Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Balance of Power - Tom Clancy

Spanish politics and shooting.

The Op-Center is a semi-independent agency that gets to do some dirty, dangerous work.

This time it involves getting mixed up in Spanish politics, virus, and terrorism, leading to a stressful time for all, as it doesn't take long for an assassination to happen.

Just an ok thriller type book is all.


3 out of 5

The Late Arrivals - Roberta Lannes

Kid replacement.


3 out of 5

Something In the Earth - Charles Beaumont

What do do with the old place.


2.5 out of 5

The Muse - Norman Corwin

Inspiration resistance.


3 out of 5

Foundation's Edge - Isaac Asimov

More than the Foundations?


There may be an as yet undiscovered third leg in the struggle for control, and this leads to a couple of the characters involved searching for Earth.

Not sure there is any real reason to read this if you have read the original Foundation books, but if you are more of a fan you will likely enjoy it, with all the psychohistory, prediction and mind games.


3 out of 5

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey

Subterfuge and sex.


The main focus of this book is a young woman who is trained as a courtesan, but has a minor biological flaw. It turns out that this is important, and a rare sign of her being a supernaturally excellent example of a sadomasochistic sexual servant.

Being really good as this also brings her to the attention of spymasters, given that sex and spying go rather well together.

Reasonable book, but too long and hence gets tedious for me.


3 out of 5

Pattern - Fredric Brown

Bug spray.


3.5 out of 5

In the Arena - Brian Aldiss

Man-woman team plan.


3 out of 5

Three Times Around - Jane Roberts

Laundry skin.


2.5 out of 5

Home Team Advantage - Jack C. Haldeman

Baseball win hard to swallow.


3.5 out of 5

Vision Quest - Patrick Lobrutto

Heritage check.


2 out of 5

The Little Man On the Subway - Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl

God training train.


3.5 out of 5

Mr Wilde's Second Chance - Joanna Russ

Limbo life thread busted.


3.5 out of 5

In the Valley of the Shades - C. H. Sherman

Ghost love return.


3 out of 5

The Obsession - William Relling

Tv show vampire hunter host removal.


3.5 out of 5

A Lake Of Summer - Chad Oliver

G-8 and His Battles Aces, like a bolt of lightning.


3.5 out of 5

Two O'Clock Session - Richard Matheson

Shrink fatigue.


3.5 out of 5

One Life In An Hourglass - Charles L. Grant

Love, for now.


3 out of 5

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Makes Us Human - Stephen Donaldson

Berserker freeze out.


4 out of 5

Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters - Malcolm Hulke

Radation and Rexes.


The Doctor and UNIT investigate when an underground nuclear research facility begins having serious problems.

Generally in this setting you wouldn't expect dinosaurs and a race of non-humans from before the dawn of man to be around, but this is what they have to contend with.

The book is a little different in that it shows some of it from the non-human point of view.


3 out of 5

She Is the Darkness - Glen Cook

Smoke surveillance.


There is a new company annalist as Croaker and the Lady now lead. He has a unique advantage in basically being able to do psychic remote viewing because of the abilities of a comatose sorcerer they have as a prisoner.

Handy as a storytelling and spying device for the military. Again, things are not simple for the Black Company because their employers aren't to be trusted.

Taking Croaker out of the main narrative role may not be to everybody's taste, or the story difference, but the style and quality is still there enough to just scrape in for a 4, for me. 3.75 if you like.


4 out of 5

The White Rose - Glen Cook

Rebellion brewing.


Having defected to the side of the rebels, the Black Company's remnants are in hiding to protect the woman who will have the important role of The White Rose.

The Third book finds them in a strange dirty place surround by warning guardian stone and flying sky whale type creatures as they plot and plan to come up with a way to stop all sorts of evil sorcerers via the White Rose's anti-magic ability.

While the Company and story's style is no longer new, this is still a fine installment.


4 out of 5

The Black Company - Glen Cook

The Black Company is a mercenary for hire unit with a lot history and traditions. One of these is recording its own exploits and personnel via the Annals - which also provides commanders a reference and advice for future situations.

What is different with the setup for this book is that the company in question have chosen to sign up with a woman that is actual an undead sorceress, and she has friends. As in, she is an evil overlord type, and so are the 9 others, but worse things exist. The Company is part of a fight to put down a rebellion.

The Company is famous for fulfililng its contracts, but when they find out the nasty situation they are in some hard choices and quick actions need to be taken.

Military adventure and dark fantasy you would call this, I suppose. Excellent and gripping, and the start of a long series.


4.5 out of 5

Ship Of Magic - Robin Hobb

Sentient ship family.


Set in the same world as the Farseer series of books, and geographically within trading distance this book is about a family that crews one of the sailing ships made of a magical wood that are actually alive.

When the father of the family dies the new owner of the ship comes as a surprise. After this, with the usual problems of trying to make a living in this industry throw in piracy on top of that, and pirate romance even.

Nowhere near as interesting to me as the Farseer books, unfortunately.


3 out of 5

Fool's Fate - Robin Hobb

Skillmaster and the Dragon.


The quest for the dragon involves some perilous and arduous sea travel and other journeying, which many of this party are not particularly sorted too. Fitz, as Skillmaster has a few problems on his hands, least of which is the actual reason behind this trip to start with, and what the Fool is really up to.

Another fine book, but I think a few people are going to be annoyed by the Fitz/Fool resolution, if you can call it that.


4 out of 5

The Golden Fool - Robin Hobb

Subterfuge and psionics.


Fitz is back in the heart of it after the death of Nighteyes and his recovery in Dutiful, who it seems has much in common as far as the mental powers side of thing goes, and this is where Fitz turns his attention.

The political situation becomes more complicated when Dutiful's wife to be demands a quest of him to prove his worthiness. It is a lot worse than cleaning out some stables or taming a wild bull, too.

Another finely written installment of the second Farseer trilogy.


4 out of 5

Fool's Errand - Robin Hobb

They keep pulling me back in.


Fitz is living in the country with an aging Nighteyes the wolf, reasonably at piece and happy to not be involved in assassination and politics at the castle.

However, his assistance is needed with the Witted and the disapperance of a young prince who is due to make political alliance.

Fitz is back on the slippery slope in another fine Farseer book, the first in a new trilogy. The writing again doesn't disappoint.


4 out of 5

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb

Dragon quest.


The rightful and competent ruler of Buckkeep is off on a quest to try and work out how to win a war against basically implacable zombie berserkers.

His nasty brother is left in charge, leaving the safer option for Fitz and company to travel off to see what they can do to help Verity when he calls them telepathically.

What they find is quite surprising.

Again, Hobb keeps the quality of the series the same even while introducing a fantasy quest of this nature. A fine achievement.


4 out of 5

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

Conflict and war.


An older Fitz is now not quite so lonely as his Wit talent has enabled him to bond with a wolf partner, and he finds he has a thing for a young local woman, as well.

However, his psychic abilities and the group he has been using them with fall victim to a political rival, a conflict that they don't need with the Red Ship Raiders on their doorstep.

Fitz has to survive all this in a story excellently told by Hobb from a first person point of view. Just as good as the first book.


4 out of 5

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator - Roald Dahl

Not as good as the original.


The takeoff into the Sequel of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is ok, but the rest doesn't live up to it, unfortunately.

You can save the kids this one and go for some of Dahl's other work, or just go through the first book again.

The space mission here isn't as much fun and doesn't offer as much clever commentary as the other book.


2.5 out of 5

The Woman Who Loved Pigs - Stephen Donaldson

Helpless hog advice warlock woe.


2.5 out of 5

Penance - Stephen Donaldson

Vampire war feed.


3 out of 5

The Kings Of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts - Stephen Donaldson

Caliph calumny.


2.5 out of 5

The Scent of Shadows - Vicki Pettersson

Here we have an out and out superhero story that presumably is packaged to look like a paranormal romance.

Those who have to have heaps of the romance stuff and follow the rules for that may well be disappointed, as there is not a lot of this here.

It seems each US city has two superteams, one good, one bad, each structured around the signs of the Zodiac.

A rich girl in Las Vegas that doesn't want to be a socialite like her centrefold sister or be involved in the casino business like the rest of her has a strange encounter :

"“You ever read comic books?” he asked, straightening suddenly, all signs of ill health vanishing with the movement.

I wiped my hand on my pants. “You mean like Donald Duck?”

“I mean like Superman, Wonder Woman…Elektra.” He said this last word with all the panache of a seasoned lounge act, fingers splayed in the air with theatrical introduction.

“No.” This whole conversation was getting stranger by the moment. I took a step back, muttering to myself, “What do I look like? An adolescent boy with cystic acne and bondage fantasies?”

“Not fantasies,” he said, overhearing me. “History. Research. The truth multiplied by the collective consciousness equals fact stranger than fiction.” He began chuckling again.

“Sorry?”

“I’m a superhero!” he announced, raising his arms like a competitor in Mr. Olympia. “Hero to the superheroes. Command leader of Zodiac troop 175, division of anti-evil, La-as Vegas!”"

For Jo Archer, it all gets crazier from there, as she is a child that is a result of a union between superhumans from different sides.

Very entertaining book, indeed. There is a bit of sort of literal comic relief, as their adventures are chronicled very very loosely in a comic series run by some guys in town. If you think the two guys fulfilling a similar role in the movie 'Lost Boys' you will get the idea.

Well worth a look. There is no bending vampires over desks, werewolf hunting, zombie raising or congress with fairies, or any of that to be found here, so hero fans not interested in that can happily pick it up.


4 out of 5

The Killing Stroke - Stephen Donaldson

Martial arts vs mages.


2.5 out of 5

The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed - Stephen Donaldson

Gigolo guignol show.


3 out of 5

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Starship Pirate - Mike Resnick

Piracy isn't as easy as we thought it would be.


After being rescued by his crew at the end of the last book, now Captain again Wilson Cole decides to head for the Inner Frontier with his ship, and out of the direct reach of the Republic Navy.

He decides that the pirate life will be a way to make a living, but he and his crew's ethics don't really allow for the robbing and killing of innocents, leaving him only one target - other pirates!

This is just a straightforward SF adventure story, and when you throw in a pirate queen, some fences, and some pirate rivals and targets you have a fairly entertaining book, simply written and really pretty close to PG.

In the appendices, Resnick includes a detailed breakdown and timeline of work in his particular future history (and there is a lot of it), as well as rules of the board game type games he introduces in the book. So that bit is interesting, too.


3 out of 5

The Ultimate Spider-Man - Stan Lee

An anthology of Spider-Man stories, taken from many periods in his career. One of the cool things about it is that there is an illustration to go with each story at the start, from Ditko and Romita right on through. There is also an introduction by Stan Lee, the editor.

The stories are generally of pretty good quality.

