the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘action

Abaddon’s Gate, by James S.A. Corey (book 3 of The Expanse)

published June 2012

where I got it: received review copy from Orbit (thanks!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Being a review of the 3rd novel in a series, this review has unavoidable spoilers for Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War.  Also, you really, really need to read this series.

The events at the end of Caliban’s War left Jim Holden’s crew alive and with money in the bank, and a big hole in space out near the edge of the Solar System. During the course of that novel, the alien technology that crashed into Venus was a busy little beaver, building huge structures, changing the chemistry of the planet, plotting who knew what. And then it shot out to the limits of the solar system and ripped a hole into the fabric of space time. A wormhole? A portal? No way of knowing what’s beyond the ring until someone gets out there and goes through the damn thing.

Jim Holden has had plenty of “knowing what’s out there”, thank you very much. He’s happy hauling freight anywhere that’s the opposite direction of the Ring. But thanks to a journalist backed by shadow politics and money, Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are headed exactly where they don’t want to go. The journalist, Monica Stuart, intends to interview the survivors of Eros, and Holden can’t let her find out that Miller’s ghost has been speaking to him more and more lately.

A note on the title of the book: Abaddon is a biblical reference to a place of destruction, a place of the perishing. Keep that in the back of your mind.

While I’d love to have an entire novel that’s just Holden and Naomi and Amos and Alex, James Corey gives us plenty of other point-of-view characters to root for as well. There’s Bull, the shat upon OPA security chief of The Behemoth who can’t help that he was born on Earth; Anna, a Methodist pastor and member of a contingent of religious leaders headed out towards the ring; and Melba, the alias of Clarissa Mao, who is obsessed with destroying Holden the same way he destroyed her father.

I could give you a run down on all the political and plot stuff, but Bull says it much simpler that I ever could:

“We’re heading out to throw gang signs at Earth and Mars while the Ring does a bunch of scary alien mystery stuff. . . .  worst that can happen is we’ll all die.”

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m part of the blog tour for Madeline Ashby’s brand new Machine Dynasty novel, iD! Stay tuned for a guest post, and in the meantime, here’s a review.

iD by Madeline Ashby

published June 2013

where I got it: received eARC from the publisher (thanks Angry Robot!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Madeline Ashby set out to write a robot story from the robot’s point of view, and hooo boy has she succeeded. Robots don’t have feelings you say? they do if we program them to. Robots can’t feel pain you say?  They do if we program them too. And the robots in  this world are programmed to unconditionally love us, no matter we do to them. Kick a dog enough times and it learns not to come back. Kick a robot, and well, it’ll keep coming back because it’s been programmed to.

Why not just program the robot to protect itself?  Because Ashby is a professional researcher, and made the wise decision to place her story in our world, a world steeped in a history of robot fiction, Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, and all of humanity’s unspoken fears. No worries if you’re not familiar, Ashby gives you just enough background to stay afloat, and keeps back enough information that you’ll be frantically turning the pages, begging for more.

MachineDynastytweet

iD is the second book in Ashby’s Machine Dynasty series. Here’s the ultra quick summary of the world, and how we got there:  A wealthy Megachurch manufactured humanoid robots known as vN to help the humans who will be left behind after the Rapture. The Church goes bankrupt and is forced to sell the patents to other companies who continue to manufacture the Von Neumann (self replicating) robots. The robots are programmed with a failsafe, which keep them from harming people, and directly connect their well being with the well being of the people around them. The vN robots are used for all kinds of things,  everything from dangerous or boring jobs people don’t want to do, to surrogate family members and domestic servants, to the sex trade. When the human is happy, the vN is happy. simple as that.

The vN are not human. They were not born, they do not die, and they are programmed to obey us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Particle Horizon, by Selso Xisto

published in 2012

where I got it: received copy from the author

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

How deep into the foundations of the universe can we truly observe? What will we see when we get there? Famous researcher Dr. Baghdarasian has made learning those secrets his life’s work. The phrase “particle horizon” refers to how far we can see with a microscope.

As the story opens, we get some minimal background about the current state of humanity. With Earth as the center of our civilization, we’ve colonized planets and moons all over the place, even hollowed out a handful of asteroids and very small moons. Once outside the solar system, humanity is generally split into two psuedo Empires: the Union which follows a strictly atheistic culture and has no room for any type of religious faith; and the Alliance, a very religious culture with no room for any kind of doubt in their deity and priests. The two cultures are polar opposites with no space for anything inbetween, so of course there is a lot of tension between them, not to mention the pressures their citizens are under to conform.

