Thursday, April 30, 2009

All the Weyrs Of Pern - Anne McCaffrey

The discovery of an Artificial Intelligence the original colonists of Pern had at their disposal astonishes the majority of the planet's leadership. It also upsets a conservative traditional faction that view an intelligent machine as an Abomination with a capital A.

The dragons and fire lizards, are, as usual, pretty cool with cool new stuff, as long as they get enough to eat, sunshine to sleep in, and people or other critters to wash their assorted hides.

The new technology gives them the ability to understand enough to utilise the ships that have been left in orbit to attempt to do something audacious about the menace of Thread once and for all.

All done in McCaffrey's charming but bloodless style. So pretty fluffy, and does suffer at times from that very common 21st century author and publisher bloat disease.

But, well, dragons on spaceships, or in space. Gotta be fun. Also where it is handy to be a small, white dragon.


3 out of 5

Planet Stories 36 - Paul L. Payne

Certainly one of the better issues, with Bradbury, Chandler, Blish and Tenn. The lesser writers in this issue are some of the better variety too, in McDowell, Fennel and Wells - searching out the latter three and their stories you well get some of the better quality madcap mayhem in the Planet Stories vein.

The Tenn story is a really good time travel story, different to most of the rest of that sort of thing, as of course are Bradbury's schmaltz-ridden bits and pieces.

Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Citadel of the Green Death - Emmett McDowell
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : When Kohonnes Screamed - Gardner F. Fox
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Mars Is Heaven! - shortstory by Ray Bradbury
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Preview of Peril - A. Bertram Chandler
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Against the Stone Beasts - James Blish
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Brooklyn Project - William Tenn
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Synthetic Hero - Erik Fennel
Planet Stories 1948 Fall : Valkyrie from the Void - Basil Wells


Mutants, rebellion, carnivours walking plans, and she made me a slave!

3.5 out of 5


So good at everything, you could use some torturing, Grim.

2 out of 5


Family illusion.

3.5 out of 5


Mannschen Drive test, one way.

3.5 out of 5


Nothing left on Earth but phantom space beasts and the odd flying rodent person.

2.5 out of 5


Past alterations pseudopocryphal.

4 out of 5


No longer the rich bastard tycoon, no matter who I tell.

3 out of 5


Must chop up Nitka Porn, princess!

3 out of 5





3 out of 5

Valkyrie Of the Void - Basil Wells

Must chop up Nitka Porn, princess!


3 out of 5

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Synthetic Hero - Erik Fennel

No longer the rich bastard tycoon, no matter who I tell.


3 out of 5

Against the Stone Beasts - James Blish

Nothing left on Earth but phantom space beasts and the odd flying rodent person.


2.5 out of 5

When Kohonnes Screamed - Gardner F. Fox

So good at everything, you could use some torturing, Grim.


2 out of 5

Citadel Of the Green Death - Emmett McDowell

Mutants, rebellion, carnivorous walking plants, and she made me a slave!


3.5 out of 5

Planet Stories UK 11 - Anonymous Anonymous

People might have heard of the Bradbury character and his story. Good reason the same can't be said for the rest. Although the Stearns piece is a touch Asimovian.

Planet Stories UK 11 : A Sound of Thunder - Ray Bradbury
Planet Stories UK 11 : B-12's Moon Glow - Charles A. Stearns
Planet Stories UK 11 : The Woman-Stealers of Thrayx - Fox B. Holden
Planet Stories UK 11 : Narakan Rifles About Face! - Jan Smith

Stay in the lines, you dino hunting dumbarse.

4 out of 5


Devious builder bot.

3 out of 5


Need some bi-sexual peace.

2 out of 5


Greenback holdout.

2 out of 5




2 out of 5

Narakan Rifles About Face - Jan Smith

Greenback holdout.


2 out of 5

The Woman-stealers Of Thrayx - Fox B. Holden

Need some bi-sexual peace.


2 out of 5

Planet Stories UK 03 - Anonymous Anonymous

Less than a 2.5 average for this particular mag, and won't be any surprise the Bradbury is the best. The Coppel story is like a different writer than the bloke who wrote 'The Rebel Of Valkyr' - so perhaps Rebel is just the one out of the box inspiration.

Planet Stories UK 03 : Warrior Maid of Mars - Alfred Coppel
Planet Stories UK 03 : Flowering Evil - Margaret St. Clair
Planet Stories UK 03 : Death-by-Rain - Ray Bradbury
Planet Stories UK 03 : Collision Orbit - Clyde Beck
Planet Stories UK 03 : Alpha Say Beta Do - Alfred E. Maxwell
Planet Stories UK 03 : Moon of Treason - Emmett McDowell
Planet Stories UK 03 : Unwelcome Tenant - Roger Dee

Out of water, and oh, those Tellurians. So fight me you coward, or I'm chucking you to the sith.

2.5 out of 5


Next time, tell me if the plant might eat me.

2.5 out of 5


Venus very wet.

3.5 out of 5


No backups, Space Patrol.

2 out of 5


Double love decision.

1.5 out of 5


Atomic knife spy ring escape.

2 out of 5


Not sure I know what's going on on which planet.

3 out of 5




1 out of 5

Unwelcome Tenant - Roger Dee

Not sure I know what's going on on which planet.


3 out of 5

Moon Of Treason - Emmett McDowell

Atomic knife spy ring escape.


2 out of 5

Alpha Say Beta Do - Alfred E. Maxwell

Double love decision.


1.5 out of 5

Collision Orbit - Clyde Beck

No backups, Space Patrol.


2 out of 5

Flowering Evil - Margaret St. Clair

Next time, tell me if the plant might eat me.


2.5 out of 5

Planet Stories 57 - Jack O'Sullivan

Pretty solid for its age, this one. In fact, the first story does have a little of the Brackett/Moore feel, at times. So the start and the end are the places to look, for that and the real thing.

The middle isn't too bad, either, including someone who is much more famous as a crime writer.

Planet Stories 1952 11 : The Conjurer of Venus - Conan T. Troy
Planet Stories 1952 11 : The Rhizoid Kill - Jack Bradley
Planet Stories 1952 11 : The Luminous Blonde - Hayden Howard
Planet Stories 1952 11 : As It Was - Paul L. Payne
Planet Stories 1952 11 : A Planet Named Joe - Evan Hunter
Planet Stories 1952 11 : Captain Chaos - D. Allen Morrissey
Planet Stories 1952 11 : Shannach The Last - Leigh Brackett

Fast dance dreams of space.

3.5 out of 5


Poison gem.

2.5 out of 5


Not all dames are bright.

2.5 out of 5


One space hunt, one Jungle Queen, one Alien Controller.

3 out of 5


Any old killer.

3 out of 5


Pioneer remembering trip.

3 out of 5


An Earthman on Mercury stumbles into a long lost colony in a hidden air-filled valley, ruled by harsh Sunstone wielding hawk controlling lords - and, of course, an alien overlord behind them.

3.5 out of 5





2.5 out of 5

Captain Chaos - D. Allen Morrissey

Pioneer remembering trip.


3 out of 5

A Planet Named Joe - Ed McBain

Any old killer.


3 out of 5

As It Was - Paul L. Payne

One space hunt, one Jungle Queen, one Alien Controller.


3 out of 5

The Luminous Blonde - Howard Hayden

Not all dames are bright.


2.5 out of 5

The Rhizoid Kill - Jack Bradley

Poison gem.


2.5 out of 5

The Conjurer Of Venus - Conan T. Troy

Fast dance dreams of space.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Planet Stories 49 - Jerome Bixby

Still a sub 3 average, one major culprit the surprisingly crap Rocklynne story. Not much of a fan, but that is a shocker. The second half is a lot better, with Long, Vance, Reynolds, Blish and Anderson.

Planet Stories 1951 07 : Slave-Ship to Andrigo - Ross Rocklynne
Planet Stories 1951 07 : Sign of Life - Dave Dryfoos
Planet Stories 1951 07 : Monster - William Morrison
Planet Stories 1951 07 : Venus Mission - J. T. McIntosh
Planet Stories 1951 07 : The Timeless Ones - Frank Belknap Long
Planet Stories 1951 07 : Temple of Han - Jack Vance
Planet Stories 1951 07 : Mercy Flight - Mack Reynolds
Planet Stories 1951 07 : Blackout in Cygni - James Blish
Planet Stories 1951 07 : The Virgin of Valkarion - Poul Anderson

Single Hawk Greenies.

1.5 out of 5


Venus wind death proof.

3.5 out of 5


Octerocats and badgerines no match for a ton of dog. Lotta crap, though.

2.5 out of 5


Grey thought fight.

3 out of 5


Space colony Druids.

2.5 out of 5


Nick our jewel? We'll, we'll top that with a planet.

3 out of 5


Saving kid story.

2.5 out of 5


Overdrive pirate patrol.

3.5 out of 5


Sorry barbarian boy, I'm making you a king now you've wrecked the Empire and the Temple.

3.5 out of 5




2 out of 5

Blackout In Cygni - James Blish

Overdrive pirate patrol.


3.5 out of 5

Mercy Flight - Mack Reynolds

Saving kid story.


2.5 out of 5

Temple Of Han - Jack Vance

Nick our jewel? We'll, we'll top that with a planet.


3 out of 5

The Timeless Ones - Frank Belknap Long

Space colony Druids.


2.5 out of 5

Venus Mission - J. T. McIntosh

Grey thought fight.


3 out of 5

Monster - William Morrison

Octerocats and badgerines no match for a ton of dog. Lotta crap, though.


2.5 out of 5

Sign Of Life - Dave Dryfoos

Venus wind death proof.


3.5 out of 5

Slave-Ship To Andrigo - Ross Rocklynne

Single Hawk Greenies.


1.5 out of 5

Fantastic Worlds - Paul Collins

An anthology of fantasy stories for kids. At that, it will do nicely. Definitely aimed at the quite young, in the main, so little of interest here. A sub-3 average as a result.

