Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Life Engineered by J-F Dubeau

The Life Engineered by J-F Dubeau

3 / 5

A hard science fiction tale about a Singularity event, that has all consciousness loaded into robotic life, know as Capeks.  It was a short tale, and not to deep, but entertaining.  I found it quite enjoyable.

This tale is a mystery at its heart.  Who is killing the Gaias, powerful Capeks that create the next generations after a period of spiritual purification of 'souls'? This mystery is handled well, and it kept me invested in the story. While we are on the topic of souls, mythology features strongly in this story, with references to Buddhism, the Greek, Norse, and Aztec pantheons present.  These, beyond the concept of rebirths, are just flavor and are not explored in any great depth in the story, but it was consistent and helped with atmosphere for the story.

The characters are simply, and we learn little about them.  Beyond the main character, which is dealt with on a surface level, we learn little about the other dramatic personae of this tale.  It did not detract to much form the enjoyment, but I wish we learned more about what it is like for them to life this transferred existence

This book was a good hard scifi tale of novella length.  I enjoyed the story, and I will forgive its shallowness on character development because of its novella length.  I will read more of this authors work. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

United States Of Japan by Peter Tieryas

United States Of Japan by Peter Tieryas


What if Japan won the second world war?  That is the premise that this scifi thriller, and it grips its reader from the start in a believable alternate history and a intriguing mystery.

I enjoyed this story, it had the right blend of action and suspense melded with a cyberpunk vibe.  The reader is given a feel of what life would be like in Imperial Japan.  Paranoia and duty are some of the themes explored in this book.

The plot is thrilling.  I could not put this book down for an extended period of time without wanting to pick it back up again.  I kept finding it in my hands to read a bit more.  The action and suspense are top notch, and this is as it should be.  At the root of this story, it is a political-legal thriller set in a scifi world, and that was just what I was looking for when I picked up this book.  The plot is well thought out, intriguing, and moves at a good pace, blending suspense and action perfectly.

The characters are well developed, and behave in very believable ways. They are full three dimensional characters that really help with story, and you find yourself interested in them.

I will admit that when I first looked at this book, with the Mecha looming over a city scape, I was expecting some action oriented bit of escapism, and not much else.  This book had action, and well crafted action, but it was more then that.  It was that level of depth to this story that took it to the next level.  I would recommend this book to fans of Scifi, alternate earth, of thrillers.  I will definitely be keeping an eye on this author and following his work

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Quick Update for New Year

New Year

Alas, my friends, there has been a lot of activity in the last half of 2015, and as such I have not been able to keep the reviews coming as quickly as I would like.

Now, I am back, reading, and will be posting reviews shortly.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Dragons Of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell

1.5 / 5

I was disappointed in this book.  At times, it had approached mediocrity, and may have worked as a quick escape read, but it fell short of this mark.

It takes place in a fantasy world that we are told little about, other then the fact that there are two guilds.  These two guilds, the Mages and the Mechanics hate each other.  These two noble houses, alike in dignity, are constantly at odds with each other.  No problem, I  can dig that.  The author seems to lay it on a bit thick however.

My problem is with the stories inability to suspend my disbelief.  The Mages and Mechanics end up in contact with each other, but have no idea of the capabilities of their opponents.  Even basic abilities.  They definitely fail the Sun Tzu test of knowing your opponent, and it is to the point of absurdity.  It is almost as if when ever a Mage was confronted with a mechanical device, or a Mechanic witnesses a spell, they closed their eyes, plugged their ears, and sang out ‘La La La, I am not listening.’ with all the skill a 10 year old can put into it.

The plot seems weak, and I could just not develop interest in it.  The action sequences we entertaining, and one of the better parts of the story.  At these times, I felt this book could have had 3 stars.

The love story.  It is a literary truth that you can not have 2 opposing factions with out a pair of star-crossed lovers.  This story has them, and this would have been fine, if not for the fact the the characters were very two dimensional.  I could not develop a relationship with these characters, so I did not care if they had a relationship either.

This book was first released as an Audible title,  and I would not recommend anyone using a credit on it.  I received my copy as an ebook from Netgalley in exchange for a review, and I can say I am glad I did not purchase it.  I have had a friend recommend The Lost Fleet to me by Jack Campbell, and I may read it.  He may be better at Military SciFi then Fantasy, but I will be entering into it with trepidation.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

This was a fun little tale of urban dark fantasy.

What Dark Fantasy is fun?  Well, for me it is, but I like weird and strange things.  What was that, you do too?  Then, I have a story for you.