Ultimate Spider-Man : 01 Spider-Man - Stan Lee and Peter David
Ultimate Spider-Man : 02 Suits - Tom De Haven and Dean Wesley Smith
Ultimate Spider-Man : 03 Cool - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Ultimate Spider-Man : 04 Blindspot - Ann Nocenti
Ultimate Spider-Man : 05 Kraven the Hunter Is Dead Alas - Craig Shaw Gardner
Ultimate Spider-Man : 06 Radically Both - Christopher Golden
Ultimate Spider-Man : 07 Scoop! - David Michelinie
Ultimate Spider-Man : 08 Tinker Tailor Soldier Courier - Robert L. Washington, III
Ultimate Spider-Man : 09 Thunder on the Mountain - Richard Lee Byers
Ultimate Spider-Man : 10 Cold Blood - Greg Cox
Ultimate Spider-Man : 11 An Evening in the Bronx with Venom - John Gregory Betancourt and Keith R. A. DeCandido
Ultimate Spider-Man : 12 Five Minutes - Peter David



A novella telling the origin of Spider-Man, with James rants and Doc Ock included.

3 out of 5


After getting beaten up by the Vulture, a young Spidey is thinking fo giving it away until a trip to Atlantic City with his aunt leads him to meet the Black Bee, a much older ex-hero with a similar story.

3.5 out of 5


A kid takes his hero worship of Spider-Man into gun wielding vigilante territory.

3.5 out of 5


Spidey finds an organlegger who apart from those crimes is making something nasty.

2.5 out of 5


Spidey would rather fight supervillains than have to go shopping with his wife and aunt, so he does. Luckily for him a cancer ridden Vulture and Mysterio, who has a magical mistake problem, are definitely available.

3.5 out of 5


Curt Connors latest transformation allows his consciousness to watch helplessly as the Lizard goes on rampage, threatening his own family.

3.5 out of 5


A small town reporter comes to the Bugle, and wants to work with Peter Parker. Why? To find out who Spidey is, of course. When they undercover your good old New York variety gangs of hoods with powered armour complications ensue.

3.5 out of 5


Spider-Man gets asked to transport a donor liver for a dying young girl, after its couriers get stuck in traffic. Unfortunately a super powered mercenary has been hired to retrieve it.

3 out of 5



Spidey has tracked a group of mercenaries, including the Rhino to a buried energy weapon. Unfortunately this is where a guy and his son have decided to do the mountain man thing.

4 out of 5


On a freezing night of too many snowstorms Spidey wonders why he is out, given there is no-one to help. Except one old man. Morbius the Living Vampire has the same problem. No bad guys outside, no-one to eat. Just one old man.

3.5 out of 5


A terrified man is running from Brock, and Spider-Man lends a hand. All is not as it seems, however.

3.5 out of 5


Decisions on when to go and when to stay cause arguments in the Parker household.

4 out of 5





4 out of 5

Flight Of the Nighthawks - Raymond Feist

Boy, blackguards and power armour army.


Pug and Nakor have more of a starring role here as they realise that the threat owned by the Talnoy (basically magic robot power armour battle suits) and their masters is bad news indeed. Pug's sons, both magical and non-magical are involved, as are the couple of kids they are mentoring, enabling Feist to bring in yet another pair of young brat identification characters, if you like.

Fans of the magical types specifically may like this one more.


3 out of 5

Exile's Return - Raymond Feist

Given the arse, revenge becomes secondary.


After Talon gets the better of Kaspar previously he is not happy, being stranded and penniless, and somewhat understandably, wants to get some of his own back.

However, events he discovers give him something more important to do with the whole evil magician and associated threats that the Conclave of Shadows wants to stop.


3 out of 5

King Of Foxes - Raymond Feist

Cooking a way out.


Tal, now fit for upper class society and an expert swordsman is playing his role. However, it is not all fencing and fun as he ends up in prison in a very isolated location, and some rather severe punishment.

His cooking skills enable him to get the bored guards onside and start plotting a way out of a bad situation, to fruther his revenge on Kaspar.


3.5 out of 5

Talon Of the Silver Hawk - Raymond Feist

Tribal boy recruit.


We have one of those young boy grows up fantasy stories here. However, this one it appears is being recruited and trained as an agent that the wise and powerful can use in what is at the moment, a secret war.

When a young boy's tribe is killed while he is undergoing his vision quest he falls in with a man who offers him place a a local settlement, where he can learn to fit into Midkemian society, and other more dangerous skills he has a natural aptitude for.


3 out of 5

Shards Of A Broken Crown - Raymond Feist

Cleanup opportunities.


After going through a war with a demon, much of Midkemia has serious rebuilding to do. So, great time for an invasion an enterprising Keshian military leader things.

So, with the focus off epic fantasy and magic on the same scale as before we have something a little more similar to the previous novel with Borric and Erland, where a couple of the younger generation are the focus of the novel, and have to grow up fast to deal with a serious situation.


3 out of 5

Rage Of A Demon King - Raymond Feist

Invasion preparation.


Things are a bit worse than they seem as the Dark Queen is really a demon in disguise, and a large army is heading Erik's way as he desperately tries to train enough men to do something about it.

Roo is involved in high level economic issues, and even more importantly on the magic front, Pug and Tomas have to find Macros the Black if they are going to have any hope of stopping what is coming to Sethanon and the Lifestone.


3 out of 5

Rise Of A Merchant Prince - Raymond Feist

Cash over swords.


The second book of the Serpentwar series follows Roo Avery as he gets involved in financial machinations, trying to bootstrap himself into the world of Midkemian big business, and all the deviousness and underhandedness that goes along with that. He still prefers this to people trying to separate parts of his body from the rest with weaponry or magic.

The conflict with the Dark Queen won't go away, and even rich businessmen will be neededed in the war.


3.5 out of 5

Shadow Of A Dark Queen - Raymond Feist

Suicide mission better than hanging around.


When a couple of young men get into trouble and are goaded into some foolish action i.e. attacking rich guys when they get mad, it is execution for them.

After a nasty near death poo your pants scaffold experience they realise they have been given a reprieve of sorts. Time for a Dirty Dozen experience. So, horrible boot camp trainig for them and others like them, because there is a Dark Lordess that needs stopping.


3.5 out of 5

The King's Buccaneer - Raymond Feist

Pirate power time, matey.


Nicholas, the youngest son of Arutha has been forced to lead a sheltered life and not run around with wizards, thieves, murderers, dark elves and almost get killed a lot. Really missed out this kid.

However, when he goes on a trip to Crydee, all this changes, as it is Nakor and a sea life for him, from now on.

Again what you would expect from a Feist book, in general, with the focus on a minor character, even if the conflict is perhaps a little forced given some of the more major powers could have solved it much more easily.


3 out of 5

Prince Of the Blood - Raymond Feist

Party boys and politics.


Arutha's sons are your typical rich brats, drinking, gambling, skirtchasing, etc. So, a bit peeved with them, they get packed off to a boring political function/celebration in Kesh.

It ends up anything but boring, as it seems them being dead suits some of the locals, and they get caught up in a serious civil conflict, and have to get help and try and survive.


3 out of 5

Krondor Tear of the Gods - Raymond Feist

God stone sunk.


Or, the bad guys don't like our religion. Can't have that.

A temple raid by forces of your Dark God person sinks an important religious artifact. This leaves a bunch of Kingdom priest types lacking in power. Not so much of a problem for their opposition.

So, a bit of Raise the Titanic Stone to be accomplished, which requires the unique skills of a raising from the ocean practitioner, as well as your usual cast of Midkemian heroes and adventurers to be found in the earlier books in this series.


3 out of 5

Krondor the Assassins - Raymond Feist

Stop killing us please, we are only criminals.


The Mockers have problems with the return of the Assassins' Guild, in that, well, Assassins kill people quite well, including thieves.

James and some help get to do some of the more spook sort of policework to try and work out what is going on.

Being a Feist fantasy, not going to be that simple, so expect monsters and magic before it all works out.


3 out of 5

Krondor the Betrayal - Raymond Feist

Dark elves and bad men.


Related to a computer game this book said when I read it, can't say how much, though. Those not so nice moredhel are returning, some years later, and the criminal guild has an exceedingly nasty new ruler.

It is up to the usual band of stalwarts, some new characters, and even a dark elf that helps the Kingdom side out to try and do something about it.

Another ok Midkemia adventure, pretty much what you would expect.


3 out of 5

Jimmy the Hand - Raymond Feist and S. M. Stirling

Thief escapes.


The young Jimmy the Hand helps Anita and Arutha escape, and so is related to earlier books, but the main focus of this novel deals with the young thief, and what happens to him afterwards as a result of his actions.

Basically, he has to bail out into the countryside, and see what he can work out for himself and a friend there. Needless to say, there will be some trouble to be found.


2.5 out of 5

Murder in LaMut - Raymond Feist and Joel Rosenberg

Mercenary detective work has less war, but is still nasty.


Three men, ex-mercenaries as such have basically run out of war, and have to decide what to do next. They end up being hired as investigators in what turns out to be a less straightforward case than they would have liked, involved the nasty local politics and nobles of the area.


3 out of 5

Honoured Enemy - Raymond Feist and William R. Fortschen

The enemy of my enemy will help me kill dark elves, I hope.


A different style of book here with the focus being on what is basically a special forces unit, Midkemia style. This warrior group is your behind enemy lines type of killers, and out on a mission they discover that they have Tsurani counterparts in the same area.

The target of both units has a more serious problem than them, having a larger serious moredhel problem. The two human groups have to see if they can work together to overcome this and perhaps learn from each other without everything devolving into inter-unit violence.


3 out of 5

Mistress of the Empire - Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts

Once again a target.


Mara, now a woman of power and influence again finds herself under attack once more. Her family, in the form of her more vulnerable children are targets.

This involves a lot of work for her spymaster, and provokes a greater conflict within Tsurani society, with Mara on one side and the magic wielding Great Ones and the Emperor and more conservative elements on one side, in a battle for control.


2.5 out of 5

Servant of the Empire - Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts

A spot of culture shock.


Mara continues to solidify her power base and attack the family she wants revenge against. However, things change for her, and the book looks more deeply at the society on this planet when she gains a slave who is from Midkemia.

When he becomes a bedwarmer for her, she considers that she has bought into a lot of what she has been told from any early age.

This gives her a few ideas and helps with her rise to a Lady of political influence.


2.5 out of 5

Daughter of the Empire - Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts

Murder, politics and revenge.


This series is set in the Tsurani world of Kelewan, so is somewhat different to the Midkemia adventures. Their society is somewhat like feudal Japan's. The focus is on a young woman whose family is murdered because of political machinations that are desirous of obtaining her family interests.

To regain her power she has to employ some lateral thinking and employ the very few resources she has left to claw her way back.


