”The business of When the Tide Rises is taken largely from real events in Chile, Peru, and Brazil. The major naval action, however, is based on the 181”The business of When the Tide Rises is taken largely from real events in Chile, Peru, and Brazil. The major naval action, however, is based on the 1811 Battle of Lissa.
I write to entertain readers, not to advance a personal or political philosophy (I don't have a political philosophy); nonetheless, my fiction is almost always based on historical models. When you read When the Tide Rises, you might occasionally think about today's news and remember that it'll be tomorrow's history.” - David Drake
There’s a light cruiser that is briefly mentioned in this novel called the Bat Durston. It’s perhaps telling that it’s an Alliance ship. Anyway, is it Drake’s way of poking a bit of fun at himself or just an Easter Egg? The RCN novels aren’t, by definition, true Bat Durston stories (they’re not Space Westerns). They are, however, Naval Stories transposed to a futuristic backdrop. Master and Commander in Space.
Drake is a master at writing combat scenes on any level: strategic, tactical and personal. His pragmatic approach to action sequences makes everything so much more tangible. It’s a dirty business, war.
The 15-cm guns were firing at high rate, spewing plasma bolts before the barrels had properly cooled from the previous rounds. This was certain to erode the tubes and might well lead to an explosion that damaged the turret, but need outweighed the risk.
Drake’s RCN novels are neither Hard Sci-Fi, nor even particularly high tech as far as Space Opera / Military Science Fiction is concerned, but there are lots of technical details. The mechanics of “how things work” seems to be important to the author. It does indeed add something to the story.
The pressed-steel barrel shroud had faded back to the dull gray of its phosphate coating, but heat still made air passing through the ventilation slots tremble.
The novels are stand-alone to an extent, but I would recommend following the series. There are some developments, especially surrounding the core characters, which will pass you by if you don’t.
And there it is. I’m rather fond of this series, even though I don’t think I can put into words exactly why, and despite the relative “sameness” of the books (consider: they’re all based on real life military events and related politics). It’s just good, not-so-clean, fun!
“Deep in their hearts, they're afraid and they know we aren't. We're the RCN." ...more
Influences were legion. Every space opera I’ve read, to start off. Vance: I liked his baroque, wide-open far-future scenarios, his lone-wolf characterInfluences were legion. Every space opera I’ve read, to start off. Vance: I liked his baroque, wide-open far-future scenarios, his lone-wolf characters. To a certain extent Neal Asher’s excellent depiction of aliens… Peter Hamilton’s complex, intricately detailed futures… And, of course, Lovecraft: his tentacled creatures from beyond… I think the mix will work well. - Eric Brown, on Weird Space
What do you get if you take the Space Western setting of Firefly, add in the exploration themes of Star Trek and season it with the otherworldly horror of Lovecraft?
That’s more or less what we have here.
At first, [he] failed to take in the enormity of what lay before him. His mind registered the hundreds of stick-like objects at his feet, and then he realised suddenly that they were bones and that they went on and on and on, a macabre landscape of tangled skeletons of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of aliens extending for at least a kilometre.
I am all for keeping things lean. This time round, however, it doesn’t quite work in the story’s favour. Considering that this is an all new Universe, The Devil’s Nebula is rather sparse on details. I couldn’t help but feel that some substance was sacrificed in order to keep the story to a prescribed length. The net result is a book that feels somewhat rushed. It’s not a total train smash, though. The romp is entertaining enough and there is an old-school charm to the adventuring that keeps the story from floundering.
Soon, all evidence below them that humanity had once inhabited this planet was lost beneath the brilliant green cover of the jungle. Here and there, towering stalks erupted from the canopy, ending in heliotropic blooms like inverted marquees which gave the scene a touch of the bizarre. Straight ahead, two moons sat above the horizon, lacy and insubstantial.
I read this after finishing Necropath, since it was the only other Brown book I had close at hand. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it wasn’t too bad either. This is a Shared Universe so I expect we’ll soon be seeing other writers coming to the table, and it will be interesting to see where things go from here.
