Shadows of the New Sun is a collection of stories inspired by Gene Wolfe's work and the author's fond memories of meeting Gene (or not).
Official BusinShadows of the New Sun is a collection of stories inspired by Gene Wolfe's work and the author's fond memories of meeting Gene (or not).
Official Business: I got this from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!
The authors included are Neil Gaiman, David Brin, David Drake, Nancy Kress, Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, Aaron Allston, Michael Swanwick, Mike Resnick, and others. Neil Gaiman's story, the Lunar Labyrinth, is my favorite. Timothy Zahn's story and Frostfree, the tale of a refrigerator that transforms into a woman and gives a man love advice, were tied for second place.
To be honest, the stories vary in quality, both in writing and in content. I thought the author's memories of Gene Wolfe were actually more interesting than a lot the short stories. Still, it was great to see Severian again, even if Gene wasn't writing him. Like I said, the Gaiman story was my favorite but most of them were worth reading. If you're a Gene Wolfe fan, you'll probably be entertained by this book....more
When Ross Brigham returns from a stint in the army, his life is a shambles. His wife has left him and his father, Hugo Award-winner Ed Brigham is deadWhen Ross Brigham returns from a stint in the army, his life is a shambles. His wife has left him and his father, Hugo Award-winner Ed Brigham is dead with Ross tapped to finish his last novel in his western-fantasy series, the Fire and Fiddle. But what will Ross do when he finds out his father has been murdered and the world he has been writing about for years is real?
Two disclosures before we get down to business. 1. I got this book in exchange for a review. And it's pretty damn sweet. 2. I'm never in a hurry to read self-published books since they are usually not well written or edited to any visible degree. However, this one's name is a line from a Johnny Cash song.
Confession Time: Sometime during the gap between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, I was so enamored with the Dark Tower that I took a number of stabs at writing my own Dark Tower-inspired fantasy western. I got about 30-40k in before I decided I was just rewriting the Dark Tower and put it on the shelf. I'm glad S.A. Hunt didn't shelf his Dark Tower homage.
Like it says on the back cover, The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree is a love letter to the Dark Tower, 80's fantasy, and spaghetti westerns. Even still, I accepted this book with reluctance. I mean, first off, it's from Createspace. Why don't I just get out my red pen and start clenching my jaw right now? And it's an homage to the Dark Tower? Did Hunt just change a some things around and regurgitate the sacred texts like so many Tolkien imitators have done before him?
He did not.
While the Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree may have been inspired by the Dark Tower in some degrees, like Stephen King being a character in the later books and the fact that there are Gunslingers running around, it stands on its own. It actually reminds me more of the second half of Lev Grossman's The Magicians, where Quentin finds out that the Narnia-analog Fillory is real.
Ross and friends Sawyer and Noreen find themselves on Destin, the world Ross's father had been writing up until his untimely death. A mysterious black figure stalks them as they struggle to get acclimated to their new world. Hunt makes the world-building fairly painless. I love that aspiring gunslingers have to eat some fungus as their final test. Those that survive have their brains reconfigured by the fungus to be awesome killing machines. Those that don't end up dead or irreparably insane. Good stuff.
My fears about the writing were unfounded. There were some editing hiccups but it was head and shoulders above most self-published books I've ever read. I loved references to the Dark Tower, the Simpsons, and lots of 80's fantasy and sf movies.
Any complaints? Just that there wasn't as much gunslinging action as I was hoping. It feels like the first volume of a series, which it is. When's the next one coming out, Hunt?
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory wind up in London in 2789, just in time to see an android dredged from teh Thames. But how could a model of android that's jThe Doctor, Amy, and Rory wind up in London in 2789, just in time to see an android dredged from teh Thames. But how could a model of android that's just been created be almost a thousand years old? And what does its warning to the Doctor mean?
I'm not sure why I originally picked this up since I pretty much swore off reading George Mann after so-so experiences with The Affinity Bridge, The Osiris Ritual, and Ghosts of Manhattan. I think what sold me is that the plot description reminded me of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where they found Data's severed head in a cave beneath San Francisco.
This Doctor Who novel was actually the best Eleventh Doctor novel I've read so far. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory were portrayed with more accuracy than I've encountered in the past. The supporting characters, Arven the Android and Archibald Angelchrist, an old man with a past of adventuring, did their part more than adequately.
The plot is a pretty good one and could easily have been an Doctor Who episode. While the Doctor goes back to 1910 to investigate, Rory and Amy stay put in 2789 to check on Professor Gradius, a scientist conducting time travel experiments, only to run into trouble on their own. There's some timey-whimey and the two plotlines converge, complete with running away and the Doctor saving the day.
The threat, the Squall, are a batlike species of hive-minded aliens who invade the two points in time via a rift created by Gradius' experiments. Even though I knew all the main characters would survive, things got pretty tense a few times. The Doctor wrapped things up nicely and the epilogue was pretty fitting.
For once, everything is fish fingers and custard. This is probably as close to a 4 that I'll ever give a Doctor Who novel....more
The TARDIS takes a wrong turn on the way to Leadworth to drop the Ponds off for Christmas and The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves on a far flungThe TARDIS takes a wrong turn on the way to Leadworth to drop the Ponds off for Christmas and The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves on a far flung colony world that is in the grips of the worst winter the world has ever seen. But what's causing the hellish weather? And what's killing the livestock? And can the Doctor and the Ponds get to the bottom of things before it's too late?
Of course they can! After all, he's The Doctor.
In the wake of the announcement of the actor playing the Twelfth Doctor, I decided I'd better finish reading the Eleventh Doctor novels I have on the pile. While this isn't my favorite of the several Doctor Who novels I've read, it has its moments.
The Silent Stars Go By sees the Doctor and Amy get separated from Rory early on, wandering around the frozen colony world of Hereafter. If only Rory hadn't gone back to the TARDIS for a heavier coat. After some mistaken identity shenanigans and disbelieving colonists, the meat of the story gets flung on the table in all it's frozen glory in the form of classic Who enemies, The Ice Warriors.
Abnett does a fairly good job. Rory and the Doctor both ring true to form from the TV series. It was hard not to hear the actor's voices in my head while reading. Amy, on the other hand, doesn't get to do much and is on the weaker side of things.
TSSGB felt like an old adaptation of a Doctor Who episode, lots of banter, running from things, and timey-whimey, which was the main problem I had with it. The whole thing felt really thin, like maybe Abnett had written a Doctor Who script at some point and slapped a few descriptions on it. The book was very dialogue-heavy and I could almost pick out where the commercial breaks would go.