2.5 out of 5

Reave the Just - Stephen Donaldson

Alchemy usury incarcarceration skull exsanguination consequences.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, October 27, 2007

MASH - Richard Hooker

Black humour, sawbones and bombs.


A US army medical unit stationed in Korea has to deal with all the problems that this entails.

However, the author here goes the satire/comedy route some of the time to get his point across more effectively.

An interesting novel.


4 out of 5

Orca - Arthur Herzog

Jaws, but mammal and smarter.


Killer whales can actually decide to be mean, apparently, rather than just, say, eat you if you are tasty and in the right place at the right time like a shark would.

Or, if you get a monster variety of such much like Jaws was to sharks that is a really, really bad thing, especially if everyone else gets terrified of the water and it is you that gets to do the fishing.


2.5 out of 5

Elf Defense - Esther M. Friesner

Supernaturals won't like lawyers either.


A princess and her kid piss off from elfland as it isn't much fun.

She gets busted, and the uglies come looking.

She has made friends with a lawyer who decides to help out.

Or, urban fantasy comedy that is definitely amusing at times.


3 out of 5

Pawn of Prophecy - David Eddings

By the numbers.

Get farm boy. Check.
Know powerful wizard. Check.
Need magic thingo. Check.
Get helpers. Check.
Fight dark lord. Check.
Get away unscathed. Check.

Or, if you are young and haven't come across anything else, this will seem better at the time. It won't seem better if you only read it because of having read everything else and it was your sister than had it.

Anyway, absolutely standard ordinary fantasy offering that is very light and designed to appeal to a female audience.


2.5 out of 5

Cat Karina - Michael Coney

Tiger's daughter changes her tune.


Yep, dad is know as El Tigre, so the daughter gets known as Cat. I suppose obvious nicknames are better than shockers though.

Anyway, here there are 'True Humans' and 'Specialists' and they really don't get along too well.

Cats and humans have different lengths of breeding relationships, for starters, but anyway, Cat of course will hook up with a garden variety monkeyboy in this book.


2.5 out of 5

I Am Not the Other Houdini - Michael Conner

Doth protest?


If this is your claim, then coming up with pyrotechnic fancypants and big-noted magic escape artist type tricks in space is not really a good way to distinguish that sort of point, really.

That would be like putting on a spandex flag outfit and jumping motorbikes and saying? Evel? Never heard of him.

Anyway, a bit of media satire to be found here.


3 out of 5

First Meetings In the Enderverse - Orson Scott Card

A collection that basically does as advertised, although the 'Ender's Game' original novella is to be found here, too.

Meetings of Ender';s dad as a kid, his parents when they are university students, and Ender and his AI assistant.

Battle School strategy surprise.

4 out of 5


AI accountants are cool.

4 out of 5


Young ancestor deal, breeding side-effects rather useful.

3 out of 5


Smart people meeting.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie

Bump 'em off in order, see if I don't then.


The murderer in this case sends one Hercule Poirot advance notice in the form of letters of what he intends to do, and it seems he is perhaps loopy enough to have come from Arkham.

His string of killings follows the alphabet by place and by name of the deceased.

Poirot will strain his grey matter to work this one out.


3 out of 5

Hellburner - C. J. Cherryh

Speed is of the essence.


A new technology to defeat enemy ships has a small problem, it requires a pilot with the fastest reflexes to operate. There is such a man, but his longevity isn't good, it seems there just might be some political plotting going on whose aim is to get rid of him.

After something suspicious happens his friends come to investigate and see if they can protect him.

Skullduggery, conspiracy, and space military abounds.


3.5 out of 5

The Return of Nathan Brazil - Jack L. Chalker

Last Markovian Hunt.


Bad things are happening in the the universe. To stop in, they need the Well World. To get the Well World working, they need a Markovian. To get a Markovian your options are limited, given only Nathan Brazil is left. To get Nathan Brazil is very heard. Cue Mavra Chang and machine sidekick, and a fun chase and convince and hope to survive story.


4 out of 5

Teacher's Pest - Orson Scott Card

Smart people meeting.


3 out of 5

The Polish Boy - Orson Scott Card

Young ancestor deal, breeding side-effects rather useful.


3 out of 5

Shadow of the Giant - Orson Scott Card

End of an era, old Bean.


The adult Battle School types here demonstrate they are not without their own problems and flaws, as they decide what they should do to leave Earth in a better state than it is.

Bean also want sto look into the kid conspiracy, as well.

Peter Wiggin features, too, but just an average book.


3 out of 5

Malignos - Richard Calder

Journey to the centre of the altered earth.


Altered as in people, in this case. A long time ago some people were altered into non-human form, a war was fought, the altered lost and now live underground.

The protagonist of the piece is a down on his luck human soldier who is not a bigot by any means. Altered women are ok by him.

He, of course, ends up on a dangerous trip into this realm of demonic looking people - the title being their name for themselves.


2.5 out of 5

Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet - Gerry Davis

Cybermen arrival.


This is the end for the First Doctor as a landing in the very cold leads to capture and the discovery of people that have replaced their bodies with mechanical and plastic parts.

So the start of a long enmity for the Doctor, here, and also the beginning of the whole regeneration thing.


2.5 out of 5

The City Of Gold and Lead - John Christopher

Escape and infiltration.


The three boys have gotten away from the Tripods in the first book, but put themselves back into danger by going into the 'City of Gold and Lead' and posing as your usual suspects that cannot think for themselves.

A dangerous piece of espionage to fall onto the shoulders of people so young, indeed, as the boys use the time to learn about the aliens and what they actually have planned for humanity in the end.

Continuing a good story.


4 out of 5

The White Mountains - John Christopher

Mind-control alien master of the adult.


The White Mountains is a study of free will, as well as being the story of a young man who lives in an England dominated by aliens, where basic needs of all people is generally provided for.

The alien solution to this problem is a mind control implant, and the boy and his friend realise that all just might not be as it seems.

The implanting is done at a certain age, so the minds of children are their own.

Rather good, for a kids book.


4 out of 5

An Evening IN the Bronx With Venom - John Gregory Betancourt and Keith R. A. DeCandido

A terrified man is running from Brock, and Spider-Man lends a hand. All is not as it seems, however.


3.5 out of 5

Starship Mutiny - Mike Resnick

In the Navy, many morons surround me.


Well, maybe not quite that bad, but the hero of the piece definitely thinks so at times.

This is a military SF book, but it is closer in tone to Robert Asprin's Phule's Company than Hammer's Slammer's or David Webber's blow them away space navies.

Much wisecracking, little introspection, in other words, as an officer who has used his brains and not the rulebook to solve military situations gets sent to the arse end of nowhere to serve with a crew of misfits on an old rustbucket, wherein he is reunited with an old sidekick.

Cue hijinks and action and disobeying of orders. Pleasingly short and light entertainment.

(call it 3.25)


3 out of 5

Satyrday - Steven Bauer

Evil owl overlord.


Your average kid probably doesn't get raised by a Satyr, but that is what happens to the boy in this book.

As well, the bad guy is out to get him, and it is a hoot. Not fun, but because he is an owl. Complete with minions. What minions does a master villain avian employ? Crows, of course. Avians in black. The black hats. Ok, well black feathers in this case, but anyway.

Lots of running around to other supernatural creatures and running away to be done here.


2.5 out of 5

Friday, October 26, 2007

Blake's Seven - Trevor Hoyle

Freedom fighters need an appropriately named conveyance.


This book takes the first part of the Blake's Seven series, from the time as drugged underclass in the Federation, to prisoners and delivery to Cygnus Alpha.

A reasonable book, especially for fans, anyway, with the entertaining subversion of the evil version of a Federation and prison planet escape.


3.5 out of 5

Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon - Brian Hayles

Interstellar diplomacy, with castles and monsters.


The Third Doctor arrives on a planet and is mistaken for a late arriving alien diplomat.

He gets caught up in a plot to do with a local monster of legend, and political nastiness that just may involve the odd old Ice Warrior friend.


3.5 out of 5

Catweazle - Richard Carpenter

The '70s are scary.


Especially if you are an 11th century bloke transported in time to this particular period.

Apart from dodgy trousers you have to deal with all the technological stuff that you just think is magic, and only get a kid to help hide you from everyone.

Then there is that little problem of magically finding your way back in time.


2.5 out of 5

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

Criticising control of rebellious youth.


The novel looks at one young man in particular, leader of a violent gang, and what he does, and what is done to him by a rather fascist government to rein him in.

Also would seem to be about the usual fears of the old people of the powerless in general youth of the time, in whatever time.

Unfortunately, a little dull to go along with that, an comes across as contrived at times.


3 out of 5

Tunnel In the Sky - Robert A. Heinlein

Teen survival stranding.


A group of young people get sent to a planet in basically an advanced scouts/rovers/venturers sort of scenario to see how they go.

What they didn't count on was getting stuck there for orders of magnitude longer than they expected.

So, they have to work out how to survive as a group, establish leaders and a social structure, and deal with some not so friendly wildlife. Stobor and all that.

Slightly dodgy ending perhaps, but overall a good book.


4 out of 5

The Empire Strikes Back - Donald F. Glut

Ice planet panic.


Or, if you really don't know how this one goes that is possible evidence for alien life, as I am not quite sure where you have been to miss it.

The rebels are hiding out on a very cold planet when they are discovered leading to a pitched battle, evacuation, and reunion with an old friend for Han Solo, etc.

If you like the you-know-what you will probably like this too if you go in for this sort of thing.


3 out of 5

The Fist Of God - Frederick Forsyth

Not enough human intelligence.


Even then, in Iraq, it seems. A desperate military sends one of the few men it has that has a shot at passing locally into Iraq because of worries about a superweapon.

Quite literally, a BFG. He does a bit of rabble rousing of the spook kind to aid his cause, while he tries to work out what is going on and stop it.

Just passable, as far as Forsyth goes.


3 out of 5

Clash Of the Titans - Alan Dean Foster

Cheesy mythbusting.


Take some Greek myths and basically turn it into a kids story, complete with your magic robot owl, of all things.

Otherwise, you have the basics of Perseus vs Medusa here.

Angry goddesses, other monsters, cannon fodder, all the usual sort of thing to go along with that, and competent enough for a novelisation more aimed at the young.


3 out of 5

Arachnophobia - Nicholas Edwards

Spiders can really be quite useful.


Not when there are thousands thousands of really rather oversized specimens trying to kill you and everyone around you, however.

Or, standard sort of bug horror plot, one hundred percent.

With a tiny bit of comedy relief here and there.

If you really like spiders destroying humans, you certainly should get this one.


2.5 out of 5

Willow - Wayland Drew

Short guy and crazy guy with a sword to rescue short person from crazy woman without a sword, but with spells.


