Category Archives: Books

World Killer

World Killer
by Barry J. Hutchison (2019)

Aged six, Daryl Elliot went missing for two weeks.
Ten years later, he’s finally going to find out why.


Another novel from the prolific Mr Hutchinson. Sold as young adult, the only thing YA about this story is the age of the main protagonist (a teenager). Featuring aliens, monsters and superhero skills, the plot is a mix of science fiction, thriller and teenager angst.

Apparently part of a new series. But at the end there is no cliff-hanger or missing threads waiting for the next story. This can be read as a stand-alone story.

In tone, this is unlike his humorous novels. It comes across as a very ordinary Sci-Fi adventure. As a result this ends as a very average novel for the fans of the authoe.

 

Fire Ant

Fire Ant
(The Navy of Humanity: Wasp Squadron Book 1)
by Jonathan P. Brazee (2018)

This trilogy of military science fiction is a bit short (each book 50K words). Obtained from A Science Fiction Story Bundle.

It follows the story of a private pilot that discovers an alien race, joins the military and gets to fight the enemy.

The best thing is the pacing and basic story structure. It may be a formula, but it’s done well. The science is also handled well, everything makes sense and while using known tech from jump gates to star-trek like weapons it all fits together nicely.

I could have done without the romance in the middle of the story (second novel) as this is used rather predictably to raise the stakes for the characters in the third novel.

What I didn’t get was why there was an established space faring military at the start. There didn’t seem to be any wars or conflict in the universe, so why the war machines ?

Still, a jolly good read. The covers capture the tone of the story well.

 

Crystals
(The Navy of Humankind: Wasp Squadron Book 2)
by Jonathan P. Brazee (2018)

 

 

 

Ace
(The Navy of Humankind: Wasp Squadron Book 3)
by Jonathan Brazee (2019)

 

 

Dial G

Dial G for Gravity: A Brent Bolster Mystery
(The Brent Bolster Mysteries #1)
by Mikey Campling (2018)

Don’t think of us Gloabons as your overlords, but as kindly relatives who’ve come to stay. Forever.

Yes, there will be a certain amount of ‘sampling’, but as we like to say, abduction makes the heart grow fonder.


The premise here is a comedic science fiction tale involving a detective. Well, the detective reminds me of Barry Hutchison’s Dan Deadman series. At first the writing fells a bit like Robert Kroese, it’s witty and the plot moves along at a good pace. Then the plot threads balloon out, the number of characters (and species) expand and the comedic tone is lost.

What remains is a fairly standard Sci-Fi crime story. There is a bit of return to form at the end, but overall it’s just very average.

 

 

Seafort Hope

Midshipman’s Hope
(Seafort Saga #1)
by David Feintuch (1996)

A hideous accident kills the senior officers of UNS Hibernia, leaving a terrified young officer to take 300 colonists and crew aboard a damaged ship, on a 17-month gauntlet to reach Hope Nation. With no chance of rescue, Nicholas Seafort must save lives and take them, in the name of duty.


This clearly draws on 18th Century British Naval tradition as its social and disciplinary foundation. Which is to say, it’s rigid, authoritarian, and unrelentingly brutal. In fact there are no sympathetic characters in this book.

The whole premise of the book is a disconnect. Set in the future, it presents a leadership structure and style out of date even in 20th century wars. The social rigidity and brutality just distract from the story. Behavioral studies, human psychology and sociology have advanced since then, so I don’t find it plausible that they could revert to this 18th century style.

In addition, the author goes to considerable length to create a situation where an inexperienced seventeen year old would command a star-ship.

As the plot proceeds, it becomes clear that the conflict will not be with the forces of nature, aliens or pirates but within the crew. This could have been set on a ship anywhere.

Eventually the plot contrivances and lack of any Science Fiction themes accumulate to a point almost halfway through where I gave up.

 

Infinite Invaders

Invaders from the Infinite
by John W. Campbell Jr. (1961)

Purchased as part of a Kickstater Campaign for Campbell’s ‘Frozen Hell’.

Claimed to be: a veritable odyssey of the universe, exploring world after world and uncovering cosmic secret after cosmic secret. Here is a classic novel of super-science that may never be surpassed!