Still, it wasn't all bad. There was a twist at the 75% mark, just like a lot of Doctor Who episodes, that was unexpected and saved the book from being a monster of the week affair. Abnett did a lot more with the Ice Warriors than I thought he would and the colony had some secrets of its own. Overall, I enjoyed the experience but I really wanted to love it. 3 out of 5 stars....more
The Doctor and Romana receive a mysterious distress signal, leading them to Cambridge University, home of The Doctor's old friend and fellow Time LordThe Doctor and Romana receive a mysterious distress signal, leading them to Cambridge University, home of The Doctor's old friend and fellow Time Lord, Professor Chronotis. Chronotis inadvertantly lets a Time Lord artifact, a book entitled The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey, pass into the hands of a clueless young student. Unfortunately, an egomanic called Skagra also has designs on the book and will do anything to get it. Can The Doctor find the book, stop Skagra's nefarious scheme, and unearth the secrets of Shada?
I have a confession to make. Before getting hooked on the adventures of the eleventh Doctor and began backtracking, my only exposure to Doctor Who was on Sunday nights, waiting through Pertwee and Baker episodes for Red Dwarf to come on. I've since mended my ways.
Crafted from mostly unfilmed Douglas Adams's scripts, Shada is the tale of three Time Lords against a man with a sphere capable of absorbing people's minds. Skagra, the villain, manages to be simultaneously menacing and somewhat ridiculous. From his first appearance at the Think Tank, Skagra presents a capable threat to the Doctor. The subplots involing the unspoken feeling between the grad students, Clare and Chris, as well as Professor Chronotis and his place in the secret history of the Time Lords, kept things from being The Doctor running from enemies on every other page.
The meaning of the title, Shada, is only revealed about 75% of the way through. I don't want to spoil anything but I would love to see Shada depicted in a future Doctor Who episode. I guess I'll have to settle for watching Tom Baker's run as the fourth Doctor.
The writing was very engaging. There were tastes of Adams' style throughout but without as much absurdity as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Guide was even mentioned once in the text. References to past and future Doctor Who episodes were littered throughout, even mentioning edible ballbearings. I loved when Roberts had the Doctor poke fun at his supposed reliance on the Sonic Screwdriver. "I'm about to not rely on it for everything again in a moment" or something to that effect.
In conclusion, Shada is everything Coming of the Terraphiles wasn't. There's plenty of the Doctor and the Sonic Screwdriver gets a fair amount of use. While there is a lot of the Doctor and companions running from enemies, there's a good amount of humor and dramatic tension as well. I wouldn't say it's a must read for Doctor Who fans but it's a lot of fun....more
The starship Intrepid seeks out new worlds and boldly goes where no man has gone before. However, as Ensign Andrew Dahl soon discovers, low-ranked creThe starship Intrepid seeks out new worlds and boldly goes where no man has gone before. However, as Ensign Andrew Dahl soon discovers, low-ranked crew members die more often aboard the Intrepid than brain cells at a Spring Break weekend while the senior officers, besides Lt. Kerensky, always survive without a scratch. As they dig deeper, what will Andy and his friends uncover?
Anyone who's watched more than two or three episodes of Star Trek knows that it's always the extra, or redshirt, that dies when the crew beams down to a planet or any other location that's not on the bridge of the ship. Why is that? That's the question Redshirts poses to the reader.
This is not my favorite book by John Scalzi. It's not even in the top three. I love the Scalz and his brand of wit. Too bad this one was all wit and very little shi... substance. Andy and his friends were an interesting bunch. I liked how they gradually pieced things together. Wait... no they didn't. It was pretty much all handed to them.
The writing actually seemed a little on the lazy side. It was mostly dialogue and very little description. I had no idea how any of the characters looked or even what the interior of the Intrepid was supposed to look like.
The story is meant to be a takeoff of Star Trek but it felt more like several episodes of Red Dwarf, most recently the Back to Earth movie where the crew arrived on earth and encountered the actors that played them. I wasn't a tremendous fan of that one either.
Still, Redshirts had its humorous moments and the absurd logic was consistent. It just wasn't very substantial and I thought it wore a little thin toward the end. I actually enjoyed Fuzzy Nation more. It's a low three and I could have safely missed it. If you're wanting to read John Scalzi, skip this one and pick up Old Man's War....more
In the far future, The Doctor and Amy fall in with a group of historical reenacters, the Terraphiles, and join them in their competition to win the ArIn the far future, The Doctor and Amy fall in with a group of historical reenacters, the Terraphiles, and join them in their competition to win the Arrow of Law, an artifact that may be the key to saving the multiverse. But what does the Arrow of Law have to do with the notorious space pirate Captain Cornelius or the theft of Mrs. Banning-Cannon's hideous new gargantuan hat?
The ingredients are all there. At the core, this feels like a P.G. Wodehouse book set in space. Bingo Lockesley is a lot like Bertie Wooster and Mr. Banning Cannon could easily be someone that puts Bertie up to a hare-brained scheme. Moorcock even writes this more like a Wodehouse book than his normal style. It's very remniscent of Dancers at the End of Time in that respect.
The Arrow of Law is a lot like the maguffin in many of Moorcock's Eternal Champion books and the Cosmic Balance winds up playing a big part. Captain Cornelius is likely an aspect of the Eternal Champion and one of the more interesting characters in the book. I like what Moorcock's done with the 500th century and its denizens. However...
My main reason for 2-ing the hell out of this is the lack of The Doctor and Amy Pond. The Doctor and Amy are barely in it and don't do a whole lot. It reads like Moorcock had a Wodehousian novel set in the future already written and just crossed out two of the character's names and changed them to The Doctor and Amy Pond. As a Michael Moorcock book, I'd give this a high three. As Doctor Who book, it's barely a two. When I read a Doctor Who book, I want to see the TARDIS in action and the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver in every chapter, not playing some nutcracker game and looking for a missing hat. The humorous parts were suitably humorous but not Who-ish.
To sum up, it's a case of the ingredients not coming together properly, like stirring the missing eggs and vanilla into the rest of the cake batter after it's already baked for ten minutes. I will think hard before I pick up another Doctor Who tie-in. Unless Neil Gaiman or John Scalzi should happen to write one....more
In the dystopian future of 2044, the world is going down the crapper and many people spend most of their free time playing OASIS, an online virtual reIn the dystopian future of 2044, the world is going down the crapper and many people spend most of their free time playing OASIS, an online virtual reality game, sifting through every minute detail of the creator's life, for whomever unravels a series of riddles James Halliday left behind inherits it all. Will teenager Wade Watts be the one?
As I've said in the past, every once in a while a reader will unearth a book that feels as if it was written especially for them. For me, Ready Player One is one of those books.
I wasn't completely sold at first. OASIS reminded me of The Metaverse from Snow Crash and Wade wasn't all that interesting to me. Then he referenced The Last Starfighter and I suddenly became more interested. By the time the Tomb of Horrors was mentioned, I was completely hooked.
