Saturday, May 18, 2013
Entering the world of Star Svendotter is like entering the Worlds of Heinlein. There are so many elements of Dana Stabenow's world building that remind me of what I've seen in Heinlein's worlds. There is definitely an emphasis on Scientific Detail.
I love both elements here and then the fact that the gutsy hero is a woman who would do Hazel Stone proud. Hazel stone of The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein is also known as Hazel Meade and later as Gwen Novak (in Multiverse novels). Both are cantankerous and have a fierce passion for protecting their family. In Star's case her family seem to include everyone who works around her in her various habitats.
Star seems to have a slight detachment along with this that serves to help her dispense justice-most of the time. I'm not so sure how I felt about that after she had children, but there is at least one time where we get to see her pushed to the point that she truly loses it and for good reasons. I like that she stays consistent but felt she lacked some normal emotions sometimes.
There are a couple of issues that come up that are interesting that would have been nice things to address further in this novel. We can hope there might be more about them in the next. The first is that at the moment she goes into labor she is confronted with the realization that she has a child she didn't know about. What? You heard it. This is a favorite joke around here- about how a woman can't have a child she's unaware of. In this context there are reasonable explanations. Star seems to have a reaction about this that we see her teetering on the edge of the thought that there might be some prejudice in her towards test tube babies. This is later brought to the fore again when they discover a ship full of fools who have apparently been cloning themselves into a thin and weak genetic community. She and her new son Leif keep skirting this issue and never have a really good discussion. I understand that in a way it is part of Star's nature to avoid this particular conflict. The bottom line was that we have the impression Star has some prejudice but no actual admission of such from her.
All of this happens as Star and her husband Caleb O'Hara arrive at the asteroid belt. Their mission to mine the belt, set forth in Second Star, has come to fruition and Star immediately is forced to take the bull by the horns when she discovers there is a crisis and a plague in the mining community that she's expected to solve.
The next event of note is major and yet somehow after Star's main blowup- just seems to sort of slide behind her mask judicial fortitude. She really doesn't get a chance to deal with it and it didn't seem fair for her to me. Somehow I'm not sure why she wouldn't and didn't seem to complain that much.
Science wise Star embarks on world creating of her own when they decide they can hollow out asteroids and create livable space. This leads to a discovery that could change the whole landscape of things and then leads to the tragedy. From there things almost become mundane until the climatic end.
The universe that Dana builds here is quite believable and almost sometimes painfully so. It would have been nice to hear something from and of her niece who ran off with the Galactic Librarians, but perhaps that's slated for some future story.
At this point I'd be hard pressed to say if this is shaping up to be a long series of books or a trilogy. I only know that as long as the pace keeps up I'll be interested in following Star , Leif, Paddy and Sean wherever they go.
If you are a fan of Heinlein and love Science Fiction and other such science these stories should be just what the doctor ordered.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I'm beginning to thoroughly enjoy the spin that Cixin Liu puts in his stories.
Of Ants and Dinosaurs is a sort of blend of analog and fable and cautionary tale. Maybe we could call it Fable -istic Fiction.
The story begins a bit like a fable in itself as the T-Rex grabs himself a meal and settles for a nice nap only to find that he's gotten some food stuck in his teeth. The ants who seem more mercenary than helpful are suffering earth quakes from the thrashing dinosaur. The ants are also hungry and thirsty. They decide the only reasonable way to stop the quakes is to help the T-Rex with his 'flossing'. This ends up serving two purposes. In dislodging the food they allow the T-Rex to settle down to a nap and they also get the benefit of a nice meal-leftovers so to speak.
This is all the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Fast forward 50,000 years and we find the evolved dinosaurs in a productive symbiotic relationship with the ants. The dinosaurs are the great minds and statesmen who have the working class ants creating their micro technologies.
Of course along with progress comes strife between dinosaur factions and war. This troubles the working class ants and they are becoming restless thinking that the dinosaurs are taking advantage of them. Eventually this leads to a strike, which is swiftly stopped because- well the dinosaurs are huge and they unify this once for action against the ants.
This creates tension between ants and the dinosaurs that leads to sabotage of the micro computing industry and attempts to assassinate key dinosaurs through some rather creative use of explosive devices and the ants knowledge of dinosaur physiology since the ants can preform micro surgeries on the dinosaurs.
Professor Joyah of the ants tries to caution her fellow ants that there are levels of the dangerous weapons of the dinosaurs that they know nothing about and that this could lead to catastrophe.
I may not be clear on what the dinosaurs and the ants represent in this analogy but I would guess that its the national political structure for the dinosaurs and the worker economic structure for the ants. The rebellion as with any rebellion might be justified but often leads to chaos before it evolves into any useful form of restructuring.
In this instance it might prove fatal.
This was a fun story to read-being a novella it seems to nicely fit into the space provided. The final outcome is predictable so the real meat of the story is how they get there. There are some amusing though thought provoking notions that build to the climax and interesting philosophical notions about what is come.
I enjoyed this as much as I might enjoy any fable finding it interesting to use the ants and dinosaurs in identifiable human situations as a means of trying to stretch the readers ability to accept the credibility of the story.
Humorous thought provoking analogs for any lover of science fiction fantasy or even fables. Not to mention the eco- political inclined.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I read Diamond Eyes- the first of the trilogy of this story and fell in love with Mira and all her quirky ways. So naturally its inevitable that I read Hindsight.
The intensity of this novel just blew me away. Granted I'm not one to read a whole lot of suspense thrillers. I've enjoyed such greats as Six Days of the Condor by James Grady. Shimbumi by Trevanian and many but not all of Ludlum's Jason Bourne novels.
I'm not a great fan of novels that use violence as a sort of jar mechanism to pull people out of their comfort zone although it's really difficult to write good thrillers without that element. What I appreciate is the artist who paints the characters successfully around that element.
You could say that this series is Science Fiction but I think that's a very small portion of the mix of genre's we have here. Mira's story reads almost like paranormal romance although the science is well woven into the story to give it less of the mystical feel. Her story is also one intense ride into suspense and mystery.
Now after admitting that I'm not the expert on suspense and thrillers I have to say that A.A. Bell does a magnificent job of using the violence in the story to weave in the hints for the various motivations of many of the characters. For Mira everyone is suspect in their motives and allegiances and I felt that even in the grisly elements portrayed that there were insights that logically lead up to each successive revelation as the story built to its climax.
Taking up from Diamond Eyes Mira Chambers is still institutionalized at Serenity and living with the memories that keep reminding her of her part in Ben's (Bennet Chiron) suffering. Ben is recuperating and attempting to gain freedom for Mira by becoming her guardian. The catch is that his past life and prison time make that nearly impossible. Through some tenuous arraignment Ben seems to achieve that with the help of the institutions matron Madonna Sanchez.
The story opens with a murder one that Mira comes across while jogging- one that she can't easily share with anyone because it happened days ago because Mira sees things that are in the past because of her Diamond Eyes that are sensitive to slow light.
I must confess that when I picked up Diamond Eyes I was thinking oh great a suspense thriller mystery with a blind sleuth that can see into the past. She has a side-kick Ben who has saved her from the institute and now works with her to solve cases.