The only signs of the battle that had raged above were the remains of crashed starships of alien design, half-buried in the shifting desert sands. Ahead, the largest city of all appeared on the horizon, as eerily quiet and deserted as all the others.
This has the makings of great Space Opera, but it lacks some of the essentials. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a quick space adventure that won’t keep you bogged down for weeks, perhaps this will be right up your alley. ...more
The chosen foe was no longer a red dot, but a great forbidding castle, tilted crazily, black against the stars.
A somewhat conventional review…
The chro The chosen foe was no longer a red dot, but a great forbidding castle, tilted crazily, black against the stars.
A somewhat conventional review…
The chronicles of Man’s battle against the merciless Berserker machines starts here, with the first book in Saberhagen’s Berserker series. This is old school all the way!
Berserker actually consists of a number of related short stories strung together to tell the bigger story. Much like Asimov’s Foundation, I suppose. I’m not sure whether the sequels are put together in the same fashion, and whether they are bona fide novels, but I’ll certainly be wanting to find out.
It’s pretty good stuff, this, ranging from space battles to poignant introspective moments in the flip of a few pages. Admittedly, some of it seems a bit dated, but the gothic vibe of the Berserkers themselves is absolutely monumental. These colossal machines (some of them appear to be, quite literally, hundreds of cubic square miles apiece) roam space with one intention, and one intention only, to destroy “life” wherever it’s found.
…for a somewhat unconventional book.
This book is nothing like I expected it to be. It isn’t (really) Military Science Fiction, and some of the sequences are rather bizarre. The Berserkers are apparently not limited to shows of force and mindless destruction in their quest for the extermination of life. Other methods are employed as well, such as counterfeiting and humour. Eh? Yes, eh.
So, these terrifying remnants of some long-forgotten conflict are also slightly… odd.
That said, there are one or two sequences that remind of (dare I say it?)… Terminator… but in Space!!
The writing style is brisk and without frills, and there are some dark shades of nasty in the story, that occasionally shine through. Character development? Not really, since nobody hangs around long enough (due to the structure of the book). Is it good? It is, but not in the way I first envisioned. I suspect this kind of thing is an acquired taste and may not appeal to everybody. Except, perhaps, the last sequence, which is sense of wonder overdose. Frankly, the book reads so quickly, you might as well try it out in any case.
"That can't be." "I wish it weren't, but we're out of our environment here.
Big dumb object time. Again. I am such a sucker for sense of wonder stories"That can't be." "I wish it weren't, but we're out of our environment here.
Big dumb object time. Again. I am such a sucker for sense of wonder stories. Someone who commented on my review of Eon was kind enough to bring under my attention the term “Awe-Fi” (thanks Dmitry). And that’s exactly what this is: Awe-Fi.
"Will you look at that," [she] said, apparently to no one in particular.
That said, Reckoning Infinity doesn’t aspire to the same ambitious (mind-obliterating) heights as Eon. It’s more readily comparable to something like Rendezvous with Rama. It also has the added benefit of containing a pretty good story on an intimate level, and doesn’t completely neglect the characters in favour of the big idea. The author keeps the story fairly trimmed of fat; it’s not as massively dense as some other Artifact stories I’ve read.
[His] eyes widened, and he suddenly glanced at the others to see if they saw it, too.
Well, here’s the thing: if you enjoy Science Fiction (and I’m hoping you do), you’d have to be either an extremely jaded reader or possess no imagination to speak of not to enjoy this on some level. Just let your inner child out!
It hung no more than a hundred kilometers away, in sharp focus, a sight even more puzzling than before.
The author obviously has a good grasp of the science involved here, but he never bludgeons the reader senseless with it. This is an info-dump free zone!
"Something's down there all right," [she] said.
Reckoning Infinity seems to be able to steer clear of the blandness that can sometimes creep into exploration-type stories. In fact, I found the novel pretty exciting, with enough suspense and drama to counterpoint each discovery. Space exploration is, after all, a dangerous business.
"Anyone else getting a bad feeling about this?"
If the novel itself isn’t theatrical enough for your taste (there are, for example, no space fleets engaged in relativistic combat) then at least the grand finale is unlikely to disappoint if you appreciate the concept of ‘sensawunda’.
