Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chronicles Of the Black Company - Glen Cook

An omnibus of the first three Black Company books.

The Black Company
Shadows Linger
The White Rose


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 actually 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



A bit of a change of pace, here. There is a major focus on a character in a town that it turns out is harboring Raven, who is doing some organlegging, and also Darling.

Plenty of the usual undead wizard nastiness, as well. There is basically part of the two camps of wizards storyline, as an attempt is made to bring back The Dominator (again). Yet another L v D epic.

Needless to say, there is a battle, and why a career in the Company is maybe not that great an idea.

3 out of 5



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





4 out of 5

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crisscross - F. Paul Wilson

Jack is hired for two cases - to help a nun who is being blackmailed, and to discover what is going on with the son of a wealthy woman.

The latter has become a member of a cult that is rather like the Scientologists. However, this lot is worse than just being a brainwashing bunch of scuzzbucket usurers.

These are connected to the 'Other' and fancy a bit of human sacrifice and other horrific schemes.

Jack has an ally, a reporter investigating the cult, but may be in over his head.

Because of the two cases, this entry is a little longer, it seems.


3.5 out of 5

Basilisk - Ellen Kushner

Just an average of 3.06 here, so subpar, with the Le Guin the best of it, easily.

Basilisk : The Hunt of the Unicorn - Joan D. Vinge
Basilisk : The Man Who Sold Magic - Nicholas Stuart Gray
Basilisk : The Forty-Seventh Island - R. A. Lafferty
Basilisk : The Lamia and Lord Cromis - M. John Harrison
Basilisk : War Wounds - Lynn Abbey
Basilisk : Feel Free - Alan Garner
Basilisk : The Word of Unbinding - Ursula K. Le Guin
Basilisk : The Yukio Mishima Cultural Association of Kudzu Valley Georgia - Michael Bishop
Basilisk : Wizard's Domain - Elizabeth A. Lynn

Sunspear no blackie.

3 out of 5


Just a faker, kid.

2.5 out of 5


Snakes and Shadows.

3 out of 5


Sixth Beast marsh stinker.

3.5 out of 5


Heal enemy, heal me.

3.5 out of 5


Dark, Dark was the tunnel.

2.5 out of 5


Conflict success not much fun for anyone.

4 out of 5


Mass seppuku ceremony rather nice.

3 out of 5


Firelord Tower trespass.

2.5 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Friday, March 27, 2009

Running - Martin Livings

Big Japanese monsters, Pamplona style.


4.5 out of 5

Sigmund Freud and the Feral Freeway - Martin Livings

Android analysis road rage evolution revolution.


4.5 out of 5

Inducing - Paul Haines

Alien direct marketers at least have a seriously strong booze product.


4.5 out of 5

Tiger Burning - Alastair Reynolds

Brane circle future message creator inspiration warning investigation.


4.5 out of 5

Merlin's Gun - Alastair Reynolds

Black hole shooter crucial in prevention of stellar duo's stupendous collapse and civilisation sterilisation.


4.5 out of 5

The Star Surgeon's Apprentice - Alastair Reynolds

Butcher boy pirate fry-up Baby Makes Three.


4.5 out of 5

Incomers - Paul J. McAuley

Spy seeking stuffup space war city save memorial story.


4 out of 5

The Skin Trade - George R. R. Martin

Mirror mirror on the wall, werewolf killer blood will call.


4.5 out of 5

Wizard's Domain - Elizabeth A. Lynn

Firelord Tower trespass.


2.5 out of 5

The Yukio Mishima Cultural Association of Kudzu Valley Georgia - Michael Bishop

Mass seppuku ceremony rather nice.


3 out of 5

Feel Free - Alan Garner

Dark, Dark was the tunnel.


2.5 out of 5

War Wounds - Lynn Abbey

Heal enemy, heal me.


3.5 out of 5

The Lamia and Lord Cromis - M. John Harrison

Sixth Beast marsh stinker.


3.5 out of 5

The Forty-Seventh Island - R. A. Lafferty

Snakes and Shadows.


3 out of 5

The Man Who Sold Magic - Nicholas Stuart Gray

Just a faker, kid.


2.5 out of 5

The Hunt Of the Unicorn - Joan D. Vinge

Sunspear no blackie.


3 out of 5

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Tear - Ian McDonald

Extra Aspect Enemy Mine scalarity scare creation universe conflict.


5 out of 5

Vanilla Dunk - Jonathan Lethem

Exo-suit past era superstar basketball skills suck if you get the wrong ones in the lottery. Play defense the natural way, boy.


5 out of 5

Press Enter - John Varley

Electronic entity killer discovery.


4.5 out of 5

The Pusher - John Varley

Little girl story.


3.5 out of 5

Eclipse 2 - Jonathan Strahan

Here's a very impressive 3.87 average. This is significantly better than the first volume, and pretty much identical in quality to Fast Forward 2, except, of course, for the cover. However, a little more variable, so less of a kick from this book. A little stronger at the top end, but weaker in the rest. The Ford story is more like a 3.25.

This time, the best is in the middle, in Ted Chiang, but the openers are the next two best stories, other than David Moles and his Cory Doctorow by way of R. Garcia y Robertson polished posthuman adventure. People may not be familiar with the latter, but has some stories online, check them out, well worth it.

Don't really expect to see Dr Doom pastiches in books like this, but Daryl Gregory delivers one.

Terry Dowling surprisingly pops up with another Wormwood story, and no less than Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton on the Asimov's forum said they found this confusing. Probably not much of a surprise if they haven't read wormwood. You can find Nobody's Fool online though, see free sf or google. However, part of the whole point of the Wormwood set of stories is that with alien invasion and terraforming existence is hopelessly complicated and scary and weird and unfathomable for most of humanity. Some of this is supposed to come through in the very dense level of strange alien Dowling tries to impart, here. I do tend to like that sort of thing.

Alastair Reynolds, apparently, can do no wrong. Also likes golden robots quite a bit, wonder how many C-3PO and other figures he has, perhaps.

A must get book.

Please webscriptionise them, so we can carry them around, given their large and expensive nature.

I'd call this book a 4.75.

Eclipse 2 : The Hero - Karl Schroeder
Eclipse 2 : Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter
Eclipse 2 : Invisible Empire of Ascending Light - Ken Scholes
Eclipse 2 : Michael Laurits is: Drowning - Paul Cornell
Eclipse 2 : Night of the Firstlings - Margo Lanagan
Eclipse 2 : Elevator - Nancy Kress
Eclipse 2 : The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm - Daryl Gregory
Eclipse 2 : Exhalation - Ted Chiang
Eclipse 2 : Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - David Moles
Eclipse 2 : The Rabbi's Hobby - Peter S. Beagle
Eclipse 2 : The Seventh Expression of the Robot General - Jeffrey Ford
Eclipse 2 : Skin Deep - Richard Parks
Eclipse 2 : Ex Cathedra - Tony Daniel
Eclipse 2 : Truth Window: A Tale of the Bedlam Rose - Terry Dowling
Eclipse 2 : Fury - Alastair Reynolds


Jessie and the Jets big moth story, Capital performance, one night only.

4.5 out of 5


Eaglets For Andromeda beam record.

4.5 out of 5


Kill Emperor? Consider It Announced.

3 out of 5


You're a Lief Saver, mate.

4 out of 5


Hickory waveries.

3 out of 5


Confined foretelling.

3.5 out of 5


Superhero invasion damage, new Doom.

4 out of 5


Brain dissection end of universe equilibrium optimism.

5 out of 5


Posthuman griefer game pullback.

4.5 out of 5


Magazine ghost girl goodbye.

4 out of 5


Just shoot me now.

3.5 out of 5


Personality pullover pyre.

3.5 out of 5


Kill my grandfather, marry my grandmother. Now, kill her, or kill the hot future wife?

3.5 out of 5


Nobody's double view.

3.5 out of 5


Galactic Emperor two suit, secret now less fishy.

