This 7th novel of the Area 51 series by Bob Mayer (Pseudonym: Robert Doherty) is the “final” novel in the main story line and wraps up the events that...moreThis 7th novel of the Area 51 series by Bob Mayer (Pseudonym: Robert Doherty) is the “final” novel in the main story line and wraps up the events that have been building over the six preceding books. There are a couple of more stand-alone novels that I understand are prequels of a sort and I plan to read those as well. The author has continued on with the spinoff series, Area 51: Nightstalker.
This one is titled “The Truth” but actually we get lots of truths revealed throughout this book. Many of them have been strongly hinted at and were easily pieced together and in fact, the main truth revealed at the end was very much expected. I felt there was no other way to properly end the saga. This series has been great fun, combining historical mythology and lore with science fiction themes and military page-turning action. I love it when a series of books can combine strong myths and ancient mysteries like Atlantis, Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Sphinx, Excalibur, King Arthur, Merlin, the Arc of the Covenant, the Great Wall of China, the Black Death, the Holy Grail, etc. with historical personages like Sir Richard Francis Burton and Nikola Tesla. Throw in a nice mix of fictional heroes who have to navigate the puzzles and use their brains to save mankind from rival, battling immortal aliens and you have a recipe for fun reading.
These novels won’t win any prizes for literature but serve as excellent relaxing escape-from-reality reading experiences. (less)
This fun series keeps rolling along as we approach the "final" book #7 The Truth. (There are more books in the series, technically, but they are more...moreThis fun series keeps rolling along as we approach the "final" book #7 The Truth. (There are more books in the series, technically, but they are more stand-alone additions rather than part of the 7 main novels).
The action continues on multiple fronts as each major character must take an active role in the effort to stop the alien rivalry. The pace has definitely picked up as well with the final 50 pages literally transitioning from one character's perspective to another after just a few paragraphs. Everything is happening at once and yet the author is able to keep juggling all of the plots in a well coordinated structure. It's definitely a page turner and also enjoyable to see events shaping up for the final novel. There are any number of ways for this to turn out and I'm excited to see how it goes.(less)
Bravo to the author of this clever work, Ian Doescher. I am no Shakespearean scholar (despite having actually read the complete works of the bard) , b...moreBravo to the author of this clever work, Ian Doescher. I am no Shakespearean scholar (despite having actually read the complete works of the bard) , but to write the story of Star Wars, A New Hope, in the style of Shakespeare is an awesome concept.
3,076 lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter verse, broken into 5 Acts, results in an accurate re-telling of the Star Wars story. At first glance, one might think this to be a quirky comedy of a book. But nay! 'Tis a serious work and should be studied in classrooms across this great nation. It was fun to read the characters' lines and visualize a stage play production. But even more fun were the asides. R2-D2 beeps and whirrs through his dialogue but in an aside we get to see what he is really thinking.
Having recently completed Michael J. Sullivan’s "Ryria Revelations" series of fantasy novels, I was anxious to give Hollow World a try. Anxious but al...moreHaving recently completed Michael J. Sullivan’s "Ryria Revelations" series of fantasy novels, I was anxious to give Hollow World a try. Anxious but also nervous. A fantasy author giving a try at science fiction? That could turn out in several different ways and not all of them good.
This book is not heavy on the science as acknowledged in the Author’s note. I won’t summarize the plot but I will say that this is a book that involves time travel. But it’s not at all about how time travel works. It’s about the story of the characters and how traveling forward in time affects not only the awe of discovery of the new times and settings but also a great deal of self-discovery.
Having read Sullivan before, I expected a well-written story but with a pretty straight-forward plot with a few surprises thrown in to keep you turning the pages. For the first third of the novel, that’s what I got. It even occurred to me that what I was reading was really a book about a character from our present day world thrust into a new future setting…but in many ways very much like a fantasy novel. No elves or castles or anything like that but still a sort of fantasy world. Nice world building, a cool history, even a mysterious murder or two.
