Sunday, December 31, 2006

Realware - Rudy Rucker

Realware is nowhere near as much fun as the other three books in the whole Ware series. The theme and tone have changed considerably.

You get a feelgood romance thrown in there for no real apparent reason. The Realware of the title is the technology to be able to make whatever you want, basically. Chuck in some aliens and other dimensions.

2 out of 5

Freeware - Rudy Rucker

Evolution continues rapidly in Rudy Rucker's freeware. From bops, big bops, little bops through meatbops we have yet another life form appearing in freeware, and it is sentient mold.

These moldies, being more organic, can interact with humans differently, and in some cases very closely.

More of the burned out beach bum and borg style can be found here.

3 out of 5

Wetware - Rudy Rucker

Rucker's Robotos, or bops, have decided to go in for a bit of hybridisation, so they create organic clone bodies for themselves from human DNA.

Quite a bit of silliness in these books, robot moon bases and other explorations notwithstanding, it is a bit of a look at how weird sentient machines or AI could get.

3 out of 5

Software - Rudy Rucker

This is Rucker's short, whacky cyberpunk take. The protagonist is an aging genius, more interested in the beach and booze these days than anything else.

Robots basically now run the joint, and the bigger robots want to take over all the little robots. Get the picture? The little robots aren't a fan of this, and a metal acquaintance of our drunk dude offers to digitise him.

3 out of 5

Victory - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A guerilla raid by the resistance to the Black King has unforeseen consequences. Their attack unwittingly destroys an important source of magical power for The Fey, bringing the conflict back on a more equal footing. The Blue Islanders get a chance to get back into the game, and to fight to take back what was theirs, as long as they can make a key partnership work, overcoming differences.

4 out of 5

Resistance - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Rugad the Black King has been successful in his attack on the Blue Isle, but to ensure his total domination he still has to deal with his hybrid great grandchildren, Gift, and Arianna.

Arianna in particular, it seems, may harken back to some of her female ancestors in strength, and will likely be a big problem.

4 out of 5

Rival - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Kristine Kathryn Rusch Fey series continues to intrigue and entertain, as characters grow, grow older, and die, sometimes violently. The political machinations are interesting, and the magic using Fey and mundane Blue Islanders with their more ordinary religion are well used, with their different viewpoints.

An outside threat in the form of a war leader raises new problems for the Blue Isle and their allies.

4 out of 5

Changeling - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The second book of the Fey is set further into the future of this conflict. The longstanding tradition of changelings in Fey literature is put into play here, as a child is taken, and swapped for a changeling.

The upbringing of the boy in his new home will play an important part in the story.

4 out of 5

The Sacrifice - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Fey are a pretty ruthless, conquering race, and having picked their next target, attack. However, the hierarchy of their victim manages to delay long enough to come up with a discovery, that the Fey have certain devastating vulnerabilities, and using those, drive them back.

The rest of the book is raiding and politics, as they try to come to some sort of political solution involving a marriage between the two leaderships.

4 out of 5

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Summoned - Cameron Dokey

A fire demon starts a cult to do his dirty work for him, he gives people what they want, but forces them to choose a mark for him to take the life of.

Doyle literally runs into a girl that is involved, and a vision has shown him more. A friend of Detective Kate Lockely is trying on the investigation thing to hide her involvement.

Fun scene at the end, with Angel Investigations and a bunch of fire extinguishers directed demonside : "Now I know aht a Ghostbuster feels like," Cordelia said.

3 out of 5

Armageddon's Children - Terry Brooks

Nest Freemark is dead, and some considerable time has passed. John Ross' visions have come true, and lone stray compunds of humans try and hold off the demons and once-men, and fail.

Few Knights of the Word yet live, but two are in this book, both chosen by Two Bears, who is still around, as is the demon Findo Gask.

Logan Tom is one, and Angel Perez is another. The Lady has tasked Logan to protect the gypsy moth, who, it seems, is now a boy again and the leader of a ragtag band of kids in Seattle called the Ghosts. The Lady sends a Tatterdemalion to Angel to give her another task.

"There are Elves in the world, Angel Perez. There have always been Elves in the world, even before there were humans."

Angel is tasked to find an Elfstone.

In two interludes in the book, Elves actually appear, a band of Chosen, protectors of a magic tree, also need to find an Elfstone to save the tree and its heritage. There are mentions of humans and demons in this interlude, so quite possibly this is going on at the same time.

Tom finds Hawk, the boy who is the gypsy moth, but he is going to be executed for stealing medical supplies. The boy realises he is something strange after healing his mortally wounded guard dog, and Tom showing him the bones of his mother Nest's hands.

Quite similar to the earlier trilogy, but postapocalyptic with Elves. If you can call that similar, but similar in tone, and maybe a bit more interesting.

Ends in a cliffhanger as Hawk and his girlfriend are thrown off a sports stadium wall, the favored execution method for the people that desperately defend this sports stadium.

3.5 out of 5

Nemesis - Scott Ciencin

An inter-generational conflict between a group of powerful mages, Lilah Morgan, and a dodgy cop of the mystical variety cause a few problems.

Angel pretends to be a Mage, Gunn writes an Angel send up comic, Connor and Wesley fight a few demons.

Fred ends up working on a Quantum Cosmic Engine after a babe geek friend of hers is killed.

This all ties together, sort of. Not very well, though.

2 out of 5

The Lost Swords The First Triad - Fred Saberhagen

This is an omnibus edition of three books. Woundhealer's Story, Sightbinder's Story and Stonecutter's Story, or the first, second and third books of lost swords.

In general, I found these stories fairly dull. Prince Mark runs around, with the swords ominpresent, seeing what they can do.

2 out of 5

Contact - Carl Sagan

A young scientist is a dedicated researcher, astronomer and SETI type. She detects a signal from space and finally works out what it is, in that it is instructions from a group of aliens on how to build a machine that will allow transport/or communication with them.

A fairly understated style of story, the heroine has to deal with the self serving politicians and the religious nuts to try and get the job done.

4 out of 5

Night of the Living Dead - John Russo

Zombies! Brainssssss! Run away. Aim for the head.

You get the picture.

2.5 out of 5

The War Amongst the Angels - Michael Moorcock

The War Amongst the Angels pretty much makes Fabulous Harbours superfluous, in a lot of ways, as it is considerably better, and very funny at parts. Plenty of lighthearted English political satire, among other things. Some of the fictitious footnotes are hilarious.

Sam, Rose, Jack, Von Bek, Dick Turpin and the Chaos Engineers face off with Lucifer, Quelch and the Singularity over the fate of the Grail, the Multiverse, and the Spammer Game in a climactic confrontation at the end.

Really enjoyable book.

4 out of 5

Friday, December 29, 2006

Endangered Species - Nancy Holder

A married couple like hunting, and move on to bigger and bigger game, like monsters, and vampires. The wife makes a mistake, and becomes a vampire. This puts a damper on their relationship.

The husband contacts Angel when he learns of a plot to bring back the original vampire, a plan of the queen bitch vamp that turned his wife.

Said wife does a deal with Wolfram and Hart to get Faith out of the slammer, to have their own little Slayerfest. Wesley and Gunn end up along for the festivities, and Cordelia is part of the raise the beast sacrifice plans, because of her Seer abilities.

Angel contacts a kahuna he knew when he was trying to lose his soul, for some magical help, and soon there are menehune, monsters, Champions and crew all over the place.

One fun quote too, about Cordelia :

"...sprang into action. Like that chick on Witchblade, she mader her weapon seem like an extension of her arm as she lunged, parried, and whacked the hell out of one of the columns in the basement."

3.5 out of 5

Maureen Birnbaum Barbarian Swordsperson - George Alec Effinger

Maureen Birnbaum, or, really, Muffy, sounds like your typical valley girl type. Clueless, in other words. The interesting thing is that she isn't, and this holds her in good stead in her satirical adventures to places like Barsoom, the Land That Time Forgot and times Lovecraftian.

Robin Hood and company find out, for one, that she is no dummy. Fairly amusing.

3 out of 5

The Empress of Earth - Melissa Scott

Silence has finally wangled a deal with the Hegemony to use their gear to help them find the lost star roads to Earth. This comes at a price, though, as the credit for this will go to the leader of the Hegemony's family, so that one of his relatives can inherit his position, given that he has no children.

The roads are not lost by accident, there is an active group of planets trying to block access to Earth, setting up a final conflict.

3 out of 5

Silence in Solitude - Melissa Scott

Having got out of the captive situation, Silence is in training to become the first female mage. You don't get something for nothing though, as in return for the training, Silence has to agree to take her mentor to Earth. No-one knows where this is, and only an old map may show them the way.

These leads to them being on the run, Star Wars style, and having to sneak into a seat of power for the Hegemony to get what they need.

3 out of 5

Five-Twelfths of Heaven - Melissa Scott

Silence Leigh is a female starship pilot. There are not too many of these around. The different thing about these books is that pilots fly ships not via any particular sort of technology, but more an ability to interact with reality, a little like the Amberites, to change the dimensions around them so that they get to where they want to go.

Silence here is basically taken prisoner by two men, and forced to use her abilities to serve them, as a way out of her economic problems.

The Hegemony treats women poorly, and she is cheated out of a rightful inheritance, but a marriage of convenience with these men enables them to continue on their way. She finds out they are in an underground movement devoted to working about the Hegemony.

Thus begins a larger conflict.

3.5 out of 5

Burning Bright - Melissa Scott

The planet Burning Bright has a nice, central location for trade. It is also home to a lot of virtual gaming. A young gamemaster debuts one of her new scenarios here, and becomes an overnight sensation.

She attracts the attention of the glitterati and some of the more dangerous higher ups in society, and is embroiled in some dodgy situations because of this.

4 out of 5

The Jazz - Melissa Scott

The Jazz is a more mundane work, if you like, with a setting a little bit closer to our own. Imagine if you take some melding of a crappy show like Entertainment Tonight or that sort of American thing, and it grows, and evolves on the internet to the point where people are obsessed with it all over the place.

Programmers and designers have to produce it, and some of them will get their places with criminal or other help, and the criminal types will want their cut.

3 out of 5

The Game Beyond - Melissa Scott

The Empress is dead, and her successor must try and find a way to stay alive and solve the usual political problems. The twist is that the Imperial house types all have psychic abilities, which is what gives them their ruling class advantage.

The inbreeding and problems with these Talents seems to make it hard for them to reproduce, so holding on to power is a trick.

3 out of 5

Dreaming Metal - Melissa Scott

Another example of Melissa Scott's ability to produce an interesting setting almost immediately, surrounding people's daily lives.