I have read novels that feature a glance and hand wave to science before, but this has got to be the worst. In 1961 the space race had begun, Einstein has published his Annus Mirabilis papers (1905).

But most of this appears to have bypassed the author. While crammed with info-dumps and dubious science, it also seems to forget about characters and plot. Little explanation is given of the characters before jumping from world to world with little explanation.

I just didn’t get what was supposed to be going on and soon lost interest.

 

 

Alien Heat

An Alien Heat
(Dancers at the End of Time #1)
by Michael Moorcock (1977)

Paperback Edition Cover

Another hardcover book that has sat on my shelf for decades but discarded during the switch to digital.

There is no doubt that Moorcock has an imagination. This is conveyed clearly through his descriptive prose. He effortlessly switches his characters through colourful environments.

The trouble is that after a few chapters it becomes evident that there isn’t much of a story here. It feels more like a series of sketches.

Moorcock has done better, his ‘Behold the Man’ (1980), read in 2010 I rated a 4/5. His Elric series is better known and may prove to have a story to tell.

 

Hardcover I owned

 

An alternative cover
Another Cover

TruthSeer

TruthSeer
(Truthseer Archives #3)
by Mike Shelton (2018)

 

The TruthStone has been a heavy weight for Shaeleen to bear, but she must continue to gather all the stones of power and restore them to their original glory – how, she is not quite sure.


The final part wraps everything with a bow and marriages.

It’s all very exciting and our hero escapes any damages with not even a scratch. This is probably to be expected, but given the power Shaeleen accumulates, it would have been nice to see it change her… maybe a bit to the dark side. But despite all the events happening within a year (she is 15 at the ens) she remains unchanged.

Still, it’s a well written at at times exciting story.

 

TruthSpell

TruthSpell
(Truthseer Archives #2)
by Mike Shelton (2018)

 

Sent to find Princess Diamonique to prevent a civil war, Shaeleen travels with her brother, Wizard Protector Cole, and her friend, Orin. But her journey veers off course when she discovers an evil shadow power threatening the magic of Wayland.


The second of the trilogy is better than the first. The stakes are higher and there is more action. So while it still fits into the young adult genre, things are a bit more intense and the story more involved. The ending leaves you wondering how the story will be resolved.

 

TruthStone

TruthStone
(Truthseer Archives #1)
by Mike Shelton (2018)


When fifteen year old Shaeleen unexpectedly is given a TruthStone, every lie she hears or tells causes her immense physical pain. As she struggles to control her new power and curb the pain, she learns a powerful truth that could thrust an entire continent into civil war. She must choose: reveal the truth and stop the pain – or sacrifice her own well-being to protect her kingdom.


This was purchased from Amazon for a dollar on a whim. It’s definitely young adult fantasy. The prose is easy to read and has a nice flow. Set is a pre-industrial age with magic, technology and a very modern outlook.

The story is centered around a young girl who is thrust into the limelight. There is nothing gritty, depressing of violent about the story and tone. In some ways this detracts from the story, meaning that there is less at stake for the characters. Sometimes the  magic seems to evolve to suit the story.

It feels light and adventurous, rather than deep and weighty. Even the  ‘evil’ characters aren’t that threatening.

At the end of the first book, it just seemed natural to move onto the second….

Pavilion 3-8

The Far Pavilions
Book 3 – World out of Time

This covers Ashton’s return to India and his meeting with Anjuli-Bai to kindle the romance into all out passion. This section is long (100k workds) and mainly covers a trip to take two brides to be married off. Ashton finds himself as the British representative and in a leadership role. Again, over-long and at times tedious.

Book 4 – Bhithor

Ash travels with a a wedding party to Bhithor to negotiate a a wedding contract. More political than adventure or exciting

Book 5 – Paradise of Fools

Ash returns then does… nothing really. It’s around the middle of the book and the pace is really beginning to sag.

Book 6 – Juli

Another 100K word section. And things are really going nowhere. It’s at this point I found a video online of the 1984 BBC adaption. Even this is rather stilted and lacking in action or intrigue. At this point interest began to fade and I eventually gave up 54% through the book.