But then everything changed. No spoilers here but suffice it to say that this nice neat little sci-fi/fantasy story became a large-concept piece and the ending could even be considered controversial. Sullivan tackles some big issues in this book, issues of cultural values, gay rights, religion, political viewpoints and the very nature of what society is and/or should be. I admire the way he presents both sides to many issues, successfully arguing each angle from various characters’ points-of-view. It becomes evident that more than one viewpoint can be correct, depending on how a character looks at an issue. And yet, through all of this, he never loses sight of the story. The book is light on the hard sciences but heavy on the “soft” sciences of philosophy, sociology, etc. Don’t expect a sci-fi novel akin to works by David Brin or Greg Bear. It also happens to be a Kickstarter project, a most successful one I might add. It does work as a stand-alone novel but there is plenty of room for more stories here if the author chooses to pursue them.
There will be those who really like this novel and those that hate it, even among the legions of fans of Sullivan’s fantasy novels. But I found it thought-provoking, insightful, but most importantly, once again, a darn good story from Mr. Sullivan. If he writes more in this world, I will most definitely read them.(less)
This is the 51st Stephen King book I’ve read so I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan. Before I get into the book itself, I will pause for a moment to sa...moreThis is the 51st Stephen King book I’ve read so I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan. Before I get into the book itself, I will pause for a moment to say…this one is among his very best works and ranks among my all-time favorites. It’s that good.
I’ve always been enamored with King’s ability to craft a story that works on multiple levels. This novel is just such a success and for exactly that reason. At its most basic core, it is really three novels all intermixed as one. Obviously, first and foremost, it’s a time-travel novel, involving a man travelling back through a time tunnel to 1958 so that he can be in position to stop the JFK assassination in November of 1963. That alone would make for an intriguing novel considering the massive amounts of background information that is available on the subject, and given the wide world of conspiracy theorists that keep most of us wondering about it all still to this day. And King comes through in spades on this front, allowing us to spy on the movements of Lee Harvey Oswald and his circle of family and cohorts. I can’t say much more about this without spoilers…so I won’t other than to say the build-up and anticipation of what may or may not come is edge-of-your-seat stuff.
But in the end…it’s not really about that.
The second aspect of the novel is about life in the late 1950’s and early 60’s in small town America. The idea of living in simpler times has often appealed to me even though, as King certainly acknowledges, while life was good for many, it wasn’t so good for others (minorities, women, etc.). The book spends a lot of time letting us sink our toes into the sweet times of the small town of Jodie, Texas. King has sometimes been criticized for excessive wordiness and I suppose some readers may make that claim about this book as well, especially through this part but I wouldn’t have wished for one less word. These scenes allowed me to come to know the main characters like few others in all of the fiction I’ve read. I came to love them, and hope for them, and absolutely care what happened to them…a great set-up for the other intriguing aspects of the novel.
The third theme of the novel is pure romance. Rarely have I come across such a completely enthralling romance between two characters as I enjoyed in this novel. I don’t mean the bodice-ripper style of romance with the cheesy covers but rather a true, bonafide, realistic, and totally absorbing romance. This, above all, is what launched this book onto my all-time favorites list. Strange, I admit, but there it is.
This is a lengthy novel but, to me, it was worth every sentence. If King’s literary writing abilities were ever doubted and for those who still judge King only by a single reading of Cujo or The Tommyknockers, please read this novel. I would say this is definitely one of his more “literary” works but there are still plenty of “Kingisms” along the way; some truly eerie coincidences, some horrific situations, and plenty of thrills. But overall, this one transcends genre. A masterpiece. (less)
Often by this point in a series (book #5) they start to grow stale or repetitive but this one seems to be holding steady and even becoming better each...moreOften by this point in a series (book #5) they start to grow stale or repetitive but this one seems to be holding steady and even becoming better each time. The author mixes up the plot and introduces new characters well but probably the sheer scope of the material is what allows it to keep going at a nice pace. After all there is a lot you can do when you come to understand that the entire history of our planet and every significant event was actually shaped and manipulated by aliens.
Still quite a bit of military-style action to suit those fans but this entry in the series delved more into the historical aspects of what’s really been happening throughout human history. The author used a cool technique this time around to help give us some excellent backstory on the alien history. He uses the famous explorer from history, Sir Richard Francis Burton, to tell us the story. But rather than use some kind of flashback tool, the characters of the story translate some of his lost material throughout the course of the novel, feeding us awesome pieces of the puzzle one translated chapter at a time. I happen to be a huge fan of Burton and have read several biographies of him. He had an amazing life and if you haven’t had the chance to really “discover” him yourself I urge you to do so. The author of this novel could not have chosen a better historical figure to enhance the plot here.