A few years after Dreamships, a young woman is basically a magician/illusionist, working with high tech robot type bodies. Her use of them, with some grey technology seems to cross the artificial intelligence line. This sort of thing has caused violence to erupt before, and the protagonists find themselves in danger again.

3 out of 5

Dreamships - Melissa Scott

A book that deals with the politics of Artificial Intelligence. The major question is whether or not Artificial Intelligences that pass the Turing Test should have the same rights as humans, or not.

A pilot and her crew basically are on an adventure mission, and her ship's computer just might qualify as an AI, so they become embroiled in the controversy.

4 out of 5

Trouble and Her Friends - Melissa Scott

The society this is set in has advanced virtual reality computer networks, and some of the hackers have organic brain implants that give them an advantage in dealing in this environment.

Because lots of these people started doing corporate espionage, the tech has become outlawed, and Trouble's relationship broke up because of this.

She has to join with her old partner to track down a criminal element on the network.

4 out of 5

Shadow Man - Melissa Scott

A story of a planet where the environment has caused the human race to mutate into several different sexes, so there are spectrums of gender to deal with. This can be a bit mind bending, and I had to write to the author for help with an explanation at one point!

Definitely very interesting, with one character hiding what they are, and the political consequences of the decision.

4 out of 5

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Van Helsing - Kevin Ryan

Movie novelisation, and Ryan certainly has revelled in some parts of the bad monsterness. "IT'S ALIIVVE..." etc., so he had fun with those parts. Some of the humour does come through, as well, bit he is a little hampered by the source material not being so great. Still, not that bad a job otherwise.

2.5 out of 5

Gloriana - Michael Moorcock

Gloriana is unfulfilled in that she can't easily get her rocks off, no matter how many bed warmers, gorgeous maids, or sex slaves she has. Even half-men/apes don't necessarily do it.

Her inattention leaves a fair burden on a couple of her spymasters, one of whom decides to use this for his own rise to power, and to get rid of the queen and destroy her empire.

3 out of 5

The Garden - Melissa Scott

A pretty ordinary Star Trek Voyager tie-in story. The crew of the Voyager are hungry, and need to get supplies, given that they are, as usual, stuck on a ship in the middle of nowhere.

This story deals with having to go to a planet to get food, and, the boss leads the expedition, because the boss always goes shopping, don't they?

2 out of 5

Proud Helios - Melissa Scott

A Deep Space Nine tie-in novel. The Federation hierarchy of Deep Space Nine must end up dealing with their opponents the Cardassians when it is discovered a pirate with cloaking technology is attacking ships from both their organisations.

It all does not go as planned, however, and a rescue needs to be made.

3 out of 5

Night Sky Mine - Melissa Scott

Night Sky Mine involves a society where computer programs have their own biology and biosphere, so must be carefully regulated, with only licenced experts allowed to deal with them, and trading in them is a crime. A young woman is apprenticed to one of these practitioners, and becomes involved in a case that two of the local police end up investigating.

A nearby asteroid complex has been abandoned, and no-one knows why. The police think there are higher corporate and political forces at work, here, and set out to discover what is going on.


3.5 out of 5

Thraxas and the Sorcerers - Martin Scott

Business is a bit slow for Thraxas, but he perks up a bit when he learns that the Sorcerers are meeting in the city to decide who should run their outfit.

Thraxas, to quote, was 'as happy as an elf in a tree'. He knew that this would involve mayhem and murder, and as overflow, he was likely to get a job out of the whole situation.

4 out of 5

Thraxas and the Elvish Isles - Martin Scott

Thraxas is happy to be invited to do some work for the Elves, given it is winter, and it ain't where the Elves are. He will get away from the increasingly snarky half-orc barmaid/student friend of his, as well.

No such luck, she comes along and develops a thing for one of the pointy eared blokes.

Thraxas has been asked there to investigate the rising use of drugs by young elves, so again, when they thought of low level vice, they decided Thraxas was the man.

4 out of 5

Thraxas at the Races - Martin Scott

Thraxas is a man who likes a beer, and a pie, and maybe a chaser, or dessert. Anyway, he is also a bloke that likes a punt. He's a natural for a job involving the local racing industry, and this is why his old army commander comes to him for help.

The ex-boss ends up dead, and a couple of Thraxas' highly placed enemies would be happy to see him go down for murder.

4 out of 5

Thraxas and the Warrior Monks - Martin Scott

Entertaining hardboiled low rent, PI with a sword and the very occasional spell. When one of Thraxas' clients is arrested, he has to find out what is going on. This involves a political conflict involving some dangerous monks, some dangerous sorcerors, and lots of people that as usual are not big fans of the big bloke. Luckily Makri is still around to lend a hand.

4 out of 5

The Eternal Champion : Tale of the Eternal Champion Volume 2 - Michael Moorcock

An omnibus edition from Millenium, subtitled The Tale of the Eternal Champion Volume 2.

It contains The Eternal Champion, Phoenix in Obsidian and The Dragon in the Sword.

The Eternal Champion

A human man, John Daker, has troubling dreams. He discovers that he is an incarnation of the Eternal Champion, and his name is Erekose.

Erekose and his great sword is to be the key figure in a war between the humans and the alien Eldren, but what Erekose has to work out, is humanity who he should really be fighting to save?

5 out of 5

Phoenix In Obsidian

Also called the Silver Warriors, Erekose made his choice, and fought against humanity. With them destroyed, he has no choice but to find solace with the Eldren.

There is no rest for the Eternal Champion though, and again he changes, Urlik Skarsol is now Erekose and Erekose is Urlik, prince of the Southern Ice. He just wants to get back to his lover, but fate has other plans.

He also now has the Black Sword, the stealer of souls, and it has much work to do before Erekose can rest.

4.5 out of 5

The Dragon In the Sword

John Daker is Erekose is The Eternal Champion, again. After all the heroics and adventuring through countless lifetimes and incarnations he is weary, and just wants to get back to his Eldren princess Ermizhad and lead the quiet life.

Something nags at him, in his mind, a name, another Eternal Champion, but he doesn't know that name. A mystery that will not let him rest and retire fromt he cycle of the Eternal Champion.

5 out of 5



5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The God in the Bowl - Robert E. Howard

Conan is indulging in a bit of thievery and is busted by the local constabulary, right near a dead body. Conan proclaims his innocence, which they find hard to believe, but are not going to fight him over it.

Some digging reveals a local wastrel nobel is involved, up to ears in debt, but he ends up with a few problems with the God In the Bowl, of the mortal kind. When he orders Conan restrained, the constabulary lose a few body parts, and others more than that.

3 out of 5

The Man Who Chained The Lightning - Paul Ernst

A pulp story where the demonically garbed bad guy is the star, and the secret crimefighting on a wealthy man is the foil.

Monstrous henchmen, the ability to harness lightning bolts, some protoplasm sculpting of cadavers of dead men to get them to go to banks and withdraw cash, and crystal lightning bolt proof armor. Some cool whacky stuff in this one.

3.5 out of 5

The Ghost Strikes Back - G. T. Fleming-Roberts

George Chance is the ghost, a sneaky super-detective. He has a friend that looks like him, who has actually had plastic surgery to stand in for him while he is out ghosting around.

He has a bit of a problem this time, as he has been accused of murder, while looking at debunking a psychic who he thinks is a fraud.

This ends with a long and convoluted murder explanation, mostly solved by noticing a non-standard typewriter!

3 out of 5

The Batman Murders - Craig Shaw Gardner

A competent Batman novel. The book is set a few weeks after A Death In The Family. Confused people dressed up as Batmen are set up to be murdered, and Batman investigates.

He is still having a lot of problems because of the death of Jason Todd. When a cult recruiting young people swallows up a police officer sent undercover, Batman asks Nightwing for a hand. Nightwing goes undercover, and encounters a few problems of his own.

The cult leader is a used car salesman recruited by The Joker, who is up to his usual psychotic shenanigans.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Skrayling Tree - Michael Moorcock

A novel in three parts, after Ulric Von Bek is taken from his wife Oona in the night. The first part follows Oona in her trek to find him, as she encounters Hiawatha, and the White Crow, a man very similar to herself and her father Elric. She thinks to herself "I was a player in the Eternal Struggle fought between Law and Chaos and, as a "Knight of the Balance," was dedicated to maintaining the two forces in harmony.

This is what this novel is about, defending the balance of the multiverse from those inclined to destroy it. Elric has the second part, as he comes across Gunnar the Damned, or Gaynor, just as Oona encounters Klosterheim in the first part.

The third is Von Bek's story, as he regains a black blade, and meets Lord Sepiriz, one of the creators of the blades of power.

The three unite and rally against Gaynor, Klosterheim, and Lord Shoashooan the Wind Demon, to defend the Phroon and the Skrayling Tree at the heart of the Multiverse. Black blades sing in desperate confrontation as the White Crow, Von Bek and Elric, having fooled Gunnar, all combining to prevent disaster.
As a side note, here's a fun bit Moorcock through in: "Fear the Crisis Maker..." "In some eras,..the sword and the intellect must be as one. Those are our Sivler Ages. That is how we cerate those periods we call Golden Ages, when the sword can be forgotten,..."

4 out of 5

Starmother - Sydney Van Scyoc

Jahna Swiss is a dogooder type. She arrives on an alien planet to help out some the local children, who are under threat because of their mutant status, and some religious conservatives that are not too happy about their existence.

The whole society there could fall apart at any time, but Jahna finds out that the locals have plans for her, and new role, that of Starmother to these new children.

2.5 out of 5

Teklords - William Shatner

This is second of Shatner's original series of cops and robbers, or cops and drug dealers, in the future.

Jake Cardigan is back on the case, and as a good tough guy detective, he now has a girl, and some more bad guys to deal with. In this case, the druglords involved with dealing the dangerous substance Tek. Not as good as the first book.

2 out of 5

Tekwar - William Shatner

Tekwar was almost passable. A futuristic story based around a conflict between drug dealers of the substance Tek, and the detective/cop types that try and stop them. With very human androids, to boot.

A cop that had been framed for such a drug deal is reactivated out of his statis prison and given a mission to find a missing man.

2.5 out of 5

The Eye in the Pyramid - Robert Anton Wilson

The start of Shea and Wilson's bizarre Illuminati saga, now more popularly sold as a trilogy of three books.

Look for 23.

3 out of 5

Proteus in the Underworld - Charles Sheffield

Bey Wolf is what you could call a shapeshifter detective. Not so much that he turns into a werewolf, but in a world where people can change their shapes he is involved in policing the dangerous and outlawed varieties of this technology.

Now, though, he has packed that in and is working on some of the science aspects himself when a relative approaches him for help in this area, and he must do some mystery solving again.