4 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

One Of Our Bastards Is Missing - Paul Cornell

Queenfold deception Balance rescue.


4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planets Of Adventure 2 - Jean Marie Stine

The second Duce double pulls another pair of Planet Stories short novels together, this time one of the writers not quite so obscure. An interesting twist for the time making the superior character the woman, in the second book.

Very entertaining stuff.



Planets Of Adventure 2 : FLAME-JEWEL OF THE ANCIENTS - EDWIN L. GRABER
Planets Of Adventure 2 : THE SEVEN JEWELS OF CHAMAR - RAYMOND F. JONES

Despite the title, this is mostly a Doc Smith style adventure.

Super Galactic ships, anti-energy shields, an arms race, and more.

Of course, a big heroic bloke from the Stellar Guardians. No super powers though, but he does get to fight alongside etc. a good looking redhead.

Captain Glayne and friends of course also have a villainous criminal overlord to deal with.

Plenty of fun to be had here.

3 out of 5


We do have a superhuman in this one, and a bit of an antihero you might say, in the form of the firebird.

A woman with extreme longevity and experience looking for some recovery.

She's more than happy to put the bad guys down like dogs, if it means they won't kill again.

The good guys will get it, too, if they aren't careful:-

''Listen to me!' the voice of Firebird commanded again. 'I could have killed you then. My shot landed two feet to the left of you. Now will you hear what I have to say?'

'It's easy to call your shots after they are fired.'

'Here's one neither to the right or left,' said Firebird evenly.

Before she finished speaking a blast of flame burst over the huge stalagmite in front of Nathan. The fire of it flowed around the sides and enveloped him in a searing blanket.'

So, help her, or eat hot rays.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

The Seven Jewels Of Chamar - Raymond F. Jones

We do have a superhuman in this one, and a bit of an antihero you might say, in the form of the firebird.

A woman with extreme longevity and experience looking for some recovery.

She's more than happy to put the bad guys down like dogs, if it means they won't kill again.

The good guys will get it, too, if they aren't careful:-

""Listen to me!" the voice of Firebird commanded again. "I could have killed you then. My shot landed two feet to the left of you. Now will you hear what I have to say?"

"It's easy to call your shots after they are fired."

"Here's one neither to the right or left," said Firebird evenly.

Before she finished speaking a blast of flame burst over the huge stalagmite in front of Nathan. The fire of it flowed around the sides and enveloped him in a searing blanket."

So, help her, or eat hot rays.


3 out of 5

Evolution's Darling - Scott Westerfeld

Definitely a very interesting novel. Artificial intelligences can evolve - and there is a Turing barrier to say how evolved they are. With regulations governing this depending on where you happen to be. The first part of this is basically the short story 'The Movements Of Her Eyes' - the title being concluding line of the first past, or part thereof.

Not just evolving machines here, also people, and one woman in particular grows to have a rather close relationship with the AI in question.

Art dealers, assassins, clones, and all of the above. What exactly are the problems regarding copying people, as well as artifical intelligences?

Very well written on top of that, and rather different.


4 out of 5

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Asimov's 399 400 - Sheila Williams

There's a long account of Spinrad's acquaintance with two dead writers, Disch and Dick. Silverberg looks at a whacky Van Vogt novel (and its evolution). And a reasonable look of writers coming up, including R Garcia y Robertson 'Coming Soon'. Hopefully of the SF variety.

I find this one all pretty consistent, with no real standouts. Perhaps Rusch, Broderick and Reed, if you want to split those.

At 3.30, not particularly impressive for a 400th issue anniversary issue, not that it is particulary supposed to be, I think. There is a brief editorial about making it there.

ASIMOVS399400 : THE GREAT ARMADA - Brian Stableford
ASIMOVS399400 : TRUE FAME - Robert Reed
ASIMOVS399400 : AN ORDINARY DAY WITH JASON - Kate Wilhelm
ASIMOVS399400 : ATOMIC TRUTH - Chris Beckett
ASIMOVS399400 : THE ARMIES OF ELFLAND - Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick
ASIMOVS399400 : HUMAN DAY - Jack Skillingstead
ASIMOVS399400 : COWGIRLS IN SPACE - Deborah Coates
ASIMOVS399400 : THIS WIND BLOWING AND THIS TIDE - Damien Broderick
ASIMOVS399400 : EXEGESIS - Nancy Kress
ASIMOVS399400 : THE SPIRES OF DENON - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Saving the world, etheric galactic style, slugs, parrots, arachnids, selenites and the odd personage.

3.5 out of 5


Private wrong person choice stranding.

3.5 out of 5


Projection agents.

3 out of 5


Bugeyed oversight.

3 out of 5


Taking over for the Queen, old bat.

3.5 out of 5


Dog day slice investigation.

3.5 out of 5


Junkyard Thing Team.

3 out of 5


Dragon ship discovery.

3.5 out of 5


Frankly future fragments.

3 out of 5


Monument defense dig dive.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Exegesis - Nancy Kress

Frankly future fragments.


3 out of 5

This Wind Blowing and This Tide - Damien Broderick

Dragon ship discovery.


3.5 out of 5

Cowgirls In Space - Deborah Coates

Junkyard Thing Team.


3 out of 5

Human Day - Jack Skillingstead

Dog day slice investigation.


3.5 out of 5

The Armies Of Elfland - Michael Swanwick and Eileen Gunn

Taking over for the Queen, old bat.


3.5 out of 5

Atomic Truth - Chris Beckett

Bugeyed oversight.


3 out of 5

An Ordinary Day With Jason - Kate Wilhelm

Projection agents.


3 out of 5

True Fame - Robert Reed

Private wrong person choice stranding.


3.5 out of 5

The Great Armada - Brian Stableford

Saving the world, etheric galactic style, slugs, parrots, arachnids, selenites and the odd personage.


3.5 out of 5

Planets Of Adventure 1 - Jean Marie Stine

This series is a pretty cool idea. Stine is good at finding some of the more obscure old SF of some interest, and here has managed a double homage.

These are two short novels taken from the coolest of the old magazines, Planet Stories. They have been put together as a Duce double novel. Electronic publication would seem to be a good venue for this sort of thing, certainly, no problem with which author to file it under - as the databases and search engines will find either, identically.

Also, a Duce Double would seem to be paying tribute to the much beloved of some Ace Double series, which pretty much did the same thing, from a wide variety of sources. That is, put together two short novels, mainly by different authors. Duce (or more propely Deuce) comes after Ace, you see, in some card orderings. So, good one.

Collecting old magazines is very expensive, and they will break up anyway if you use them much, so I appreciate people making some of the work available in a much more affordable and usable format.

Renaissance ebooks has a bunch of this sort of stuff. Edmond Hamilton, The Interstellar Huntress (or Hunter, you may have seem it called), and more. Definitely should have a look if you like the old stuff.

Planets Of Adventure 1 : Sword Of Fire - Emmett McDowell
Planets Of Adventure 1 : The Rocketeers Have Shaggy Ears - Keith Bennett

As well as being a kidlet investigator, it seems that Jupiter Jones is also a space hero of the good old fashioned variety, working for the Galactic Colonization Board.

He runs into a space warp, his co-pilot kills himself, he has to land on a planet in the middle of who knows where thanks to said warp, and soon he is captured by a race of human enslaving purple octopoid mollusk creatures that control the local humans and breed them for various purposes. (Think Stargate, here, for something more modern along those evil alien lines).

A small group of the locals have some telepathic ability, helpful for learning the language. It appears a saviour has been foretold, one who will come from the stars, and Mr. Jones has blundered into this role.

Definitely a fun space adventure of this type, and if those appeal, this short novel is worth a look.

3.5 out of 5


A military science fiction short novel. This particular group gets forced down thanks to a busted up ship, and to try and survive on Venus.

This includes dangerous plans and screaming lizard-men, so they get plenty of chances to use their military skills.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Sword Of Fire - Emmett McDowell

As well as being a kidlet investigator, it seems that Jupiter Jones is also a space hero of the good old fashioned variety, working for the Galactic Colonization Board.

