race of beings called Reapers who prey on humans, drinking their blood. Vampirisim by proxy, if you will. There’s more to the story than that, of course. The Kurians have gained control of Earth by setting off a number of disasters, both environmental and nuclear, so there is a lot of devastated real estate (which is probably a requirement in post apocalyptic fiction). However, the most notable of their strategies involve the use of a virus called the Raving Madness, which essentially turns people into zombies.
The world building in Way of the Wolf is outstanding. By the time this story takes place Earth has been under occupation for forty odd years and a number of important developments have taken place. The occupation itself is reminiscent of nazi-occupied Europe. There are the collaborators, and, of course, the resistance. The Kurian overlords have also divided portions of the spoils and there are some internal politics that come into play. The Free Territories are areas where humans have been able to fight off the alien invaders and hold their own through the help of the Lifeweavers (more aliens) who imbue certain selected humans with skills that can aid them in fighting the Reapers. These ‘enhanced’ humans are referred to as Wolves, Cats or Bears, depending on their particular skills, hence the title of the novel.
The Reapers are nasty enough, but the Kurians also employ a number of other critters who do their bidding. These are referred to as Grogs collectively and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Again, there is more to this than meets the eye, with some of the Grogs being more malicious than others. There are even a few who side with the humans, and in some places they co-exist side by side. And what would a post apocalyptic story be without bandits, marauders, trappers and profiteers? It’s all here of course. The world Knight weaves is a rich tapestry, but it is also very dark and foreboding. This is one grim and brutal novel, not to mention disturbing. With so many elements added to the smelting pot, the story does lend itself to some nastiness.
Due to the regression of tech and the way the free human colonies are set up in the wilds, the story does have a very prominent old west / civil war flavour, which I found remarkably refreshing in the midst of all the mayhem. Something else I was immediately reminded of was The Huntsman by Douglas Hill. The novel's greatest strengths are arguably the world building and marvelously creepy / spooky atmosphere. Highly recommended. ...more
The conclusion to the Last Legionary quartet is a bit of a pleasant surprise. The story thus far has been rather standard science fiction adventure faThe conclusion to the Last Legionary quartet is a bit of a pleasant surprise. The story thus far has been rather standard science fiction adventure fare. Admittedly, the fun factor has been pretty high too, with fairly uncomplicated plots and high octane action sequences. While Planet of the Warlord continues in much the same vein, it also offers a few unexpected, but welcome shocks and twists. It stirs the teacup, so to speak. To be fair, it still isn’t exactly complex, but it does tweak reader expectations to some extent, especially concerning the very nature of Keill Randor’s long hinted at nemesis. It is an atmospheric novel, and at times quite creepy. There’s even a bit of philosophical musing. For probably the first time, there is real suspense, and real apprehension. There are still enough fisticuffs to keep everybody happy, especially the arena sequence early in the novel and the explosion of violence that marks the story’s climax, but there’s more to this book than the rest of the series.
I also particularly enjoyed the role Glr played this time round, which was more prominent and important, underlining the nature of her (symbiotic) relationship with Keill. It is perhaps fitting that it is the last in what is actually ‘n very enjoyable little quartet. Some of the same weaknesses of the earlier novels are present here, such as the comic book villains and ‘boss fight’ dynamics, but it actually adds a quaint charm to what is already an entertaining read. Although it was written with a younger audience in mind, there is a lot to be relished here, especially if you like your sci-fi with a bit of a Star-Wars-y vibe and served with a gratifying portion of cheese.
Unfortunately these books are out of print and there doesn’t seem to be reprint editions planned for the foreseeable future. I obtained the omnibus edition used from Abebooks (The Last Legionary Quartet). Recommended. ...more
The conclusion to a ridiculously good tetralogy. The Pnume deals with Reith’s eventual, and inevitable, dealings with the beings of the title. The PnuThe conclusion to a ridiculously good tetralogy. The Pnume deals with Reith’s eventual, and inevitable, dealings with the beings of the title. The Pnume are arguably the most secretive and enigmatic of the alien races inhabiting Tschai, and the novel caters to the expectations that have been cultivated over the duration of the series. To a certain extent, this book was more subdued than the other three novels, and some of the subject matter was a bit surprising. I actually found this novel extremely suspenseful, especially the final chapters, since I am well aware of Vance’s ability to pull the rug from under your feet when you least expect it. He sets up some situations in here that pushes the dread factor far into the red.
