As a result of the massive hurricanes that have hit New York City recently, Amtrak's trains tunnels were damaged by flooding, subways were impacted anAs a result of the massive hurricanes that have hit New York City recently, Amtrak's trains tunnels were damaged by flooding, subways were impacted and the lower reaches of Manhattan were imperiled. Where New York City political establishment had thought that just closing the subways would be enough to prevent problems, it is now weighing more drastic actions to stop the next tidal surge.
In Lev A.C. Rosen's new novel Depth, he imagines a Noahian flood caused by global warming, that sweeps away the entire Eastern seaboard of America. However a million New Yorkers still live in flooded Manhattan, all above the 20th floor of the giant skyscrapers there. Bridges connect buildings, boats travel between towers, and the people try not to slide off slick walkways into the dark waters below. Rosen's setting is evocative and eerie, the words making a sharp image in your brain. Manhattan remains a liberal bastion in a country controlled by the more conservative center. Rosen's flooded Manhattan is a great idea, dark, foggy and evocative.
It's too bad that the rest of the novel does not follow suit. The murder mystery and treasure hunt at the center of the novel is very intricate, overly so. Maybe because Rosen spends so much time building up the atmosphere. Or maybe because Rosen flabs up the story in an attempt to provide a background to his main character while also adding in extra wrinkles to the central mystery to make it more involved. While fleshing out the central character is a good idea and adding red herrings, tricks, dead ends, and other contrivances is mother's milk to a mystery, Rosen's novel is a glass house carnival ride. What looks like the clear path is just one more blocked door. On the plus side, Simone Pearce pierces the fog of the story and figures out the solution in a creative manner. She may be a very good character.
Simone Pearce is a private detective making her living snooping. Hired by the wife, Linnea St. Michel, Simone snaps pics of Henry St. Michel, the suspected conniving husband who is meeting with a blonde, but not for the horizontal mambo as he appears to be giving her cash. The blonde is not only meeting up with Linnea’s husband, but many of Manhattan’s well to do. It seems that there is a coral sculpture by a famous artist that is being peddled by the blonde.
Simone is friends with Caroline, the scion of a powerful New York family and the Mayor’s assistant. Caroline steers Simone to DeCostas, who thinks that there may be a secret tunnel connecting Manhattan to the mainland in one of bigger skyscrapers in New York. He wants to test them. But he has a hot bod and Simone is not afraid to sample his goods.
But then Simone sees Henry St Michel get killed and becomes a prime suspect of the police. Her ex lover is a cop who wants to help her, but Kluren, Simone’s father’s ex partner suspects Simone of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Simone does not know who to trust as she catches both DeCostas and her friend Caroline meeting with the blonde. Then Linnea disappears and Simone suspects foul play. The coral sculpture holds the key.
Rosen’s 260 page novel is full of possible suspects who may want the sculpture -- Mr. Ryan, a rich businessman, Pastor Sorenson, the head of a mainland congregation, Caroline’s family, Lou Freth, Henry’s partner, Trixie, Henry’s mother, and Dash, another detective, who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Add in Simone’s enlightenment about her mother’s disappearance and the slim volume bulges at the seams.
The denouement returns to the dark waters surrounding Manhattan, but you will have to be a strong swimmer to get to their depths. Depth is a good book, but too full of itself to escape its own deep undercurrents. Swim on. ...more
"Peripheral People" by Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore is supposed to be a detective novel set in a distant science fiction empire. The novel is not"Peripheral People" by Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore is supposed to be a detective novel set in a distant science fiction empire. The novel is not hard to follow, as the essential elements of detectives trying to apprehend murderers is a common fictional trope, but it took a long time to develop and was boring. It would have helped for some early identification of the world and world building. While the actual investigators were on a ship, there are no sf elements to same. The science fiction aspects were really limited to the psy powers of the main characters. Basically this is a cop detective novel with characters with psy talents masquerading as sf. There is also some graphic homosexual sex acts so if that is not your cup of tea, you should avoid this book. In addition, some of the descriptions of the killings would have made a character on the tv show Bones queasy.