3 out of 5

The Nimrod Hunt - Charles Sheffield

An artificial intelligence escapes its creators, and has its own plans for what it wants to do, and it seems it is happy to be violent to get them done.

A group of alien races work together, including humans, but have different political factions, with different ideas on how to deal with this. They decide to put a cross-race team together to handle it, but political infighting continues while these teams train for their mission.

One of the members of this team is a retarded young man who undergoes treatment to bring him to normal intelligence and usefulness.

3 out of 5

Valentine Pontifex - Robert Silverberg

Valentine is still a nice guy, but not all that keen on the whole ruling thing, even those he has to. He has to try and deal with the shapeshifting metamorph plot to take over, their guerilla tactics, and other problems of government.

He has drifted from his friends, and the metamorphs are not the only strange beings he has to come to understand. Certainly not as good as the first book.

3.5 out of 5

Lord Valentine's Castle - Robert Silverberg

On the planet Majipoor several races coexist with humans. The plot has to do with political manipulation and skullduggery, and alien plots. The main character is an amnesiac man named Valentine, who joins a troupe of wandering jugglers and learns their trade.

He realises something is wrong with the government, and the mythological ruling figure, and sets out to do something about it.

4 out of 5

Hawksbill Station - Robert Silverberg

The authorities have come up with an unconventional but effective way of controlling dissidents. Send them back a billion or so years into the past. A bit hard to escape from there, really.

When a new prisoner is sent back, the current top dog, an aging main with a recent serious injury has to try and hang onto his life, and work out what is up with the new guy.

3 out of 5

Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg

David, the book's protagonist, is a telepath of no mean ability.

Now middle-aged, it seems he is starting to lose his powers, and they will no longer be able to tell him what women are thinking, help him win fights, or accomplish other tasks beyond the means of most people.

So, the theme here is can a superhuman deal with becoming an ordinary mortal and adjust to a different life. Quite different as looking at things that way hasn't been done in many books I can think of, as the major element of the story.


4 out of 5

Tom O'Bedlam - Robert Silverberg

Tom O'Bedlam is seen as a crazy person, raving about weird things like aliens and other planets and places and all sorts of other things that seem ludicrous to the people around him.

However, it is possible that Tom is really very sane, and the human race will need him and his abilities to communicate with and transport to other places.

That is if he isn't just really killing a bunch of people.

3 out of 5

Kingdoms of the Wall - Robert Silverberg

A planet with one really, really, big mountain dominates this novel. As such, it is natural for a reasonably primitive people to associate this with being the home of their deities.

Annually, a group of pilgrims are chosen to ascend the mountain and hopefully communicate with said deities.

Twists and turns await them on the trip.

2.5 out of 5

Book of the Dead - Ashley McConnell

A quite well done Angel novel. An old Watcher school acquaintance of Wesley's turns up to go to a rare mystical book auction. Angel thinks it would be a good idea for Wes to check it out too, as Cordelia has had a related vision about a teenager acquiring such things.

When they do, Wesley gets his hands on a book called the Red Compendium, that has miscellaneous spells from many different authors.

To Wesley's cost, he finds out why. A demon in the book called the Bookwyrm draws him inside the tome, and tries to eat him.

Those on the outside must try and stop it.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, December 25, 2006

The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown

Very, very ordinary. A hodge-podge of infodumps of research and characters you don't learn anything about, it seems. That, and a crap ending. The writing is just average. Religiously soft, I suppose, is why people like it a lot, or that a lot of people have never been exposed to or read anything at all like that ever before.

2.5 out of 5

Plum Island - Nelson DeMille

Detective John Corey is on leave, recuperating from gunshot wounds at his rich uncle's joint in Long Island. He is also a smartarse, bigtime.

Two of the friends he has made there are murdered, and they were research scientists at a biological weapons type facility on Plum Island, a nearby piece of land.

He has to work out the reason they were killed, which, despite the biological red herring, turns out to be pirate treasure.

This book drags quite a bit in the middle with a lot of discussion of Captain Kidd, he of the pirate treasure fame, but the end was decent.

3 out of 5

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Immortality Inc. - Robert Sheckley

Immortality Inc. is another funny book by Robert Sheckley, with some of his trademark humour and satire evident.

A dead man wakes up a couple of hundred years later to find out that everything is for sale, even the afterlife.

A book that is definitely very entertaining.

4 out of 5

The Illuminatus! Trilogy - Robert Anton Wilson

The Illuminatus! Trilogy is an omnibus edition of the bizarre craziness and streams of whatever the hell could be thrown into the mix that comprises:

The Eye in the Pyramid
The Golden Apple
Leviathan

So, a good way to get all of this at once, if you can handle the weird that appears throughout this sort of thing.

3 out of 5

Breakaway - Joel Shepherd

Sandy's superhuman abilities and military knowledge and skills have led her into the Tanushan Special Forces, and a command position.

Her political opponents aren't too happy about having a GI in this position, and others like her have caused a lot of Tanushan casualties.

The League, Sandy's creators, have people coming to Tanusha for political talks. All this gets pretty complicated.

So, a bit of spy work here, through an acquaintance of her friend Vanessa Rice's, Ari, who is a spy as well as a counter-culture technologist.

Plots to uncover, people to save, as Sandy tries to stay where she is, and stop people from dying.

4 out of 5

Crossover - Joel Shepherd

A young woman is looking for a job. This is not your average female, though, while good with technology she happens to be a highly advanced artificial intelligence.

Created to be a soldier, and a leader of other, not as advanced artificial soldiers, she has defected to the other side. This woman is superstrong, superfast, and highly resistant to damage, because of her construction.


All she wants to do is live a normal human life, but her own side wants her back, and she gets mixed up with the politics and military of Tanusha, where she lives now, and makes some friends.

Action and adventure follow, as well as contemplation of what it means to be human, and human but more than human.

4 out of 5

Darker Than You Think - Jack Williamson

A reporter named Barbee uncovers a murder, and a plot that goes deeper and deeper after meeting a bewitching woman named April.

He soon discovers that the pair of them are shapeshifters, with the ability to alter probability by the use of floating mental webs. These sorts of people are a result of speciation in the icy mountain region of the Gobi.

Eventually, they ruled the globe, until man domesticated the dog as an ally and knew enough to know that silver disrupts these mental webs. They are the source for most of the legends about monsters, gods and supernatural beings like werewolves and vampires.

Now, there are no full bloods left, and hundreds of recessive genes must express themselves to get
such a being. He will be known as the Child of Night.

A group of his friends know about this, which is why they removed him from their presence, but they are dying, one by one.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Pashazade - Jon Courtenay Grimwood

An ex-low level triad involved gangster ends up back in his native Arabic city, that is pro free trade and a little more cosmopolitan than your usual Islamic joint, not that that is saying much, and he has high caste status.

His aunt has been murdered, he is a suspect, and he was to work out what is going on.

Something of an alternate reasonably near future novel - people have phones in their watches with ear pieces, and the protagonist appears to possibly have cybernetic implants. His niece has a fancy robot dog.

Genetic anti-aging treatments are mentioned in passing, that sort of thing.

It is ok, not enough to make me want to read more I think. It gives some of the flavour of Budayeen, and a touch of Neuromancer, but doesn't appeal as much as either of those.

3 out of 5

On the Beach - Nevil Shute

Nevil Shute's book about the collapse and extermination of civilisation after a nuclear war. The resulting devastating radiation effects from the Northern Hemisphere are taking some time to reach the Southern Hemisphere, but it too is doomed, including Australia.

People know how long they have left in the history of the human race.

3.5 out of 5

The Werewolf Principle - Clifford D. Simak

Humanity is again thinking about genetic engineering as a tool for the exploration of space, to look at malleable androids, or other forms that could interact easily with alien beings and environments.

This had been tried before, and failed, because melding with alien beings or minds allowed them partial or full control of the host, and they could change forms back at times - hence the Werewolf Principle.

3 out of 5

The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons

Aenea, along with her protector Raoul Endymion, must try and avoid the fate of almost all messiahs to stop the Catholic Church's genocidal military operation to wipe out all resitance to its plans, and really, the plans of the TechnoCore.

With the help of the Others, a rebel faction of the Core, and a visit to Old Earth, Aenea has to come to understand the nature of the universe, to enable humanity with the power to escape AI domination, and have the ability to face the Church's Pax fleet.


4 out of 5

Endymion - Dan Simmons

A couple of centuries after the fall of the Worldweb the Catholic Church is now a power throughout the galaxy. They have people nutty enough to die to travel quickly, for one thing.

A threat arises to their power, a new messiah. A young girl named Aenea. Raoul Endymion is rescued from his Schrodinger's Cat execution chamber and set to be her protector. Martin Silenus, an android, and the Shrike all have parts to play.

4.5 out of 5

Hyperion Cantos - Dan Simmons

Fabulous novel. One even the literary snob types might like, given the structure and all the Keats work.

The novel has a Canterbury Tales type feel, as a group of men and women travelling to the important planet Hyperion tell their stories.

Travel is instantaneous throughout the galaxy thanks to the TechnoCore, an AI group and their farcaster technology. People can literally have different rooms of their houses on different planets.


Hyperion is the site of the Time Tombs, an artifact travelling back in time, sent by an unknown entity.

The planet will be the site of an attack by a rogue group of far travelling humanity called the Ousters, upon the stay at homes, unflatteringly terming themselves the Hegemony.

The travelling band must also deal with The Shrike, a monstrous avatar of pain.

5 out of 5
Omnibus type edition from a book club, containing Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion.

A more convetional story structure is to be found here, as the pilgrims try and deal with an invasion, a Hegemony political leader, and an android avatar reincarnation of Keats.

They discover that the TechnoCore itself is fighting its own battles, and the spillover affects them in a very serious way.

Oh, and throw in some highly entertaining Catholic satire, to boot.

5 out of 5



5 out of 5

The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons

A more conventional story structure is to be found here, as the pilgrims try and deal with an invasion, a Hegemony political leader, and an android avatar reincarnation of Keats.

They discover that the TechnoCore itself is fighting its own battles, and the spillover affects them in a very serious way.

Oh, and throw in some highly entertaining Catholic satire, to boot.

5 out of 5

Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Fabulous novel. One even the literary snob types might like, given the structure and all the Keats work.

The novel has a Canterbury Tales type feel, as a group of men and women travelling to the important planet Hyperion tell their stories.

Travel is instantaneous throughout the galaxy thanks to the TechnoCore, an AI group and their farcaster technology. People can literally have different rooms of their houses on different planets.


Hyperion is the site of the Time Tombs, an artifact travelling back in time, sent by an unknown entity.

The planet will be the site of an attack by a rogue group of far travelling humanity called the Ousters, upon the stay at homes, unflatteringly terming themselves the Hegemony.