At the beginning of this story we encounter the titular characters.  Mirror, a girl found in a clock after her grandfathers murderous rampage, and Goliath, a shape-shifting cop, who was not a skin changer before meeting Mirror.  Then, we meet some more people that can only be referred to a curious.  There is Loveheart, a killer with charm, impulse control problems, and a love of cake.  The ominous and shadowy Mister Fingers, a rouges gallery of decadent miscreants, and two London police officers that are trying to solve a child killing when drawn into this world.  The characters have and otherworldly quality to them, which is fitting with this magical tale.

The plot is simple, and has a fairy tale quality to it, and that fits perfectly.  Forces are at work to catch, and devour, Mirror, who we are not surprised to find out is more then she seems.  She will not go down easily though, and she has ancient powers of her own to draw on.

This is a very quick read, being a novella in length, and I think that suits well.  Normally, when I read books like this, they weigh in at close to 800 pages (Perdido Street Station, I am looking at you.)  A lot is dedicated to world building.  This story, which is set in late 1800's london, can do away with that.  We can all picture London's gas light streets, with images of a blend of Dickens and Jack The Ripper, who also makes an appearance here.  We can get to the tale.

In summary, this short, dark tale is a treat.  It is a fun blend of historical and urban fantasy, and succeeds in keeping our interest throughout the story.  I recommend it, and will be reading other stories by Ishbelle Bee

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

4.5 / 5

Those who know me, know that I have a love for epic fantasy, especially gritty epic fantasy.  I have been reading "grimdark'" since before I even knew there was a name for the genre.  Fantasy is better for me when it has more Glen Cook and less fairy tale to it.

A Crown for Cold Silver delivers everything I love.  Machiavellian plots, brutal combat, and dark magic blend into a heady brew that I drank deep and eagerly of.  The world building is top notch here, and has a constant feel to it.  The characters are complex and fascinating.  While they may seem as fantasy stereotypes at first, we are quickly disabused of this notion, and for the better.  There development and motivations are well crafted. 

I mentioned Glen Cook earlier, and there is a reason for it.  Those of you who read the books of The Black Company will find a lot to enjoy here.  The world is familiar, but different, presented in a voice that is the authors alone.

The plot of the story is top notch, dealing with politics and warfare on a vast scale.  Our protagonist, thinking she left this world behind her 20 years ago, is dragged back into it with one brutal act.  As we are given more information, we are told of the dark forces that may have led to this event.  The wheels are in motion now though, and the inevitability of a disaster of cataclysmic proportions confronts us.  This book, book one in a series, ends with the unleashing of this horrifying event, and I now find myself eager for book two.

In summary, this is a great book.  It has bloodshed, darkness, betrayal, sorcery, sacrifice, demons, and sunken empires.  It also has a fair presentation of love and romance, and I would say love is a central theme of this book, but fitting with the nature of this story, it is love that comes with a cost, sometimes leading to the destruction of everything we hold dear.  I would highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy.  You will not be disappointed.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

What if all we knew about the nature of the universe was wrong.  That it was based on the false interpretation of data.  This idea makes the physics minded of us cringe, and this is exactly the feeling this book is trying to induce early on.  We are in a world that is as we expect it, and different at the same time.

This story evolves from this start, and we are treated to a tale that draws on elements of history and the near future and melds them into a fine work of SciFi.  This story starts as a form of sf thriller, becomes a historical fiction story, then hard science fiction, then back to a thriller.  This really works for The Three-Body Problem, and it never feels disjointed.

I will not give away the twists in this story, but they are well done.  Each peace of information that is revealed makes sense, and drives our desire for further discoveries.  The characters were ok, but not overly complex.  The situations are the driving force here, and they were well crafted and presented well.  The science was presented in a believable way.

One of the things I liked about this translation was the use of footnotes to explain things that may not be common knowledge to westerners.  Notes about China's Cultural Revolution I found particularly helpful.  On the other side, and I feel this about a lot of translated books, it seems to have lost flow of language during the translation.  Not to take await from the sheer effort that is required to translate novels, and kudos to Ken Liu for the work here, that fact that is is translated is apparent to the reader.

In summary, this a a good work of science fiction that will appeal to fans of the genre.  It is worth reading, and I think I will continue on with others in the series.  This is is mostly because of the cliffhanger ending, a real distant cliff.  Those of you who have read the book, will understand what I am saying. I was not blown out of the water by this book, which a lot of the hype lead me to belief I would be, but not disappointed either. I would also read other books by Liu, and from what I here other works will be translated into English.