Book Review: Knight by Timothy Zahn

Publishing Date: April 2019

Publisher: Tor/Forge

ISBN: 9780765329677

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philadelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship called the Fyrantha. Now she is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with the aliens and their ship, and no one is happy. Competing factions control different parts of the Fyrantha with the humans and other sentient aliens caught in the middle. But Nicole is done being bullied, and now she has a plan to take control of the ship. She just has to outsmart war profiteers and slavers to do it.

Review: This was a story line that languished in dialogue while moving at a snails pace. Remember the movie “Speed”? Great movement tied to a simple story line that kept you involved despite the flimsiness of the overall plot. Think of this novel as “Speed 2”. Boring story line set on a boat in the friggin’ ocean going fast…er? Even the idea that Super Speshul Nicole is trying to hide the fact that humans can fight from the slaver aliens is a stretch.  The premise that slaver aliens would ever pit other aliens against each other (on a space ship) in order to determine the best fighters for war farming practices, is really not believable.

This novel was not even alien weird. All the aliens understand each other with a universal translator while exhibiting common humanistic idioms.  The fractured AI within the ship is the only interesting event as are the Wisps that reside within.

Nicole was a big fall down as a main character. A hot gang/street urchin with a heart of gold, plucked from the streets of Philly and now on a space ship where the Artificial Intelligence has made her it’s “Protector”. She is either in a state of anger or tiredness while constantly being snarky. Most of the dialogue is spent on her internal ruminations. The story line meanders it’s way through corridors while to and fro-ing between the fighting Arenas. The tropes are many what with her former gang mates trying to “get some action” while “sneering evilly”.

Despite the slow delivery, the novel holds promise if more movement were added and the city of Philadelphia was edited down a bit as a point of relevance. Make the aliens more alien in the next installment.

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Book Review: Station Zero by Phillip Reeve

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Capstone

ISBN:9781684460533

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.8/5

Publisher’s Description: What happens after the adventure of a lifetime? For Zen, it’s a safe, comfortable life of luxury. But it’s not what Zen wants. He misses the thrill of riding the rails, of dodging danger, and of breathing the air of different planets. Most of all of course he misses Nova, lost to him forever in a distant world. But then one day a mysterious message arrives, and that’s all Zen needs to head right off, ready for anything. Except that no one could be ready for what he finds…Thrilling, thought-provoking, and breathtaking, this finale to the Railhead trilogy weaves a web of wonder, full of characters and events you will never forget.

Review: This took me a long time to complete so perhaps this review might convey a lack of consistency. The reason is that this particular download was only for an Adobe Reader and not Kindle. Big PITA.

This novel had it’s ups and downs yet was fairly entertaining. While the movement was very good, there were times that the story line languished under the personal ruminations of various characters.  The tech and subsequent SciFi were very good and highly creative. For a final novel of the trilogy, this was a let down. The build of tension that is expected was diluted with multiple scenes and the expected details of a war, were glossed over.

Zen is a great character that carries this series on his shoulders but was somehow relegated to “meh” status in this installment.

Book Review: Rijel 12 by King Everett Medlin

 

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Chandra

ISBN: 9781949964028

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: The remote Intergalactic Penal Colony on the planet Rijel 12 is a very profitable enterprise. Its desolate surface is an uninhabitable wasteland relentlessly scorched by its sun, but inside the planet is a vast treasure trove of the most precious resources in the galaxy.

Prisoners sentenced to Rijel 12 know it’s a one-way ticket. It used to be a convict would serve their time and come home. That stopped a while ago. Inmates are forced to work the mines in wretched conditions and the death rate is staggering. Luckily for the warden, new inmates arrive monthly to replenish the labor pool. Business has never been better.

Review: I had a hard time finishing this novel, so I didn’t. I thought the lengthy explanations and exhaustive backstory would subside in favor of the characters interacting in real time. Sadly, the story line is lost in the clutter of lengthy setups to each scene. Additionally the poor Science part of the Fiction is lacking as well. A mining planet that the overseers somehow pump oxygen into, so that the miners can survive, is never adequately explained as are many other instances.

 

Book Review: Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines

Publishing Date: February 2019

Publisher: DAW

ISBN: 9780756412777

Genre: ScFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: The Krakau came to Earth in the year 2104. By 2105, humanity had been reduced to shambling, feral monsters. In the Krakau’s defense, it was an accident, and a century later, they did come back and try to fix us. Sort of. It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth of that accident. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago. Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full. Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans … or drown the galaxy in chaos. To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it.

Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.

Review: Wow, they should put spoiler alerts on the Publisher Descriptions.

I just couldn’t get through this novel. Too much tongue and cheeky crap that seeks to emulate Douglas Adams in everything but the depth of his characters. A motley cleaning crew of misfits, outwitting everyone and everything while on a quest for righting humanities wrongs. Really? Where have I heard this before?

If you like reading bad space opera with characters and situations that are neither believable nor endearing, then by all means, get this.

Book Review: The Second Death of Daedaleus Mole by N. Slater

 

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Unbound

ISBN: 9781912618330

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 0.5

Publisher’s Description: The plan: fly his unwanted passenger, Erin, to her destination, squeeze her for every last penny, then immediately find refuge in the nearest pub. Unfortunately, when the galaxy is on the verge of economic collapse and your passenger has a bounty the size of a planet on her head, there’s only so much another drink can do to help.

