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Monday, January 30, 2017

Alien Morning by Rick Wilber


This is a very novel first contact novel.  The main protagonist is a washed up athlete trying to jump start a new career utilizing cutting edge first person view equipment.  He finds himself as an unwitting spokesperson for an alien entity.

Wilber provided a very good plot with lots of character details.   The idea of alien conquest is hardly new but the acquisition of an entire world as a source of profit for new products is a different take than the norm. 

Our own attempts to privatize space is indicative that the profit motive may loom large in our future exploration plans.  Competition can be brutal and casualties may result in aggressive competition particular if fueled by sibling rivalry.  However in the mind of business tycoons, collateral damage is just the cost of doing business.

This looks like it will be an excellent series.

web: http://rickwilber.typepad.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

At the Sign of Triumph by David Weber


This  is another book in the excellent Safehold series.  Safehold is a planet intentionally  hidden at a low tech level from an alien intelligence that has wiped out mankind except for Safehold.    Safehold’s founders founded a new religion to deter industrialization in hopes of not attracting the attention of mankind’s nemesis.   Much of the review here is the same for the whole series.

This book as referred to by the characters is the end of the beginning.  That certainly suggests future books.   This book puts a bow on much of the activity of the previous books but it is clear there can be a much longer story.   Of course part of the length is Weber's inability to be succinct.  As much as I like the details, sometimes they are overwhelmingly mind numbing.    

The aforementioned theocracy has become dominated by the gang of four.   The gang of four, are four corrupt churchmen who will do anything, no matter how despicable, to remain in power.   Mass murder, terriorism, torture and even instigating civil war and denying all progress, it still manages to trumpet it’s godliness.  

As all of Weber’s works he has deplorable villains and laudable heroes.   Weber works many of current society’s ills into his work.   Fanaticism, jihad, corruption, facile politicians, evil empires; he manages to include or refer to through proxy.   The dangers of church and state intermingling is brutally depicted by the actions of the theocracy. 

Weber is one of those rare authors who can infiltrate your emotions with his characters and feel you full of empathy for their actions.   This book seems to show more empathy for the "bad guys".   The depiction that all foes are not evil is done very well.   Weber demonstrates that good people can be put in untenable situations and find themselves doing evil works.   Religious warfare is shown in it's brutal reality.  Something that has sadly been illustrated by current events.

Some reviews complain that Weber is wordy but each brush stroke can increase the depth and beauty of a work although in this book I did feel he got a bit effusive.  I find myself being repetitive.   Regardless of his verbosity or perhaps due to the same, Weber writes compelling stories. 

I recommend the book.





This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Stringer by Jeff Somers


This is a novella from the Ustari Cycle.   The story is of Lem and Mags.   Magic is produced by gas which is created by blood letting.   Most magic users bleed others to get the gas they need to make magic.  Lem and Mags do not believe in using the blood of others.  Lem is highly principled and Mags is not functioning at full throttle.  The previous words are taken verbatim from my review of the novella Last Best Day by the same author.

A elderly mage decides that technology and modernization has robbed her of her rightful place in the sun decides to rid the world of civilization by fermenting chaos.  Lem becomes a victim and then a hero.   The concept of magic being fueled by blood is the root of the two stories I have read.   Lem and Mags are handicapped because of their refusal to inflict pain and destruction on others to magnify their own abilities. 

Somers has provided Lem with a conscience and periodically has him express the fact that blood mages are pretty despicable.   The most powerful in their world are the most despicable.     

It was a good story. 

I enjoyed it.

Web:   http://www.jeffreysomers.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones



This book is an upper elementary or middle school fantasy.  It is age appropriate with nothing objectionable in it.  It is a story of sibling rivalry and mysterious magic.

Howard's family is headed by an ineffectual father, Quentin, an author.   It is led by a strong mother, Catriona, a music teacher.  The story focuses more on Howard, the older son, and Awful, the younger daughter.   They are forced to deal with a family of very immature wizards who seem locked to their community.

The story is cute and it should keep the interest of the appropriate age group.

Web: http://www.tor.com/2015/12/16/where-to-start-with-diana-wynne-jones/


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Castaway Odyssey by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor

An interstellar voyage is cut short by a massive drive failure leading to the automatic jettisoning of the life boats.  This story tells how the mismatched survivors of the tragedy fare.

