Sunday, October 31, 2010

Head Cases - Peter David and Kathleen David

Superspeedster's blogger beard wife and gorgon shagging.


3.5 out of 5

A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows - Chris Roberson

Fighting off a few otheruniversal demons with silver colts and salt. And maybe a Luchador sidekick.


3.5 out of 5

Vacuum Lad - Stephen Baxter

Space survival breeding experiment.


3.5 out of 5

Buying Time - Joe Haldeman

Dallas Barr is an immortal of sorts, that is, if he can pony up a large sum of money every decade or so he gets rejuvenated after a nasty series of medical treatments.

So, those good at making money get to live longer. There's a twist, though, in that to get the treatments the originator of the process stipulated that those people had to give up all their cash, assets, etc. or they didn't get to live longer. That is, to try and stop the super-rich controlling everything.

So, dumb idea given you had to pay a lot of money to get the treatment.

When the founder himself dies, nastiness begins to happen. Conspiracies, assassinations, attempts to break the monopoly on life extension etc.

A solid novel.


3.5 out of 5

The Telepathist - John Brunner

Telepathy exists, and as you can image, a lot of people are not happy about it, but there you go.

Like anything else, it exists in the people who can use it to varying degrees - until our 'Telepathist' or 'Whole Man' comes along. While saying communicating with someone on another planet is something you could do with his level of power, he has his own serious challenges. Severe physical deformities to go along with the abilities.


3 out of 5

The Whole Man - John Brunner

Telepathy exists, and as you can image, a lot of people are not happy about it, but there you go.

Like anything else, it exists in the people who can use it to varying degrees - until our 'Telepathist' or 'Whole Man' comes along. While saying communicating with someone on another planet is something you could do with his level of power, he has his own serious challenges. Severe physical deformities to go along with the abilities.


3 out of 5

Friday, October 29, 2010

City of Dreams and Nightmare - Ian Whates

Is a really really tall city.

This is the old story of power hungry ruling class guy sends naive innocent cop on a mission as a distraction to what he is really up to.

Wet behind the ears greenhorn luckily hooks up with streetwise partner and manages to not get killed as a result, generally speaking.

Shenanigans ensue, monsters, mayhem, machinery and a bit of stabbity.


3 out of 5

Shaken - J. A. Konrath

There is a serial killer out there whose score is well over the century mark - and he decides that Jack Daniels would make the fitting end to a career. A story that is interspersed with lengthy flashbacks about her career as she sits and waits for the her gruesome end - and she knows all the terrible ways to die he is capable of inflicting.

She has friends desperately trying to find her - but there are other monsters out there.

Nasty and funny like all the others, particularly when you have the Herb, Phin and Harry trio teaming up to try and get her back alive.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Eye For An Eye - Leigh Brackett

A lawyer who very charitably worked on a divorce case for a not too bright woman has his life descend into terror when she doesn't arrive to pick him up as she usually does. She has disappeared from the house.

He finds out the woman's soon to be ex-husband has her, on the 'you took my wife, I'll take yours theory'. He gives the lawyer a few days to get his soon to be ex-wife back, or it is curtains for the lawyer's spouse.

Luckily our lawyer protagonist knows a local detective, who spots something is strange with his behaviour, more so than you would expect of someone whose wife is only 'missing'.


3.5 out of 5

Walking the Tree - Kaaron Warren

The setup for this story is a world whose population has been reduced to a tiny fraction of that which existed before. Not enough people to support industry and technology, so the particular group that remains whose lives are centred on the titular tree and extremely insular and primitive. An oral culture for whom fire is a bit of a cool thing, knowledge of history, gone, etc. Given there is a whole world out there, of course there are more people in other places, including the nearby 'ghosts' that they are afraid of.

Daily life there leads into discovery by the protagonist, of others and a little of what has gone before.


3 out of 5

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Darkness 1 - Kerri Hawkins

The origin story of Jackie Estacado - a boy in an unpleasant Catholic orphanage. He befriends a younger girl there, and tries to help shield her from sadistic nuns. No-one to protect him from paedophile priests, though.

That is, except the power of The Darkness passed on by his dead father - which literally rips said priest into tiny pieces.