Fantastic Worlds : The Boy from the Monster Forest - Kate Forsyth
Fantastic Worlds : Chronicler - Sean McMullen
Fantastic Worlds : City of Whirlwinds - Jane Routley
Fantastic Worlds : Dawn Chorus - Glyn Parry
Fantastic Worlds : Wizard Trouble - Paul Collins
Fantastic Worlds : The Book of Lore - Tony Shillitoe
Fantastic Worlds : The Sorceror's Looking Glass - Steven Paulsen
Fantastic Worlds : Flame Child - Shannah Jay
Fantastic Worlds : Old Noon's Tale - Cherry Wilder
Fantastic Worlds : The Nag - Allan Bailie
Fantastic Worlds : Mouse and the Witch-child - Brian Caswell
Fantastic Worlds : From the Lighthouse - Garth Nix
Fantastic Worlds : The Taste of Power - Rowena Cory Lindquist
Fantastic Worlds : The Bath-house - Keith Taylor
Fantastic Worlds : The Talking Sword - Jack Dann


Shadow hounded.

2 out of 5


Most of us are just historians, not soul-sucking demons, honest.

3 out of 5


Spin away, spellcrow.

3.5 out of 5


Bug freak.

3 out of 5


Clones and zombies, too.

2.5 out of 5


Better dragon fried elf trees, than dragon friend elves.

3 out of 5


The old monster disguised as a hot chick trick.

3.5 out of 5


Big girls get choppy.

2 out of 5


Sand, sea, sunner.

3 out of 5


Horse and hounds.

2.5 out of 5


Got us an Outlander.

3 out of 5


Those old buildings make more than they seem to.

2.5 out of 5


Wizard didn't chop my hand off, not even the finger. Maybe I can work for him.

3.5 out of 5


The fourth wash folly.

3.5 out of 5


Video game boy, your demon weapon here is going to get you over your fear of killing monsters.

3 out of 5





2 out of 5

Wizard Trouble - Paul Collins

Clones and zombies, too.


2.5 out of 5

Planet Stories 48 - Jerome Bixby

Nothing of any interest here, beyond the Schmitz, really.

Planet Stories 1951 05 : Captives of the Thieve-Star - James H. Schmitz
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Blind Play - Chan Davis
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Out of the Dark Nebula - Milton L. Coe
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Garrigan's Bems - Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Lake of Fire - Frank Belknap Long
Planet Stories 1951 05 : The Bryd - Noel Loomis
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Open Invitation - H. B. Fyfe
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Dateline: Mars - Richard Wilson
Planet Stories 1951 05 : Exile from Venus - E. Hoffmann Price

'WHOO-WHOOO!' it howled. 'This is the Space Ghost!'

3 out of 5


Meteoric.

2.5 out of 5


Solar League can handle a couple of ancient alien races.

1.5 out of 5


Alien cartoon job.

2.5 out of 5


Watchwoman in the mirror.

3 out of 5


Keep those minds suitable. No nukes!

2 out of 5


Need ship service.

2.5 out of 5


Green Arrow vs Rockheads.

2.5 out of 5


Guard the Fire, babe.

2 out of 5




1 out of 5

Exile Of Venus - E. Hoffman Price

Guard the Fire, babe.


2 out of 5

Dateline: Mars - Richard Wilson

Green Arrow vs Rockheads.


2.5 out of 5

Open Invitation - H. B. Fyfe

Need ship service.


2.5 out of 5

The Bryd - Noel Loomis

Keep those minds suitable. No nukes!


2 out of 5

Lake Of Fire - Frank Belknap Long

Watchwoman in the mirror.


3 out of 5

Garrigan's BEMS - Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds

Alien cartoon job.


2.5 out of 5

Out Of the Dark Nebula - Milton L. Coe

Solar League can handle a couple of ancient alien races.


1.5 out of 5

Blind Play - Chan Davis

Meteoric.


2.5 out of 5

The Talking Sword - Jack Dann

Video game boy, your demon weapon here is going to get you over your fear of killing monsters.


3 out of 5

Planet Stories 46 - Jerome Bixby

This a double Poul Anderson, one written under a Craig pseudonym because of this fact, presumably. Two in a row they figured might have been pushing it. :)

The Flandry story is easily the best, but the Lang has a nasty twist, another of the occasional ont really a Planet Stories story pieces, it appears.

Some entertaining Dianetics wrangling in the letters pages, too.

Planet Stories 1951 01 : Witch of the Demon Seas - Poul Anderson
Planet Stories 1951 01 : Tiger by the Tail - Poul Anderson
Planet Stories 1951 01 : Task of Luna - Alfred Coppel
Planet Stories 1951 01 : Poison Planet - William Oberfield
Planet Stories 1951 01 : Guest Expert - Allen K. Lang
Planet Stories 1951 01 : Safety Margin - J. T. McIntosh
Planet Stories 1951 01 : Martian Nightmare - Bryce Walton

Anti-geas pirate overthrow, babe.

3 out of 5


Flandry gets involved with some of the ruling class of an alliance opposed to his, and uses their tribal society system against them via some political destabilisation, and a spot of duelling.

4 out of 5


Rocket Russian Redly.

2.5 out of 5


Prefer to fight prehistoric monsters and wild elephants, thanks.

3 out of 5


Get rid of that half population solution.

3.5 out of 5


Drive fairy story blowup attack.

2.5 out of 5


Seer reconditioning.

2.5 out of 5




2 out of 5

Martian Nightmare - Bryce Walton

Seer reconditioning.


2.5 out of 5

Safety Margin - J. T. McIntosh

Drive fairy story blowup attack.


2.5 out of 5

Guest Expert - Allen K. Lang

Get rid of that half population solution.


3.5 out of 5

Poison Planet - William Oberfeld

Prefer to fight prehistoric monsters and wild elephants, thanks.


3 out of 5

Task Of Luna - Alfred Coppel

Rocket Russian Redly.


2.5 out of 5

The Bath-House - Keith Taylor

The fourth wash folly.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Good Sheriff - David Wesley Hill

Granular wizard payment in Catch 22.


3.5 out of 5

The Beautiful Corridor - Jonathan L. Howard

Deathtrap Dungeon thievery, mummy!


2.5 out of 5

Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews

Gladiatorial Gem.

Continued improvement. First book a 3.0, next, 3.5, this one a 4.0. Quite impressive. So something is going right with this writing gestalt, it would appear.

The on-again, off-again magic/technological setting also continues to appeal. My suspicious of Grimjackery (a comic series where different parts of a city could operate differently, but a sword always works) in the reading background of this author were indeed confirmed.

The other differences between Kate Daniels and a lot of the other, especially female, urban fantasy characters along these lines is a refreshing lack of complete self-centredness. In fact, an extremely stubborn streak of altruism runs through this woman. Or more than a streak, perhaps much more like a swathe. Friends first, fornication a distant second, if you like.

Also, where the various monsters (or not really monsters, just non-humans) can be really run of the mill, and about as other, or scary as the aliens in the original Star Trek, here they can get quite horrific indeed. Other series can feel like watching Tiny Toons, despite supposed bloody monster mayhem occurring on the page.

Daniels is certainly a little hardboiled, and often rather witty to go along with that, slinging sword and sarcasm with aplomb. Fans of good old sword and sorcery may find something to like in this novel.

The story opens with someone hunting werewhatevers (although no rabbits, thankfully), along with an amusing scene with a donkey. Some of these part-time furries are friends of Kate's, and she gets involved when she realises they are being killed in a rather horror movie manner.

This leads her to a previous shapeshifting acquaintance of a different sort, and getting in deep with an underground fighting contest, with big money betting, facing off many and varied supernatural warriors in various combinations. The big event is a 7 a side team contest, and the new team in town are the ones to beat. A lot nastier than indoor soccer though (or even Salute Of the Jugger), as weapons and warlockery are all good in this arena, and losers have a survival rate that is rather Rollerball.

Investigation to be done on the sly, against the expressed wishes of the boss were of the city, too. So possibly a case of dead if you lose, likely dead if you win.

Of course, this wouldn't be as fun if Kate didn't have to get involved to save a dying friend, and it gets messier indeed as more of her background is revealed, and the stakes raised.

I enjoyed this a lot.



4 out of 5

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Asimov's 401 - Sheila Williams

Seems everybody likes bad astronomy Death From the Skies! Not so many might like this issue though as the middle is fairly disappointing, making it barely over a 3 average. The Greg Bear character turns up again, as does Detective Inspector Chen, as far as reviews go.

This issue is a James Patrick Kelly tribute of sorts, and as such, fitting that the best story is the lead, and, of course, by the gentleman in question. There are a few anecdotes about JPK by friends, students, and in the editorial.

Purdom and Willrich have stuff on the good side of decent, too, with the latter surprising with SF adventure that ventures a bit more into R. Garcia y Robertson territory that the very removed style of his fantasy stories.

ASIMOVS401 : GOING DEEP - James Patrick Kelly
ASIMOVS401 : CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT - Tom Purdom
ASIMOVS401 : BARE FORKED ANIMAL - John Alfred Taylor
ASIMOVS401 : COLD TESTING - Eric Brown
ASIMOVS401 : THE MONSTERS OF MORGAN ISLAND - Sandra McDonald
ASIMOVS401 : SAILS THE MORNE - Chris Willrich

Space call is genetic, kid.

3.5 out of 5


Pet attachment Mischief case.

3.5 out of 5


Acting location.

2.5 out of 5


Your sex-on-legs girlbot wants pain, Ed.

3 out of 5


Ambiguous ending?

2.5 out of 5


Book muching Dead space god cult android alien navel cod missile manoeuvre.

3.5 out of 5





3 out of 5

Sails the Morne - Chris Willrich

Book muching Dead space god cult android alien navel cod missile manoeuvre.


3.5 out of 5

The Monsters Of Morgan Island - Sandra McDonald

Ambiguous ending?


2.5 out of 5

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cold Testing - Eric Brown

Your sex-on-legs girlbot wants pain, Ed.


3 out of 5

Bare Forked Animal - John Alfred Taylor

Acting location.


2.5 out of 5

Controlled Experiment - Tom Purdom

Pet attachment Mischief case.


