Review: A Case of Conscience by James Blish

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Publisher: Open Road

Publishing Date: January 2017 (1958)

ISBN: 9781504042444

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.3/5

Publishers Description: Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man, a Jesuit priest who is also a scientist, and a scientist who is also a human being. He doesn’t feel any genuine conflicts in his belief system—until he is sent to Lithia.

Review: An oldy but a goody. Still a meh for me. p.s. Don’t read the forward by Greg Bear as it gives the novel away.

UPDATE: Ok, I was asked why I did not do an extended review, so I am back to address my failure(s). The writing was good, the aliens were kind of alien but not, the moral dilemma conceived by one man was not enough to astound or even develop a belief that could shake ones foundations to the extent portrayed. The alien planet was really well done, yet no time was spent delving into it as most of the story line revolved off world with a theologian/Jesuit biologist. The Jesuit’s inclinations and thoughtful summaries were plagued with biased world views which was the foundation of the novel. And that’s me meh.

 

Review: From Ice to Ashes by Rhett C. Bruno

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Publisher: Random House

Publishing Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9780399181610

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.9/5

Publishers Description: Kale Drayton knows his place. As a Ringer born on Titan, he’s used to keeping his head down and his mouth shut—no matter how much the Earthers abuse him or his own kind berate him. So when he’s caught stealing from a wealthy merchant, he’s lucky to be sentenced to low-paying maintenance work on a gas-harvesting ship instead of life in a cell . .

Review: Holy shjtballz this was good. A meaty bite of science fiction that satisfied my need. Kale is a thief just trying to save his mom from an earthborn sickness and soon finds himself offered a chance to save his mom if he smuggles something onto the gas harvesting ship he works on. What follows is a wild and imaginative SciFi ride through our solar system.

The character development was great in that it grew along with the constant and intense movement. The world building was rendered in spectacular detail and thus created an ease into visualizing the narrative.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!?”. Cora. She was good when first introduced but quickly wore on my nerves with her clingy weirdness and “Oh, Kale!” exclamations during dire circumstances.  She became more of an affectation than a solid character. Also, a  very compressed storyline that pushes at the edge of believability, especially when a reluctant hero/thief becomes the leader of the resistance within a couple of days. Still, a highly entertaining read.

Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Gavin G. Smith

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Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9781473217263

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.7/5

Publishers Description: Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and “rehabilitated” in a shared virtual reality environment. But Miska Storrow, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman’s Daughter, and made it her own. Controlled by explosive collars and trained in virtual reality by the electronic ghost of a dead marine sergeant, the thieves, gangsters, murderers, and worse are transformed into Miska’s own private indentured army: the Bastard Legion. Are the mercenaries just for fun and profit, or does Miska have a hidden purpose connected to her covert past? 

Review: This was a scifi novel like no other. Really good world building, inventive story line and well developed characters made for some late night reading.

Miska is a sociopath with a heart of gold. She is at once willing to kill anything (especially sex offense criminals) but draws the line at children….maybe? This morally vague character imbues the novel with a sense of hilarity while at the same time giving you pause at her untenable actions. To say that she grows with the movement is a bit like hoping your old dog will stop pissing in the house. Her moral shifts for the good only align with her self-interests and if it happens to coincide with doing the right thing then “yay for me!”.

The future tech, especially the weaponry, is fabulous as are the multitude of human mods that blanket the story line. I can’t wait for the next in the Bastard Legion series in hopes that this becomes a full blown space opera. Bravo Gavin, well done.

Review: Pirate Queen: Book of the Navigator by H.N. Klett

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Publisher: Raven Rock Press

Publishing Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9780997969917

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Rating: 3.7/5

Publishers Description: Hailey Heartstone’s life is swept into a storm of peril after she stumbles upon an ancient talking book, the book of the legendary Pirate Queen. Once unlocked, its dangerous power thrusts her into a world full of deadly mists and phantom pirates intent on recovering what once was theirs. Kidnapped from her family, Hailey must face true fear as she is forced into a journey to protect the power that she found and seek out those willing to help her save all that she loves before it is too late.

Review: I could have sworn that this novel was written by a woman as the perspective is spot on when viewed through Hailey’s eyes. Hailey is special, but that’s ok here because the pirate book tells her so and yet she still wanders around in disbelief. Hailey, like most heroines, are written as being at once really smart and dumber than a bag of hotdogs. Why this is so, is mainly to build the plot and embellish the story line. It really is not needed when you have a strong protagonist, yet some feel it is necessary in order to develop the supporting characters.

