Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond Aldebaran - Wynne Whiteford

There's a smart tigerish race of aliens way ahead of us. Banzai!


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Time Bender - Keith Laumer

The first of a series of humorous science fantasy.

Lafayette O'Leary is just your average bloke when he finds himself in another world. Apparently he has a flair for the haphazard manipulation of the probability continuum.

This lands him snack in the middle of your archetypal super-cheesy secondary fantasy world.

He does have a bit of an Adam Strange fade in and out problem, however.

Also, if he can do it, why not others?

Amusing enough.


3 out of 5

Sweet Silver Blues - Glen Cook

This is a private investigator that doesn't mind the booze.

In fact, he is hungover when a bunch of gnomes want him to take a case.

In a world with gnomes, centaurs, unicorns and the like. As well as cash and dodgy plots, well, there be monsters of course. And often the twain shall meet.

Not too bad, a bit dull in the middle, but improves towards the end.


3 out of 5

Return To Chaos - Craig Shaw Gardner

Bad things to happen at the Hellmouth.

Ok, so that is pretty much every Buffy book.

What every book doesn't have is a Welsh trio turn up. Luckily, however, the voices have broken on this group of druids, and they are more along the lives of the Scooby Gang's age, and don't mind going hooded and caped and sticking a few crossbow bolts in vampires.

It is the older generation of Uncle types and their plans for horrendously dangerous magical rituals that can get in the way of snogging, proms, and watching bands at the bronze. Along with the usual vamp plots.


2.5 out of 5

Hell Island - Matthew Reilly

When an old aircraft carrier en route in the middle of nowhere goes silent, the US armed forces sends four elite special forces teams to investigate. Rangers, Seals, 82nd airborne, and one team from the Force Reconnaissance Marines.

Led by one Captain Shane Schofield. The Scarecrow.

The Scarecrow smells a rat to start with, as noone sends four competing units like that on a strange mission.

The rat, however is more like a barrel of monkeys.

Apparently the US army has been experimenting with a super soldier program. Rather than a bunch of willing nebbishes names Steve Rogers, however, they were experimenting on normal soldiers. With mind control computer chips and other nasty enhancements. Didn't work too well.

What's the obvious next solution then? Yep, super gorillas. That's right. A full on Island of the apes. However, these guys are smart, and have body armour and modified machine guns. Say goodbye, humans.

40 Special Forces soldiers. 400 super gorillas. With machine guns. Who have already taken hands for souvenirs of 600 regular marines.

Plus one Scarecrow.


Classic stuff, Mr. Reilly.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jandar Of Callisto - Lin Carter

A John Carter knock off.

This time the Gate Of Worlds to get the earthman to another planet is in the Cambodian Jungle.

The title name Jandar comes from a combination of the gentleman in questions three names.

Otherwise it is what you would expect, with the odd ornithopter.

John Dark is, however, lacking the elan and joie de vivre exhibited by Carter, in general, I think. Same goes for the bullheaded confidence, perhaps.

Solid enough, though, with the same device, the author recounting adventures as told by Jon Dark.


3 out of 5

The Sorcerer's Shadow - David C. Smith

A standalone I think. The hero of the piece lives a long time after Oron. Who is now famed as a legendary king and warrior. A little like David Gemmell did with the Drenai, perhaps. Not as separated as Kull and Conan, by time, though.

This is reasonbly long, as a 360 page paperback. Therein I think lies the problem, as it is a novel, not a collection.

The pace in this one is off. A lot of time talking around what is going on.

For instance, the first 100 pages has Akram and a friend talk in a pub, talk about going to see, then go back the next day and talk in a pub some more. Not particularly interestingly, either.

The actual plot involves the reincarnation of a demon sorcerer, a sorceress and the third leg of this rather nasty love triangle.

So you have the supernatural horror there nicely, the stalwart warrior, friends, rescues, kingdoms falling apart, all that good stuff.

However, it meanders too much to make it past ok.

If you are a Sword and Sorcery fan and find it for a couple of bucks, perhaps worth a look.


3 out of 5

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Medusa - Theodore Sturgeon

Nope, not crazy. Did kill pregnant living planet.


2.5 out of 5

There Shall Be Darkness - C. L. Moore

We have to stop killing each other, mate, and kill those interplanetary barbarian raiders instead.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 24, 2009

His Enemies Shall Lick the Dust - Melinda M. Snodgrass

Double Helix's potential bad Bugsy babysitting means wants a raise.


3 out of 5

Just Cause 2 - Carrie Vaughn

Committee meets, postures, and Billy Ray of all people comes on all Gyrich get with the program, which is pretty amusing.


4 out of 5

Better To Dwell In The Wilderness Than With A Contentious Woman - Melinda M. Snodgrass

So Drummer Boy says no to seduction.


4 out of 5

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Devil Devil - Michael Avallone

An occult detective of the wealthy adventurer type.

e.g. Philip St. George is too rich to be interested in getting any more money. Especially after the death of his wife at a cult's hands.

So, he sets out to be a globetrotting occult debunker. He takes a bit more of a Doc Savage approach to this, though, being a pilot, submariner, mountain climber, disguise artist, etc.

This time, however, the occult scam is under his nose, with a beautiful women running a black mass circle in his home city of New York.

This has left five wealthy young women decapitated, and the FBI stuck, until he gets involved after the death of a journalist friend.

Which is all fair enough. The writing is very poor though. Presumably I would think from where some of the badness lies, that this was knocked out pretty quickly. Avallone (Or whoever it was) is certainly no Dent or Gibson, though.

So it can get poorly repetitive - fixated somewhat on the looks of the villainess. Naked covens and all that. Which is a lot of needless time taken in a 160 page book.

Certainly can't recommend these unless you have a strong interest in this sort of thing, and pick it up with change found under the couch.


1.5 out of 5

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Horned Warrior - Robert Holdstock

The third in a series about a warrior in Roman Britain.