This may not be labeled young adult but it is a good young adult story.  There is tension and drama but it is of moderate intensity suitable for a younger reader.   Sgt. Campbell was a laudable adult figure that appeared practically flawless.  Sadly there are very few real flawless folks.   The kids on the lifeboat were all awesome.  Having spent some time in classrooms from K-4yr college as an instructor, I never had a more adaptable and competent group of kids.  Ones and two's but a whole group defies the imagination. 

One incident of xenophobia was very realistic and based on learned behavior so it actually made sense and the individual dealing with it was unnaturally aware of the root of his phobia. 

Reading this my comments appear to be overly critical but I did like the story.  I think many adults would find it far too tame but for a younger reader I highly recommend it.  It reminds me of the hopeful, inclusive, optimistic stories I read in the early 50's. (that is decade not age.)

Web:  Eric Flint: http://www.ericflint.net/
Ryk E. Spoor : http://grandcentralarena.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Last Best Day by Jeff Somers


This is a novella from the Ustari Cycle.   The story is of Lem and Mags.   Magic is produced by gas which is created by blood letting.   Most magic users bleed others to get the gas they need to make magic.  Lem and Mags do not believe in using the blood of others.  Lem is highly principled and Mags is not functioning at full throttle.

Mags is depicted as a very large character who is kept in check and watched over by Lem.   Lem is kidnapped and the story is based on how Mags wants to help.

Blood mages are pretty despicable and the author does nothing to change that impression.  The best of the bunch is pretty deplorable.

It was a good story, reasonable character development overall and deep character development of Mags.  

I enjoyed it.

Web:   http://www.jeffreysomers.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta




This is the tale of a dreamer.  That sounds good but it wasn’t.   Eliana is a weaver on an island where dreaming is banned.  The Council rules with an iron fist but the dreaming weaver drapes the island in wispy webs of dreams.

The story is also a love story laden with deception and betrayal.   Eliana discovers that Valeria is more and less than she seems.   The oldest citizen on the island has secrets that no one has known for hundreds of years. 

This was an interesting and occasionally confusing plot.  It moved steadily with very deep development of Eliana.  Basically the rest of the characters were supporting parts.

I recommend the book.

Web: http://www.emmiitaranta.com/
This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Dark Lord by Jack Heckel


This is a very creative fantasy.  The author and I have read many of the same books and seen many of the same movies and it appears we share a quirky sense of humor.   I know this due to his frequent references to obscure events in other books.   The protagonist is a graduate student working on his dissertation through a practicum where he is the "Dark Lord" an evil ruler.   Avery, the Dark Lord graduate student's premise is that the forces of good need to be united by their opposition to great evil.  Once the great evil is conquered there will be eons of peace and prosperity.

This all takes place on a subworld which might be identified as a parallel but not equal world.  The center of the subworld universe is Mysterium where Avery is studying magic.   Subworlds are more ephemeral than inner worlds such as Earth.   Avery hopes by stabilizing Trelari, he can keep it from devolving into chaos and destruction. 

Murphy's law leads Avery down the proverbial primrose path where his plans go off the tracks.   He is forced to return to Trelari and start a quest with the heroes that opposed him as the Dark Lord.    The quest is arduous and Avery discovers that without immense magic he isn't much of a hero.

This is an entertaining story with a complex plot and loads of humor.

Web: https://jackheckel.wordpress.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Remnants of Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel

The Cold Between was my introduction to these characters.   I suggest reading it too but this stands alone quite nicely.  The Corp personnel, Shadow Ops, PSI and the tribes find themselves manipulated by a major corporation and a reclusive group of colonists find themselves in the middle of mayhem.

Nefarious activities don't always work out as well as the miscreants plan.   This leads to vendetta mentality rather than police action.   The characters are developed nicely with depth and color.   Bonesteel does an excellent job with her characterizations.   The romantic interplay was more prevalent in the first book and still exists here but it does not seem as important.  That isn't to say that a certain amount of relationship tension is apparent.



I really liked this book.

Web site: https://elizabethbonesteel.wordpress.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.