I quite enjoyed the new character introduced here. Zap 210 is a Pnumekin that Reith meets in the underground warrens of the Pnume and is a representative example of how the alien races on Tschai exploit and bend humanity to their own ends. There is also another reason why this character is introduced, but this is spoiler territory.
As with the other titles, there is a lot of travelling. The good news (or, perhaps bad news if you’re so inclined) is that by this time the reader is so much more familiar with Tschai that places are becoming familiar. The omnibus edition I own also includes a handy map. This series is a glittering example of admirable world building and should be read by all would-be writers of speculative fiction. Vance never provides too much detail, nor does he provide too little. He also knows when to conclude a good thing. I can’t imagine something like the Tschai series going on indefinitely. At this point Vance has said what he wanted to say, why drag it out any longer? Another lesson that authors can take note of.
Thus continues the adventures of Adam Reith, the earthman inadvertently stranded on the planet Tschai. As clichéd as this kind of thing has become sinThus continues the adventures of Adam Reith, the earthman inadvertently stranded on the planet Tschai. As clichéd as this kind of thing has become since John Carter first left his footprints in the dusty soil of Barsoom, this little gem of a four-book series has yet to disappoint. Written in the sixties, this is probably one of the last truly great examples of this kind of “pulpy” SF adventure.
Don’t be fooled – you’ll go a long way before finding better writing than this. Jack Vance is quite the writer, and the dialogue is an absolute delight, peppered as it is with dry wit. He also manages to say much more in fewer pages than most authors, even taking some time off to reflect, without breaking stride. The ways in which Reith keeps outsmarting the locals are a joy to read, as usual, although this novel presents him with what is arguably his greatest challenge. In fact, he at last gets a nemesis of sorts. This is the third book in the series, preceded by the amusingly titled Servants of the Wankh. There is a dark edge to these stories that sets it aside from the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ more upbeat ones. The hunting habits of the Dirdir in this specific novel are a case in point.
One of the biggest strengths of this series is the world building. It is remarkable, to say the least. There are many, many cultures and species that inhabit Tschai, each with their own peculiarities. This is something I touched on in my earlier reviews, respectively of City of the Chasch and Servants of the Wankh, but it really is worth mentioning again.
The next, and last, book in the series is The Pnume. I think the only widely available print of these books are the ones collected in the omnibus edition (Planet of Adventure). ...more
Before looking too closely into the merits of this book, and indeed the whole Last Legionary series, it is probably important to note the intended audBefore looking too closely into the merits of this book, and indeed the whole Last Legionary series, it is probably important to note the intended audience of these novels. This is a series that is written for younger readers, as such the novels aren’t doorstops and the characterisation is pretty sparse. Despite that, there are some enticing technical tidbits, and the “starwind” in this book is actually a pretty spectacular inclusion. As adventure stories set in a futuristic setting, these books fare admirably, and even older readers who are willing to set literary snobbishness and cynicism aside will have a good time reading them.
The focus here is on action. This novel, in particular, contains some of the most exciting hand-to-hand combat scenes I have ever read in Science Fiction, albeit a bit one sided. Keill Randor is a one-man villain-thumping machine and this is the kind of thing that he does really well. As the last survivor of a martial race he is trained to put the hurt on folk in a variety of ways. He is also out for justice, which translates uniformly to “capital punishment”. The novels also, arguably, read like levels of a video game, with the inevitable Boss Fight at the end of each. None of this is meant as criticism. It’s actually an extremely fun series, and the novels are real page-turners. It’s also not quite as violent as I’ve been making it sound. It has that old-school feel you’ve been yearning for but haven’t been able to recapture with any of the more serious Science Fiction novels you’ve been reading. I also like the locations and settings that Hill uses, it just feels kind of “right”.