Or, this is a novelisation of the movie Willow, in other words. Your humble short person hobbitesque hero is entrusted with doing the right thing by a rugrat, and has various adventures along the way, generally with people that behave strangely and are much, much taller.


3 out of 5

Five Minutes - Peter David

Decisions on when to go and when to stay cause arguments in the Parker household.


4 out of 5

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie

Barbarians, torture, bloodshed, treason and brawling.


And that is just in the first bit of the book. Throw in mages, monks, cannibal monsters, wastrel swordsmen and more.

Right from the start with the presumed protagonist of the piece nearly falling and doing himself in with his own weapon it seems that this book will be entertaining, and it doesn't disappoint.

It would seem that on this end of the fantasy spectrum A comes between B and C, not before, as somewhere between Brust and Cook's Black Company is where you could say the tone of this book lies.

It actually made me laugh more than once, which is always a good sign.

No brainless bland farmboys or peasant girls who will be sorcerers to be found here.

I suspect the author is greatly entertaining himself with jokes and character references, and if he is, I am sure there are plenty I will not get, having not read tons of this stuff.

However, he has a 'Barbarian from the North' as a major character, which Conan is, of course. This guy is named Logen, and is the 'best he is at what he does' to quote the First of the Magi in the novel, more of less. This, of course, is Wolverine's signature line (real name Logan) and he is also from the cold North and goes berserk much as the 'Bloody-Nine' does, and also cannot have too many knives, being built in.

There are several major characters followed here, or threads of the novel. One of the others is Glokta, an Inquisitor, or torturer, who has an apprentice torturer named Severard. Not that this is a name that is remotely differenced from Gene Wolfe's Severian. There is a Lector, not a Lictor.

Old wizards with Jedi mind tricks, annoying monks with lots of tricks a la Feist, and others, if this is deliberate. Lots of fun, anyway.

The basic situation is that a strong leader and ex-employer of Logen's has united the Northern barbarian type tribes and fancies a spot of invasion. The target of said invasion is mostly too busy with decadent plotting, and also has other enemies sensing weakness.

It does seem that the First of the Magi has some sort of vague plan, at least, and he gathers a few people, including Logen and Jezal Luthar the wastrel but now fine swordsman (who wouldn't be the first to go the Earl of Bronze type route, either) together by the end to try and do something about it, as the Union shores up defenses elsewhere.

Written in a pleasing, no nonsense style with people that basically talk like real people as opposed to rejects from a bad Shakespeare play this is a very refreshing book, indeed.

No generic heroes to be found, but picking this up you will find one hell of an excellent fantasy novel.

Oh, and the cover is cool, so if you need a pirate treasure map/ancient tome for a Halloween or other costume prop, it will stand in nicely in that role, too.

The other sign that this is excellent? It makes me want to read the next one right now.

Don't remember the last 550 page fantasy book of this sort that did that.

The only real criticism I can think of is that it does take a little bit of time to pull together perhaps with all the disparate character groups. The various different parties were all interesting though.

If you roll your eyes at elves and dragons and princesses and would prefer to spend time with Skillgannon, Croaker, Vlad Taltos or even the Raven then give this book a shot, as quite likely to be more up your alley.


4.5 out of 5

Man Overboard - Winston Churchill

Shark bait stranding.


3.5 out of 5

The Dramaturges of Yan - John Brunner

Big Art reaction time.


A leading and not exactly shy and retiring artiste decides that he would like to put on a show on the planet Yan.

This joint is notable for the structures there that are being studied, and that our artiste protagonist is interested in.

No-one thought to ask the locals, who up until now haven't minded the small presence on their planet.


3 out of 5

Xenogenesis - Octavia Butler

A bookclub edition of the three books in this series. Good only because it made a dull series a lot cheaper.

This odd series I didn't find too interesting. Maybe I would if I was an invading alien sex therapist. This is almost a horror story, with how creepy it is in parts. Condescending aliens treating people at times how people treat animals, which perhaps it part of the point, but the responses don't ring true here.




Hybrid helper?


Part of the problem with these books I think is the what would seem to be extremely unlikely acceptance so quickly of what the aliens are up to. Overwhelming technological advantage, sure, but given general human atittudes the suspension of disbelief required for this book was basically shattered pretty early.

After that, it is really dull. There is some resistance to the complete changing of the race, and the main character has a kid that may actually help reconcile the rebels.



More inbreeding issues.

A third novel in this series that is basically the same quality as the one preceding it, and adds little more to what is going on, or more of the same. Aliens remove breeding, then want to hybridise and cross-breed, and it turns out they may need some human breeding after all. DOH.




1.5 out of 5

Imago - Octavia Butler

More inbreeding issues.

A third novel in this series that is basically the same quality as the one preceding it, and adds little more to what is going on, or more of the same. Aliens remove breeding, then want to hybridise and cross-breed, and it turns out they may need some human breeding after all. DOH.

Or, aliens can be stupid and make scientific mistakes when conquering, too.


2 out of 5

Adulthood Rites - Octavia Butler

Hybrid helper?


Part of the problem with these books I think is the what would seem to be extremely unlikely acceptance so quickly of what the aliens are up to. Overwhelming technological advantage, sure, but given general human atittudes the suspension of disbelief required for this book was basically shattered pretty early.

After that, it is really dull. There is some resistance to the complete changing of the race, and the main character has a kid that may actually help reconcile the rebels.


2 out of 5

Slant - Greg Bear

Even nanothings fall apart.


In a sequel of sorts to Queen of Angels - some of the same characters reappear, but Mary is no longer a cop, she is now a public defender, for example.

You have an altered people elite, a separatist Idaho, AI that have breakdowns, and a whole bunch of frenetic other pieces of live that converged into something that Bear suggests is rather unstable.

This is not helped when a plot to change everyone is uncovered.

A passable book, perhaps a bit better than Queen of Angels - could go 3.25 for this one.


3 out of 5

Eternity - Greg Bear

Infinite way, yes or no?


It was going to be pretty hard to live up to the outstanding predecessor to this novel, Eon, and rather than following that directly this book has a rather different tone, following people other than your standard Earth humans, including a young woman from a rather different alternate universe.

I suppose you could say it has a bit more of a mythological feel at times, but a definite disappointment after the first book.


3 out of 5

Vitals - Greg Bear

Getting to the guts of eternal life.


A researcher, employing a lot of lateral thinking and investigation of other areas is looking at life extension techniques and methodology. When it appears he is getting close, attempts are made on his life, and the good old shadow conspiracy type of story starts to happen, which also apparently includes his brother.

Here it appears that Bear is turning into some sort of speculative thriller writer, so with half a dozen of one and half a dozen of another, not hat satisfying a book, overall.


3 out of 5

Queen Of Angels - Greg Bear

Poet killer case for transform detective.


A detective gets assigned the investigation into why a famous poet went whacko and dispatched a few people.

She herself is an animal-human hybrid of sorts, which, in passing some people are not too fond or (and they themselves may not be too fond of normal people).

The whole book itself doesn't gel all that well, maybe because it is something a little different for Bear, perhaps.

Those people who have to have someone they like in a book to read it can avoid this one, too.


3 out of 5

Anvil Of Stars - Greg Bear

Never-never land = space.


The few people that survived the destruction of Earth are now travelling by spaceship.

Not sure that political organisation via Peter Pan is really that great an idea, however that is what they do.

Infighting problems to be overcome before they can think about alien destroyer slaying, though.

Just another decent read.


3.5 out of 5

The Forge of God - Greg Bear

We're dead, Jim.


Alien discoveries begin to be made, and it is not at all good. It seems that there is a race that likes to destroy planets, and they have picked good old Terra as a target.

Needless to say, this does not go down well and the usual variety of craziness, despiar and desperation is entered into.

The twist is that anothr bunch of not-from-earthers turn up to offer some small solace.

Pretty good, but not a happy book, certainly.


3.5 out of 5

Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors - Brian Hayles

Very cold with alien monsters and no way out.


That old plot if you like, without being as cool as Who Goes There? for example.

However, an entertaining enough tale of an experimental base, very bad weather, and waking up something that does not want to be nice to you.

Another decent Doctor Who book involving the Second Doctor.


3 out of 5

Wolf - Michael Moorcock

Sheep for me, please.


2.5 out of 5

Sagittarius - Ray Russell

Son of Hyde, Guignol Grand.


4 out of 5

The Iron Man - Frederick Laing

Lifting power life ending leverage.


3.5 out of 5

Bianca's Hands - Theodore Sturgeon

Hand over control.


3 out of 5

Beyond Sleep - Barry N. Malzberg

Killer dreams.


2 out of 5

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Empty Zoo - Edward D. Hoch

Cage revenge wait.


3.5 out of 5

Unsigned Original - Parke Godwin

Murder mystery maker meeting mastery.


4 out of 5

Fidel Bassin - W. J. Stamper

Haitian rotter rotten end.


3.5 out of 5

The Man Who Wanted To Be In Movies - John Jakes

Flat out jealousy.


4 out of 5

The Throwing Suit - Darrell Schweitzer and Jason Van Hollander

Haunter house painter prolonging.


3.5 out of 5

A Day In the Life Of Comrade Lenin - Carol Bugge

Fearless leader follies many.


1.5 out of 5

Far Futures - Gregory Benford

This is just an average collection of hard SF, nothing stands out. Benford's introduction may be the best part. Bear's Judgement Engine and Anderson's Genesis are the best two stories.

Far Futures : Judgment Engine - Greg Bear
Far Futures : Genesis - Poul Anderson
Far Futures : Historical Crisis - Donald Kingsbury
Far Futures : For White Hill - Joe Haldeman
Far Futures : At the Eschaton - Charles Sheffield


Large scale libraries need some old fashioned teaching.

3.5 out of 5


Bigarse AI can be slack, sneaky corner-cutters.

3.5 out of 5


Trantor parody.

3.5 out of 5


Artists try for retro inspiration.

2.5 out of 5


Time awakening blunder.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

At the Eschaton - Charles Sheffield

Time awakening blunder.


3 out of 5

Historical Crisis - Donald Kingsbury

Trantor parody.


3.5 out of 5

The Touch Of Your Shadow the Whisper of Your Name - Neal Barrett

The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name is the fifth book in the original batch of tie-in novels, when you thought that that was all there would be (don't think anyone will believe that again in the history of the universe).

The station is threatened by a strange alien force that makes people go a bit crazy.

An ok B5 story this one, fans will be happy enough.


3 out of 5

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

Ticket to lolly and lesson overload.


A competition gives a few kids a shot at a mysterious factory tour.

The dirt poor Charlie is lucky enough to score one of the tickets, and various lessons are learned along the way as the down to earth kid heaps in head in all the whacky Wonka bits and pieces.

Entertaining kids book.



3.5 out of 5

Castrovalva - Christopher H. Bidmead

Fifth doctor beginnings.