He runs into a space warp, his co-pilot kills himself, he has to land on a planet in the middle of who knows where thanks to said warp, and soon he is captured by a race of human enslaving purple octopoid mollusk creatures that control the local humans and breed them for various purposes. (Think Stargate, here, for something more modern along those evil alien lines).

A small group of the locals have some telepathic ability, helpful for learning the language. It appears a saviour has been foretold, one who will come from the stars, and Mr. Jones has blundered into this role.

Definitely a fun space adventure of this type, and if those appeal, this short novel is worth a look.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pressure - Leigh Harding

Slug encapsulated city.


3 out of 5

Bliss - David Rome

Giants, Cones and heat guns.


3 out of 5

That's Just Like A Martian - Manly Wade Wellman

Yep, deserves the block ray.


2.5 out of 5

The Drowned World - J. G. Ballard

Hot, wet, and hopeful of eating iguana.


3.5 out of 5

The Space Clause - L. Sprague De Camp

Political limitations, hanging.


2.5 out of 5

The Seven Temporary Moons - Murray Leinster

Get the hillbilly genius to fix the space aliens.


2.5 out of 5

Transuranic - Edmond Hamilton

That new stuff just goes straight through our walls.


2.5 out of 5

The Shadow On the Screen - Henry Kuttner

Bringing an ancient Aztec temple menace back and putting it on an horror movie set? Good times for all!


3.5 out of 5

Incense Of Abomination - Seabury Quinn

Naked girl, altar, Devil worship. Usual sort of stuff for Jules de Grandin.


3 out of 5

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Silent Invaders - Robert Silverberg

A packed in plot this one. An alien agent of the devout variety goes undercover as a human.

Not content with your garden variety infiltration, this bunch and aiding and abetting the growth of a new race of psionic superhumans. Which would seem to be a bit risky, and all.

There are definitely some interesting parts to this short novel.


3 out of 5

Moon June Spoon Croon - Gordon R. Dickson

Machines down together, smartly.


3.5 out of 5

Needler - Randall Garrett

Alien weapon mindjammer problem.


3 out of 5

Among Thieves - Poul Anderson

Destroy the Terrestrial Federation with you, or make a deal? Tricky.


3.5 out of 5

A Monster Named Smith - James Gunn

Take over, but stuck.


3 out of 5

The Thing In the Attic - James Blish

Time to go out for us small people.


2.5 out of 5

The R Of A - Gordon R. Dickson

Pop up now.


2 out of 5

The Life Machines - Manly Wade Wellman

Need a few of you humans to save us robots.


2.5 out of 5

Gift From the Stars - Edmond Hamilton

What to do with the psycho power.


2.5 out of 5

Tight Place - Murray Leinster

Prefer not to die in my space suit, blaster it.


3 out of 5

The Code - C. L. Moore

The kid's way ahead of us, but maybe way behind us, too.


3.5 out of 5

Juggernaut - A. E. Van Vogt

Hyperspace hard steel.


2.5 out of 5

The Golgotha Dancers - Manly Wade Wellman

Living picture kill.


3 out of 5

Lake Of Life 2 - Edmond Hamilton

Immortality water sounds good to me!


2.5 out of 5

Malice In Wonderland - Ed McBain

Really limited fashion media.


3 out of 5

A Word For Freedom - James Gunn

Reader revolt.


2.5 out of 5

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Atlantic Abomination - John Brunner

Sea monster mind control.


Actually, the sea monster is an alien that has been here for some time.

Humans exploring the big wet stuff get noticed.

So, unlike godzilla, there's a bit more to this conflict than stomping and radioactive fire breath.

This guy is smart, and he can also mind control large numbers of humans into his own army, which leaves the human commanders some interesting dilemmas as to how to go about fighting this battle.

Not to mention the nuke it or not, question.


3 out of 5

Dangerous Games - Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann

You could probably pair this one with the earlier Future Sports anthology, if this appeals. A quite good reprint anthology at 3.68, with a few average stories. Doctorow and Dowling provide the standouts.

Dangerous Games : THE PRIZE OF PERIL - Robert Sheckley
Dangerous Games : ANDA'S GAME - Cory Doctorow
Dangerous Games : LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THIS IS YOUR CRISIS! - Kate Wilhelm
Dangerous Games : STROBOSCOPIC - Alastair Reynolds
Dangerous Games : SYNTHETIC SERENDIPITY - Vernor Vinge
Dangerous Games : HOW WE GOT IN TOWN AND OUT AGAIN - Jonathan Lethem
Dangerous Games : RED SONJA AND LESSINGHAM IN DREAMLAND - Gwyneth Jones
Dangerous Games : THE HALFWAY HOUSE AT THE HEART OF DARKNESS - William Browning Spencer
Dangerous Games : HER OWN PRIVATE SITCOM - Allen M. Steele
Dangerous Games : THE ICHNEUMON AND THE DORMEUSE - Terry Dowling
Dangerous Games : WINNING MARS - Jason Stoddard

Early running man.

4 out of 5


Liza, Lisa, Anda's clan jam game grunt gold grab gunplay showdown.

4.5 out of 5


Game end.

3 out of 5


Serious reality computer gaming science.

4 out of 5


Adult education.

3 out of 5


Scapeathon.

3 out of 5


Sword and sorcery virtual sex therapy.

4 out of 5


Game addiction help.

3 out of 5


Flycam story cancellation.

3.5 out of 5


Death mandated envious personalities trap, berate and butcher immortals.

4.5 out of 5


Survivor Ares.

4 out of 5




4 out of 5

Winning Mars - Jason Stoddard

Survivor Ares.


4 out of 5

Stalemate - Basil Wells

Earth Satellite One little war.


3 out of 5

Her Own Private Sitcom - Allen M. Steele

Flycam story cancellation.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Under Martian Sands - Basil Wells

Exploder G'Ash kill Earth find.


2.5 out of 5

Survival - Basil Wells

"Mindless creatures mewled and grovelled in the streets of Ohio ... and men found themselves suddenly in the swampy, alien hell of Venus, fighting a weird battle for existence."

Against Frog Men, of course.


3.5 out of 5

Biped - Basil Wells

Got two legs, not a monster.


3 out of 5

Star Science Fiction 6 - Frederik Pohl

An original anthology series from the fifties, so not going to be expecting much. Does come in at a little over 3 though, and actually only one story I thought was basically a waste of time. Basically a 2.75 book, rounded up.

Star Science Fiction 6 : Danger! Child at Large - C. L. Cottrell
Star Science Fiction 6 : Twin's Wail - Elizabeth M. Borgese
Star Science Fiction 6 : The Holy Grail - Tom Purdom
Star Science Fiction 6 : Angerhelm - Cordwainer Smith
Star Science Fiction 6 : The Dreamsman - Gordon R. Dickson
Star Science Fiction 6 : To Catch an Alien - John J. McGuire
Star Science Fiction 6 : Press Conference - Miriam Allen deFord
Star Science Fiction 6 : Invasion from Inner Space - Howard Koch

Psionic freak little girl got all the powers. Growing up would be bad.

3.5 out of 5


Killing double.

3 out of 5


Part time psycher blackmail.

3.5 out of 5


Funny voice medium.

3 out of 5


Let those psionic mutants go to get Galactic.

3 out of 5


Maybe don't bother, got impersonation efficiency from this interstellar war thing.

3 out of 5


No, you should believe me. Coz those are really bad news aliens that just followed me here.

3.5 out of 5


A slow, overlong apocalypse.

2.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Invasion From Inner Space - Howard Koch

A slow, overlong apocalypse.


2.5 out of 5

Press Conference - Miriam DeFord

No, you should believe me. Coz those are really bad news aliens that just followed me here.


3.5 out of 5

To Catch An Alien - John J. McGuire

Maybe don't bother, got impersonation efficiency from this interstellar war thing.


3 out of 5

The Dreamsman - Gordon R. Dickson

Let those psionic mutants go to get Galactic.