A mafia family head takes Jackie in as his nephew and starts to groom him into being his leading hitman as he grows up, learns a litlte more about his power and becomes a violent womaniser - your basic mafioso.

Things get scarier when one of the men Jackie is told to assassinate is the soon-to-be husband of an opposing crime family daughter. Gang war erupts, and Jackie's Darkness is let loose.


3 out of 5

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kraken - China Mieville

Disappointing.

Kraken had what should have been lots of cool stuff in it, but they just didn't seem cool. An overlong and erratic treatment of all the squid cults and Chaos Nazis lacked verve or wonder and the pop culture references fell flat. Sort of about the same as reading a rubbishy comic, just taking a lot longer.

Found myself wishing Warren Ellis or someone had written it, chopped a lot out and at least some of it would have been funny.


2.5 out of 5

Freedling - Mike Shultz

Eat demons and kill me.


3 out of 5

The Mist Beyond the Circle - Martin Owton

My girleen's back.


2.5 out of 5

Tome of the Undergates - Sam Sykes

You know those Advanced Dungeons and Dragons games where everybody decided it would be a good idea to be Chaotic Neutral, except for the person with the cleric?

Well, that is exactly what Tome of the Undergates is. Or taking the piss out of. That is, you spend time arguing with the other deviants tagging along with you than actually doing stuff. Early on it even mentions how reviled 'adventurers' are: like it is a profession - and lower on the totem pole than mercenaries! Not the saviours to be found in the tavern, but the scum of the Earth.

You've got your fighter, thief, mage and cleric. Also a bit of a paladin, and a half-orc (or shict, here). Plus for some variety, a big red dragonman. The party leading fighter Lenk also has a bit of an Elric problem (not to mention the hair) except it is in his head, not his word.

No elves or hobbits thankfully. Although some gleeful slaughtering of dark elf types happens later.

You could happily reenvision this novel as module SYK1 Tome of the Undergates.

The first part of the book deals with the setup. This adventurer group has hired on a ship carrying a high-ranking cleric. They of course get attacked by pirates. Which leaves the good old chaotic neutral question - fight or just run the hell away. So the arguing, bickering and hanging shit on each other of this particular group can be pretty funny. If it wasn't, this could just be another dodgy DnD novel. Sykes is also somewhat more talented than the average hack churning out the tie-in torrents.

Fishmen, demons from the sea that won't die all add to the problems - as does the secrets their employer keeps. So, quest time. For a tome, of course. Kill the demons, prevent hell on earth, etc.

I'll round this up because it made me laugh several times.

(call it 3.75)


4 out of 5

Thug - Gail Simone

Dumb guys can still give you the BUSINESS.


4 out of 5

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Green Eyes - Lucius Shepard

Zombies of a different kind. Here, a combination magic-science project can bring but dead people. They aren't the rotting shambling monster variety though, but do come back changed.

The protagonist in particular even develops electromagnetic superpowers.

After which you get elliptic discovery about the character, women he is involved with, and the secret zombie making project itself.


3 out of 5

Planets of Adventure 4 - Jeanne Marie Stine

Another Renaissance double. McDowell has some good stories, this one, while colourful, wasn't up to the rest. The Brackett tale is very good.

Planets of Adventure 4 : Planets of Adventure 4 - Jeanne Marie Stine
Planets of Adventure 4 : Red Witch of Mercury - Emmett McDowell
Planets of Adventure 4 : The Beast-Jewel of Mars - Leigh Brackett

Chanteuse and revolutionary

2.5 out of 5


A devolutionary drug-type ceremony draws a spacer in a search for a lost woman, and some truths about the Martians are revealed.

4 out of 5



3 out of 5

Friday, October 22, 2010

Black Amazon of Mars and Other Tales From the Pulps - Leigh Brackett

An interesting choice of stories, putting the other two with the Stark novella. Maybe they will do 'Queen' and 'Enchantress' volumes as well.

It is a seriously great idea to do a book that features the fabulous Anderson Black Amazon Planet Stories cover, though.