3.5 out of 5

Analog 940 - Stanley Schmidt

Just an ok issue, at 3.29. A few reasonable stories. Maybe the most interesting is the article looking at research into lunar habitation. Book reviews include City At the End Of Time, All the Windwracked Stars and Nancy Kress' Steal Across the Sky. Some nonfiction from the badastronomer! Death From the Skies!

ANALOG940 : BUT IS DOES MOVE - Harry Turtledove
ANALOG940 : CHAIN - Stephen L. Burns
ANALOG940 : SOLACE - James Van Pelt
ANALOG940 : THE COLD STAR SKY - Craig DeLancy
ANALOG940 : ATTACK OF THE GRUB-EATERS - Richard A. Lovett
ANALOG940 : MONUMENT OF UNAGEING INTELLECT - Howard V. Hendrix
ANALOG940 : THE AFFAIR OF THE PHLEGMISH MASTER - Donald Moffitt

Galileo says.

3 out of 5


Robot truth bomb.

3.5 out of 5


Long trip pain.

3.5 out of 5


Got us some Replicator paparazzi robot coverage.

3.5 out of 5


Alien mole oversolution.

3.5 out of 5


The old thinking problem.

3 out of 5


Pearl earring funeral.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Affair Of the Phlegmish Master - Donald Moffitt

Pearl earring funeral.


3 out of 5

Monument Of Unageing Intellect - Howard V. Hendrix

The old thinking problem.


3 out of 5

Attack Of The Grub-Eaters - Richard A. Lovett

Alien mole oversolution.


3.5 out of 5

The Cold Star Sky - Craig DeLancey

Got us some Replicator paparazzi robot coverage.


3.5 out of 5

Solace - James Van Pelt

Long trip pain.


3.5 out of 5

Chain - Stephen L. Burns

Robot truth bomb.


3.5 out of 5

But It Does Move - Harry Turtledove

Galileo says.


3 out of 5

The Taste Of Power - Rowena Cory Daniells

Wizard didn't chop my hand off, not even the finger. Maybe I can work for him.


3.5 out of 5

Federations - John Joseph Adams

Federations is a bit of an odd duck. Or an odd hybrid duck, even. A mixture of new stories, and reprint stories. The introduction says it is inspired by a Star Trek and Star Wars childhood, but the editor has moved on beyond there - and this will show the tropes of interstellar fiction. So keeping the Federations name is a little odd.

The book is decent, but only of a reasonable original anthology standard. There are some good reprints - e.g. Orson Scott Card in his non-bad mode. There are those that are minor, with Alastair Reynolds worst story I think. Certainly no strategy here of finding the best reprints, by any stretch.

New stories - veterans like Allen M. Steele who turn in an ok Coyote story, but are certainly capable of better. Jeremy Tolbert delivers an inventive tale.

Some of the new work is very slight, though, particularly the shorter stories. Gilbow, for example, and Li. Apart from being mediocre, those thinking they were getting Star Trekking on buying the book may find themselves launching the volume into space, perhaps to collide with large dumb objects like architectural support. There are a couple of poor stories. The sub-par Bradford piece of alien arrival would be completely disposable and forgettable in 1947.

Catherynne Valente is certainly far more talented than the extremely limited types like the Bradfords, Andersons, Gilbows, Hergenraders and Lis could ever hope to be. However, even she belabors the point in her story to where the bouquet becomes tiresome.

There are a couple of spoof type pieces to break things up, too, which is good. Space cadet hamsters, even.

Probably not unreasonable to mention The New Space Opera as a volume of interest to people that are getting this book - and people other than me will likely do so - you would have to suggest that if you could only get one, get one of the Dozois books.

If you have a liking for this sort of thing, it is still worth a look, and worth supporting anthologies along these lines as they aren't common. Less common than the magical cat variety, perhaps. Definitely way better than those, however.

The other great thing is it is multiformat, usable by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Prime are to be commended for being reader friendly. If you have a choice between this and an equivalent work from a DRM-infested, geolocked overcharging publishers who assumes you are likely a thief then give Prime or their counterparts your money. Go and read the other for free in a bookshop, or a library, or some other method.

Federations : Mazer in Prison - Orson Scott Card
Federations : Carthago Delenda Est - Genevieve Valentine
Federations : Life-Suspension - L. E. Modesitt
Federations : Terra-Exulta - S. L. Gilbow
Federations : Aftermaths - Lois McMaster Bujold
Federations : Someone is Stealing the Great Throne Rooms of the Galaxy - Harry Turtledove
Federations : Prisons - Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason
Federations : Different Day - K. Tempest Bradford
Federations : Twilight of the Gods - John C. Wright
Federations : Warship - George R. R. Martin and George Guthridge
Federations : Swanwatch - Yoon Ha Lee
Federations : Spirey and the Queen - Alastair Reynolds
Federations : Pardon Our Conquest - Alan Dean Foster
Federations : Symbiont - Robert Silverberg
Federations : The Ship Who Returned - Anne McCaffrey
Federations : My She - Mary Rosenblum
Federations : The Shoulders of Giants - Robert J. Sawyer
Federations : The Culture Archivist - Jeremiah Tolbert
Federations : The Other Side of Jordan - Allen Steele
Federations : Like They Always Been Free - Georgina Li
Federations : Eskhara - Trent Hergenrader
Federations : The One with the Interstellar Group Consciousnesses - James Alan Gardner
Federations : Golubash or Wine-War-Blood-Elegy - Catherynne M. Valente

Put the kid in charge of the search, or I'm pissing off, and you are Buggered.

4 out of 5


Delegate message wait.

3 out of 5


Snow woman space pilot revival.

3.5 out of 5


Grimpting formation.

3 out of 5


Dead Barrayan space pickup, no necrophilia.

3.5 out of 5


Hamster space cadet to the rescue.

3.5 out of 5


Warden, we're permanently revolting.

3.5 out of 5


Alien multi-deals.

2.5 out of 5


Ring Gap Into Madness.

3.5 out of 5


Diseased and down to the hologram. Cleanout needed.

3.5 out of 5


Black hole dive tune.

3.5 out of 5


'Space war is godawful slow.'
Everything is also not as it seems in this conflict, partly as a result of the above.

3 out of 5


We lost we war, or that's what they tell us.

4 out of 5


Mate killing double deal final finish.

4 out of 5


Prosthetic palsy.

3 out of 5


Speaker monopoly.

3 out of 5


Slowship 0. Fastship 1. World already populated. Ship's co-captains petulant, decide to piss off to another galaxy.

3.5 out of 5


Humpty survival UP ex-bad guy Swarm sneak.

4 out of 5


Leaving Coyote love letters.

3.5 out of 5


Boy kiss.

2.5 out of 5


Seditionist siege planet.

3.5 out of 5


The Union of matchmake is on the rise.

3 out of 5


Transport war vintage.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Golubash Or Wine-war-blood-elegy - Catherynne M. Valente

Transport war vintage.


3 out of 5

Eskhara - Trent Hergenrader

Seditionist siege planet.


3.5 out of 5

Like They Always Been Free - Georgina Li

Boy kiss.


2.5 out of 5

The Other Side Of Jordan - Allen M. Steele

Leaving Coyote love letters.


3.5 out of 5

My She - Mary Rosenblum

Speaker monopoly.


3 out of 5

Fish Story - Leslie Charteris

Old Man From Atlantis.


3 out of 5

Time Payment - Michael Shaara

Just getting the old paper.


3 out of 5

Miss Prinks - Gordon R. Dickson

Annoying aunt.


1.5 out of 5

Flames Of Vengeance - Seabury Quinn

One large dog, one topless dancer for de Grandin.


2.5 out of 5

Child Of Atlantis - Edmond Hamilton

Robot Master.


3 out of 5

Blood Of Ambrose - James Enge

Blood Of Ambrose, where to begin? It is very rare I get extremely interested in a novel these days significantly ahead of its arrival, at least if the names involved don't start with Egan, Morgan, or Reynolds. However, this was one of those rare volumes.

This, of course, was because I was quite acquainted with the extremely unique individual known as Morlock Ambrosius, Master Of Makers, thanks to the following tales :-

These are online :-

A Book Of Silences - http://freesf.blogspot.com/2009/03/book-of-silences-james-enge.html
A Covenant With Death - http://freesf.blogspot.com/2008/06/covenant-with-death-james-enge.html
Fire and Sleet - http://freesf.blogspot.com/2009/03/fire-and-sleet-james-enge.html
The Gordian Stone - http://freesf.blogspot.com/2008/11/gordian-stone-james-enge.html
The Payment In Full - http://freesf.blogspot.com/2008/07/payment-in-full-james-enge.html
Red Worm's Way - http://freesf.blogspot.com/2008/06/red-worms-way-james-enge.html


These are to be found in Black Gate magazine, which you can still buy, and even now buy electronically if as you might just find the desire for more Morlock to overtake you, like, right now.

The Lawless Hours - http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/12/lawless-hours-james-enge.html
The Payment Deferred - http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/12/payment-deferred-james-enge.html
Turn Up This Crooked Way - http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/12/turn-up-this-crooked-way-james-enge.html

That was enough for me to preorder.

Given the apparently pseudonymous Mr Enge is a academic of an (ancient) literary bent, perhaps we can call this an episodic bildungsroman. That's about the outer limit of my literature nomenclature abilities, so no more of that. Enge apparently means hero in some ancient tongue. So a reverse-Stephenson manoeuvre by the author, if you like.

The novel itself. Or is it? Suffice it to say, this book has five parts, that could certainly work as novellas. The first three are closer together in time and circumstance, and so are the last two. It also gets progressively stranger as you progress throughout.

Now, the style. Some different. Paul Cornell likens it to Conan crossed with Raymond Chandler. I think he must have been smoking some of that whacky baccy you can get in the Faerieland some of his comics superagents go to, because, just, no. There is nothing hardboiled about this at all. Morlock is ultracompetent, certainly, but shares nothing with the Conans and Marlowes of the world apart from the tendency of the former to make a very bad enemy.

If you want an intimation of the style, then this is perhaps much more Steven Brust, with a lengthy leavening of Leiber.