[He] spent little of his life looking back, but at that moment, he knew the recordings of this event were ones he'd replay again and again.
Things get a bit bizarre at times, in all truth, but this is a genre of ideas. And there it is. Highly recommended for fans of big dumb objects…
…that took his breath away and made him question whether he was hallucinating. ...more
And he awoke to the steel pains of his aged, wounded body, lying on a cold seabed on an alien world in an alien universe.
There is a clear divide here, And he awoke to the steel pains of his aged, wounded body, lying on a cold seabed on an alien world in an alien universe.
There is a clear divide here, as far as the reviews are concerned. Some people really enjoyed this novel, while others, well, really didn’t. I’d read some of the reviews before starting Seeds of Earth, so I was actively on the lookout for reasons to dislike it, but surprisingly didn’t find any. True, the first third of the book isn’t paced as hastily as some might like, but it’s interesting stuff all round and it speeds up quite a bit once the story starts emerging. Then again, perhaps it’s the politicking that gets to people: there’s quite a bit of that. Personally, I thought the whole premise of the story was quite cool. There’s an object lesson here: don’t take every review at face value (yes – not even this one), because tastes do differ.
At best, it’s a cracking space adventure that aspires to the finest of the old school. At worst, it’s the triumph of atmosphere (style) over substance, but I’m OK with that, because it pulled me in and I enjoyed the ride. Think Star Wars as opposed to 2001: A Space Odyssey: surely there is enough space in this universe for both! Remember the old Sierra Space Quest adventures? The set pieces that feature in Seeds of Earth, such as droid graveyards, lush planets, hidden ruins, space-ship warehouses (refer Tagreli OpenPort), and more, evoked some similar memories. I want sense of wonder in my Sci Fi!
This is Space Opera in the truest sense: no wonder there is an Iain M. Banks blurb on the cover.
I should probably make some mention of the way Cobley skips ahead of himself, in effect leaving out key details and events. It seems this was a gripe for some readers, but it didn’t bother me: I am an accomplished enough reader and I have a good imagination, so I don’t need to be spoon-fed; I could follow everything well enough.
‘What was … that … thing? …’ ‘Abfagul,’ said Hover-Reski as it hummed off downslope. ‘Small one …’
There is just a smattering of Fantasy in here, as well, but it is ensconced in Sci Fi… and some scenes are so cinematic you can smell the popcorn!
I considered rating the novel five stars, but it probably (just) falls short. Next up: The Orphaned Worlds
My favourite bit – using human music to barter with aliens:
‘Hmm, yes, very good, Kaachi, very good indeed, a most intriguing range of styles and execution. Your species appears to have dedicated a great deal of thought and effort to this pastime, resulting in some fascinating, hmm, product.’ ‘Do you have any favourites yet?’ Kao Chih said. ‘I’m not so keen on that electroniki you recommended – very mannered and precise yet somehow bloodless – but this rokinrol is, ah, crude, harsh and fully alive, especially the Deep Purple, the Black Sabbath and the Led Zeppelin.’
This would have been more fun if I had actually stayed in practice. Those bends on the 22nd fret of my SG are bringing tears to my eyes... and not becThis would have been more fun if I had actually stayed in practice. Those bends on the 22nd fret of my SG are bringing tears to my eyes... and not because it's so beautiful. My fingertips have gone soft. Oh the shame.
These books are actually loads of fun. You can play the songs you like, ignore the ones you don't... and there are hundreds of volumes available. Recommended....more
Then he went on, looking for what he no longer thought he would find.
So. Stephen King... and this is the kind of thing he doesWhat a depressing book.
Then he went on, looking for what he no longer thought he would find.
So. Stephen King... and this is the kind of thing he does best - all the ingredients of a traditional SK story are here: small town, big cast of characters, paranormal event et al. Personally, I prefer his older stories, because of the nostalgia factor, but Under The Dome is a nice return to form.
There was a lot of traffic, mostly headed south. A few of these folks might have legitimate errands, but [he] thought most were human flies being drawn to the smell of blood.