That's not what I got- but I'm not disappointed; I really do love these books the way they are.
Mira is about to be thrust back into the world of intrigue this time dredging up Ben's past and the reason he went to prison. She's going to have to undergo the changes that will occur while she detoxes from the chemicals that the institute has used to control her; and, she has to deal with her feeling for Ben and her fear that she will cause him harm again. She'll also have to deal with her nemesis Colonel Kitching who wants to have her Diamond Eyes and the ever invasive General Garland who also would like to use Mira's talent and her eyes. Not to mention her-Moriarty like rival- the elderly Fredarick 'Leopard' who can hear voices from the future and is also a client at Serenity who is in love with Madonna Sanchez and views Mira's existence as a threat to Madonna. Fredarick is also related to Colonel Kitching.
This doesn't even cover having to deal with Ben's overbearing mother Mel and a few ex-girlfriends. Then add in an over protective lance corporal Lockman who seems to be anything from a bodyguard to a black ops both frightening and somehow appealing to Mira and you have an extra blend to an already troubled romance.
Mira herself is an intriguing character who has spent over 10 years in an institution and has to deal with assimilating a lot of technical advances while she herself is a biological wonder that sometimes surpasses all of that development.
There are many gems of narrative that come out of this and her perception of her talent.
[quote]`I was thinking about time,' she confessed, `... about how pointless it is trying to fight it or change to suit it, because we're already caught up in it, like a tide, and we're just the fish. Close your eyes and you might even feel it, the breeze traveling through time like a current, taking our scents and memories with it.'[/quote]
Bell, A A (2011-06-01). Hindsight (Kindle Locations 1714-1717). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
And a lot of humor such as the time Mel fixes Ben and Mira a romantic dinner that seems a bit over spiced.
[quote]At least she still had fond memories of the meal before she'd taken her first bite; so romantic on the beachside patio.[/quote]
Bell, A A (2011-06-01). Hindsight (Kindle Locations 2397-2398). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
This story has several onion like layers to the plot. There are all sorts of twists and turns that once it gets going roll the story down a long and almost endless hill of action, suspense and gore that makes this 'not for the faint of heart'; though I was surprised that it never left that bad taste that always begs the question "why is that even there?"
Everything is well placed and timed in this story and even if the reader doesn't feel they need a score card to keep track of all the threads; its a marvel to watch A.A. Bell unfold all of them.
I recommend this to any fans of suspense and mystery -most Science fiction lovers should find something to take away and even Para normal Romance lovers will find a spot for Mira and her Diamond Eyes.
Definitely read Diamond Eyes before Hindsight if you haven't because after you do you'll have to buy the rest of the trilogy to finish the rest of Mira's story. Each book gets better.
The next book is Leopard Dreaming and I've already put it in my kindle.
Monday, May 6, 2013
This book scared the daylights out of me.
There are so many parts of the breakdown here that read like regular parts of life.
I quickly come to a realization that this is the reason to surround ourselves with friends who know us(well). People who can constantly act as that check in life that asks "Are you okay?"
Sure we can ask ourselves that question as much as we want but it really helps to have someone around who can tell us that we are alright. Even so, it takes a true friend to not try to sugar coat things thinking that we might be having a bad day or over dramatic meltdown as opposed to an entire breakdown.
How and when do we define the line that has to be crossed before we realize that something proactive has to be done to get to the bottom of the overwhelming feeling of hopeless helplessness that's gripped us from out of nowhere?
In reading this I suddenly wondered how anyone can abuse drugs to an extent that they might experience something similar to what happened here. Yet it's so obvious that some people actually do just that, when one of the doctors makes that assumption right from the start.
This book has altered the way I look at some things. I've never really had much recollection of my life before the age of five. The few memories I have had, which or only two that I recall, are now very suspect when coming to a more full understanding of how the memory works. Not to mention the rest of the parts that I do remember and that my siblings like to suggest I've remembered incorrectly.
I look at how fragile the mind is in respect to Susannah's experience and it makes me want to wear a crash helmet everywhere I go. That won't help much though when dealing with what happened here.
Reading this has been a true eye opener.
And just for the record Susannah:
You may have changed from this experience, but what you wrote here and how it touched me says that when you wrote this you were operating at 100 percent.
Mind boggling scary with some light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone needs to read this.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Let me say that I loved-hated this book at the very beginning. As I got past that I could hardly put it down.
For some reason the whole beginning sort of read like a paranormal Dragnet episode. Dialogue mostly devoid of emotions. It went on for about the first 15% of the book. It was at about chapter seven that things finally took off. ( I was either growing used to the character- some explanations were now forthcoming that explained her- or it was just time to take that left turn into the supper highway of who Gabriella Noelle Moretti really is.
Gabriella of course is adopted which puts her into a common situation these days in fiction. She's also lost memory of her early years in life. At least the first five- which didn't seem too remarkable to me since I don't remember much of my first five years. But Gabriella is a rather gifted young lady who started college classes at age 12. Needless-to say-this is a fair explanation for why she might be just a bit different from many other people. Her intellect capacity is high but she's rather immature and has always been misplaced from her age group so that she's always the fish out of water wherever she's been. So, though she copes well enough to do well in her studies and that has lead to being the authority in Supernatural Specialist, she would agree that it hasn't helped her to develop much of an endearing personality.
The story opens with Gabriella being rather snarky to her equally snarky assistant, Sally. Apparently Gabriella's immature character has not learned the value of having an assistant to the point that she mostly takes advantage of Sally while giving her annoying things to do. Although the sense is that she does this to Sally a lot-as if Sally deserves it-at the moment it is in part that Gabriella has too much on her mind and has not had enough sleep. At age 19 Gabriella had fallen into this job with the paranormal as supernatural specialist for the Zelco Corp. She now is 25 but with perhaps the social skills of a 15 year old. And the reason she took this job seems to be somewhat suspect.
Her adoptive sister,Jenna, sums it up. Gabriella is hoping this job will help her find her parents.And, solve the mystery of why they left her when she was so young. Of course Jenna thinks Gabriella is nuts and that her job was not going to help her do any of the things she hopes.
Up until this day its been a pretty mundane job, with occasional moments of excitement when the FBI shows up and drags away what little they do find that is inexplicable. This time she's received three corpses from a dig in Italy, which don't seem to match what she should have been sent. The corpses were supposed to be hundreds of years old or more; where they looked to be newly dead within days and they don't match the photo of what she was sent.
This has spooked her and one would start to get the feeling she wasn't cut out for this job. She next receives a package with a box that contains two items that look like relics but turn out to be keys. When she starts to open the box she's attacked by a dark entity with fiery eyes, who warns her not to awaken the angels.
The FBI show up to take this away and they make an unusual offer- they want Gabriella to go with them. One agent, Jeff, acts a bit strange about Gabriella touching the evidence, while a second agent, Karen, comes to Gabriella's defense. Eventually Karen reveals to Gabriella that these three corpses are the bodies of angels. Karen is also an angel-Gabriella's Guardian.