The essential elements of the story are that two regular investigators Corwin and his partner Nika are old fashion detectives who follow clues and piece together the killer. They have been one of the best teams in the Empire. However, for no apparent reason, they have been teamed up with a West and Gavin, West is psychic and Gavin is his "Ground", the person who is tasked with keeping West from going crazy from the visions that he sees of murderers and their victims. At some past event, never completely explained, West lost his way in an investigation and almost killed Gavin. It may be because of this reason that the two teams have been joined together, or because there is a thought that both sets of investigators will be better able to catch killers.
They are on the trail of a diabolical killer who uses both psy talents and blade work to kill the peripheral people on the fringes of worlds that no one can cares about. The murderer has been in business for a long time, when West stumbles onto one of his victims while investigating a completely separate case. West's visions of the killer are intense and the victims appear to have died of intense fear after being tortured in their minds. Soon enough they identify the killer, who is rich and protected by his wealthy family. Their investigation is hampered by their boss, who wants solid proof of crimes. Meanwhile there is a growing attraction between Nika and Gavin and a relationship between the straight laced Corwin, who was cast out by his people for his minor psychic talent and keeps his psychic talents hidden, and the flamboyant irrepressible West, who is very attracted to him. Their mutual love soon blossoms into a real love affair with graphic sexual imagery.
The novel just felt too long to get where it was going, the killer was obvious, and I was constantly fighting with myself as to whether to finish it or not. I finally gave up around 80% in, my innate curiousity about the ending quashed by my total non-enjoyment of the book.
Zero World is a fast furious powder keg of a novel. An ingenious plot makes the story all the more exciting. Jason Hough's fourth novel, following theZero World is a fast furious powder keg of a novel. An ingenious plot makes the story all the more exciting. Jason Hough's fourth novel, following the winning and immensely readable Dire Earth trilogy of last summer, is a great summer read. The story is fresh, fast, interesting and intense and has great science fiction antecedents. Mixing elements of science fiction, Jason Bourne, Total Recall, assassins and Star Trek's Prime Directive, the novel succeeds on most levels.
The only reason it was not a 5 star in my mind is a Del Rey packaging error in the Kindle edition. It is not clear it contains an additional novella at the end so as you approach the climax of the novel, it seems like you still have one third of the book to go. But for that confusion while reading, and it definitely affected the reading experience, this book has everything one could want in a science fiction thriller.
Jason Hough's main character Peter Caswell is an assassin employed by a corporation known as Archon. His handler is a Monica Pendleton, who Caswell thinks is helping humanity and Archon by eliminating enemies of both. Caswell has a brain implant that speeds up his reflexes and makes him practically a superman. Along with a truly horrible gun, that shoots tiny missiles that explode in a person's body, Caswell has racked up an impressive list of kills. He is the perfect weapon. However, Caswell does not remember any details of his kills. The implant erase his memory of what he has done.
At home after a mission, Caswell has reverted back to his normal self and is about to go on vacation, when Pendleton contacts him and sends him on a mission. He is to join an investigative squad exploring a returning spaceship which has apparently discovered technology that is a danger to Earth. After accomplishing his mission, Pendleton sends him on a spaceship through a space anomaly to a distant world where he is to stop an escapee from the spaceship gone to ground. He crashlands on the planet.
However, the new world is very similar to Earth. Is Caswell on Earth 2.0? We do not know and before we even can get comfortable with Caswell on the new world, the point of view switches to Melni Tavan, who lives on the world.
Melni Tavan is a spy for the South in the North as a journalist. She is trying to find out about Valix, a woman who has come out of nowhere and her eponymous corporation that has incubated a technological revolution making a great and powerful shift in the world. The Valix Corporation's ideas and innovations has given the North a leg up in their relationship with the South. The North is making great strides and the South is worried. Valix labs have produced microchips, semiconductors and other technological leaps. The Prime Directive is being completely violated. Or is it?
Caswell's first attempt to assassinate Valix will be a failure, but she will tell the reader important truths about Caswell. It will also alert the North and Valix to his presence, but during his escape, he runs into Tavan, who, with the South, will try to use Caswell to stop Valix.
But we still do not know whether Caswell is on the good team. Making Caswell's mission harder is that he cannot digest the food on the planet. And without food, his implant that makes him a superman is not as effective.
