3

Click on stars to FIND REVIEWS BY RATING:
Recommended:
Not Recommended:

Star Well: A light SF comedy of manners

Star Well by Alexei Panshin

Star Well, by Alexei Panshin, is an entertaining comedy of manners in the SF mode with a hint of the demimonde thrown in for flavour. Our protagonist is Anthony Villiers, Viscount Charteris, an aristocrat and fop whose life seems to be a perpetual Grand Tour of the Nashuite Empire, chasing the stipend afforded him by his father from port to port and resorting to what might, in impolite circles, be considered illicit means to gain funds when he is unable to catch up with it. He is no career criminal or grifter, though, and is content rather to live a life of comfort and fashion without sullying his hands with anything so low as labour or outright criminality. He is, in a word, a gentleman.

His travelling companion is the enigmatic Torve the Trog, a giant befurred frog who seems equal parts Yoda and Chewbacca. Torve is generally a rather stoic companion, at least in this volume, ... Read More

Clan and Crown: Historical military SF

Clan and Crown by Jerry Pournelle

In this second installment of Jerry Pournelle’s JANISSARIES series, the modern American military unit that was abducted by aliens and deposited on the planet Tran to oversee the harvest of psychedelic drugs for alien drug dealers is still trying to get the planet under control so they can focus on their horticultural task. Though they accomplished a lot in the first book, Janissaries, things have gotten even more complicated (politically) and they make very little progress (at least that we see) with their main goal in Clan and Crown.

Captain Rick Galloway, who is now one of the most powerful people on the planet, wishes he could give up fighting and be a teacher at the newly-formed university, but so far that hasn’t been possible. The same weather pattern changes that are increasing the growth of the psychotropic plant they... Read More

Janissaries: Modern soldiers in ancient Rome on distant planet

Janissaries by Jerry Pournelle

Captain Rick Galloway and the soldiers he commands were surrounded by hostile enemies when the flying saucer arrived and offered them a way out of certain death. They had to take it. Now they’re on a planet called Tran where they’re expected to oversee the growth and harvest of a marijuana-like plant which their alien “saviors” collect and distribute on the black market when it ripens every 600 years. A human woman named Gwen has also been dumped on the planet after her boyfriend, who was working for the aliens, talked her into coming aboard the flying saucer.

Tran is not uninhabited. It is home to several ancient civilizations who were also delivered from Earth to Tran each time the harvest was nearing readiness. Galloway and Gwen, reluctant heroes, must somehow lead the locals to fulfill the aliens’ demands, or they risk being eradicated. This involves gaining power, allying with local go... Read More

The Merchant Emperor: Revisiting a series I fell in love with long ago

The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon

The Merchant Emperor is the seventh book in the SYMPHONY OF AGES series by Elizabeth Haydon. This series happens to be one of the first epic fantasy series I ever read, but that was years ago. I was excited about this book, but also reluctant. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited this world, and my memory isn’t what it used to be due to numerous cancer treatments.

According to the publisher, The Merchant Emperor is a good entry point to the series for new readers. Knowing how fantastic my memory was, I decided to give The Merchant Emperor a shot without revisiting the previous books to refresh my memory first.

The good thing is that Haydon really infuses this book with plenty of backstory and character building. New readers will appreciate that. Readers l... Read More

To Sail a Darkling Sea: A credible zombie story

To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

To Sail a Darkling Sea is the second installment in the BLACK TIDE RISING series.  Ringo continues to tell the story of the Smith family who are the virtual seed of humanity that survives the Zombie apocalypse and starts the fight to save the world from perpetual barbarity.

Trying to re-establish civilization is complex work. For “Commodore” Smith and his family, that becomes increasingly difficult as numbers of people rescued and the implied logistics support begin to increase commensurately.  How do you keep more and more boats running with limited repair parts, limited fuel and even fewer trained people who know how to fix them? With no land area to grow crops or harvest them, how do you feed everyone and keep them healthy when fishing is your primary food source? All of these complexities and the challenges of managing personalities become mo... Read More

Destination: Void: Probably destined for obscurity

Destination: Void by Frank Herbert

Destination: Void was first published in Galaxy under the title Do I Sleep or Wake in 1965 before the first version of the book appeared in 1966. It was revised and partially rewritten for the 1978 publication, released before Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom embarked on the DESTINATION: VOID trilogy set in the same universe. Together these books make up the PANDORA SEQUENCE.

