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.




Review: The Battle for Oz by Jeyna Grace


Publisher: Inkshares

Publishing Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9781941758311

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.1/5

Publisher Description: When a foreign queen invades Oz and steals its citizens’ magic, the land turns to someone who has aided them before: Dorothy. But the silver-slippered girl has grown up, and in her years away from Oz the game has changed. So, in order to defeat this new and unfamiliar enemy, Dorothy seeks the aid of Alice, a legendary woman who once famously defeated a queen. 

Review: This was a very creative and inventive novella.  The characters were fairly one dimensional due to the abbreviated structure. I would have liked to have read a full length version of this story line with well built characters evolving around a  manifestation of evil. The world building could have been epic as well.

Still, a promising talent.



Review: The Red Mohawk by Anonymous



Publisher: Black Shadow

Publishing Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780993257704

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 4.7/5

Publisher Description: Everything seems peaceful in the small town of B Movie Hell until a mysterious serial killer in a skull mask topped with a red mohawk shows up and starts butchering the locals. Government agents Jack Munson and Milena Fonseca are sent to track down and eliminate the masked psychopath. But as they soon discover, the residents of B Movie Hell don’t want their help. This is a town like no other, and the locals have many dark secrets…. 

Review: Jack Munson aint drunk, he’s just drinkin’. (Chorus) “But you’re so high!!”. Amongst this dysfunctional denial lies the cunning and skill of a CIA type spook who makes problems vanish and boy do they have a problem in the form of a maniacal serial killing machine. I really can’t say too much about the story line as it is fairly entrenched from start to finish. The characters are memorable and are built along with the fast pace. The world building is superb.

Wow, what a fun ride. That town had it comin’…….



Review: The Silver Ships by Scott Jucha



Publisher: Smith

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780990594024

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: An explorer-tug captain, Alex Racine detects a damaged alien craft drifting into the system. Recognizing a once in a lifetime opportunity to make first contact, Alex pulls off a daring maneuver to latch on to the derelict. Alex discovers the ship was attacked by an unknown craft, the first of its kind ever encountered. The mysterious silver ship’s attack was both instant and deadly. What enfolds is a story of the descendants of two Earth colony ships, with very different histories, meeting 700 years after their founding and uniting to defend humanity from the silver ships.

Review: This started out really, really, good. Young kid in space, snaring asteroids, flipping the bird at convention and snaring a derelict alien craft. Cool, eh? But nooooo, it all goes down hill from there as the writing turns clichéd’, patterned and smug. Alex goes from an interesting character to Mr. DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE, whom can do no wrong and has seemingly super human mental abilities that astonish everyone but himself. Oh, did he forget to eat again? That scamp, he works more than 10 people while performing multiple tasks and calculations simultaneously. I have an idea! Lets make him Captain of our alien craft as he is the only one that understands us. He put his life and honor on the line and cried like bigfoot when he cleared the ship of dead bodies.  WEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Fug me. So almost immediately upon saving the drifting ship and enabling the AI to revive all the aliens from stasis, every chick wants to bang him and every dude swears undying loyalty to him. His home planet makes him an ambassador to the aliens (who are human) in hopes of a trade/technology exchange. While being vetted by the HOLY Government, his professors get nasty in defense of his greatness, honesty and genius.  

Well see, Alex is a douche because he was written that way, so don’t fault his charismatic manliness because he is a manly space-man with manly mannerisms. His planet is rife with douchebags that cling to the idea that the Government is good, takes care of its people, has good socialized medicine (oxymoron?) and was voted to be in control by the lemmings….er people. Uh oh, sound familiar? It gets better as the insipid smugness creeps in at the edges of this disaster. See the huge big bad wolf on planet douche is, you guessed it, conservatives. Oh yeah, they represent not only buffoonery and egocentric tendencies but deadly mischief and guile in the form of stealing little alien secrets. CURSE THESE INDUSTRIALIST CONSERVATIVES!!….The jabs are endless and do the novel no favors but what is even more astonishing is that they would embrace the politics of their failed home world.   The aliens (who are human) are super sexy and thin. They live in a world with advanced technology where there are no bad guns and only good people. They have shockers for beasties and incorrigibles but that’s about it.

So Planet Biden agrees to help these aliens that are humans (that are all super hot and sexy), to go fight real aliens in silver ships that may be threatening their home world based on a vision that Superma…, Alex had. Really? Much of the novel moves around the assemblage of BAD weapons to fight aliens and uncovering the nasty conservative plot to garner technology for themselves…MUHAHAHHA!!! There is a cloying insta-love affair between Alex and an alien (human) while all the aliens that are humans get banged by humans that are humans. Fug me. Even the Artificial Intelligence loves Alex because who the fuck doesn’t?

A good read while getting laser hemorrhoid surgery.