The plot's structure isn't that revolutionary. It's pretty much your standard hero's journey. As the story unfolded, the characters are what made the book unputdownable. The setting, a dystopia where there's a Global Energy Crisis going on and people live in skyscraper-trailer parks called stacks is both imaginative and horribly plausible.
I hate to admit it but I was feeling some kinship with Wade as the book progressed. Is spending most of your free time in OASIS really that much different than reading for hours on end? Also, the book explores the nature of people and their online avatars. The revelation of Aech's true identity illustrates the difference between perception and reality quite nicely, just like the time when I met Kemper and discovered he wasn't a gun-toting chimp in a suit. Apparently, he left his guns at home that day. Or the time when I met Stephen and discovered he WAS a book-reviewing robot.
A large part of the appeal of Ready Player One is the astounding amount of pop culture references. While most of them are from the 1980's, a few are not. The Matrix and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, for example. I suspect younger readers won't get as many of the reference and not enjoy the books as much. However, as a child of the 80's and a dyed in the wool geek, I enjoyed the book very very much.
As I said earlier, the plot isn't revolutionary but it's still an enjoyable read. A single man-tear threatened to escape my eye during the epilogue but I fought it back.
Much Later Edit: The passage of time has colored my perception of this book. As I was reading Ready Player One, I thought it was the greatest thing since Tetris. However, once you strip away the nostalgia, it's still enjoyable but really nothing special. I'm downgrading it to a more realistic 3.5....more
Two battling superheroes open a rift into a parallel dimension. On the other side of the rift is The Empire State, an imperfect copy of New York. EmpiTwo battling superheroes open a rift into a parallel dimension. On the other side of the rift is The Empire State, an imperfect copy of New York. Empire State detective Rad Bradley's search for a missing woman brings him into conflict with forces from New York. But do they mean to save the Empire State or destroy it?
Why I liked this book: Parallel universes are awesome, aren't they? One out of ever five Star Trek episodes uses them in some way. The Empire State is a copy of New York that reminds me of the movie Dark City. Many New Yorkers have analogues in the Empire State. In the course of this story, many of them meet their doppelgangers. Some people's doppelgangers were not very dissimilar from the originals.
The setting is a pseudo-New York of the 1930's, with robots, detectives, prohibition, and a war against an Unseen enemy. Ray Bradley is just a gumshoe that isn't all that bright and keeps finding himself in the thick of trouble. The two superheroes, Skyguard and Science Pirate, after pretty interesting. Nimrod and Carson were both characters I'd like to see more from. I had no idea where the central mystery was going.
Why I did not think this book was amazing: Let me take a deep breath and... for a book that's promoted as a superhero book, there isn't nearly enough super hero action. The logic of how New York and the Empire State are connected was inconsistent from chapter to chapter. None of the characters were particularly well developed. I know I was supposed to care when the Skyguard's identity was revealed but I didn't. I felt like a lot was going on and it never really came together into one cohesive story. In that way, it kind of reminded me of Stephen Hunt's Court of the Air.
I think if the book had been more focused and about a hundred pages shorter, I would have liked it a whole lot more. It had it's moments but felt plodding and bloated in places. It's not a bad book, though. It's pretty entertaining if you can stomach the slow parts. I've giving this one a 3-.
The thing I meant to mention but forgot until I was driving home from work: For a similar but better story, give Doc Sidhe a try. ...more
John Rayburn, his friends, and their doppelgangers from other universes build a transdimenional corporation. However, there old enemies the Alarians aJohn Rayburn, his friends, and their doppelgangers from other universes build a transdimenional corporation. However, there old enemies the Alarians aren't finished with them and then there's the matter of John Prime visiting universes on his own, unbeknownst to the rest of the Pinball Wizards...
Sequels. You hate them, right? Yeah, me too. Rarely do they pack the same punch as the original. While Broken Universe doesn't make me forget about my general sequel hate, it does a pretty good job in showing what a sequel could be.
Broken Universe takes what Melko started in The Walls of the Universe and turns the knob up to eleven. Instead of two Johns and two Caseys, we get multiples dupes of John, Casey, Henry, and Grace. They go about building more transfer devices, deal in more than just pinball machines, and generally act like normal people probably would if they had an infinity of parallel universes to explore/exploit.
The Alarians were a decent foe for the first half of the book but I found the Vig to be much more interesting. They were merely hinted at in Walls of the Universe but stepped to the forefront in the second half of the book. I liked that Melko gave them more dimension than just being a transdimensional police force.
The characters of John Rayburn, John Prime, and Grace Home were the most developed. Prime continues to be my favorite character but Grace almost passed him in this one. The contrast between John Rayburn and John Prime drove the book along nicely. Grace really stepped up after what happened to her at the end of the first book.
It's not all peaches and gravy, though. I still don't get why all the Johns and all the Caseys wind up together. I'd much rather see John and Grace as a couple. My only other complaint is that I wanted more. There are still enough unanswered questions for at least one more book.
Note: I did an interview with Paul Melko about the Universe series here....more
The clone of a mercenary named Steward wakes up and is tasked with finding out who killed the original. The only problem is his memories are fifteen yThe clone of a mercenary named Steward wakes up and is tasked with finding out who killed the original. The only problem is his memories are fifteen years out of date. The Beta Steward wanders through his Alpha's former life, piecing together the last fifteen years in an effort to solve his murder. His search takes him from the earth to far flung colonies. Can Steward find his own murderer without being killed himself?
Voice of the Whirlwind, while on the surface is a combination of cyberpunk and space opera, is really a layered murder mystery. Steward wanders through the wreckage of his Alpha's former life and gradually pieces things together. Twists and turns abound. Since this wasn't my first invite to a detective party, I had a lot of the angles figured out by the end but not nearly all of them. This thing has as many angles as a dodecahedron. It's a real word. Look it up!
The world Walter Jon Williams has created is a step beyond the other cyberpunk stories written in that bygone age of 1987. While Steward is a fairly typical cyberpunk protagonist in most respects, most of the story takes place on space stations.
The best part of the book is the background Williams serves up, namely the Alpha Steward's stint with the Icehawks, a mercenary army, during a conflict called the Artifact War, a war over caches of alien artifacts littering other planets, notably a fateful ball of ice called Sheol. The aliens, simply called The Powers, aren't just humans with rubber masks. They're sort of centaur-amoeba things that I have difficulty describing. Needless to say, they are very alien aliens.
The tech level was pretty standard cyberpunk stuff: mirror shades, leather, monofilament, exotic firearms, cybernetics. Actually, Williams threw in a lot of gene splicing and his science regarding living in space and space travel was actually harder than I thought it would be.
