Category Archives: Books

Scrap Ship

Scrapyard Ship (Scrapyard Ship #1)
by Mark Wayne McGinnis (2013)

Lieutenant Commander Jason Reynolds has had a string of bad luck lately — evident by the uncomfortable house arrest bracelet strapped to his right ankle. Worse yet, he’s relegated to his grandfather’s old house and rambling scrapyard. To complicate things, the women in his life are pulling from every direction. But It’s through a bizarre turn of events that Jason is led to a dried up subterranean aquifer hundreds of feet below ground. Here he discovers an advanced alien spacecraft, one that will propel his life in a new direction.


What begins as an adventure science fiction story soon turns into military science fiction. Although the story could easily be epic fantasy. There is a lot of hand-wavy techno-mumble to explain how things work. It could have just have easily been labelled ‘magic.

Despite these drawbacks, the plot moves along at a good pace and is generally well written. The story takes a number surprising turns. But there is one REALLY obvious military tactic that is foreshadowed early on.

A good read, and I’m moving on the the second in the series.

 

Starfire

Starfire
by B.V. Larson (2014) 132K

On June 30, 1908 an object fell from the sky releasing more energy than a thousand Hiroshima bombs. A Siberian forest was flattened, but the strike left no significant crater. The anomaly came to be known as the Tunguska Event, and scientists have never agreed whether it was the largest meteor strike in recorded history—or something else.

 


This is a big, sprawling science fiction /political novel that starts off like a Tom Clancy story with multiple plot-lines. There are conspiracies and deals being done between USA and Russia. Over half the book feels like a thriller. Then everyone goes into space and the plot-lines concentrate on the voyage.

This was written after the Star Force series. The writing is of an experienced author. Everything is well written and paced for one of his longer books. But best of all is that you never know where the plot will take you.

Recommended for science fiction and thriller readers.

Dan Deadman

Dial D for Deadman: A Space Team Universe Novel
(Dan Deadman Space Detective Book 1)
by Barry J. Hutchison (2017) 78K

The Space Team Universe just got a whole lot darker.

In an alien city torn apart by crooked cops and ruthless criminals, private detective, Dan Deadman, specializes in cases unusual and bizarre.

Sure, he doesn’t smell great, and he’s technically been dead for quite some time, but if you’ve got a rampaging Hell-beast tearing up your street, or a portal to another dimension appearing in your bathroom, Dan’s your man.

 


Barry Hutchinson seems to be invigorated by starting a new character in his “Space Team” universe. This is better that the previous novel ‘Return of the Dead Guy”.

Nothing to complain about here, move on. Nothing to see or hear. Just a dead guy talking.

 

Sorcery & Science

Sorcery & Science
by Ella Summers (2017) 55K

Sorcery & Science is a new urban fantasy novel set in the rebooted Sorcery & Science universe.

Terra Cross is just your typical paranormal princess. Her father, the mages’ high king, betroths her to one of his allies.

But playing nice with otherworldly ambassadors isn’t the only thing on Terra’s plate.

A renegade mage scientist has taken up shop on Earth, whose inhabitants have no knowledge of magic or the worlds beyond.


The only reason I started reading this book was that it was part of the ‘Dominion Rising’ collection I got recently and that the author was on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast when I was between nevels.

Aimed at the adolescent market, the writing is clear and straight-forward. No attempts at fancy prose here. It’s written in first person, and the style is just right for the character. A bit of attitude, wit and at times stubborn. It avoids the traps of long introspection.

The story is simple: Hero, villain (with minions) and plot twists to an unexpected ending. There is magic here that drives the plot along. And so much of it sometimes  appears to be  a case of making it up as we go along.   Without reading the original series, I don’t know how much is new to this story.

It’s a light, fast generally entertaining read without any grim-dark elements that appears to be the flavour today.

 

Infinite

Infinite
by Jeremy Robinson (2017)

The Galahad, a faster-than-light spacecraft, carries fifty scientists and engineers on a mission to prepare Kepler 452b, Earth’s nearest habitable neighbor at 1400 light years away. With Earth no longer habitable and the Mars colony slowly failing, they are humanity’s best hope.

After ten years in a failed cryogenic bed–body asleep, mind awake–William Chanokh’s torture comes to an end as the fog clears, the hatch opens, and his friend and fellow hacker, Tom, greets him…by stabbing a screwdriver into his heart. This is the first time William dies.