3 out of 5

The Holy Grail - Tom Purdom

Part time psycher blackmail.


3.5 out of 5

Danger! Child At Large - C. L. Cottrell

Psionic freak little girl got all the powers. Growing up would be bad.


3.5 out of 5

Men Hunting Things - David Drake

A very amusing title for this anthology. Now, while it is also titled Starhunters Vol 1, that does not mean it is a shared world or anything like that. Rather, it is a standard, themed reprint anthology.

It also isn't one of those dodgy books with an average story by the editor. Here, Drake's tale and de Camp reworking can quite happily stand with the Kuttner and Simak, here.

Men Hunting Things : Death of a Hunter - Michael Shaara
Men Hunting Things : Priceless Possession - Arthur Porges
Men Hunting Things : Good Night Mr. James - Clifford D. Simak
Men Hunting Things : Gentlemen- the Queen! - Wilson Tucker
Men Hunting Things : The Mechanical Mice - Eric Frank Russell
Men Hunting Things : The Day the Monsters Broke Loose - Robert Silverberg
Men Hunting Things : The Hunting on the Doonagh Bog - Alister McAllister
Men Hunting Things : The Mermaid Hunter - Casey J. Prescott
Men Hunting Things : The Beetle Experiment - Russell Hays
Men Hunting Things : Home Is the Hunter - Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
Men Hunting Things : Calibration Run - David Drake


Sentient payback.

3.5 out of 5


Just a space jellyfish.

3 out of 5


Duplication hunt duplicity time limit.

4 out of 5


No romance, thanks.

3 out of 5


Burman Bullfrog Battery bloke says Bash it to Hell.

2.5 out of 5


Cheap scotch by myself is more fun than being eaten in a crowd.

4 out of 5


Sucking Pool slime creature.

2 out of 5


Low tech searchicide.

3 out of 5


Big one escaped, won't tell anyone.

3.5 out of 5


Headcount preservation.

4 out of 5


A Gun For Hominid.

4 out of 5




3 out of 5

Sung In Blood - Glen Cook

Glen Cook does Doc Savage homage, around the same length and all.

Compare the very start of The Man Of Bronze, the first Doc Savage adventure.

"Death stalked the night. It haunted the shadowed alleys of Shasesserre.
Those it passed near hurried away, driven by the knives of fear."

and

"There was death afoot in the darkness.

It crept furtively along a steel girder. Hundreds of feet below yawned
glass-and-brick-walled cracks--New York streets. Down there, late
workers scurried homeward. Most of them carried umbrellas, and did not
glance upward."

a little bit further in

"Between plaza's edge and Citadel stood a five-hundred-foot temporary needle of timbers, kept upright by scores of guylines. The masked man paused to see if he was observed, then ran to its foot. He swarmed upward with the tireless energy of a machine. When he reached the crowning platform, from which rope divers would plunge during tomorrow's celebrations, be was barely panting."

and

"One skyscraper was under construction. It had been completed to the
eightieth floor. Some offices were in use.

Above the eightieth floor, an ornamental observation tower jutted up a
full hundred and fifty feet more. The metal work of this was in place,
but no masonry had been laid. Girders lifted a gigantic steel
skeleton. The naked beams were a sinister forest."

Also, the story is the same at the beginning of each book. Doc's father is murdered, there is a sniper henchman of a supervillain, and the same thing goes for Rider, and the man who raised him, the 'Protector' of the city.

So, clever.

Rider also has a team of eclectic friends who work with him throughout, including nicknames like 'Soup' and 'Spud'.

The supervillain in this case is an evil sorcerer, and all that implies. So rather than using advanced science to fight, it is swords and magic.

Well worth a look. Also set up for further adventures, too.



3.5 out of 5

Rescue Run - Anne McCaffrey

A ship in space detects a signal from Pern, and goes to see what they can do. Oort cloud entity discoveries!


3.5 out of 5

No Spot of Ground - Walter Jon Williams

Southern Poe, Generally.


3 out of 5

The Bob Dylan Solution - Walter Jon Williams

Accidental singer control.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Consequences - Walter Jon Williams

Racebuilt Birdwing broadside mutiny.


4 out of 5

Wolf Time - Walter Jon Williams

Rogue Suit power kill myself.


4 out of 5

Dog Is My Copilot - Karen Haber

Brief alien pet crazy pooch rescue.


4 out of 5

Section Seven - John G. Hemry

Black Clown worm Federation.


3 out of 5

The Spacemice Incident - Carl Frederick

Roboweasel, robocat, Chinese or not.


3 out of 5

Egg and Ashes - Frank Herbert

Predator merge.


3 out of 5

Sedalia - David J. Schow

Dinosaur ghost pop-in drive.


4 out of 5

Roads Less Traveled - Jason Stoddard

Reality overlay Oversight.


4 out of 5

Calibration Run - David Drake

A Gun For Hominid.


4 out of 5

The Beetle Experiment - Russell Hays

Big one escaped, won't tell anyone.


3.5 out of 5

Safe House - Andrew Vachss

Burke's fellow ex-convict Hercules kills a man who pulls a gun on him, during an anti-stalking operation.

This gets Burke involved with a woman who runs the titular operation.

What is more, there is a neonazi group planning to blow up a whole lot of the city, and Herk is just the guy to infiltrate this, if he wants a new life and a way to stay out of jail for the earlier killing.

Starts pretty well, loses its way a little in the middle and wraps up really quickly.


3.5 out of 5

Impressions - Doranna Durgin

Dodgy demon attractor.

Something that is apparently to be sneezed at, as the appearance of an artifact causes a lot of problems.

Or, too many demons is most definitely not a good thing, either for the unsuspecting poor victims that get in their way, or for the staff of Angel Investigations.

So, time to get chasing.


2.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fury - Alastair Reynolds

Galactic Emperor two suit, secret now less fishy.


4 out of 5

Truth Window: A Tale Of The Bedlam Rose - Terry Dowling

Nobody's double view.


3.5 out of 5

Ex-Cathedra - Tony Daniel

Kill my grandfather, marry my grandmother. Now, kill her, or kill the hot future wife?


3.5 out of 5

The Seventh Expression Of the Robot General - Jeffrey Ford

Just shoot me now.


3.5 out of 5

Rebellion On the Moon - Robert A. Heinlein

Bomb stopper irradiated.


3.5 out of 5

Pied Piper - Robert A. Heinlein

Music kid send.


3 out of 5

The Bulletin Board - Robert A. Heinlein

Note group party.


2.5 out of 5

Sunseekers - Kate Elliott

We're not going to beat you up over stolen ship tech, just bruise you a bit.


3 out of 5

The Illustrated Biography Of Lord Grimm - Daryl Gregory

Superhero invasion damage, new Doom.


4 out of 5

Elevator - Nancy Kress

Confined foretelling.


3.5 out of 5

Night Of the Firstlings - Margo Lanagan

Hickory waveries.


3 out of 5

Michael Laurits Is: Drowning - Paul Cornell

You're a Lief Saver, mate.


4 out of 5

Invisible Empire Of Ascending Light - Ken Scholes

Kill Emperor? Consider It Announced.


3 out of 5

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter

Eaglets For Andromeda beam record.


4.5 out of 5

The Hero - Karl Schroeder

Jessie and the Jets big moth story, Capital performance, one night only.


4.5 out of 5

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fantasy and Science Fiction 682 - Gordon Van Gelder

Some book reviews, and Lucius Shepard looks at a bunch of movies. Not sure how he stays sane having to watch all that junk. :) The reprint's a good one, but apparently we have another case of another stupid luddite author/agent/estate, in that the Brave Little Toaster is not in the electronic edition. (A quick look in the usual places you would expect to find such will find it for you, of course, given it is reasonably well known). So, if your reason for not letting it be included is that someone might upload it to the internet, well, you are shit out of luck already there, dumbarses. I have actually read it before, it was only decent, and not an author I am interested in, so don't care so much. If it was, I'd be more annoyed.