Much like Brian Keene’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, this is a novel of what could conceivably happen to a tight-knit community (read: where people know too much of each other’s business) when they are cut off from the outside world. To say that things get ugly is an understatement. Murder, rape, exploitation, madness… well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. However, this novel does not deal with events in the same first person intimacy as Keene’s book. Rather, events play out on a bigger scale.
”It’s Halloween. It’s the Great Pumpkin’s fault! You have to stop the Great Pumpkin!”
The paranormal angle, even though being central to the story, is somewhat downplayed for the most part. The focus is on individual stories of misery. And, yes, this often is an uneasy read.
When he reached the foot of the driveway, heart skittering in his chest and blood thumping in his temples, the house remained dark and silent.
…but reading Horror isn’t supposed to be a breeze, is it? That would be cause for concern. On the down side, there is a futile predictability to the way the story unfolds: when characters are presented with a bad choice and a worse one… guess which one they always take?
There was something wrong in here, too. [She] was sure of it. The place felt more than creepy to her; it felt outright dangerous.
Whether you like King or not, there’s no denying he’s a master at this game. However, if you’re new to his writing go get 'Salem's Lot or The Shining first.
Somewhere voices were calling: lost and terrified. ...more
I’ve long been a fan of McDevitt. In his fictional universe there is still more than a little mystery and sense of wonder out there.Conflicted Review
I’ve long been a fan of McDevitt. In his fictional universe there is still more than a little mystery and sense of wonder out there. These days, in fiction, the stars are only a backdrop to the story. Not so in McDevitt’s mysteries. Stephen King blurbs him as the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. This makes sense, considering the irresistible old-school charm of his novels.
There is an incredibly authentic feel to McDevitt’s future. His unique approach, such as the inclusion of newscasts and future “historical” quotes and anecdotes, underscores this realism. In fact, Odyssey reads a bit like a future mockumentary. Therein also lies the problem. The Academy / Priscilla Hutchins / Engines of God novels were never noted for their frenetic pacing, but with Odyssey the author seems to have (purposely) slowed things down yet another notch. Why? While the leisurely pace and discussions on future “current events” allow readers the time to immerse themselves, we need to bear in mind that this used to be (predominantly) a space adventure mystery series.
Quirky Dialogue Intermission
“You can’t be serious.” “The chance that it would happen is remote. But there is a chance.” “Give me a number.” “Maybe one in a million. It’s hard to say.” “One in a million they could blow up the universe.”
So just how bad is the pacing issue? Well, I suppose it isn’t the end of all things. In fact, reading through the other reviews here it’s obvious that some readers really enjoyed Odyssey. However, I happen to know McDevitt is better than this. The first three novels in this series are stunning! That said, even a mediocre McDevitt outing is still pretty darn entertaining.
As far as the characters are concerned
Hutch herself takes a bit of a back seat in this novel to another recurring character (refer Deepsix). It’s easy to either like or dislike Gregory MacAllister in equal measure, depending on your point of view and the context of circumstances. He is cynical to the point of being a caricature, but he is also very amusing at times. Does he work well as the primary protagonist? I’m not too sure. I preferred Hutch in the driving seat.
The final word
Odyssey is a good book, but suffers from pacing issues, and as a result falls short of being very good. There is a decent amount of Sense of Wonder in the novel - one thing in particular will stay with me: a derelict space ship orbiting a planet dozens of light years from earth and which now serves as an automated museum. The flurry of excitement toward the end of the novel goes some way into pulling it through (barely). I was reminded of L.E. Modesitt Jr. while reading this, although I have only read two of his science fiction novels (as yet). In the end it's all moot - you owe it to yourself to read some McDevitt, but not necessarily this. Start with The Engines of God, or his Nebula winner: Seeker
In closing – the Blurb of the day
“'Why read Jack McDevitt?' The question should be: 'Who among us is such a slow pony that s/he isn't reading McDevitt?” — Harlan Ellison ...more
Life really sucked sometimes. But it didn't have to suck all the time. Sometimes things could be fixed.
Well, this one just read itself.