The Fifth Doctor still is not quite with it after a rather arduous regeneration.

He chooses Castrovalva as a good rest and recovery spot.

Unfortunately for him, the Master has other plans and it becomes a lot worse than he would have liked.


3 out of 5

Darby O'Gill and the Good People - Herminie T. Kavanagh

Info better than cash.


3 out of 5

Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman

If you kill your boyfriend, making it permanent, no second chances, is the best plan.


After a bumping off, a woman bails out of a bad scene to go and stay with her sister. Just one or two flaws with this plan. Nothing is going to be simple when you have a zombie ex after you, and that your elderly aunts are all witches.

Being your chick-lit romance, a new bloke of course will enter the picture, as well.


A reasonably entertaining book that is deliberately fluffy, and maybe a little slow in places with the flashbacks.


4 out of 5

Purrfect Plunder - John Cleve

Furry space soft porn.


Or, if you are eight years old and pick this one up for 25c expecting cheesy SF, you will get that and perhaps a little more of a surprise, as well.

Basically your amorous flyboy style of novel adapted to a science fiction setting and kept somewhat tame, although note as tame as some of those.


2 out of 5

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger - John Ryder Hall

Thrill of the fight, with animated skeletons.


This is the novelisation of the movie, so if you have seen that, you know what goes on here.

Sinbad and band have to go on a quest, for you can guess what because of the usual reasons your roguish adventurers get made to do things.


Cue Harryhausen monsters and swordplay.

Pretty garden variety mediocre example of this sort of thing.


2.5 out of 5

The Day Of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth

Mythological assassin vs detective.


Mythological in the sense that he has a fancy name tying in to the history surrounding that particular assassin.

In this case, some perhaps not so nice people want a French leader removed, and haven't managed it themselves, so they bring in an outside expert.

On the other side is a detective trying to track him down.

An excellent example of tense spy thriller writing of the time, by one of its foremost proponents.



4.5 out of 5

Babel-17 - Samuel R. Delany

Linguistic heroine saves the day.


One of those books where the author comes up with something a bit strange and different, especially as far as the crewing of Rydra's ship goes.

A brilliant young woman's help is needed to deal with communicate with aliens, otherwise much bloodshed.

Along with this she has to deal with military politics into the bargain.

A very cool book.


4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tap Dancing - John Gregory Betancourt

Dead choreography.


3 out of 5

The Others - Joyce Carol Oates

I see dead people.


3 out of 5

Cold Blood - Greg Cox

On a freezing night of too many snowstorms Spidey wonders why he is out, given there is no-one to help. Except one old man. Morbius the Living Vampire has the same problem. No bad guys outside, no-one to eat. Just one old man.


3.5 out of 5

Thunder On the Mountain - Richard Lee Byers

Spidey has tracked a group of mercenaries, including the Rhino to a buried energy weapon. Unfortunately this is where a guy and his son have decided to do the mountain man thing.


4 out of 5

Tinker Tailor Soldier Courier - Robert L. Washington

Spider-Man gets asked to transport a donor liver for a dying young girl, after its couriers get stuck in traffic. Unfortunately a super powered mercenary has been hired to retrieve it.


3 out of 5

Human Voices - James Gunn

Gunn gives an introduction to the book, talking about each story in turn, and the general phases of his writing career. Seems he was nearing the ton in published short stories when this came out.

Human Voices : The Old Folks - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The Voices - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : Fault - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : Guilt - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : Child of the Sun - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The North Wind - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : Amoung the Beautiful Bright Children - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The Futurist - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : Man of Parts - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The Gingerbread Man - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The Day the Magic Came Back - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The Lens of Time - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The End-of-the-World Ball - James E. Gunn
Human Voices : The Giftie - James E. Gunn


Nasty geriatrics. Run away.

3.5 out of 5


Nice to know they are there, but they can keep the crap they are sending us.

3 out of 5


Earthquake prediction seduction danger.

3.5 out of 5


Precrime punishment probability probation.

4 out of 5


Past power girl rescue.

3.5 out of 5


Cold as ice, finally gets southern vision.

3 out of 5


Capsule skillset seduction.

3 out of 5


Past advice sphinxlike.

4 out of 5


Body bit solution power.

3 out of 5


New part issues.

3 out of 5


Faith healing shot.

3 out of 5


Diamond microscope possibilities, Fitzy.

4 out of 5


Millenial orgy waiting.

3.5 out of 5


Anti-matter space plans mean vested disinvolvement preferred. Internet upload fixes them.

4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton

If you resurrect dinosaurs, use fully original product.


Crichton takes an idea based on Robert Bakker's research and theories on warm blooded, quicker dinosaurs and builds a novel around it.

He does a fine job too on the story of an entrepreneur wanting to make a theme park with real live dinosaurs.

A party of scientist experts are invited to look over the facilities on the small island he is using, and because this is a thriller, things get chaotic.

Some fine dinosaur work, and may get some people interested in actual palaeontology.


4.5 out of 5

A Darkness At Sethanon - Raymond Feist

Battle for the fate of everything.


With your good old Dark Lord type rising, it will require Arutha's sword, all of Pug the Magician's power and Jimmy the Hand's cunning and contacts to try and do something about it, as here in your classic high fantasy trilogy end the stakes get very high indeed.

In style and tone very much the same as the first two books, and that is a good thing.


4 out of 5

Silverthorn - Raymond Feist

Find the good stuff and rescue the girl.


This is literally your classic rescue the princess story. Other than the threat of inter-dimensional war and your usual noble family political infighting all isn't going too badly for Prince Arutha, until his fiance is poisoned by your very nasty sort of thing.

This leads him and his crew (some more motley than others) on a long quest to find the one thing that can save her, with plenty of adventure and fighting to be had along the way.


4 out of 5

Magician - Raymond Feist

Grow up to fight the dark lord with your best mate, but gotta stop that alien invasion first.


Feist takes a fantasy epic that it seems grew out of his own fantasy roleplaying games, and gives the standard plot a pit of a tweak. While there is your evil dark lord figure to deal with, there is also an alien invasion (but of humans from a different culture, technology and type of magic).

One boy ends up in the other world with a touch of Shogun, learning magic, while the other ens up in a situation a lot more like Michael Moorcock's Corum.

An extremely well done fantasy adventure story that even appealed to my dad, of all people, being a bit of the old fashioned type of tale.


5 out of 5

Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson

Second girl cyberpunk mystery.


Count Zero, or Bobby Newmark appears in this book, as does Molly, the Street Samurai, and the odd other bit player, as the Neuromancer 'trilogy' continues.

A young girl that doesn't seem to quite belong in this society is of interest to many people, and Molly is a protector. She also happens to look somewhat like a famous actress, who becomes another important character, and has connections to the strange online voodoo world

Some more of the same from Gibson, but another good novel.


4 out of 5

Count Zero - William Gibson

Retrieval, via mercenary and loser.


Another good cyberpunk novel by Gibson, throwing another whole pile of stuff at you that you see other authors echo later, like Walter Jon Williams, or Richard Morgan, for the voodoo elements in virtuality.

The corporations here are nasty, and if they decide to deal with you, they hire guys like one of the protagonist warriors in this book, preferably without them knowing what is going on given they have woken up in a new body.


4 out of 5

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Cyberpunk genius.


How do you tell a great book? One sign of such an animal to me is if it immediately makes you want to find everything else related and similar to that style or subject and read that as well. This is what happened to me after reading Neuromancer.

Case, a wannabe or wannabe better netcowboy gets involved in events way over his read to do with who really controls the virtual world and what is going on in space.

Stylish novel that makes it seems as though you can smell the mean streets of Japan or wherever it might take you.

A must read.

Also, anyone interested in the evolution of the science fiction genre really has to read this book.


5 out of 5

Midnight At the Well Of Souls - Jack L. Chalker

Mystery man transformation adventure.


Unashamed SF light adventure as Nathan Brazil returns to the Well World, a sort of zoo of small sections of many different races and societies.

Once there and transforming across the place he begins to get his memory back and realise who and what he is and the bad things that just might happen.

Fun.


4 out of 5

Shadow Of the Hegemon - Orson Scott Card

Bean, the Brother, and the woman.


Card continues to explore his Enderverse, and this time the story is set after the war, and on Earth as Bean and Peter become deeply involved in the politics and plots of the time.

Nasty conspiracies for all.

Not as good as some of the others, but still a good book.


4 out of 5

Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card

Second man strategy psychology.


Card has done something rather impressive here and taken his superb novel Ender's Game and approached it again from the angle of the second most important character.

It details Bean's history, as well, growing up as a runt kid in Europe, near-starvation, and getting by in gangs on his brain alone.

You get to see the psychology of the young man as he goes through the same training programs, but as a far more streetwise and self-aware individual than Ender, the military leaders have decided to use him as a backup and support mechanism, while letting him more in on what is going on.


4.5 out of 5

Jemima Shores Investigates - Antonia Fraser

Stylish investigator.


Jemima Shore falls into the English amateur class of detection. No gunplay and beatings to be found here, at least not instigated by her.

The opposite of a dodgy dame, if you like, more like someone you'd find at the decent local restaurant having a glass of wine.

Just an average quality detective series.


3 out of 5

The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm - Norman Hunter

Wacky inventor problems.


Your good natured crazy inventor guy and kids collection here, quite entertaining.

From automated cricket bowling machines to schemes to prevent library fines when you have misplaced the same book from a dozen different libraries.

A fair bit of fun to be had in your 'jolly good, wot' style of English humour.



3.5 out of 5

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Giftie - James Gunn

Anti-matter space plans mean vested disinvolvement preferred. Internet upload fixes them.


4 out of 5

The End-OF-the-World-Ball - James Gunn

Millenial orgy of waiting.


3.5 out of 5

The Lens Of Time - James Gunn

Diamond microscope possibilities, Fitzy.


4 out of 5

The Day the Magic Came Back - James Gunn

Faith healing shot.


3 out of 5

The Gingerbread Man - James Gunn

New part issues.


3 out of 5

Man Of Parts - James Gunn

Body bit solution power.


3 out of 5

The Futurist - James Gunn

Past advice sphinxlike.


4 out of 5

Scoop - David Michelinie

A small town reporter comes to the Bugle, and wants to work with Peter Parker. Why? To find out who Spidey is, of course. When they undercover your good old New York variety gangs of hoods with powered armour complications ensue.


3.5 out of 5

Among the Beautiful Bright Children - James Gunn

Capsule skillset seduction.


3 out of 5

The North Wind - James Gunn

Cold as ice, finally gets southern vision.


3 out of 5

Child Of the Sun - James Gunn

Past power girl rescue.


3.5 out of 5

Mappa Mundi - Justina Robson

Mind control structure struggle.