The travelling band must also deal with The Shrike, a monstrous avatar of pain.

5 out of 5

Children of the Night - Dan Simmons

More of a standard vampire tale than Carrion Comfort, a scientist working on AIDS adopts a Romanian child. She finds out that its blood has unusual properties, not realising that the baby is a vampire child.

This gets a few people killed, and with some help from the usual sort of vampire book allies she sets out to find out what is going on, and perhaps cure a disease.

3 out of 5

Song of Kali - Dan Simmons

Another horror novel of the disturbing sort. When a book publisher type discovers a heretofore unknown work by a dead author, he goes to India in search of it.

What he uncovers is a whole lot of nastiness associated with the worship of the goddess Kali, and publishing this work would make things even nastier.

Pretty much a story of unrelenting and likely unstoppable evil.

3 out of 5

Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons has produce a horror novel of the disturbing kind. The vampires in this book are of a different stripe, being mainly concerned with mental control and degradation, not your average bloodsucking.

A young man comes across them in a nazi concentration camp, and decades later is still hunting them down.

The are more than one of these mindsuckers, and they have an annual gathering to indulge their horrific appetites.

The protagonist of the piece wants to get in and put an end to it.

3.5 out of 5

Knight Rider - Glen A. Larson

A police officer is shot and left for dead. The Foundation for Law Enforcement and Government rescues him, and surgically gives him a new identity. Michael Knight is born.

They convince him to work as a travelling hero and troubleshooter, in partnership with a car, the Knight Industries Two Thousand, or KITT. The car has artificial intelligence, super armour, heightened speed, and other neat tricks.

He has a boss and handler, a mechanic, etc., to help him with his crusade.

In this introduction, KITT's charm and sarcastic intelligence is evident, it is clear the car is smarter than the humans around it.

3 out of 5

The A-Team - Charles Heath

The A-Team are a bunch of commandos on the run. Shafted by their bosses, they go undercover, working as a team of troubleshooters/crime fighters, helping those who didn't have anyone else to turn to.

A disguise artist, a muscle man, a crazy pilot, and a mastermind made up the team - Face, B.A. Baracus, Howling Mad Murdoch and Hannibal Smith.

The first book introduces the team, etc.

3 out of 5

Man From Atlantis - Richard Woodley

The first of a series of spinoff books about the tv show. The show, of course, is basically an Aquaman/Submariner knockoff.

Mark Harris is a one of a kind underwater superhuman. Discovered by humans, he is aided by an attractive woman and an organisation that put his abilities to good use fighting bad guys.


2.5 out of 5

Friday, December 22, 2006

Chimera - Will Shetterly

Biotech has advanced to the point where human/animal hybrids can be made. These creatures have no legal rights, though.

When a man who believes in rights for these Chimerae frees one, he is killed, and she is accused of the murder.

A thriller type race to uncover a conspiracy commences.

3 out of 5

The English Assassin - Daniel Silva

A Library Journal quote on the back of this suggest unrelenting action. Complete crap. Matthew Reilly is unrelenting action, Robert Ludlum could lay some claim to that, too.

There is almost more describing of picnic lunches and wine bars than action, in this book. It is a spy novel, with the odd assassination, kidnapping and a couple of scenes of tortue and interrogation near the end.

A story about an Israeli intelligence agent, who works in the art world, he tries to get back some art works that have come to light, stolen from his people by the nazis with the assistance of the Swiss.

He runs into an English acquaintance who is a professional assassin, working at odds to him. The Englishman bows out when he finds out what he is working on.

In some ways, barely even a thriller at all, it is just a spy novel.

3 out of 5

Tik-Tok - John T. Sladek

Tik-Tok is the story of a robot who manages to overcome his 'asimovian' programming, and hence is able to do whatever he likes.

This book is also a satire, and the robot main character gets to experiment with whatever he likes. This includes murder, mayhem, manipulation, and even worse, politics.

2.5 out of 5

The Paris Option - Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds

Another job for Smith! Well, Smith and his CIA and MI6 counterparts, as well. As per previously, Smith is tasked to look into a bombing that is used as cover to enable the left of a supercomputer type device that has a biological basis.

People are desperate to get this computer because it supposedly has ORAC type capabilities, in being able to control other machines.

Covert-One book the third.

3 out of 5

The Cassandra Compact - Robert Ludlum and Philip Shelby

The second of the Cover One series, again featuring the doctor-spook Jon Smith. He, and a group of allies must stop an opposing group of crazies doing bad things with a version of smallpox.

The tiny ultra-clandestine agency again tasks Smith to look into this and stop it.

2.5 out of 5

The Hades Factor - Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds

The first of a spin-off series of Ludlum's, done with another writer. The protagonist here is a doctor, but he is also secretly a spy for an ultra-clandestine spook type group in the USA.

The doctor's wife is involved in looking into a mysterious ebola sort of situation, and the doctor is tasked to help out, under a supposedly plausible cover, to see what is going on.

2.5 out of 5

The Tristan Betrayal - Robert Ludlum

This is probably easily the worst of the Ludlum books. The ghostwriter here didn't do a good enough job to make this one too interesting. It is another example of the ordinary man type, although the ordinary man in question was a spy in the World War Two era on a part time basis, and now is a diplomat.

The plot is centred around Russian politics.

2 out of 5

The Janson Directive - Robert Ludlum

Another dense spy thriller. Paul Jason was a SEAL, and then a Consular Operations assassin, basically. He left the SEALs after being tortured in Vietnam, and reporting his boss for being a sadistic killer. Having left, he is pulled back in when a philanthropist's assistant asks him for help to save her boss.

He owes him, so he agrees. Rescuing them, he puts them on a plane, which is destroyed.

Then he discovers his old employers, and others are out to get him, having sent a elite sniper team, among others.

He then discovers Peter Novak, the man he thought was dead, is still alive, and his old bosses want to talk. He also falls in love with one of the sniper team out to get him, who begins to believe his side of the story.

He discovers an operation of incredible hubris that comes right from the top of the USA, and can't believe their stupidity. He hatches a plan to stop it, using the UN.

Solid, draws you in, and some good twists and turns in the story.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Sigma Protocol - Robert Ludlum

Another novel where the plot has roots in World War Two.

A man's friend tries to kill him, and he finds a brother that he thought was dead. To top that off, add in an international financial conspiracy.

At the same time, a government agent is investigating the deaths of men of money and power, but when she finds out too much, orders are given to get rid of her.

Naturally, the twain meet and work as allies to uncover what is going on with the Sigma operation.

3 out of 5

The Prometheus Deception - Robert Ludlum

A secret agent type is involved in a mostly successful operation against Hezbollah terrorists. He gets hurt, and has to recover back at his base. After this, he is shocked to find that his boss is getting rid of him.

It gets even more shocking than that when he realises that the clandestine small agency he works for is most definitely not what he thought it was, but actually a completely foreign operation that has sucked him in.

This is not all though, as another level of deception exists. Prometheus is a group of men that want to control all corporate information in the world, giving them immense power. A definite commentary on the consolidation of corporate influence and information can be found in this book.

He is reunited with his wife, but the story hasn't ended there.

4 out of 5

The Matarese Countdown - Robert Ludlum

A definite sequel to The Matarese Circle. Given not many of the Circle are still around, the bad guy of the piece is a grandson of one of the founders, and he wants to start the whole dastardly plan rolling again.

It is up to some of the same guys, considerably older to stop them again. So, they have to pull retired agent Brandon Schofield out of mothballs and set him to work again, given he did it the first time.

2.5 out of 5

The Apocalypse Watch - Robert Ludlum

This Ludlum novel is of the died in the wool spook variety from the outset. Two brothers are secret agents, and one has been undercover, working against a group of neo-nazis. When he loses contact his Consular Operations brother wants to know why.

He is pretty shocked when he finds him, it seems his head has been messed with, and he is carrying some incediary information.

Cue chase scenes, twists and turns in Ludlum style.

3 out of 5

The Scorpio Illusion - Robert Ludlum

The Scorpio illusion does have a professional spook as its protagonist. Or an ex spook anyway. Again, we have someone who gives the game away when his bedwarmer and better half gets killed because of an operation gone wrong.

He gets pulled back in because they need him to stop and find a female assassin who can lead him to information to uncover and stop a sinister plot.

3 out of 5

The Road to Omaha - Robert Ludlum

The Hawk is back with his hijinks and silliness, and out to get some of his own back on those that booted him out of the Armed Forces.

Here, he has dug up some obscure piece of legislation, and with the helf of a lawyer and a native American tribe, is looking to get the government to give him Nebraska. Hence the Omaha in the name. Nebraska just happens to be where some of the Air Force command is situated.

3 out of 5

The Bourne Ultimatum - Robert Ludlum

Carlos the Jackal isn't greedy, he just wants a couple of things before he shuffles off the mortal coil.

Kill Jason Bourne, and blow the crap out of the Russian training facility that spawned him, and then disowned him later on.

Bourne and the KGB must work together to play Hunt the Jackal.

3.5 out of 5

The Icarus Agenda - Robert Ludlum

This novel is related to The Chancellor Manuscript in some ways. There is another secret cabal at the heart of the USA, but this one is not so crazy as some of the other terrorists, crazy generals, or whatever.

They are looking for a man with integrity, but the man they want they suspect may be involved with dodgy goings on to cause big problems in the Middle East. He isn't, of course, he just wanted revenge on a man that killed some friends.

Now, he goes undercover to work out what is going on, and to prove himself.

3 out of 5

The Bourne Supremacy - Robert Ludlum

Jason Bourne has recovered his memory, and is living a happy academic life with Marie, the woman he met in the first book. He is using an assumed name.

Bourne was used as an assassin stalking horse by Project Treadstone earlier in his career, The aim was to try and draw out Carlos the assassin, by infuriating him by claiming credit for his kills.

Someone is trying the same trick, using Bourne's name, and he has to investigate. Marie is abducted, and each half of the Bourne pair has information the other needs, so they have to try and work out how to get together.

4 out of 5

The Aquitaine Progression - Robert Ludlum

Joel Converse is not just an ordinary man. Well, he is a lawyer, but he was also in the military, and has had experience with crazy commanders before.

This is why an old friend, hiding his identity, approaches him with information. There are a group of nutty back room generals out to run the world.

Converse has to try and stop them, but ends up on the run from everyone, having to utilise everything he knows to get the job done.

3.5 out of 5

The Parsifal Mosaic - Robert Ludlum

An embiterred agent whose lover has been killed, or so he thinks, quits his job and goes walkabout, basically. When he finds out she is alive an perhaps a double agent, he wants back in the game.