Looking forward to the next with continued hopes that this series doesn’t peter out. (less)
I read my first ERB book, Pirates of Venus when I was about 12 years old went on to read every one of the Venus, Mars, and Pelucidar series and at lea...moreI read my first ERB book, Pirates of Venus when I was about 12 years old went on to read every one of the Venus, Mars, and Pelucidar series and at least 6 Tarzan books before I was 18. Since that time I pick up one now and again, mostly for nostalgic reasons but always with a great fondness for these books.
This collection of 11 stories is a fantastic return to those times. Some of the best authors in the business contributed to this collection including Peter David, Max Allan Collins, Mercedes Lackey, F. Paul Wilson, Mike Resnick, and Joe Lansdale. All channel ERB's voice nicely and pull you back into those worlds.
Truly, an enjoyable collection, even if you're not a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs.(less)
The seventh and final novel in the “Apprentice Adept” series goes a long way towards making up for the last two novels. For a series that started out...moreThe seventh and final novel in the “Apprentice Adept” series goes a long way towards making up for the last two novels. For a series that started out so brilliantly over the course of the first three novels (originally planned as only a trilogy anyway…should have stayed that way) the second part of the overall series rapidly declined. In fact it’s been over a year since I read book 6 just because I was worried the whole thing would fade into the sewer.
But not so, thankfully. The magical world of Phaze has long since merged with the scientific world of Proton but now we experience a threat from off-world in the form of the Hectares. Hectares are BEMs (Bug-Eyed Monsters) who desire to exploit the resources of the Phaze/Proton world. The intriguing character of Lysander is introduced and his motivations drive the plot. Many many characters come into play in this novel, most of them making return appearances from the previous 6 books in the series. Consequently, following the story can be tiring; I could not imagine doing so without having read the previous novels in the series. The plot is vintage Piers Anthony though with lots of clever plotting, twists, game psychology, and juvenile sexual innuendo.
This was a satisfying conclusion to the series and I’m glad Mr. Anthony or his publisher didn’t try to squeeze out yet another in this universe. As intriguing as the concept is, mashing fantasy with science fiction, to do any more would be to drive it all into the ground. (less)
Harlan Ellison is an absolute giant in the world of speculative fiction, as most people are aware. His short fiction is among the most often cited exa...moreHarlan Ellison is an absolute giant in the world of speculative fiction, as most people are aware. His short fiction is among the most often cited examples of how to “do it right” and, quite honestly, should be studied by all who endeavor to write well themselves. This massive collection includes over 80 pieces of his work including science fiction, horror, humor, main-stream fiction, and several rather pointed essays. That sounds like a lot of material, but with Ellison’s output of over 1700+ stories (as of 1999), it barely scratches the surface.
So how to select the proper mix of stories for such a “50 Year retrospective?” I have no idea but the editors have done a fine job in my opinion. Included are stories from Ellison’s youth, the first of which is dated 1949, as well as major classics of speculative fiction such as “I have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” “A Boy and His Dog,” “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” and “The Deathbird.” You’ll find the classic Ellison stories in anthologies everywhere but this volume digs deeper and allows us to take a sort of journey along his career (at least up until 2001 when this was published). We are also exposed to several essays which shed an honest light on Ellison’s rather notorious ‘mean-spiritedness.’ It’s refreshing to read his side of the story and while it’s evident that he is not a person to be bullied, his masterful ability with the written word, even in a letter to a publisher, is fascinating.
I read this collection over many months but I’ve read every bit of it now. I’ve come away with a deep appreciation for Ellison’s work as well as his approach to life. If I had to pick one piece within this collection that was most inspiring, it would not be a story at all but rather his “Introduction to ‘Tired Old Man’ “, written in 1975. It describes what Ellison, himself, considers among his favorites of his own work and describes how it came to be written, based on an apparent supernatural experience of the author’s.
A truly great collection. Highly recommended. (less)
After my somewhat lukewarm reaction to the first three books of this series, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The balance of character, plot, a...moreAfter my somewhat lukewarm reaction to the first three books of this series, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The balance of character, plot, and setting was much improved and the whole novel fairly hummed along. I especially enjoyed the sections involving the character of Mualama as he follows in the footsteps of one of the greatest real world explorer/adventurers of all time, Sir Richard Francis Burton. Perhaps it is my genuine interest in that great personage that assisted my overall positive reception to this volume of the Area 51 series.