I'm nearing the end of my book report here and can't decide how to rate Voice of the Whirlwind. I enjoyed it quite a bit but I wouldn't say I thought it was amazing. I will say that it has aged a lot better than many of its contemporaries. While I smiled when Steward had to use phone booths, Williams manages to keep most of the computer details pretty high level, unlike William Gibson in Neuromancer. Hell, I'll give it a 4 but that's in and of itself, not a reflection on the rest of the books on my shelf. ...more
"It was time to whip the god." Thus begins The God Engines by John Scalzi.
Captain Tephe is ordered to humanity's homeworld, Bishop's Call, and tasked"It was time to whip the god." Thus begins The God Engines by John Scalzi.
Captain Tephe is ordered to humanity's homeworld, Bishop's Call, and tasked to bring the faith of Our Lord to a faithless world. But will his own fate be tested?
That's about as much summary as I can give without giving away too much of the plot. The universe John Scalzi creates in The God Engines is like no others. Humanity travels the stars in ships powered by imprisoned and tortured gods, ruled by the one god that conquered them all. While on the surface a space opera with some Lovecraftian overtones, The God Engines is really an exploration of faith.
Captain Tephe is a conflicted character, the perfect lead in a story like this. His relationship with the ship's rook was well done, as was his interactions with the other crew members, especially the priest and the first mate. I hate to admit it but I was really surprised at what happened Cthicx and the shit storm that resulted.
As I said before, the society presented in The God Engines is a pretty novel one and presents a lot of interesting ideas. I'd be very interested to read more stories set in this universe. The God Engines gets one of the easiest fives I've ever awarded. Once again, I'm convinced The Scalz can do no wrong.
An enormous alien structure enters our solar system and a team is dispatched to explore it before it drifts away and is lost forever. What will humaniAn enormous alien structure enters our solar system and a team is dispatched to explore it before it drifts away and is lost forever. What will humanity discover after its Rendezvous with Rama?
Years ago, I decided I needed to read more hard science fiction. Then I read Ringworld and was so uninterested that I quit my hard sf quest before it began. Months ago, a copy of Rendezvous with Rama fell into my clutches. I decided to give it a try, despite my fears that it would be another Ringworld, a book where the concept far outweighs the story. Well, the concepts behind Rendezvous with Rama do outweigh the story but I found it far superior to Ringworld, a much more enjoyable reading experience.
As near as I can tell, Rendezvous with Rama is the first Big Dumb Object (or Megastructure, if you prefer) science fiction novel. For that reason alone, I'd say it's worth a read. Hell, that's why I read it.
The characters are weak but I think that's actually an asset for a story like this. My problem with Ringworld was that I didn't find any of the characters likeable and that overshadowed any sense of discovery I would have felt as they explored Ringworld. In Rama, the characters take a back seat to the Big Dumb Object from the first page.
Clarke's writing is workmanlike but does a surprisingly good job at conveying the wonder and majesty of Rama as the team explores it. As things heat up the closer Rama gets to the sun (see what I did there?), the book really takes off.
With today's special effects technology, I think it would be fantastic if an adaptation was filmed like a faux-documentary. Like that Mermaid one National Geographic put out, only not so cheesey.
I liked it but I didn't love it. There's not a lot of plot or character development. Or action, for that matter. Now that I've read it, I respect its place in the hard science fiction pantheon but the sense of wonder doesn't make up for its shortcomings so a three is as high as I can give it.
While sailing a trackless sea aboard a ship called the Morning Star, a scoundrel named Davy writes a book detailing his life and times in a post-apocaWhile sailing a trackless sea aboard a ship called the Morning Star, a scoundrel named Davy writes a book detailing his life and times in a post-apocalyptic America.
Things I liked about Davy: First and foremost, the writing style of Davy was what sucked me in and kept me interested. Pangborn employs a style that makes me feel like I'm sitting down and listening to him talk. Davy's a character, that's for sure, both as a teen and as an adult. As I've mentioned in the past, I like my protagonists to be more like people I know rather than larger than life heroes. Since Davy's not all that bright and thinks about sex quite a bit, I understand where he's coming from.
Post-apocalyptic stories are a dime a dozen these days but Pangborn's writing sets his apart from the others. One of the fun parts of Davy was trying to figure out what modern day places he was talking about.
Things I did not like about Davy: What I didn't like about Davy can be summarized in one word: pace. While it was an interesting world and Davy's story eventually became interesting, it was over halfway through the book before I felt like things were actually happening. It's like Pangborn looked at his manuscript at that point and said "I'd better get things moving or this thing is going to be a thousand pages long!" That's pretty much all I have to say about that.
Conclusion: I enjoyed Davy and could see why it was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards when it was released. The style of writing was really good. Still, it was like an expensive plate with nothing on it. Maybe if I was in a different mood I would have appreciated it more but the best I can give it at this time is a 3....more
When down and out private inquisitor Conrad Metcalf's last client turns up dead, Metcalf takes up the case to find out who killed him. Can he find theWhen down and out private inquisitor Conrad Metcalf's last client turns up dead, Metcalf takes up the case to find out who killed him. Can he find the killer before he runs out of karma and winds up in the deep freeze?
If Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick spent an evening together doing hard drugs, this would be the book that would result. Lethem weaves together the sci-fi and noir elements together so tightly that an evolved kangaroo doesn't seem out of place after his first appearance.
The world of Gun, with Occasional Music, is a bleak totalitarian version of a future California. A future where everyone carries cards noting how much karma they have. When you run out of karma, you wind up in deep freeze for a period of years. A scientist named Twostrand invented a process to create evolved bipedal animals out of ordinary ones like kittens, kangaroos and sheep. Eventually the process was tried on babies, creating the grotestque babyheads. Almost everyone is addicted to a free drug called make that's used to keep the populace under control. Interested yet?
Metcalf's case is a pretty standard one but Lethem injects it with freshness. Metcalf is the prototypical noir private eye with a self-deprecating sense of humor. More than once, he congratulates himself on his use of metaphor. Gun, with Occasional Music, reminds me of the movie Hot Fuzz in that it's both a satire of noir and also one of the better 30's style noir novels I've read in recent memory, much like Hot Fuzz was for action movies. You wouldn't think that a book featuring a gun-toting kangaroo would be a good example of noir but the proof is in the pudding.
I'd recommend Gun, with Occasional to fans of noir, bizarro, Philip K. Dick, and other strangeness....more
While acting as a middleman on a ransom case, Henghis Hapthorn runs into an amnesiac woman calling herself Hespira. Hapthorn's attempts to restore herWhile acting as a middleman on a ransom case, Henghis Hapthorn runs into an amnesiac woman calling herself Hespira. Hapthorn's attempts to restore her memory take them all over the Spray. Meanwhile, the ransomer and the ransomee both have Hapthorn in their sights. Can Hapthorn restore Hespira's memory before he becomes just a memory himself?
