Category Archives: Books

Peace Force 1

Harriet Walsh 1: Peace Force
by Simon Haynes (2018)

Harriet Walsh is desperate for work, but when an intergalactic crime-fighting organisation offers her a job she’s convinced it’s a mistake. She dislikes puzzles, has never read a detective mystery, and hates wearing uniforms.

So why did the Peace Force pick her?

Simon Haynes (of Hal Spacejock) is back with a new character, This appears to be in the same universe as Hal’s although this isn’t stated. It’s a fun story, with most of the humour coming from the robot who is very pedantic and takes things literally. The main hero, Harriet is a young woman profiled for the job on the Peace Force. She is likable and gung-ho.

The story takes a few unexpected turns and ends up in a place ready for the next two books to come.

Final Finger

The Final Fish Finger
(Space Police #2)
by David Blake (2018)
Capstan & Dewbush visit the British Museum where the last ever fish finger is the key exhibit. But it’s about to be stolen, and the evidence leads them to Ganymede, a moon orbiting Jupiter, where they come face-to-face with the mysterious Gorgnome Obadiah.

This follow a similar format to the first book. The two detectives are given the task of looking for something missing. Meanwhile the president is negotiating a trade  deal with the very place the detectives are heading to.

This is more witty banter and silly shenanigans that outright comedy. It’s fun and enjoyable to read. Recommended.

While I have been reading, David has been writing and released three more in the series, one every month.

Night Master

Night’s Master
(Tales from the Flat Earth #1)
by Tanith Lee (1978)

Read as the May pick for Sword & Laser Podcast.

Written in the manner of The One Thousand and One Nights, this is a series of loosely linked short stories.

The setting is long time ago when the Earth was Flat, beautiful indifferent Gods lived in the airy Upperearth realm above, curious passionate demons lived in the exotic Underearth realm below, and mortals were relegated to exist in the middle.

Azhrarn, Lord of the Demons and the Darkness, was the one who rules the Night. Many mortal lives were changed because of his cruel whimsy. And yet, held inside his demon heart a profound mystery which would change the very fabric of the Flat Earth forever…


The first impression is an absolute mastery of english prose. It’s rich and evocative. The only author close to this style would be Mervyn Peake in his Gormanghast trilogy.

It indulges and tempts the reader  to slow down and savor each word and sentence. Withing a paragraph there is more than most authors would write in a chapter and hence the pacing moves like lightening.

This prose style suits the mythological style of the stories. It could easily come from scripture.

This is the first Tanith Lee book I have read, and it is not clear  if she uses this style consistently through her 90 novels and 300+ short stories. I can’t wait to find out.



Locus Award


Locus Magazine has announced the finalists for the 2018 Locus Awards! The winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle, WA, June 22-24, 2018; Connie Willis will MC the awards ceremony.


  • Persepolis Rising, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Walkaway, Cory Doctorow (Tor; Head of Zeus)
  • The Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
  • Provenance, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Luna: Wolf Moon, Ian McDonald (Tor; Gollancz)
  • Seven Surrenders, Ada Palmer (Tor; Head of Zeus)
  • New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi (Tor US; Tor UK)
  • Borne, Jeff VanderMeer (MCD; HarperCollins Canada; Fourth Estate)


  • The Stone in the Skull, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
  • City of Miracles, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
  • Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, John Crowley (Saga)
  • The House of Binding Thorns, Aliette de Bodard (Ace; Gollancz)
  • The Ruin of Angels, Max Gladstone ( Publishing)
  • Spoonbenders, Daryl Gregory (Knopf; riverrun)
  • The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Jade City, Fonda Lee (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Delirium Brief, Charles Stross ( Publishing; Orbit UK)
  • Horizon, Fran Wilde (Tor)


  • The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden (Del Rey)
  • The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager US)
  • Amberlough, Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor)
  • Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys ( Publishing)
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss (Saga)
  • The Art of Starving, Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
  • Autonomous, Annalee Newitz (Tor; Orbit UK 2018)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Random House; Bloomsbury)
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon (Akashic)
  • Amatka, Karin Tidbeck (Vintage)


  • In Calabria, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon)
  • River of Teeth, Sarah Gailey ( Publishing)
  • Agents of Dreamland, Caitlín R. Kiernan ( Publishing)
  • Passing Strange, Ellen Klages ( Publishing)
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • Binti: Home, Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing)
  • “And Then There Were (N-One),” Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 3-4/17)
  • All Systems Red, Martha Wells, ( Publishing)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang ( Publishing)
  • The Red Threads of Fortune, JY Yang ( Publishing)


  • “Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny 7-8/17)
  • “The Hermit of Houston,” Samuel R. Delany (F&SF 9-10/17)
  • “Come See the Living Dryad,” Theodora Goss ( 3/9/17)
  • “The Worshipful Society of Glovers,” Mary Robinette Kowal (Uncanny 7-8/17)
  • “Extracurricular Activities,” Yoon Ha Lee ( 2/15/17)
  • “The Hidden Girl,” Ken Liu (The Book of Swords)
  • “The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids,” Seanan McGuire (Black Feathers)
  • “Wind Will Rove,” Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 9-10/17)
  • “The Lamentation of Their Women,” Kai Ashante Wilson ( 8/24/17)
  • “Waiting on a Bright Moon,” JY Yang ( 7/12/17)