More on Brust later, but a character comparison that could be made with Morlock is actually that of Doctor Who, not something I'd do often for a literary character. However, plenty of books of the former. Here you do have an extremely long-lived individual, alien, dispassionate and given to thinking his way out of trouble, where possible, helped by a large array of arcane engineering knowledge. His relationship with his sister is also rather reminiscent of the fond bickering between the Doctor and Romana. He's also prone to collecting proteges and companions. The 21st century vintage doctor has been known to get a bit gung-ho with a sword, too. Morlock, however, is not given to huge rantypants oratorically declamatory scenery-chewing. Nor of making goo-goo eyes at girls younger than his underpants, come to that, given his ex-wife. There's no K-9, but Morlock has one of the coolest pets as such that I have ever come across. Those who have read 'Turn Up This Crooked Way' will be pleased to note the reappearance of such.

The setting is a fair bit more Brust than anything involving a TARDIS, however. You could place Morlock somewhere on the continuum between Vlad and Morrolan. Deadly magic weapon, more concern for the normal human than the dragonlord end, not so much for the killing for money, though. Smartarse sidekick, certainly (even if not a telepathic flying lizard). Estranged, dangerous ex-wife, check. The elephant in the room here from a Brustian point of view is of course, Sethra Lavode. A long-lived sorceress, not human, of more than one personality, and the supreme general of her age. This description fits Morlock's sister Ambrosia one hundred percent. We'll get to squabbling lords and crazed magical situations later.

There are a few more characters, and I believe a bildungsroman book has to have someone coming of age. Given the other major characters are all well into three figures in age, even exceedingly well, we need to talk about the young King. In the first part, he's just a kid, with a Protector around who has designs on the throne, and his grandmother trying to help him. She being Ambrosia of the Ambrosii. In other words, someone the Protector would like to kill. A city divided, and supernatural agents. Civil war, magic, and mayhem in the offering. Morlock has a sister and a young king to save, if anyone can find him. That's the other thing, he's an alcoholic, and sometimes as you would expect, drunk. His dwarven assistant has to hope he can stall for time and keep the important people alive until he gets there.

The young king Lathamar is certainly the weak point of the book. While a way in for the more traditional fantasy reader, he's rather generic except for his relatives. Just a kid, so to be expected. Also Enge has skipped the whole high fantasy trope of farmboy or pigkeeper to king and just made the bloody boy the crown wearer to start with.

That doesn't disguise the fact that Morlock and various acquaintances and enemies are considerably more interesting in word and deed, as they try all manner of strangeness, tricks, magic and machines to either stay alive or kill each other. This flaw certainly prevents it from reaching the top score.

Therefore, when the young king is the main viewpoint character for extended period of times, it tends to pall a little, especially if attention is on him too long. The same thing goes for the weakest of the Morlock stories, too. There is a longer tale, 'The Lawless Hours' that features another viewpoint character for a considerable portion - but this is a veteran warrior who lives in a very strange place and is not the blank slate cypher a sheltered fearful royal child is to begin with. This is not such a problem when he's more like an older teenager than a tween.

The start of this is book is a lot better than it sounds in the above explanation, and one of the best starts to a book I have seen in a long time. You can see the first three chapters for yourself here :- http://freesf.blogspot.com/2009/04/blood-of-ambrose-1-3-james-enge.html

The second part has things getting worse, before they get better, and the third with a desperate struggle to save Ambrose, with the whole city divided thing.

I had mentioned the bickering before, so there are plenty of funny parts. Online, Enge has mentioned the unusability of the unicorn in fantasy because it has been 6-year-old-girlified to death. Here he also thumbs his nose at another piece of such pony porn, the flying horse. Somehow his antigravity alchemy tricks return him a horse than can fly. Rather, however, than a sleek painting-poster-posed-winged steed that exists to show off the rippling thews of heroes, or be directed by lithe warrior maidens over battlefields, this horse jumps around basically doing the equine equivalent of yelling 'this flying stuff is great, think I'll do some more, you monkeyboys and girls might want to get off'.

The fourth and fifth parts of the story have to do with things nastier and a lot more supernatural. The young king is a lot more competent in all arenas, including slicing things with handheld lengths of metal. A good thing, too, as Ambrosia, the Regent, is tiring, and, well, to put it simply, evil sorcerers and fanatic zombies. It isn't that simple, though, and again, a lot better than it sounds. They aren't your standard zombies, either, but this is as close a name as the characters themselves can come to describing them. Not the only monsters, either.

There are a couple of appendices on very brief appendices on the local religion and calendar.

Back to things Brustian, though. When Morlock's old comrades Guardians turn up, three of them, no less, then you may well find the repartee getting a little Dumas, or at least Brust, as thich bunch may remind you of Musketeers or Phoenix Guards a little. Especially with how those sorts of characters interact. Plus the strong one, the urbane one, the heartbroken one. No idea if the author has read Brust, but I'd find it highly unlikely he has missed Dumas, even if he has no knowledge of Romanas and robot dogs.

It should also not be forgotten than Morlock and Ambrosia are Ambrosii, which means of the line of Merlin Ambrosius. This is an alternate-Merlin. No Lancelots and kingdom destroying love triangles, or grails, either, it seems.

Anyway, I could write a lot more, but wouldn't want any deaths by boredom. A novel that is inventive and refreshingly different, especially so if you haven't seen any of the Morlock stories before, and I'll read it again. At least I'd be surprised if you've read a book before about a drunken, ex-hero, divorced son of Merlin, foster-dwarf who is a magical artificer with a dwarven sidekick, strange pets, a backpack, and a hunchback, among other things.

Plus I'd be happy to order the second book in advance.

Here are a few interviews to go on with :-

http://sfscope.com/2009/04/interview-with-james-enge-cond.html
http://www.ifyourejustjoiningus.com/podpress_trac/web/83/0/james_enge(If_Youre_Just_Joining_Us).mp3

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=18925#preview





4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Terra-Exulta - S. L. Gilbow

Grimpting formation.


3 out of 5

Life-Suspension - L. E. Modesitt

Snow woman space pilot revival.


3.5 out of 5

Mazer In Prison - Orson Scott Card

Put the kid in charge of the search, or I'm pissing off, and you are Buggered.


4 out of 5

2012 - Alisa Krasnostein and Ben Payne

A solid and well polished anthology. At 3.36 and no weak stories a cut above the run of the mill original theme anthology, presuming you don't mind very near future SF of course. Or hate Australia (feel free to shoot yourself into the sun, now, if you do).

A little better than I thought it would be, and if you want to get highly specific, call it a 3.65 out of 5.

I like the Flinthart the most. Speaking of most, this lot largely has books, Flinthart is just as talented, if not more than some, so hopefully he'll get one too, Angel Rising notwithstanding.

2012 : Watertight Lies - Deborah Biancotti
2012 : Fleshy - Tansy Rayner Roberts
2012 : Oh Russia - Simon Brown
2012 : Soft Viscosity - David Conyers
2012 : Apocalypse Now - Lucy Sussex
2012 : The Last Word - Dirk Flinthart
2012 : Ghost Jail - Kaaron Warren
2012 : Love You Like Water - Angela Slatter
2012 : Skinsongs - Martin Livings
2012 : David Bowie - Ben Peek
2012 : Oblivion - Sean McMullen

Salty and shot.

3.5 out of 5


Kick the boyfriend out, stuck with clone monster.

3.5 out of 5


Fishy complacency end.

3 out of 5


Happy pill torture pipe op payback.

3.5 out of 5


Wikipedia upscale tradecraft update.

3 out of 5


Going all black research.

4 out of 5


Burn 'em away.

3 out of 5


Rain sacrifice, human.

3.5 out of 5


One hit design.

3.5 out of 5


Old music, no cure.

3 out of 5


Old world broke exit.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Oblivion - Sean McMullen

Old world broke exit.


3.5 out of 5

David Bowie - Ben Peek

Old music, no cure.


3 out of 5

Skinsongs - Martin Livings

One hit design.


3.5 out of 5

I Love You Like Water - Angela Slatter

Rain sacrifice, human.


3.5 out of 5

Ghost Jail - Kaaron Warren

Burn 'em away.


3 out of 5

The Last Word - Dirk Flinhart

Going all black research.


4 out of 5

Apocalypse Now - Lucy Sussex

Wikipedia upscale tradecraft update.


3 out of 5

Soft Viscosity - David Conyers

Happy pill torture pipe op payback.


3.5 out of 5

Oh Russia - Simon Brown

Fishy complacency end.


3 out of 5

The Nag - Allan Baillie

Horse and hounds.


2.5 out of 5

Fleshy - Tansy Rayner Roberts

Kick the boyfriend out, stuck with clone monster.


3.5 out of 5

Watertight Lies - Deborah Biancotti

Salty and shot.


3.5 out of 5

Starstreak Stories Of Space - Betty M. Owen

One of those scholastic books anthologies, as far as I recall, and some pretty nice scores in here that influenced a life of science fiction reading.

Even a more minor story like the Rotifers is interesting to a boy with a microscope. It is definitely creepy.

However, scoring two 5 star stories in an anthology for kids is pretty impressive.

StarStreak : Who Goes There? [as by Don A. Stuart] - John W. Campbell Jr.
StarStreak : Collecting Team [Catch Em All Alive!] - Robert Silverberg
StarStreak : The Haunted Spacesuit [Who's There?] - Arthur C. Clarke
StarStreak : Condition of Employment - Clifford D. Simak
StarStreak : After the Sirens - Hugh Hood
StarStreak : The Spaceman Cometh - Henry Gregor Felsen
StarStreak : The Nine Billion Names of God
StarStreak : The Rotifers - Robert Abernathy
StarStreak : Does a Bee Care? - Isaac Asimov

A discovery of a lifeform buried in the Antarctic ice causes serious problems for an isolated research team.

5 out of 5


Man-na, now we're stuck in a cage.

3.5 out of 5


Kitten score quite popular.

3.5 out of 5


Homesickness inducement cycle.

4 out of 5


Post nuclear statistics.

3.5 out of 5


Keep this nasty Earth to yourself, saucerman.

3 out of 5


Ubergeek monks finish a cataloguing project, and with it comes some serious consequences.