When I started this it seemed to me to be like something you would get if you crossed Gregory Benford and John Le Carre.

Or, rather interesting from the beginning.

The heart of the matter is research into a project that will enable the altering of people's minds and the way they think via organic programming, even administered as a spreading virus.

In a book like mentioned at the beginning you will of course have conspiracies, from Russia to the USA, whose own federal agencies are divided in what to do with such a discovery. Use it, destroy it, or weaponise it?

All in all, a rather good book about a very disturbing concept.




4 out of 5

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Radically Both - Christopher Golden

Curt Connors latest transformation allows his consciousness to watch helplessly as the Lizard goes on rampage, threatening his own family.


3.5 out of 5

Spider-Man - Stan Lee and Peter David

A novella telling the origin of Spider-Man, with James rants and Doc Ock included.


3 out of 5

Guilt - James Gunn

Precrime punishment probability probation.


4 out of 5

Fault - James Gunn

Earthquake prediction seduction danger.


3.5 out of 5

The Voices - James Gunn

Nice to know they are there, but they can keep the crap they are sending us.


3 out of 5

The Old Folks - James Gunn

Nasty geriatrics. Run away.


3.5 out of 5

Legends - Robert Silverberg

An interesting experiment with what seems to be a big money anthology of highly popular fantasy (or SF in the case of Pern and Majipoor) universes, and novellas. Good for me, as I had not read any of Stephen King's Dark Tower before, for example.

The stories range from George R. R. Martin's excellent Hedge Knight to one of the worst pieces of writing I have had the misfortune to read in a big money publication, that of Terry Goodkind.

All in all, an experiment that it is worth taking a look at.

Legends : The Little Sisters of Eluria [Roland Gunslinger] - Stephen King
Legends : The Sea and Little Fishes [Discworld] - Terry Pratchett
Legends : Debt of Bones [Sword of Truth] - Terry Goodkind
Legends : Grinning Man [Alvin Maker] - Orson Scott Card
Legends : The Seventh Shrine [Majipoor] - Robert Silverberg
Legends : Dragonfly [Earthsea] - Ursula K. Le Guin
Legends : The Burning Man [Memory Sorrow and Thorn] - Tad Williams
Legends : The Hedge Knight [Song of Ice and Fire] - George R. R. Martin
Legends : Runner of Pern [Pern] - Anne McCaffrey
Legends : The Wood Boy [Riftwar] - Raymond E. Feist
Legends : New Spring [Wheel of Time] - Robert Jordan



Witch bug tastes good to you, Rover?

3.5 out of 5


Witch competition.

3.5 out of 5


First wizard owes readers.

1 out of 5


Davy Crockett not eaten by a bear.

2.5 out of 5


Metamorph murder mystery sacrifice.

3.5 out of 5


Archmage political conflict.

3 out of 5


In-law or boyfriend, one of 'em has to go.

3 out of 5


Innocent defense seven-on-seven deathmatch disaster.

4.5 out of 5


What do you do when someone tries to run you down? Deck their brother, get them to buy you new shoes, and kiss them a lot.

4 out of 5


Kill killer, to prevent hanging around in the war.

3.5 out of 5


Black is the colour that's hard to discover.

4 out of 5





3.5 out of 5

New Spring - Robert Jordan

Black is the colour that's hard to discover.


4 out of 5

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Kraven the Hunter Is Dead Alas - Craig Shaw Gardner

Spidey would rather fight supervillains than have to go shopping with his wife and aunt, so he does. Luckily for him a cancer ridden Vulture and Mysterio, who has a magical mistake problem, are definitely available.


3.5 out of 5

Blindspot - Ann Nocenti

Spidey finds an organlegger who apart from those crimes is making something nasty.


2.5 out of 5

The Wood Boy - Raymond Feist

Kill killer, to prevent hanging around in the war.


3.5 out of 5

Runner of Pern - Anne McCaffrey

What do you do when someone tries to run you down? Deck their brother, get them to buy you new shoes, and kiss them a lot.


4 out of 5

Friday, October 19, 2007

Goddess For A Day - Harry Turtledove

Athena impersonation armour is good for dealing with randy satyrs.


3 out of 5

Exchange Program - Susan Shwartz

Hillary Clinton organises some Valkyries in Valhalla, perturbing Odin, Thor and company.


3 out of 5

And Ladies Of the Club - Elizabeth Moon

A women's chest armour tax prompts some wizardly temporary plastic surgery shenanigans.


3.5 out of 5

Lady Of Steel - Roger Zelazny

Cross dressing to get that warrior-woman job.


3.5 out of 5

Sister Alice - Robert Reed

Most of humanity has ceded control of superhuman/posthuman power and/or technology to a select group of families.

The main character in this book is the youngest in the Chamberlain family, and he becomes involved in the machinations of his older siblings. Older, meaning millenia older. His sister Alice contacts him and tells him to seek out one of his brothers.

Despite the superhuman powers these people still screw up, and when one of their experiments starts destroying large swathes of space including many populated planets Ord's family becomes reviled.

After meeting his brother Perfect he begins to act in opposition to his family and the other families. Part of his mission is to stop the galaxy destroying mistakes caused by the others of his clan. This is the part where it goes wide-scale in a big way.


Sister Alice : 1 Sister Alice [short story] - Robert Reed
Sister Alice : 2 Brother Perfect - Robert Reed
Sister Alice : 3 Mother Death - Robert Reed
Sister Alice : 4 Baby's Fire - Robert Reed
Sister Alice : 5 Father to the Man - Robert Reed


Young posthuman conflict training.

4 out of 5


Two of the oldest of a family of superhuman overlords of the galaxy have plans for their youngest sibling. With stellar screwups.

4 out of 5


Blow up huge chunks of a galaxy, people will want to punish you.

3.5 out of 5


Godlike types chasing each other around.

3 out of 5


Family conflict and universe making.

3.5 out of 5





4 out of 5

Father To the Man - Robert Reed

Family conflict and universe making.


3.5 out of 5

Baby's Fire - Robert Reed

Godlike types chasing each other around.


3 out of 5

Mother Death - Robert Reed

Blow up huge chunks of a galaxy, people will want to punish you.


3.5 out of 5

Sister Alice - Robert Reed

Young posthuman conflict training.


4 out of 5

Cool - Lawrence Watt-Evans

A kid takes his hero worship of Spider-Man into gun wielding vigilante territory.


3.5 out of 5

The Mathematics of the Magazine - A Year In the American Majors

Or, talking about the three American digests now that I have read them all, and rated all the stories. I'd include JBU as a comparison when they are finished for the year, their December issue actually comes out in December it seems. Whacky, I know.

The magazines

Analog
Asimov's
Fantasy and Science Fiction

As a group, just talking about the fiction component:

The average story rating was 3.42
The percentage of above average stories was 63.

The median number of stories was 6.

If you want to subdivide that, it breaks down as, median :-

4 above average (4.26 mean)
1 average (1.81 mean)
1 below average (0.65 mean)


By magazine:

Analog

The average story rating was 3.31
The percentage of above average stories was 55.


Asimov's

The average story rating was 3.46
The percentage of above average stories was 68.


Fantasy and Science Fiction

The average story rating was 3.49
The percentage of above average stories was 67.


For comparison, in the almost 300 book anthologies and collections I have rated, the average story rating is 3.44.


If you were just going to get one, which one (favorite staple writers aside)?

If you don't want any Fantasy, you have to get Analog.

If you don't want much in the way of humour, get Asimov's.

If you want more Fantasy, pretty obviously get Fantasy and Science Fiction.

If you want better and more modern SF mostly and the occasional fantasy piece is ok, get Asimov's.

If you want the best science writing, get Analog.

If you want the best pop culture - books/movies, get Fantasy and Science Fiction.

If you want some of each of the last two, or middle-ground get Asimov's.

The Hedge Knight - George R. R. Martin

Innocent defense seven-on-seven deathmatch disaster.


4.5 out of 5

Suits - Tom De Haven and Dean Wesley Smith

After getting beaten up by the Vulture, a young Spidey is thinking of giving it away until a trip to Atlantic City with his aunt leads him to meet the Black Bee, a much older ex-hero with a similar story.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Asimov's 383 - Sheila Williams

Just when I thought that Asimov's was the major US magazine that was sense of humor impaired, along comes this issue, with the generally entertaining Connie Willis delivering, and the actually laugh out loud funny Tim McDaniel gag story. About time, and well done.

The issue itself is a rock solid 3.50 average, 3 x 2, 2 good, 2 above average, 2 average.

A bunch of book reviews at the end, including Slan Hunter, and a series by L. Timmel Duchamp that sounds pretty interesting, and is the second time I have seen that mentioned recently. An editorial about the a magazine story and some letters, and Silverberg takes on an early Heinlein work and talks about how it was revolutionary.

ASIMOVS383 : ALL SEATED ON THE GROUND - Connie Willis
ASIMOVS383 : THE LONESOME PLANET TRAVELERS' ADVISORY - Tim McDaniel
ASIMOVS383 : STRANGERS ON A BUS - Jack Skillingstead
ASIMOVS383 : THE RULES - Nancy Kress
ASIMOVS383 : do[this] - Stephen Graham Jones
ASIMOVS383 : GALAXY BLUES 2 - Allen M. Steele


Space song carol communication goodwill breakthrough.

4 out of 5


Alien abduction and assorted antics instruction.

4 out of 5


Made-up man.

3 out of 5


Going in for end of life reflection, in a big way.

(call this one 3.75)

3. 5 out of 5


Dictionary machine solitude.

3.5 out of 5


Prime dope delivery.

3 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Galaxy Blues 2 - Allen M. Steele

Prime dope delivery.


3 out of 5

Do[this] - Stephen Graham Jones

Dictionary machine solitude.


3.5 out of 5

The Rules - Nancy Kress

Going in for end of life reflection, in a big way.

(call this one 3.75)

3.5 out of 5

Strangers On A Bus - Jack Skillingstead

Made-up man.


3 out of 5

The Lonesome Planet Travelers' Advisory - Tim McDaniel

Alien abduction and assorted antics instruction.


4 out of 5

Fantasy and Science Fiction 667 - Gordon Van Gelder

The story average for this magazine is unlikely to be topped very often I would think, coming in at a whopping 3.75. Only a couple of American mags left for the year with a shot at it, but I doubt it. Even an appropriate Halloween story.

Book columns look at a new Haldeman, and a fantasy book from Patrick Rothfuss and Richard Morgan's Black Man.

Lucius Shepard tells us to avoid Fantastic Four 2 (the best bit is the trailer), and that Swedish movies are depressing (which all of us that have SBS know already).

Very nice work, all told.

