Book Review: The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

 

Publishing Date: August 2018

Publisher: Tor

ISBN: 9781250186119

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages. Hot on her trail is the Pax–a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse. Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers.

Review: In the first movement which lasts about half of the novel there is this writing style that embraces Jane as matter of fact in all things. This singular focus of Jane’s is coupled with dry wit and to-the-point verbosity. Really refreshing writing as it opens up the characters in order for the reader to paint their own mental picture. As the writing takes on an unfettered air, the world(s) and their environments/aliens spring to life. Sadly this comes to a halt as Jane reunites with an old lover.

Second Movement: Here the writing deflects away from the crafting of solid characters to the more patterned exchange of dialogue we see in most romance novels. The shrugging of this, the sighing of that. Hunky man with flashing eyes and a yearning for his safe embrace.

The aliens that spatter the novel are not wholly built as “alien” in approach. All species tended to interact with humanistic emotive qualities. This expedites the story line but tends to undermine the authentic feeling we look for in hard SciFi.  The only good aliens that were wholly alien were the Reint. Creepy to extremes but not real believable with regard to the de-evolutionary premise put forth.

There was quite a bit of filler about the Pax (Borg) that was a way too simple explanation about why the Pax do what they do. There is not a deep or complex evolution of an amalgamation of species vying for galactic control. Of such a scale you would think that something as destructively pervasive (and pivotal) would of had a long and complex tenure of development coupled with an extreme birth. It is just too easy to make a seemingly unthinking and hive like colony (Storm Troopers) the bad guys.

I could not wait to read this during the First Movement and wanted it to end by the Second Movement.

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Book Review: Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

 

Publishing Date: October 2017

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781911278122

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.9/5

Publisher’s Description: The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision. Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Review: This received good reviews across the board except for one asshat that does not like anything with the military in it. Forget the things that matter like character development, story line etc.

This was epic SciFi at its best with some really creepy shjt underlying the surface. Take Alien and make a horror menagerie out of it and you will get the sense of a place you never want to be. Thankfully the story does not reside solely in the SciFi horror genre but embraces grand world building and believable technology.

A fun read. Get it!

Book Review: Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: M. Graves

ISBN: 9781949272000

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

Publisher’s Description: Aaron Sheridan doesn’t want to live anymore. His entire family had just died in a shuttle crash and he’d been the one flying it. Unable to deal with the guilt, he signs up for the Fleet expecting a fatal deployment to the Rim War, but instead ends up at their most prestigious command school, Corinth Station.

Review: Like a few of the reviews out there, the story line has been done and echoes “Ender’s Game” and “Star Ship Troopers”. There are many not as popular novels that this one traces with alacrity but I think you get the gist.

So what stands out about this novel and sets it apart from the rest while maintaining entertainment value? Characters baby! Wow, the interleaving of personal development with movement was superb. Aaron moves from a suicidal teen into someone that looks beyond himself while maintaining a core of integrity. Seb begins a transition from stunted social misfit into an accepted member of a group while retaining a sense of innocence. All characters morph under the hot cauldron of daily military strife.

The world building lacked expansion which was not expected where Corinth was stationed.  There was not any space sex, which would be an integral part of the story line structure. Thousands of young adults under a pressure cooker military school would be banging each other like fruit flies in a punch bowl.

A good start for a new writing talent. Just make up your own shjt next time.

Book Review: The Soldier by Neal Asher

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Skyhorse

ISBN: 9781597809610

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher’s Description: In a far corner of space, on the very borders between humanity’s Polity worlds and the kingdom of the vicious crab-like prador, is an immediate threat to all sentient life: an accretion disc, a solar system designed by the long-dead Jain race and swarming with living technology powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations.

Review: This was an ambitious voyage into a complex SciFi universe. Principally the players in this universe exist either as functional AI derivatives or fully aware and in control of the subterfuge game. The humanistic element is left bereft except for a pair of humans transformed by their adopted planet.

I initially had no interest in continuing after the first couple of chapters, due to the quick immersion of a complex universe via a rabid story line.  So, with nothing else to read I girded the loin-age and finished what became a very long novel.

The Good~ Hard SciFi at its finest resides within these pages. The scope and range that is expressed within is wholly expansive and leaves you meek under the grandiosity of the Universe depicted. From runcibles that capture and move singularities to a planet-sized alien that can jump through the folds of space. Android golems and lobster/crab like aliens round out the weirdness.