5 out of 5


A boy finds something very strange when looking through his microscope.

3.5 out of 5


Immortal habitat unimportance.

3 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

The Spaceman Cometh - Henry Gregor Felsen

Keep this nasty Earth to yourself, saucerman.


3 out of 5

After the Sirens - Hugh Hood

Post nuclear statistics.


3.5 out of 5

Condition Of Employment - Clifford D. Simak

Homesickness inducement cycle.


4 out of 5

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories - Philip K. Dick

As usual, a Dick collection is a good one, this one coming in right at that standard, with a 3.50 average. The title story is indeed the best.

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : THE SHORT HAPPY LIFE OF THE BROWN OXFORD - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : EXPLORERS WE - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : HOLY QUARREL - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : WHAT'LL WE DO WITH RAGLAND PARK? - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : STRANGE MEMORIES OF DEATH - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : THE ALIEN MIND - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : THE EXIT DOOR LEADS IN - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : CHAINS OF AIR WEB OF AETHER - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : RAUTAVAARA'S CASE - Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon and Other Stories : I HOPE I SHALL ARRIVE SOON - Philip K. Dick


Dead cat food.

3 out of 5


Sick and of sitting around here.

3.5 out of 5


Show some backbone, bibleboy.

4 out of 5


Really back this time. Not good.

3.5 out of 5


Attack conclusion machine creator.

3.5 out of 5


Slightly warm with the memories.

4 out of 5


Dead monitor restoration, christ.

4 out of 5


Shoes beyond us now.

3 out of 5


Get the nuts out.

3 out of 5


Need more life in the culture.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Sorceror's Looking Glass - Steven Paulsen

The old monster disguised as a hot chick trick.


3.5 out of 5

Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories - Robert Silverberg

A standardly reasonable collection, at 3.39, topped off by the excellent Caught In the Organ Draft.

Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : Sundance - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : Neighbor - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : Passport to Sirius - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : Caught in the Organ Draft - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : Neutral Planet - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : The Pain Peddlers - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : The Overlord's Thumb - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : The Outbreeders - Robert Silverberg
Sundance and Other Science Fiction Stories : Something Wild Is Loose - Robert Silverberg


Genocidal possibility is troubling, even if not real.

3.5 out of 5


Old feud stroke.

3 out of 5


Fake war is economic.

3.5 out of 5


Cannibalising the young.

4.5 out of 5


Rescue treaty.

3.5 out of 5


Reality medicine.

3 out of 5


Local trial.

3 out of 5


No Clinger shagging.

3 out of 5


Alien telepathic contact space greed.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Something Wild Is Loose - Robert Silverberg

Alien telepathic contact space greed.


3.5 out of 5

The Outbreeders - Robert Silverberg

No Clinger shagging.


3 out of 5

The Overlord's Thumb - Robert Silverberg

Local trial.


3 out of 5

The Pain Peddlers - Robert Silverberg

Reality medicine.


3 out of 5

Neutral Planet - Robert Silverberg

Rescue treaty.


3.5 out of 5

Passport To Sirius - Robert Silverberg

Fake war is economic.


3.5 out of 5

Neighbor - Robert Silverberg

Old feud stroke.


3 out of 5

Hallucination Orbit - Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov and Charles G. Waugh

An anthology based around the the theme of 'psychology in science fiction', as the subtitle suggests. There's only a very brief intro, though.

Just a 3.13 average, so pretty mediocre overall.

Hallucination Orbit : It's a Good Life - Jerome Bixby
Hallucination Orbit : The Sound Machine - Roald Dahl
Hallucination Orbit : Hallucination Orbit - J. T. McIntosh
Hallucination Orbit : The Winner - Donald E. Westlake
Hallucination Orbit : A Rose by Other Name - Christopher Anvil
Hallucination Orbit : The Man Who Never Forgot - Robert Silverberg
Hallucination Orbit : Runaround - Isaac Asimov
Hallucination Orbit : Absalom - Henry Kuttner
Hallucination Orbit : Wings Out of Shadow - Fred Saberhagen
Hallucination Orbit : In Case of Fire - Randall Garrett
Hallucination Orbit : What Friends Are For - John Brunner
Hallucination Orbit : The Drivers - Edward W. Ludwig

When Anthony is born, he uses his abilities to transport his whole town to somewhere else. After that, everyone is extremely careful around him, as when he comes across something he doesn't like his extreme powers of transmutation and transfiguration can do bad things, and he is also somewhat telepathic and has degrees of animal control. Basically a young, sociopathic supervillain.

3 out of 5


High frequency scare.

3.5 out of 5


Reality gives me a headache.

3.5 out of 5


Guardian trial.

2.5 out of 5


Some military leader lion training.

3.5 out of 5


Photographic memory pain.

3.5 out of 5


Laws enunciated.

2.5 out of 5


Mutant moral control.

3 out of 5


Dream and persona Berserker strategies.

3.5 out of 5


Only got the half dregs and xenophobic diplomats to deal with here.

3.5 out of 5


Advanced kid needs a mate, even green is ok.

3.5 out of 5


New on the Jetway.

2.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Flame Tree Planet - Roger Elwood

I have read that because of a lot of books this guy put out, bad things happened to the anthology market. If they are as shite as this one, I am not surprised, because if one of these was the first I bought, I wouldn't likely be coming back.

The introduction sets the tone for the ineptitude, with Lovin talking about himself and his admiration for C. S. Lewis, and wanting to emulate him. Not a positive thing for trying to find the 'young lions' of today's SF (as in the seventies). Given I have never heard of half the people in this book, an utter failure. One of the theories espoused was that Clarke, Heinelin, Asimov etc. and that era was all 'curiously empty' for not talking about Christianity (basically almost all the time, I think is what Lovin is after here.) So, hopeless editor, clueless intro.

Apart from that, the stories, used loosely in some cases, are rubbish. Unlike Koontz, Brackett, Jones, etc., largely exercises in religinfodumping. I'd just look at those three if you see this book, and just ignore the crap in the rest.

In fact, the best approach is probably to tear about the Brackett story, and use the rest for rubbish disposal, unless you know a Koontz collector, I suppose.

This is the worst anthology I have ever seen, hands down. Absolutely fucking terrible.

Flame Tree Planet : Flame Tree Planet - George H. Smith
Flame Tree Planet : Poverello - Raylyn Moore
Flame Tree Planet : The Sinless Child - Dean R. Koontz
Flame Tree Planet : Apostle - Roger Lovin
Flame Tree Planet : A Matter of Freedoms - Clancy O’Brien
Flame Tree Planet : How Bright the Stars - Leigh Brackett
Flame Tree Planet : The Lions of Rome - Raymond F. Jones
Flame Tree Planet : Many Mansions - Gail Kimberly
Flame Tree Planet : Bearing Witness - Barry N. Malzberg
Flame Tree Planet : Tarrying - Thomas N. Scortia

Manbot programming.

1.5 out of 5


Visionary mountain ruin.

1.5 out of 5


Isolated moral code experiment.

3 out of 5


Great die story.

1.5 out of 5


Christian clown cult embarrassment.

2 out of 5


No loafing around with the natives, it is space for me, dad.

3.5 out of 5


Baptism of drug war.

3 out of 5


Centaur crucifixion piccie.

2.5 out of 5


To apocalyptic nut car surfer.

2.5 out of 5


Toasted Wandering Jew end times.

3 out of 5





1 out of 5

The Drivers - Edward W. Ludwig

New on the Jetway.


2.5 out of 5

Tarrying - Thomas N. Scortia

Toasted Wandering Jew end times.


3 out of 5

Bearing Witness - Barry N. Malzberg

To apocalyptic nut car surfer.


2.5 out of 5

Many Mansions - Gail Kimberley

Centaur crucifixion piccie.


2.5 out of 5

The Lions Of Rome - Raymond F. Jones

Baptism of drug war.


3 out of 5

How Bright the Stars - Leigh Brackett

No loafing around with the natives, it is space for me, dad.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Planet Stories 45 - Jerome Bixby

This only comes out at 2.36, even Kuttner is bad. The best here are Brown's Star Mouse, take two, and Holden's effort, a character therein who would get along famously with Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry.

So, letter column is ok, there's Ackermann on Mars to maybe scrape it a 1 out of 5, but then there's a Blish essay espousing Dianetics - which apparently he had been inflicting on the editor! I don't bother with lower than 1 ratings because there aren't enough, but this would get one for such infomercialising.

Planet Stories 1950 11 : Carry Me Home - Henry Kuttner
Planet Stories 1950 11 : Sidewinders from Sirius - Fox B. Holden
Planet Stories 1950 11 : Cargo to Callisto - Jerome Bixby
Planet Stories 1950 11 : Machine of Klamugra - Allen K. Lang
Planet Stories 1950 11 : Final Mission - John D. MacDonald
Planet Stories 1950 11 : Mitkey Rides Again - Fredric Brown
Planet Stories 1950 11 : The Last Two Alive - Alfred Coppel

Swing low, shoot low.

2 out of 5


Intelligence G-Ray weapon tricks.

3 out of 5


Call me Joe and bad soup better than body snatched.

2 out of 5


Imaginary finagle factor.

2 out of 5


Recipient readjustment.

2.5 out of 5


Smart mouse Minnie mission

3 out of 5


Interstellar war Adam and Eve.

2 out of 5




1 out of 5

Mitkey Rides Again - Fredric Brown

Smart mouse Minnie mission.


3 out of 5

Final Mission - John D. MacDonald

Recipient readjustment.


2.5 out of 5

Berlin Escape - Ian Fleming

Cello chick too cute to shoot.


4 out of 5

The Gothic Touch - Karl Edward Wagner

Elric meets Kane for some starship looting and tentacle slicing.


4 out of 5

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Old Days - Kevin J. Anderson

Crazy uncle inheritance.


2.5 out of 5

Boys - Dave Freer

Extra-dimensional home detention escape.


3.5 out of 5

Waiting For Juliette - Sarah A. Hoyt

Romeo cold reunion.


3.5 out of 5

A Rose For Emily - Esther M. Friesner

Death chef 6000.