The only down-side here, I suppose, is that you’ll find yourself debating the reasons why the antagonists don’t just kill Randor and be done with it. They often have the opportunity, but like any James Bond villain worth his salt the gloating speeches, torture devices and other means of potential escape inevitably get in the way.
This is turning out to be a good series. A very, very good series. Looking for a futuristic fantasy adventure reminiscent of the pulps, but with an unThis is turning out to be a good series. A very, very good series. Looking for a futuristic fantasy adventure reminiscent of the pulps, but with an uneasy bent? Look no further.
The story continues where City of the Chasch left off. Reith hasn’t found a way off Tschai yet, and his search for a solution to this particular problem takes up the bulk of the plot, although there are some other titbits that will occupy the reader’s mind. In here you will find stabbing, back-stabbing and grand theft auto of a space-shippy nature interspersed with some splendidly dry and witty dialogue, weird aliens, even weirder humans, or human derivatives, and truly exotic locations. The motley crew of henchmen Reith has been accumulating since the first book is still a delight. There are one or two surprises, one at least which I did not see coming, as far as the characters are concerned. The world building is still great, as the characters visit areas on Tschai that were only hinted at in the first book. There are more than a few mysteries that remain unexplained – this of course adds to the mysticism of Tschai. Parts of the book undoubtedly read like a travelogue, but the world building is so unique that it is easy to forgive this and go along for the ride. All in all, a great read. Compulsory if you’re a fan of Vance, particularly his Dying Earth series.
I find these books entertaining to the point of being a guilty pleasure. Anything this good has to be bad for you. Fortunately Vance is such a good wordsmith that he pulls the whole thing off with nary a sweat. ...more
This sequel to Galactic Warlord is another surprisingly entertaining instalment in the Last Legionary quartet. Keill Randor, the last remaining LegionThis sequel to Galactic Warlord is another surprisingly entertaining instalment in the Last Legionary quartet. Keill Randor, the last remaining Legionary, leads an eventful existence. For one thing, he is hot on the trail of the killer of every living being on his planet of birth. Needless to say, he is somewhat ticked off. Sound cheesy yet? It sure is, and all the better for it.
After the first book in the series, we know that the person responsible for the destruction of Moros is the shadowy entity known as The Galactic Warlord. Randor knows this too, and is hell-bent on finding this particular worthy, while working for an organisation of galactic peacekeepers (for lack of a better name) known as The Overseers.
Again, I enjoyed this book more than I was probably supposed to. It is an uncomplicated romp in a fun science fiction universe where the lines between good and evil are clearly defined. This time round, Randor and his feisty alien companion Glr (a telepathic bat-like creature with some serious skills) suspect Warlord involvement when a revolution is instigated on a mining planetoid. The Legionary joins up under the guise of mercenary, the reason being that the Warlord’s agent (the Deathwing of the title) may be able to lead him to the elusive Galactic Warlord himself, who is basically to Randor what Ming the Merciless is to Flash Gordon and what the Emperor is to Luke Skywalker. Unsurprisingly, things don’t quite work out that way and, well, before you know it you’ve read the whole thing.
I think there are a lot of positive things that can come from a book like this. There are lessons here, and warnings, more than a few. It takes somethI think there are a lot of positive things that can come from a book like this. There are lessons here, and warnings, more than a few. It takes something to be this candid and open about the mistakes you’ve made, perhaps even more so if you’re Dave Mustaine. If you’ve ever read up about him, or if you’ve followed his career, you’ll know. He owns up to a lot here, generally clearing the water. Let’s face it, there’s only so much you can learn about someone like this on Wikipedia.
This is a confessional of sorts, I suppose, and a lot of what you read in here may be unsettling. Dave has led an eventful life, and no mistake. If you thought the old saying “sex, drugs & rock ‘n roll” was just that, a saying, think again. In here you will find sex. You will find substance abuse of a mind-bogglingly excessive nature. Of course, the music is more metal than rock ‘n roll, but still…. Oh, did I mention the drugs? You see, this is a story about survival, and if someone like Dave Mustaine can clean up and straighten out his life to the extent he describes here. Well… it certainly does seem to take away most people’s excuses.