Now the North will be going after Caswell while Tavan and Caswell are going after Valix. There is high tension. Will Caswell be able to survive in his mission to stop Valix or not. All the while Caswell's implant is also counting down days to when he will revert and will not remember any of the events of the last 30 days. When will that happen? Caswell will have scant time to even know and prepare.
Meanwhile, we are learning about the world, Valix and Caswell and what we learn is very surprising.
Ultimately, Hough pulls off a complex science fiction thriller keeping the reader guessing about the good guys and the bad guys. Memorable characters. Great action. The ultimate deception and reveal will be super smart and convincing.
Mel Odom's 'Master Sergeant" is a military science fiction novel set on Markaum, a jungle infested planet in the cross hairs of a hostile alien empireMel Odom's 'Master Sergeant" is a military science fiction novel set on Markaum, a jungle infested planet in the cross hairs of a hostile alien empire and the Terran Federation. Although the ferocious war going on between the Terran Federation and the scorpion like aliens is about the to erupt all over the galaxy, this book only sets the stage for the greater war to follow in other books. But it is full of hard hitting battles between members of the Terran forces and the augmented mercenaries hired by corporations to exploit the world's riches. It is not a great book, it does not ask questions about war or its justifications. It just gets the job done.
Markaum is an inimical world, where human settlers from hundreds of years ago now live on planet, but are not members of the Terran Federation or part of the alien empire. They have adapted to the constant battle with the fauna and flora, but their world's rich animal life, diversity and incredible flora has the super corporations and aliens eager to exploit its untapped riches. The aliens want the planet as a way station to their military expansion plans and they have a habit of taking over worlds, killing the populace with bio-engineered contagions and stripping the world of its wealth. Corporations are also on planet and have built a space station to exploit the untold bio goods found on the planet. The Terran Federation is on planet negotiating with the Markaum elders to have them join the Federation and to protect the populace from the corporations and possible alien attacks.
Frank Cage, a war veteran, who has spent the last few years as an instructor for soldiers sent to the front lines, has been posted to Markaum to train the green troops there. Itching to return to the real war, he immediately gets in trouble with the ruthless mercenary DawnStar corporation. This space corporation is involved in both legal and illegal activities. They have been able to find loopholes in the military presence through bribing certain contacts in the military.
While the Corps can help a planet, Dawnstar has built and runs illegal drug labs hidden in the jungle. They ship in slaves and run their labs with ruthless augmented mercenaries sporting the latest bio-cyber weapons and wetware.
Although Cage is itching to fight the aliens, he is tasked by his commander to go after the Corp's illegal operations in the jungle. Targeted for assassination by Corp hit men in the the Terran landing zone, Cage puts together a select hit squad to go after the Corps in their the jungle hideaways.
The stage is set for an ultimate confrontation between the illegal corp. agents and Cage's men.
There are plenty of advanced weapon gun battles, war, fighting and combat. Will Cage be able to take down DawnStar's illegal operations before they kill him? Will some natives join the cause? Will the aliens' plans come to the attention of Cage and his men?
This is a decent enough intro to the coming hot alien - human war while filled with plenty of science fiction advanced weapons, augmented mercenaries, special forces and fighting. ...more
Ancillary Justice is an innovative sf masterwork from Ann Leckie about the nature of artificial intelligence and human emotion set in a nasty scienceAncillary Justice is an innovative sf masterwork from Ann Leckie about the nature of artificial intelligence and human emotion set in a nasty science fiction empire run by the Radch. In Breq, the main character of this quest for revenge story, Leckie touches on how an artificial intelligence controlling multiple independent people can still have feelings for other independent people. Its an "I, Robot" moment for a more weathered science fiction universe.
The Imperial Radch is not a nice place. Expanding outward into space and conquering worlds in their wake, the Radch conquer planets and forcibly join their people (called an annexation) into their sphere of influence. Think of the recent taking of Crimea by Russia. During an annexation, the Radch use huge conquering ships to control the population. The ships, who travel long distances, are controlled by an artificial intelligence. The Radch have human soldiers but they do not want to waste their soldiers on controlling a planet. So they scoop up people and forcibly freeze the bodies and then inject the artificial intelligence into the prisoners brains. Its an operation in which the mind of the person is destroyed and the body is then inhabited by the ship brain. Typically during this annexation, the Radch force is led by officers who are served by Ancillary soldiers controlled by the ship brain. Most such officers are merely interested in loot and taking power. In worlds where there are haves and have nots, the Radch typically favor the haves and use the populous of the have nots for the Ancillary forces that subjugate the population. The upper tier of a world then is more interested in joining.