3 out of 5

Army Of the Fantastic - John Marco and John Helfers

This has an average under 3, so a bad anthology, with the decent stuff being the three stories at the end. Expect it to be pretty cheesy of course, but at lost of this is not up to snuff. One Hawaiian type fantasy, which was interesting.

An example of bad is Airborne, about everything that could be thrown in, was. A general criticism of writers like this is that war and battle is nothing like as horrible as it would actually be, more like a cartoon for kids. Nye's story, however, is one of those that is so bad it is good, from that point of view, good in a Robert Moore Williams that is hilariously wrong sort of deal. So may be some entertainment in a few of the no-goods, from that point of view. Or in the bad jokes in others.

One thing it was cool to see was a Raven(ish) story from James Barclay.

Army Of the Fantastic : Focke-Drache - Jean Rabe
Army Of the Fantastic : Over the Top - Rick Hautala
Army Of the Fantastic : The Blood of the People - Fiona Patton
Army Of the Fantastic : Brothers in Arms - Tim Waggoner
Army Of the Fantastic : Unnatural - Alan Dean Foster
Army Of the Fantastic : Blood in the Water - Tanya Huff
Army Of the Fantastic : Iowa Under Siege - Mickey Zucker Reichert
Army Of the Fantastic : Teeth in the Sand - Russell Davis
Army Of the Fantastic : The Twain Shall Meet - Bill Fawcett
Army Of the Fantastic : Airborne - Jody Lynn Nye
Army Of the Fantastic : Demon's Touch - James Barclay
Army Of the Fantastic : Dispatches from the Front - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Army Of the Fantastic : Wildest Dreams - Michael A. Stackpole


Iron Dragon's Slaughter.

2 out of 5


Entrenched with the Fairies.

3 out of 5


Death birth.

3 out of 5


Golem blocked.

3 out of 5


Just your basic shoot people and blow stuff up stuff, sir. No gryphons necessary.

3.5 out of 5


One sea-serpent, one ship, lots of explosive.

3 out of 5


Give us a bit of your land, humans.

2.5 out of 5


Animagic flyblown.

2.5 out of 5


Parallel world takeover too fantastic.

2.5 out of 5


Fights any Tolkienesque sorta monsters you want, harpy.

2 out of 5


A spot of elfy demon slaying.

3.5 out of 5


Virgin cynic pixie war.

3.5 out of 5


Yep, I went vamp to stop you.

3.5 out of 5




2 out of 5

Good Genes - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Perfect kid not for sale.


3.5 out of 5

A Small Skirmish In The Culture War - Mike Resnick and James Patrick Kelly

I'd like to goatse that culture jockey.


3 out of 5

The Twain Shall Meet - Bill Fawcett

Parallel world takeover too fantastic.


2.5 out of 5

Teeth In The Sand - Russell Davis

Animagic flyblown.


2.5 out of 5

The Blood Of The People - Fiona Patton

Death birth.


3 out of 5

Over the Top - Rick Hautala

Entrenched with the Fairies.


3 out of 5

Focke-Wulfe - Jean Rabe

Iron Dragon's Slaughter.


2 out of 5

Airborne - Jody Lynne Nye

Fights any Tolkienesque sorta monsters you want, harpy.


2 out of 5

Iowa Under Siege - Mickey Zucker Reichert

Give us a bit of your land, humans.


2.5 out of 5

Demon's Touch - James Barclay

A spot of elfy demon slaying.


3.5 out of 5

Brothers In Arms - Tim Waggoner

Golem blocked.


3 out of 5

Unnatural - Alan Dean Foster

Just your basic shoot people and blow stuff up stuff, sir. No gryphons necessary.


3.5 out of 5

Wildest Dreams - Michael A. Stackpole

Yep, I went vamp to stop you.


3.5 out of 5

Dispatches From the Front - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Virgin cynic pixie war.


3.5 out of 5

Blood In the Water - Tanya Huff

One sea-serpent, one ship, lots of explosive.


3 out of 5

Chronicler - Sean McMullen

Most of us are just historians, not soul-sucking demons, honest.


3 out of 5

The Galactic Breed - Leigh Brackett

I'm an interstellar trading lord, how about you?


An earth man finds out that we aren't alone, and he is one of the few that has the genetics for space travel.

Therein lies the conflict, this genetic issue. Those that have it, and the conservative faction would rather like to keep their moneymaking and power monopoly thanks very much, while a rebel group would like for everyone to eventually be able to do space in a big way. The previous leader of which has disappeared into the depths of space.

Still, pretty reasonably handled by Brackett, and worth a look.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Zenith Angle - Bruce Sterling

I might give this a 3.25 perhaps, it was reasonable enough, but probably not a 3.5.

A hardcore geeks ends up being involved with security and security agencies of the now more paranoid and fascist variety than before someone crashed a couple of planes into some tall buildings.

A security expert, he works for dodgy companies, then the government.

It is a little less mundane than that by the end, though.


3 out of 5

Horizon Alpha - Douglas R. Mason

Androids.

Bad.

That's about what I'd say for this one. Bad writing, bad story.

"Flat on her back, in what was becoming repetitive as a training loop, Shesha Haddon pondered whether she would survive this onset of friendship into a viable future.

She was not given long to think it through. Holt rolled his weight off her chest in record time for the sequence and said urgently, "This way, keep your head down."

Three-seconds-fast scrabble on hands and knees, with nervous doubt whether she was not setting up a target every bit as vulnerable as her head, and Holt was pulling her to her feet in the shelter of a book-lined passageway.

They ran hand-in-hand for an intersection and zigzagged fifty meters before he called a halt. "Listen!"

Even-paced footsteps sounded from far left and far right. Shesha opened her mouth to speak and found herself gagged by his free hand.

The androids had separated to the two end aisles, which ran the whole length of the sector. The one on the right had halted. His partner was moving in toward the center of a row. Midway, he turned again, through a connecting aisle, then followed the next row out to the perimeter. When he stopped, the other one began to move."

Decent title I guess.


1.5 out of 5

Conan the Conqueror and The Sword Of Rhiannon - Robert E. Howard and Leigh Brackett

Pretty hard for me to think of a better combination in this Ace Double anthology, Howard and Brackett.

Great stuff.



The novel length Conan work. An aging Conan is now in a position of responsibility, being King of Aquilonia.

His reign is threatened by a very powerful sorcerer, whom Conan is unable to stop by mundane means, and must take himself off hunting for a mystic artifact.

Having done this, there is some wizard smiting to be done.

Top notch work.

5 out of 5


Matt Carse, an archaeologist of the most definitely rogueish sort of tomb raider is looking to score, when the discovery of the mythical Sword of Rhiannon catapults him back into time, and into the body of a man well suited to be a barbarian adventurer.

Landing in the middle of a group of people that really don't like his country, he has to go from galley slave to dealing with possession by an ancient powerful scientist and war.

A great old-style planetary romance shortish novel that ratchets up the adventure as it goes along, hero, comic sidekick, femme fatale, winged men, fish women, ancient super weaponry and more.

Great stuff.

4.5 out of 5





5 out of 5

Satan's Death Blast - Grant Stockbridge

The Spider vs The Devil.

The Devil believes in explodey, big time.

In fact, his plan is basically pay me truckloads of cash or I blow you the hell up.

""If we keep quiet four minutes every time we kill somebody, we won't ever talk."

He's got the gear to give it a shot, too - his munitions being 'the Big Brother of TNT' and blowing apart atoms, rather than just stuff.

There's a rift between Nita and Wentworth - and The Spider has a nifty scene all matador like with a sword, vs a planet full of bombs.


3 out of 5

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Planet Stories 26 - Chester Whitehorn

An average of 3.00, here. Exact same number as for a current mag I read early today, in a meaningless trivia incident.

However, led by Henry Kuttner, some decent stuff here. Wild Wells, average Bradbury, ok Fox and silly McDowell.

The Loomis story could have been a Campbell one, certainly.

Planet Stories 1946 Spring : The Blue Venus - Emmett McDowell
Planet Stories 1946 Spring : Crisis on Titan - James R. Adams
Planet Stories 1946 Spring : Electron Eat Electron - Noel Loomis
Planet Stories 1946 Spring : What Hath Me? - Henry Kuttner
Planet Stories 1946 Spring : Defense Mech - Ray Bradbury
Planet Stories 1946 Spring : Survival - Basil Wells
Planet Stories 1946 Spring : Engines of the Gods - Gardner F. Fox


Accelerated slave trade case.

2.5 out of 5


Pitching in against the Squeakers.

2 out of 5


Mutant College President Flash atomic war game duel.

3 out of 5


Anti-Aesir protector champion.

4 out of 5


Too scared for the Mars thing.

3 out of 5


'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


Cooking up the fleet.

3 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

The Blue Venus - Emmett McDowell

Accelerated slave trade case.


2.5 out of 5

Crisis On Titan - James R. Adams

Pitching in against the Squeakers.


2 out of 5

Electron Eat Electron - Noel Loomis

Mutant College President Flash atomic war game duel.


3 out of 5

Engines of the Gods - Gardner F. Fox

Cooking up the fleet.


3 out of 5

Planet Stories 20 - W. Scott Peacock

This issues averages 2.57, with Kuttner the best of them. A couple are truly bad, but the Simak and Jacobi have some moments.

The letter column is actually very entertaining. Story rating, sniping, with a range of people from teenage girls to crotchety critics.

Planet Stories 1944 Fall : Highwayman of the Void - Frederik Pohl and Dirk Wylie
Planet Stories 1944 Fall : Mr. Meek Plays Polo - Clifford D. Simak
Planet Stories 1944 Fall : The Soul Eaters - William Conover
Planet Stories 1944 Fall : The Citadel of Death - Carl Selwyn
Planet Stories 1944 Fall : Men Without a World - Joseph Farrell
Planet Stories 1944 Fall : Doctor Universe - Carl Jacobi
Planet Stories 1944 Fall : The Eyes of Thar - Henry Kuttner

Frame revenge.

3 out of 5


In space. With gangs. Rating slipping.

2.5 out of 5


Space pirates and sphere people.