As always, Hughes' love for Jack Vance takes center stage. The Age of Magic draws ever nearer and Henghis Hapthorn ponders his place in the impending Age. Oh, and he attempts to solve the mystery of Hespira's memory loss while having a lot of humorous lines.
Osk Rievor continues his development as a character independent of Henghis. I was pleased that the death of Tabanooch in the previous novel wasn't swept under the rug and I was also delighted to see another Grinnet show up.
You wouldn't think a mystery set in a Jack Vance-like setting would be as complex as the ones Hughes puts forth but this one takes the taco. (view spoiler)[How many mysteries have you read where the origin of an expensive dessert is an integral clue? (hide spoiler)] The setting is nearly a character in itself, what with the multiple worlds, odd cultures, and the whimsies.
Any complaints? Not really. It was quite an enjoyable tale. 3.5 out of 5.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
On the eve of the Transcendence, Phaethon takes the Phoenix Exultant into the very heart of the sun to confront his enemy, the Nothing Sophotech, agenOn the eve of the Transcendence, Phaethon takes the Phoenix Exultant into the very heart of the sun to confront his enemy, the Nothing Sophotech, agent of the Silent Oecumene. Can he stop the Nothing before the Nothing launches a sneak attack during the Golden Transcendence? And does he want to?
Wow. I was hoping Wright could wrap up The Golden Age saga in a satisfactory fashion and he did. I can't say much about the plot without giving too much away. I will say that Atkins proved to be even more capable than originally intended and I was delighted when he mentioned his childhood on Mars and Uncle Kassad. Phaethon's reunion with Helion was well done and his relationship with Daphne was my favorite part of the book. Actually, that's not completely true. This volume had more humor than the previous two. I particularly liked when Diomedes was asking Helion questions about human reproduction on pages 192-193. "I wonder if Phaethon would mind if I helped him."
Now that the Golden Age saga has come to a close, I'd say it's like a retelling of Roger Zelanzy's First Chronicle of Amber, in a Vancian space opera setting, with a healthy dose of humor reminiscent of Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time. It's quite a read if you can survive being thrown into the deep end of the pool while wearing cement shoes in regard to all the concepts introduced early on. It's a sf epic that should not be missed. ...more
Exiled from everything he knows, Phaethon goes to Ceylon and joins up with a band of exiles. His goal: regain his ship, the Phoenix Exultant, and findExiled from everything he knows, Phaethon goes to Ceylon and joins up with a band of exiles. His goal: regain his ship, the Phoenix Exultant, and find those responsible for his predicament. That is, unless, the Silent Ones find him first...
The Phoenix Exultant picks up where The Golden Age left off and kicks things into high gear. Not only is it shorter than The Golden Age, it's a lot easier to follow since Wright established all of the concepts and many of the characters in the first book. Phaethon's primitive conditions on Death Row further facilitate easier reading. When the tech level isn't much higher than our current one, not much thinking is required.
Phaethon's exile from the Oecumene was well done. How many books have you read that feature a man having to take a million flight maintenance staircase down from an orbital settlement rather than taking advantage of a space elevator? Poor Phaethon! Phaethon starts at the nadir of his adult life and has to kick and scratch his way past many obstacles just to get back to being poor. Ironjoy and the other Afloats were quite interesting. Phaethon's pomposity contributed quite a few laughs to the book.
The relationship between Phaethon and Daphne is thrust to the forefront in this volume and is hilarious, even more than Rhadamanthus taking the form of a flying penguin in the first book. Daphne nearly eclipsed Phaethon as my favorite character. Atkins was fleshed out quite a bit and seems to be quite a bad ass now, as he should be, being the sole member of the Oecumene's army.
I'd say the Phoenix Exultant surpasses the Golden Age and is quite a read. Bring on the Golden Transcendence!...more
After four years on Old Earth, Raul Endymion resumes the voyage on the river Tethys to find the Consul's ship. Meanwhile, Aenea leaves Old Earth behinAfter four years on Old Earth, Raul Endymion resumes the voyage on the river Tethys to find the Consul's ship. Meanwhile, Aenea leaves Old Earth behind to find her destiny. In addition to hunting for the One Who Teaches, The Pax launches a Crusade to wipe out the Ouster menace once and for all. Will Aenea fulfill her destiny and end the Pax's reign once and for all?
I have to admit, I was skeptical for the first half of this book. It wasn't urination-inducing good like the first two and I actually liked it less than Endymion for at least half of it. Then Raul incurred the time debt and things really kicked into high gear. The plot came togerther and by the end, it surpassed Endymion. Everything ran its course, from Aenea to the cruciforms to farcasting.
Like the other books, there's not a whole lot of the plot I can divulge without spoiling things. However, I will say that I enjoyed the tale's conclusion and loved learning more about the Ousters and their habitat. De Soya continued his development into one of my favorite characters in the Cantos. (view spoiler)[Also, I was surprised as hell to see Fehdman Kassad and Het Masteen again. I was hoping Simmons would touch upon the Templars again and he surpassed my expectations. Hell, were Brawne and Sol the only pilgrims that didn't make appearances? (hide spoiler)]
While I was bored for a portion of the book and thought it felt padded, the second half more than made up for it. I got a little emotional when Aenea and Raul said their goodbyes to their friends. I saw the ending coming but I still liked it quite a bit.
It's not as great as the first two books of the Cantos but The Rise of Endymion is quite the satisfactory conclusion to the saga.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Almost three centuries after the Fall of Hyperion, the Time Tombs open and Aenea, child of Brawne Lamia and Johnny Keats emerges. Along with a formerAlmost three centuries after the Fall of Hyperion, the Time Tombs open and Aenea, child of Brawne Lamia and Johnny Keats emerges. Along with a former hunting guide named Raul Endymion and android A. Bettik, Aenea goes on a journey to fulfill her destiny as the one who teaches. Only the Pax has other ideas. Can Aenea reach her goal without being captured by Father Captain de Soya of the Pax?
With all the two star reviews out there, I wasn't expecting magic from Endymion. Imagine my surprise when I wound up enjoying it quite a bit. Endymion felt like rummaging through a box of old possessions you have fond memories of but have forgotten about. Only in this case, the memories are the hawking mat, the Consul's ship, the deactivated farcaster portals along the old river Tethys, and good old A. Bettik. And also The Shrike, but we won't say much about him other than to say he's still as efficient a killing machine as ever.