But no, it's more than that The two main characters of the series, scientist Lisa Duncan and Special Forces officer, Mike Turcotte, were better developed characters this time around. Where they were sort of annoying before, this time they were interesting. And their supporting characters were rather intriguing. The plot itself picks up from volume three and moves on at break-neck pace, taking place over the course of 48 hours.
The author (Robert Doherty is a pseudonym for Bob Mayer) is adept at blending science fiction concepts of aliens and their advanced technology with military operations as well as historical events, leading to a nice mash-up of genres and an overall good story. Looking forward to the next book in this series.(less)
The second-to-last line of this book is "You got to be F'in kidding me!" I couldn't have said it better myself.
I can see how many readers would love t...moreThe second-to-last line of this book is "You got to be F'in kidding me!" I couldn't have said it better myself.
I can see how many readers would love this novel. It's a sweeping panorama of science-fiction/alien contact/Commonwealth vastness. The "world building" is on an epic scale and there are numerous characters to follow.
But for me, I just couldn't get into it. Perhaps it was too vast and sweeping. Perhaps there were too many characters for my taste. There was a murder/detective story in there that was pretty drawn out and seemed to have very little to do with the rest of the plot at least until near the end of the book. All of the female characters seemed identical and the author took great pains to point out how beautiful and sexy they were. I didn't notice anything like that with the male characters.
And the book doesn't end. There is a cliff hanger ending, after nearly 1100 pages of reading with no warning that this was just the first volume of a 2-part novel. Sort of a pet peeve of mine.
I may someday tackle part two of this grandiose novel but it's not on my to-be-read-next list.
Like many reviewers, I was blown away by The Mote in God's Eye, quite possibly the best alien first contact novel ever written. So it is not surprisin...moreLike many reviewers, I was blown away by The Mote in God's Eye, quite possibly the best alien first contact novel ever written. So it is not surprising that a sequel, written more than a decade later would have difficulty living up to that.
That first book was so good because it revolved around the slow building of understanding of just what the alien species (The Moties) were all about. Were they allies or threats or some combination? That is largely known now as we head into this book so there has to be something else upon which to base this second novel. The plot attempts to do that but what I have seen time and time again, with the harder science fiction novels is that the character development is sacrificed for the science, or in this case, the science/economic/political aspects of the world building. The plot is there and many of the characters from the first novel return, but I just didn't find myself engaged with them or the overall plot. So it was "OK" but nothing special and certainly nowhere near the novel that was 'Mote'.
I would recommend readers stick with reading just the first novel and avoid this one.(less)
OK, anybody that has read any of my previous reviews of Sanderson's work knows just how much I admire his writing. I've real...moreWowzer! Awesome! etc. etc.
OK, anybody that has read any of my previous reviews of Sanderson's work knows just how much I admire his writing. I've really run out of superlatives to describe his work, both the quality of it and the sheer amount of output he generates. I don't know of any other human on the planet that can write/publish so many books and sustain such high quality. He is simply amazing.
This novel is, of course, no exception. From the very first page, I was absorbed in this new world Sanderson has created. Yes, it's a young adult novel, but the only reason to classify it as such is that the main character, David, is 18 years old. But in every other way, this is a main-stream novel, filled with violence, action, and thought-provoking characters. In essence, this could be called a "super-hero" novel (mostly evil super-heroes) so I suppose that's another reason to classify it as YA. And we are treated to some inner thoughts from David that testify to his late-teenage attitudes towards others and self doubt. But I found them to be very true to the nature of the character, and essential to the plot.
The story takes place here on approximately present-day Earth, about ten years after an unexplained burst in the sky (subsequently referred to as 'Calamity') caused the appearance of 'Epics'. Epics are humans that have abilities, amazing superhero-like powers, and tend to use them for personal gain and power. They are so powerful that nobody fights them. Nobody except the 'Reckoners'. Epics are essentially bullies (bullies with incredible destructive power) but each one has a weakness, and thus can be fought by ordinary folks like us.
OK, that sounds like a plot for a YA novel for boys age 10-14. But I say 'Nay, friend.' This is a novel for all of us. The plot is only the superficial top layering of this 17-layer cake and, believe me friends, this cake has a lot of delicious calories. Sanderson is known for his unique, complex magic systems that he constructs for his novels. So, of course, the system that he has built for superheroes is equally complex and interdependent. He doesn't just come up with weird cool powers and sprinkle superheroes around. Epics' powers work the way they work for a reason and discovering just how they relate to each other is pure fun. And all through this novel (as well as in future novels in this series, I'm sure), we learn more and more about just how well thought out this system is.