The editorial is vaguely related to the electronic vs dead tree issue above, too, but with feedback and publishing problems. Or, can a 'general' magazine survive. In this century, it is certainly easier to find more of your niche personal interests, so in that sense, generalist stuff like tv, newspapers, magazines aren't as much use as they used to be, from that point of view. As for the quality question - depends on the type of reader. If you like getting lots of new stuff, the magazines are high quality, on average. If you only read a little, though, one reprint anthology now and again would do you. Then you can pick one with higher quality - e.g. a Year's Best will always be better than several magazines, in quality, generally speaking. Or something like 'Wastelands' or 'The Hard SF Renaissance' or 'Masters Of Fantasy', depending on what you like.

A fun Murphy science article, about balloons, and how to float 'em on different planets, along with various Earth environments.

3.56 average, a good issue overall.

FSF682 : THE SPIRAL BRIAR - Sean McMullen
FSF682 : A WILD AND A WICKED YOUTH - Ellen Kushner
FSF682 : THE PRICE OF SILENCE - Deborah J. Ross
FSF682 : ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM - John C. Wright
FSF682 : THE AVENGER OF LOVE - Jack Skillingstead
FSF682 : ANDREANNA - S. L. Gilbow
FSF682 : STRATOSPHERE - Henry Garfield
FSF682 : SEA WRACK - Edward Jesby

New ways to blow up elves, always good.

4 out of 5


Swordspoint origin.

3 out of 5


World death station discovery.

4 out of 5


Kid fantasy medley.

3 out of 5


Shadow Scout dog chat.

3 out of 5


I, Falling Robot.

3.5 out of 5


Moonball longball.

3.5 out of 5


Homo Aquaticus surprise war warning.

4.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Avenger Of Love - Jack Skillingstead

Shadow Scout dog chat.


3 out of 5

The Spiral Briar - Sean McMullen

New ways to blow up elves, always good.


4 out of 5

Deadhouse Gates - Steven Erikson

Epic is certainly the word for this, and long. As is Coltaine's Chain of Dogs, where this army general is responsible for leading a growing group of Malazan refugees to safety, with his own clan soldiers and the Malazan Seventh Army.

There are other groups with stories too - mine slaves, with priests and propecy, Corporal Kalam of the Bridgeburners and his assassination mission to kill the Empress, and others. Or, there are some serious leadership issues in the Empire.

Then there is all the crazy magic. The characters themselves are so used to this that it is like 'oh, a demon just slaughtered 100 of our soldiers, can one of the mages get an elemental or something to deal with that?'. The reactions to this are about on the level of someone here saying, see that interesting looking silver tail light on that new model Ford car, does that work out'?

Similarly one group coming across a sorcerous ship full of undead crew and founding race aliens wonders about how they can use it, more than being freaked out (even if that can come later). So super extreme magic and people being turned into gods, becoming gods, or being possessed by them, harassed by them, or weaking for them is all pretty de rigeur.

A rather brutal and surprising ending, too.


4 out of 5

Sea Wrack - Edward Jesby

Homo Aquaticus surprise war warning.


4.5 out of 5

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Analog 939 - Stanley Schmidt

A good issue, right on the knocker at 3.50, with one standout story in the case of Tim Ligon's nanotech air war simulation tale.

Guest reviewer D'Ammassa does The Last Theorem, and Walter Jon Williams' Implied Spaces, and Flynn's January Dancer, and Paul J. McAuley's fine Quiet War among others.

Articles on geohistory and radioactive decay speculation.

ANALOG939 : AMONG THE TCHI - Adam-Troy Castro
ANALOG939 : QUICKFEATHERS - Alexis Glynn Latner
ANALOG939 : RENDEZVOUS AT ANGELS THIRTY - Tom Ligon
ANALOG939 : A STORY WITH BEANS - Steven Gould
ANALOG939 : THE SLEEPING BEAUTIES - Robert R. Chase
ANALOG939 : A Measure of Devotion - Shane Tourtellotte
ANALOG939 : The Brother on the Shelf - Philip Edward Kaldon


Rocky critical comeback.

3.5 out of 5


Green Bird People story.

3 out of 5


Dogfight nanosimulation reality.

4.5 out of 5


Metal eating bugs, Word.

3.5 out of 5


Chanteuse spacer separation.

3.5 out of 5


Far Flight Foundation.

3 out of 5


Dead space cadet Fleet card story.

3.5 out of 5





4 out of 5

The Sleeping Beauties - Robert R. Chase

Chanteuse spacer separation.


3.5 out of 5

The Brother On the Shelf - Philip Edward Kaldon

Dead space cadet Fleet card story.


3.5 out of 5

A Story With Beans - Steven Gould

Metal eating bugs, Word.


3.5 out of 5

A Measure Of Devotion - Shane Tourtelotte

Far Flight Foundation.


3 out of 5

The Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 - George Mann

The Solaris series continues to improve, from 3.3, to 3.4 to a now very good 3.63 for an original anthology. There is very little ordinary here. Also great to see the return of Paul Cornell's Hamilton - this story not being as wildly inventive as the previous outing, and probably only a 4.25, but fine work, anyway, to have two in a row like that.

Alastair Reynolds production quality continues to amaze, too.

Another interesting thing is a couple of stories related to other work. Warren Hammond's SF hardboiled novels now have a short story to go along with them, this time told from the viewpoint of another detective, an antagonist of his protagonist in the two longer works. John Meaney adds another piece to whatever he calls the Tristopolis/Necro books. This one doesn't seem to work as well to me, given the rest are gothich supernatural fantasy noir, whereas this is the story of a small boy learning about his world.

The other notables are Baxter and Abraham, with the rest being mostly decent quality work.

Unfortunately it has been mentioned that Solaris is up for sale, so this might be the last of these volumes. If so, it was a very fine exit.

Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Rescue Mission - Jack Skillingstead
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : The Fixation - Alastair Reynolds
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Artifacts - Stephen Baxter
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Necroflux Day - John Meaney
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Providence - Paul Di Filippo
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Carnival Night - Warren Hammond
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : The Assistant - Ian Whates
Solaris Book Of ew Science Fiction 3 : Glitch - Scott Edelman
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : One of Our Bastards is Missing - Paul Cornell
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Woodpunk - Adam Roberts
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Minyia's Astral Angels - Jennifer Pelland
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : The Best Monkey - Daniel Abraham
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : Long Stay - Ian Watson
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : A Soul Stitched to Iron - Tim Akers
Solaris Book Of New Science Fiction 3 : iThink Therefore I Am - Ken MacLeod

Male energy hypnosis vegetable planet escape.

4 out of 5


Multiversal mechanism order stealing fix ghosts.

4 out of 5


Brane model universal fuel fear.

4 out of 5


Learning dead people power.

3 out of 5


Recording hit rollover machine.

3.5 out of 5


Baby shocker detection.

3.5 out of 5


Bug bot cleanup.

3.5 out of 5


Human mythbots.

3 out of 5


Queenfold deception Balance rescue.

4.5 out of 5


Gaia glowing neural net.

3.5 out of 5


Cuddlepie is too a person, wedding tackle or not.

3.5 out of 5


Asymmetrical design advantage discovery.

4 out of 5


Bigarse carpak bugs me.

3.5 out of 5


Monster Family fortune foundation.

3.5 out of 5


Store everything, or not. We know.

3.5 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

Glitch - Scott Edelman

Human mythbots.


3 out of 5

iThink Therefore I Am - Ken MacLeod

Store everything, or not. We know.


3.5 out of 5

A Soul Stitched To Iron - Tim Akers

Monster Family fortune foundation.


3.5 out of 5

Long Stay - Ian Watson

Bigarse carpak bugs me.


3.5 out of 5

Minya's Astral Angels - Jennifer Pelland

Minya's Astral Angels


3.5 out of 5

Woodpunk - Adam Roberts

Gaia glowing neural net.


3.5 out of 5

Rendezvous At Angels Thirty - Tom Ligon

Dogfight simulation reality.