The Bad~ Like a few reviewers out there, the character development was pretty thin. You really don’t give a shjt what happens to anyone/thing/alien. Although you really want to care for Dragon, the author doesn’t give you any emotional toe-holds and your hope that Angel finds his humanity, is severed in favor of the grander “plan”.

The Ugly~ Not much ugly here other than this is a really long novel and rest assured, there is no closure to be had.

Am I going to read “The Jain Universe” #2? For sure but let’s get some character depth to balance out the clinical AI approach.

Book Review: The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell

 

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Tor

ISBN:  9780765387929

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.9/5

Publisher’s Description: Brilliant engineer Marcus Flynn has been sentenced to 11-H37 alongside the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals. A hard labor prison planet better known as the Razor, where life expectancy is short and all roads are dead ends.

Review: The idea that this tidally locked planet supports life in a thin band between the hot and cold sides is, pretty thin, almost razor like. Ha. What we know about tidally locked planets (that are not gas giants) is that life would find a hard purchase. Not impossible just not very likely. I like that this author takes a step off an established scientific idea and ramps it up. Gives it that “Ringworld” feel that I have been missing. I think Mathew Costello said it best in reference to this novel, “Cutting-edge SciFI “.

This is a fantastic novel. Period. It has everything you could hope for and is nice and long so the ride lasts a good long time. This definitely has a few more sequels to get through and I am exited as fuk for them. Only minor misstep: A firing pin is not pulled back to charge a gun as it is inside the bolt carrier.

Book Review: Alen Bounty Hunter: Vol. 1 by Adrian F. Wassel

Publishing Date: August 2018

Publisher: Vault

ISBN: 9781939424273

Genre: SciFi Comic

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher’s Description: Ben Madsen is a bounty hunter. Yeah…he knows how that sounds. But Ben likes his job—until the bondsman convinces him to take a bounty he doesn’t want, to get the kind of paycheck he needs. When the big payday turns out to be more than Ben bargained for, he’s swept into an otherworldly conspiracy and dropped into alien city hidden right here on Earth. Good thing he’s the best man for the job—sort of. Hero or fall guy, Ben Madsen will prove one thing during his misadventures: He’s really good at jumping from high places and surviving.

Review: A bit of a departure from the norm, this comic scifi barely delivers a cogent story line. The only two things good about it was the characterization of Madsen and some of the illustrations. The aliens were marginal and the world building finite.

Book Review: Saving Paludis by Clayton Graham

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Books Go Social

ISBN:9780994495631

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher’s Description: To keep his home world alive, Stefan must team with two strangers, a botanist and a mysterious seer. As embattled factions vie for control of the universe, the trio must trust in each other to keep the new technology from ripping time and space apart. Saving Paludis is an electrifying sci-fi thrill-ride. If you like futuristic technology, alien political intrigue, and high-octane, paranormal action, then you’ll love Clayton Graham’s interstellar adventure!

Review: This was some hard SciFi where it embraced the premise of alien life on a conquered world and the technology used to overcome interstellar distances. Initially, the aliens played well in this universe as the perspective was rendered as it should be….wholly without humanistic forms of expression. The native life on Palludis was interesting but never wandered far from the Earth norm. The characters evolved nicely with the movement (generally) and the few that stood out were entertaining.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!?”.  The aliens became not that “alien” as the novel progressed and reverted to brandishing humanistic reactions to emotionally charged situations. They just dd not come off as alien as the story line progressed.  The flora and fauna were not expounded upon to lend the planet the “alien-ess” that it needed. A big lizard that can be tamed and some kelp just about rounded up the all the weird that the planet had to offer.

What really nose dived this novel from 4 to 3 stars was Clare. Oh my fuk, what a turkey. She is not only speshul by way of brains and hotness level, she was singled out by the evil empire to spy on Palludis unbeknownst to, well …herself. Captain Stefan has a space boner for her and she wants to be compliant but is/was currently having her brain purged while fending off various men from raping her (because she is so hot). She is in a constant state of helpless bewilderment but seems to find her spine when there is no man to cling to. She starts to snivel and whine when guns are either mentioned or brandished and always manages to muster the strength for action when in this enduring state of frailty. So good job author of tanking a really promising piece of work with one lame character.