Consular Operations wants to get rid of him, but the Russians deny to him that his wife is one of their agents.

When he finds his woman, she bolts, thinking that he is a double agent, because of information she has been fed.

On top of this, the US Secretary of State if completely starkers, and was once one of our protagonists advisers.

The partners manage to work it out, and get the ear of the present and some of his men, and realise that along with the nutso go, there is also a mole in the State department, and the two sides square off over the country.

3.5 out of 5

The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum

Ludlum's 11th novel is clearly his greatest. The story of Jason Bourne is told with white hot intensity. A man with amnesia washes up on a beach, is cared for, and when recovered enough, goes looking to find out who he is.

It is a complicated thrill ride, and his own former agency, and the assassin Carlos the Jackal are out to get him. He picks up a woman along the way as an unwitting accomplice as he fights to stay alive, as he fights to recover his memory, and the truth, and why he keeps remembering mnemonics for the early letters in the alphabet.

5 out of 5

The Matarese Circle - Robert Ludlum

Two ageing spies are coming to the end of the careers. On different sides of the cold war, both men are in similar position, veteran field agents that are not necessarily so useful anymore, but know a lot of secrets. They have no families to live for.

They can't stand each other, but they uncover a conspiracy that shocks even them, and must form an uneasy alliance to try and stop this massive corporate funded terrorist plot.

3 out of 5

The Holcroft Covenant - Robert Ludlum

Another ordinary man turns spy out of necessity story. A man learns he father was involved with the Third Reich, and after finding out about the holocaust stole a whole crapload of money from them. His son must find another couple of people to enable them to get access to the cash and distribute it.

A secret cabal of nazis is still in hiding, training and indoctrinating people and children, and they will oppose the young Holcroft, who has to learn the spy game fast. Many twists and turns, here.

3 out of 5

The Chancellor Manuscript - Robert Ludlum

The Chancellor Manuscript is another set of secret files. All over the place, these things. One J. Edgar Hoover had a penchant for these things, it appears.

When a novel seems to become a bit too close to the truth, the novelist is embroiled in a nasty plot involving those who feel threated by their very dirty laundry being revealed.

3 out of 5

The Gemini Contenders - Robert Ludlum

Another of Ludlum's plots based on happenings during World War II. An order of priests have a secret document that they think could discredit a lot of basic christianity.

The nazis and fascists want to get their hands on it. Lots of people's families die because of this, except one powerful man.

The plot jumps to the seventies, and the race is on again to get this information, this time through the two sons of the man in question, who has died under torture. Now his sons come into conflict.



3 out of 5

The Road to Gandolfo - Robert Ludlum

The Road to Gandolfo is a spoof, or satire, or meant to be generally amusing, or some combination of those three.

A guy that is kicked out of the army for becoming a political embarrassment, decides to do something even more politically embarrassing. He kidnaps the Pope.

The Pope doesn't mind that much, he gets to kick back, shoot the breeze, sink a few cold ones, have a few barbies, and generally be not stressed.

The problem will be getting all the Catholics to pay the ransom that they want for him, as he is taxing them all.

3.5 out of 5

The Rhinemann Exchange - Robert Ludlum

Robert Ludlum definitely hits his straps with this one. The protagonist in this book is an ultra competent spy, based in Portugal. He is 'That Man in Lisbon'. The roots of the plot come out of WWII.

The Rhinemann exchange is diamonds for technology, pretty much, the Rhinemann being a scientist. Our man in Lisbon gets involved with a woman, and also realises a Jewish activist group is trying to stop what he is up to.

Definitely one of Ludlum's works to pick out, if you are only going to sample a few.

4 out of 5

Trevayne - Robert Ludlum

Trevayne is something slightly different, which is perhaps why it was published under a pseudonym to start with? Not sure, anyway.

Mostly intrigue of the political variety. Self-made man with integrity decides to become a philanthropic type. He uncovers a business and political conspiracy at the top level of power in the USA, and decides to do something about it. A dangerous game, of course.

3 out of 5

The Matlock Paper - Robert Ludlum

Another lone man against a conspiracy, this time one of the criminal kind.

This time the setting is academic, and the law enforcement types choose a university guy to be their undercover man. A bit of a stretch, perhaps, but that won't stop Ludlum from inflicting lots of crazy stuff on his normal bloke becoming a heroic action figure.

2.5 out of 5

The Osterman Weekend - Robert Ludlum

A man hosting a weekend long party and getaway for a group of friends gets an unpleasant surprise when he is told that his friends are spies and traitors. He doesn't believe it at first, but the weekend degenerates into a whole pile of problems and nastiness as this CIA prediction unfortunately for him, becomes true.

3 out of 5

The Scarlatti Inheritance - Robert Ludlum

The Scarlatti Inheritance is Robert Ludlum's first novel. This book is set during World War Two. The main issue is a high ranking Nazi who wants to defect, but if he does, a secret file of information will be released. This will incriminate many powerful Westerners, so there are two camps in opposition to this defection.

A woman and an agent want to stop the badness, involving money, nazis and other bad things. Not as good as what was to come.

2.5 out of 5

Silver on the Tree - Susan Cooper

The conclusion to the fabulous Dark is Rising sequence brings it all together. The Drew children, Will, Merriman Lyon, Bran, and their human relatives and acquantainces, one of whom will prove crucial, and a traitor will be revealed.

Will and Bran must undergo the most perilous quest, to the find the sword of power.

Again, the clues are poetic :-

I am the womb of every holt,
I am the blaze on every hill,
I am the queen of every hive,
I am the shield for every head,
I am the tomb of every hope —
I am Eirias

At the end, a decision must be made by those who are not mortal, about those who are mortal.

4.5 out of 5

The Grey King - Susan Cooper

The Light again have a prophecy they must try and understand, to again find another of the items of power they need to defeat the Dark.

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the Light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan's Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon's sword the Dark shall fall.

They have a problem, in that Will Stanton has fallen prey to illness, and a very serious one. He has been months recuperating, and sent to stay with acquaintances in Wales.

Making friends with a strange boy named Bran, the two, and the dog Cadval must wend their way through the mysterious misty hills of Wales, past monsters, human agents of the Dark and the Brenin Llwyd to complete their quest.

As a side note, this book will teach you some basic Welsh pronunciation tips.

4.5 out of 5

Greenwitch - Susan Cooper

A very short section of the Dark is Rising sequence, and probably limited at that. The Drew children are reunited, and a bit older and more mature, having arrived from different places for a short break.

This book focuses on them, and in particular Jane, who becomes an important element in finding what the Old Ones, and their agents, the Drews, are after. Together, the warriors of Light must recover the Grail, or all is lost.

Will Stanton and Merriman Lyon are also here, and Will befriends the Drew kids, but again, they are there in a guardian role and for Will's training. They are also not the only Old Ones around at the time, waiting for the Greenwitch ceremony.

3.5 out of 5

The Dark Is Rising - Susan Cooper

Will Stanton's 11th birthday is different. He learns that he is one of the Old Ones, the newst, and is now a warrior for the Light, and things will never be the same again, as he is drawn into the battle.

Supernatural happenings begin to occur, but he does have a mentor, and a prediction to live by.

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six signs the circle, and the grail gone before

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.

It will be Will's task to find the Six Signs of Power, needed by the Light to turn back the Dark. The forces of Light are week, so Will, barely a boy becomes a necessary soldier, despite the risks.

Will must travel in time, master the Gramarye and powers of the Old Ones, find the Signs, encounter mythological figures, and weather a supernaturally harsh winter, all while staying alive and fitting into his normal, large, mortal family.

5 out of 5

Over Sea Under Stone - Susan Cooper

The not actually a great uncle great uncle invites his relatives, which includes three children, to Cornwall for the holidays.

He does have an ulterior motive, as the children later realise their 'Gumerry', or Great Uncle Merriman Lyon, is Merlion, or Merlin.

He is leading the forces of the Dark away from the kids, while he, one of the power Old Ones, warriors for the Light serves as a decoy.

He hopes with some clues and firing of the imagination the children will find one of the artifacts of power that will be crucial in the conflict between the superhuman supernatural forces of Light and Dark.

This artifact is The Grail.

He has to hope his misdirection and vigilance will keep the children safe enough, without being able to help directly and endanger them directly.

4 out of 5

The Ambler Warning - Robert Ludlum

At the start, this sounds like a standard Ludlum setup. A spy doesn't remember who he is. He gets out of the psychiatric holding facility with the aid of a sympathetic woman.

She goes on the run with him, etc., etc. Add in a Chinese assassin and some US-Chinese political motivation and things improve a little. Not too many thrillers star auditor characters, either, and there is a CIA auditor in this one.

It ends at a World Economic Forum in Davos, where Ludlum throws in a plot twist. So, it becomes a decent enough book.

3.5 out of 5

Enigma - Robert Harris

Almost a historical novel where the names have been changed to protect no-one. Tom Jericho is a mathematician type working to decipher the German enigma codes. The people there are being watched by spooks, and to make it a bit of a thriller the author has a girl he was seeing disappear with some information.

The detail about the actual code breaking process is pretty interesting.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

City of the Living Dead - Jeffrey Lord

While the promo on the back says Richard Blade is a hero in the tradtion of Tarzan, Doc Savage and Conan, it is more like he is a hero in the tradition of Flash Gordon, John Carter and Michael Kane.

He gets transported to Dimension X, and a different place every time, it appears. Here, he is sent to a country that is divided, with primitive warrior bands on one side of a wall, and a technologically advanced civilisation that survives with robot and android labor on the other. The latter is slowly dying until Blade shakes stuff up, and causes a war.

Give these are from the 70s, on stage shagging is permissible, which is not the case for some of his heroic lineage.

"Fortunately, Richard Blade was one of the most perfect specimens of physical and mental development alive. He was very likely the most unkillable human being in the world."

Could border on 2.25 this stuff, it is fairly flat, and Blade is one superconfident guy, with weapons, or without.

2.5 out of 5

Only Forward - Michael Marshall Smith

Stark is a troubleshooter/dick who has a specialty in recovery of things that people can't find. In this case he is tasked to find a scientist.

However, it is not that simple, really, the City he lives in is very bizarre, indeed, with different parts being completely different and having completely different rules. As in rules of reality, more Cynosure or Wonderland than just the bad neighborhood or slum type of thing.

Didn't quite work for me, but is not bad.

3 out of 5

Silverheart - Michael Moorcock

This co-authored book is sort of an adjunct to Michael Moorcock's Multiverse. I think it was written with a computer game in mind, or something like that. Constantine took Moorcock's notes and input and finished off the novel.

The hero of the piece is Max Silverskin, a dodgy bloke who has to remove a magical mark, or he will cark it.