During an annexation on a distance world, Lieutenant Awn has upset the apple cart a little by favoring a group of what would pass for the middle class, as opposed to those of more wealth. Lieutenant Awn is cared for by Justice of Toren, the huge warship and her twenty Ancillary. One of the specific Ancillary's is specifically tasked with guarding and being the personal attendant to Awn, and sees that Awn is a more noble Radch, who is interested in the well being of the conquered planet. As a result, the leader of the Empire, the Emperor herself, a muliple clone entity, comes to visit the planet and questions Lieutenant Awn and precipitates a showdown, in which something happens.
All of this is revealed piecemeal through flashbacks. All we know is that Breq, who used to be an Ancillary of Toren is hunting for someone who has an alien designed weapon capable of going through Radch armor.
Between the flashbacks and the present, Leckie gradually reveals her story and the story of Breq, who she is and who she is hunting.
Its powerful science fiction. Very similar in characterization to Cherryh, this is the best science fiction book of the year....more
Devi Morris is a trained armored warrior stationed aboard The Glorious Fool, a special ship captained by Brian Caldswell. She is one ferocious warriorDevi Morris is a trained armored warrior stationed aboard The Glorious Fool, a special ship captained by Brian Caldswell. She is one ferocious warrior who kicks butt and takes no prisoners. But Devi has lost her memory and cannot remember everything that happened in the last 6 months. We do know the following.
Caldswell has been secretly stealing young girls and converting them into clones of Maat, a powerful user of energy who can battle the phantoms -- interdimensional space aliens. The phantoms are so powerful that they can destroy whole planets. For seventy years, Caldwell has been on the front lines trying to secretly contain and thwart the phantoms. But the situation is unstable. Bennent, Caldwell's ex partner is leading a rebellion against Caldswell.
Meanwhile the powerful alien and murderous clan of Xith'cal, who breed humans for food, developed a virus that was intended to fight the phantoms. But the virus is inimical to Xith'cal and when it breached containment, all the Xith'cal on that ship died. But someone did get infected and is still alive.
Caldwell wiped Devi's memory at the end of the first book because she got too close to the truth of the mission. But she also has a secret. Black soot is spreading over her body when she gets angry. It gives her special powers to see the space aliens. Her new abilities have attracted the attention of the Xith'cal, Caldswell's enemies and the Leglis, who also are inter-dimensional space aliens. It was the Leglis who made a treaty with Caldswell 70 years before to imprison Maat and to help him fight the phantoms.
In this action packed sequel Devi must learn to use her new found powers to see and hunt phantoms. The Glorius Fool and its crew are once again battling the phantoms, the Xith'cal, who want to control Devi, Bennett and his allies and even Maat to save the universe. Its full of action, space battles, some pathos, more action and individual man-alien warfare. Devi Morris is a great character and this space opera rocks.
A minor quibble is that the book dives right into the action and without an introduction to the prior book, it places a large burden on the reader to come to grips with all of the characters.
"Don't Even Think About It" is a light breezy read about a bunch of high school students who suddenly find themselves with telepathy. Sarah Mlynowski"Don't Even Think About It" is a light breezy read about a bunch of high school students who suddenly find themselves with telepathy. Sarah Mlynowski knows about teen issues. Her characters, both the girls and boys - almost evenly divided, have to cope with suddenly finding out everyone's innermost thoughts. While there are ways to block the thoughts from intruding, the teens find out secrets about their parents, the nurse and everyone they come in contact with that they do not really want to know. But they also cannot escape their fellow Espies prying minds.