Destination: Void is set in a future where humanity has been experimenting with artificial intelligence. To achieve a truly conscious artificial intelligence without risking earth, a crew of (expendable) cloned humans are sent safely on a journey to one of the nearby stars under the care of a spaceship completely controlled by a computer overseen by a disembodied human brain. Although the reader is given reason to doubt the t... Read More

Home from the Sea: Lackey finally gets it right

Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey

Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey was a pretty enjoyable, fluffy fantasy romance. Set in coastal Wales, it combines the story of Tam Lin with selkie myths. Mari Prothero is a young woman who lives with her father, Daffyd, an unusually lucky fisherman. On her sixteenth birthday, Mari learns, to her great dismay, that she has been promised as a bride to one of the Selch, the seal-skinned people of the sea. This bargain has been in place for generations of the Prothero family; they inject their healthy human blood into the waning Selch stock, and in return, the Selch reward them with prosperity and safety at sea.

Mari doesn’t take this news lying down. She has been able to see magical creatures since her birth, and they have recently warned her that she is special and that she has ... Read More

Seed Seeker: Interesting world, weak characters

Seed Seeker by Pamela Sargent

Seed Seeker is the third book in Pamela Sargent’s Young Adult EARTHSEED trilogy (following Earthseed and Farseed), but you don’t necessarily need to read the previous two books to get up to speed — Sargent does a great job at catching the reader up without any info dumps. Seed Seeker fairly stands alone. Most of the characters are new, though Nuy, from Farseed, does make an appearance.

Seed Seeker is a rather dark novel wrapped in an exploration/adventure tale and is also filled with enough angst and hope to satisfy any series fan. The dynamics between the civilizations are interesting and complex. Advanced technology has been developed, but much of the world lives a medieval lifestyle and relies on manual labor, ... Read More

Dr. Bloodmoney: Or How We Got Along After the Bomb

Dr. Bloodmoney: Or How We Got Along After the Bomb by Philip K. Dick

Based on the overwhelming success of The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick set about writing another alternate history/future. Choosing the Cold War as its crux, he imagined a US wherein the post-WWII threat of nuclear catastrophe manifests itself. Dr. Bloodmoney: Or How We Got Along After the Bomb is the (conveniently sub-titled) result.

With only a few main elements in common with that first big success, most of the characteristics of Dr. Bloodmoney set it apart. The Man in the High Castle was realistic save the alternate history aspect, but Dr. Bloodmoney finds Dick slowly blending in more and more of his typical motifs — precogs, schizophrenia, and telekinesis — and building toward a surreal conclusion. Though falli... Read More

Sputnik Sweetheart: The world’s most depressing love triangle, after Twilight

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.

Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart is narrated by an elementary school teacher we know as “K.” K is in love with Sumire, an aspiring young writer who never feels sexual attraction for others until she meets Miu, an older woman and a wine dealer who is incapable of feeling love for others.

It’s the world’s most depressing love triangle, after Twilight.

In many ways, actually, Sputnik Sweetheart feels like a typical Haruki Muraka... Read More

A Wonderlandiful World: A great series for preteen girls

A Wonderlandiful World by Shannon Hale

In A Wonderlandiful World, Shannon Hale’s story about the teenage children of famous fairytale characters shifts focus from the conflict between the Royals and the Rebels about their “happily ever after” destiny to the problems caused by one of the students’ previous misadventures. They had accidentally let the Jabberwock (from Wonderland) loose into their world. The Jabberwock is not happy about not being in Wonderland anymore, so he’s making life miserable for the students and faculty of Ever After High by making all the magic go wrong. Some of the students are turning into objects. The breakfast porridge is demanding hugs. Even the narrator goes all squonky and Maddie has to take over for her.

