Category Archives: Books

Housewife Assassin

The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook
(The Housewife Assassin #1)
by Josie Brown (2011)

Every desperate housewife wants an alias. Donna Stone has one…and it happens to be government-sanctioned. She earned it the hard way: her husband was killed the day she delivered her third child. To avenge his death, she leads a secret life – as an assassin. But espionage makes for strange bedfellows – and brings new meaning to that old adage, “Honey, I’m home…”


This was unexpectedly a good read. It’s a satire of spy vs spy thrillers with an evil villain out to do bad things.

Told in first person from the POV of Donna, it’s sharp and witty writing. Despite not knowing her age (or of anyone) she becomes an agent while raising kids. Just when you think the plot is a bit hackneyed, it takes a few unpredictable twists (although I expected the last).

There are snippets of wisdom  at the beginning of later chapters on how to be a good housewife and spy.

A fun, light read although there is a bit of explicit sex.

Tiger Tail

Tiger by the Tail
by Poul Anderson (1951)

This is the first of the Dominic Flandry stories. Flandry is a field agent of the Imperial Intelligence Corps, apparently with a mission to infiltrate another civilization. Anderson’s story moves quickly, within the space of this novelette Flandry has infiltrated the society, learned their language and worked his way up their nobility, sowing seeds of distrust that brings down an empire.

Well written, but the story has such a pace there is little insight into the characters or the world building that has gone into the story.

IFSDB Info on Flandry


Dominic Flandry, as depicted on the cover of the December 1959 issue of Fantastic by Ed Valigursky.

 

Zahnling

Starcraft: Evolution
by Timothy Zahn (2016)

In StarCraft: Evolution, the war between the terrans, the protoss, and the zerg has been over for years, but the fight for peace is still being waged.

As the Terran Dominion struggles to recover from the ravages of war, Emperor Valerian Mengsk has no intention of ruling in the same bloody manner as his father, the late Arcturus. Instead of seeking vengeance, Valerian is determined to maintain the peace. So when he receives an urgent plea for aid from Zagara, Overqueen of the savage zerg Swarm, he agrees to hear her case despite his personal misgivings and the severe disapproval of Hierarch Artanis of the protoss.


A surprisingly average novel from Zahn. This is his first Starcraft novel (there aren’t that many) and there seems that the concentration on keeping to Starcraft canon comes at the expense of an interesting story. This feels like it could be several episodes in the game, rather than establishing new ground.

 

Nana Joan’s Gun

Space Team: The Guns of Nana Joan
(Space Team #5)
by Barry J. Hutchison (2017)

The galaxy is at war, and Space Team just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

Following one close-call too many, the team hides out on a tiny backwater moon, hoping the hostilities between Zertex and the Symmorium will all just blow over.


Barry Hutchinson keeps getting better. There are fun twists and turns in the story, the characters are well-developed and interesting and things just zip along in a fun way. I can imaging this being a TV series or movie. Maybe Seth McFarlane has ripped this off for his upcoming TV series The Orville.

 

Raven #1

Swordsmistress of Chaos
(Raven #1)
by Richard Kirk (1987)

She escaped the slavepens of Lyland–a beautiful girl with hair the color of summer sun, eyes as blue as the heavens, and a body that invited love.

Rescued by sorcerer priests, she was schooled in every art of weaponry and combat. Her sword stained by the blood of legions, no man could defeat her.


I purchased this in paperback form years ago. No doubt I was wondering what book with a Chris Achilleos cover would be like.

The fact that this was written in 1978 and not reprinted since should have been a clue. So it’s not that it’s bad, just very simple. A slave girl is rescued, trained and seeks revenge on her tormentors. Not much in the way of intrigue, mystery or  interesting characters.

Just OK

 


 

 

 

 

 

Earth Invaders

Invaders from Earth
by Robert Silverberg (1958)

 

Kennedy had a job to do. It was as simple as that. He was paid to do a job, and he did it.

His job was to convince the Earth’s population that a hapless race of sapient creatures living peacefully on a distant planet must be destroyed as a menace to the Earth.


