The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
Before the first animals showed up on Earth, immortal incorporeal aliens crash-landed on our planet. They’ve been trying to get back to their own planet ever since. Their strategy has been to promote the intellectual and technological development of the most promising animal species they could find — humans. They do this by inhabiting certain promising humans and guiding their thoughts and actions. They knew it would take thousands of years, but someday they will direct humans to create the spaceships they need to get home.
Somewhere along the way the aliens had a disagreement about the techniques they use to promote human progress. One faction, the Genjix, believe that pitting humans against each other will encourage progression. For example, World War II caused rapid advancement in nuclear technology. The smaller faction, the Prophus, are peaceful and don’t want to be responsible for humans fighting amon... Read More
The April/May 2012 edition of Asimov’s Science Fiction is full of some of the best short fiction I’ve read in a while. The best story is a subtle novella by Rick Wilber called...Read More
Animal Man, Volume 2: Origin of the Species and Animal Man, Volume 3: Deus Ex Machina by Grant Morrison (writer) and Chas Truog (artist) issues 10-26 These two volumes of Animal Man...Read More
The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley
The Lazarus Machine hooked me at first because I really like the title. I mean, come on, that’s just a cool title. The Lazarus Machineis a young adult steampunk set in the late 1800’s in an alternative Earth. Paul Crilley, for the most part, pulls this time period off well, despite the Sherlock Holmes feel (which is starting to feel a little been-there-done-that for my taste). The book starts out with interesting steampunk inventions. There are steam powered computers, automatons powered by captured souls, steam carriages and the like. Many readers will be absolutely captivated by all that Crilley has created in his steampunk alternative earth.
However, once the story gets going, small problems arise. For example, in this Victorian-esque setting, many of the characters’ dialogue is a bit too modern for the time. Secondly, Crilley doesn’t present much history behind ... Read More
Terry Weyna and I attended the 2013 Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, California last week. The event focused mostly on the Saturday awards banquet, and programming was rather light, but I did attend a panel called “Writing the Other,” subtitled, “How do we write about what we cannot know?”
Ken Liu, moderator
“Writing the Other” looked like the staff of a think-tank. Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Kim Stanley Robinson, (2312, which won the Nebula), Ken Liu (“Paper Menagerie”) and Aliette de Bodard (who would win for the novelette “Immersion”) made up the panel.
Liu, who moderated, said that originally the theme of the panel had been how to write space aliens... Read More
The Best of Joe Haldeman edited by Jonathan Strahan
Stories by Joe Haldeman are always a good things and Subterranean Press has recently put out this “Best of” collection edited by Jonathan Strahan. The hardcover book has 504 pages and includes a general introduction by Joe Haldeman and 19 of his stories. Each story also has a short introduction which reveals some insight into its crafting — perhaps where the idea came from, or some trouble he had writing or placing it, or how he did his research, or his interactions with his agent or editor. I’m not a writer, but I always find these author introductions interesting.
The stories are, in order:
“Hero” — (1972) This is the opening of Haldeman’s best-known novel, The Forever War, which I loved. I skipped this story since I’d read it before (it takes up about 50 pages in this collection). “Hero” will give readers a sense of what to expect if t... Read More
Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
I purchased Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song because it showed up in my Goodreads "recommended" list with a ton of 5-star reviews. I'm usually suspicious, however, when the reviews so overwhelmingly endorse the greatness of a book. Based on my experience with Blood Song, I was right to be suspicious.
While Blood Song is not horrible — I probably would've slid it 3 stars had I finished — I'm totally clueless as to how it earned so many 5-star reviews. Granted, I'm long past the age where I enjoy coming-of-age stories, if I ever did like them much. So maybe that's the reason I don't understand why Blood Song is getting so much love.
I read about 60% of the book, and it still seemed like it was in the prologue. I get that the harsh military training the characters endure is a big part of the story, but does it have to be so much of it? Call me... Read More
The Book of Lost Tales 1 by J.R.R. Tolkien
My first attempt to read The Book of Lost Tales 1 was made way too early in my life and made certain that my response was to put it on the shelf and decide that all of this background stuff, especially taken from this early phase in Tolkien’s life as a writer, was way too different from the Middle-Earth stories that I loved for me to waste any time on it.