All of that stuff makes for fun reading and good movie entertainment but it's the characters that allow a story to rise to the top and be memorable for months and years afterwards. The core group of characters in this book are multidimensional and each one is intriguing. They are a delight to read about. I cared about each and every one, their roles, their fates. And, due to the high stakes action in this book, their fates are far from certain. Surprises await the reader at every turn; it definitely keeps the pages turning.
So, once again, my hat is off to Mr Sanderson. This is the first book of what is sure to be a great series. And although the main plot does conclude in this one book, it serves as a gateway to many more awesome books to come. (less)
I've read about 15 Star Wars books, starting way back just after the first movie came out in 1977. More often than not, I've been disappointed and mor...moreI've read about 15 Star Wars books, starting way back just after the first movie came out in 1977. More often than not, I've been disappointed and more than once, I've sworn off ever reading another. But this time I'm so very glad I decided to take a risk. How could I resist a story featuring such an iconic character?
As others have said, this is basically a western Star Wars novel. Everybody is well aware of Obi-Wan Kenobi's activities as a young man and as an old man, but until now we don't have much of a clue as to what he was all about during those hidden years on Tatooine. This novel begins just after Kenobi has delivered his "package" to the Lars homestead (i.e. the baby Luke Skywalker) and is now trying to settle into a quiet life on the desert planet and watch over and protect young Luke. Of course the quiet life proves not to be so quiet as he gets himself wrapped up in local happenings among the moisture farmers and their dealings with the Tusken Raiders/Sandpeople. Throw in a well-conceived protection racket plot and we have the makings of a fine story.
Much of the story is about the farmers themselves and how they interact. Ben (as Kenobi has decided to be called, of course) struggles to maintain his anonymity and hide his Jedi skills but sometimes circumstances make that very difficult, particularly when lives are at stake. But the novel is about more than that. Just as Ben struggles to forge his future as a hermit he must also determine the proper path for a Jedi in these circumstances. And what should his role be concerning the constant tension between the farmers and the Tuskens? I enjoyed getting to know the cast of characters and felt I had come to know them well and understand their plights. While there are some action scenes here, the bulk of the novel is not about action. And if you're looking for lots of Jedi action sequences, (and despite Ben's desire to hide that aspect of himself, there is at least one here) best look elsewhere.
A slight digression from the novel itself: I've always thought that authors who set out to write a Star Wars novel are just plain asking for trouble. The Star Wars audience really falls into two camps: those that are complete fanboys/girls that know just about every detail about the entire Star Wars expanded universe, and those that are truly casual fans that would certainly know major characters like Luke, Han Solo, Anakin, etc. but would not know a Bothan from a Ssi-Ruu. Not too many readers in between. So to which audience does a Star Wars novelist target his novel?
Happily, the author of this book strikes a nice balance. There are not too many weird species here, and those that are present are well described so you can understand. At the same time, the story is not dumbed down in any way. Most of the farmers are humans and so the story thankfully becomes about the story itself and not so much about trying to decipher what's happening and who is doing what to whom.
The bulk of this story takes place over just a few days, and the entire thing occurs in less than a month. So there is plenty of room for more Ben Kenobi books should that be the plan. I, for one, hope there are more to come, as this one was a delightful surprise. (less)
The third in the Area 51 series is, of course, a continuation of events from the first two books. I didn't enjoy it as much, probably because the nove...moreThe third in the Area 51 series is, of course, a continuation of events from the first two books. I didn't enjoy it as much, probably because the novelty of the central idea has worn off somewhat, but still there is enough here for me to continue pursuing the entire series.
The new aspect of the larger alien story this time around is a threat of biological weapon attack by the aliens, a sort of "Black Death" plague to be released, destroying all humanity. The novel is constructed as the previous two in that the aliens and their advanced technology remain mostly a mystery and the human characters struggle to figure out what will happen next and try and counter it. The good guys are still in a reactive/defensive posture at this point in the series but I'm hopeful they can soon move to the offensive or else I worry the series will bog down even more.