  • “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue,” Charlie Jane Anders (Global Dystopias)
  • “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance,” Tobias S. Buckell (Cosmic Powers)
  • “Persephone of the Crows,” Karen Joy Fowler (Asimov’s 5-6/17)
  • “Fire.”, Elizabeth Hand (Fire.)
  • “Dear Sarah,” Nancy Kress (Infinity Wars)
  • “The Martian Obelisk,” Linda Nagata ( 7/19/17)
  • “Fandom for Robots,” Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny 9-10/17)
  • “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM,” Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex 8/17)
  • “Starlight Express,” Michael Swanwick (F&SF 9-10/17)
  • “Carnival Nine,” Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/11/17)

Drastic Measure

Drastic Measures
(Star Trek: Discovery #2)
by Dayton Ward (2017)

An original novel based upon the new Star Trek TV series.

It is 2246, ten years prior to the Battle at the Binary Stars, and an aggressive contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV and the eight thousand people who call it home. Distress signals have been sent, but any meaningful assistance is weeks away. Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca and a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost are caught up in the escalating crisis, and bear witness as the colony’s governor, Adrian Kodos, employs an unimaginable solution in order to prevent mass starvation.


Using two of the main characters of the new Star Trek: Discovery, Gabriel Lorca and Philippa Georgiou, this is set 10 years before of the beginning of the new TV series. There are cameos of a young James T. Kirk and Captain Robert April.

The story of this novel is based on the events developed in the TV episode “The Conscience of the King” of Star Trek: The Original Series. In the episode, Captain Kirk crosses paths with an actor suspected of having been a mass-murdering dictator many years before.

The book tells the story of Kodos on Tarsus IV. The colony suffers a fungus plague which contaminates all crops along with food storage and food processors. It was imminent that the whole population will suffer from hunger…

This could have been told in a single 45 minute episode of the TV show. But here it is expanded out to a novel of over 100,000 words. There is a lot of padding with back story and character profiles. In the hands of a tough editor, it would have been significantly shorter. Not that it’s a bad or slow read, it just does not have the expanse and impact of other Star Trek novels I have read.


Some stories never lose their grip on us. They compel us to recast them in different ways. For every myth preserved in written form there are variations of the story that did not survive—but are just as true.

Here are five of Ilana C. Myer’s favorite retellings. (A Tor Posting)

Beauty by Robin McKinley
The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter
The King Must Die by Mary Renault




by Shannen Crane Camp (2015)

Reagan West has the perfect life. She’s gorgeous, she’s popular, and she’s at the tip-top of the high school food chain as co-captain of the cheerleading squad. She’s also best friends with the most evil girl in Albany, Tawny Perez, which means she’s never on the receiving end of Tawny’s wrath.

The only trouble in Reagan’s perfect life comes from the constant threat of her fellow classmates discovering her dirty little secret—Reagan West is a closet gamer.

This was obtained as part of a StoryBundle.

There is nothing wrong with the writing or characters here. It’s just that I have a problem with the whole premise of the book. It is based on the nerd/jock dichotomy but in female culture. If this was written 30 years ago it would be relevant.

The nerd/jock thing I came across around the early 1980’s, as depicted in Animal House (1978). As a school student at the age depicted here, this culture just didn’t exist in New Zealand.

Now, in my young relatives who are equally at ease with sports and technology it seems to have dissipated. This was written in 2015, and it just seems to be out of it’s era.

Because of this I find it difficult to understand the motivations of the characters.

The other film it reminds me of is Heathers (1988). I can cope with young female protagonists (e.g. Anthea Sharpe’s Feyland series) but here it just doesn’t work.


Hal’s Back

Double Trouble
(Hal Spacejock #8)

by Simon Haynes (2018)


Hal Spacejock dons a flash suit, hypershades and a curly earpiece for a stint as a secret agent, while a pair of Clunk’s most rusted friends invite him to a ‘unique business opportunity’.

Inevitably, things turn sour, and it’s all hands to the pumps as the good ship Spacejock springs leaks from stem to stern.

The last in the series ‘Big Bang’ was from 2014. I thought the series was over, but not only has #8 turned up, but #9 is also due this year. In addition the author has a new series, ‘Harriet Walsh’.

Hal and Clunk are up to the usual mis-adventures. Hal stuffs things up and Clunk rescues him. This is light on the science fiction and an easy read. Recommended for anyone who likes comedic science fiction.

Bobiverse 3

All These Worlds
(Bobiverse #3)
by Dennis E. Taylor (2017)
Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun. But after spreading out through space for almost a century, Bob and his clones just can’t stay out of trouble.

They’ve created enough colonies so humanity shouldn’t go extinct. But political squabbles have a bad habit of dying hard, and the Brazilian probes are still trying to take out the competition. And the Bobs have picked a fight with an older, more powerful species with a large appetite and a short temper.

Third and final in the trilogy. This is very similar to the second, with its multiple first person narratives.

It doesn’t have the impact as the first and the final battle doesn’t have the intensity it could due to the author sticking to sub-light speed travel.

Still a good read and a satisfying conclusion to the series.