The space navies of both cultures have converged on the hollowed out asteroid of Angelhaven, where a battalion of Alliance Lightbringer troops have attacked the main city. Angelhaven is also  the home of Dr. Baghdrasarian and his android daughter Una. Una was designed with what amounts to a quantum computer for a brain, and until now she’s never really paid attention to the numbers she’s been crunching.  Her father has discovered something amazing. Something that could change the course of humanity’s future, and both the Alliance priesthood and the  Union governments desperately want to get their hands on it, or on Una, who stores the secret deep in her mind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Arctic Rising, by Tobias Buckell

Published in 2012

Where I got it: borrowed

 

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Anika Duncan was just doing her job.  As an airship pilot for the United Nations Polar Guard, her job is to watch the waters. For drugs, human trafficking, and radioactive material. In the not too far future, the ice has started to melt, the Northwest Passage has opened, and floating bergs and barges all the up on the pole act as a loosely conglomerated not-country called Thule.

On a routine mission Anika’s instruments pick up something they shouldn’t. And then her airship is fired on, killing her co-pilot.  At first, the government goes all out to find her attackers and find out what they were smuggling, but before long the terrorists disappear and she’s told there was absolutely nothing on their ship.  But she knows what she saw on her instruments.  On the run and with few friends to help her, Anika heads north in hopes of learning what was on the ship and who her true friends are.

Once the action starts in this eco-thriller, it never stops.  Imagine a Bond movie where Bond and the beautiful ass-kicking Bond girl got melded into one character, and you’d have Anika Duncan. As a pilot with the UNPG, she can fly any airship and shoot any gun. She never backs down, and has no idea what she’s gotten herself into.  From the islands of Northern Canada and all points north, whoever thought so much could happen in the Arctic Circle?

Read the rest of this entry »

Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed

published in Feburary 2011

where I got it: the Library*

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

.

I’ve been trying to write this review for two days now, and it just hasn’t been happening.

The only important part of this review is: Read this book now. really.  I adored it. Ask my husband, I’ve been talking of nothing else for the last few days.

There is nothing I can say that will do this book justice.

But you know I’ll try.

If Ellen Kushner showed me what effortless writing looked like, then Saladin Ahmed has shown me what truly fully developed characters read like.  These characters are so real and so true  that I didn’t feel like I was reading them so much as spending a few precious days with them.   I feel like I could tell you what Adoulla’s bookshelves look like (cluttered but organized?), like I could describe the look on Raseed’s face when he instantly regrets something he’s said, the sound of Zamia sleeping while in her lion shape. I want to have tea at Yehyeh’s,  I want to follow Adoulla through the city as his conflicted feelings force his actions.

Beyond the exquisite characterization, Throne of the Crescent Moon is so deliciously atypical of so much of the fantasy that’s currently available.  Yes, it’s a fantasy adventure in a secondary world, and yes there is some magic.  But show me another recently written fantasy novel where the hero is a middle aged fat man  whose magic stems from phrases and quotations out of a religious prayerbook.   Show me a recently written fantasy adventure where the endgame is all about ending up with the person you love, the person who waited for you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon (Burton & Swinburn #3) by Mark Hodder

published in January 2011

where I got it: received review copy from Pyr

why I read it: Highly enjoyed the first two books in the series, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack and The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.
Shortly after starting this book, I had two predictions. and I was right on both of them.

The year is 1863, but not as it should be.  Two decades of unrestrained genetic engineering and eugenics have nearly covered London with the giant hollowed out insects filled with steam powered machinery, foul mouthed messenger birds and fouler breathed messenger dog-things.  Sir Richard Francis Burton has always felt an outsider in London, but things are getting out of control, even for him.

After an attempt on his life, Burton is approached by Prime Minister Palmerston to return to Africa. The trip will be publicized as another attempt to find the source of the Nile, but in reality, Palmerston has tasked Burton with finding the African Eyes of the Naga.  The Eyes, black diamonds that fell as asteroids, had already been found in Cambodia and South America. Connected to an impossible myth, the shards of the diamonds can retain thoughts impressed upon them.  And Burton isn’t the only one searching for the Eyes.

But meanwhile, we have another story line happening.  It’s 1914, and in the trenches of a Great War far more horrific that the one in your history books, a man has lost his memory.  Befriended by a journalist who recognizes him, the man very slowly regains his memories. What he remembers is even more impossible than the Great War his eyes are showing him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Artemis, by Philip Palmer

published December 2011

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

This book starts with a bang, that’s for sure. Doctor Artemis McIlvor may be guilty of a few things, but being bashful, shy, or afraid of danger aren’t those things.

Finally published many many generations after her death, Artemis is the thought-diary of it’s title character. Heavily edited and commented upon by the editors, many pages have footnotes that further explain, condense, generalize, and sometimes make fun of the diary entries. I’ve seen this trick played a few times elsewhere, and as expected, it succeeds in the humor department.

And because this is a thought-diary, Artemis’s comments aren’t always in chronological order, sometimes she leaves important details out, she lies, and her ego gets full reign.  For example, the story opens in the middle of a prison riot, and only later, after the first betrayal, in fits and starts and asides, do we find out why the riot got started, and what a high IQ augmented human like Artemis was doing in prison anyways.  We’re talking flashbacks within flashbacks with in asides within tangents within flashbacks.