Everyone in their group suddenly has no privacy. They hear every little comment about their weight, their friends, their dates, their hopes, their desires, the boys they are dating or want to date, the girls they are dating, what people think about their weight, their breasts, their muscles, how good a kisser they are, how their clothes fit and every bad secret in their lives. Plus they learn all the dirty secrets their parents are trying to hide. Mlynowski focuses mainly on the various romantic relationships between the girls and boys -- from the beautiful Mackensie, who cheated on her boyfriend Cooper with another boy, to Tess, who likes Teddy, who, however, likes Sadie, who is dating another boy. Then there is BJ, who claims that he wants to help her Tess win over Teddy, but maybe is really enamored with Tess. Telepathy adds another layer to the typical high schooler's issues.
Other kids, however are using their new found powers to scheme. Pi, a leader of the Espies, and the second smartest kid in school, listens in on another student while taking a test but does not like it when other students cheat on her. Other students, use their talents to win games, play better baseball or to to finesse a relationship with a boy or girl because they know all of their date's likes. Mlynowski barely touches on the morality of the teens using their talents in this way. We barely hear any mention of why listening in is wrong or using your powers to hit better in baseball is wrong. Both Cooper and another character learn enough about people to make some hard decisions about their relationships.
This is a book for teens who want to read about other teens who gain the power of listening in on their friends, but learn it's no panacea to solve their relationship issues. It is just another issue to confront and overcome.
The big issue for the Espies is are they willing to give up their powers when a solution is offered.
Read the book to find out what they do.
This book has a fair bit of romantic talk, kissing descriptions and minor sexual discussions. Its aimed more for teens than tweens....more
The science fiction elements of the story, which are decent, are overshadowed by the very simplistic murder mystery. There is just not enough suspectsThe science fiction elements of the story, which are decent, are overshadowed by the very simplistic murder mystery. There is just not enough suspects, and so the mystery is easily figured out.
I saw the second book is out and gonna try it out. Hopefully it will be a better plot this time....more
"The Exodus Towers", Jason Hough's winning followup to last spring's "The Darwin Elevator" is a very good science fiction novel full of action, advent"The Exodus Towers", Jason Hough's winning followup to last spring's "The Darwin Elevator" is a very good science fiction novel full of action, adventure and political machinations, plus there is the growing threat of an alien incursion onto the planet, which Hough uses to ratchet up the the tension.
In "The Darwin Elevator", the first book in Hough's "Dire Earth Cycle", aliens set off a plague on Earth that caused most of the world's citizens to devolve into subhuman savages. The few survivors either lived in the immediate vicinity of the space elevator in Darwin, Australia, on space satellites or were the lucky few who were immune to the plague. After a war among the survivors in The Darwin Elevator, the space satellites were controlled by two groups as was the ground.
Tania and her space allies controlled a bunch of space satellites and had also seized some alien towers in Brazil, where Skylar, an immune, and Karl were setting up another ground port -Camp Exodus - in the immune area around the alien towers located there. Darwin, Australia, where the hub of the original tower was located is ostensibly controlled by Russell Blackfield, but he spends most of his time up in space. In reality, the area in Darwin is lawless, with various sectors of the port controlled by families, gangs and criminals.
As The The Exodus Towers starts, Blackfield is engaged in a space struggle against Tania to gain her sky platforms. He has ceded some power in Darwin to Grillo, who has a plan to bring the citizens of Darwin under his control.
Samantha, one of Skylar's original crew agrees to help Grillo by flying missions to find goods for Grillo's group. Hough shows how Grillo is a ruthless "religious" leader, who uses bribery and brutality to quell Darwin.
Meanwhile in Brazil, Skylar has his own troubles as an army of immunes has seized control of Camp Exodus. Their ruthless leader, Gabriel, has a plan to breed more immunes with the subhumans, and also to test people by exposing them to the virus.
Not only does Skylar have to deal with Gabriel's army, but there are odd goings on among the subhumans. Skylar has found an alien artifact that changes the subhumans into agile warriors.
Skylar must find a way to free the Camp Exodus people, discover where these alien artifacts are, and solve their use. At the same time, Tania has learned that more alien ships are on their way to Earth -- with more destructive uses for the planet.
There are temporal disruptions, action and adventure, alien puzzles, gun fights, violence, power games and political manipulation.
This is a swift read and engrossing. The action is relentless and the tight battle for control of humanity between the two groups in Brazil and Australia is ongoing. Plus, what do the mysterious aliens intend and what do the mean to do to the survivors.