On the trip to Washington DC with the corps and Sally and the FBI; the pilots inexplicably take the plane into a storm where there's a lightning strike upon the craft and it crashes. This should have killed everyone but the Angels have wakened-We later discover it is because Gabriella was in danger that they awakened.
The angels in this story are not your typical christian angels. They are not particularly even remotely related to the fallen angels. They are more like the Hollywood-ized angels made from humans who were once mortal and now can bleed golden blood and cry golden tears. They do fight beings of darkness who seem to be of the shadow of the sun.
In a nutshell it turns out that Gabriella is the Darkness Illuminator- the fulfillment of a prophesy; and that these angels are here to guard her.
This sounds like more than enough to drive the plot of this story but there is much more which is both exciting and a bit daunting. Yes there are spelling errors and some grammar points, though mostly points of rule and not of law so, those are minor. I think that it's this extra more stuff that causes many people to become confused and it took me a while to sort out a few problems.
One entire plot point is about the prophesy and how it has been altered by someone to hide the truth.
Another plot point is that these angels-who are somewhat magical- have the capability of having their memories tampered with through magic and that has happened to a large degree.
So, whenever a character spouts on about the prophesy it is unreliable information. The problem with this is that as this unfolds it often seems like we are getting redundant information and that the consistency of the story is all messed up. In fact, the consistency is okay and the reason for the redundancy is to highlight the discrepancies in various character's understanding of past events and the prophesy. This shifting plot line is a difficult and dangerous task to put to some reader's minds.
There are elements of massive confusion when Gabriella starts having dreams created by someone else memories and those memories include the death of angels who are walking around.
It might even become annoying to some people that certain characters can be killed and come back.
There is more to the story though and some of these speed bumps are smoothed out while some go unexplained. Thankfully there are more books and hopefully that means those things will be explained later.
Not so thankfully this appears to be one of those series that goes on for quite a while and it takes a great amount of talent to extend a readers interest beyond a trilogy. So, we'll have to read some more to find out how well Laura does with that.
Carefully peeking ahead I've been unable to ascertain that there will be resolution of all major plot points in the next two books.
I'm a fan of series, but I can see that Laura had a lot to say in this book and that there may be a lot more coming, which may indicate that it may take all of those volumes of books to get all plot points resolved.
This is a great story for lovers of Paranormal Romance and Apocryphal Angels (not to be confused with a pocketful of angels).
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Mountain is an interesting novella. I'm not all that fond of novella's, partially because it's difficult to know what to expect. Short stories have to move quickly to fill the reader in or not depending on the way the plot wants to go. Novella's have some time to build things but not really enough for the author to dawdle with.
I think that Liu shows quite a balance in this story. Mountain seems to be a story of a mans ambitions, exemplified by an analogue about a strange species of creature that was born of metal and electronics while housed in a vacuum space in a hollow world.
The story starts out aboard a ship, Bluewater, with the captain talking to Feng Fan. The captain is trying to find out what his geological engineer is all about. The man never takes shore leave.
We find out that Feng Fan was once an ambitious man who, along with a group of other young men had tried to conquer mount Everest. It turns out his real name is Feng Huabei and he was the sole survivor of that failed attempt. It also turns out that he was forced to cut his fellow climbers lines free in order to save his own life. As penance he has exiled himself from what he truly loves which is mountain climbing.
While conversing, a strange light in the sky comes ever closer until they realize that it must be as large as the moon and when it takes up an orbit with the Earth it is so close and so influential that it draws the water upward as if it's a huge watery mountain.
Suffice it to say while the Captain and crew try to escape the impending disaster that will come with an ensuing storm from this; Feng Fan takes a small boat to set out to climb( swim up) this mountain of water.
Finding the task easier than expected its not long before Feng Fan confronts the aliens who are threatening to suck up the Earth's atmosphere.
The rest of the novella is the story of this alien machine intelligence and it's struggle to explore and escape the confines of their small bubble world. Where they change from believing their universe is all solid to discovering a whole world of gases and water and the existential struggle as a species to constantly change their way of viewing their universe.
There are more than a few problems with some elements of their story, but it serves as an interesting different view of life. Though its mostly an allegory, of a sort, for life development of any race of beings.
It seemed to me there's a message and it's that the journey and the exploration are worth anything that you have to give up for it. I'm not sure I entirely agree, but apparently Feng Fan did.
It's interesting fiction and I can see myself reading more of Liu Cixin's work just because it's a fresh look at things seen differently.
Friday, May 3, 2013
When I saw the covers on these I almost passed them up. Between the title and the cover for some reason I had the impression this was another christian remake of the bible. Not that I don't appreciate those- they just are not tops on my list.
When I realized it was the beginning of a new Mage/Science-Fiction series I picked it up. I'm mostly acquainted with Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald in the realm of MageWorld. I enjoyed those though they often seemed more into romance so maybe Mage-Romance.
I don't mind the blend of science and magic. I really enjoyed this fantastic universe of Magic and technology.
This series seems to want to throw in some sort of myth that blends into a god created universe, which of course can never be told without the great dark evil. This dark evil seems to be more like a wild voracious energy being that feeds upon the living energy of other creatures. It also seems to be able to feed on most everything else, but apparently feeding on souls seems to be it's highest sustenance.
So we never really get to know why god created the great dark evil in the beginning but he did and there are four of them that seem to roam the universe.
There are legends, which are prophecy in this universe, that there are three chosen who can defeat this evil.
In this universe through some -perhaps other creation of god- there are black holes (I may have this confused) that have been tweaked to make nexus points which give access to the leylines that connect the universe.
Our hero, Quade, is about to discover that there have been strange things happening near the nexus points.
Ships are mysteriously abandoned and whole nexus have been destroyed. Quade experiences a first hand encounter with this dark cloud-like entity; the experience seems similar to someone having a really bad migraine. He can see the creature because he's the chosen seer and he's the only one who can see this. Though his purpose is to report the finding of new leylines and nexus points, which are discovered by the Venrey, he is reluctant to report all of what he's heard and seen; to the Keystone of Bethel. Although the Keystone is like a father to him and is his employer, Quade has a problem with two imaginary voices in his head (which have now manifest as two fairy like beings, Mimic and Echo, calling themselves emissaries of god) that have tried to caution him about revealing too much of this to anyone. The dark entity can enter into anyone and remove all of their knowledge and telling other people will put them all in danger. Only the chosen are immune to this invasion, although the chosen can be easily killed by the creature anyway.
As it turns out everyone is in danger anyway. The Keystone will soon be compromised and our reluctant hero will have to find the three chosen to save the Keystone's soul. These chosen may be people close to him. Quade has several friends in Bethel. Unfortunately he can't discuss things with them unless he's sure they are the chosen or he will put them in grave danger.
Clea is another pilot and makes smuggler runs in her ship Duplicity.
Trina is the daughter of the Keystone and is Quade's lover.
Aazrio is like security and bodyguard around the Keystone's household.
Clea has a mysterious friend named Avalon, she's the only one who ever sees him. He's some sort of Muse who can be seen by others but is easily forgotten. Avalon has taught Clea to be a compendium of knowledge of true history as opposed to the misinformation in most legend.