3 out of 5


Fountain Of Youth poison.

1.5 out of 5


Hope the Centaurs don't get us.

2 out of 5


Green Flame Grannie story rocks Varsoom.

2.5 out of 5


Not a Martian, cool armor though.

3.5 out of 5




1.5 out of 5

Highwayman Of the Void - Frederik Pohl and Dirk Wylie

Frame revenge.


3 out of 5

The Citadel Of Death - Carl Selwyn

Fountain Of Youth poison.


1.5 out of 5

Mr. Meek Plays Polo - Clifford D. Simak

In space. With gangs. Rating slipping.


2.5 out of 5

Doctor Universe - Carl Jacobi

Green Flame Grannie story rocks Varsoom.


2.5 out of 5

Men Without A World - Joseph Farrell

Hope the Centaurs don't get us.


2 out of 5

The Soul Eaters - William Conover

Space pirates and sphere people.


3 out of 5

Planet Stories 01 - Malcolm Reiss

The very first issue of the Planet Stories magazine, and unsurprisingly, it is very bad. The Golden Amazons stories has a couple of moments, and the best space pilot in the Solar System is a woman, even if it does turn out she is a nogoodnik that is happy to encourage torture of Our Heroes.

Expedition to Pluto is quite a bit better - having Fletcher Pratt attached certainly should help, pretty sure he is considerably more talented than the rest of these writers. In this one, too, the most fearless correspondent they could find to go on a mission was also a woman. This mag being from 1939, of course.

As a first-up, not much else in this one to mention, except a few fun illustrations.

Planet Stories 1939 11 : The Golden Amazons of Venus - John Murray Reynolds
Planet Stories 1939 11 : Expedition to Pluto - Fletcher Pratt and Laurence Manning
Planet Stories 1939 11 : Warlords of the Moon - Lin Davies
Planet Stories 1939 11 : The Cave-Dwellers of Saturn - John Wiggin

With some Earth blokes, vs the Scaly Ones, and traitors.

1.5 out of 5


Need some power, Paulette.

2.5 out of 5


Blue-Ray takeout.

1.5 out of 5


Dwarves with super hearing and Photo-Atomic Rays scare me.

1.5 out of 5




(If I bothered going lower, this pretty much gets a 0)
1 out of 5

The Cave-Dwellers Of Saturn - John Wiggin

Dwarves with super hearing and Photo-Atomic Rays scare me.


1.5 out of 5

Warlords Of the Moon - Lin Davies

Blue-Ray takeout.


1.5 out of 5

Expedition To Pluto - Fletcher Pratt and Laurence Manning

Need some power, Paulette.


2.5 out of 5

The Golden Amazons Of Venus - John Murray Reynolds

With some Earth blokes, vs the Scaly Ones, and traitors.


1.5 out of 5

The Transfinite Man - Colin Kapp

A man discovers he has some odd abilities that work erratically, plus, people are out to get him.

Then you have a conspiracy, an alien conspiracy

Plus, a bit of descent into hell, carnage.

Sort of a third rate Stars My Destination work, a little.


2.5 out of 5

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Cataaaa - A. E. Van Vogt

From Outer Space.


3 out of 5

The Whispering Gorilla - Don Wilcox

Dead man brain transfer into ape revenge, temporary.


3 out of 5

Lost Treasure Of Mars - Edmond Hamilton

Jewel hoard for drugs wet robot smash, Bugeyes.


3 out of 5

Suicide Squadrons Of Space - David Wright O'Brien

Time to crash into the Mongol hordes, kid.


1.5 out of 5

Slave Raiders Of Mercury - Don Wilcox

No women required until now, chopper.


2.5 out of 5

Ideological Defeat - Christopher Anvil

Backward resistance, smart.


3.5 out of 5

Firebrand! - A. Bertram Chandler

Space pirate woman trader disposal.


4 out of 5

Black God's Shadow - C. L. Moore

Jirel is a woman that would probably have been right at home wandering alongside the various versions of Moorcock's Eternal Champion. Sometimes it seems she takes her opponent out by force of personality as opposed to steel, as the dour bloodnut goes through her various adventures. So, a slightly different take on the whole thing.
Jirel of Joiry : Jirel Meets Magic - C. L. Moore
Jirel of Joiry : Black God's Kiss - C. L. Moore
Jirel of Joiry : Black God's Shadow - C. L. Moore
Jirel of Joiry : The Dark Land - C. L. Moore
Jirel of Joiry : Hellsgarde - C. L. Moore

Having to rid herself of a wizard that has killed some or her men, Jirel finds worse, his own ruler, a sorceress.

4 out of 5


An escape from a captor leads Jirel basically into a Clark Ashton Smith story, and a passionate revenge.

4 out of 5


Jirel looks for a way to undone some of what she has done when she decides that the Black God's Kiss was rather an extreme solution to her earlier hatred.

3.5 out of 5


Jirel is snatched from lying severely wounded by a wizard who is a lot more than he seems.

4 out of 5


Jirel finds your strange mysterious castle that only appears occasionally, and an occupant that has a bit of the undead thing going on.

3 out of 5





4 out of 5

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Firebrand Woman - A. Bertram Chandler

Firebrand!


4 out of 5

Ananias - L. Sprague De Camp

Liar war transmission


2.5 out of 5

Insight - Manly Wade Wellman

The old X-Ray specs trick.


3 out of 5

The Cave Beneath the Falls - Jonathan Lethem

Relationship jumper.


3.5 out of 5

Looking For Miriam - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Not going to find her, crazy.


3.5 out of 5

The Education Of Drusilla Strange - Theodore Sturgeon

Get some humility, snobby, these humans are ok.


3.5 out of 5

The Secret Of Kralitz - Henry Kuttner

Prefer hereditary secrets to not involve Cthulhu.


3.5 out of 5

Trojan Horses Laugh - John D. MacDonald

Happiness Inc. invasion.


2.5 out of 5

The Animal-Cracker Plot - L. Sprague De Camp

Not magic bikkies, just alien.


2.5 out of 5

Space Opera - Charles T. Webb

Prefer to play.


3 out of 5

Baby Face - Henry Kuttner

Mini martial mind transfer gorilla.


3 out of 5

We Think Therefore We Are - Peter Crowther

A pretty measly 3.10 average. Way too many weak stories to be found, here. The most notable writers Reed, Di Filippo, Stableford, Watson etc. don't let us down, but don't do much other than that, except in the one case, and Baxter's is maybe a 3.25.

I'd recommend starting at the end and going backwards, in fact, or you possibly might toss the book. This is a 2.75 book for sure. I'll round to three being generous, thanks to Stableford, Reed, Di Filippo and Roberson.

We Think Therefore We Are : Tempest 43 - Stephen Baxter
We Think Therefore We Are : The Highway Code - Brian Stableford
We Think Therefore We Are : Salvage Rites - Eric Brown
We Think Therefore We Are : The Kamikaze Code - James Lovegrove
We Think Therefore We Are : Adam Robots - Adam Roberts
We Think Therefore We Are : Seeds - Tony Ballantyne
We Think Therefore We Are : Lost Places of the Earth - Steven Utley
We Think Therefore We Are : The Chinese Room - Marly Youmans
We Think Therefore We Are : Three Princesses - Robert Reed
We Think Therefore We Are : The New Cyberiad - Paul Di Filippo
We Think Therefore We Are : That Laugh - Patrick O'Leary
We Think Therefore We Are : Alles In Ordnung - Garry Kilworth
We Think Therefore We Are : Sweats - Keith Brooke
We Think Therefore We Are : Some Fast Thinking Needed - Ian Watson
We Think Therefore We Are : Dragon King of the Eastern Sea - Chris Roberson

AI Heroic Solution.

3 out of 5


Long haul robots must roll, except in case of volcano rescue.

4 out of 5


Monkship cyborg fanatic AI girlfriend sacrifice.

3 out of 5


Killer story factory.

3 out of 5


Useless, they is.

2.5 out of 5


AI he alive, too squiggly.

2.5 out of 5


Do the Paleozoic Maparama with me.

3.5 out of 5


Bad poetry, minions.

2 out of 5


Download, or upload hot time.

3.5 out of 5


Galactic monoculture boredom fix fight.

3.5 out of 5


Bold form convo.

2.5 out of 5


Taswegian alien robot why.

3 out of 5


Hosting Accord instance murder multiple.

3.5 out of 5


Suicide Mastrioshka unexistence clone share.

3.5 out of 5


Fire Star AI murder mystery elimination is a cracker.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Dragon King Of the Eastern Sea - Chris Roberson

Fire Star AI murder mystery elimination is a cracker.


3.5 out of 5

Some Fast Thinking Needed - Ian Watson

Suicide Mastrioshka unexistence clone share.


3.5 out of 5

Sweats - Keith Brooke

Hosting Accord instance murder multiple.


3.5 out of 5

Alles In Ordnung - Garry Kilworth

Taswegian alien robot why.


3 out of 5

That Laugh - Patrick O'Leary

Bold form convo.


2.5 out of 5

The New Cyberiad - Paul Di Filippo

Galactic monoculture boredom fix fight.


3.5 out of 5

Three Princesses - Robert Reed

Download, or upload hot time.


3.5 out of 5

The Chinese Room - Marly Youmans

Bad poetry, minions.


2 out of 5

Lost Places Of th e Earth - Steven Utley

Do the Paleozoic Maparama with me.


3.5 out of 5

Seeds - Tony Ballantyne

AI he alive, too squiggly.


2.5 out of 5

Adam Robots - Adam Roberts

Useless, they is.


2.5 out of 5

The Kamikaze Code - James Lovegrove

Killer story factory.


3 out of 5

Salvage Rites - Eric Brown

Monkship cyborg fanatic AI girlfriend sacrifice.


3 out of 5

The Highway Code - Brian Stableford

Long haul robots must roll, except in case of volcano rescue.


4 out of 5

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tempest 43 - Stephen Baxter

AI Heroic Solution.


3 out of 5

The Diversifal - Ross Rocklynne

Gamma Group man save, 8000th scentury style.