Review: This may take a bit, and hopefully does not trend into the dramatic (as reviewers are wont to do).

This was one of the best space operatic novels I have read since the late Brian Daley. UP until about the 70% kindle mark and then it turns to pure shjt. Here is why.

The Good: Mole is a great character along with his crazy resident ship’s AI, the alternatively move through universe in an interestingly expansive and at once myopic way. This is mostly due to Moles penchant for drinking himself into oblivion while attempting to make a living. His dualistic nature of depression shielded with forced narcissism makes for a very compelling character. Along the way he picks up a non-human alien that has been bartered as a slave and is now on the run. She is also a compelling character that rejoices in her freedom in rather infantile ways. Add in a huge lumbering female Petradon and the tropes are satisfied.

The Bad: What once was a straight forward story line that progresses in logical fashion turns into a rash of incomprehensible instances. Why in a universe littered with life forms is Erin suddenly so extra fooking speshul as to lead the RESISTANCE! as a figurehead <cough>. How and why is Mole suddenly selected by a semi-omnipotent being to do something of which I am still unclear?

The Ugly: Besides the derailment of the story line which sends the flow of the novel to a screeching halt, you have Erin having inter-species alien lesbian sex with her shipmate. Forget the improbability of alien love-sex and our acceptance of it in literature, as it was none of that. It just did not fit the story line to that point. It was almost as if it were a secondary in consideration and added to satisfy a community or create character depth or……….???

I have only read a couple of novels that went from good to poor in abrupt fashion. Never have I read a novel that begins as a solid 5 stars go to unreadable.

Book Review: Darkness by Iain Richmond

 

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Lore Mountain

ISBN:  9781946807090

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Lieutenant Jack Falco woke up, said goodbye to his wife and daughter, three hours later his family and half the world’s population was dead. When he couldn’t put a bullet in his head, Falco did the next best thing, took a commission as captain and left for humanity’s furthest boundary, Station Pluto. Five years in a scout-class boat refitted for the long haul, and Falco escapes the horrors of earth only to find something worse waiting in the vast Oort Cloud, an ancient civilization with a history of violent expansion and humanity has unwittingly entered their territory.

Review: At first I thought this was a little smug and self-serving in writing style. Hero flyer/martial expert/doting father/lover/estate owner and all around mans man. Kind of like being in a room of all knowing liberals basking in pseudo collective entitlement. But…..that lasted only a few pages and Falco transforms into a shattered wreck.

So Jacky-boyo captains his ship of devoted followers to the outskirts of the solar system to sniff around for mining opportunities and some anomaly in the Oort cloud. Consummate to his mission, Jack has plenty of naughty/guilty thoughts for his brilliant staff officer. She happens to be hotter than a popcorn fart what with her shaven, tattoo crowned Brazilian noggin’ sitting on top of a hot chassis. MEOW! Thankfully this is not the story line, entire. Humanity has way bigger problems other than whether or not Jack whets his whistle.

The aliens were fairly “alien” and the worlds in which they reside is bizarre in the extreme. This novel was one that grew from so-so beginnings into a vast world of possibilities, so extreme as to be rejected from the pits of normalcy. The follow up novel should bring more of the bizarre galactic to life.

Book Review: The Hierophant’s Daughter by MF Sullivan

 

Publishing Date: May 2019

Publisher: Painted Blind

ISBN: 9780996539579

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.6/5

Publisher’s Description: By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind’s inter-generational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.

Spoiler Alert!

Review: Just when you think things are moving along nicely, these staged and unbelievable instances occur. You are left in the void, scratching your head at the fuked up non-sequitur’s that litter the story line. Well technically they are not “non-sequitur’s” but still follow an illogical pathway. Take for instance the hospital scene in Japan where one of Dominia’s enemies has somehow infiltrated into a hospital as a surgeon setting up an elaborate scenario that entails fooling other Doctors, killing everyone in the hospital, changing anesthesia compounds to render Dominia inert while expounding upon his (their) evilly designs (MUAHAHAHA!!!) .

IF, you can swallow all that nonsense and the others that precede and follow this scene, then you got more guts than a male praying mantis. Plot devices can work but usually are utilized as a vehicle that hides a lack of creative scene development.

The other problem this novel has is saying the word….Vampire. Nowhere is it ever mentioned like a booger hanging out of your nose. The Martyrs are of the un-dead, live almost forever, need human blood to survive and will die if in the sun too long. Check, check, check and check….Vampire. Did the author not want to relegate her masterpiece to the common genre via naming conventions? In my world a spade is a spade, so why not call it another fucking vampire novel. Oh, but just not any vampire novel…..it is a Gay vampire novel. So why no sparkles?

This could have been a brilliant novel. A burgeoning writing talent with some great twists on an old idea. Sadly there were too many plot devices coupled with stuttering scene progression that placed the novel squarely in “douche wagon” mode. Additionally there is A LOT of backstory to wade through. No really, A LOT OF BACKSTORY to wade through. I am not kidding.

I wanted to DNF this novel but was curious about whether the main character would evolve or continue to spiral down into the gay vampire mourning/romance thing.

(Pssst, it’s the latter).