While not as pants-shittingly awesome as the first two books, Endymion was still an engaging read and doesn't tarnish the memory of the first two. The former Web has changed quite a bit in the 274 years since the Fall of Hyperion. Without giving too much away, the Catholic church and the cruciforms have melded in a pretty logical way into the Pax, and the Pax doesn't want Aenea fulfilling her destiny one bit. It makes for a good read. Endymion, Aenea, and A. Bettik visit some exotic former Web worlds, undergo quite a few harrowing experiences, and wind up in a good place to set up the next book, Rise of Endymion.
As engaging as I found Aenea and her people's travels on the raft, I somehow found the bad guys, de Soya and the rest, to be a more interesting cast. de Soya was efficient but conflicted and I almost found myself rooting for the poor cruciform-bearing bastard.
Don't let all the negative reviews steer you away. All franchises lose some steam by the third installment. At least there were no Ewoks in it. For fans of the first two books, Endymion is not to be missed! ...more
While at a masquerade leading up to the celebration commemorating the High Transcendence, Phaethon finds certain people are shunning him and that a laWhile at a masquerade leading up to the celebration commemorating the High Transcendence, Phaethon finds certain people are shunning him and that a large segment of his memory has been erased. Phaethon slowly pieces together why his memory has been erased and learns that if he regains his memory, he will be exiled from Oecumene and the paradise it provides. But what does that have to do with his father, Helion, and the other six Peers?
The Golden Age is one mind-bender of a read. While wrapped in space opera trappings, it's essentially a mystery. Phaethon's tale reminds me of Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time at some points, William Gibsons's Neuromancer at others, with a heaping helping of Roger Zelazny throughout. John C. Wright shook the idea tree hard when he crafted this tale, leaving only the diseased and worm-ridden ideas for the rest of us. The only book I've read recently that crammed so many ideas between its covers was Kraken by China Mieville.
Phaethon's progress in uncovering why his memory was erased was quite a read, full of red herrings. His relationship with his father Helion and wife Daphne were well done. The technology Wright invented, while extremely daunting at first, was well conceived and seemed plausible in an sf context. Phaethon was a compelling protagonist and will doubtlessly continue to be so in the next too books. The writing style was actually pretty breezy once you wrapped your head around some of the concepts.
Any complaints? Well, while I loved learning about Phaethon's world, not a whole lot happened in this book. Much like Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, Wright throws the reader into the deep end of the pool without much in the way of exposition. Still, it was quite an enjoyable read and I'm eager to devour the other two books in the series....more
After being busted out of the Dilemma Prison by an Oortian warrior named Mieli, legendary master thief Jean Le Flambeur is taken to the Oubliette, oneAfter being busted out of the Dilemma Prison by an Oortian warrior named Mieli, legendary master thief Jean Le Flambeur is taken to the Oubliette, one of the Moving Cities of Mars, and is tasked with the ultimate heist. Opposing him is a brilliant young detective named Isidore Beautrelet. But there is more to each man's quest than meets the eye...
My summary doesn't do the book justice. There are so many ideas crammed in it's slim 331 pages. Before Le Flambeur can even get started on his quest, he has to steal back his old memories. Isidore, on the other hand, has a lot of issues of his own, like his odd relationship with one of the tzaddikim, powerful vigilantes who work to keep the Martians safe from unseen enemies, and an equally odd relationship with his girlfriend.
Before I get any deeper into this review, I have a few things to mention. I bought this book the day it became available and then let it sit on my shelves for almost nine months. The reason was pretty simple: all the reviews I read mentioned that Hannu Rajaniemi throws the reader into the deep end of the pool. He doesn't explain a lot of his concepts, leading the reader to decipher the meaning of words like 'blink, gevulot, quplink, exomemory, and many others, soley by context. Having read both John C. Wright's Golden Age trilogy and Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun in 2011, I was a little apprehensive. Should I have been?
No! While it takes a little getting used to, I felt The Quantum Thief was easier to understand than either of the earlier works I mentioned. It's written in a breezy style reminiscent of Maurice LeBlanc's Arsene Lupin, a work that this one owes a great debt to. Not only is Jean Le Flambeur based on Lupin, Lupin is even mentioned in the text.
Where was I? Oh, yes. The world Rajanieme creates is a very interesting one. While the author used the Lupin tales as a blueprint, it feels like he fleshed out his creation with bits pilfered from books like Hyperion, The Golden Age, Neuromancer, and many others, welding them all together with his background in quantum physics. This is one of those books that has so many big ideas flying around you can hardly keep track of all of them. Hell, I'm already forgetting things I wanted to mention. Maybe I'll just list them.
1. Time is used as a currency. When you run out of time, you die and the Resurrection Men come for you. After a period of time with your consciousness inhabiting a robot body and doing routine maintenance on the City, you get a new body. 2. Tzaddikim patrol the streets, keeping the general population safe. 3. By 'blinking, you can recall anything that happened anywhere in the Oubliette using the exomemory. It's like the internet, only better and with slightly less pornography. 4. Privacy is a big deal. By using a gevulot, you control the flow of information to other people. 5. There's a glossary of terms used in The Quantum Thief on Wikipedia. It would have helped immensely if I'd had it when I started but probably would have made the read a less rewarding experience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary...
The principle characters are an interesting bunch. I'd say the book approaches a number of ideas per page ratio comparable to one of China Mieville's works. It's primarily a heist tale but there's plenty of action. I sure wouldn't want to be in Miele's way. There's a point where sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The Quantum Thief comes pretty close to that point on many occasions.
The ending met all my expectations, both in regard to actions and revelations about the overall setting. If I hadn't already known The Quantum Thief was the first in a trilogy (boo!), I would have been slightly disappointed.
While the Quantum Thief looks like a science fiction novel, it's really a heist story about a criminal and the man tasked with catching him. If you can handle being in the dark for part of the time, this is one hell of a read. I wouldn't say I like it as much as Hyperion but it's definitely WAAAAAAAY up there in my science fiction hierarchy.
Additional thought: Hannu Rajaniemi looks a lot like Jason Bateman of Arrested Development fame. Look them up and see for yourself. ...more
On Zara XXIII, disbarred lawyer and current mineral prospector Jack Holloway finds an unimaginably valuable seam of sunstones, one that will make himOn Zara XXIII, disbarred lawyer and current mineral prospector Jack Holloway finds an unimaginably valuable seam of sunstones, one that will make him unbelievably rich. Shortly thereafter, Holloway meets some of the world's native life, catlike creatures he names Fuzzys. Unfortunately, the Fuzzys appear to be sentient, putting Jack's, and ZaraCorp's, claim on the trillion credit sunstone seam in jeopardy. What's a prospector to do?
The Scalz does it again. Fuzzy Nation is a hilarious re-imaginging (I feel dirty using that term and not good dirty) of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, a book I have not read.