Swiftaxe is the hero of the piece. Or antihero of the piece, depending on how you look at it. You don't expect to have a Briton carrying a curse by Odin giving him the mad spirit of a bear inside him. Or, he's an uber-Berserker. Some of the high ranking Roman officers, while discussing him amongst each other point out that twenty or thirty ordinary blokes are in trouble facing him. If he goes bear curse Berserker batshit, that is. Otherwise, he's just very good, and a few blokes might be able to take him. One of the problems with this book is there is a lot of talking about how great a fighter he is, and not so much with the showing. This is probably partly due to Holdstock not being so great in this area perhaps, and maybe realising it, keeping it to a minimum. Even when taking out scads of gladiators, guards, amazons, or whatever.

The start of the story has a flashback to Swiftaxe as a fifteen year old, tricked by the Romans into revealing the location of his village, hidden by magical witch means. You got your druids here, too, and magic and spells etc. are very real, and work rather nicely.

His brother has taken to the Roman ways, and to earn the final trust of the commanders has been ordered to track down and kill Swiftaxe, as the don't want him teaming up with Boadicca (who appears in the novel).

Swiftaxe, however, really just wants an end to this Norse curse. Cue fraternal confrontation in haunted magical type location.

An ok book.


3 out of 5

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bonescribes Year's Best Australian Horror 1995 - Bill Congreve and Robert Hood

A Year's Best anthology of Australian horror, with a roundup of the year, and an overview of the history of Australian horror publishing, but the editors and Sean McMullen. A somewhat pitiful story it is, too, from the odd bush tale, to the protected pulp industry that has apparently pretty much crumbled away, to the pommie bastard publishers indifference. Things finally mproved in the 90s along with fantasy, sf, and of course the copyright laws, ensuring some competition for the do nothing poms.

For dedicated fans they list some novels, anthologies etc. of interest that you could go back and look at. So if a fan or scholar with that much interest, worth getting the book for that. Mentioning a bunch of kids books - e.g. the children's publishers were producing a broader range of material than the pathetic poms and locals for adults. Kids books weren't stamped with horror, so they could be sold to schools, presumably.

The editors point out mass market publishing for adults didn't exist at all until the eighties, and the literary writers were largely helped out by taxpayer generosity, desired by said taxpayers, or not.

The odd Olson story has gone online as a podcast, recently, too, interestingly.

Dedman's story is the best. Not too suprisingly,as, being easily the most accomplished of this batch.

Horror stories are usually in shorter supply than fantasy or sf, and this batch is only a 3.30.

Bonescribes : The Lady of Situations - Stephen Dedman
Bonescribes : Dead Set - Garry Disher
Bonescribes : Blind Seeking the Blind - K. J. McKenzie
Bonescribes : What the Stone of Ciparri Says - Francis Payne
Bonescribes : Entropy - Leanne Frahm
Bonescribes : Don't Move! - Renny Willins
Bonescribes : Conservatory - Carmel Bird
Bonescribes : Souls Along the Meridian - Jacci Olson
Bonescribes : Dead in the Glamour of Moonlight - Robert Hood
Bonescribes : The Corpse - Bill Congreve

Perfect physical memory leaves longterm boyfriends superfluous.

4 out of 5


Encyclopedia salesman, too.

3 out of 5


Nano core implant carrier interrogation.

3.5 out of 5


Brain, expose!

3.5 out of 5


Dirty voices.

3 out of 5


Do scratch though, or I'll shoot you.

3.5 out of 5


Semi-annual love dead.

2.5 out of 5


Tram driver kill ritual weird girl watch.

3.5 out of 5


All downhill after I killed her, personally and politically.

3.5 out of 5


Progression regression police permanent punishment.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Corpse - Bill Congreve

Progression regression police permanent punishment.


3 out of 5

Dead In the Glamour Of Moonlight - Robert Hood

All downhill after I killed her, personally and politically.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Don't Move - Renny Willins

Do scratch though, or I'll shoot you.


3.5 out of 5

Nekropolis - Tim Waggoner

A group of high powered mortally challenged types decide to make themselves a home in a new dimension.

Hence, Nekropolis.

Which turns out to be something a little like Simon R. Green's Nightside, just lacking in actual people, as opposed to vampires, lycanthropes, zombies, and other oddities. Certainly somewhat some low rent then John Meaney's Tristopolis.

Nekropolis has been around for a while before the start of this tale. It has to be magically sustained.

The protagonist of the piece is a private investigator type, and a zombie. Despite all the monsters, this is certainly more on the supernatural fantasy end as opposed to horror, although fans of the latter should enjoy it, too.

The vampire types are rather high and mighty in Nekropolis, it appears. The half-vampire daughter of the head lord bloodsucker comes to zombie Matt with a problem. When such a person needs the assistance of a declasse detective, you know something is up. Powerful magic item disappeared from dad's collection. In Nekropolis, dark is good. Magic item makes with the big light show, so a bit scary for all these shadow denizens.

Matt, himself, is not a depressive angst-ridden sex maniac booze hound, but a pretty good bloke willing to sacrifice to do the right thing. Being a zombie, that can mean when things fall apart, they can literally fall apart, for him. A much more upbeat personality.

Like John Taylor in the Nightside, he does know where a few bodies are buried (or not buried, perhaps more pertinently for Nekropolis).

The twist and final confrontation wasn't predictably obvious, but for the mystery fan there were some clues along the way.

A solidly entertaining fantasy, in a setting with plenty of whacky potential. There's a cyberpunk vampire gang etc. So presumably more will follow if this does ok.

This means the first four books from Angry Robot have averaged a 3.50, which is a pretty decent effort, straight out of the gate.


3.5 out of 5

Morality - Stephen King

Double the sin recording deal.


4 out of 5

What the Stone Of Ciparri Said - Francis Payne

Brain, expose!