FSF667 : Osama Phone Home - David Marusek
FSF667 : Stray - Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert
FSF667 : The Bone Man - Frederic S. Durbin
FSF667 : Don't Ask - M. Rickert
FSF667 : Who Brought Tulips to the Moon? - S. L. Gilbow
FSF667 : Finisterra - David Moles


Counter-terrorist chronic confession crop.

4.5 out of 5


Immortal surprise.

3 out of 5


Paranormal phenomenon's pistol packing replacement.

4 out of 5


Wolf kid recovery.

3.5 out of 5


Lunar life-leaving paperwork.

3.5 out of 5


Aeronautical gasbag butchery breakdown backup solution.

4 out of 5





5 out of 5

Who Brought Tulips to the Moon - S. L. Gilbow

Lunar life-leaving paperwork.


3.5 out of 5

Don't Ask - M. Rickert

Wolf kid recovery.


3.5 out of 5

The Bone Man - Fredric S. Durbin

Paranormal phenomenon's pistol packing replacement.


4 out of 5

Stray - Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert

Immortal surprise.


3 out of 5

Red Spikes - Margo Lanagan

According to the sticker on the front, Red Spikes is winner of some Children's Book award or other. While this is fine for that, for a book that is supposed to be supernatural fantasy/horror you are going to automatically get sex, violence, style and other artificial limitations on the content. For me, never going to be as good from that point of view. Contrast to 'A Fine Magic', perhaps.

So, I think a lot of people would be disappointed from that point of view.


Bearly born yet, Queenie.

3.5 out of 5


Shafted to buggery. Rootys are nice too.

3.5 out of 5


Girl ruin.

3 out of 5


Like a wee infant? No problem, got piles of dead ones over here. Help yourself.

3.5 out of 5


Birdbrain deficiencies.

3 out of 5


Bullyboy cakewalk comedown.

4 out of 5


Purgatory point scoring.

3.5 out of 5


Rodney kill easy.

2.5 out of 5


Dolls, gods, boys, it just makes me cry.

2.5 out of 5


Zithering.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Daughter Of the Clay - Margo Lanagan

Zithering.


3 out of 5

Forever Upward - Margo Lanagan

Dolls, gods, boys, it just makes me cry.


2.5 out of 5

Mouse Maker - Margo Lanagan

Rodent kill easy.


2.5 out of 5

Hero Vale - Margo Lanagan

Bullyboy cakewalk comedown.


4 out of 5

A Feather In the Breast Of God - Margo Lanagan

Birdbrain deficiencies.


3 out of 5

Winkie - Margo Lanagan

Like a wee infant? No problem, got piles of dead ones over here. Help yourself.


3.5 out of 5

A Good Heart - Margo Lanagan

Girl ruin.


3 out of 5

Monkey's Paternoster - Margo Lanagan

Shafted to buggery. Rootys are nice too.


3.5 out of 5

Baby Jane - Margo Lanagan

Bearly born yet, Queenie.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Analog 925 - Stanley Schmidt

A fairly ordinary batch of stories in this issue (average 3.25). However, the non-fiction is rather good. Here's an example : "The transactions that form in quantum processes arise from a "handshake" between the past and future across space-time, but they are not specifically the result of measurements or observer choices."

The books section talks about Niven, Aldis and Bova, and even a quick mention of a Phantom Detective adventure.

All that enough to scrape it up to a score I can just about round up to a 4. However, you could really consider this issue in the 3.75 territory, mostly on the strength of the articles.

The same could be said for Jerry Oltion's Salvation story, too, perhaps, a 3.75, which would help to nude 4 territory.

ANALOG925 : ICARUS BEACH - C. W. JOHNSON
ANALOG925 : KUKULKAN - SARAH K. CASTLE
ANALOG925 : ANYTHING WOULD BE WORTH IT - LESLEY L. SMITH
ANALOG925 : SALVATION - JERRY OLTION
ANALOG925 : DOMO ARIGATO SAYS MR. ROBOTO - ROBERT R. CHASE
ANALOG925 : REUNION - DAVID W. GOLDMAN


Brane blister breakup.

3 out of 5


Monkey boys rare accident, and interstellar saurian diplomacy definitely requires sacrifice.

4 out of 5


Accident time advice.

2.5 out of 5


Jesus, chat changes things.

3.5 out of 5


AI asteroid exchange deal.

3.5 out of 5


Dodgy investigation resistance.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

Reunion - David W. Goldman

Dodgy investigation resistance.


3 out of 5

Domo Arigato Says Mr Roboto - Robert R. Chase

AI asteroid exchange deal.


3.5 out of 5

Salvation - Jerry Oltion

Jesus, chat changes things.


3.5 out of 5

Anything Would Be Worth It - Lesley L. Smith

Accident time advice.


2.5 out of 5

Kukulcan - Sarah K. Castle

Monkey boys a rare accident, and interstellar saurian diplomacy definitely requires sacrifice.


4 out of 5

Icarus Beach - C. W. Johnson

Brane blister breakup.


3 out of 5

The Burning Man - Tad Williams

In-law or boyfriend, one of 'em has to go.


3 out of 5

Jim Baen's Universe 09 - Eric Flint

Eric Flint continues his excellent column work, this time talking about the economics of writing and the entertainment business, and the whole 'scab' thing about putting work online, and how if everyone does it, it will hurt is rather ridiculous. More on that next month he tells us.

Also that yes, boo-hoo, some writers won't make it, in exactly the same way some football players and actors, etc., etc. will not make it either.

He gives some stats on some booksales, with some jargon, about what time periods books are expected to sell, mentioning that those online are continuing to sell against conventional wisdom. Well worth a look, as usual. Couple of other columns and articles to be found, and actually a couple of letters published, too.

This issue started off poorly and I thought 'geez, this is pretty ordinary.' However, the short story business can surprise you, and by the end of it, this was the issue with the highest raw score average for stories that they have produced (3.61). Strange sort of issue, being average or good to great from that point of view, to get such a high score, not many of your standard professional run of the mill type stories.

Getting to the end of the SF section I was worried, but it lifted at McCarthy, and the mag didn't look back from there.

Elizabeth Bear can do no wrong it seems at the moment, and presumably this is something like a chapter exceprt or related story from one of her book series.

The serials impressed this time around, Lerner's new one had a good start, and the Fish Story had the best installment yet. This just gets whackier and whackier in a more entertaining manner.

The classic is a fine reprint, and an outstanding story from someone new to me in David Carrico. Will have to see what else he might have done - and the mag bio says he is working on more, and some books.

Anyway, nice to see improvement from the JBU people. Well done.

JBU0209 : Tweak - Jack McDevitt
JBU0209 : Dreamtime - Rob Shelsky
JBU0209 : Kether Station - C. L. Polk
JBU0209 : From the Badlands - Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
JBU0209 : The Necromancer in Love - Wil McCarthy
JBU0209 : The Rest of Your Life in a Day - Elizabeth Bear
JBU0209 : Soul Searching - Laird Long
JBU0209 : Palm Sunday - Ian Watson
JBU0209 : The Monster-God of Mamurth - Edmond Hamilton
JBU0209 : A Better Sense of Direction - Mike Wood
JBU0209 : Countdown to Armageddon 1 - Edward M. Lerner
JBU0209 : Fish Story 9 - Eric Flint and Dave Freer and Andrew Dennis
JBU0209 : The Quiet Man - David Carrico
JBU0209 : The Waters of Eternity - Howard A. Jones


No meddling.

2.5 out of 5


Golden years.

3 out of 5


Custody check conflict.

3.5 out of 5


Rebuilding, with pigs, AI and sixguns.

3 out of 5


Revivalist profile.

4 out of 5


Tattoo power brother recovery.

4.5 out of 5


Dead dick's scam case is taxing.

3 out of 5


Handy map decision.

3 out of 5


Hidden temple horror.

4 out of 5


Spaghetti shortage Stella shortcut solution.

3.5 out of 5


Plutonium uncertainty time.

4 out of 5


"You should really, really never argue with a megalomaniacal thirty ton proto-cephalopod who produces ink by the forty-four gallon drum."

...

"It turns out the ammonites are all called Cthulhu. It's sort of like "Bruce and Sheila" except Sheila's called Cthulhu too."


...

"Cthulhu was of course mind-bogglingly evil and planning to return the world to oceans full of primordial slime—in other words, she was a sort of fairly normal politician, and one with more good points than average."

4.5 out of 5


Alien torture whistleblower hidden art deal, with dogs.

5 out of 5


Transforming power of drink.

3 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

The Waters of Eternity - Howard A. Jones

Transforming power of drink.


3 out of 5

The Quiet Man - David Carrico

Alien torture whistleblower hidden art deal, with dogs.


5 out of 5

Fish Story 9 - Eric Flint and Dave Freer and Andrew Dennis

"You should really, really never argue with a megalomaniacal thirty ton proto-cephalopod who produces ink by the forty-four gallon drum."

...

"It turns out the ammonites are all called Cthulhu. It's sort of like "Bruce and Sheila" except Sheila's called Cthulhu too."


...

"Cthulhu was of course mind-bogglingly evil and planning to return the world to oceans full of primordial slime—in other words, she was a sort of fairly normal politician, and one with more good points than average."


4.5 out of 5

Countdown To Armageddon 1 - Edward M. Lerner

Plutonium uncertainty time.


4 out of 5

A Better Sense Of Direction - Mike Wood

Spaghetti shortage Stella shortcut solution.


3.5 out of 5

Palm Sunday - Ian Watson

Handy map decision.


3 out of 5

Soul Searching - Laird Long

Dead dick's scam case is taxing.


3 out of 5

The Necromancer In Love - Wil McCarthy

Revivalist profile.


4 out of 5

From the Badlands - Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett

Rebuilding, with pigs, AI and sixguns.


3 out of 5

Kether Station - C. L. Polk

Custody check conflict.


3.5 out of 5

Dreamtime - Rob Shelsky

Golden years.


3 out of 5

Dark Terrors 4 - Stephen Jones and David Sutton

An original horror anthology series volume, it appears, and a pretty decent one at that, although if you like the vampires/werewolves/mummies sort of thing, you may be disappointed in this book.

The authors gives some info on writing the stories at the end of each piece.

Dark Terrors 4 : The Great Fall - Richard Christian Matheson
Dark Terrors 4 : Normal Life - Christopher Fowler
Dark Terrors 4 : The Wedding Present - Neil Gaiman
Dark Terrors 4 : Never to Be Heard - Ramsey Campbell
Dark Terrors 4 : Tumbleweeds - Donald R. Burleson
Dark Terrors 4 : Family History - Stephen Baxter
Dark Terrors 4 : The Incredible True Facts in the Case - David J. Schow
Dark Terrors 4 : Mr. Guidry's Head - Roberta Lannes
Dark Terrors 4 : Inside the Cackle Factory - Dennis Etchison
Dark Terrors 4 : Entertaining Mr. Orton - Poppy Z. Brite
Dark Terrors 4 : The Country of Glass - Joel Lane
Dark Terrors 4 : My Pathology - Lisa Tuttle
Dark Terrors 4 : Curing Hitler - Thomas Tessier
Dark Terrors 4 : Weak End - James Miller
Dark Terrors 4 : Sullivan's Travails [Marty Burns] - Jay Russell
Dark Terrors 4 : The Suicide Pit - Conrad Williams
Dark Terrors 4 : Making Monsters - Geoff Nicholson
Dark Terrors 4 : A Place to Stay - Michael Marshall Smith
Dark Terrors 4 : Suburban Blight - Terry Lamsley


Lounge lizard life is dead. Or dead is preferable.