4.5 out of 5

Quickfeathers - Alexis Glyn Latner

Green Bird People story.


3 out of 5

Carnival Night - Warren Hammond

Baby shocker detection.


3.5 out of 5

Providence - Paul Di Filippo

Recording hit rollover machine.


3.5 out of 5

Necroflux Day - John Meaney

Learning dead people power.


3 out of 5

Artifacts - Stephen Baxter

Brane model universal fuel fear.


4 out of 5

The Fixation - Alastair Reynolds

Multiversal mechanism order stealing fix ghosts.


4 out of 5

Rescue Mission - Jack Skillingstead

Male energy hypnosis vegetable planet escape.


4 out of 5

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lord of the Trees and the Mad Goblin - Philip Jose Farmer

An omnibus edition of :

The Lord of the Trees
The Mad Goblin

The second of the Lord Grandrith novels, with the same conceit. The book is part of his autobiography, changed a bit by the author to protect people.

Most of this is military, really, as a parachute jump and some squad level actions are made by Grandrith as they assault the Nine, with casualties on both sides, before meeting up with Doc for the final book.

3 out of 5


As you may guess from the title if you have an interest in Doc Savage, this one stars Doc Caliban and crew for the majority, as they fight their way through the schemes and obstancles of the evil dwarf supervillain.

Wolves, a bear, and more. Doc's bear fighting approach is pretty novel, you would have to say. He ends up with a touch choice or two to have to make.

3 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Empire Of the Nine - Philip Jose Farmer

An omnibus edition of :

The Lord of the Trees
The Mad Goblin

The second of the Lord Grandrith novels, with the same conceit. The book is part of his autobiography, changed a bit by the author to protect people.

Most of this is military, really, as a parachute jump and some squad level actions are made by Grandrith as they assault the Nine, with casualties on both sides, before meeting up with Doc for the final book.

3 out of 5


As you may guess from the title if you have an interest in Doc Savage, this one stars Doc Caliban and crew for the majority, as they fight their way through the schemes and obstancles of the evil dwarf supervillain.

Wolves, a bear, and more. Doc's bear fighting approach is pretty novel, you would have to say. He ends up with a touch choice or two to have to make.

3 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Saturday, March 7, 2009

To Die In Italbar - Roger Zelazny

Ibooks omnibus version of :-

To Die In Italbar
A Dark Traveling

F. Paul Wilson's Healer was (a considerably superior) variant of this novel, in which a man is afflicted with both being a plague carrier and a disease healer depending on his cycle.

This is thanks to a strange, powerful alien presence in a cave.

Such a man can be put to highly destructive use spreading the diseases that he gathers for which there are no cure.

This is the plan for a military leader from the blasted Earth, from a small group of worlds economically treated as backwoods hillbillies by the greater leagues around them.

A super wealthy league entrepreneur wants to stop this from happening, as well as revitalise the Earth.

The alien disease goddess has other plans.

3 out of 5


A parallel worlds science fantasy where only small family groups have the technology to allow them to travel between the different varieties.

There are lightbands, and darkbands, and dead worlds as a consequence.

This novel follows one family, and in particular a boy belonging to one such, who happens to be a werewolf.

Luckily so is his uncle, to show him the ropes.


2.5 out of 5





2 out of 5

To Die In Italbar - Roger Zelazny

F. Paul Wilson's Healer was (a considerably superior) variant of this novel, in which a man is afflicted with both being a plague carrier and a disease healer depending on his cycle.

This is thanks to a strange, powerful alien presence in a cave.

Such a man can be put to highly destructive use spreading the diseases that he gathers for which there are no cure.

This is the plan for a military leader from the blasted Earth, from a small group of worlds economically treated as backwoods hillbillies by the greater leagues around them.

A super wealthy league entrepreneur wants to stop this from happening, as well as revitalise the Earth.

The alien disease goddess has other plans.


3 out of 5

A Dark Traveling - Roger Zelazny

A parallel worlds science fantasy where only small family groups have the technology to allow them to travel between the different varieties.

There are lightbands, and darkbands, and dead worlds as a consequence.

This novel follows one family, and in particular a boy belonging to one such, who happens to be a werewolf.

Luckily so is his uncle, to show him the ropes.


2.5 out of 5

The Dain Curse the Glass Key and Selected Stories - Dashiell Hammett

This Hammett collection contains two novels, and four short stories, of which 'The Big Knockover' is easily the best.

Dain Curse : The Dain Curse - Dashiell Hammett
Dain Curse : The Glass Key - Dashiell Hammett
Dain Curse : The House in Turk Street - Dashiell Hammett
Dain Curse : The Girl with the Silver Eyes - Dashiell Hammett
Dain Curse : The Big Knockover - Dashiell Hammett
Dain Curse : $106000 Blood Money - Dashiell Hammett

This novel is a bit of a mess, with a story wandering in and around, to San Francisco and back, with a dodgy cult, family history, drugs, murder, and more.

You'd think all that could be made fairly interesting--but not if your plot is all over the shop, like in the case of this novel.

2.5 out of 5


One long stumbling sequence as a political operative ends up in a situation between his boss, a senator, his daughter, the murdered senator's son, and the odd heavy that likes to bounce him around the place.

Oh, and also his mum. Plus his bookie owes him money.

This novel is ok, I'd probably call it around a 3.25, though.

3.5 out of 5


Chaired Op.

3 out of 5


Cheque scam kill.

3 out of 5


Colorful gangster cull setup.

4 out of 5


Removing Papadopoulos.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

The Glass Key - Dashiell Hammett

One long stumbling sequence as a political operative ends up in a situation between his boss, a senator, his daughter, the murdered senator's son, and the odd heavy that likes to bounce him around the place.

Oh, and also his mum. Plus his bookie owes him money.

This novel is ok, I'd probably call it around a 3.25, though.

Politicians are dodgy, who'da think that?


3.5 out of 5

Choice Of Evil - Andrew Vachss

A good entry.

An hit at a public rally leaves Burke's girlfriend dead.

More deaths follow as a hitman starts offing gaybashers and other associated freaks in significant numbers.

This gives him a personal interest in the case, when a group of activisits hire Burke to try and find him, as they don't want him caught. One of whom is a strange woman.

Going deeper this ties into Burke's history with a now dead professional killer of some reputation. Strega also lends a hand.


4 out of 5

The Quest In Time - Edmond Hamilton

Back to the Aztecs.


2.5 out of 5

Love In the City - Leigh Harding

Lotta cats.


3 out of 5

Minority Report - Theodore Sturgeon

We're mostly anti, here, so you don't matter.

(call it 2.75)
3 out of 5

Entity - Poul Anderson and John Gergen

Power sphere.


3 out of 5

Buy Jupiter! - Isaac Asimov

Really big ad.


3 out of 5

Fleegl Of Fleegl - Gordon R. Dickson

Rabbit guy dream bash.


3 out of 5

The Dark Backward - Edmond Hamilton

Project Freewill Correction.


3.5 out of 5

The Prisoner Of New York Island - Frederik Pohl

Old tour kid.


3 out of 5

Beneath the Hills Of Azlaroc - Fred Saberhagen

Weighty veil problem trip.


3.5 out of 5

Captain Clark Of the Space Patrol - Ray Russell

Howling quartet, with D-Ray gun.


3 out of 5

Sunjammer - Poul Anderson

Sailship flareup problem.


2.5 out of 5

The Lieutenant - Brian Aldiss

The spiders are gonna get us.


2.5 out 5

The World He Left Behind Him - Robert Silverberg

Need to find the Gateway to World X with the Intercontinual Flux-Field Disruptor.


3 out of 5

Vacation - John Christopher

Rather say in the City.


3 out of 5

Business Of Killing - Fritz Leiber

Private army, many worlds style.


3 out of 5

Yaguara - Nicola Griffith

Jane's jaguar jungle jaunt junior addition.


3.5 out of 5

Under Martian Ice - Stephen Baxter

Nothing but old dead stuff.