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Of Secrets - Chris Roberson

The Book of Secrets starts out with a journalist deciding to pursue a story about a wealthy recluse, and gets progressively odder from there, to the point where you have pretty much ended up in something Simon R. Green might have come up with, Nightside style. Thanks to the title object, that is. Being a vaguely hardboiled journo, he likes the booze, of course.

His grandfather has also died, and left him a box of papers - which includes multiple adventures of a hero called The Black Hand - from the era of The Shadow, the Lone Ranger, pirates, highwaymen and more. Always a Black Hand, though, even if not as consistent as The Phantom down through the ages. Excerpts of these different styles of adventurers and stories are actually presented in the novel, which is fun.

The story only takes a week in novel time, and that is how it is broken down, day by day, as the protagonist tours Texas, Nevada, and Arizona looking into the mysterious book.

Flashbacks happen to his childhood, how he felt about his family, why he is where he is, the training his grandfather inflicted upon him from his point of view.

Throw in a mafia auction, and the weird accelerates from there, as, well, the secrets of the Book in the title are revealed.

The book mystery part is perhaps not as successful as the homage to the pulp adventurer family. Overall a solid book.


3.5 out of 5

The Chaos Engine Trilogy - Steven A. Roman

An omnibus of the entire X-Men Chaos Engine trilogy.

The first of the Chaos Engine trilogy.

The X-Men are with Roma and her underling, when the aforementioned notices something very wrong with the 616 Earth and surrounds, and it is centred on Psylocke, or Betsy Braddock.

The X-Men, sans Xavier are sent to investigate, and given a deadline of a week, or she wipes out that particular Earth instance and surrounding dimension.

Arriving, Westchester County has a prison camp, not a school for gifted mutants, and Von Doom is King of the World, with Storm his Queen. The only real resistance - is run by Magneto.

Doom has co-opted or destroyed most of the heroes and villains, so the X-Men are an unexpected wild card force thrown into his plans.

Quite good, I thought. Alternate history sort of story with different lives for some in this dystopia.

4 out of 5


The second book of the Chaos Engine trilogy finds Betsy Braddock and Professor Xavier desperately trying to come up with a solution that will stop Roma from having to destroy the 616 dimension and others that problems may spread to.

Magneto through the use of this unstable cosmic cube has remade the world as to how he wants it, his dead daughter and wife back alive.

His world is much nicer and far more utopian than Von Doom's fascist horror from the previous novel, so Xavier having to convince his old friend Erik to let it be destroyed because it isn't real, for the good of billions in other universe.

Then there's another nasty lurking around in the form of The Controller.

This isn't as good as the first, but still solid. Will also fill you in on bits and pieces of X-Men history at this point in time.

3.5 out of 5


The third of the Chaos Engine trilogy.

Rather sensibly, the Red Skull is used as the third villain. As, for a novel, he is really not that interesting, being a garden variety megalomaniac nazi butcher. Even if he has a funny red head.

Doom is attempting to take over the Omniverse, Magneto is a prisoner.

When the Earth variants of the X-Men start to take over or be made aware of the situation they are in in the bodies on this cube created Earth, we end up with a heroes vs bad guys and bad guys vs bad guys situation. With the Captain Britain Corps, too.

Heaps of explanation of the previous two books too, so this one is a bit longer. Fans could probably pick this up and work out what is going on easily enough.

3 out of 5





3.5 out of 5

Red Skull - Steven A. Roman

The third of the Chaos Engine trilogy.

Rather sensibly, the Red Skull is used as the third villain. As, for a novel, he is really not that interesting, being a garden variety megalomaniac nazi butcher. Even if he has a funny red head.

Doom is attempting to take over the Omniverse, Magneto is a prisoner.

When the Earth variants of the X-Men start to take over or be made aware of the situation they are in in the bodies on this cube created Earth, we end up with a heroes vs bad guys and bad guys vs bad guys situation. With the Captain Britain Corps, too.

Heaps of explanation of the previous two books too, so this one is a bit longer. Fans could probably pick this up and work out what is going on easily enough.


3 out of 5

Blind Seeking the Blind - K. J. McKenzie

Nano core implant carrier interrogation.


3.5 out of 5

Conservatory - Carmel Bird

Semi-annual love dead.


2.5 out of 5

Dead Set - Gary Disher

Encyclopedia salesman, too.


3 out of 5

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Australian Science Fiction 2 - John Baxter

The second of the first set of Australian SF anthologies. Just a 3.18 here, so certainly not in the class of the first.

Pacific Book of ASF2 : The Immortal - Olaf Ruhen
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Siren Singers - Robyn Tracey
Pacific Book of ASF2 : The Case of the Perjured Planet - Martin Loran
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Robinson - David Rome
Pacific Book of ASF2 : No Sale - John Williams
Pacific Book of ASF2 : The Man of Slow Feeling - Michael Wilding
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Vale Pollini! - George Johnston
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Apple - John Baxter
Pacific Book of ASF2 : A Happening - Frank Roberts
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Dancing Gerontius - Lee Harding
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Whatever Happened to Suderov? - Steve Kaldor

Club it to death return.

3 out of 5


Battle cry.

3 out of 5


Colonist coverup.

3 out of 5


Space war is for kids.

3.5 out of 5


Just want a small tank, you used car bastards.

3 out of 5


Nerves of sloth.

4 out of 5


Superficial philosophy.

2 out of 5


Nuclear megaflora mutant moth murder.

4 out of 5


Birdman prison too literal.

3 out of 5


Year Day cull lead.

3.5 out of 5


Blood water political sacrifice.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

The Second Pacific Book Of Australian Science Fiction - John Baxter

The second of the first set of Australian SF anthologies. Just a 3.18 here, so certainly not in the class of the first.