When things go badly for the Keystone the only hope is the legend, which is prophesy. Quade must be made to understand it all and he must find P'cadia and the Ave' in order to save the day.
There are a lot of players in the story and you almost need note cards to keep track. But the authors do a fair job of keeping things straight. The largest part of the story is the riddles and puzzles that have to be unfolded to get to the meat of the story.
For Quade it becomes a quest to save the Keystone and in so doing save his love Trina. In the end he must accept that he has to save the universe. Nothing is written in stone; as Quade discovers that there have been several groups of chosen that have come before him and failed.
This first book is the story of Quade's quest and struggle and it's the introduction of this Mage Universe and all of the intricacies that drive the magic and politics. It's accomplished quite well within a short number of pages, although it can become a daunting task to keep up with it all. It is sometimes frustrating that gods emissaries are either too cryptic or have not been told everything that Quade needs to know.
Anyone who has read other Techno-Mage type of fantasy fiction should love this one. It has Romance and intrigue and mystery and the big bad all well paced and has just the right ending to take you into the next book.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Perhaps the title of this comes from everyone's favorite quote from Peter Pan by James M. Barrie.
"Second to the right," said Peter, "and then straight on till morning."
And then; perhaps making use of the often added Star. "Second Star to the right, and straight on till morning."
Stronger evidence; is that this quote shows up in the book.
I've always loved Robert A. Heinlein all the way from his juvenile series of space novels to his controversial Stranger in a Strange Land. And his somewhat more speculative later years of connecting his alternate universe into a whole.
In her introduction Dana mentions his juvenile books as being an inspiration- and I've no doubt that they are. But this story really reads more closely to his Man Who Sold the Moon.
One thing that this story has over the old Heinlein stories is that the Female protagonist is very strong and independent. Esther Natasha Svensdotter or Star as she likes to be called- takes no crap from anyone.(Although it is interesting that in Heinlein's Glory Road there's a Star who turns out to be Empress of many worlds. She is a strong willed woman but we see her mostly through Oscar Gordon's viewpoint.) Part of reason for Star to be the way she is may have to do with the environment of the space station and her own insistence on having no weapons on board. She's appointed herself the judge, jury and in some instances the executioner. Swift punishment, which we are graphically shown at the beginning, to those who endanger the rest of the residents.
This type of character is very typical of many of those aboard ships, stations and colonies in Heinlein's work. This type of discipline shows up in many science fiction novels and seems to carry over from the romantic notions of how early sea faring shipboard discipline was handled.Though it seems efficient and swift and can be justified it still can have it's tole on the conscience and it is handled well in Star's own reactions after the fact.
This story begins with Star returning from a visit to Earth. She definitely hates getting her land legs and is happy to be returning to her domain. This trip back to the Lagrange Point Five or Ellfive is a neat way of introduction to the level of technology involved in this universe. There's a lot of information here for someone who claims to not be all that scientifically inclined and this is all coming from first person report from Star who has to be knowledgeable to all of this jargon. This seems sometimes to be a bit much but really it's just the world building to bring us up to speed to Star's universe and the various players in the universe.
What I enjoyed is the between the lines build up of Star's character. She's all woman, but she's not your woman of the bygone ages and maybe even a few clicks above the women of the time that this story was written. She's earned her place and for that she has a loyal team on Ellfive who would march through hell for her.
It's the whys- for why Ellfive is up there that reminds me of The Man Who Sold the Moon. Even down to the why Star is there on Ellfive. Star is almost like Harriman of TMWSTM. He wanted to own the moon and would do anything to get there. He's ruthless and devious and almost a bit dishonest. Star thankfully diverges from this in that her motivations always seem genuine and honest. Although, how she got up there seems to have shades of the same type of deception involved in TMWSTM only in this case the more egregious parts of Harriman's character have been portioned out to secondary characters associated with Star.
Another divergent element would be that Harriman- despite his successes- was never able to -hands on- do what he wanted to do, which is go to the moon himself.(His board of directors thought he was too valuable by that time.) Star is out there living the dream. Of course her dream is not all glamor, which is well displayed in the description of the mundane everyday workings of things aboard Ellfive. This might be a problem for some readers who don't recognize that when dealing with stories that are attempting to portray real Science in the fiction there are often a lot of mundane things that are done to help keep everyone alive. It also helps portray the fragility of the relationship of man to the environment of space.
This novel has a very good balance of those elements to help drive the story. This apparent lengthy narrative path also helps introduce all the characters and their dependent relationship to each other. And, it ultimately helps introduce the conflicts that exist, which will eventually be the threat that drives the plot.
Star has several contentious groups she has to deal with - one is the Space Patrol who seem to be acquiring bases and equipment floating in space in the name of national security. Star has some past with Gray, the head of the patrol. It seems that part of that has to do with is his trying to acquire Ellfive as one of his bases. Then there's a strong element of politics on earth, the Alliance Congress, which are often a driving force that might be influence by the Patrols past successes in obtaining strategic targets in space. And, there's the fringe element of the Luddites who hate technology.
As we come into the story Star has recently lost her head of security- a man who was causing more trouble than good and seems to have vanished mysteriously. A replacement,Caleb O'hara, has been sent to her but not soon enough to assist in an initial crisis from a Luddite who intended to blow something up. Star is forced to take care of that situation and a portion of the rest of the next few chapters is getting the new man up to speed.
Along with some few problems being caused by the space patrol causing station docking schedules to bottleneck she has to deal with issues the patrol are causing with the local merchants and longshoremen. And her station's master computer Archy -created and maintained by Stars brother-inlaw Simon- is showing signs of possibly getting out of hand. (Reminiscent of some of the AI's in Heinlein's work) Archy may be exhibiting signs that he's going a step above the simple AI he is supposed to be.
Added to this mix now will be some supply problems that are occurring between the Lunar facility and Ellfive. Someone may have their hand in that and it might turn out that there are things afoot that Star is unaware of.(All part of a big plot.)
As if that might not be enough there's another thread in the story that again parallels The Man Who Sold the Moon. Just as Harriman sent diamonds aboard the ship to the moon-as an experiment(while hoping to have people mistakenly believe he found them on the moon and is trying to hide the fact.) It would seem that the reason that Ellfive was created was in response to a signal that came from Betelgeuse intimating that there are aliens out there. Everyone had gotten into the mad rush to get out in space to meet the aliens. But the question is what really was that message and why haven't they heard any more. Might the message be a red herring.
And then just as in TMWSTM when the ship came back it had more diamonds than Harriman sent. While everything is creating a turmoil on Ellfive what's to be made of the newest message from Betelgeuse?
To go any further would really be giving spoilers. But, for me it's never so much the science or the plot as it is the characters.
I always loved Heinlein's characters- in spite of some of their outdated 50's mentality. And that's where this story grabbed me. Star is a standout protagonist with her flawed group of Ellfivers behind her all the way. They really drove this story for me much more than the various elements of the plot.
If you love Science Fiction or you're just looking for strong characters to relate to; this is a good novel for that. It delivers a good plot with some interesting themes; though because it was published back in 1991 and in the story the message from Betelgeuse arrives in 1992 it's a bit dated and now seems to fall into the category of alternate universe.
