All Systems Red
(The Murderbot Diaries #1)
by Martha Wells (2017)
Read as #4 is the month’s pick for the Sword & Laser podcast.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
After all the praise this was getting, I was expecting something more. Instead, it’s just a ‘meh’ story. This wasn’t helped by some very un-pronounceable names. Sometimes the situation and story was just not clear. But the worst was using ‘kilo’ as a distance. At lest get the units of the present correct !
(A Galaxy Unknown #4)
by Thomas DePrima
Trader Vyx, an undercover operative for Space Command, the military arm of the Galactic Alliance, has been sent into the Frontier Zone to procure several weapons from an Alyysian arms merchant, as part of an effort to trace the serial numbers and end the thefts.
So begins the story. However the author can’t get away from his hero, Jenetta Carver. So it’s back to her where most of the story stakes place. She is commanding the captured Raider Space Station and the main story involves her defending the base against the raid.
Generally it’s a good story. But there are times when you can feel the plot slowing down and the author padding out the story, then realizing he is doing it and getting on with the plot. This could have been fixed by a good editor and got the story down to below 100k words.
The Clones of Mawcett
(A Galaxy Unknown #3)
by Thomas DePrima (2010)
The book cover gives it away, Carver is cloned.
Carver is dispatched to Mawcett to defend the planet from raiders. Which she does in the first half of the book. Then you wonder what’s going to happen. The remainder of the story is more political in nature, with her dealing clones and the bureaucracy of the military.
Still, it interesting enough. Then, just when you think the next story will be about how she will find one of the clones, it turns up in time to end the book.
Not as much military conflict in this story, but interesting enough to proceed to the next story.
Serpent: A Dane Maddock Adventure
(Dane Maddock #13)
by David Wood (2020)
It’s a big snake!
Things are beginning to feel a bit too formulaic after the 13th book.
Fortunately this is the last book of the series.
And while the author has another planned, this is where I leave the series.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
by T.J. Klune (2020)
Linus Baker is a case worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside and determine whether or not the orphanage should continue.
This book was read for the Sword and Laser book of the month.
It immediately draws the reader in with it’s narration and slowly unfolding explanation of its world. Linus is an interesting character and changes as to travels to the island, interacts with the children and returns.
It’s not until halfway through that you realize that this is not a fantasy book, but a story about abandoned children and their care givers. So it surprised me that I read to the end of this 115k work story.
It could have been improved and made more appealing to its youth market with some editing down to 70-80k words.
But in the end there is not much to the story, so only gets a 3/5 from me.
Valor at Vauzlee
(A Galaxy Unknown #2)
by Thomas DePrima (2010)
A captured Raider officer, eager to secure his freedom, informs Space Command Intelligence of a planned attack on a convoy by a massive Raider armada.
In the second book, the focus is less on Carver and more on the military and the strategy of the way on the Raiders. It’s still a good read and inevitable that Carver will come in and save the day.
An other fast paced and enjoyable read.
(Dane Maddock #12)
by David Wood (2019)
Dane Maddock and Bones Bonebrake travel to the Mojave Desert to help launch an adventure race, they make a baffling discovery- a dungeon room hidden high in the desert hills, and beyond, a previously undiscovered network of caverns that seem to go on forever.
Again this story has a few too many characters and plot threads to make it enjoyable. Not his best.
A Galaxy Unknown
(A Galaxy Unknown #1)
by Thomas DePrima (2010)
This is the epic story of Jenetta Carver. As young ensign on a starship she is awakened in the middle of the night by an alarm and the message to abandon ship.
It’s Military Science Fiction, and fortunately we don’t get half the book following the main character through training. She evolves, changes and adapts through her adventures. This is a good example of the ‘Show, don’t Tell’ axiom.
The story itself is rather unlikely, she escapes multiple times in true ‘Pulp Fiction’ style. Defeats her enemies and wins the day.
It’s fast, fun action and makes me want to read more in the 12 book series.
Death Becomes Her
(The Kurtherian Gambit #1)
by Michael Anderle (2015)
This is the first book in the Kurtherian Universe. This series of 21 books has spawned over 200 books in collaboration with 30 other authors. Given this scope you would expect the first story to set the tone, expectations and standard for those to come.
At first it does. Over half the book is just setup for the main character. Set in the military, it feels like a theme done many times before: a person gains superhuman powers and becomes a soldier for sale, or a protagonist for war, peace or whatever.
Then in the final quarter of the book it becomes a fantasy, or urban fantasy with werewolves, bears and vampires. Characters change from animal to human without explanation or backstory. The writing quality descends and it becomes apparent that this author is just not that good at action sequences.
So while there is the possibility of good stories by other authors, there are plenty of better books out there.
Gates of Hell
by J.F. Penn (2017)
An ancient manuscript that leads to the Gates of Hell. A woman’s revenge for the death of her father.
When the last of the Remnant is murdered at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, ARKANE agent Dr Morgan Sierra is drawn into the hunt for a supernatural Key. She’s joined by agent Jake Timber, who must face his own fears as they decipher clues left behind by Kabbalist scholars.
This feels very derivative of Indiana Jones, David Wood and Steve Savile. It’s a thriller with lots or religions symbolism. This manifests in the real world, which pushed it into the fantasy genres. Still, it’s well written with good characters and a very evil bad guy.
The only reason I have started with the sixth book is that it came with a book bundle several years ago. So overall a fun read, I may try reading the series from the neginning.