Pacific Book of ASF2 : The Immortal - Olaf Ruhen
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Siren Singers - Robyn Tracey
Pacific Book of ASF2 : The Case of the Perjured Planet - Martin Loran
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Robinson - David Rome
Pacific Book of ASF2 : No Sale - John Williams
Pacific Book of ASF2 : The Man of Slow Feeling - Michael Wilding
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Vale Pollini! - George Johnston
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Apple - John Baxter
Pacific Book of ASF2 : A Happening - Frank Roberts
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Dancing Gerontius - Lee Harding
Pacific Book of ASF2 : Whatever Happened to Suderov? - Steve Kaldor

Club it to death return.

3 out of 5


Battle cry.

3 out of 5


Colonist coverup.

3 out of 5


Space war is for kids.

3.5 out of 5


Just want a small tank, you used car bastards.

3 out of 5


Nerves of sloth.

4 out of 5


Superficial philosophy.

2 out of 5


Nuclear megaflora mutant moth murder.

4 out of 5


Birdman prison too literal.

3 out of 5


Year Day cull lead.

3.5 out of 5


Blood water political sacrifice.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Whatever Happened To Suderov? - Steve Kaldor

Blood water political sacrifice.


3 out of 5

A Happening - Frank Roberts

Birdman prison too literal.


3 out of 5

Vale Pollini - George Johnston

Superficial philosophy.


2 out of 5

No Sale - John Williams

Just want a small tank, you used car bastards.


3 out of 5

Magneto - Steven A. Roman

The second book of the Chaos Engine trilogy finds Betsy Braddock and Professor Xavier desperately trying to come up with a solution that will stop Roma from having to destroy the 616 dimension and others that problems may spread to.

Magneto through the use of this unstable cosmic cube has remade the world as to how he wants it, his dead daughter and wife back alive.

His world is much nicer and far more utopian than Von Doom's fascist horror from the previous novel, so Xavier having to convince his old friend Erik to let it be destroyed because it isn't real, for the good of billions in other universe.

Then there's another nasty lurking around in the form of The Controller.

This isn't as good as the first, but still solid. Will also fill you in on bits and pieces of X-Men history at this point in time.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 403 - Sheila Williams

There's a review of Anathem, and Stross' fifth Merchant Princes book. Robert Silverberg has a decidedly different sort of column. On collecting work in foreign editions. His own! If there was an author I wouldn't want to do this for given the amazing amount of stuff produced, he'd be right at the top of the list. It is apparently keeping him well entertained.

Readers Awards list and James Patrick Kelly gives a rundown of SF awards on the web.

Damien Broderick is the class of this issue which is right around the usual 3.43 type number.

ASIMOVS403 : THE QUALIA ENGINE - Damien Broderick
ASIMOVS403 : CREATURES OF WELL-DEFINED HABITS - Robert Reed
ASIMOVS403 : BLUE - Derek Zumsteg
ASIMOVS403 : THE CONSCIOUSNESS PROBLEM - Mary Robinette Kowal
ASIMOVS403 : TWO BOYS - Steven Popkes
ASIMOVS403 : TURBULENCE - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
ASIMOVS403 : CALIFORNIA BURNING - Michael Blumlein

Grandchildren Of The Atom not so smart, but more quantum.

4 out of 5


Old part animal tales.

3.5 out of 5


Chicken fried black hole people.

3.5 out of 5


Clone hubster gone, wife, maybe.

3.5 out of 5


Neanderthal saviour authority.

3.5 out of 5


Flight now scary.

3 out of 5


Not toasting me dead.

3 out of 5



4 out of 5

California Burning - Michael Blumlein

Not toasting me dead.


3 out of 5

Turbulence - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Flight now scary.


3 out of 5

Two Boys - Steven Popkes

Neanderthal saviour authority.


3.5 out of 5

The Consciousness Problem - Mary Robinette Kowal

Clone hubster gone, wife, maybe.


3.5 out of 5

Blue - Derek Zumsteg

Chicken fried black hole people.


3.5 out of 5

Creatures Of Well-Defined Habits - Robert Reed

Old part animal tales.


3.5 out of 5

The Qualia Engine - Damien Broderick

Grandchildren Of The Atom not so smart, but more quantum.


4 out of 5

Robinson - David Rome

Space war is for kids.


3.5 out of 5

Private Wars - Greg Rucka

The second Queen and Country novel.

Tara Chace has quit after discovering she is pregnant with her dead lover and former colleague's child.

Machinations in SIS over leadership positions and the upcoming change of leadership in Uzbekistan with an ailing president draw her back into the game in a rather dodgy mission.

However, she is back to doing what she does best, while the SIS Director Of Operations fights to work out what is going on, keep them their jobs, and find out who the hell is playing who on his own side, as well as the Americans. Plus a little matter of some lost munitions.

Then there's a little boy to save, and keeping herself alive so her own daughter has a parent.

Another absorbing spy thriller from Rucka.


4 out 5

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Analog 942 - Stanley Schmidt

A couple of ok articles here, and a lot of this is taken up with the second part of a serial. Just a 3.20 average.

ANALOG942 : EVERGREEN - Shane Tourtellotte
ANALOG942 : FROM THE GROUND UP - Marie DesJardin
ANALOG942 : ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT - Eric James Stone
ANALOG942 : THE LAST RESORT - Alec Nevala-Lee
ANALOG942 : Turning the Grain 2 - Barry B. Longyear

Infantile freezing relationship.

3.5 out of 5


Grass crash site.

3 out of 5


Moonskimmer inertia.

3 out of 5


Carbon dioxide lake boom.

3.5 out of 5





3 out of 5

Turning the Grain 2 - Barry B. Longyear

Time for potent rooting.


3 out of 5

The Last Resort - Alec Nevala-Lee

Carbon dioxide lake boom.


3.5 out of 5

Attitude Adjustment - Eric James Stone

Moonskimmer inertia.


3 out of 5

From the Ground Up - Marie Desjardins

Grass crash site.


3 out of 5

Evergreen - Shane Tourtelotte

Infantile freezing relationship.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Gentleman's Game - Greg Rucka

A Queen and Country novel.