This was a fun and imaginative romp through a world imbued with sinister royalty, good pirates, ancient tech and an airship! This novel was not only creative but highly entertaining. “So why you no give 5 stars!!”. You will know it when you read it, but Orin’s demise was not needed as it halted the movement and destroyed a good chunk of the plot. Additionally there were numerous grammatical errors. 

I will definitely get the next in the series.

Review: The Fortress at the End of Time by Joe M. McDermott

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Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9780765392800

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.0/5

Publishers Description: Connected by ansible, humanity has spread across galaxies and fought a war against an enemy that remains a mystery. At the edge of human space sits the Citadel—a relic of the war and a listening station for the enemy’s return. For a young Ensign Aldo, fresh from the academy and newly cloned across the ansible line, it’s a prison from which he may never escape.

Review: Aldo did not make a whole lot of sense, from beginning to end. He is at once stupid, smart, self-centered, altruistic and strictly adheres to military rules while breaking them. If I didn’t know better I would say that cloning through the ansible imbues those clones with sociopathic behavior. It might have propped up his character to make that particular tie-in along with other clones that are experiencing a high rate of suicide or deserting. The actions of his cohorts on station are plagued with constant guile and Aldo is blind to most of it, even after years of residing there. A not too believable character(s).  One of the big holes in an absent plot, is why everyone on the outer rim of the galaxy on a broke dick military station adhere to what the author calls “crushing bureaucracy”? After years of barely surviving disaster under a drunk and abusive admiral you would think that most would have fled to the planet or mutinied long ago.  

The writing is captivating in a way that draws you into this world without much action or plot. Most of the novel resides in the depths of the station and the interactions of its crew. While the world below is more boring than a bag of hammers, you can’t wait to mentally get down there with Aldo in order to escape the hell of Station. Not much goes on here up until the end, and even then it is anti-climactic. Still, the novel was compelling and drives you to be thorough in your reading.

Review: Deathknight by Andrew J. Offutt

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Publisher: Endeavour Press

Publishing Date: December 2016/1990

ISBN: 9780441141593

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 /5

Publishers Description: When Knights of the Order are Killed, Falc must bring justice and seek revenge on the brutal murderer. With an unlikely companion, Falc ventures across the land to seek vengeance. HIs task is a difficult one, but will Falc uncover the truth and protect the Order?

Review: This is a work that is being republished 16 years after the first publication. While I don’t mind reviewing earlier novels, I would rather read and review what is currently trending. However, since it landed on my reader I am forced to wade through a rather misogynistic storyline in hopes of finding something compelling.  Initially my thoughts on this were biased, based on a couple of reviews. Stated issues include: too many characters and names that it was hard to track, contrived words without descriptors and lack of maps etc. While the only thing that bothered me was the high brow buffoonery, I quite enjoyed this novel.

Falc is weird. But more like assassin-monk weird with a penchant for ritualized dressing and young girls. He’s badass but not undefeatable. Jinnery is this wirey prune of a girl that was a street orphan used to plying men for paid services. This unlikely duo traipse across the storyline re-inventing themselves along the way. There is a conspiracy afoot and beneath it all, a hinted at ancient civilization where technology is still secretly utilized.

It is too bad that this is a stand alone novel as there were so many unanswered questions as well as the interesting epilogue that hints of a greater unveiling. A novel not to be taken seriously, but to have fun reading.  

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

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Publisher: Crown

Publishing Date: May 2017

ISBN: 9780553419733

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing. So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve. 

Review: Boy am I late to the party on the Divine Cities series, missing out on the first two. Thankfully the writing is so good that you can jump in at any time and enjoy yourself. 

The character development was spectacular. The characters just grow and grow with the intense movement.   Sigrud has this very humanistic/Golem vibe that captures your attention. As you move through the storyline his opinions and perspectives on life change and what was once reddened fury becomes tempered in its approach. Very well drawn characterization. The world building is epic as you travel along with our anti-hero through different countries and hidden worlds. 

“So why you no give 5 stars!!!?”. As you may or may not know I am not a big fan of phrasing, especially when used repeatedly to expedite the scenes or transition dialogue. Fooking “said softly” was used 61 times. This phrasing was sometimes used repeatedly within a paragraph. Why use this vehicle when the author obviously has the talent to construct scenes that are complex in their approach? Anywaaay, a real good novel that hastens a prompt visitation each day.