Category Archives: Books

Cataylst

Catalyst
A Rogue One Novel (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel)
by James Luceno (2016)

 

A prequel novel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the upcoming film set before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, that reveals the untold story of the rebel effort to steal the plans to the Death Star.


 

This is a very workman like book. It ticks all the boxes of characters and settings necessary for the new film. The problem is, that’s all. It’s not inspiring, adventurous or engaging. There are too many characters, too many plot threads. It was probably rushed out for the movie. So an OK book but probably not necessary to read before the new film.

 

Threshold

Threshold (Chess Team Adventure #3)
by Jeremy Robinson (2011)

After a terrorist attack on a reservation in Oregon leaves thousands dead, Jack Sigler, call sign King and his Chess Team — Queen, Rook, Bishop and Knight — must protect the only survivor, thirteen year-old Fiona Lane. When a death in the family pulls King away, and the rest of the team is sent on a mission, Fort Bragg is attacked by a strange and overwhelming force. When the dust settles, Fiona is gone.

But the attack is part of a larger offensive. Around the world the last speakers of ancient languages are being systematically exterminated. As they fight to find the mastermind behind the killings, and Fiona, the team is hunted by strange creatures that defy explanation — living statues, genetically modified monsters and walking megaliths — sent by an enemy from their past. If not stopped, he will be able to remake himself, and the world.

Calling on help from old friends and ancient heroes, the team fights their most desperate battle yet, not just to save the world as we know it, but to rescue a little girl who wants nothing more than to call King Dad.


Where the previous book was a simple single narrative, this takes the other extreme with the Chess Team spread out over the world. Multiple story threads threaten to make things confusing, but ultimately they all come together  for a big brawl of a showdown.

 

Troll Killer

Trollslayer (Gotrek & Felix #1)
by William King (2003)

Trollslayer is the first part of the death saga of Gotrek Gurnisson, as retold by his traveling companion Felix Jaeger. Set in the darkly gothic world of Warhammer, Trollslayer is an episodic novel featuring some of the most extraordinary adventures of this deadly pair of heroes. Monsters, daemons, sorcerers, mutants, orcs, beastmen and worse are to be found as Gotrek strives to achieve a noble death in battle. Felix, of course, only has to survive to tell the tale.


This turned out to be a series of short stories about a human and dwarf. OK, but I think this type of fantasy works best in longer forms.

Fry on Fry

Moab Is My Washpot (Memoir #1)
by Stephen Fry (2003)

A number one bestseller in Britain, Stephen Fry’s astonishingly frank, funny, wise memoir is the book that his fans everywhere have been waiting for. Since his television debut in the Blackadder series, the American profile of this multi-talented writer, actor and comedian has grown steadily, especially in the wake of his title role in the film Wilde, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and his supporting role in A Civil Action.


Entertaining biography of Stephen Fry’s early years.



The Fry Chronicles (Memoir #2)
by Stephen Fry (2010)

Stephen Fry arrived at Cambridge University as a convicted fraudster and thief, an addict, liar, fantasist, and failed suicide, convinced that any moment he would be sent away. Instead, he befriended bright young things like Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie, and he emerged as one of the most promising comic talents in the world


Second biography. Very long and verbose, it only covers 10 years of his life. Could have used an editor with a sharp knife.

Leia in Love

The Courtship of Princess Leia
(Star Wars Universe)
by Dave Wolverton (2011)

Seeking rich, powerful allies to bring into the Rebel Alliance and a new home planet for the refugees of her native Alderaan, Princess Leia considers a proposal that could tip the balance of power against the evil Empire. The Hapes Consortium of 63 worlds is ruled by the Queen Mother, who wants Leia to marry her son, the dashing and wealthy Prince Isolder. Han Solo has always dreamed of marrying Leia himself, and now he makes a desperate last gamble to win her back. Soon he, Isolder, Luke Skywalker and Artoo will be at the center of an adventure leading to an awesome treasure, a group of Force-trained “witches,” and a showdown with an invincible foe.


Average book that explains the Leia & Han Solo relationship. Not all that great on the personalities of all the characters, but an interesting read for Star Wars fans.

Rollback

Rollback
by Robert J. Sawyer (2007)

This is the first Robert J Sawyer book I read. Having now read all of his books, this is one of his best and recommended for anyone entering the science fiction genre and wanting a near-future and realistic scenario.


Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens. Thirty-eight years later, a second message is received and Sarah, now 87, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too… if she lives long enough.

A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback—a hugely expensive experimental rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.

While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah struggles to do again what she’d done once before: figure out what a signal from the stars contains.

Reincarnate

Reincarnate
by Lester Del Rey
originally published in Astounding, April 1940

A novelette about a scientist who suffers injury during an experiment and is ‘reincarnated’ with electronic and mechanical technology. Surprisingly scientifically accurate, despite a rather mellow-dramatic ending.

Instinct

Instinct
(Chess Team Adventure #2)
by Jeremy Robinson (2010)

A genetic disease known as Brugada Syndrome kills its victims without warning, without symptom. When the President of the United States falls victim to a weaponized and contagious strain of the disease, the Chess Team—King, Queen, Rook, Knight and Bishop—are assigned to protect Sara Fogg, a CDC detective, as she journeys to the source of the new strain: the Annamite Mountains in Vietnam. Surrounded by Vietnam War era landmines, harsh terrain and more than one military force not happy about the return of American boots to the Ho Chi Minh trail, the fight for survival becomes a grueling battle in the humid jungle.


Another non-stop action thriller. The story is structurally simple. All they have to do is go to Vietnam and get a cure. But everything is against them and it a continuous sequence of  getting into a trap and escaping. Another relentless read.

 

WWW Trilogy

WWW: Wake (#1)
by Robert J Sawyer (2009)

 

WWW: Watch (#2)
by Robert J Sawyer (2010)

 

WWW: Wonder (#3)
by Robert J Sawyer (2011)

In this trilogy, Robert J Sawyer takes on the internet, and what could happen if it gained sentience. It’s thought provoking and engaging from the start. Unfortunately Sawyer has a tendency here to lay in on with too much moralizing. Maybe he’s turned American ! 

 

Waveries

The Waveries
by Fredric Brown
From Astounding Science Fiction January 1945

This novelette was nominated for a Hugo award.
It was written in 1945 and takes place in 1957. The basic premise is that an alien species, in the form of radio waves, invades the Earth and its atmosphere. The result is a complete interference with any radio waves. They also consume all forms of electricity (AC, DC, sparks from a car’s ignition), a phenomenon first discovered by the absence of lightning. The aliens are given names such as vaders (short for invaders) and waveries. In essence, the world must go back to the time before the telegraph.


Interesting premise and well thought through story. Recommended for fans of early science fiction. There is an interesting article about the story here.