An Islamic terrorist attack kills several hundred people on London's Underground, so, of course, the government wants payback. Their target is the religious inspirational head of the particular group responsible. Special Operations is tasked to put together a plan to assassinate him, and Minder One, Tara Chace, wants the job. Trouble is, she has to do it Yemen.

The mission leads to complications, and a three way tangle between the CIA, MI5, Mossad with Special Operations and Chace's head literally in the middle.

The only way out is to remove the terrorist group in question's base of operations in terminal fashion.

A well done superspy thriller.


4 out of 5

Siren Singers - Robyn Tracey

Battle cry.


3 out of 5

The Immortal - Olaf Ruhen

Club it to death return.


3 out of 5

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Slaine the Exile - Steven Savile

An episodic sword and sorcery novel, adapted from some of the material in 2000 AD over the decades. Having first come across Slaine there in the eighties, it was certainly a surprise to discover a novel - and a pleasant one, along with all the other 2000 AD novels.

The beginning shows Slaine as a youth, growing up in his clan - and an evolving enmity with another kid who also fancies himself as a future elite warrior.

There is perhaps a bit much time spent on this kid-era setup of betrayal and 'Exile', until you learn that this was supposed to be a trilogy that never eventuated. A standalone would probably have had that element reduced I'd imagine.

It does highlight Slaine's relationship with the Earth Goddess Danu in her three guises, Mother, Maiden, Crone, and his evolving berserk 'warp spasm' power. In fact, the three facets of the goddess are the three sections of the novel, in that order.

Killing warriors that attack him is ok by the king, if justified. Messing around with the royal spousal unit, not so much. Hence Exile, and some wandering adventures.

These are generally in pursuit of the skull-sword warriors who raided his town and slaughtered many. In the process he learns of a dark sorcerer who is corrupting the Earth power along the ley lines for his own uses. Plenty of human sacrifice and all that sort of thing. Wicker men, even. Slaine takes a dim view of this corruption of the innocent, and like all good sword and sorcery heroes takes the view that 'kill them all' is the appropriate response to evil sorcerers and their bestial minions.

Slaine's major problem is that he certainly isn't as smart as Conan and company in general, and is easily blindsided, being rather reliant on the whole superstrength rip you limb from limb Mr. Hyde type action his warp spasm can produce.

In one of the stories, while in prison he makes a friend - the dwarf Ukko. A dodgy chancer, who is definitely a bit cleverer than the big berserk barbarian.

Things get grimmer and crazier as they make their way into the Drune sorcery infested territory of Slough Feg. Naked evil priestess martial artists, zombies, flying ships, that sort of thing.

A pretty decent book. Those interested in sword and sorcery style stories, or Celtic mythos fantasy of the less gowns and garlands variety could happily give this a shot. Because Slaine has an axe named Brainbiter.


3.5 out of 5

Robots Have No Tails - Henry Kuttner

A collection of stories about a whacky future inventor who can invent crazy stuff like time machines, but only when he is drunk enough to let his subconscious come out and take a crack at it. The problem is that he is the get so smashed he can't remembers what he has done kind of drunk.

The future as seen from the 1940s, of course. So, you have 3-D tv, computers, but nothing like communications now. Retina printing, though.

Time machines, annoying robots, little furry guys from the future who want to take over the world, and other silliness is to be found here.

I find them amusing, but not hilarious.

Robots Have No Tails : Time Locker - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : The World is Mine - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : The Proud Robot - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : Gallegher Plus - Henry Kuttner
Robots Have No Tails : Ex Machina - Henry Kuttner

Storage expansion crusher.

3.5 out of 5


Even if I'm short, furry, and my milk guy keeps finding corpses of himself in the garden.

4 out of 5


Bootleg theatre botsense.

3.5 out of 5


Drunk credit device.

3 out of 5


Ideal quarry.

3 out of 5





3.5 out of 5

The World Is Mine - Henry Kuttner

Even if I'm short, furry, and my milk guy keeps finding corpses of himself in the garden.


4 out of 5

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Earthman Beware! and Others - Poul Anderson

I probably would have called this Duel On Syrtis and others, as that is clearly the best story. In fact, Leigh Brackett chose than for her Best Of Planet Stories anthology. The transplanting into animal body element in Star Beast is of interest, but not much else.

Earthman Beware and Others : EARTHMAN BEWARE! - Poul Anderson
Earthman Beware and Others : DUEL ON SYRTIS - Poul Anderson
Earthman Beware and Others : STAR BEAST - Poul Anderson

I'm a feral child. Of the alien psi variety

2.5 out of 5


Bagging a Martian is hard.

4 out of 5


A bit of that Tiger, Tiger, action for me.

3 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

The Star Beast - Poul Anderson

A bit of that Tiger, Tiger, action for me.


3 out of 5

Earthman Beware! - Poul Anderson

I'm a feral child. Of the alien psi variety.


2.5 out of 5

Monday, July 6, 2009

Slights - Kaaron Warren

A disturbed young woman becomes obsessed with death after being in a car accident that kills her mother.

The story follows her at different ages, as she does some death inducing on ohters. Her family wasn't too normal to start with.

For this sort of book to work I think it has to creep you out or shock. This dead neither and her descent seemed pretty predictably. Having been an horror reader since about one hand's full of fingers, this didn't work for me. Well written, but too slow and didn't really matter to me.


3 out of 5

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The New Space Opera 2 - Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan

The second volume has turned out about how I expected, not as good as the first. This is to be expected when the best exponents of the form are mostly excluded - these authors are all different to the first book. So no Reynolds, Baxter, Reed, Egan, McDonald, Simmons, etc.

So, rather than being outstanding, this anthology is excellent. Which is still a great result. A 3.68 average as opposed to 3.83. The high end not being there, as such. Still, a bunch of good stories to be found, in a fair variety.