It's a good beginning to Star's story and I'm glad there is more story to tell.
Dana Stabenow is not Robert Heinlein (I say that meaning it to be a plus)- don't expect her to be (no one is) and you will be happy with this book.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I Liked this book I liked the style of writing And I found the story engaging.
There are some few annoying elements that have more to do with editing decisions and this it the way Jason decided to put things together so there is no changing that.
This novel contains One good solid story if you ignore the other two unfinished ones.
Personally I found the first chapter to be more equivalent to a prologue.
I found the next five chapter belonging to perhaps a preface.
Or maybe those two go the other way. Anyway there is a reason I say this and in part it is because the first 6 chapters of this book did not add anything to the book for me. In fact they were a distraction because I expected to get back to either one of these stories all the way through the last two thirds of the novel.
For me the real story began at chapter 7 and it's not a bad story. There are rough elements that honestly were not as rough as some recent novels I have read. Yes there is a rape yes there are slaves. I'm not sure what people want but when you tell a story these things do happen. I think it might be more objectionable when the child? in prison resort to eating raw flesh like savages and one even eventually bites another prisoner.
But, back to the story, or in this case the three threads that run for the last two thirds of the novel.
Maeryn is left without her husband,Adair, who has for all intent and purposes vanished. The readers knows a little bit about this but really not enough to help this part of the story. She is interrogated about his disappearance and since he is the governor of Bastul it should be a big deal though we are led to believe its not so big a deal and that he is easily replace and that his replacement is on its way and that Maeryn and her family will become the new governor's family. In this culture this is the common practice and it helps that Maeryn is considered attractive. Beautiful enough that her beauty seems to be one of the deciding factors in the replacements decision to take this position.
To me the first pages of the seventh chapter read well enough to be the beginning of this novel. This book has a lot of mystery and the mystery of her husbands disappearance works well without the five chapters about him and it was annoying to have him just vanish from the story.
Lemus,the socially acceptable replacement husband, is a tall thin imposing and very cruel man. He beats his slaves and eventually rapes his new wife. It is the beating of Maeryn's son, Kael's, friend Ajani -a child slave- that sets the wheels of this story into motion. Kael responds by defending his friend Ajani and attacks Lemus with a pitchfork. Lemus responds by placing the child (Kael) under arrest to be executed. Orudan Empire law forbids any attack on it soldiers, an offense punishable by death. All of this occurs in front of Maeryn who is powerless to intercede.
Maeryn become pregnant with child and since this is after the rape she passes it off as Lemus lest she lose another child to her new cruel husband.(She assumes that Kael is dead.)
Along with sending Kael to his death, Lemus removes Kael's long time tutor, Saba, from the household and threatens him with death if he or his soldiers ever see Saba again.(As far as I know he also assumes that his student Kael is dead.)
This starts the three threads of the story which follow the lives of Maeryn, Kael, and Saba.
In her desperation Maeryn becomes a spy for the Empire's enemies as she tries to secretly thwart Lemus.
Saba goes on a journey to discover his own past. ( He seems to have amnesia pertaining to his life before coming to Bastul.)
Kael- the primary figure here endures some hardship to later be pressed into service with some monks to become a religious warrior. He will have to do a lot of self examination while trying to discern the truth of the things that are happening around him. This novel seems to be mostly about Kael's journey interwoven with the parallel tales of the lives of those people who are alive and most important to him.
This is a good tale of mystery and betrayal and self discovery that starts at chapter 7.
What comes before that may have much to do with later novels and my only objection to them is that they don't really add much to this story and I would guess that they would fit nicely into whichever place might continue their stories and since the author seems to dwell a lot on the mysteries interwoven into this tale I think their absence here would just be a part of the intriguing mystery that could be woven in later when he finishes telling those two stories.
But that is just my opinion. Apparently a lot of people like this novel the way it is.
Although I didn't find it all that helpful to have them only say so in a single line or paragraph.
Some more full description of how and why they liked it would really go a long way.
I also found the forward and history and prophecy to be just a bit unnecessary to this story along with the maps and links to maps. Some people like those things though and I'm sure they had some bearing in helping the author's world building.
I found the story of Kael to be complete enough as it is in this book despite the cliffhanger-ish ending. Unfortunately when you take the incomplete nature of the first chapter's story which perhaps takes place in some alternate future. Add to that the incomplete story of Kael's father, which unfortunately had nothing that I felt greatly impacted the tone of the rest of the story it leaves the reader with three cliffhanger-ish things to deal with which may not be necessary. I'm assuming Kael's is a past history of an alternate universe though from the Forward it could be a dystopic future and that element again adds to confusion.
The prophecy and history seemed also superfluous to this story though again I am sure for the whole series they have some value.
I have not yet read the next two books but perhaps if they had been drawn into one book this novel might make more sense. I'll be a better judge of that when I read those.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy and a bit of revisionist history or dystopia as it may be. I don't see much in the science fiction draw here because the bulk of the better part of this story reads like some far eastern monastic battle monk training and spiritual philosophy and it could take place in a wide range of historic settings almost up to the present time.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
(Within the Dark Chatter this is a memorable novel)
There was a lot to like about this novel.
It seems to be so much and yet it falls so short of what it could be.
Like expecting french-fries and getting fried potatoes.
The book takes off with a bang that's more of a false tap in that it entails the story of how our hero or anti-hero of the story is conceived. Which seems to be by some excess hand-waving rivaled only by the conception of Garp in John Irving's The World According to Garp.
Abe-IV- the father of whatever offspring may come; appears to be in no condition to father a child normally and will soon die. Abe's mother wishes a child heir and his-nurse-lover-whatever-must be wife,Helga,(I was admittedly confused) will have a separate child that she may raise more conventionally away from high society.
In this case the suspected way to acquisition of sperm leads to a supposed short term vault at the sperm bank where parties divvy up and bring in their personal incubators to accomplish the task of creating an heir for Sabrina and son for Helga and Abe.
Sabrina gets her next Abe-number five- who manages, in the offing to off himself in a most awful way. Apparently unable to stand the effort of finding a willing womb and waiting any longer for things to come about Sabrina must opt to steal-Peter-the child of Helga.(Steal by first stealing his affection.)
Fast-forward we find Quicklime (Peter James) at college-his alma mater- doing janitorial work on the grounds. And thus we are introduced into his life of free wheeling care free drugs and alcohol with his room mates and boarders Raymond and Billy.
Quicklime Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as quicklime or burnt lime.
Quicklime It is a white, caustic, alkaline crystalline solid at room temperature.
That's the name of our anti-hero. The moniker he has taken for whatever reason. I'm not sure that we're ever really told why, but even so I'm not sure it would matter. This story reads much like all the brass in the house that might consume someones handiwork at keeping polished and yet serve only the purpose of attracting the eye to its glistening shine like sunlight coming over the horizon. There really seems no purpose.
In some ways Quicklime does seem caustic. Such as when he proposes to the driver of the car they bashed; that he'd become a raw vegan if she'd go out with him. It's this incident that leads him to his life as a porn screen play writer. Also it leads to his becoming a semi-Raw vegan.