First of all, Fuzzy Nation isn't as good as Old Man's War. I'll get that off my chest right now. But it's still good. It raises interesting questions about what it means to be sentient, the effects of mining on native life, and teaching dogs how to detonate explosives.
Holloway isn't a nice guy but I wound up liking him anyway. He's antagonistic and kind of slimy. He was, after all, formerly a lawyer. The supporting cast more than makes up for Holloway's flaws. As he says himself at one point, he was the right guy surrounded by good people. The rich supporting cast kept me from giving this book a three.
That's not to say Holloway doesn't rise to the occasion to defend the Fuzzys. Of course he does. It's just for a while, I wasn't sure how he was going to do it. His emotions toward the end of the story were well done.
The Fuzzys were cute but not nauseatingly so, like certain George Lucas creations that live on Endor that shall remain nameless. When the shit hit the fan, I was ready to charge in and give them a hand.
To sum up, The Scalz took a sf classic and made it funny. It's a good weekend morning read.
Topic for discussion: Is Scalzi's reimagining of an sf classic the forerunner of a new age where book execs go the route of Hollywood and commission people to rewrite old books instead of writing original ones? Discuss!...more
Sword of the Lictor: Severian's stay in Thrax is short lived. After helping a woman escape instead of strangling her, Severian flees Thrax to look forSword of the Lictor: Severian's stay in Thrax is short lived. After helping a woman escape instead of strangling her, Severian flees Thrax to look for the Pelerines. But can he find them before trouble finds him...?
The plot of the Book of the New Sun progresses quite a bit in this volume. I don't want to give too much away but Severian sure doesn't stay in Thrax very long. I'm still not precisely sure what the hell is going on but it's a pretty enjoyable read. Wolfe's prose has to be savored, not scarfed. I've read before that Gene Wolfe's biggest influence is G.K. Chesterton. The deeper into the Book of the New Sun I get, the more I get flashes of Chesterton. Parts of The Book of the New Sun definitely have a The Man Who Was Thursday quality to them.
My favorite part was the relationship between Big Severian and Little Severian. The retelling of the story of Romulus and Remus and the return of some characters were nice touches. Dorcas' origin was finally revealed and was as I suspected when she first entered the tale.
Severian's grown as a character since the first book and I eagerly await his rise to Autarch in the final volume.
Citadel of the Autarch: Severian finally reaches the camp of the Pelerines, goes to war, and finally meets his destiny.
A lot happened in The Citadel of the Autarch. Severian has a variety of adventures and meets up with most of the rest of the cast for a final time, and becomes the Autarch, as he said he would early on in the first book. It felt more like a Dying Earth story than the earlier ones and was probably the easiest to read of the four. Questions were answered, but not all of them. Extra points were scored when Arioch was mentioned on the first page.
The writing in Citadel of the Autarch was much the same as in the other volumes but I detected echoes of Michael Moorcock in addition to the usual Jack Vance and G.K. Chesterton. And like Chesterton, I like that Wolfe left some aspects open to interpretation. Much like the reveals of which of the characters are policemen rather anarchists in The Man Who Was Thursday, I eventually was thinking "How many characters were actually the Autarch or working for him?"
While it's not a quick read, I found my mind returning to the Book of the New Sun again and again. I'm sure I'll be re-reading it again in the future.
2012 Note: I went ahead and bumped this up to a 5. I'm not sure if it deserves it but I still catch myself thinking about this book almost a year after I finished it....more
Hyperion: On the eve of interstellar war between the Hegemony of Man and the barbarian Ousters over the fate of Hyperion, seven pilgrims embark on a jHyperion: On the eve of interstellar war between the Hegemony of Man and the barbarian Ousters over the fate of Hyperion, seven pilgrims embark on a journey to the Time Tombs and their mysterious protector, The Shrike, a three meter tall, four-armed monster covered with blades. One pilgrim will have his wish granted and the others will be impaled on the Shrike's Tree of Pain. Only one or more of the pilgrims isn't what he appears to be...
Every once in a while, a book comes along that eclipses many that came before it. Hyperion is one of those books. Told with a structure similar to the Canterbury tales, Hyperion is the story of seven pilgrims on a journey that will end in death for most of them. Interested yet?
Each pilgrim tells his or her story and Simmons doesn't skimp. We get a horror story, a detective story, action, tragedy, comedy, the whole nine yards. Instead of info-dumping the back story of the complex world he's created, Simmons rations the information and doles it out one bite-sized morsel at a time, mostly in the stories told by the pilgrims. The Shrike is going to stick with me for a long time after I'm finished.
The writing is superb. Simmons continues to wow me with his versatility and the concepts he introduces are amazing. Farcasters, tree ships, time debt, reverse aging, artificial intelligence, it's amazing the sheer amount of thought that obviously went into Hyperion's conception. Surprisingly, Hyperion is a fairly easy read. I have no idea why I've waited this long to accompany Kassad, Masteen, Lamia, and the others on their journey to meet the Shrike.
Fall of Hyperion: The situation in the world web rises to a fever pitch as all out war between the Ousters and the Hegemony of Man erupts. Or does it? And what do the pilgrims on Hyperion and an artist named Severn have to do with it? Is the Hegemony of Man doomed? And what does the Core have to do with everything?
That's about all I can reveal of the plot without blowing all the twists. Suffice to say, Dan Simmons is the man. The story of the seven pilgrims continues and the plot threads hinted upon in Hyperion are tugged and stretched to the breaking point. Things that seemed of minimal importance proved to be integral to the overall plot. Questions are answered, more questions are raised, the shit hits the fan, and dogs and cats begin living together. I never would have guessed whose blood it was in the wind wagon in the first book.
I can't imagine not reading the Fall of Hyperion after reading the first book and it must have been agony for those waiting for it when it was first published. I'd better wrap this up before I start giving away plot details about Brawne, Hoyt, Kassad, and the others. Suffice to say, The Hyperion Cantos are now on my measuring stick list of books, along with the Dark Tower, The First Chronicles of Amber, and the Matthew Scudder series. Highest possible recommendation. ...more
Against his family's wishes, Juan "Johnnie" Rico joins the Mobile Infantry and the war against the Bugs. Will he make it out alive?
Yeah, I don't reallAgainst his family's wishes, Juan "Johnnie" Rico joins the Mobile Infantry and the war against the Bugs. Will he make it out alive?
Yeah, I don't really know what to think about this book. I picked it up solely because it was an inspiration for one of my favorite books, Old Man's War by John Scalzi. While the writing was very good, there was never an "I can't put it down" moment. I'd say ninety percent of the book was Juan Rico's military life. There wasn't a lot of action until the end.
