Review: The End Of All Things (Preview) by John Scalzi



Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9781466849426

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher Description: Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement…for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Review: This gives you a taste of what will later become a serialized product. In this preview you get “Life of the Mind” which follows Rafe Daquin, a pilot who finds himself rather boxed in. “This Hollow Union” follows the power brokers and their political maneuverings between the Colonial Union, Conclave and Earth.

A very good writer that perhaps allowed the publisher to serialize his work and render it less than palatable. The world building fails to reach the highs that you expect. The story just ends, abruptly. Still an awesome read.



Review: Children of the Comet by Donald Moffitt



Publisher: Open Road

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781497678460

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description:In this brand-new cosmic adventure by the author of The Genesis Quest and The Jupiter Theft, Torris, son of the Facemaker, knows only his small community at the base of the great Tree on a comet with almost no gravity or atmosphere. Torris’s daily struggle for survival includes harvesting frozen air to keep breathing, dodging flutterbeasts, and hunting meatbeasts for food. 

Review: Torris’ saga was at once thought provoking and entertaining. The parallel story line of the ship, Times Beginning and its crew was a little too patterned and smug. The idea that Earths descendants want to come back after 6 billion years (spent mostly traveling) is kind of weak. What failed was the characterizations of its crew. For example, there is spunky, smart as a whip, Nina!. Cranky, good natured and caring, Captain Joorn! Asian side-kick and expert scientist, Chu! etc. etc.

Besides the contrived dialogue there just wasn’t a deep connection to scifi as expected. The novel moved from the comet trees into kind of a dorky space opera when Torris meets his galactic ancestors and soon learns to speak their language as well as speak dolphinese (don’t ask). These interactions come off as contrived and not too realistic. 

In my opinion there was definitely some “borrowing of ideas” from Larry Niven’s “Integral Trees” (1984) novel. Two warring tribes on separate trees. Check. Near weightless environment. Check. Massive life supporting trees with resident adapted flora and fauna. Check. Spaceship saves tribe. Check.  Happily integrated Tribes after saving. Check. 






Review: The Fortuitous Meeting by Christopher Kastensmidt


Publisher: Christopher Kastensmidt 

Publishing Date: July 2015 (2010)

ISBN: 9788591933808

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher Description: In The Elephant and Macaw Banner series, two brave adventurers–the Dutch explorer Gerard van Oost and Yoruban warrior Oludara–travel the unexplored wilderness of sixteenth-century Brazil. Along the way, the encounter a host of creatures inspired by Brazilian folklore: from the brain-sucking Kalobo to the one-legged prankster Sacy-Perey.

Review: This is a fairly short novelette, that read more like a preview….only shorter. Really good so far but still just a taste.



Review: The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly by Ishbelle Bee



Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9780857664464

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher Description: Two orphans, Pedrock and Boo Boo, are sent to live in the sinister village of Darkwound. There they meet and befriend the magical and dangerous Mr Loveheart and his neighbour Professor Hummingbird, a recluse who collects rare butterflies. Little do they know that Professor Hummingbird has attracted the wrath of a demon named Mr Angel-Cakes.

Review: This continues to follow the story of Mr. Loveheart and his schizophrenic ascendance into more heightened states of insanity. There are worse than he that continue to roam the bowels of the universe and with the help of Scotland Yard begin to unravel the minions of the Queen.

Not much to say without giving it all away. The characters and instances are brilliant and the scenes rendered in flawless fashion. Again, very entertaining and well written.


Review: The Linesman by S. K. Dunstall



Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780425279526

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher Description: The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he’s crazy…

Review: The first half of this novel had a fluid story line then turns a bit disjointed as the scenes jump around without any logical progression. Almost schizophrenic in approach. I tend to disagree with one reviewer that thought this kind of prose reflected Ean’s mental state. I think the trend was towards a lack of editing. The e-copy I received was 1hard to2 read as eve3ry sent4ence h5ad       6progressive numbers7 and spa8ces     littered throughout9  the10 entire11novel12.

Ean is a whiner. Every scene is a tired and overused rendition of “poor little Ean who hopes everyone likes him but doesn’t deserve anything good”. As you battle along with Ean’s self-esteem issues, he is constantly sweat drenched, hoarse, myopic, smelly, morose, maudlin and exhausted. How he finds the time to internally review his sense of fashion where others are concerned is anyone’s guess. Here is a gutter rat that grew up on the mean streets, stealing to survive and in no way are any of those seminal traits imparted onto the adult version. Not real believable.

Although the story-line was inventive (if you can follow it) the characters lacked development. Sympathy in the form of a reluctant hero does not a character make. Over the top emoting royalty/politico types also fail in the same regard.

Read this if you’re waiting in line for lost luggage at a baggage claim area in Surinam.

Review: Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer


Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9781477830918

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher Description: Even when finding oneself engaged in interstellar war, good form must be observed. Our story is set thousands of years after the Terran Exodus, where two powerful, planet-dominating families—the elegant House Jakabitus and the less refined Hahn Empire—have reached a critical point in their generations-long war. Master Hennik, the Hahn ruler’s only son, has been captured, and the disposition of his internment may represent a last and welcome chance for peace.

Review: I just couldn’t get through this. Just too much dialogue and a lack of movement deadened the whole story line. The characters were, meh.



A City Called Smoke by Justin Woolley



Publisher: Momentum

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9781760082475

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: The Diggers have been destroyed, a horde of ghouls is moving inland and the High Priestess has seized control of the Central Territory. Together with Nim, a Nomad boy seeking vengeance against the ghouls, Squid and Lynn begin their long journey toward the city of Big Smoke, a city that may not even exist.

Review: This was a really well done novel in terms of character development coupled to intense movement of the story line. 

The ghouls (zombies) are on the move and have killed the Central Territories line of defense, the Diggers. A religious cult that was formed when the outbreak first occurred, hundreds of years ago, has seized control. Two young soldiers have been banished for political reasons and seek a cure or a way to destroy the ghouls.

I really liked the authors scene progression. These “mini epics” were solidly built and flowed with the overall world building. For instance the sky pirates with their own set of codes and hierarchy could have stood alone as its own novel.

The ending is abrupt, leaves you hanging and might just make you yearn for the conclusion.