Three characters set out to fix the trouble and restore order (if you can call it order): Lizzie Heart (daughter of Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts) who is armed wi... Read More

Blood and Iron: For lovers of Ander Offutt’s Conan pastiches

Blood and Iron by John Sprunk

My favorite part of Blood and Iron is when Mulcibar tells shipwreck-survivor-turned-slave-turned-super-wizard-turned-Queen’s-Protector Horace, in all sincerity, that Queen Byleth is a strict mistress, but not cruel. Sorry, dude, you’re just wrong. Turning the brother who betrayed you over to your crazy mad scientist to be tortured as part of his experiment might qualify as “strict.” Sashaying down to the torture chamber/secret lab in your tissue-thin designer gown and gloating over said brother during torture is cruel. That’s okay, though, because tall, voluptuous, raven-haired, contralto-voiced Queen Byleth is not one of the main characters of Jon Sprunk’s new book Blood and Iron. She’s a high-fashion plot device, like Kim Kardashian doing a guest stint on Spartacus.

Blood... Read More

Horrible Monday: The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant

The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant

Mira Grant created a fascinating world in her NEWSFLESH, is a masterful piece of hard science fiction, combining medical detail with political intrigue with intricate worldbuilding. Her characters were so real that the end of the first book in the trilogy, Feed, reduced me to tears.

Since completing the trilogy, Grant continues to write about the world she created. With the novella The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell, she may finally have returned to the well once too often. It’s a solid story, detailing the day-to-day issues presented to schools when blood becomes a deadly substance. Grant skillfully builds suspense for those less familiar with her world as she tells of the consequences of one 6-year-old child’s tiny lie about skinning his hand at recess. But ultimately, she has so comp... Read More

Kirinya: I didn’t get what I wanted out of it

Kirinya by Ian McDonald

After recently enjoying Ian McDonald’s Evolution’s Shore, the first book in his CHAGA series, I was eager to proceed with book two, Kirinya. I wanted to know where McDonald was going with the fascinating ideas he presented in that first novel. What is the goal of the Chaga, the alien evolution machine that has landed on Earth in the form of a ground-covering jungle that changes the landscape and its human inhabitants as it slowly progresses across equatorial regions? What is in the BDO (Big Dumb Object) that came from Saturn and hovers in Earth’s orbit? How will our world’s societies and cultures be affected by these otherworldly intrusions?

As Kirinya begins we learn that Gaby, the famous feisty Irish journalist, has had Shepherd’s baby. Because their daughter Serena was affected by the Chaga, Gaby and ... Read More

7th Sigma: Who doesn’t want to read about giant metal-eating bugs?

7th Sigma by Steven Gould

One thing I really love about accepting review copies of books is that I end up reading stuff I never would have read otherwise. It really opens my eyes up to new authors, or authors that I should have read and heard of long ago. One of these authors is Steven Gould, who, after further investigation, I discovered is well known for a 1992 novel called Jumper. Well, I got 7th Sigma in the mail and realized that it was about giant metal-eating bugs and I knew I had to read it. Hey, who doesn’t want to read about giant metal-eating bugs?

7th Sigma takes place in the southwest United States, which was mysteriously overrun by metal-eating bugs. Most people have fled the territory, living in safe locations. However, some individuals remain in the southwest. These people are mostly hard-as-nails settlers who refuse to give up their la... Read More

Array ( [SERVER_SOFTWARE] => Apache [REQUEST_URI] => /rating/3/ [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => /home1/fantatn0/public_html [GATEWAY_INTERFACE] => CGI/1.1 [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => x-gzip, gzip, deflate [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => en-us,en-gb,en;q=0.7,*;q=0.3 [HTTP_HOST] => www.fantasyliterature.com [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/) [PATH] => /bin:/usr/bin [QUERY_STRING] => [REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [REDIRECT_UNIQUE_ID] => VCGdxEKT9HoAABu-OcEAAAVZ [REDIRECT_URL] => /rating/3/ [REMOTE_ADDR] => 54.211.157.103 [REMOTE_PORT] => 33234 [REQUEST_METHOD] => GET [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => /home1/fantatn0/public_html/index.php [SCRIPT_NAME] => /index.php [SERVER_ADDR] => 66.147.244.122 [SERVER_ADMIN] => webmaster@fantasyliterature.com [SERVER_NAME] => www.fantasyliterature.com [SERVER_PORT] => 80 [SERVER_PROTOCOL] => HTTP/1.0 [SERVER_SIGNATURE] =>
Apache Server at www.fantasyliterature.com Port 80
[UNIQUE_ID] => VCGdxEKT9HoAABu-OcEAAAVZ [PHP_SELF] => /index.php [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1411489220.905 [REQUEST_TIME] => 1411489220 )