This would be the least satisfying of all the Jeremy Robinson novels. He does explain what he was going through while writing the novel and his worries infiltrate the book by keeping the reader wondering what is reality and what is virtual reality (or is it all a dream). The result is that the tone shifts throughout the book.

The setup is interesting, it’s science fiction on an exploration vessel. Then stuff happens, it’s horror with lots of blood and an unknown antagonist. Then we get into alternative realities and ships with AI’s running the show (but are they).

Then in the final quarter It’s a big sci-fi opera with civilizations and exploration. Then it’s back to somewhere familiar with references to other Robinson books (although it’s not set a previous Robinson timeline).

The writing style is still there, but not as big and gang-busters as other works. In the end it just leaves you wondering… what was real (or not) and did anything really happen ?

2017 Hugos

Winners of the 2017 Hugo Awards 

(presented on the evening of Friday, August 11, 2017 at a ceremony at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention.)

Best Novel

  • The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
  • All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
  • Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)
  • Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
  • Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

Best Novella

  • Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (Tor.com publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson (Tor.com publishing)
  • Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
  • A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com publishing)
  • This Census-Taker, by China Miéville (Del Rey / Picador)

Best Novelette

  • “The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
  • Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
  • “The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan (Tor.com , July 2016)
  • “The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, by Fran Wilde (Tor.com publishing, May 2016)
  • “Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

Best Short Story

  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
  • “The City Born Great”, by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
  • “That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

Best Related Work

  • Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
  • The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley (Tor Books)
  • The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)
  • Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)
  • The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow / Harper Collins)
  • The Women of Harry Potter posts, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNationEntertainment/Lava Bear Films)
  • Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/TheDonners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
  • Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/FeigcoEntertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
  • Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSGEntertainment)
  • Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/WaltDisney Pictures)
  • Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
  • Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
  • Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
  • Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Witches

The Witches is a 1990 British/American dark fantasy horror film based on the children’s novel of the same title by Roald Dahl. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg and produced by The Jim Henson Company for Lorimar Film Entertainment and Warner Bros., starring Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, and Jasen Fisher. It is the last theatrical film to be produced by Lorimar before the company shut down 3 years later in 1993.

As in the novel, the story fantasises witches who masquerade as ordinary women and kill children, but are foiled and exterminated by a boy and his grandmother after the boy is turned into a mouse. The film was very well received by critics but performed poorly at the box office.


A simple story about a boy who becomes a mouse and takes on a gaggle of witches. It’s fun and entertaining. As expected from Roald Dahl, things get dark and slightly scary. The ending is a disappointment as it’s not the same as the book and provides an unnecessary “happy” ending.

 

Dead Guy

Space Team: Return of the Dead Guy
(Space Team #6)
by Barry J. Hutchison (2017)

They may have recently averted a full-scale galactic war, but Cal Carver and Space Team just can’t stay out of trouble.

When a ‘Weird Space Thing™’ threatens to destroy planet Earth, Cal is determined to stop it. But when they get there, they find the place is still swarming with parasitic extra-terrestrial bugs, and that there isn’t a whole lot left to save.


Cal takes on the multi-verse…… and wins.
How, I don’t know. Little of this book makes and sense. Sure, it’s comedy Sci-Fi, but the author could have at least tried some science. This makes it the least successful of the series. (so far).

Star Plunderer

The Star Plunderer
by Poul Anderson (1952)

A Novelette From Planet Stories September 1952
#2 in the Technic History

Another story that gallops along with planet changing consequences.

Told in first person, the protagonist is caught up in a war, gets captured, escapes and begins an empire. All in 10,000 words! Impressive.

High Citadel

High Citadel
by Desmond Bagley (1965)

In the biting cold of the Andes, their hi-jacked plane crash-landed, Tim O’Hara’s passengers are fighting for their lives. While O’Hara leads one group along a deadly, snow-covered pass, the other is working to stall the armed soldiers who plan to kill them all. Ingenious ideas are put into action as they attempt to survive until help arrives.


Desmond Bagley has been a long time favorite and it’s good to get back to an author with a tight prose style that concentrates on the story unnecessary talk.

Written in third person it follows firstly the main character (O’Hara) then the group of survivors before splitting the group into two. This means that while the setup is fairly predictable, the story takes some unpredictable turns before an exciting conclusion.

Recommended reading for thriller readers.