Category Archives: Books

Zenopolis


The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis
(Inspector Capstan #1)
by David Blake (2017)
Detective Inspector Capstan investigates a murder at Bath’s almost famous Basin Museum, a hapless armed robbery, the theft of ancient Roman weaponry and the answer to “one across” in the local newspaper. Meanwhile, the city is under threat of Roman invasion and their leader, Becky Philips, is taking no prisoners.


After reading all of the Inspector in the future, it’s back to the present for his first outing. And it’s a riot !

The story starts off with a murder. The police investigate, and just when things settle down into a police procedural, things take off in a different direction. The main character of this book is Becky Philips, and she drives the story forward in a crazy way, causing mayhem.

By the end the police play a small part, but it’s all in the service of the funniest book I have read in a long time. Sure, most is based on the stupidity of men in charge, but in our post-truth times that is always the case.

 

Distance


The Distance
by Jeremy & Hilaree Robinson (2016)

When August Finn rises from the depths of the dark matter research facility where he works, he discovers that the human race has been turned to dust. For August, life becomes one grueling test after another as this man of science, unaccustomed to the natural world, must fight to survive, against the elements and against despair.

Hanna Dearborn is alone. She’s the last person living on Earth, hidden away in her parent’s sophisticated bunker. She’s been alone for weeks and can no longer stand the solitude. Gun in hand, she intends to end her life. Then, he calls.


Unique among Robinson’s writing, this is first person from two protagonists, his wife  Hilaree writing one of the characters.

It does fall subject to one of the problems inherent in first person writing; long portions of inner monologue (the book is 119,000 words). Fortunately the story pushes things along  as the two characters move closer together. The ending was a bit disappointing as it was not entirely clear what had happened any why. Still, as they say – It’s all about the journey.

 

Cat Flaps

Enemy at the Cat Flap
(Space Police #5)
by David Blake (2018)
The Mayor of London’s cat has gone missing, and it’s up to Capstan and Dewbush to find it. But when they discover an ancient cat flap that for centuries has been used as a gateway to another planet, what starts off as a bog-standard missing pet case soon becomes something altogether more sinister.


Not much to add without giving away the plot. Yet again Capstan & Dewbush prove themselves to be the Laurel & Hardy of future crime fighting. David Blake just keeps writing new books without any reduction in quality.

Feast

Feast
(Hunger #2)
by Jeremiah Knight aka Jeremy Robinson (2016)

The sequel to Hunger

Racing against this impending outcome, Peter Crane and his family attempt to reach a laboratory in Boston, where a slim hope of saving the human race from extinction exists. But before heading northeast, they must visit the swamps of South Carolina’s Hellhole Bay to find a scientist who can help undo the damage done by ExoGen, the corporation that created and unleashed RC-714.


Where the first book was a road trip, this is more like a siege. The team take refuge at a bio-dome. They they get split, all the characters look to be converging for a final all-out battle.

This is even better then the first, thanks to a more complex plot and changing motivation of the characters.

But things end abruptly, as this is the second of a trilogy and despite the third (Famine) due in 2017, it has yet to turn up.

Hunger

Hunger
(Hunger #1)
by Jeremiah Knight  aka Jeremy Robinson (2015)

Desperate to solve a global food shortage, ExoGen scientist Dr. Ella Masse oversees the creation and release of RC-714, a gene that unlocks millions of years of adaptation and evolution, allowing crops to use long dormant junk DNA to rapidly adapt to any environment. The world’s food supply grows aggressively, occupying every inch of earth, no matter how inhospitable. World hunger is averted. Humanity flourishes. RC-714 is digested, absorbed and passed on.

Peter Crane and his son Jakob survive the Change, living in their family farmhouse and eating non-ExoGen food from a biodome, one of many provided by Ella Masse, who discovered the ramifications of her breakthrough too late……


It’s a post-apocalyptic thriller, with bio-genetics gone wrong creating monsters. Of course it’s also just an excuse for to take a monster filled road trip across America. And it’s action all the way. Our hero is ex military (of course) and there may be a love interest.

Yet another recommended read from Robinson.

 

 

Retail Robot

Rise of the Retail-Bot
(Space Police #4)
by David Blake (2018)

Meanwhile… Dewbush finds himself falling in love with a retail-bot who’s in illegal possession of a sense of humour. But when she’s recalled by her manufacture for immediate decommissioning, Capstan suspects they may have darker motives for wanting her silenced.


Stranger, sillier and with more nuts. This is even better then the previous one. Dewbush seems to have dropped in IQ, along with the villains. Yet again the team find themselves in a life and death situation solved by the obvious (to anyone but themselves).

Recommended.

Space Bastard

Voyage of the Space Bastard
by Andrew Lawston (2017)

A Military Science Fiction Novelette from Pew! Pew! – Bad versus Worse.

Here is an example of a story that gets things half right. The action scenes work well and the dialog is suitably snarky, tough and occasionally witty. Trouble is, the other things; characters and story just don’t work. It starts well with a prelude setting the scene, but I just couldn’t work out the motivations for the characters. They were rouges, but why did they take on the quest.

The author can write clear prose, but maybe other stories work better.

Cyborg Nana

A Visit from my Cyborg Nana
by Zen DiPietro (2017)

A novelette from  Pew! #3.

Zen DiPietro is a young writer and her prose has an easy flow and rhythm to it. What is surprising is that this is not much of a science fiction story. Most of it is a romance between the three main characters.

When they finally get to see Nana, there are some interesting science fiction ideas, but at the end of the story there is little space for them to be explored. She does write what appears to be military science fiction, so it will be interesting to read one of these.

Dan Shamble

Role Model
by Kevin J. Anderson (2014)

Dan Chambeaux, a.k.a. “Shamble,” is an undead Detective, working in some parallel universe to our own where Ghouls, Vampires and mythical creatures somehow also exist.

In this novelette, Dan attends a Comic-Con type event and solves a murder. It’s all rather ordinary and business-like prose from Anderson. He may be trying for humour, but the characters are a but too mundane to raise from the dead a hint of a chuckle.