3.5 out of 5

All Is Not Lost - Scott Westerfeld

Swirlypot collapse.


3 out of 5

Check Elastic Before Jumping - Neal Asher

Crappy health, with guns.


3 out of 5

Murphy's Cat - Joan D. Vinge

I'm the Law, patootie.


3 out of 5

A Life With Semisent - Gregory Benford

Outlived assistant advice.


3 out of 5

Beyond the Moon - Edmond Hamilton

Space prince swap.

John Gordon is rather surprised to be mentally contacted by a man claiming to be from a long, long way in the future, who claims he can swap minds in an experiment with a man from the past such as himself.

When he agrees there are beautiful women to try and fool, Galactic Empires to save, battle fleets to be fought, and atom-pistols to be wielded. Oh, and a super Disruptor weapon to protect from falling into the wrong hands.

Not what your average 20th bloke has to go through, that is for sure, but he gives it his best.


3 out of 5

Spawn Of Satan - Nicola Griffith

Getting the right smart girl for the kid job.


4 out of 5

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hangman - Erin Cashier

http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/story.php?s=21

Conducting an engine killing.


3.5 out of 5

Science Fiction the Best Of the Year 2008 - Rich Horton

A pretty good short introduction to the year in SF by the editor, beginning with talking about mainstream and SF, via Chabon. A Stephen King story was not available for reprint, also one from Stephen 'Illusionist' Millhauser, likewise. At least he has named names, unlike some other editors who will intimate it, but won't name who refused. So that is good.

He then goes through the SF novels of the year, pointing out that the yanks are underrepresented in the good stuff.

"Also, no room for novellas, and liked these "My favorite SF novellas were “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe; “Dead Money” and “Stars Seen Through Stone” by Lucius Shepard; and “Womb of Every World” by Walter Jon Williams. Other stories I really wished I could have squeezed in here included “The Lustration” by Bruce Sterling; “The Prophet of Flores” by Ted Kosmatka; “do(this)” by Stephen Graham Jones; and “Finisterra” by David Moles."

Then a quick magazine situation overview, and naming The New Space Opera as the best anthology of the year. No doubt about that one.

Overall, a better overview than some of the short pieces in the Hartwell, Strahan and previous volumes of this have produced.

The fiction here is a 3.67, which to me is low for a science fiction best of the year anthology of the current day, with 5 of the 18 at average or so level.

He has also gone with lead off with the best, in this case, with Egan's brilliant followup to Luminous, Dark Integers.

Overall, a not quite 4.25 book.

SF Best of the Year 2008 : Dark Integers - Greg Egan
SF Best of the Year 2008 : A Plain Tale From Our Hills - Bruce Sterling
SF Best of the Year 2008 : An Eye for an Eye - Charles Coleman Finlay
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Always - Karen Joy Fowler
SF Best of the Year 2008 : An Ocean is a Snowflake Four Billion Miles Away - John Barnes
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Virus Changes Skin - Ekaterina Sedia
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Wikiworld - Paul Di Filippo
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Artifice and Intelligence - Tim Pratt
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Jesus Christ Reanimator - Ken MacLeod
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Night Calls - Robert Reed
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Everyone Bleeds Through - Jack Skillingstead
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Art of War - Nancy Kress
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Three Days of Rain - Holly Phillips
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Brain Raid - Alexander Jablokov
SF Best of the Year 2008 : For Solo Cello Op. 12 - Mary Robinette Kowal
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Perfect Violet - Will McIntosh
SF Best of the Year 2008 : Vectoring - Geoffrey Landis
SF Best of the Year 2008 : The Skysailor's Tale - Michael Swanwick

Mathematical Border Guards detente conflict resolution.

5 out of 5


A bleak, baroque tale of life after the fall of civilisation. One woman still has abnormal technology, biology and longevity.

2.5 out of 5


Hindsight gonad grab caper redux failure.

4 out of 5


Static cult life.

3.5 out of 5


Energetic documentary avalanche accident.

3 out of 5


Color shift vital.

3.5 out of 5


Dickieworld, with groups the Coodabeens could definitely love. Trade cybernetwarstylin'.

4.5 out of 5


Bad ghosts, bad machine, bad game.

4 out of 5


Second coming, blogging, shooting.

3 out of 5


Rocket science interracial relationship revelations.

3.5 out of 5


Lots of us to meet.

3 out of 5


Strange attractor society.

4 out of 5


Duelling decision time.

3.5 out of 5


D-level intelligence problems.

4 out of 5


Baby steps to regain musical ability.

4 out of 5


Memory selection.

3 out of 5


Meningocopy project is infectious.

4 out of 5


I'm not a bloke, but you can kiss me anyway, airship boy.

4 out of 5





4 out of 5

Perfect Violet - Will McIntosh

Memory selection.


3 out of 5

Everyone Bleeds Through - Jack Skillingstead

Lots of us to meet.


3 out of 5

The Outlaws Of Mars - Otis Adelbert Kline

The second of Kline's Martian Planetary Romances again sees a man with reasons to be happy to get the hell out of dodgy planet Earth. This time, Jerry Morgan, a falsely disgraced army officer ends up with his wealthy uncle.

Who just happens to be Richard Morgan (also writing something that just may be planetary romancesque, too, in The Steel Remains).

Richard Morgan happens to have hopefully perfected a way to transport a man to Mars, as opposed to doing the body inhabiting-mentality switching type trick employed elsewhere.

Once he makes it there, Jerry is propelled into sword swinging action, as he becomes embroiled in an interracial conflict and war - and is also caught between two space princesses and their various relatives who would like to see him lose a few vital body parts.

Some great monsters in here, flying beasties, sentient vegetable balls and more, including the trusty dalfs.

Not quite as good as the first, but certainly still up there with Burroughs best few Mars books, by way of comparison.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gentlemen The Queen! - Wilson Tucker

No romance there, thanks!


3 out of 5

Future History - A List

Updates - S. Andrew Swann 'Hostile Takeover' trilogy has some sequels ocming.



A list of stuff that is more far future and starspanning type material, and has more than just your garden variety trilogy. So if it is just in one book, one story, three books, three stories, not so interested as far as the list goes anyway.

This is obviously biased to those I have read some of and hence they come to mind, so I was wondering if people had come across others and have other suggestions?

Polesotechnic - Poul Anderson
Psychotechnic - Poul Anderson
Federation Of Humanity - Christopher Anvil
Lydia Duluth - Eleanor Arnason
Hwarath - Eleanor Arnason
Polity - Neal Asher
Foundation and Robots - Isaac Asimov
Culture - Iain Banks
Million Open Doors - John Barnes
Xeelee - Stephen Baxter
The Way - Greg Bear
Galactic Center - Gregory Benford
Cities In Flight - James Blish
Uplift - David Brin
Xenowealth - Tobias S. Buckell
Ender's Universe - Orson Scott Card
Rim World - A. Bertram Chandler
Alliance-Union - C. J. Cherryh
Starfishers - Glen Cook
Childe Cycle - Gordon R. Dickson
Humanx Commonwealth - Alan Dean Foster
Cofederation - Joe Haldeman
Forever War - Joe Haldeman
Two Thousand Centuries - Edmond Hamilton
Confederation - Peter F. Hamilton
Commonwealth - Peter F. Hamilton
Future History - Robert A. Heinlein
ConSentiency - Frank Herbert
Dune - Frank Herbert
Hainish Cycle - Ursula K. Le Guin
Galactic Milieu - Julian May
Academy - Jack McDevitt
Known Space - Larry Niven
Trimus/Chaos/Black Hole/Mars??? - G. David Nordley
Terro-Human - H. Beam Piper
Heechee - Frederik Pohl
CoDominium - Jerry Pournelle
Tanguy - Gareth L. Powell
Great Ship - Robert Reed
Sister Alice - Robert Reed
Birthright Universe - Mike Resnick
Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds
SuperCats and Chimps??? - R. Garcia y Robertson
Berserker - Fred Saberhagen
Old Man's War - John Scalzi
Hub - James H. Schmitz
Vegan Agents - James H. Schmitz
Heritage Universe - Charles Sheffield
Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Instrumentality Of Man - Cordwainer Smith
Lensmen - E. E. Doc Smith
Coyote - Allen M. Steele
Shaper/Mechanist - Bruce Sterling
Hostile Takeover - S. Andrew Swann
Rull - A. E. Van Vogt
Gaean Reach - Jack Vance
Eight Worlds - John Varley
Perry Rhodan - Various
Astropolis - Sean Williams
LaNague Federation - F. Paul Wilson


Yes, I have heard of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Blake's 7, Babylon 5 et. al. Tie-ins are also of no interest here. :)

**Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon takes your Future History about as far as you can go.

Quiet War - Paul J. McAuley
Galactic Milieu - Julian May
Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Good Night Mr. James - Clifford D. Simak

Duplication hunt duplicity time limit.