3.5 out of 5


Selfish bloody murderer.

4 out of 5


Gift too personal.

3 out of 5


Choirboy voices, more than desired.

3 out of 5


Hoopsnakes would be one thing, but this is ridiculous.

3.5 out of 5


Mithraic bullshit likely. Although it might kill me first and I won't care about the mess.

4 out of 5


Ripper of a story.

3.5 out of 5


Halloween boof.

3.5 out of 5


Tv usually horrible.

3 out of 5


Dead sex shift.

3 out of 5


Drinking religion search.

4 out of 5


Philosopher Stone birth cancer.

3 ou tof 5


Blind recovery unfortunate.

3 out of 5


Dionysian disaster.

4 out of 5


A curse on Veronica Lake to be lifted.

4 out of 5


Station ghost situation.

3.5 out of 5


Doctor too ordinary for teratological servicing pro.

3.5 out of 5


Rita biter maid.

2.5 out of 5


This head is bugging me, dog.

4 out of 5





3.5 out of 5

Dragonfly - Ursula K. Le Guin

Archmage political conflict.


3 out of 5

Suburban Blight - Terry Lamsley

This head is bugging me, dog.


4 out of 5

Making Monsters - Geoff Nicholson

Doctor too ordinary for teratological servicing pro.


3.5 out of 5

The Suicide Pit - Conrad Williams

Station ghost situation.


3.5 out of 5

Sullivan's Travails - Jay Russell

A curse on Veronica Lake to be lifted.


4 out of 5

Weak End - James Miller

Dionysian disaster.


4 out of 5

Curing Hitler - Thomas Tessier

Blind recovery unfortunate.


3 out of 5

My Pathology - Lisa Tuttle

Philosopher Stone birth cancer.


3 out of 5

The Country Of Glass - Joel Lane

Drinking religion search.


4 out of 5

Entertaining Mr. Orton - Poppy Z. Brite

Dead sex shift.


3 out of 5

Inside the Cackle Factory - Dennis Etchison

Tv usually horrible.


3 out of 5

Mr. Guidry's Head - Roberta Lannes

Halloween boof.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Incredible True Facts In the Case - David J. Schow

Ripper of a story.


3.5 out of 5

Family History - Stephen Baxter

Mithraic bullshit likely. Although it might kill me first and I won't care about the mess.


3.5 out of 5

Tumbleweeds - Donald R. Burleson

Hoopsnakes would be one thing, but this is ridiculous.


3.5 out of 5

Never To Be Heard - Ramsey Campbell

Choirboy voices, more than desired.


3 out of 5

The Wedding Present - Neil Gaiman

Gift too personal.


3 out of 5

Normal Life - Christopher Fowler

Selfish bloody murderer.


4 out of 5

The Great Fall - Richard Christian Matheson

Lounge lizard life is dead. Or dead is preferable.


3.5 out of 5

Astounding Hero Tales - James Lowder

Although this collection is called Astounding Hero Tales, it doesn't really resemble Astounding magazine at all, and only a few of the stories are about what you would call heroes.

The subtitle is more accurate as a pulp collection this most definitely is. It perhaps suffers a little in being too eclectic and may not actually deliver what people might want by looking at the title, with th e combination of weird, detectives, westerns, and the odd hero tale, etc.

The stories average 3.19, and you don't expect pulp adventure stuff to be super outstanding, by any stretch of the imagination, but they could have been a little better.

Not something you need to go out of your way to pay trade paperback prices for, anyway.

Astounding Hero Tales : 01 Death Was Silent - Lester Dent
Astounding Hero Tales : 02 The Mask of Kukulcan - Will Murray
Astounding Hero Tales : 03 Two-Fisted Crookback - Steve Melisi
Astounding Hero Tales : 04 Wolf Train West - William Messner-Loebs
Astounding Hero Tales : 05 Godmother - Steve Eller
Astounding Hero Tales : 06 Missing Pages - Richard Dansky
Astounding Hero Tales : 07 Running Thunder - John Helfers
Astounding Hero Tales : 08 Playback - Patricia Lee Macomber
Astounding Hero Tales : 09 A Lost City Of the Jungle - Darrell Schweitzer
Astounding Hero Tales : 10 It Came From the Swamp - Ed Greenwood
Astounding Hero Tales : 11 Slide Home - David Niall Wilson
Astounding Hero Tales : 12 Out West - John Pelan
Astounding Hero Tales : 13 Bandit Gold - Thomas M. Reid
Astounding Hero Tales : 14 Kiss Me Deadly - Robert Weinberg
Astounding Hero Tales : 15 The Forgotten Man - Robin D. Laws
Astounding Hero Tales : 16 House of Shadows - Hugh B. Cave

A private detective on the trail of a weapons ring gets into a fight with a man with a torch that has a blade on a string inside it.

You can never trust a bloke with one of those, whoever you are.

3 out of 5


A man that a museum curator decides is strange asks for help in getting back a serpent artifact. Sensing a good deal, she learns that her first instincts were right.

3.5 out of 5


A bare knuckle fighter finds he can't help himself when it comes to his nancy actor threatre manager boss.

3.5 out of 5


A boy and his little sister head west, trying to ride the rails, struggling in the cold to catch a train. They are helped up by a strong fellow traveller, and soon find the railway police are rather more than human.

Luckily their fellow traveller is not new to this, and a brilliant shot with guns with silver bullets .... it seems that his tanned face may once have worn a mask...

4 out of 5


Deity source woman sort by everyone from Pharaohs to the Thule.

2 out of 5


A boy learns black magic from the ghost of his grandfather.

3 out of 5



A pommie aviator is shot down trying to shut down a German war operation in Mexico. He joins forces with some local ranchers who have had a herd rustled by the same mob. Stampede time.

3.5 out of 5


Zombie testimony.

3 out of 5


Sitting around in one of those old fashioned clubs talking about something a bit strange out there.

2.5 out of 5


The Salt Hook Slitherer has murdered five wealthy and disliked men. What is going on?

3.5 out of 5


Baseball bus escape big league promotion luck.

3 out of 5


A group of crims head for a town where they think the local rackets aren't sewn up. The locals there are way different to your average person, having scales and fangs and all.

So, one of them knows a guy out East, where the pickings might be easier. New England way, a place called Innsmouth...

4 out of 5


A bloke coming back from the war has a mate who told him about a treasure map. However, there is a fiery redheaded sister, the City of Lost Souls, a dodgy sergeant, some nazis and Pancho Vila to deal with on the way.

3 out of 5


New York's first female private detective tangles with a voodoo priest and, of course, zombies.

3 out of 5


A man's dead union mates join forces to bring a ghost gun to bear on those that assassinated them, using him as their agent.

3 out of 5


The ghost of an old man's dead twin helps fend off a gang of a rapists.

3.5 out of 5





3 out of 5

House Of Shadows - Hugh B. Cave

The ghost of an old man's dead twin helps fend off a gang of a rapists.


3.5 out of 5

Challenging Destiny 24 - David M. Switzer

This mag includes the editor's list of 10 memorable short stories, and an interview with Michelle multiple names Sagara, as well as an overview of the 'state' of Canadian SF currently. Really, more of a review of a few recent publication than anything resembling a general article. (de Lint/Hopkinson/Tesseracts/Schroeder/Watts).

Challenging Destiny 24 : The Dao of Stones - Ian McHugh
Challenging Destiny 24 : The Little Cat in the Attic Window the Blue House on the Corner - Jennifer Rachel Baumer
Challenging Destiny 24 : The Chermasu - Brian Patrick McKinley and Mark Jenkins
Challenging Destiny 24 : Camouflage - Corey Brown
Challenging Destiny 24 : Abigail and Chang - Harvey Welles and Philip Raines
Challenging Destiny 24 : Freya's Flight - Andrea McDowell
Challenging Destiny 24 : Like Water in the Desert - Hayden Trenholm


Alien philosophy.

3 out of 5


Cat spaces.

1.5 out of 5


Native wolfishness.

3 out of 5


Human media spread is scary.

3 out of 5


Teleport apocalypse survival.

3.5 out of 5


Throw yourself at the ground and miss, hopefully.

3 out of 5


Goddard methodology appropriation.

3 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Like Water In the Desert - Hayden Trenholm

Goddard methodology appropriation.


3 out of 5

Freya's Fright - Andrea McDowell

Throw yourself at the ground and miss, hopefully.


3 out of 5

Abigail and Chang - Harvey Welles and Philip Raines

Teleport apocalypse survival.


3.5 out of 5

Camouflage - Corey Brown

Human media spread is scary.


3 out of 5

The Chermasu - Brian Patrick McKinley and Mark Jenkins

Native wolfishness.


3 out of 5

The Little Cat In The Attic Window The Blue House On The Corner - Jennifer R. Baumer

Cat spaces.


1.5 out of 5

The Dao Of Stones - Ian McHugh

Alien philosophy.


3 out of 5

Weird Tales 342 - Darrell Schweitzer

This apparently is a John Shirley special interview, hence one of the features is a quite long interview with aforementioned, plus a couple of stories. Also included is some editorialising at some length, letters, and several reviews of small press books of interest.

Pretty decent mag really, stories average 3.38, with none of them poor.

Weird Tales 342 : The Claw Spurs - John Shirley
Weird Tales 342 : Buried in the Sky - John Shirley
Weird Tales 342 : For Fear of Dragons - Carrie Vaughn
Weird Tales 342 : With the Good Samaritan - William F. Nolan
Weird Tales 342 : Space and Time Books - Melissa Yuan-Innes
Weird Tales 342 : Three Impossible Things - Lisa Smedman
Weird Tales 342 : Dying Season - Kelly McConough
Weird Tales 342 : The Evil Sorceress - Jennifer Savage


Hitman revenge takeover.

4 out of 5


Yog-Sothoth resistance self-relations.

3.5 out of 5


Big lizard bravery.

3.5 out of 5


Poker suckee.

3 out of 5


Shop gives itself a magical upgrade.

3 out of 5


Goblin task science.

3.5 out of 5


City fairy succession.

3 out of 5


Housewife enmity.

3.5 out of 5





4 out of 5