This is the secoLife really sucked sometimes. But it didn't have to suck all the time. Sometimes things could be fixed.
Well, this one just read itself.
This is the second Repairman Jack novel. It’s a great book. If you’ve read The Tomb (Adversary Cycle, #2) you may be entering this book with a certain expectation. Well, let me just come out and say that Legacies is every bit as good, but without the supernatural elements of its predecessor. No, the “weird” factor in Legacies is driven by pseudo science, and reads more like a conspiracy theory / techno thriller than a horror story. This is a good thing; it’s clear that the series isn’t going to stick to a specific template.
Repairman Jack, of course, is the guy who doesn’t exist. He is also the guy who fixes things. At a price, of course.
Rarely have I read anything containing a more resourceful and quick witted protagonist. He collects old films and action figures, and he belongs to the Avengers and Captain America fan clubs. He also happens to be proficient in hand-to-hand and close-quarter combat and in altering his appearance. He’s a bit like MacGyver, Batman and Sherlock Holmes rolled into one, if you will. Plainly put: he’s the guy you want on your side in a fix.
This carnage was certainly not the work of an average citizen.
Something that I found particularly fascinating in this novel was the “Building Hacking”. I wasn’t familiar with this "pastime", and at first I thought it was something the author made up, but it isn’t. No doubt some dramatic flair has been added and the requisite amount of artistic license exploited, but still. And no, it has nothing to do with computers.
Somebody was watching them. A figure crouched atop a tombstone twenty yards away. The darkness hid its features.
This is my first Brian Keene novel. As Somebody was watching them. A figure crouched atop a tombstone twenty yards away. The darkness hid its features.
This is my first Brian Keene novel. As such I don’t know how representative it is of the rest of his work. I will say that he doesn’t muck around when it comes to the grim factor. Right from the opening chapter of this novel things get violent, although to be fair, there is a bit of a plateau in the middle. I appreciated the fact that the author manages to tell a lot of story in not so many pages. This novel contains all the setting- and character building you would expect, in just a little more than 300 pages. No wasted space. Admirable.
Summers were endless. Life was not.
Something that often pops up in these horror tales that take place in the 80s, is the nostalgia factor, and this author has it down pat. This played no small part in the story’s ability to pull me in. I was a kid in the era depicted, and even though I’m not from the States, I could identify strongly with everything here. The hard rock musical references also appealed to me, because I recognized all of them and it brought home some fond memories. In fact, I still listen to quite a few of these albums / bands.
Light wisps of mist curled around the bases of the tombstones and trees. The moon seemed frozen overhead, bright and full, offering radiance, but no warmth.
It’s a pretty atmospheric story. The creature of the title is not the only vile character in the book, and the behaviour of the adults in the story (notably towards their own children) is every bit as reprehensible. This is a theme that Keene builds on as the novel progresses.
A cemetery will of course always be a pretty creepy setting for a story and Keene obviously capitalizes on that. Expect goose bumps.
It was lonely. It was angry. And above all else, it was ravenous.
I read one specific passage to my wife, who asked me to stop. And she really isn’t squeamish, but there are some aspects here that won’t appeal to everybody. One of which being what the Ghoul has in store for his female victims. Fortunately, this particular aspect is never described in any detail, only (strongly) hinted at.
I enjoyed Ghoul, and it could easily have been a 4-star or even a 5-star read, but (in my opinion) the ball was fumbled towards the end. The final showdown was a bit of an anti-climax and, well, just a bit bland and not very scary. I’m giving it 3.5 rounded down, but I would still recommend it to horror fans.
Behind him, something squealed like a monstrous, enraged pig.
Edit: It’s been a week or so since I’ve finished Ghoul and I’ve decided to up my rating to 4. For the simple reason this book isn’t leaving me alone; it’s constantly lurking in my mind and I keep replaying some of the themes Keene touched on, and especially the way the epilogue was set up. I may have missed the point (to some extent) initially, but it’s certainly hitting home now. ...more
I got this novel off the list of Bram Stoker Award winners. It won in the category for best first novel.
