Book Review: Sio by C.A. Blocke

 

Publishing Date: April 2019

Publisher: Ninestar

ISBN: 9781950412488

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: James Marks and his crew of scav trash operate their ship, SIO, on a mission to obtain a mysterious piece of new tech. It changes everything and leaves him stranded somewhere he doesn’t recognize with a cute, if not a bit annoying, tech scientist. James doesn’t know, when he first meets Michael, but his life is about to change in a very surprising way.

Review: Not too many reviews out there to gauge whether or not my opinion is consistent with what others are finding. As time time goes on, I am guessing this will reside in average-land. Here’s why.

Pretty dam good writing marred by inexplicable insertions of filler romance crap. It is not that romance can sometimes build characters and enhance the story line, but driven to excess can almost always confuse the story line while diminishing the characters. Love born in a few days is what pushes this novel to stall interest while relieving the reader of a cogent and logical plot.

The supporting cast is never adequately developed as the there is no room to do so. What you get is hastily built personas that are over-the-top in order to compensate for their lack of depth. James Marks lacks depth as a main character, as he is driven by greed and libido, which leaves no room for giving two shits about him. Michael is a mewling, whimpering, addled douche bag that just happens to be a genius when the crew needs it the most. These plot devices a scattered throughout the novel where no effort is expended to enhance the novel with intricate and compelling scenes.

If I were given two choices: 1) Read this to completion or, 2) blow myself out the nearest airlock, I would be pressed in choosing.

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Book Review: Astro-Nuts by Logan J. Hunder

 

Publishing Date: April 2019

Publisher: Skyhorse

ISBN: 9781597809221

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher’s Description: The year is: The Future. Mars and Earth are like that divorced couple who don’t exactly like each other but have at least stopped fighting in public. Floating somewhere in between them, amid all the garbage and Gene Roddenberry’s ashes, a transport vessel called the SS Jefferson is homeward bound. Its crew might have even made it on time for once, too…

Review: As the sub-title suggests, “SciFi with zero gravitas”, this is a space farce along the lines of Hitchhiker’s Guide. The first half of this novel could have been a real funny space opera with added seriousness to draw you into the characters. What eventually becomes a part of the embedded story line is flimsy personas, glib rhetoric and anecdotal situations.

The author is clearly a student of pop culture and adds a heaping dose to Astro-Nuts, even though it is set far in the future. He does a great job of marrying what is current into a futuristic assemblage of wry wit and humor.

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I really enjoyed reading this novel. Note to author: Glock’s don’t have hammers that “cock” and triggers that go “click, click, click”, when empty.

Book Review: World Enough (And Time) by Edmund Jorgensen

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Inkwell and Often

ISBN: 9780984749225

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.6/5

Publisher’s Description: Back on Earth, a dying man has just left his fortune to a home for maltreated ferrets. Normally Jeremiah Brown would not begrudge such luckless animals their windfall, but the man was his uncle, and the fortune was supposed to be his inheritance. Furthermore, having already purchased a ticket for a luxury space-cruise “on expectation” of said inheritance, Jeremiah can no longer pay for said ticket. And furthermore still, he is already on said cruise…

Review: This was in the “Read Now” bin so there were low expectations to start  (although, some of my best reads have been from the bin). This is one of those rare gems that delivers and endless stream of entertainment within a variety of story lines. There is a murder mystery, a love story(s), migrant space workers, eccentric oldsters and a uber billionaire recluse that rounds out an interesting cast.

The constant observational wit is entertaining while being creatively poignant.  The story line does drag on a bit with the scenes stretching on too long, coupled with instances looping too often. The mystery is at once humorous and sad which showcases most of the stories abrupt and unexpected turns.

Get it if you like observational wit and solid character development. Don’t- if a story line dragged through the wastes long past its due date, riles your sensibilities.

Book Review: A Chain Across the Dawn (Excerpt) by Drew Williams

Publishing Date: March 2019

Publisher: Tor

ISBN:9781250186157

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher’s Description: It’s been three years since Esa left her backwater planet to join the ranks of the Justified. Together, she and fellow agent Jane Kamali have been traveling across the known universe, searching for children who share Esa’s supernatural gifts. On a visit to a particularly remote planet, they learn that they’re not the only ones searching for gifted children. They find themselves on the tail of a mysterious being with impossible powers who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the very children that Esa and Jane are trying to save.

Review: I am going to have to refrain from doing a thorough review on a Preview. I will state that this follows the same story line tenure as told through Esa’s eyes rather than Jane’s.  Not sure that was a good choice in perspective shifting. I like where the world building is headed, just not sure about the excessive internalization.

Book Review: Firebrandt’s Legacy by David Summers

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: SFFWA

ISBN:9781885093851

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher’s Description: Ellison Firebrandt fights the good fight for Earth. Under a letter of marque, he raids the ships of Earth’s opponents, slowing down their progress and ability to compete with the home system. On the planet Epsilon Indi 2, he rescues a woman named Suki Mori from a drug lord, only to find she isn’t so happy about living a pirate’s life.

Review: Where to start. Overall story line was fairly entertaining. A space pirate ship questing the shipping lanes for viable plunder. This approach embraces constant movement while entertaining  elements of the weird. There is this hard authorial push to make Firebrandt this moral relic while capturing the swashbuckling ideal. He is at once ruthless and willing to kill if met with resistance while caring deeply for his crew.

Did I buy it? Yeah, I liked Firebrandt’s dichotomous personality and the author does a good job at keeping the movement constant and interesting. The scenes are variegated enough to capture attention along with the insertion of strange aliens. “So why you give 2 stars!!?”.

Suki fukin Mori. Try this on. “I was found naked and strapped to a chair but the captwins swaved me and now once the crew trusts me, I mutiny but the captwins forgives me cause I am so hot and shjt. I can build an alien jump drive in less than three hours cause I am so smart….and hot. Now I love Firedick but tease him cause sex (due to venereal disease) is taboo but we finally do it and now I run around like a mother hen with my hands on my hips, admonishing him. That’s love right?”

Well, besides the cringe worthy cover art, you can thank Suki for tanking this novel. Personally I would have shoved her out an air lock.

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.

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.