Sam the Spider

There once was a spider called Sam,
whose web from a window he spun
He had some fun, adding knots and clocks and cute locks.
It was such a treat, all the insects stomped their feet.
So he weaved and he leaved, more things to decieve.
As more came to grin, he coloured it in.
But he built such a good web, he never got fed.
And now (how sad) poor Sam, is dangling dead from a thread.

(c) Nigel Baker

Message From Mars

Message From Mars

Greetings Earthlings

We, the amoebae collective of mars, send you a message of explanation.
We are aware that you now know of our presence. This was unforeseen and has prompted this response.

We had intended to evolve as you had, from sea slug to fish to a
quadruped to a bipedal of limited intelligence.

Instead we decided to wait and observe your behavior before
commencing our evolution. We have witnessed your move from a tribal species to one that can create great civilizations. Your achievements have been impressive.

However we became concerned with your social and technological changes in the last century. As a result of considerable debate, we decided to remain as we are and wait for a better role model.

Good luck with your experiments.

(c) NIgel Baker circa 2005

Robin Hobb

 

LiveShip

The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Books in the Series:

  • Ship of Magic (1998)
  • The Mad Ship (1998)
  • Ship of Destiny (2000)

The Liveship Trader’s Trilogy  follows the lives of Bingtown Trader families and takes place in Jamaillia and the Pirate Isles, on the coast of the Six Duchies. The war in the north has interrupted the trade that is the lifeblood of Bingtown, and the Liveship Traders have fallen on hard times.

At one time, possession of a Liveship, constructed of magical wizard wood, guaranteed a Trader’s family prosperity. Only a Liveship can brave the dangers of the Rain Wild River and trade with the legendary Rain Wild Traders and their mysterious magical goods. Althea Vestrit expects her families to adhere to tradition, and pass the family Liveship on to her when it quickens at the death of her father. Instead, the Vivacia goes to her sister Keffria and her scheming Chalcedean husband Kyle. The proud Liveship becomes a transport vessel for the despised but highly profitable slave trade.

Althea, cast out on her own, resolves to make her own way in the world and somehow regain control of her family’s living ship. Her old shipmate Brashen Trell, the enigmatic woodcarver Amber and the Paragon, the notorious mad Liveship are the only allies she can rally to her cause. Pirates, a slave rebellion, migrating sea serpents and a newly hatched dragon are but a few of the obstacles she must face.

The three books span nearly 2,700 pages.

The epic and sweeping narrative carries events to a fever pitch over the excellently paced and plotted books.
This is the best Robin Hobb trilogy and the most memorable fantasy trilogy of modern times.

It’s recommended to read the Assassin trilogy first, but this can be read separately to her other trilogies.

Other Series:
The Farseer Trilogy

  • Assassin’s Apprentice (1995)
  • Royal Assassin (1996)
  • Assassin’s Quest (1997)

These books follow the life of FitzChivalry Farseer (Fitz), a trained assassin, in a kingdom called The Six Duchies as his uncle, Prince Verity attempts to wage war on the Red-Ship Raiders from The OutIslands who are attacking the shores of the kingdom by turning the people of the Six Duchies into Forged ones; a form of zombification which makes them emotionless. Meanwhile Prince Regal’s jealousy and the indulgence of his own selfish whims threatens to destroy Six Duchies.
Written in first person, this series was fascinating from the first page. The pacing is slow, but the characterisation and storytelling is always compelling. The only reason this is second to the Liveships trilogy is that is has a weaker ending.

 

The Tawny Man Trilogy

  • Fool’s Errand (2001)
  • The Golden Fool (2002)
  • Fool’s Fate (2003)

This trilogy is where the slow pacing, work building and repetitive themes catch up with Robin Hobb. By the third book, it becomes a slog to get through the story.

 

The Rain Wild Chronicles

  • Dragon Keeper (2009)
  • Dragon Haven (2010)
  • City of Dragons (2011)
  • Blood of Dragons (2013)

Yet to be read.

Total Recall

Total Recall (2012)

TotalRecall

A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall – a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led – goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.

Starring:
Colin Farrell
Kate Beckinsale
Jessica Biel
Bryan Cranston
Bill Nighy

Review:
Based on the better film with Arnold, this was better than I though it would be. The central idea that there is an elevator through the middle of the earth is preposterous, however there is sufficient adventure and action to keep the story going for an entertaining movie.

 

Hal Spacejock Series

Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

HalSpaceJock

Simon Haynes has cornered the market in humorous science fiction.
There isn’t anyone doing it with as much success.

Books in the Series :

  • Hal Spacejock 1 (2005)
  • Hal Spacejock 2 Second Course (2006)
  • Hal Spacejock 3 Just Desserts (2007)
  • Hal Spacejock 4 No Free Lunch (2008)
  • Hal Spacejock 5 Baker’s Dough (2012)
  • Hal Spacejock 6 Safe Art (2013)
  • Hal Spacejock 7 Big Bang (2014)

And short stories:

  • Hal Junior 1 The Secret Signal
  • Hal Junior 2 The Missing Case
  • Hal Junior 3 The Gyris Mission

The Hero’s Guides

The Hero’s Guides to
1. Saving Your Kingdom (2012)
2. Storming the Castle(2013)
3. Being an Outlaw (2014)
by Christopher Healy

HerosGuide

Mushed-up myths, fracked and fractured fairy tales or just good clean fun. This series of books takes characters, creatures and castles and bangs them all together in gloriously silly and entertaining stories. They may be marketed at teenagers, but everyone can enjoy them.

Rogue Hunter

Rogue Hunter by Kevis Hendrickson

Rogue Hunter

Rouge Hunter is a good old-fashioned SciFi one man (or woman in this case) saving the universe story in the style of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat or Simon Haynes Hal Spacejock Series. It’s a good, interesting and entertaining story that takes unexpected turns and doesn’t overreach with a lot of techno-babble or spend lots of time in scene descriptions.

The only criticisms I would have is that it drags around the three quarters mark and could do with editing to tighten up the pacing. Also, I felt that the main character, Zyra Zanr needed a bit more attitude. Sometimes she seems to be the same as the other female characters. Recommended.

Storm Front

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

storm_front

 

I read this based on the popularity of the series.

First, I like the first person point of view and writing style, it’s tight and well paced. But whole premise of the book seems to be … Harry gets into trouble and uses magic to save himself and solve the case. There wasn’t much in the way of plot twists, suspense or intrigue.

The problem I have is that whenever Harry gets into trouble, out comes another obscure magic trick to save the day. These is never a sense of consistency or limitations to the magic. It’s probably because I have read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series with a well thought out magic system. Also, after just finishing George Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ books, fantasy just isn’t the same.

I enjoyed Mike Resnick’s ‘Fable of Tonight’ series of urban fantasy more than this.