It would seem at the moment you could order a Black Beauty, Superman, or any other sort of story from Bruce Sterling, and you'd end up getting an urban planning screed, currently. No idea why they kept this one, other than Sterling's name probably sells books. It is just an ok story, and neither space opera or adventure.

The pick of this lot is John Barnes layered con story, then Watts, Rusch, Lake, (doing a passable Alastair Reynolds style - and apparently the same setting for a novel he is working on, which would appear to be very promising), Williams and Williams.

A class anthology, just not one for the 5 star best ever list. A right on 4.5, in fact.

New Space Opera 2 : Utriusque Cosmi - Robert Charles Wilson
New Space Opera 2 : The Island - Peter Watts
New Space Opera 2 : Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance - John Kessel
New Space Opera 2 : To Go Boldly - Cory Doctorow
New Space Opera 2 : The Lost Princess Man - John Barnes
New Space Opera 2 : Defect - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
New Space Opera 2 : To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves - Jay Lake
New Space Opera 2 : Shell Game - Neal Asher
New Space Opera 2 : Punctuality - Garth Nix
New Space Opera 2 : Inevitable - Sean Williams
New Space Opera 2 : Join The Navy and See the Worlds - Bruce Sterling
New Space Opera 2 : Fearless Space Pirates of the Outer Rings - Bill Willingham
New Space Opera 2 : From the Heart - John Meaney
New Space Opera 2 : Chameleons - Elizabeth Moon
New Space Opera 2 : The Tenth Muse - Tad Williams
New Space Opera 2 : Cracklegrackle - Justina Robson
New Space Opera 2 : The Tale of the Wicked - John Scalzi
New Space Opera 2 : Catastrophe Baker and a Canticle for Leibowitz - Mike Resnick
New Space Opera 2 : The Far End of History - John C. Wright


Dark matter universe jumping Invisible Enemy Rapture, go fast, kid.

3.5 out of 5


Gate Mission live Dyson sphere violence Chimp conflict.

4 out of 5


Monk play nicking folded soldier escape.

3.5 out of 5


Space navies? You guys are crazy. No to mention inefficient.

3.5 out of 5


We'll find the right conman for this Empress thing, yet.

4.5 out of 5


Son's a killer combo.

4 out of 5


One posthuman captain ahead of another, Ship.

4 out of 5


Straightening out an alien religious conflict revenge.

3.5 out of 5


There's a gene for the intergalactic transport version.

3.5 out of 5


I'm safe till we loop, enemy woman.

4 out of 5


Just not in this story.

3 out of 5


No human bosses, so now superheroes.

4 out of 5


Spying sneaky Pilot stuff for you, Candidate.

4 out of 5


Dad, filthy rich or not, hiring bad men = bad.

3.5 out of 5


Construct killer space libretto.

4 out of 5


Ghost energy Forged daughter hunt.

3.5 out of 5


Ship Brain independence spread.

3.5 out of 5


Voluptua playing around.

3 out of 5


A new mental model for lots of the two of us via the Atkins methods.

3.5 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Inferno - Ellen Datlow

A rather good original anthology, having a 3.58 average. Not surprising to get an award, then.

The standout is easily Laird Barron's 'The Forest'. The opposite being Jeffrey Ford, who has never really struck me as a horror writer, and goes a bit Arthur C. Clarke here, even.

Other good stories from Ballingrud, Grant, Finch, Bestwick, Cadigan, with Hirshberg's the second best of all.

The introduction specifically says there are no 'werewolves, vampires, witches, zombies, etc.'

Inferno : Riding Bitch - K.W. Jeter
Inferno : Misadventure - Stephen Gallagher
Inferno : The Forest - Laird Barron
Inferno : The Monsters of Heaven - Nathan Ballingrud
Inferno : Inelastic Collisions - Elizabeth Bear
Inferno : The Uninvited - Christopher Fowler
Inferno : 13 O'clock - Mike O’Driscoll
Inferno : Lives - John Grant
Inferno : Ghorla - Mark Samuels
Inferno : Face - Joyce Carol Oates
Inferno : An Apiary of White Bees - Lee Thomas
Inferno : The Keeper - P. D. Cacek
Inferno : Bethany's Wood - Paul Finch
Inferno : The Ease With Which We Freed The Beast - Lucius Shepard
Inferno : Hushabye - Simon Bestwick
Inferno : Perhaps the Last - Conrad Williams
Inferno : Stilled Life - Pat Cadigan
Inferno : The Janus Tree - Glen Hirshberg
Inferno : The Bedroom Light - Jeffrey Ford
Inferno : The Suits at Auderlene - Terry Dowling


Dead girlfriend handcuffed nitrobike dirtnap.

3.5 out of 5


Ghost kid pool alert.

3 out of 5


Dying of cancer won't bug me, at least until the sun goes out, anyway.

4.5 out of 5


Limp angel bloody love.

4 out of 5


Poolroom angel meatpuppet dinner frogman revelation.

3.5 out of 5


Serial killer gatecrash gang.

3.5 out of 5


Bad dreams, dad.

3.5 out of 5


Might have to go a bit Rasputin to end the son's.

4 out of 5


Brother sister freaky third eye transfer.

3 out of 5


Growing parasite.

3 out of 5


Fancy booze stash, sex, revenge.

3.5 out of 5


What's all the dead burned kid stuff, then?

3 out of 5


Insane pagan murder mobile statue mum.Insane pagan murder mobile statue mum.

4 out of 5


Insane pagan murder mobile statue mum.Insane pagan murder mobile statue mum.

3.5 out of 5


Shoot and toast the serial killer, hopefully will work.

4 out of 5


Guard too late.

3.5 out of 5


Busted friendsihp's rocky end.

4 out of 5


Not falling fall from the old Family (or friends.

4.5 out of 5


Not so scary cat.

2.5 out of 5


Singing armour meteor maiden trap.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Far End Of History - John C. Wright

A new mental model for lots of the two of us via the Atkins methods.