I liked the universe Heinlein set up. This was probably the first appearance of power armor in sf. Aliens looking like giant bugs aren't overly original but they sure are creepy. Heinlein's depiction of military life seemed pretty accurate from what I've heard from people who've served.
It seems like I have more gripes than I thought. The rah-rah attitude toward military life got on my nerves after a while. For a story including power armor and giant bugs, Starship Troopers was kind of boring. I also never bought Juan Rico's reasons for joining.
I'd better balance this with a few more positives. I liked the reunion of Rico and his father. The look behind the curtain at the command structure did a lot to flesh out some of the supporting cast. The future tech was great considering the time in which Starship Troopers was written.
To wrap things up, I can see why Starship Troopers is a classic of science fiction but, just like with other classics, it doesn't mean you have to worship it. I'm glad I read it so I could see the inspiration for parts of Old Man's War but I doubt I'll feel the urge to re-read it any time soon....more
An armored scout named Felix is dropped on the planet Banshee, a hostile alien world teeming with Ants. When Felix's team is wiped out on their firstAn armored scout named Felix is dropped on the planet Banshee, a hostile alien world teeming with Ants. When Felix's team is wiped out on their first mission, only The Engine, his second personality, saves him. Can Felix (and the Engine) survive the war against the Ants? And does he want to...?
I read about Armor on John Scalzi's blog and decided to give it a shot. At first glance, Steakley took the parts of Starship Troopers he liked the most, power armor and aliens that resemble insects, and expanded it into a novel, but Armor is so much more than that.
Armor is the story about what war does to a person's psyche. Felix deals with war by retreating and letting The Engine take control, becoming a veteran and survivor of twenty combat drops. Felix is used to show the absurdity of war. As he becomes a veteran, the people around him, including the ones giving the orders, grow less and less experienced. The contrast between Kent and Felix was well done; one the public face of the war against the Ants and the other the one doing the actual dirty work.
Armor has two distinct plot lines; one featuring Felix and the other featuring a space pirate named Jack Crow, who finds Felix's armor years after the events of Felix's storyline. Felix's story is told in the third person while Crow's is told in the first. I'll be honest, Crow really slowed things down for me and gave me second thoughts about the entire book. At first anyway. Then he found Felix's armor. I loved the way Crow and the others pieced together Felix's fate as the colony slowly collapsed.
The Ants were great enemies in a survival horror type of way. Ten foot tall ant-like aliens are something to be feared, especially when they attack en mass.
I will not give away the ending except to say that it was awesome.
For fans of military sf like Starship Troopers and Old Man's War should give Armor a try. You won't be disappointed....more
Zoe Boutin-Perry, teenage colonist and idol to the Obin race, gets stranded on Roanoke along with her parents, John Perry and Jane Sagan. While the RoZoe Boutin-Perry, teenage colonist and idol to the Obin race, gets stranded on Roanoke along with her parents, John Perry and Jane Sagan. While the Roanoke Colony survive with the Conclave breathing down its neck?
Zoe's Tale is a retelling of the previous John Scalzi book, The Last Colony, from Zoe's point of view. Instead of being a pointless rehash, Zoe's Tale ends up being an emotional tale and completely worth the effort.
Re-telling The Last Colony from Zoe's point of view served multiple purposes. It fleshed out some bits of the Last Colony that weren't very clear, like why the werewolves stopped attacking the colony and where the sapper field came from. The society of the Obin and their relationship to the Consu was expanded. It also gave us an insight to the lives of Zoe and her friends.
Zoe's telling of the events was hilarious, as funny as Abby Normal narrating Christopher Moore's Bite Me without being so distracting. The Scalz did a good job of recreating teenage relationships and the relationship between Zoe and her Obin protectors nearly yanked a tear from my manly tear ducts.
Any complaints? Not really. Zoe's Tale was quite an enjoyable read. I loved the additional scenes with General Gau and the interplay between Zoe and her friends and family. Once again, Scalzi has me wrapped around his little finger....more
In order to catch a traitorous military scientist, Charles Boutin, the Colonial Defense Forces transfer a recording of his consciousness into a new boIn order to catch a traitorous military scientist, Charles Boutin, the Colonial Defense Forces transfer a recording of his consciousness into a new body. Thus, Jared Dirac is born. The transfer apparently didn't take and Dirac joins the CDF's special forces, the Ghost Brigades. When Boutin's personality begins surfacing, Jared's life takes a turn for the worse. Can Jared stop Boutin before the CDF goes to war against three alien armies?
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting from a sequel to Old Man's War but it was a damn good read. Like the first book, it was funny in places. Not only that, Ghost Brigades raises interesting philosophical questions like what it means to have a soul, nature vs. nurture, and what it means to be human. Unlike the first book, there was a lot of action.
I found Jared's innocence to be charming in the first half of the book, surprising since he was trained almost from birth to be a soldier. Sagan grew from her first appearance in Old Man's War. I even kind of understood Boutin's point of view, even though I didn't agree with it.
The writing was as good as it was in Old Man's War, just from a third person point of view instead of the first person. It had a more serious tone but still had its funny moments. I thought the plot was better in this one than in Old Man's War. I wasn't sure The Scalz could come up with a plausible threat for the Ghost Brigades but he more than did just that.
While I didn't like it quite as much as Old Man's War, I'm pretty well convinced The Scalz can do no wrong....more
John Perry and Jane Sagan have left the CDF and have been living with Zoe on a colony called Huckleberry until they're uprooted and sent to start a neJohn Perry and Jane Sagan have left the CDF and have been living with Zoe on a colony called Huckleberry until they're uprooted and sent to start a new colony, Roanoke. Only the CDF isn't telling them the whole truth and the Conclave is on the prowl for rogue colonies. Can Perry and his family save Roanoke without being traitors to the Colonial Union?
Wow. I loved this book almost as much as I loved the first in the series, Old Man's War. John Perry is back and in fine form. Scalzi crammed a lot of story into just over 300 pages; tensions between the CDF and the Conclave, the mutual respect between Perry and General Gau, the Obin, and more that I can't divulge without blowing too many bits of the lot.
Scalzi's writing is in top form in The Last Colony and since John Perry is the lead character, there's a bit more humor than in Ghost Brigades. Still, it's almost as serious as the previous book.
One of the things that I loved the most about the Last Colony was that Scalzi wasn't afraid to shake things up. While I'm aware that there's a fourth book and am eagerly awaiting it's arrival in the mail, I wasn't completely sure any of colonists would survive. I loved that Scalzi brought Perry and Sagan full circle since the first book. While it would have made a grand ending for the saga, I'm glad Scalzi still has stories left to tell in this universe.
I can't recommend The Last Colony, or the previous two books, Old Man's War, and The Ghost Brigades, enough. They aren't just great military science fiction; they're great books....more