An interesting tale from early Silverberg. His protagonist is Ted Kennedy, and it’s not clear if this is a reference to the American Lawyer and Politician.  Kennedy is a PR man and with his company comes up with a way for a mining company to  remove the inhabitants of Ganymede. Initially Kennedy is a cynical, amoral company man, but gets morality half-way through his assignment.

Silverberg takes a few interesting twists and turns to turn him into the ‘hero’ of the story. I would have preferred that Kennedy remain the PR man and carried out his plan as intended. This would have given the story a bit more of a satirical edge, rather than the straight forward Sci-Fi adventure.

But you can’t have everything 🙁

BSG Science

The Science of Battlestar Galactica
by Patrick Di Justo (2010)

 

The official guide to the science behind the Battlestar Galactica universe.

This book postulates three laws of ‘The Science of Battlestar Galactica”…
First Law – It’s just a show, relax
Second Law – Space is mostly empty. That’s why it’s called space
Third Law – All this has happened before and it will happen again.

The first should really be ‘Oops, we forgot about that science/engineering/logic when we wrote this’.
The second was stolen from Carl Sagan. And the third is not science but a narrative comment, only making sense within the BSG world and when you have finished the series.

So at the start, this feels like a justification for the science (or lack thereof) used in BSG. The biggest problem I had with the show was why can’t you distinguish between Humans and Cylons.
This is explained by postulating that they used fibre optics and silicon based systems. It’s a bit weak as you still need electronics for signal processing and transmission. I didn’t buy it !

When the book advances to Physics and Cosmology, the authors really shows their expertise. A lot of it I knew, but there was plenty of interesting stuff to read about. The best bits were the comparisons between the BSG military equipment and that used currently by the USA forces.

So Say We All !!

Dark Lord’s Empire

Empire (The Dark Lord’s Handbook #3)
by Paul Dale (2017)

Conquer the world—check. Assume the title Dark Lord Emperor—check. Job done. Or not so done. Morden Deathwing thought he could kick back and enjoy holding sway over the world but no. There just wasn’t pleasing some people. Something was going to have to be done. Something drastic.

The Dark Lord’s Handbook: Empire is the concluding chapter of The Dark Lord’s Handbook trilogy.


The final book is the series has the tone of an epic fantasy novel, instead of the more satirical first two. There is still the commentary chapters that are amusing, but it’s the characters that provide the humour. His ex-wife Griselda is a lot of fun, orcs and elves behave as expected. If you have read the first two, you will need to complete the trilogy.

 

Project Legion

Project Legion (Nemesis Saga #5)
by Jeremy Robinson (2016)

With Project Legion, Jeremy Robinson brings together characters and plot elements from more than a dozen different novels and series. The result is a crossover novel, ten years in the making. Project Legion is an apocalyptic end to the first story arc of the bestselling Kaiju Thriller series: The Nemesis Saga.

Novels whose characters or plot elements are featured in Project Legion include: The Nemesis Saga, Island 731, The Didymus Contingency, Raising the Past, Nazi Hunter: Atlantis, The Last Hunter (The Antarktos Saga), Xom-B (aka: Uprising), the Jack Sigler Thrillers and MirrorWorld. Also mentioned are elements from the following novels: Refuge, Kronos and Beneath.


Bringing together all the plot-lines and characters from previous series seems like a good idea. The problem is that it just overwhelms the story with too many plots and characters. It became difficult to remember many of the people (it was 18 months since I read the last Kaiju novel). The story is filled with action, but little adventure and the usual arc of introduction and setup that would normally be expected.

You should read all the previous novels mentioned  above before starting this novel.

Last Valkyrie

The Last Valkyrie
by Jeremy Robinson & Tori Paquette (2017)

What used to be Antarctica is no more. Shifted to the equator, the continent, now known as Antarktos, has thawed and bloomed. Endless ice has given way to lush tropical jungles, and all the people now living here are protected and led by Solomon Ull Vincent, the Last Hunter and King of Antarktos. My father.


From what I can find, this was written by Tori with help from Jeremy. At a novella length (just under 50,000 words) it is similar to the Jack Sigler stories. It’s a straight forward adventure story; save the sister, destroy the bad guy and return. This gives it the feel of an olf fashioned pulp era novel, not a bad thing. Characters develop as they move through the plot and the story has sufficient unexpected turns to keep it interesting. A good addition to the Antarktos series.