the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for May 2010

this review originally appeared here.

An action packed chase novel, Prophets involves light speed travel, trigger happy mercenaries, genetically engineered super warriors, questions on the morality of genetic engineering and the future of humanity, interstellar sabotage, and two very, very old brothers who are still fighting like little children.

Although I had no problem following what was going on, it should be mentioned that this is only Swann’s latest installment in his future history of humanity. Readers who are familiar with his Moreau series and Hostile Takeover trilogy will instantly feel at home with Prophets, but if you are new to Swann, don’t feel discouraged to start with Prophets and work your way backwards or forwards.

Most of the first half of the novel takes place on Bakunin, a “wild west” type planet, full of petty criminals, people who can’t go home, and the rest of the general scum of the galaxy. Home to independently wealthy Tjaele Mosasa, it’s certainly the best place to put together a team of mercenaries who won’t ask any questions because they don’t want any questions asked in return. Mosasa’s team is infiltrated by genetically engineered tiger man Nickolai Rajastahn, the exiled prince of his homeland, and Francis Mallory, ex-marine and now ordained father in the Roman Catholic Church. Nickolai is desperate to make enough money to gain passage home and has been employed by the mysterious Mr. Antonio to keep a close eye on Mosasa, and the Church is desperate to know why Mosasa is suddenly putting together an expedition to Virginis IX, a backwater where an impossible signal has originated.

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This review was originally published here

One day in a ficticious Victorian almost London, Miss Temple was uncerimoniously dumped by her fiance Roger. Thinking she will catch him with another woman, she follows him to the train station, onto a train, to a country manor, and into a blushworthy masked ball full pawns, scantily dressed women, greedy aristocrats, desperately ambitious servants, and more intrigue and conspiracy than you can shake a stick at. Miss Temple returns home the next morning covered in someone else’s blood, and wearing a thin white robe that isn’t hers.

At the masked ball, a criminal known as Cardinal Chang (he is neither ordained, nor Asian) finds the man he was hired to kill is already dead, not to mention horrifically scarred. The next morning, Chang is hired to find a short young woman who was at the masked ball and was seen leaving in a white robe and covered in blood. Chang may be a hired killer, but he doesn’t enjoy the work, and has quite the chivalrous side.

Dr. Abalard Svenson of Macklenburg discovers a conspiracy that the Prince of Macklenburg has become the victim of. A loyal servant of the crown, and not knowing the details of the con, Dr. Svenson attends the ball in the hopes of rescuing his Prince from the scheme stemming from his engagement to the daughter of a wealthy mining magnate. Svenson has spent his entire life loyally serving his country, and he doesn’t expect to stop now.

Temple, Chang, and Svenson make an unlikely team – the naïve debutante who has the cash, the professional criminal with the weapons and skills to use them, and the military doctor with the government connections, and find themselves embroiled in a conspiracy that would make any sane person change their name and leave the country.

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My original review for Blindsight was written a few years ago and posted here. I recently re read the book, and made some updates to the review. Suffice to say, the book knocked my socks off even more the second time around.

Remember the movie Alien? Now add some H. Beam Piper, some Event Horizon, some of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris. Populate with freaky characters, voluntary (and involuntary) lobotomies, and one very shy vampire. Welcome to Blindsight, Peter Watts’ scarier side of first contact, where aliens are truly alien, and do not want to talk to us, no matter how nice we are.

I remember Peter Watts from a number of years ago, I read his novel, Starfish, the first novel in the Rifters Trilogy. It was a harsh read for me, I wasn’t sure how to react to the sociopathic characters, but I appreciated Watts’ background in marine biology. Blindsight gets away from the marine biology, and introduces us to a warmer, fuzzier breed of sociopaths, and their vampire captain. Thanks to an ingenius explaination of the evolution, extinction, and genetic recreation of vampires on earth, Sarasti and by extention Watts, have quite the cult following.

Blindsight is told through the eyes of Siri Keeton, whose childhood operation to cure his epilepsy took half his brain with it. Siri’s single hemisphere of grey matter adapted enough to allow him to live a semi-normal life. A savant of interpreting body language, Siri is the perfect objective observer, the perfect recorder. He’ll read your “surfaces”, and while you’re talking about computer programming, he’s reading your favorite color, if you liked what you had for dinner last night, and what your sexual preferences are. He might not be able to tell you what you said, but he can tell you exactly what you meant.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.