Most of the characters here are rather flat and uninteresting, with the exception of Yakov, a Russian commando type who provides some much needed color. The strength of these novels lies in their tactical level action scenes, not characterization. I also found myself having to suspend my disbelief a little too often as relatively low level government officials are making all the decisions. You'd think that with the threat of constant end-of-the-world scenarios we would have more involvement of national leaders, world organizations, etc. Instead we get the US president's scientific adviser, a former green beret, and an Area 51 Major deciding the fate of the world time and again. But that's OK. I'm not reading these novels for insight on how we really would respond to alien invasion.
2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to the character of Yakov, introduced in this volume.(less)
This book, I believe, is one of those few that gets talked about and talked about and actually lives up to the hype. Well written, thought-provoking,...moreThis book, I believe, is one of those few that gets talked about and talked about and actually lives up to the hype. Well written, thought-provoking, and certainly disturbing but I wish I had read it as part of a literature class or a discussion group because it's just crying out to be discussed with others who are currently reading it or have just completed it.
make sure to read the "Historical Notes" at the end (written in the year 2195 and looking back at the events of the story). Those that need to have their tales neatly wrapped up and every question answered may feel frustrated at the end but that Historical Note can help with that.
Glad to see this one on most "100 books to read before you die" lists.(less)
This is the second of the Area 51 series and a nice continuation of the first. These are fairly quick and easy reads, chocked full of action-oriented...moreThis is the second of the Area 51 series and a nice continuation of the first. These are fairly quick and easy reads, chocked full of action-oriented scenes, rapidly cutting from one point-of-view to the next. As such we really don't get to spend too much time getting to know the characters but that seems less important in this sort of novel. They remind me of a combination of Stargate SG-1/Atlantis and The TV series "V". The aliens are coming...but are they friendly or not?(less)
This is the third book in the near future "Vampire Earth" series, featuring David Valentine as a young up-and-coming leader in the resistance against...moreThis is the third book in the near future "Vampire Earth" series, featuring David Valentine as a young up-and-coming leader in the resistance against alien invaders (The Kurian Invasion from 48 years before). Rest assured, this is not a "vampire" book or series. The term vampire here merely refers to the aliens' method of feeding off of "'auras" found in all living things, but particularly strong in humans.
The author's strength lies in world building as evidenced by the complex society of Kurs that he presents in this series. Each book, of course, provides more detail but it fits so well together that it had to have been all planned out from the beginning. The plot of this third novel is fairly straightforward as Valentine has a mission to accomplish involving obtaining a new weapon to use against the Kurs. Valentine, as a member of the elite "Cat" spy force goes aboard an aging gunboat named the Thunderbolt and several adventures ensue as he attempts to complete his mission. Several recurring characters as well as a couple of prominent new ones make their appearance here, all well-drawn, and I suspect we'll be seeing more from them in future entries in the series. There is also a fairly strong romance in this book which was a bit of a welcome departure from the first two novels. The overall plot does end on a cliffhanger so I would recommend having book 4 ready at hand.(less)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this 1st book in the Area 51 series. Would it be a science fiction saga along the lines of Stargat...moreI wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this 1st book in the Area 51 series. Would it be a science fiction saga along the lines of Stargate or more of a military thriller like something Dale Brown would write? The answer is...both.
This is essentially a contemporary action/adventure novel that happens to have a plot that deals with aliens, motherships, etc. There is quite a bit of military thriller writing (not surprising given the author's background) but that is balanced with a fair amount of historical/archeological puzzles that lead the characters to find out just what is happening at Area 51 and what has the US government been hiding for decades.
The novel was actually a pretty fun read and better than I had expected. Not quite 5 star material but I'll definitely be reading more in this series.(less)
The concluding book in the "Burton and Swinburne" trilogy (although I understand a fourth book is on the horizon) is a complex and highly entertaining...moreThe concluding book in the "Burton and Swinburne" trilogy (although I understand a fourth book is on the horizon) is a complex and highly entertaining smorgasbord. It's part detective novel featuring an alternate history version of the famous African explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton in the role of the primary action/sleuth. Alongside him is the trusty sidekick: poet, drunkard, and worshiper of the Marquis de Sade, Algernon Swinburne. Together and along with many other famous and not-so-famous personalities from the mid 1800s, they try to complete their chase of the time-traveling mischief maker, known as Spring-Heeled Jack and prevent the untimely assassination of Queen Victoria. So let's see, we have alternative history, Steampunk, time travel, detective mystery, and lots of action/adventure. A multi-course meal that will leave you belching with pleasure.