3.5 out of 5

Perhaps the Last - Conrad Williams

Guard too late.


3.5 out of 5

Hushabye - Simon Bestwick

Shoot and toast the serial killer, hopefully will work.


4 out of 5

Bethany's Wood - Paul Finch

Insane pagan murder mobile statue mum.


4 out of 5

The Keeper - P. D. Cacek

What's all the dead burned kid stuff, then?


3 out of 5

The Janus Tree - Glen Hirshberg

Not falling fall from the old Family (or friends.


4.5 out of 5

The Bedroom Light - Jeffrey Ford

Not so scary cat.


2.5 out of 5

An Apiary Of White Bees - Lee Thomas

Fancy booze stash, sex, revenge.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Face - Joyce Carol Oates

Growing parasite.


3 out of 5

Ghorla - Mark Samuels

Brother sister freaky third eye transfer.


3 out of 5

Lives - John Grant

Might have to go a bit Rasputin to end the son's.


4 out of 5

The Uninvited - Christopher Fowler

Serial killer gatecrash gang.


3.5 out of 5

Misadventure - Stephen Gallagher

Ghost kid pool alert.


3 out of 5

Riding Bitch - K. W. Jeter

Dead girlfriend handcuffed nitrobike dirtnap.


3.5 out of 5

Catastrophe Baker And A Canticle For Leibowitz - Mike Resnick

Voluptua playing around.


3 out of 5

The Tale Of the Wicked - John Scalzi

Ship Brain independence spread.


3.5 out of 5

Cracklegrackle - Justina Robson

Ghost energy Forged daughter hunt.


3.5 out of 5

The Tenth Muse - Tad Williams

Construct killer space libretto.


4 out of 5

Chameleons - Elizabeth Moon

Dad, filthy rich or not, hiring bad men = bad.


3.5 out of 5

From the Heart - John Meaney

Spying sneaky Pilot stuff for you, Candidate.


4 out of 5

Fearless Space Pirates Of The Outer Rings - Bill Willingham

No human bosses, so now superheroes.


4 out of 5

Friday, July 3, 2009

Join the Navy and See the Worlds - Bruce Sterling

Just not in this story.


3 out of 5

Punctuality - Garth Nix

There's a gene for the intergalactic transport version.


3.5 out of 5

Shell Game - Neal Asher

Straightening out an alien religious conflict revenge.


3.5 out of 5

To Raise A Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves - Jay Lake

One posthuman captain ahead of another, Ship.


4 out of 5

Defect - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Son's a killer combo.


4 out of 5

The Lost Princess Man - John Barnes

We'll find the right conman for this Empress thing, yet.


4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thriller Part 2 - James Patterson

Australian edition, American style - splitting up a longish book, in another words. Taking the 30 stories in the original Thriller anthology and splitting it in two, in a different story order. There are only 15 stories here, but the book length is closer to 500 pages than 400, so it has really large print with heaps of whitespace like it was for kids. So a little annoying from that point of view.

Overall Thriller average was 3.50 for the stories - this is 3.43, so the 'worse half', if you like. Morrell, Liparulo and Thor the pick of this bunch.

So a 3.75 rounded up, this anthology.

Thriller : Operation Northwoods - James Grippando
Thriller : The Other Side of the Mirror - Eric Van Lustbader
Thriller : The Devils' Due - Steve Berry
Thriller : The Face in the Window - Heather Graham
Thriller : The Hunt for Dmitri - Gayle Lynds
Thriller : The Abelard Sanction - David Morrell
Thriller : Success of a Mission - Dennis Lynds
Thriller : The Double Dealer - David Liss
Thriller : Spirit Walker - David Dun
Thriller : Kill Zone - Robert Liparulo
Thriller : The Powder Monkey - Ted Bell
Thriller : Man Catch - Christopher Rice
Thriller : Interlude at Duane's - F. Paul Wilson
Thriller : The Athens Solution - Brad Thor
Thriller : Surviving Toronto - M. Diane Vogt

Flaming Camp Delta.

3 out of 5


Dad, you the double shooter, me too.

3 out of 5


Sniper contest.

4 out of 5


Nelson's glass fleet pirate rescue.

3 out of 5


Dad, with, not boyfriend.

3 out of 5


Ice cream bad mood deli rescue.

3.5 out of 5


An Osama present, again.

3.5 out of 5


“Never pull out a frying pan unless you intend to use it”

3 out of 5


Disguise surprise for Carnivore's daughter.

3.5 out of 5


Monastery sonkiller double car blast.

3.5 out of 5


Corpse confection transfer sacrifice information targeting war winner.

4 out of 5


Anthrax frameup desitny

3.5 out of 5


Ambassador terror fake control device sharked.

3.5 out of 5


Nelson's glass fleet pirate rescue.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

Thriller - James Patterson

An anthology put together after a Thriller writer's organisation was formed. Almost all new stories at the time, some by people who don't do that sort of thing usually, apparently. So, definitely good to see them taking a crack at it.

Basically an original anthology, then. No attempt was actually made to definite what a thriller is, just that they come in a variety of types and sub-genres.

Some of these stories I wouldn't have called such: Van Lustbader's sordid spy drama, Rice's homophobia discovery, Kava's garden variety crime story.

At the other end there is the over the top Rollins tale with apes, jetskis, assassins, new hi-tech weapons and other crazy. More towards the science fictional or fantastic technothriller end, a la Crichton, Reilly, Brown, etc. I'll definitely try out some of those. Which is one thing anthologies are good for, trying new writers. I'd seen Lee Child's name mentioned online a fair few times recently, and with a story published online, and this one, he's worth a look, too. The majority of these writers I had certainly never heard of.

There's even an historical range, Benjamin Franklin and Lord Nelson's fleets make appearances, and there are doctors and lawyers as well as Special Agents, spooks and snipers.

All in all a fine idea. There were no stories I thought were sub-par, or below average. Rather well done to get an original anthology in a genre I am only an occasional reader of to average out at 3.50.