I think I have lost count of how many different copies of Black Amazon of Mars I have now. :)

Black Amazon of Mars and Other Tales From the Pulps : Black Amazon of Mars - Leigh Brackett
Black Amazon of Mars and Other Tales From the Pulps : A World Is Born - Leigh Brackett
Black Amazon of Mars and Other Tales From the Pulps : Child of the Sun - Leigh Brackett

Lord Ciaran, distaff discovery and Stark decide to stop trying to kill each other to prevent bad things from coming back beyond the Gates Of Death.

5 out of 5


Prison authority hostage escape.

3.5 out of 5


Pick on people your own size, starthing boy.

3.5 out of 5





5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Message From The Bubblegum Factory - Daryl Gregory

Take your bloody Superman back to your universe please.


4 out of 5

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Word of Azrael - Matthew David Surridge

Sword death.


2.5 out of 5

The Apex Book of World SF - Lavie Tidhar

This is a decent effort given the amount of work that must be involved. Especially as any major publishers these days are unwilling to pay for such efforts (and can barely manage anthologies at all), so pulling it off at all is impressive given the paucity of such projects over SF history (the odd Euro, Soviet or Japan volume etc.).

The de Bodard and Ziljak stories are the best, with a couple of good horror stories from Yaniv and Tunku Halim.

I'll look forward to the next one.

Apex Book of World SF : The Bird Catcher - Somtow Sucharitkul
Apex Book of World SF : Transcendence Express - Jetse de Vries
Apex Book of World SF : The Levantine Experiments - Guy Hasson
Apex Book of World SF : The Wheel of Samsara - Han Song
Apex Book of World SF : Ghost Jail - Kaaron Warren
Apex Book of World SF : Wizard World - Yang Ping
Apex Book of World SF : L'Aquilone du Estrellas [The Kite of Stars] - Dean Francis Alfar
Apex Book of World SF : Cinderers - Nir Yaniv
Apex Book of World SF : The Allah Stairs - Jamil Nasir
Apex Book of World SF : Biggest Baddest Bomoh - Tunku Halim Bin Tunku Abdullah
Apex Book of World SF : The Lost Xuyan Bride - Aliette de Bodard
Apex Book of World SF : Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswang - Kristin Mandigma
Apex Book of World SF : An Evening In the City Coffeehouse With Lydia On My Mind - Aleksandar Ziljak
Apex Book of World SF : Into the Night - Anil Menon
Apex Book of World SF : Elegy - Melanie Fazi

Little girls are made of stuff quite nice. Especially if very rare.

3.5 out of 5


Quantum computer growth activism.

3.5 out of 5


Lots of cracks, dark.

3 out of 5


Big Bang lama.

3 out of 5


Burn 'em away.

3 out of 5


MUD problems.

3.5 out of 5


Too high funny.

2.5 out of 5


Schizo burning demon, Dewey.

3.5 out of 5


Dead with monkeys.

3 out of 5


Dead date.

3.5 out of 5


White Lotus investigation Doc Smith aided Mexica escape.

4 out of 5


Revolutionary rant.

2.5 out of 5


Non-human porn hit Lazarus upload.

4 out of 5


Not up with the evolution.

3 out of 5


Wooden expression of desire.

3 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

Biggest Baddest Bomoh - Tunku Halim

Dead date.


3.5 out of 5

The Allah Stairs - Jamil Nasir

Dead with monkeys.


3 out of 5

Cinderers - Nir Yaniv

Schizo burning demon, Dewey.


3.5 out of 5

The Kite of Stars - Dean Francis Alfar

Too high funny.


2.5 out of 5

Wizard World - Yang Ping

MUD problems.


3.5 out of 5

The Levantine Experiments - Guy Hasson

Lots of cracks, dark.


3 out of 5

Godlike Machines - Jonathan Strahan

This is a great anthology. It average 4.17, which is extremely impressive. Even more so for an original anthology. It is also very rare to get a bunch of novellas, either.

Interestingly, the editor says that Williams and Reed came up with stories for him quickly, presumably after other pikers pulled out. Good thing they pissed off, as extremely unlikely they came up with something this good or better, anyway.