Quicklime has a tattoo that he variously passes off as something other than what it is. When the reader is finally told what it is its not hard to understand that there's no confidence built into this story for the reader to rely on.
Value for value I went to the wiki-place to find the definition of the mans favorite drink. Caipirinha.
The word caipirinha is the diminutive version of the word caipira, which refers to someone from the countryside, being an almost exact equivalent of the American English hillbilly or the Lowland Scots teuchter. The word may be used as either a masculine or a feminine noun, but when referring to this drink it is only feminine (usage of diminutives is common in Brazil).
In the Brazilian vocabulary, the word caipirinha is mostly associated with the drink itself rather than the class of person.
I suppose it is appropriate that the character who might consider himself to be associated with both of those slurs of low life should have this as his favorite drink. It is helpful that the association of both this and the word lime in quick lime would lead to the revelatory method for cleaning the closed environment of the anti-heroes anti girlfriend. Though it's quite inventive to use a method for cleaning microwave ovens as a means to clean the grime off the domes I'm not sure how well that might work without thoroughly scrubbing everything before it has time to re-seat itself in all of its smear -ish dripping glory.
This whole story the novel is a long series of Analogs stuffed together side by side like rolls of socks or underwear in the dresser in some seeming order just waiting to be plucked out. It's like twisting a tale full of similes and metaphors with a few tongue and cheek mentions to further confound and befuddle the the reader. There are smatterings of pop references that will one day give the feel of some cockeyed inside joke when there are few people left to remember who's pop they reference.
At one point I began reading some of these out-loud to my wife who reads a lot of romance. She responded by reading portions of her current romance novel's analogs and the whole night digressed into a competition, which had us both rolling out of our lazy-boys. I have a lot more respect for those romance novel authors now.
I feel like having been exposed to the writing of someone who travel in a clique of writers who hold dear a certain number of inside jokes that they spread as if they are smatterings of autumn leaves that have been ripened beyond the smell of autumn and perhaps left at deaths door. They have a certain air about them.
There are three pornographic screenplays in this work. I'm sure in some way there could be said that they describe perhaps:
Where Quicklime came from (especially from his own perspective)
Where he was today (why relationships for him manage to suck)
Where things might end (almost with some inevitability.)
This makes these three eventful shorts integral to the plot beyond the fact that they are a main plot point to the entire novel. Which seemed too bad in the long run.
The blatant pornographic nature of the three shorts draws attention to the internal parts of this novel that border on pornography which has been gently imbedded into clever words. There is so much richness and depth to- not only what Andrew Branch has to say but how he says it that I feel its cheapened by the blatant attempt to shock the reader.
I would not recommend this to anyone- meaning that if they choose to read this then it has to be their choice. There is a lot here that might be enjoyed but the talent displayed has been disjointed like an over enthusiastic soccer players knees. And all of that effort to create some knee jerk reaction that may or may not serve a purpose.
I'm still not sure I got the point of the story and that might not be a bad thing.
For those who had to back track and re-read there is an easier way. Read through carefully; there are so many nuances and inferences within the writing its like every character is a palimpsest for the author to write their analog across so that both the face and the overlay come out in the readers mental-eye creating a blurred image that's often more descriptive than the original face might be.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
In this book Peregrin is a foreigner- stranger -traveler which in my dictionary is Peregrine. On the other hand Peregrin is Pippin from the LOTR. Since this is the second half of an epic adventure it all balances out.
I love everything about the two books Xenolith and Peregrin. I believe that most everywhere the first book is free though in some places you have to purchase the second for about a dollar. That's the e-books. They are well worth the price. If you like the fantasies like LOTR and love reading about great battles this is one fine book.
It's a diamond in the rough though, and I'll get to that, but first the praise.(Five stars for most everything)
Peregrin takes up after Xenolith with the story of Frank Bowen and his wife Liz who have been separated for twenty years by the most fantastic rift one could imagine.
The Xenolith rocks which seem to be much like fools gold hold the key to the power of the convergence that links Earth to Gi. For years their secret was guarded until Cuerti, Crasacs and Polu began invading from Venen. Before then there were many clans and cities and peoples who often fought amongst each other, until the invaders came and they had a common enemy.
This is the world that Liz stumbled into all those years ago and in twenty years she has changed and hardened while somehow in many ways remaining the same. Frank, her husband has tried to live without her but has not been able to move on and has lived the life of a ghost as he goes from one medical mission to another and always landing at Rio Frio where he lost Liz. On the last trip he's too close to one of the Convergences and Tezhey (a traveler who walks the convergences) takes him across to Gi where no one returns. Tezhey along with others like him help keep the secret and when the peregrin wander in they take them to places where they are away from the convergences so they can't get back.
Frank was given a chance to go back and declined being convinced that Liz was on this side somewhere. He finds her in her new life and he discovers how difficult it will be to get back into her life.
But theirs is not the only story.
Ara is a member of an elite force known as the Cadre that is supposed to work with people like Tezhay. While trailing through Earth on a supposed mission of peace she meets up with a band of fellow travelers led by Seor. Ara's leader Baren has told her that they are on a peaceful mission to parlay with the enemy. The problem is that the Venen are not suppose to know about Earth or the stones that drive the Convergence. And it looks as though Baren means to give the Venen a stone. Seor and her people convince Ara that something is amiss with the whole idea and things have gone poorly for everyone leaving some of the wounded on both side of Earth(Ur) and Gi.
This is where A. Sparrow begins to grow the character of Ara as a reluctant but possibly brilliant leader commander.
There are so many well developed characters in this novel each drawn with their strengths and weaknesses sometimes leading everyone into danger even death and other times coming out smelling like roses.
Rarely are there any punches pulled. The horror of war and peoples varied reactions are examined closely. Where characters like Miles and Frank have had such a hard time believing they have ended up where they are and in so causing their own problems; there are characters like Liz who have accepted it and grow to where they turn a blind eye to what is happening around them because they don't remember a day there wasn't conflict even when the Venen were not around.
There's never a dull moment and I think all fantasy science fiction adventure lovers will eat this one up.
I would be remiss though if I did not caution that there will be rough patches for some people.
There are many grammar issues with both books. A. Sparrow has become my second favorite author who is a powerful writer who could benefit from getting a couple extra set of eyes to look at the work.(I'm not offering to do that; I'm busy.)But, I'm sure some college student could even help here.
Many times in this book there are extra words that are redundancies. Sometimes there are missing words. In this novel I didn't notice any misspellings.
We can't catch all of these- I've seen traditionally published books with many such errors. But extra sets of eyes will help vanquish many of those I caught I this book.
So if those things bother you be prepared but please don't let that dissuade you from trying at least the first book Xenolith. I loved them both and I hope you will too.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I loved this book. Of course one thing to love is that it's free. It really would be worth paying for.
(Has some issues but I wouldn't downgrade my stars for those. It has a lot going for it.)
This book reminded me -at the beginning- of Atlantida by Pierre Benoit and because of that it also parallels She By Henry Rider Haggard. These are two old classics that are written in the old high tradition of narrative. You don't see books like that that much today. There is an attention to detail of the worlds that the characters travel through in this book. Along with many instances of there being a desperate desolation in the interaction of character to environment.