I don’t mind flashbacks, I don’t mind violence, or swearing, or completely randomly casual sex in books. I don’t mind inadvertently funny footnotes, I don’t mind augmented/invulnerable humans.  Put all those things in a blender with good characters and a compelling storyline, and you just might  end up with one of the best science fiction books ever written.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fenrir, by M.D. Lachlan

Published in Oct 2011

where I got it: library

why I read it: enjoyed the first book in the series, Wolfsangel

.

.

.

.

.

.

For no good reason, I had a tough time getting into Fenrir. I think I was expecting a similar opening as Wolfsangel had, with Vikings and raids and witches and such, so I was caught off guard by being introduced to so many characters who were clearly, not Vikings.  Where were Vali and Feileg, the twin brothers I cried for in Wolfsangel? Where was the beautiful Adisla, whom they both swore to protect?  I know my mythological friends are here someplace, for it is their destiny to be reborn, if only to be tortured by the gods again and again and again.  Perhaps they were born into Vikings, or perhaps traders from the East, or perhaps Frankish Christians. Hiding Odin and Fenris in Frankish Christians who haven’t a clue what’s going on? That’s just cruel.

Aelis, a minor Frankish princess, is worth her weight in political marriages. And everyone wants Aelis. Helgi, an Eastern Viking Prince of Constantinople wants to maybe marry her, maybe sacrifice her. Her brother, a Parisian Count, opts to keep her, hoping for a better offer. Multiple Viking factions know she’s worth her weight in ransom, so the new name of the game is kidnap Aelis.

Jehan, oh, poor Jehan. Stricken with paralysis and blindness as a youth, he is now a monk, and seen as a living saint. His timing to Paris couldn’t be worse, and he is trapped in the church when the Vikings attack. The Vikings know all about relics, and the worth of the bones of a saint, so suddenly Jehan is also worth quite a bit in ransom, dead or alive. Years from now, I will still pity Jehan.

And then we have Munin and Hugin, the horrific sibling priests of Odin. More on them later.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reamde, by Neal Stephenson

published Sept 2011

where I got it: library

why I read it: I suffer from Stephensonitis masochism

.

.

.

.

.

.

It took me a while, but I got through Reamde (a play on words of the ubiquitous readme file that comes with most software), Neal Stephenson’s latest door stopper of a book.  This isn’t so much a review as it is a reaction, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So I don’t have to go thru the plot bits again, please read my first blab on Reamde, found here.  Amazon plot blurb can be found here.

A mainstream book review site (Salon? Slate?  someone like that) blurbed Reamde as being Stephenson’s most accessible book yet.  And it is.  No weird futuristic monks or cyberpunk guys with odd names, no generational flashbacks, nothing “weird” or inaccessible on that front. A globe spanning thriller that falls somewhere between a Ludlum style “pick off the bad guys one by one” and a Doctorow-esque “the Chinese gold farmers aren’t the bad guys!” ,  Reamde is surprisingly normal,  or at least normal compared to what I’ve come to expect from Stephenson.  It is in a word, it is utterly accessible.

For us Speculative Fiction fans, accessible is the double edged sword of the decade.

Read the rest of this entry »

About the size of the 4th Harry Potter book, but w/about 300 more pages.

Last weekend I got Neal Stephenson’s Reamde out of the library.  It’s been a busy week, so I’m only maybe 300 pages into this 1000+ page monster, but so far? I am LOVING it.   A book this long and involved deserves more than just a “review” post.

The gist of the plot so far is Richard owns a software company that runs the biggest MMORPG to hit the interwebs since WoW. His neice, Zula, does some work for his company as well. When Zula’s boyfriend does something incredibly stupid,  Zula and stupid (ex)boyfriend find themselves “guests” of the Russian mafia, and “invited” to China. And when I say guest I mean hostage and when I say invited I really mean abducted.  You see, a virus has broken out in Richard’s MMO, T’Rain.  This is a bad thing because it has compromised some sensitive info belonging to the Russians. They wanna find the hacker who started the virus and kill him.  Richard wants to find the hacker and hire him.

All that in only the first 150 pages.  I feel like I’m reading the incredible end bit of Cryptonomicon (if you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about) with the breakneck pace of Zodiac.

Because this is a Stephenson, it is jam packed with detail.  And not those boring details about what color someone’s hair or clothing is, but the good kind of details, like how Richard and his buddies built the back story of T’Rain, of how his programmers are geologists who literally built the world up from planetary accretion disks, plate technonics and where volcanoes and gold and ore deposits would naturally occur on an Earth sized planets.  How they hired fantasy writers (one of Tolkien-esque quality and the other of well, not) to create their own mythologies and histories  of elves and dwarves and such.

And that’s just the beginning of the glorious infodumps.

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,619 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on WordPress.com

Archives

Categories

FTC Stuff

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.