I suppose what most readers will be after when they read this, are the sections dealing with the founding of Metallica, Dave’s subsequent, highly publicised by now, dismissal and, of course, the founding of Megadeth. Nothing wrong with that, of course, since I suppose most people will only be reading this book because they’re into Heavy Metal in the first place. But I think that there is much more to it than that. Like I already mentioned, this is a story about survival. About being a man. About coming to the realisation that you have to be accountable for your own life at some point and that you can’t blame others, or your past, for your own shortcomings. On that level, I think many people will be able to identify with Mr Mustaine.
This book comes recommended, but there is quite a bit of swearing and quite a bit of “mature” content, since this is, after all, still Dave Mustaine. Also, the writing itself isn’t bad at all, which isn’t too surprising considering Mustaine’s history as songwriter. If you like music history and autobiographies, check it out! If you’re a Megadeth fan, well, I suppose I don’t even have to tell you, ‘cause you’ll have a copy already. ...more
The prose in this novel is electrifying. McCammon has a way of capturing his reader’s attention from the veryTonight there were demons in the hearth.
The prose in this novel is electrifying. McCammon has a way of capturing his reader’s attention from the very first. After all, who can forget the opening lines of Gone South?
Night had filled up the barrio like black rainwater in a bomb crater, and what stirred in its depths was unnameable.
So. Vampires. Before they were the laughing stock of the literary world they were actually pretty damn scary. Don’t believe me? Then read this book.
Scattered in the dirt at the grave's bottom were yellow bones held together by cobwebs of wispy lace.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit this reminded me of 'Salem's Lot, at least a bit. Where Stephen King’s seminal vampire story takes place in a small town, the events here have been extrapolated to a much larger (and difficult to contain) setting, and it aint pretty. Old school vampire infestation in Los Angeles? Yes, I think I’ll have me some of that!
Sometimes now he thought he could smell blood when he faced west, as if the whole Pacific had turned crimson, and you could wallow in it all you liked until you got drunk with it and fell down and drowned in it.
It’s a decidedly spooky novel. The 80s L.A. backdrop is particularly effective: there’s a great range of atmosphere the author can draw from… even though he seems to enjoy mostly painting the city as, what amounts to, a feverish post-apocalyptic abattoir. McCammon puts an occult spin on his Vampire legend that is devilishly (ho ho) interesting.
The term Gravedigger, repellent only a few minutes before, now chilled her.
It’s a rather violent and occasionally grotesque story. McCammon’s imagery is pretty vivid, and, well, let’s leave it at that.
Then suddenly from beyond the closed bedroom door came the sound of frenzied clawing.
Gang wars, the occult, uber-violent biker gangs, vampires, serial killers, conspiracy, disaster movie… well, all of this is rolled together in this toothy spliff.
If you enjoy a good (and frankly terrifying) horror story, and prefer your Vampires evil, this is mandatory reading.
She thought she'd seen a face as white as gossamer and within it a pair of eyes that shone in the dark like a lowrider's headlights.
There is one downside that I have to mention though. I’ll tread lightly, in case of spoilers, since it has to do with the grand finale of the novel. All I’ll say is this: Deus Ex Machina.
[He] barely got his mask off before his stomach heaved. After he was finished, his ribs hurt as if Satan himself had kicked them with his cloven hoof.
I really liked the book and I was going to give it an easy 5, but I’m knocking a star off for the way it was wrapped up. It felt like a cop-out to me… but They Thirst has enough going for it to easily recommend it. McCammon can write horror.
And Evil would shout through a hundred thousand unholy, triumphant throats, Feast! Feast! For the banquet is spread and we are so very hungry… ...more
Um. I'm not sure whether this little book is supposed to teach kids about wolves or scare the living daylights out of them. These are some pretty creeUm. I'm not sure whether this little book is supposed to teach kids about wolves or scare the living daylights out of them. These are some pretty creepy wolves. If I'd read this as a kid I would still be sleeping with the lights on......more