The story starts with Frank being bound and gagged and blindfolded by mysterious band of people in Belize; where he's visiting the site of ancient ruins where his wife and a friend and their guide disappeared twenty years ago. This digresses into a flashback of the trip out and that back-flashes into the time of the actual events twenty years ago. Frank is a Doctor who seems to be some kind of mission Doctor who flits across the world in some of the most dangerous and impoverished zones around. His wife Liz is an absolute saint just for putting up with it all. Liz loves archeology. When the local pastor offers to take them out to see some ruins that have interesting aspects and have never been worked by other archeologist; she jumps at the chance. Unfortunately Frank has medical emergencies that day and can't go along. So, the boat man, the guide, the pastor and the wife head out. The boatman is the only who will return.
There's a second story being told parallel to this story about a group of somewhat primitive yet well organized individuals fighting a war that seems to be extending across what might be parallel universes. At the beginning it looks as though the group we follow might be the only ones who use the special stones that open the convergences. Part of what this narrative is taking place at this time that the enemy may be acquiring the ability to breach into the different worlds.
One of the many worlds is Ur or Earth, Franks home. And Frank might have been abducted by one of the first group, who are trying to guard their secret. Tezhay, the man who has taken Frank to a different world may be one known as a Traveler. Previously a special group known as the Philosophers had held the stones and kept the xenoliths secret. When war struck -in order to survive men like the Travelers were allowed to learn to go through the convergences into other worlds to escape elude and sometimes ambush the enemy. But, the enemy is still winning. Their world is dangerous, especially for someone like Frank who has a bad heart after all these years.
Frank at first doesn't believe that he's in a different world. Not until he experiences it first hand. After which, he starts to believe that his Liz might be alive and possibly somewhere on this world. This part is executed excellently as Frank vacillates from wanting to stay to wanting to escape back to Earth. It hardly looks like he will survive long if he stays.
Conversely the warriors from the war zone are trapped on Earth when the stone they need to use to leave is broken. Furthermore events evolve that present the possibility of the horror that someone has betrayed them and the enemy now has at least one of the stones to the convergence they are at.
This story has some awesomely good world building and is well paced while full of conflict and action. There's a lot of political intrigue and betrayal going on. And there's the lover's quest story that seems all to real and sometimes hopeless. I can't give A. Sparrow enough praise for this book.
That much said I do have some issues with the need for editing. This goes well beyond grammar and spelling. Those can easily be overlooked. There are some consistency issues of which I'll point out two. They create enough confusion to be frustrating.
"Flower mean they sell drink," said Tezhay. "You thirsty?"
"Sure," said Tezhay). "As long as it's clean and doesn't have any dead toads in it."
"No worry," said Tezhay. "Is just beer, from honey."
A. Sparrow. Xenolith (Kindle Locations 6442-6445). A. Sparrow.[/quote]
"Sure," said Tezhay (should be frank talking) . "As long as it's clean and doesn't have any dead toads in it."
I say this because Tezhay does not use contractions nor speak this clearly and it only makes sense if Frank said this.
[quote] Canu stepped over Vul as he squirmed among the tarps. "I'm going out to relieve Pari," said Canu. "Tell Aret I say hello.""
"Canu?" Vul bellowed, as if calling across a vast cavern. "What are you doing here?"
"Don't shout. You'll wake Vul. He's trying to sleep."
"But, " Vul popped up, eyes flashing open. "Where , where did she go?" He looked confused, and frantic.
A. Sparrow. Xenolith (Kindle Locations 6718-6722). A. Sparrow.[/quote]
This did not make sense Canu would not be telling Vul to be quiet so as not to wake himself. At least in this context I couldn't even make it into a sly jest.
I also have a minor quibble about the usage of some words.
It's not that I haven't seen these words used before-They in fact are perhaps poetic words and in that they would be delightful inclusions if the entire text had many more such gems. The fact that they show up once or twice -stranded alone- makes little sense.
That's not the issue though
One word in question is at end of chapter 53 susurrus (this is the correct spelling) the spelling is wrong in the text.
I have no idea if in some circles this word is used every day. I only know that it would be the one explanation as to why someone would use this word and not bother to check up on the spelling. This is the third novel I've read this year using this same word and the second novel to misspell it. The third book used a variation and actually spelled it correctly.
If I use a word like this- whether as a poetic note or perhaps a word that says something that I could only otherwise say in five words or more - I would still take the time to look it up. Especially if I had even the smallest suspicion I could be spelling it incorrectly. Even so usually another set of eyes will pick it up quickly.
I would also check the meaning and try to decide if I want my less learned readers to learn this word with the meaning I'm trying to convey. Often I even check to be sure I'm not using it as a colloquialism. Either way; while I'm there I make sure I get the spelling correct.
I do not have a fear of new words but its nice if the definition in the kindle would be at least helpful. And it would be much better if the word could be found by the kindle dictionary- which won't happen if it's misspelled. Causing the reader to try to guess the spelling of a word they are now forced to look up in the dictionary.
Anyone that like the classics and who like Fantasy and Science Fiction and adventure with lots of archery and sword battles will love this story. For some it may take a few pages to get into the story. The time it takes to build an idea of the conditions in Belize and the character's feelings about it all at the time consumes a large volume of the beginning.
I enjoyed it all- it's well worth the read even having to get around a few rough spots.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
I'm not even certain where I acquired the original.
There were formatting problems and that might have been why I didn't get to it right away. That was in June of 2012. Here it is ten months later and I'm just getting to it. This time I started reading despite the formatting problems. I should have done that the first time around. The good news is that I believe those problems went away with the new edition Better Than Real by Huw Lyan Thomas
The plot relies on a theme that shows up often lately. The characters live in a digitized world where the person's DNA and memories can be stored easily making death only an issue if you can't afford the backups. I've seen this recently in a few novels -Charles Stoss Accelerando (Singularity) and Walter Jon Williams Implied Spaces(Singularity) Those both involved matrioshka computer arrays and lots of cyberspace inferences. The cyberspace of course covers just about anything by William Gibson.
There are no evident matrioshka computer arrays here, but there are plenty of the other elements. And the major AI character in those other two is the self aware cat where this one is a self aware android that happens to look female.
My first real love in the area of cyberspace is Philip K. Dick and I think that this novel by whatever name will smell the same.
This novel brings back to my mind the authenticity of the characters in most of the novels PK Dick wrote. I think that may be the idea that the characters stay as the focus no matter how interesting the technology gets. Sure there's some fun with the techno-speak of Charles Stross and there's always something stimulating with William Gibson's in-depth notion of how the digital world works or how the use of nano technology looks up close and personal in Walter Jon Williams. Sometimes these novels border on the dystopic myopia of the digital age gone wild. Zendyne- Better Than Real does not suffer from this shortsightedness that constantly make the characters second to the technology that drive them to the ultimate conclusion.
Make no mistake these things are all there and they try to manipulate the protagonists in the story.