The pick of them for me is J. A. Konrath's revenge bloodbath.

Definitely recommended for those that might have an interested in checking out this type of book. Certainly a good advertisement for their organisation.

Thriller : James Penney's New Identity - Lee Child
Thriller : Operation Northwoods - James Grippando
Thriller : Epitaph - J. A. Konrath
Thriller : The Face in the Window - Heather Graham
Thriller : Empathy - James Siegel
Thriller : Kowalski's in Love - James Rollins
Thriller : The Hunt for Dmitri - Gayle Lynds
Thriller : Disfigured - Michael and Daniel Palmer
Thriller : The Abelard Sanction - David Morrell
Thriller : Falling - Chris Mooney
Thriller : Success of a Mission - Dennis Lynds
Thriller : The Portal - John Lescroart and M. J. Rose
Thriller : The Double Dealer - David Liss
Thriller : Dirty Weather - Gregg Hurwitz
Thriller : Spirit Walker - David Dun
Thriller : At the Drop of a Hat - Denise Hamilton
Thriller : The Other Side of the Mirror - Eric Van Lustbader
Thriller : Man Catch - Christopher Rice
Thriller : Goodnight Sweet Mother - Alex Kava
Thriller : Sacrificial Lion - Grant Blackwood
Thriller : Interlude at Duane's - F. Paul Wilson
Thriller : The Powder Monkey - Ted Bell
Thriller : Surviving Toronto - M. Diane Vogt
Thriller : Assassins - Christopher Reich
Thriller : The Athens Solution - Brad Thor
Thriller : Diplomatic Constraints - Raelynn Hillhouse
Thriller : Kill Zone - Robert Liparulo
Thriller : The Devils' Due - Steve Berry
Thriller : The Tuesday Club - Katherine Neville
Thriller : Gone Fishing - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Reacher does a fellow vet with a really hot temper a favour.

4 out of 5


Flaming Camp Delta.

3 out of 5


Cancer man's little girl killer massacre, with takeaway.

4.5 out of 5


“Never pull out a frying pan unless you intend to use it”

3 out of 5


Mad baboon killer jungle trail trap westsuit babe ambush variable kinetic shrieker antidote rescue.

4 out of 5


Disguise surprise for Carnivore's daughter.

3.5 out of 5


Freezeface blackmail.

3 out of 5


Monastery sonkiller double car blast.

3.5 out of 5


Honey trap's black-eyed sharkbait saviour.

3.5 out of 5


Corpse confection transfer sacrifice information targeting war winner.

4 out of 5


Character assassin assassin.

3 out of 5


Farting Dan's financial flipping.

3.5 out of 5


Correction bar mistake.

4 out of 5


Anthrax frameup desitny

3.5 out of 5


Albania drug conference.

3 out of 5


Dad, you the double shooter, me too.

3 out of 5


Dad, with, not boyfriend.

3 out of 5


Yep, definitely a liar.

3 out of 5


Triple Red Army setup terminal mission.

4 out of 5


Ice cream bad mood deli rescue.

3.5 out of 5


Nelson's glass fleet pirate rescue.

3 out of 5


Murderer dad removal rescue.

4 out of 5


Deadly foodie decision.

3.5 out of 5


Ambassador terror fake control device sharked.

3.5 out of 5


Just give me a sniper rifle and a good wind. Although a shottie, a disguise and a typewriter can be good, too.

4 out of 5


Sniper contest.

4 out of 5


An Osama present, again.

3.5 out of 5


Little frenchy song code shenanigans.

3 out of 5


For pro-choicers. Inca sacrificial knives incidental.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

The History Of the Science Fiction Magazine 2 1936-1945 - Mike Ashley

The story quality here is pretty much the same as the first volume, a bit over the three mark. The majority of interest in the book is of course the non-fiction part, with a lengthy look at the state of the sf magazine industry and the time, and some discussion of the companies and editors and how they came to be there.

History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : The Circle of Zero - Stanley G. Weinbaum
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : Seeker of Tomorrow - Eric Frank Russell and Leslie J. Johnson
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : The Dead Spot - Jack Williamson
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : The Four-Sided Triangle - William F. Temple
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : Hermit of Saturn's Ring - Neil R. Jones
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : The Abyss - Robert A. W. Lowndes
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : Up There - Donald A. Wollheim
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : Almost Human - Robert Bloch
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : Wanderer of Time - John Russell Fearn
History of the Science Fiction Magazine Part 2 : The Power - Murray Leinster

Future investment probability has to be good one of these chances.

3.5 out of 5


White-Yellow-Brown-Women war time wandering.

2 out of 5


Futuron hidden field reunion.

3.5 out of 5


Duplicate relationship.

2.5 out of 5


Forecast for radioactive white clouds of death.

3 out of 5


Wish is was just hypnotism, not tentacled Elder God stuff that got him.

3.5 out of 5


Flying to space. In a plane.

3 out of 5


Cybernetic crime doesn't pay.

3 out of 5


No messing with the timeline, mate, you're dead.

3.5 out of 5


Just an alien, not a demon or wizard.

4 out of 5



4 out of 5

Gone Fishing - Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston

For pro-choicers. Inca sacrificial knives incidental.


3.5 out of 5

The Tuesday Club - Katherine Neville

Little frenchy song code shenanigans.


3 out of 5

The Devils' Due - Steve Berry

An Osama present, again.


3.5 out of 5

Diplomatic Constraints - Raelyn Hillhouse

Just give me a sniper rifle and a good wind. Although a shottie, a disguise and a typewriter can be good, too.


4 out of 5

Assassins - Christopher Reich

Deadly foodie decision.


3.5 out of 5

Sacrificial Lion - Grant Blackwood

Triple Red Army setup terminal mission.


4 out of 5

Goodnight Sweet Mother - Alex Kava

Yep, definitely a liar.


3 out of 5