Society is divided by an allegiance to a particular metal, and Lady Rose Iron will be an ally of Max's. This makes him an enemy of her clan's security guy, who has the hots for Rose.

Questing ensues.


3 out of 5

The Russian Intelligence - Michael Moorcock

The second of the adventures of Jerry Cornell, as written by Michael Moorcock. Again, a humorous light spy satire, and also delving into the world of comics.

Jerry finds a dead agent of his acquaintance, and has no idea why he has a comic strip in his cold dead hand. Jerry sets out to find out why, and enters the world of comics.

3 out of 5

The Chinese Agent - Michael Moorcock

The Chinese Agent is a spy satire of the 1960s English variety. Jerry Cornell is obviously a Jerry Cornelius type riff, but it is not done in the same whacky open to interpretation way that the Cornelius stories are.

It is a confrontation between two super agent types, one Chinese, if you could believe that. A hapless crim keeps getting in the way of the resolution of this duel though, which is somewhat entertaining.

3 out of 5

Byzantium Endures - Michael Moorcock

This is the first book in Moorcock's Pyat quarter, something that took him quite a while to finish. Not that this is a shock to anybody familiar with this work.

The protagonist in this series is a bit half and half, in JC terms. Half Jerry Cornelius, half Joh n Constantine, and full of a lot of crap as a consequence, without being as useful or competent as either.

He is living through some harrowing times in pre WWI Russia, and is just trying to slide on through. He has a fairly serious problem with sex and drugs though, and does some not nice things as a result.

3 out of 5

The Blood Red Game - Michael Moorcock

A stand alone book, even if there are a couple of amusing references. The book is about Renark, a man who is trying to find out what is wrong with the cosmology of the universe.

When he finds out what is going on, he is drawn into a battle to save it, against a strange alien enemy. The Blood Red Game is deadly, and requires people with certain mental powers and stamina, and the fatality rate is very, very high.

If they fail and lose the game, humanity is destroyed.

4 out of 5

The Dreamthief's Daughter - Michael Moorcock

The Dreamthief's daughter is a sort of parallel Elric story of sorts. However, it is based around Von Bek. This time, Count Ulrich Von Bek of nazi Germany.

Von Bek has a sword called Ravenbrad, which, in another life, is Elric's Stormbringer. The nazis are aware of its power, and the resistance brings it to Von Bek's attention, beginning a conflict between Von Bek and his nazi relative, with appearances by Elric and other versions and parts of the Eternal Champion saga.

Another battle for the multiverse begins.

3.5 out of 5

Elric of Melnibone The Tale of the Eternal Champion Volume 8 - Michael Moorcock

This is the Millenium edition in their Tales of the Eternal Champion series. It is basically four books, Elric of Melnibone, The Fortress of the Pearl, The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and the Weird of the White Wolf, although that is explicitly broken up into The Dreaming City, While the Gods Laugh and the Singing Citadel in the contents. It does not contain the Dream of Earl Aubec.

Elric of Melnibone

Elric is the emperor of a declining civilisation. It is threated from without, by the 'lesser' races of humanity.

He also has to deal with the power plays and ambitions of his relatives, and has his own illnesses to bear, as well.

However, he has a plan. He doesn't realise what and who it will cost him to carry it out, as he makes a deal with Chaos.

5 out of 5

The Fortress of the Pearl

This novel was published in the late eighties, but comes in around second, chronologically.

Elric is in trouble, and when he arrives at the mysterious city of Quarzhasaat he is easily convinced to undergo a quest in return for aid.

He must find the Pearl at the Heart of the World. It ain't that easy though, as it is in a fortress. But Elric is still Elric, and having recovered his strength, he still has Stormbringer along with his other talents.

3.5 out of 5

The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

There are three parts to this book. Sailing to the Future includes the crossover where Elric meets, Erekose, Hawkmoon and Corum aboard the Dark Ship of the Captain.

Then there is Sailing to the Present, and Sailing to the Past. The latter is a reworked version of the Jade God's Eyes.

5 out of 5

The Weird of the White Wolf

The Weird of the White Wolf also is a book that contains several smaller pieces of work, namely :

The Dreaming City
While the Gods Laugh
The Singing Citadel

The first is a quick Eternal Champion interlude.

In the Dreaming City Elric returns to the Dragon Isle to attack his cousin, who is holding his lover captive.

While the Gods Laugh show Elric journeying with Moonglum, his version of the Companion to Champions, to find the Dead Gods Book.

The Singing Citadel is a building with the properties of a siren, basically. Elric and Moonglum investigate.


4.5 out of 5



4.5 out of 5

The Elric Saga Part II - Michael Moorcock

The second of the Doubleday editions, this contains The Vanishing Tower, The Bane of the Black Sword and Stormbringer.

The Vanishing Tower

This book is also known as The Vanishing Tower. Elric is not a fan of the sorcerer Theleb K'aarna. In fact he is so much not a fan he would like to introduce him to the Black Blade, in an up close, personal, and body cavity penetrating kind of manner.

He is having a lot of problems getting to him though, until he gets help from The Sleeping Sorceress.

4 out of 5

The Bane of the Black Sword

The Bane of the Black Sword is also a collection.

The Stealer of Souls
Kings in Darkness
The Flamebringers (also called The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams)
To Rescue Tanelorn

The first three are adventures with Elric and Moonglum, and the latter is actually a story of Rackhir the Red Archer, one of the worthy individuals the Eternal Champion meets from time to time.


4.5 out of 5

Stormbringer

Stormbringer is the end of this Elric cycle. Many times Elric has struggle with his symbiotic relationship with the powerful demonsword Stormbringer. It gives him energy, but has caused him to destroy those close to him, earning him the sobriquets Kinslayer and Womanslayer, at times.

He finally faces the Dukes of Hell, again, and must summon all his creativity, and dig deep into the last of his bag of tricks, not the least of which are the Dragons of Melnibone.

This is the end for this Eternal Champion, as he faces his final destiny, and his place in the multiverse.

5 out of 5



4.5 out of 5

The Elric Saga Part I - Michael Moorcock

A Doubleday book.

An Omnibus edition that includes three books.

Elric of Melnibone

Elric is the emperor of a declining civilisation. It is threated from without, by the 'lesser' races of humanity.

He also has to deal with the power plays and ambitions of his relatives, and has his own illnesses to bear, as well.

However, he has a plan. He doesn't realise what and who it will cost him to carry it out, as he makes a deal with Chaos.

5 out of 5

The Sailor On the Seas of Fate

There are three parts to this book. Sailing to the Future includes the crossover where Elric meets, Erekose, Hawkmoon and Corum aboard the Dark Ship of the Captain.

Then there is Sailing to the Present, and Sailing to the Past. The latter is a reworked version of the Jade God's Eyes.

5 out of 5

and

The Weird of the White Wolf

The Weird of the White Wolf also is a book that contains several smaller pieces of work, namely :
The Dream of Earl Aubec
The Dreaming City
While the Gods Laugh
The Singing Citadel

The first is a quick Eternal Champion interlude.

In the Dreaming City Elric returns to the Dragon Isle to attack his cousin, who is holding his lover captive.

While the Gods Laugh show Elric journeying with Moonglum, his version of the Companion to Champions, to find the Dead Gods Book.

The Singing Citadel is a building with the properties of a siren, basically. Elric and Moonglum investigate.


4.5 out of 5

The Revenge of the Rose - Michael Moorcock

This is another Elric book that was published around 1990, quite a time after the the others, and after The Fortress of the Pearl.

Elri must locate the soul of his father, to enable him to stop his doomed wandering. At least, according to a dragon, anyway. With him will be the female warrior Rose. As is often the case, agents of Chaos, and the Duke Arioch will stand in their way.

The true motivations of the Rose will decide Elric's actions.

3.5 out of 5

The Sleeping Sorceress - Michael Moorcock

This book is also known as The Vanishing Tower. Elric is not a fan of the sorcerer Theleb K'aarna. In fact he is so much not a fan he would like to introduce him to the Black Blade, in an up close, personal, and body cavity penetrating kind of manner.

He is having a lot of problems getting to him though, until he gets help from The Sleeping Sorceress.

4 out of 5

The Fortress of the Pearl - Michael Moorcock

This novel was published in the late eighties, but comes in around second, chronologically.

Elric is in trouble, and when he arrives at the mysterious city of Quarzhasaat he is easily convinced to undergo a quest in return for aid.

He must find the Pearl at the Heart of the World. It ain't that easy though, as it is in a fortress. But Elric is still Elric, and having recovered his strength, he still has Stormbringer along with his other talents.

3.5 out of 5

Elric of Melnibone - Michael Moorcock

Elric is the emperor of a declining civilisation. It is threated from without, by the 'lesser' races of humanity.

He also has to deal with the power plays and ambitions of his relatives, and has his own illnesses to bear, as well.

However, he has a plan. He doesn't realise what and who it will cost him to carry it out, as he makes a deal with Chaos.

5 out of 5

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Darkest Hours - Jim Butcher

This is pretty good, in fact, I like it more than the couple of Dresden files books out there.

After encountering the Rhino, Spidey learns that Morlun wasn't the only one of his kind, and there are three more of them coming. Luckily, he has help. The Black Cat is around, and doesn't want the Spider eaten, and Doctor Strange offers some sneaky help that isn't help, and a nice sandiwch thanks to Wong.

When the Rhino's employers, the Ancients, turn on him, and Spidey saves his grey leathery hide, he agrees to help the pair of heroes with their plan.

I have actually read a trade recently of Spider-Man fighting the Morlun guy, so perhaps that was fortuitous, as I haven't read much of him for a long time, but this book is definitely enjoyable, wry, amusing, action packed, altruistic, and other stuff.

4 out of 5

Ghost Stories - Deborah Shine

A large anthology I had as a kid, a hardback from Octopus press. It had a fantastic picture of a cobwebbed skull on the front, and a lot of old style and old fashioned ghost stories included in there. They definitely made a creepy impression, even if your basic ghost story isn't my favorite type of horror to read about.

3.5 out of 5

The Sword and the Stallion - Michael Moorcock

Corum has been ensnared in a trap, but is set free by an unlikely encounter due to an enemy. Entrapment is not his only problem, as an evil twin of his has been created, and has been working to oppose his old allies. A considerable amount of time has passed and said allies now think he is a bad, bad man, so Corum really has nowhere to turn.

4 out of 5

The Oak and the Ram - Michael Moorcock

Corum of the Silver Hand and the Mabden he has been fighting for have beaten back their Fhoi Myre allies, but the Eternal Champion's work is not done.

There is a quest waiting for him, and he needs both the Oak and the Ram to rescue one of the Mabden leaders, a man of power.