If I have one quibble with these stories - it would be that while swapping around consciousness and bodies there is never any time dwelt upon the notion of a soul and what makes up a soul and whether it might be digitized. The bottom line is that even if you could back yourself up what guarantee is there that the soul the you that makes you you is still going to be there. In this novel it seems implied that if you have the same body - coded DNA- and the digitized memory that you have everything you need. Someone might lose only what they experienced the last few cycles since the last backup taken.
As we come come up into this story Li Jia Wei or Lee as he is known arrives at the scene of a crime- only for him its the scene of an incident that could make things bad for the company he works for. The crime is that in this world he and the company are going to try to cover it up by whatever means- which involves recruiting anyone at the scene who might let the story leak.
The Problem is that one of their pleasure android models has somehow gone haywire and killed a client. Not good PR to have that get out to other clients and potential clients. When Lee arrives he find Lilith of the Aphrodite 9400 series waiting. His job is simple; he uses his disruptor to disable her so the cleanup crew can clean the mess. Lilith pleads with him not to do that and in a very short conversation he discovers that she is somehow become self aware. This fascinates him, partially because he's the major designer of this model and he knows that it couldn't just become self aware on its own. He would like some answers both professionally and partly for his own self profit. This leads to his downloading the mind of the android prior to the shutdown. The android has already told him that when he shuts it down the self aware entity in her will be destroyed.
Down loading the mind, to preserve it and allow him to question it about who is responsible for its existence Lee returns to the office to find that someone has leaked the story and that his job and position with Zendyne has been cancels. What he is not aware of is that there is another organization which cleans things up in a much more terminal way and that he's become marked. Unsure what to do next he manages to purchase the previous model android with the notion that he can download the mind of Lilith and question her about her creators with a hope that Lee may profit from this.
Enter the Stranger- an operative for the Back Office whose job is to find the rogue AI and retrieve it and kill anyone who gets in the way. Even though in this world people can be brought back the Back Office has the power to subvert that if necessary. The Stranger is meant to act quickly enough that anyone brought back would have no memory of anything related to the AI.
This is when things get interesting.
We start to get an up close look at the high and low ends of the economic scale and how these have an affect on the whole system of extended life through digital reproduction. There are some interesting spots where the characters try to subvert the system because they realize that there is a potential for them to lose control of who they are by letting their backups fall into the wrong hands.
I loved this story-even with the older versions formatting issues. This book is for lovers of Science Fiction, Cyberspace cyberpunk, Robotics and mayhem, AI and self aware computers, and the future general of computers and the digital age in general.
It's well worth the price; with plenty of action, suspense and twists.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I was not sure how much I would appreciate this one. I got acquainted by reading the story about Daisy Madigan. I really enjoyed Daisy's character and the story sort of reminded me of Ghost Whisperer and then there were elements that were like Scooby Do and the Scooby gang except that the entire Scooby gang might have Paranormal powers. I wasn't sure I'd like the Morgan Sister's since it was likely that Daisy wouldn't be a main character.
I've always been a fan of horror and paranormal films but my real love is Science Fiction. My daughter did manage to get me hooked on Buffy - probably revenge for my having hooked her on Science Fiction. I've in the past enjoyed Mary Shelly's Frankenstien, Bram Stokers Dracula and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Camilla which might be considered darker than this novel. I've also been a fan of Thorne Smith whose Topper was pretty hilarious. I think that if you look at a lot of his work you can see his influence in the Paranormal literature of today. Anyway, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw carried on with the tone of Daisy's story so it was very entertaining.
I'm particularly intrigued by this notion of a tattoo that grows it self. With the inscription it seems to embody the whole of the classic eye symbol and a popular trend toward the winged eye. It's neat though, how it seems to have a life of it's own until it finally finds it resting spot on the body. Usually it seems to be in the same place. That it's a marker for the watchers- who may or may not by tradition be related to the Nephilim- is interesting. Considering the powers of these people it's interesting to connect them to the theory that the watcher angels are the ones who took the sons and daughters of man and had offspring.(The term Nephilim does not show up in this book and is not discussed as such.)
Another interesting concept in the story is the unreasonable fears that the sisters have. Emma's fear of water and Lana's fear of heights. Mostly interesting in that the power they acquire after the tattoo marks them is related to their old fear, which goes away. It's predictable that everyone with these tattoos has a prior unreasonable fear related to their skill. They all have one parent who was an angel who did not stay to raise them. And many are orphans raised by other people.
At the beginning Lana and Emma -orphans adopted by the Morgans- are thrust into the mystery of Josiah Grimshaw who nearly drowns along with a mysterious young stranger who also nearly drowns (the both eventually die from nearly drowning). Both men mistake Emma for someone named Emilia.
Both girls have reach the age of 16 and the tattoo shows up -days apart from each other coincidental to their true birthdays.
Through a friend of their parents they are introduced to Eleanor Hyden-Jones of the Fourth House of Praxos - a secret society of Angel offspring who work to fight for justice. Eleanor is a true fallen angel who choose to stay on earth with her mate. She's forever cursed to live her life half the day old and half the day young and has reduced powers.
There is a counter organization known as the Skulls who are evil offspring of Angels or Paranormal-s.
The girls will discover more about their past and parents and they will train to become proficient at their natural skills and at fighting evil. And their first assignment will be to help Josiah cross over. That means that they need to find out what is keeping him here- the problem is for some reason he's lost his memories.
Anyone who like mysteries suspense and thrilling horror and paranormal romance should love this book. The coming series promises to be very entertaining.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Finally! The third and final installment of the Raven Saga.
Lilly is growing in power. December is discovering more of her abilities. Both seem to be falling in love. And there's a lost soul crying out for help.Lilly's father is still missing. Tiffanimelicomelea the displaced Faerie is lost from her faerie community while living with them in Powell River community. And it just might be that Powell River is sitting smack-dab in the center of all the answers.
This trilogy has delivered much more than lions and tigers and bears but sometimes it seems like it has a shred or two of oz built into it. Both the books and the movie. But there's so much more - pretty much any paranormal being you can imagine might show up here. The last of the story now is where most everything shall be uncovered and is by far no less than the rest of the series.
And, Yes. There shall be Nephilim. Somewhere in the reader's journey to the center of the earth to Argentumalea - the land of Tiffani's kingdom of Malean Faeries they must pass through the kingdom of the Nephilim. It's almost like the underworld - hell.
Nephilim- who have variously been defined as anything from fallen angels who mingled with the children of man to the offspring hybrid of such a union. Whatever they are they are giants-they are dangerous-they have been banished to the bowels of earth.
The people of Powell River are about to find out that some of them may have escaped. There might be some plan to let even more of them out of their prison.
Suzy Turners world is definitely taking a turn for the dark and its going to challenge the dynamic duo of Lilly and December and their league of friends. The council is going to have it's work cut out for them. And Powell River may never be the same.
If You enjoy Paranormal Romance if you love suspense and horror if you like Science Fiction and most of all if you have read the other two books -you will want to devour this one. Pick a time when you can quietly read the whole thing all at once.
Send for delivery- pizza or your favorite restaurant. Lots of coffee tea or soda and dig into the trenches and get this epic ending started.