3 out of 5

Size Nothing - David J. Schow

Rejuvenated woman murder embrace.


4 out of 5

En'tracte - David J. Schow

Am I bedding an alien?


4 out of 5

Pitt Night At the Lewistone Boneyard - David J. Schow

Dead family abuse.


3.5 out of 5

Melodrama - David J. Schow

Gravely not scary.


3 out of 5

Life Partner - David J. Schow

My bloke's dead in bed.


3.5 out of 5

Red Light - David J. Schow

Photographed to pieces.


4 out of 5

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You - David J. Schow

No undead job for me.


3.5 out of 5

Doomsday Exam - Nick Pollotta

This one is sort of what you would get if you made Simon R. Green's Nightside softboiled.

Except here, the Bureau is out to protect the public from supernatural menace, as opposed to protecting themselves from each other.

Unkillable monsters, rookies, and guys like this: " “So an insane alchemist, with the most powerful book of evil magic in existence, has absorbed the abilities of a mutant vampire and is wearing an alien battle suit,” Raul muttered softly, as we walked along the lines of parked cars. “Ed, this is big. Really big.”

“And extremely bad,” I added as we reached the car, an old luxury sedan with racing tires. Nondescript and powerful, it was tailor made for our needs. Couldn't be better."

bedevil the crew in this story.

There's appropriate levels of crazy a la Green, certainly: " Unfortunately by now, Mystery Man was double his original size, the cauldron had sunk into the floor to become a yawning pit from which fiery tongues of raw ethereal power lashed upward into his body. With each lambent energy whip, his smile grew and his voice became louder and more purposeful. He was already tapping the natural magical resources of our mother planet herself, after that would come the monsters, the people and absolute victory.

Even if not the same level of whacky monikers flying around, you do get some homage fromage: "After a moment, I recognized where we were. The observation tower on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. Holy Cow, we hadn't used this place in seventy years!"

An ok book.



3 out of 5

The Weird Works Of Robert E. Howard Volume 5 Valley Of the Worm - Robert E. Howard

The fifth Weird Works volume has a good chunk of Conan, plus another couple of horror stories, as well as a little poetry. Definitely some strong work here (3.72), although I have never liked the title story too much.

Valley Of the Worm : BLACK COLOSSUS - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : THE MAN ON THE GROUND - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : THE SLITHERING SHADOW - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : THE POOL OF THE BLACK ONE - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : OLD GARFIELD'S HEART - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : ROGUES IN THE HOUSE - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : THE VALLEY OF THE WORM - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : GODS OF THE NORTH - Robert E. Howard
Valley Of the Worm : SHADOWS IN THE MOONLIGHT - Robert E. Howard

Princess Yasmeela is visited by the sorceror Natokh, in an unearthly appartion. Terrified, she consults the oracle of Mitra, who tells her to make the first man she sees head of her armies.
It is her good fortune that this man is Conan. Her understands her political and military problems, and leads her army in war against the forces of Natokh, who has a resurrected monster up his sleeve.
Carnage ensues.

4 out of 5


A Texas feud gets ghostly.

3.5 out of 5


Conan and the woman with him find a strange city in the desert, after attacks and problems, they finally come across two weird inhabitants, a man and a woman :
'..I am Thalis the Stygian,' she replied. 'Are you mad, to come here?'
'I've been thinking I must be,' he growled. 'By Crom, if I am sane, I'm out of place here, because these people are all maniacs.'
The strange, deadly black shadows don't care who they take, though, and Conan and Natala must face those, and weird dream warriors, before the end.

4 out of 5


Conan has escaped an island where he was in trouble, and swum out to a nearby ship, boosting himself over the side and inviting himself onto the crew.
He plots to take over leadership, but when he follows the pirate leader ashore later, he gets more than he bargained for with a lot of black followers and something nasty in the Pool.
He rallies and rescues what is left of the pirate crew, and has himself a ship, and a woman.

4 out of 5


Giving the Ghost Man back his loaner.

3.5 out of 5


Conan is yet again in trouble because of drinking and wenching. A crime has gone wrong, and a woman he was with has betrayed him to the authorities.
He is offered a way out, if he will kill a man. This man is Nabonidus, The Red Priest.
The only problems involve breaking in, a huge hulking ape-man servant, and then The Red Priest himself and his powers.

3.5 out of 5


Dragonslaying, Norse reincarnation style. Not quite to the standard of his other stories, I think.

3 out of 5


Conan meets a very pale woman after fighting a battle in the frozen north. She is haughty, and arrogant, and summons a couple of her brothers to fight Conan. Giant men they might be, but the Cimmerian grabs them, and then grabs the girl.

She calls to her father Ymir, and disappears. Conan wakes up - was it all a dream?

4 out of 5


Conan comes across an Hyrkanian battle leader who has slaughtered the mercenaries he was with. He slays him and allows a girl the dead man had captured to come with him.

Attempting escape they come across pirates, a man ape, and spooky statues at night.

4 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

Planets Of Adventure 3 - Jean Marie Stine

The third of the Duce doubles includes these two :-

Planets Of Adventure 3 : Black Priestess Of Varda - Erik Fennel
Planets Of Adventure 3 : Captives Of the Weird Wind - Ross Rocklynne

More along the science fantasy lines, Black Priestess Of Varda is also a little reminiscent of Henry Kuttner's 'The Dark World'.

There's also a pulp replica reprint of this, and given this is the lead, seem a pretty reasonable choice (and cover) for when you have run out of Brackett.

However, this version is available thanks to another Jean Marie Stine rescue mission, and Fictionwise, so you have a much more affordable option to get it than the paper variety.

Here, an earth man (a scientist) and woman end up in another world via Gateway and bad babe tech, ruled by-yes-you-probably-guessed it. Here, too, there are a group of rebels, with one female leader.

However, rather than having one man conflicted by which of his dual personalities will win out, either the rebel, or the witch and evil summoners of a dark entity types, here that role is filled by two people.

The only thing that worries Sin, our priestess (other than people not doing stuff the nanosecond she wants it), is the coming of a prophesied warrior.

Or to quote the slightly more hyperbolic intro 'She was well-named—Sin—foul witch and raving beauty. Black Priestess and beloved of Sasso, the Dark Power from another dimension who strove to capture, with her help, Varda, a lovely little world. Outlawed, sentenced to the Vat, a few foresters still defied foul Sasso's loveliest witch. Their only fear was a whispered legend—El-ve-don, the Savior ... But this crippled idiot blundering through a shower of sparks into their time and space—he could not be El-ve-don!'

Eldon, the man, fits the role, having only one arm. Certainly no idiot, either.

Our Black Priestess finds the woman, Margaret, a kindred spirit, in fashion and in attitude, and installs her in her hierarchy. Margaret also hadn't had the opportunities for psionic and life draining domination and sacrifice of a whole bunch of slave peoples like Sin had. Poor her.

Eldon's sympathies lie most definitely with the opposition.

You get monsters, you get swordplay, you get mental battles and mayhem. Pretty much exactly what you want in one of these things.

The end doesn't live up to the start, quite, but well worth a shot.

3.5 out of 5


Certainly not in the class of 'Black Priestess', this is a much more straightforward and less interesting story about a space captain, a rogue, a misunderstanding about her father (who admittedly did have his hand shot off by the less-than-legitimate-spacer) and some adventures in the spaceways with some nogoodniks.

Not bad, just very ordinary. Maybe slightly notable for female captain.

Call it a 2.75 perhaps.

He has an offsider called Mercury Bill (a proper nicname this one, it is because he is slow).

TheCertainly not in the class of 'Black Priestess', this is a much more straightforward and less interesting story about a space captain, a rogue, a misunderstanding about her father (who admittedly did have his hand shot off by the less-than-legitimate-spacer) and some adventures in the spaceways with some nogoodniks.

Not bad, just very ordinary. Maybe slightly notable for female captain.

Call it a 2.75 perhaps.

He has an offsider called Mercury Bill (a proper nicname this one, it is because he is slow).

They end up on a planet with bizarre rotation and metereology, which I think is the point of the title.y end up on a planet with bizarre rotation and metereology, which I think is the point of the title.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Captives Of the Weir-Wind - Ross Rocklynne

Certainly not in the class of 'Black Priestess', this is a much more straightforward and less interesting story about a space captain, a rogue, a misunderstanding about her father (who admittedly did have his hand shot off by the less-than-legitimate-spacer) and some adventures in the spaceways with some nogoodniks.

Not bad, just very ordinary. Maybe slightly notable for female captain.

Call it a 2.75 perhaps.

He has an offsider called Mercury Bill (a proper nicname this one, it is because he is slow).

They end up on a planet with bizarre rotation and meteorolegy, which I think is the point of the title.


3 out of 5

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mask Market - Andrew Vachss

A story that is not as interesting as some of the others that I have read, or a lot more commentary than crime, in this case.

Burke discovers the grown up version of a young girl that he had supposedly helped in the past, and wants to see if he can do better for her this time.

Given the usual backgrounds for this crew, this involves a different predator than was involved in the first go-round, someone closer to home.


3 out of 5

Terminal - Andrew Vachss

An Aryan ex-con approaches Burke for help, as he needs funding for an experimental treatment for the titular type of illness.

He apparently has evidence of the abuse and murder of a girl by some rich guys in the past, and wants to trade it for enough cash to get his overseas experimental procedure.

To organise this, Burke and family descend into a complex web of dealings, even going so far as Israeli spooks to turn this to their advantage.

Even perhaps a little confusing at times as Burke leaps from one deal to the next to an explosive finale.


3.5 out of 5

The Masterharper Of Pern - Anne McCaffrey

This novels suffers from an overly long and padded first 20% or so, before you actually really get to the Masterharper himself, as a y oung boy, and could mostly have been dispensed with.

The rest is more interesting, as snatches of Robinton's growing up and career are given, until his ascension to the top job.

He's almost a bit too good to be true, except when seen dealing with the odd spy or other.

McCaffrey as usual tends to gloss over anything remotely nasty to keep it kid friendly, but there's still plenty of charm to be found, and a it of realpolitik in dealing with the repressive and murderous Lord Holder.


3 out of 5