4 out of 5

The Bull and the Spear - Michael Moorcock

This trilogy again stars Corum, Prince of the Silver Hand. It is also an adaptation of the mythological conflict between the Tuatha De Danaan and the Firbolg, with Corum of the Silver Hand standing in for one of the heroes opposing the Firbolg, due to the similarities.

Here, Corum and the Mabden's enemy is the Fhoi the gods of the Cold Folk, and they have to deal with war, and the terrible, biting cold that steadily grows worse and worse.

4 out of 5

Corum - Michael Moorcock

An omnibus edition from Millenium the Tale of the Eternal Champion 4, with an introduction.

Moorcock notes that this is one of the only times he used a historical type of setting for a series, because he was stuck with a not so good Cornish-English dictionary, partly.

Corum Jhaelen Irsei, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe, is one of the last of the Vhadhagh, a race that is a precursor to the Mabden, or man.

The Lords of Chaos are not too pleased with Corum, as he is siding with the men, which could do bad things to their power base. You would not expect any less from The Eternal Champion, though.

4 out of 5

Corum has gained himself a new moniker in this book, The Prince of the Silver Hand, thanks to a bit of an accident with one of his arms that required some mystical aid to restore an arm to usefulness.

He is moving up the ladder, and has to take on the Queen this time, to try and protect his own plane. The ever faithful Companion to Champions is with him, pet included.

3.5 out of 5

Another important installment of the Eternal Champion series, and the third book in the first Corum trilogy.

Corum Jhaelen Irsei, ever resourceful, has taken out the Queen of the Swords, and now has to face the most powerful of this suit, the King.

An omnibus that includes the Swords trilogy, with an introduction.

He is most definitely not without help and resources, as here, he joins to become the ultra-hero Three-Who-Are-One, with both Elric and Erekose.

5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

The King of the Swords - Michael Moorcock

Another important installment of the Eternal Champion series, and the third book in the first Corum trilogy.

Corum Jhaelen Irsei, ever resourceful, has taken out the Queen of the Swords, and now has to face the most powerful of this suit, the King.

He is most definitely not without help and resources, as here, he joins to become the ultra-hero Three-Who-Are-One, with both Elric and Erekose.

5 out of 5

The Queen of the Swords - Michael Moorcock

Corum has gained himself a new moniker in this book, The Prince of the Silver Hand, thanks to a bit of an accident with one of his arms that required some mystical aid to restore an arm to usefulness.

He is moving up the ladder, and has to take on the Queen this time, to try and protect his own plane. The ever faithful Companion to Champions is with him, pet included.

3.5 out of 5

The Knight of the Swords - Michael Moorcock

Moorcock notes that this is one of the only times he used a historical type of setting for a series, because he was stuck with a not so good Cornish-English dictionary, partly.

Corum Jhaelen Irsei, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe, is one of the last of the Vhadhagh, a race that is a precursor to the Mabden, or man.

The Lords of Chaos are not too pleased with Corum, as he is siding with the men, which could do bad things to their power base. You would not expect any less from The Eternal Champion, though.

4 out of 5

The Quest For Tanelorn - Michael Moorcock

The Quest for Tanelorn is an important volume in Moorcock's whole Eternal Champion and Multiverse cycle.

Hawkmoon's quest for his wife is over, but now he needs to find his children, and all roads lead to Tanelorn.

They also lead to the captain of the death-ship, and a large scale Eternal Champion superhero crossover, as Hawkmoon must work with Elric, Corum and Erekose to defeat a foe, and restore some balance to the multiverse at the Conjunction.

4 out of 5

The Champion of Garathorm - Michael Moorcock

Hawkmoon again moves through the multiverse, taking on a different incarnation of the Eternal Champion, and with him again is Jhary-a-Conel, the Companion to Champions, in one of his own incarnations.

The Dark Empire Destroyer thinks that doing this, and helping in another fight will give him a clue to the whereabouts of his wife.

4 out of 5

Count Brass - Michael Moorcock

After Hawkmoon and company's defeat of the Dark Empire, Hawkmoon comes to realise at the start of this book that everything is changed. The multiverse is twisted, Count Brass is alive and his wife, Yisselda is not. His friends are a little worried about his state, but are willing to give him some time.

He knows something is not right, and sets out to find out what is going on.

4 out of 5

Chosen - Nancy Holder

This is massive, for a Buffy book. It weighs in close to 700 pages because it is novelizing the whole seventh season, basically. Holder has done a pretty good job with this.

There are a few laughable spelling mistakes though:
Slayer as keyboard :-
Buffy hard returned to...

Slayer as stutterer :-
Something things...

and a few more. So that detracts a little from the score. Other than that, a pretty decent job was done. In fact, a book like this for each season would be cool, compared to all the Chronicles/Files/Trials etc. bits and pieces.

3.5 out of 5

Deadwalk - Ron Goulart

Vampi is now proficient enough at the whole magician git to be telling Pendragon what to do during the act, or even how to act, during the act.

In the Carribean, a couple of Pendragon's female relatives have gone astray, and they decide to go looking. Someone asks Adam Van Helsing for help, and he ends up crossing paths with the woman from Drakulon, pretty much intentionally.

Through in a military leader masquerading as a zombie priest, and enough occult investigating to go around for both human and alien.

3 out of 5

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Runestaff - Michael Moorcock

Dorian Hawkmoon and friends, and his new ally Orland, a relative of his ally the Warrior in Jet and Gold, must strive to gain control of The Runestaff, as the only means to save the world fromt he depradations of the Dark Empire and its nobility and even its mad scientist nobility.

While he would rather be hanging out with Count Brass and his daughter, that is not the Eternal Champion's fate in this multiverse.

4 out of 5

The Sword of the Dawn - Michael Moorcock

Despite Dorian Hawkmoon's best efforts, the Dark Empire is still expanding. It is growing so much he has to take extraodinary efforts to protect his own turf. Doing so, however, doesn't solve the greater problem at hand. Heroes are made to do heroic things, and Hawkmoon is the Eternal Champion, and the Sword of the Dawn calls.

4 out of 5

The Mad God's Amulet - Michael Moorcock

Hawkmoon, Duke of Koln, is a resistance leader in the fight against the Dark Empire. Knowing this, the Mad God, with the power of the amulet of the Runestaff, arranges to kidnap Hawkmoon's wife, Yisselda.

The Eternal Champion has no option but to try and get her back, even in the face of the Mad God's power.

4 out of 5

The Jewel in the Skull - Michael Moorcock

Dorian Hawkmoon is the Eternal Champion. The Runestaff is the key to overthrowing the enemies of his people, so Hawkmoon must try and find it, with his fellow adventurers.

However, the evil lurks within him as well, in the form of the Jewel in the Skull, and this Jewel must be detected and removed before they will get anywhere.

4 out of 5

The Dragon in the Sword - Michael Moorcock

John Daker is Erekose is The Eternal Champion, again. After all the heroics and adventuring through countless lifetimes and incarnations he is weary, and just wants to get back to his Eldren princess Ermizhad and lead the quiet life.

Something nags at him, in his mind, a name, another Eternal Champion, but he doesn't know that name. A mystery that will not let him rest and retire fromt he cycle of the Eternal Champion.

5 out of 5

Phoenix In Obsidian - Michael Moorcock

Also called the Silver Warriors, Erekose made his choice, and fought against humanity. With them destroyed, he has no choice but to find solace with the Eldren.

There is no rest for the Eternal Champion though, and again he changes, Urlik Skarsol is now Erekose and Erekose is Urlik, prince of the Southern Ice. He just wants to get back to his lover, but fate has other plans.

He also now has the Black Sword, the stealer of souls, and it has much work to do before Erekose can rest.


4.5 out of 5

The Eternal Champion - Michael Moorcock

A human man, John Daker, has troubling dreams. He discovers that he is an incarnation of the Eternal Champion, and his name is Erekose.

Erekose and his great sword is to be the key figure in a war between the humans and the alien Eldren, but what Erekose has to work out, is humanity who he should really be fighting to save?

5 out of 5

Blackout - Keith R. A. DeCandido

A definite change of pace, as DeCandido tells the story of the Slayer, Nikki Wood.

"As for the coat--hell, baby that was her look. You didn't mess with the look. Besides, she used the coat to cover he moves, like Batman did with his cape in the comics. In fact, that was how she saw herself: as Cleopatra Jones and Batman all rolled up in one cool package."

This Slayer is different, as she learned late, and has a child. It seems like DeCandido uses the child, Robin, to write a love letter to his comic geek childhood growing up in New York.

Nikki's mortal problem is that Spike is in town, with a big head, and getting annoyed when the Ramones aren't on at CBGB's and being annoyed by local hood vamps.

At the end, we see Robin's motivations for moving to Sunnydale to become a principal.

3.5 out of 5

The Evil That Men Do - Nancy Holder

Buffy has a problem with a queen vampire who is around 2000 years old, and her crazy lover. They go in for the magic potion make the town crazy thing, and arena fighting involving innocent victims.

They date from the time of Caligula, and have been hunting and killing Slayers for a long, long time. They capture Oz, figuring he will be good entertainment, too.

They also have a thing for the summoning of Caligula favorite dark goddess, which is not good.

2.5 out of 5

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Condition of Muzak - Michael Moorcock

This is Jerry Cornelius the not-Harlequin. A post apocalyptic setting, and with this you do not have much high concept music or any other artforms at all, as the title seems to suggest.

Jerry again has to reinvent himself to fit into this new lower tech society, and to deal with his antagonists, still.

3.5 out of 5

The English Assassin - Michael Moorcock

The English Assassin, is, of course Jerry Cornelius himself. Again this is a book where England is an important part, or the collapse of England under the weight of its problems, and war.

Jerry, in a bad way, will again have to deal with his considerably healthier for a change relatives, and Brunner, Beesley, and others,

The usual happens, with the odd attempt to rule the world.

3.5 out of 5

The Cornelius Chronicles 1 - Michael Moorcock

This Fontana edition contains the first two books of the Jerry Cornelius Quarter, The Final Programme and A Cure For Cancer.

Jerry Cornelius may be one of the wackiest and wildest superhero adventurer types ever created. Deliberately created by Moorcock to be the ultimate chameleon, which has seen him featured in many places and times. This leads to people looking for people with similar names in famous events in history.

In the Final Programme he is a swinging super-agent with a needle gun.

His family is no less whacky, given his sister is sometimes his lover, and his brother sometimes his target.

A hero like this must have similarly bizarre antagonists, enemies, and allies.

He certainly does, and Una Persson, a female version of himself, to some degree, is also one of his sister's lovers.

Basically, Jerry stuff is a little hard to explain.

