Category Archives: Books

Fuzzy Nation

Fuzzy Nation
by John Scalzi (2011)

 

This is a reboot of H. Beam Piper’s 1962 novel Little Fuzzy.

Authorized by the estate of H. Beam Piper, this was not intended to be a sequel, unlike the books by authors such as William Tuning and Ardath Mayhar. It was originally written as an exercise following negotiations regarding another Scalzi novel. Scalzi’s agent approached the Piper estate for permission to publish the novel. It uses the original plot and characters to tell an original story in a different continuity. Scalzi, a fan of Piper’s work, said that he aimed to make the story approachable to readers unfamiliar with the original while directing fans to Piper’s books.

This is one of Scalzi’s better novels, having read the original it’s easy to see the parallels and joins. Even if you haven’t read the original, this stands on its own as a good read.

Heris Serrano

Heris Serrano
(The Serrano Legacy #1-3)
by Elizabeth Moon (2002)

Fleet officer Heris Serrano came from a family of Fleet officers, so when a lying superior forced her to resign, life lost all meaning. To pay the bills, she became Captain of a rich old lady’s interstellar luxury yacht, adding insult to injury. But Cecelia, the rich old lady, had more brains than most admirals Heris had known, and before it was all over, Heris would have a chance to rejoin her beloved space navy — if she could manage to stop an invading armada.


My Review:
Starts of OK, but by the end it becomes slow and dull. Could do with a good editor to tighten the pacing.

 

Prime

Prime
by Jeremy Robinson (2013)
with Sean Ellis

When a raid on an insurgent safehouse leads to a clue to decoding one of the world’s greatest mysteries, the Voynich manuscript, which reveals a recipe for creating the ultimate biological weapon of mass destruction, Delta operator Jack Sigler must forge a new black ops team to avert catastrophe. While bullets fly, he recruits a group of deadly warriors with dangerous secrets, assigning each member a chess piece callsign and dubbing them Chess Team. But nothing is what it seems…and no one can be trusted.

As the search for the truth about the manuscript moves across Asia and into the darkest reaches of human history, Chess Team must battle enemies beyond comprehension—nightmare creatures of myth and perverse creations of science—to preserve a secret as old as life itself. In 2009, bestselling novelist Jeremy Robinson launched the adventures of Jack Sigler and Chess Team. Now, learn how it all began in this full length novel!

Witness Chess Team’s beginning as King, Queen, Bishop, Rook, Knight and the elusive Deep Blue come together to form the only military force smart enough and dangerous enough to face the world’s most deadly, most high tech and most monstrous threats.


This is the first book of the series I have read although it was written as a prequel after the first in the series (2009). It came in a storybundle deal last year. It’s everything I expected from Robinson, but this time even more action and pacing. Perhaps it’s  his collaboration with Ellis that makes this novel different. Here the genre is military action with a bit of history and pseudo-science thrown in. Not as good as his own books where you get a lot more science fiction. Still, a recommended read,

Voyage to Eternity

Voyage to Eternity
by Milton Lesser (1953)

This novella originally appeared in Imagination Magazine, July 1953.
It starts in a similar manner as Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (1959). Young people are being sent to an unknown world, perhaps to fight in a war. However once the story advances to a strange planet, it appears to be about a ‘game’ between America and the Soviet Union.

A few sci-fi tropes are thrown in, then it morphs into a spy story and finally a space battle before descending into a narrative mess. What the author was intending I have no idea, but clearly this needed an editor to throw out all the rubbish and find the short story buried beneath.

Golem and Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker (2013)

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.


This is a long book at 175,000 Words (440 pages) and I was disappointed it ended. The author is talented (it’s her first book) and the writing draws you in to the environment and characters. It’s best described as ‘magical realism’ rather that fantasy as everything takes place in a recognizable New York in the 1990s. Engaging, thoughtful and ultimately an expression of human values, this is one of the best books I have read for a while. The nearest comparison would be Erin Morgenstern’s ‘The Night Circus’.

Man and Manta

Of Man and Manta (Trilogy)
by Piers Anthony

Across time and space roamed the Three – the cripple, the woman, the man of brawn. Trying to unravel the mysteries of fantasy worlds, and accompanied always by the strange and weirdly beautiful Mantas.

This is the cover of the paperback I owned:

 

What appears to be the original covers:

Omnivore (1968)

Orn (1970)

Ox (1975)

 

 

I read a lot of Piers Anthony as a teenager and enjoyed his books. In re-reading this it became apparent I have moved on from his writing. Although it starts as an interesting story, unfortunately things start to get too much like a science lecture. By the third book, it’s reading like a text book and I gave up before the end.

Heart Readers

Heart Readers
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1993)

In each generation, twin boys were born, heirs to a throne only one could hold. King Pardu decreed that when the time was right, he would abide by the old magic and call in heart readers to see into the boys’ souls. But the king doesn’t foresee treachery by his ambitious chief advisor.

The first novel read by this author. Well written with memorable characters. It’s the story of accession to the throne in a fantasy world. Given the amount of sex and violence, definitely an adult story.

Night Circus

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern (2011)

It was originally written for the annual writing competition NaNoWriMo.

The Night Circus is a phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an ahistorical Victorian London in a wandering magical circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise.

I read this as it was on the Kindle Women list. A very unusual book in it’s structure and tone. I wouldn’t have continued reading if it hadn’t been for the author’s ability with prose and the anticipation that ends each chapter. Essentially a fantasy, but I can see why is has gained admiration with the literary types.

Recommended (by almost everyone).

Dan Shamble

Unnatural Acts
(Dan Shamble #2)
by Kevin J. Anderson (2012)


In the Unnatural Quarter, golems slave away in sweatshops, necromancers sell black-market trinkets to tourists, and the dead rise up–to work the night shift. But zombie detective Dan Shamble is no ordinary working stiff. When a local senator and his goons picket a ghostly production of Shakespeare in the Dark–condemning the troupe’s “unnatural” lifestyles–Dan smells something rotten. And if something smells rotten to a zombie, you’re in serious trouble. . .

This is a mash-up of urban fantasy, noir detective fiction, and (a bit of humour). It feels like Kevin has read Mike Resnick’s ‘Chasing the …’ series and decided to have a go. On the plus side, there is plenty of interesting characters and plot. Don Shamble is the neutral character, main protagonist and general good guy. This is a case of just ‘OK’ there is no real spark or new slant that makes this anything but a workman-like novel.

 

Unity

Unity
by Jeremy Robinson (2016)

 

 

Euphemia Williams, known to her few friends as Effie, and everyone else as Eff-Bomb, will punch you for looking at her funny, for using her full name or for noticing that she’s a genius. But when an elite global entity known as Unity takes note of her intelligence and offers her a chance to escape the hum-drum life of a foster-child, she signs up. At best, she expects her time abroad to be a vacation. At worst, an actual challenge. But what she finds, upon being swept up in a futuristic transport, is far, far worse.


Review
This is the first of Jeremy Robinson’s Books I have read that is in first person, it’s also the first with a female protagonist. The plot is a mix of ‘Hunger Games’, and his recent Kaiju thrillers. It all works as well as his other books, lots of action, suspense and at the end it’s obvious this is the start of a new series. My only complaint it that for a 16 year old girl, Effie sure sustains a lot of damage but just keeps on going. Maybe there is a bit of genetic engineering involved. I’m sure all will be revealed in future novels.. Can’t Wait.