It starts off with a murder or two… three… fouI got this novel off the list of Bram Stoker Award winners. It won in the category for best first novel.
It starts off with a murder or two… three… four… They’re gruesome too, and the general consensus is that it’s either the work of a very deranged individual or a bear (to be fair, most of the action does take place in the wilds). Surprise, surprise then that it’s neither.
OK. So there are some well worn horror conventions on display here, but Crota does at least smack of authenticity. If the back page is to be believed, the author is of Choctaw-Cherokee descent, and the Native American lore and history he incorporates into the story makes for fascinating reading. Since this is a first novel, it is not as polished as could be, but it’s certainly relentless. It also reads pretty quickly, which makes it a nice bridge between meatier novels when you’re on a horror-devouring spree.
As you may have supposed, it does deal with themes from Native American mythology. I’m not sure whether the Crota legend is an actual legend or something the author made up, but it’s pretty cool all the same. I did find the descriptions of the beast itself a bit vague at times, so I was never quite sure how to envision it.
The novel is rather gory at times and the character development is basically non-existent, but considering that this whole story takes place in the space of a few days where the protagonists attempt to hunt and kill the bear-that-is-not-a-bear, only to be owned again and again, I suppose all is forgiven.
This is not the best creature feature I have ever read, nor is it the best horror novel I have ever read, but it is pretty entertaining and you could certainly do worse. 3.5 Stars. Recommended for those who like their critters big and mean. One thing is for sure, I won’t be walking alone in the woods at night anytime soon....
Eighteen months before, she had stared into the face of Mbwun, seen her reflection in its feral red eyes.
First of all: the cover of Reliquary is misleEighteen months before, she had stared into the face of Mbwun, seen her reflection in its feral red eyes.
First of all: the cover of Reliquary is misleading. I have a vague suspicion that the critter depicted is a rather innocuous and extraordinarily baboon-like depiction of Mbwun, because it certainly isn’t a Wrinkler. It was important for me to get that off my chest, because Reliquary is the first Pendergast novel that I read out of sequence. Why? Well, the closing chapters of Relic and the cover art of Reliquary had me thinking that this was going to be a repeat of the previous novel. Well, it isn’t.
[He] jerked his head back instinctively at the sight, but not before his brain had registered something out of his worst nightmare, worse for being vague in the dim light.
This is a fairly spooky novel, and more than a little gruesome at times, but it doesn’t quite manage to maintain the level of terror that Relic did throughout. It’s basically a “zombie” novel (of sorts) dressed up as a mystery thriller, with elements of Heart of Darkness and The Island of Dr. Moreau. Categorising it is basically impossible.
“There are perhaps more types of underground inhabitants, Dr. Brambell, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
There’s a lot of potential for spoilers here, but the basic premise of the plot is: people are turning up dead with their heads missing. Sound familiar? It should. But (obviously) there’s a twist, and I have to commend the authors on the way they tied the two novels together. Even though there is a Mbwun connection, it is rather unique and not quite what I had expected.
[He] saw, with a sense of eerie unreality, that they were cloaked and hooded.
There is a lot of science in here, and it’s again clear that Preston & Child do a lot of research when writing their novels. That said - this novel requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. More so than Relic or, probably, any of the other Pendergast novels I’ve read. Again: I can’t tell you why, since that would be a spoiler.
The one thing the book does seem to suffer from is too many protagonists. This is the last book that features such a big leading cast, and with The Cabinet of Curiosities, Pendergast takes the lead role for himself, which makes for a much sleeker reading experience.
The good news is: the baddies are well and truly frightening. And I do mean frightening.
There was something bestial about their scuttling that turned his blood to ice.
The action moves from the New York museum (Relic) to the New York City underground. Expect scenes involving sewers, tunnels, subways, shafts… and other even more ominous surroundings. In other words, expect a lot of darkness, claustrophobia and downright terror.
In all truth: this is a 3-star book. It’s not as evenly paced as I would have liked and things get rather melodramatic towards the end. However… the sheer level of dread the Wrinklers evoked at times garners another star.
And then the screams began: ululating, rising louder and louder as they rent the soft summer night. ...more