4 out of 5

Jerry Cornelius - 2 A Cure For Cancer

There is a whole bunch more Jerry Cornelius weirdness here. He is still roaming around 1960s London, among other places, and in conflict with the villainous Bishop Beesley.

Some people are certainly going to find it too weird, or too impenetrable to enjoy, I think, as it is by no means straightforward, but this is part of JC's appeal.

4 out of 5

A Cure For Cancer - Michael Moorcock

There is a whole bunch more Jerry Cornelius weirdness here. He is still roaming around 1960s London, among other places, and in conflict with the villainous Bishop Beesley.

Some people are certainly going to find it too weird, or too impenetrable to enjoy, I think, as it is by no means straightforward, but this is part of JC's appeal.

4 out of 5

Sailing To Utopia - Michael Moorcock

An Orion publication, subtitled Tales of the Eternal Champion Volume 5. It includes The Ice Schooner, The Black Corridor, The Distant Suns, and Flux. So, you get Arflane, Ryan, Jerry Cornelius and Von Bek version of the Eternal Champion in this one volume. This is a pretty eclectic bunch of heroes to throw together in one volume.

3 out of 5

Von Bek - Michael Moorcock

From Millenium, it is also subtitled The Tale of the Eternal Champion 1.

It contains The Warhound and the World's Pain, The City in the Autumn Stars and the Pleasure Gardes of Felipe Sagittarius.

This omnibus collection contains two Von Bek novels and ends with a short story that features yet another of the Von Bek clan. This time it is Minos Von Bek, who is a metatemporal investigator in Europe.

He comes across Adolf Hitler, and ends up supplying Eva Braun with some useful toys.

3.5 out of 5

The Nomad of Time - Michael Moorcock

A Granada book, it contains all of the Oswald Bastable series.

Oswald Bastable - 1 The Warlord of the Air

Oswald Bastable is an English army officer, sent on a mission to the mountains in the Nepal region. It does not go too well, and sick and delirious he stumbles into a citadel that is rumoured to have existed for all time.

When he wakes up, he is several decades in the future and the natives are not disposed to be too friendly.

3.5 out of 5

Oswald Bastable - 2 The Land Leviathan

A device used for these books is that an ancestor of Moorcock's has found tales of Oswald Bastable, in much the same sort of style as the Warlords of Mars trilogy.

This bloke goes looking for more, and finds some. Una Persson also makes an appearance.

A more confident Bastable has gone adventuring again, but when he comes back in time, the world is a lot different to the one he left.

Submarine adventures, Gandhi, a Black Atilla, and other strange national alliances must be navigated and dealt with.

3.5 out of 5

Oswald Bastable - 3 The Steel Tsar

The conclusion of Oswald Bastable's adventures associated with the Temple of the Future Buddha. The time he came back too is full of giant airship and other such fun. This book is really a couple of parts, and again, Una Persson is involved in the story in mysterious ways, as Oswald Bastable learns more about the nature of the universe, and has to face the supervillain of the piece.

3.5 out of 5

The Final Programme - Michael Moorcock

Jerry Cornelius may be one of the wackiest and wildest superhero adventurer types ever created. Deliberately created by Moorcock to be the ultimate chameleon, which has seen him featured in many places and times. This leads to people looking for people with similar names in famous events in history.

In the Final Programme he is a swinging super-agent with a needle gun.

His family is no less whacky, given his sister is sometimes his lover, and his brother sometimes his target.

A hero like this must have similarly bizarre antagonists, enemies, and allies.

He certainly does, and Una Persson, a female version of himself, to some degree, is also one of his sister's lovers.

Basically, Jerry stuff is a little hard to explain.

4 out of 5

The Steel Tsar - Michael Moorcock

The conclusion of Oswald Bastable's adventures associated with the Temple of the Future Buddha. The time he came back too is full of giant airship and other such fun. This book is really a couple of parts, and again, Una Persson is involved in the story in mysterious ways, as Oswald Bastable learns more about the nature of the universe, and has to face the supervillain of the piece.

3.5 out of 5

The Land Leviathan - Michael Moorcock

A device used for these books is that an ancestor of Moorcock's has found tales of Oswald Bastable, in much the same sort of style as the Warlords of Mars trilogy.

This bloke goes looking for more, and finds some. Una Persson also makes an appearance.

A more confident Bastable has gone adventuring again, but when he comes back in time, the world is a lot different to the one he left.

Submarine adventures, Gandhi, a Black Atilla, and other strange national alliances must be navigated and dealt with.

3.5 out of 5

The Warlord of the Air - Michael Moorcock

Oswald Bastable is an English army officer, sent on a mission to the mountains in the Nepal region. It does not go too well, and sick and delirious he stumbles into a citadel that is rumoured to have existed for all time.

When he wakes up, he is several decades in the future and the natives are not disposed to be too friendly.

3.5 out of 5

Blood - Michael Moorcock

This is a very baroque South. Sam Oakenhurst is looking to encounter a lost love, the Rose. The Rose has her own strange agenda.

The same can be said of the best of the best of the jugadors, Jack Karaquazarian, who is also looking for a lost love. More importantly though, for such a gaming talent, there is the Game of Time.

The Game of Time will have important consequences for the multiverse.

3.5 out of 5

A Messiah at the End of Time - Michael Moorcock

Also known as the Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming. When the Fireclown arrives at The End of Time, any problems that the residents there have with boredom and ennui will not be lasting for very long at all.

One thing the Fireclown is very good at is shaking things up and changing the status quo. This is particularly true in the case of the staid Miss Mavis Ming.

3 out of 5

The End of All Songs - Michael Moorcock

In an ironic twist, Jherek Carnelian and Amelia Underwood are now stuck at the beginning of time, rather than the end, or at least the beginning as far as the Earth is concerned.

Miraculous rescue happens, and they are again at the End of Time, but the very dangerous pointy end, and what has Lord Jagged got to do with all of this?

3 out of 5

The Hollow Lands - Michael Moorcock

Jherek Carnelian has come to understand that he is in love with Amelia Underwood. So much so that he even did some time travelling of his own because of his feelings.

This travelling has caused more problems for both of them, but now Jherek must find a way to travel again.

3 out of 5

The Shores of Death - Michael Moorcock

Also known as The Twilight Man. Earth is facing a dark age, and maybe the end of humanity. Humans have immense problems with reproduction, not to mention space raiders.

Amidst all this we have Clovis Marca, The Twilight Man.

On a planet that has one dark side and one light side that is fixed, Marca must basically face down a mad scientist. His problem is that the mad scientist and his ideas may be the right ones on how to save humanity.

An Alien Heat - Michael Moorcock

The End of Time is a place that we would call decadent. To those that inhabit it, it is just normal. They are immortal, they can immense powers, and they can pretty much do anything they want. However, what they do mostly is get bored.

A time traveller from the late 19th century changes this, and Jherek Carnelian's relationship with this woman grow in ways he is not used to, or even sure he understands.

3 out of 5

Immortal - Christopher Golden

Buffy's mother is sick, and Buffy also has to deal with an extra powerful female vampire, and her gang.

This bunch wants to summon something considerably worse than themselves.

Even if Buffy manages to kill the head woman, Veronique, she comes back again as another vampire. Pretty annoying situation to be in, all around.

3.5 out of 5

Sweet Sixteen - Scott Ciencin

When patrolling, Buffy comes across a girl being threatened by a demon. However, the girl punches the demon and puts both her fists through it.

Not a normal kid. Dawn ends up talking to her at school, and they eventually find out she has a demon father, who has some conqueror type plans for her rare superpowers.

3 out of 5

Paleo - Yvonne Navarro

Two self-centred paleontology students cause problems after they put to work a theory and spell found in a 1939 researcher's notes. They bring back a dragon demon via the resurrection of some dinosaur eggs.

The eggs that they thought were Timimus actually were something more like Rex, and they grow fast, and the demon needs four of them. Four Rexes, even baby ones, can eat a lot of people. With a demon controller, even worse.

3 out of 5

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chaos Bleeds - James A. Moore

Apparently this one is based on the second Buffy game, so we have the alternate reality extras things going on with Sid the dummy and Kakistos the vampire. Add in Faith and Spiker.

Ethan Rayne and The First are playing a little game, but Sid is the wild card they didn't know about, and he isn't pleased with The First for trapping him in the dummy body.

So, he tells Buffy about Cassandra Rayne, one of Ethan's ancestors and the Dagger of Hope she has that can vanquish The First. The only problem is, that she is immortal, and her remains have been dispersed across a very wide area.

Also, this book has an amazing amount of carnage, more vampire slayings and monster killings than in many others put together. If you are after monster bashing, this book is for you.

3 out of 5

Code Veronica - S. D. Perry

Apparently these are based on the game, which I have never played. A young woman is held captive by a pair of twins who are related to the whole Umbrella thing. They have a very twisted relationship.

She manages to get out, and meets a boy around the area, and they try and escape, dodging monsters.

Elsewhere, the girl's brother, a S.T.A.R.S. member, decides to come looking for her.

The female twin is the carrier of the T-Veronica virus, meaning she can become a superhuman shapeshifter. This is bad news for some.

2.5 out of 5

The Icarus Hunt - Timothy Zahn

A very good yarn, with some twists you don't necessarily see coming. Noir in space? Your standard down on his luck guy, struggling to get along in space, comes across something. He has various entanglements with local and not so local crime figures to try and sort out. However, all is most definitely not what it seems as you get much further into the book.

3.5 out of 5

The Blackcollar - Timothy Zahn

The Blackcollars were a legendary outfit of warriors, spies and saboteurs, with superhuman skills and abilities. Earth is under control of aliens, but rebels still exist.

One of them, the protagonist in this book, wants to be free. To do this, he pins his hope on finding a lost blackcollar unit to aid the rebellion.

All, however, is not as it seems, and the truth about the blackcollars will shock him.

3.5 out of 5

Heir to the Empire - Timothy Zahn

Some years after the events in the Star Wars movie, the New Republic is beginning to encounter political problems, and having to deal with governing and routing out rebels.

Along comes something nastier. A grand admiral of the Empire, with a very potent battle fleet at his command, and a very impressive ability to utilise it.

The beginning of the publishing of 100 billion books of what I suppose you could call '21st century pulp'.

This series is pretty decent, however.

3 out of 5

Dark Force Rising - Timothy Zahn

Grand Admiral Thrawn attacks the New Republic on many fronts. He forces our intrepid band of heroes to flee assassins, and Leia takes off with Chewie, and Han goes looking for help by himself.

The dodgy Mara Jade is also floating around, as is a not so nice Jedi Master.

Whoever controls the 'Dark Force' of ancient ships in the end will have a massive advantage in the battle for the galaxy.

3 out of 5