Looking at where the bookmark from my first attempt still sat when I picked it up again, I noticed that I didn’t even get much beyond the first several pages of the introductory chapter “The Cottage of Lost Play.” I remember thinking that it was just altogether too twee for me, what with the Eldar of Middle-Earth still being referred to as ‘faeries’ and the, to me, bizarre structure of a wanderer coming to a tiny cottage (bigger on the inside than the outside) peopled by dancing and singing children and adults who primari... Read More
The Goddess Inheritance by Aimée Carter
Aimée Carter’s GODDESS TEST series has always been a bumpy ride for me, with its sometimes baffling take on Greek mythology and its focus on petty bickering even in the face of potential worldwide catastrophe. Yet I always felt there was enough of a seed of a good story here that I wanted to see how Carter would finish it out, so I decided to read the final book, The Goddess Inheritance. I’ve now gotten a little over halfway through the book and am giving up. I’ve decided I simply don’t care anymore.
We pick up as Kate is on the verge of giving birth in captivity — having been kidnapped by Calliope and Cronus at the end of the last book — and the other gods having just realized she’s actually missing. Then she does give birth, in the most Mary Sue manner one can imagine, i.e. with none of the commonplace annoyances that come with childbirth. Labor only lasts a few mi... Read More
Hex and the City by Simon R. Green
Hex and the City is the fourth novel in Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series. I’ve been listening to NIGHTSIDE on audio lately because I’ve been doing a lot of home improvements, especially painting, and NIGHTSIDE is such an easy read that I don’t ever have to stop and rewind, which is something you don’t want to do when you’ve got paint all over your hands. Audio readers know what I mean.
In Hex and the City, John Taylor is moving on to his next case in the seedy and decadent Nightside where it’s always 3 AM. This time Lady Luck has hired him to discover the origins of the Nightside, something Taylor wanted to do anyway. During his investigation he meets some people/creatures who were fundamentally involved in the establishment of the Nightside. He begins to confirm his suspicion that his own mother, whom he doesn’t even remember, is someone ... Read More
Fury by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore
1946 had been a very good year indeed for Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, with a full dozen stories published plus three fine novels (The Fairy Chessmen, Valley of the Flame and The Dark World), and in 1947, science fiction's preeminent husband-and-wife writing team continued its prolific ways. Before the year was out, the two had succeeded in placing another 15 stories into the pulp magazines of the day, in addition to the novel for which Kuttner is best remembered: Fury. A classic of Golden Age science fiction, Fury originally appeared in the May, June and July issues of Astounding Science-Fiction under one of the pair's many pseudonyms, Lawrence O'Donnell. The story goes that legendary editor John W.... Read More
The Human Division by John Scalzi
The Human Division is a fast-paced roller coaster of a book. At the Nebula Awards this weekend in San Jose, California, John Scalzi politely informed me that this was the fifth book in a series, which starts with Old Man’s War. I haven’t read the other four (which I will be correcting soon) but I understood pretty well what was going on in this universe, although I may have missed some nuance.
The Colonial Union left earth to colonize space about two hundred years ago. During that time, space-faring humans met several other races who didn’t like humans very much. They also met some who did, or were at least willing to trade with us. From Earth, the Colonial Union recruited people over the age of seventy to create soldiers, decanting them into younger bodies with enhanced features like “smart blood” and a BrainPal computer in their skulls. Earth is also the source of the c... Read More
Kalimpura by Jay Lake
Kalimpura is the third and supposedly concluding book in Jay Lake’s series about Green, the young girl who becomes enmeshed in both worldly and godly politics, much to her dismay. I had lots of issues with the first book, Green, fewer but still some issues with the follow-up, Endurance, and I have to say that Kalimpura, while better than Green, didn’t wrap up the series in any way that would have me recommend readers pick up the trilogy.
Kalimpura picks up soon after Green has given birth to twins, a son and daughter. Still unresolved from Endurance is the fate of the two girls stolen away and taken to Green’s homeland city of Kalimpura. After several attacks in Copper Downs, and attempts by Green to resolve her standing issues with the gods of that city, including Divine and Blackblood, Green takes ship with a small group of allies... Read More