Wow, what a ride! All three novels have been an incredible tale in a Steampunk world with cool contraptions and even cooler personalities. The plot is rich with action and intrigue but it's those characters that really make this series come alive. And this time Burton, himself, gets to experience time travel by somehow ending up in 1914 as part of the Africa campaign in World War 1. It's not the same WWI as we know, of course, but is fascinating all the same. And as to how he got there...well that's just one of the several key mysteries that we get to dig into. And at the same "time", Burton and his team are making their way to the darkest corners of Africa (The Mountains of the Moon) in 1863 in search of the remaining eye of the Naga so as to manipulate events and avoid the coming war. OK, I give up on describing this one...just rest assured there is a lot here and it's all worth it.
A truly engaging series. I'm so happy that more are on the way.(less)
I actually enjoyed this one more than The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, the first in this alternate history - steampunk - gaslight trilogy. I...moreI actually enjoyed this one more than The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, the first in this alternate history - steampunk - gaslight trilogy. I love the way the author takes real historical characters such as Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Swinburne (as well as a host of others such as Charles Babbage, Herbert Spencer, and even a young Oscar Wilde) and weaves them into a fascinating steampunk plot taking place in London, 1862. I love me some good Sherlockian atmosphere when combined with such interesting complex characters who are engaged in an intricate mind-bending plot. Thrown in some great action, witty humor, as well as flying "rotorchairs" and a robot...er, "clockwork man", etc. etc. and you have all the elements for a great read.
Can't wait for the third of this trilogy and really hope Mr Hodder decides to expand his trilogy by a few more books.(less)
Rarely have I seen such a well-written mash-up of science-fiction and fantasy. This is the first book in a series where actors in the real world take...moreRarely have I seen such a well-written mash-up of science-fiction and fantasy. This is the first book in a series where actors in the real world take the parts of heroes in a fantasy world, ostensibly for entertainment purposes but really for power of those that pull the strings. The author describes this book as "...a piece of violent entertainment that is a meditation on violent entertainment." This is not a fantasy novel where you find the proverbial pig farmer's son who happens to be the long lost prince that rises up to become the world's most powerful magician and saves the day. It's an interesting and original concept, filled with violence and profanity as well as thought-provoking takes on the nature of power and ethics and political machinations. I think it can be read on several different levels and no doubt, different readers will come away with different experiences.
This one's been on my TBR list for quite some time as representative of fantasy's "new bread" authors (although not so new anymore). Methinks with authors like Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Sanderson, Lynch, Stover, and many others, we fantasy readers will be in fine shape for years to come.(less)
This is the sequel to Life Probe and although it does "end" it certainly seems like a sequel could easily be developed. This one takes place ~300 year...moreThis is the sequel to Life Probe and although it does "end" it certainly seems like a sequel could easily be developed. This one takes place ~300 years after the end of the previous book and so there is an entirely new cast of characters. Unfortunately, those characters seemed a bit wooden to me, probably because the author packs so much plot into relatively few pages. In essence this is a homecoming novel (humans sent out from Earth to explore and now returning after a couple of centuries). It is fun to see how life/culture, etc. has changed since they left. But then McCollum transitions the novel into another "first contact" novel, like its predecessor novel. He tries to put too much into it and the result seems like we are skimming over too much. McCollum's real strength is his physics and he does a great job of explaining some pretty complex concepts in laymen's terms here. Overall, I'm glad I read it but it won't make my "10 books to get stranded on a deserted island with" list.(less)
The second book in "The Lost Fleet" series picks up just after the first, Dauntless and this time Captain John "Black Jack" Geary must deal with a new...moreThe second book in "The Lost Fleet" series picks up just after the first, Dauntless and this time Captain John "Black Jack" Geary must deal with a new set of difficulties as he tries to navigate the dangerous enemy Syndic space in an effort to finally make it home to Alliance space.
This series really reminds me of the newer BattleStar Galactica TV series: a fleet trying to get back home; space battles, a Captain that must deal with factions among his own commanders as well as a high-ranking female civilian politician. The setting is all in space on board spaceships. At this second book in the series we still don't know a whole lot about the enemy Syndics but information is slowly leaking in. Excellent, well choreographed space battles are intermixed with military command decisions. Looking forward to reading more of these fun books.(less)