4 out of 5

Priceless Possession - Arthur Porges

Just a space jellyfish.


3 out of 5

Death Of A Hunter - Michael Shaara

Sentient payback.


3.5 out of 5

Ceremony - Glen Cook

""Marika’s darkship was forty miles from TelleRai’s heart when the first sword of fire smote the world.

The flash blinded her briefly. There were more flashes. She did not keep count. The Mistress of the Ship had been blinded, too, and had lost control. The darkship twisted toward the ground.

Marika reached with the touch. Mistress! Get hold of yourself!

Her vision cleared. A quarter mile to her left Kiljar’s darkship fluttered downward, too, but it stabilized soon after she spied it.

Marika felt Kiljar’s touch. The Redoriad second sent, What has happened?

I do not know. The strange weapons you mentioned?

Marika looked back to the city so recently and hastily fled. A grisly glow backlighted the snowclouds. The world within, the ghost world of the touch and dark, was filled with terror and pain, unfocused, diffuse, yet centered upon dying TelleRai.

Marika sent, What should we do, Kiljar?

Go on. We must go on to Ruhaack. Already the touch tells me there is nothing we can do back there.

How bad is it?

Worse than you can imagine. How did you know?"

The last goes a little space opera, with the advent of planetary bases, humans, and more."


3 out of 5

Warlock - Glen Cook

"Bullets hammered the north wall of the last redoubt, Akard’s communications center. Mortars crumped. Their bombs banged deafeningly. Bullets leaking through the two small north windows had made a shambles of the communications gear.

Marika had done what she could to stem the nomad tide, and she had failed. She had only two regrets: that her pack, the Degnan, would go into the darkness unMourned, and that for her there would be no journey to the Reugge cloister at Maksche. For her there would be no next step on the road that might have led to the stars.

The hammer of savage weapons rose to an insane crescendo. The nomads were closing in for the last kill. Then the uproar ended. Braydic, the communications technician, whimpered into the sudden silence, “Now they will come.”

Marika nodded. The last minutes had arrived. The inevitable end of the siege had come."

This is the second of the Darkwar trilogy, and follows Marika as she gets older, and more bad things happen to her as she continues to survive, watching enemies and friends and allies fall by the wayside, as the scope of the story expands, tooling around in ships, etc.


3 out of 5

Doomstalker - Glen Cook

"It was the worst winter in memory. Even the Wise conceded that early on. The snows came out of the Zhotak early, and by Manestar Morning they stood several paws deep. They came on bitter winds that found every crack and chink in the Degnan loghouses till in frustration the older females ordered the males out to cover the curved roofs with blocks of sod. The males strove valiantly, but the ice-teethed wind had devoured the warmth of the ground. The earth would not yield to their tools. They tried packing the roofs with snow, but the ceaseless wind carried that away. The ranks of firewood dwindled at an alarming rate."

So a conflict over resources on this planet of aliens with strange abilities, as the young Marika plays an important role in their survival and increasing their technology levels.


3 out of 5

How Like A God - B. W. Clough

When an ordinary bloke whose biggest problems are code debugging, nappies full of turds, and the usual wife yelling at you because you aren't perfect, etc., eg. the usual suddenly gets telepathy and mind control superpowers, his life goes to hell.

He does have a stalwart scientific sidekick to given him a hand (and to suggest blackjack is now a good plan).

It seems he has been given a bit of a dose of Marvel Family type aciton - more Black Adam style, though, as Gilgamesh is still around, and bored. He thought it would be fun to split his powers, and then sort of have a big game of War with real live countries.


3.5 out of 5

Omega - Jack McDevitt

I am still waiting for McDevitt to impress me again, as he has in the past.

However, I'm still waiting. I think when the book points out that Priscilla Hutchins is a bureaucrat again that the signs aren't good.

Here we have a save the aliens from the astronomical menace story. Giant cloud sof death from space. The aliens are called Goompahs after a kid's show, but the name conjures to mind cute alien mafiosi - was a bit hard to get over that.

Primitive stay at homes they are, so it is a bit hard to convince them of the existence of aliens who aren't good, stars, and all that sort of thing, too, as far as saving them goes.

This is ok, but that is about all.


3 out of 5

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bellman - Peter O'Donnell

A day at the races and a couple of Mickey Finns leave Willie and Modesty in a hunt, with them as the prey, as an old enemy has a score to settle.


4 out of 5

A Wolf In the Fold - Bill Willingham

I ain't no collaborator, so how about a change of scenery.


3.5 out of 5

The Xanadu Talisman - Peter O'Donnell

I'd give this one a 3.75.

A reunion with bumblingly successful doctor Giles Pennyfeather leads Modesty and Willie to many locations and a final showdown with a panther, an evil nanny and her two imprinted young charges, and a short killer that they had tangled with before.

They get into the panther situation when trying to rescue someone, leading to a rather home brewed explosive escape.


4 out of 5

The Gravedigger's Tale - Simon Clark

Woman in refrigerator.


3.5 out of 5

The Past Through Tomorrow - Robert A. Heinlein

Ok collection of Heinlein stories at 3.24, highlighted by 'It's Great To Be Back' and 'The Menace From Earth'. Includes the Future History stories.

Past Through Tomorrow : Life-Line - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : The Roads Must Roll - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Blowups Happen - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : The Man Who Sold the Moon - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Delilah and the Space-Rigger - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Space Jockey - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Requiem - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : The Long Watch - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Gentlemen Be Seated - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : The Black Pits of Luna - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : It's Great to Be Back! - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : We Also Walk Dogs - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Searchlight - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Ordeal in Space - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : The Green Hills of Earth - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Logic of Empire - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : The Menace from Earth - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : If This Goes On - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Coventry - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Misfit - Robert A. Heinlein
Past Through Tomorrow : Methuselah's Children - Robert A. Heinlein


'I can tell you when the Black Camel will kneel at your door.'

3.5 out of 5


A master engineer and others work to stop industrial action from stopping massively engineered mass transit.

3 out of 5


Rocket scientist atomic observational pressure.

3.5 out of 5


I'm going, damn it.

3 out of 5


Send for some women.

3 out of 5


Want to come to the Moon?

3 out of 5


Any ship will do if you can get me there.

3.5 out of 5


Moon Base bomb, Stinky.

3.5 out of 5


Fatso leak.

3.5 out of 5


Shorty for the moon.

3 out of 5


Groundhogs too dumb for lunar couple.

4 out of 5


General Services money.

2.5 out of 5


Find Blind Betsy.

3.5 out of 5


Just a cat rescuing space hero.

3 out of 5


Hillbilly spacer songs.

2 out of 5


I Was A Slave On Venus.

3.5 out of 5


The cozy friendship between two teenage would be spaceship designers on the moon is interrupted when a well built actress from Earth arrives from a holiday, utilising both their services as guides.

4 out of 5


Of Official Virgins, Cabals and assault runs.

3.5 out of 5


You lot here are no fun any more anyway.

3 out of 5


Space Marine bad boy builders.

3.5 out of 5





3 out of 5