Unfortunately for obtainability it is a Science Fiction Book Club book. While it is good that it exists (like Gardner Dozois and Galactic Empires before it), stuff coming out from increasingly marginalised and likely doomed enterprises of a populist print book club.

Getting Greg Egan and Alastair Reynolds in one book and a Xeelee story from Stephen Baxter is fabulous work.

Sean Williams' story ties two of his weird creations together, the Structure and the Mines, which might hurt some people's heads.

Reynolds again effortlessly proves himself to be a master of the short form.

However you can obtain this this you absolutely should get it.

The anthology of the year by parsecs, no doubt.

Godlike Machines : Return to Titan - Stephen Baxter
Godlike Machines : There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow/Now is the Best Time of Your Life - Cory Doctorow
Godlike Machines : Hot Rock - Greg Egan
Godlike Machines : Alone - Robert Reed
Godlike Machines : Troika - Alastair Reynolds
Godlike Machines : A Glimpse of the Marvellous Structure [and the Threat it Entails] - Sean Williams

Virtual Poole alien projection discovery.

4.5 out of 5


Just stay young in the Wumpus hunt with robot battlesuits.

3.5 out of 5


Amalgam wanderer exploration mission femotech discovery invasion hoaxing Spiral Out delegation.

4 out of 5


Wune, Washen and Great Ship chases.

4.5 out of 5


Future message machine shell game madness infectious with music box.

4.5 out of 5


Mine own murder, director.

4 out of 5




5 out of 5

Alone - Robert Reed

Wune, Washen and Great Ship chases.


4.5 out of 5

A Glimpse Of The Marvellous Structure [And The Threat It Entails] - Sean Williams

Mine own murder, director.


4 out of 5

Return To Titan - Stephen Baxter

Virtual Poole projection.


4.5 out of 5

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Troika - Alastair Reynolds

Future message machine shell game madness infectious with music box vindication.


4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Year's Best Science Fiction 27th Annual Collection - Gardner Dozois

Continuing what was seen in the Hartwell book, a definite down year for SF stories, this only coming in at 3.59. In other words, lots of 3.5s and not so many 4s. Griffith and Cornell the highlights, followed by Watts and McDonald.

The usual interesting lengthy overview of the year, too.

Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Utriusque Cosmi - Robert Charles Wilson
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : A Story With Beans - Steven Gould
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Under The Shouting Sky - Karl Bunker
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Events Preceding The Helvetican Revolution - John Kessel
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Useless Things - Maureen F Mchugh
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Black Swan - Bruce Sterling
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Crimes And Glory - Paul Mcauley
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Seventh Fall - Alexander Irvine
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Butterfly Bomb - Dominic Green
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Infinites - Vandana Singh
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Things Undone - John Barnes
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : On The Human Plan - Jay Lake
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : The Island - Peter Watts
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : The Integrity Of The Chain - Lavie Tidhar
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Lion Walk - Mary Rosenblum
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Escape To Other Worlds With Science Fiction - Jo Walton
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Three Leaves Of Aloe - Rand B Lee
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Mongoose - Elizabeth Bear And Sarah Monette
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Paradiso Lost - Albert E. Cowdrey
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : It Takes Two - Nicola Griffith
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Blocked - Geoff Ryman
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Solace - James Van Pelt
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Act One - Nancy Kress
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Twilight Of The Gods - John C Wright
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Blood Dauber - Ted Kosmatka & Michael Poore
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : This Wind Blowing And This Tide - Damien Broderick
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Hair - Adam Roberts
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Before My Last Breath - Robert Reed
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : One Of Our Bastards Is Missing - Paul Cornell
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Edison's Frankenstein - Chris Roberson
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Erosion - Ian Creasey
Year's Best Science Fiction 27 : Vishnu At The Cat Circus - Ian Mcdonald

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

3.5 out of 5


Metal eating bugs, Word.

3.5 out of 5


Just a breathless, alien finding job.

3.5 out of 5


Monk play nicking folded soldier escape.

3.5 out of 5


Monk play nicking folded soldier escape.

3.5 out of 5


Finding the best Italy.

3.5 out of 5


Q-phone Elder space investigation.

4 out of 5


Travelling play.

3 out of 5


Rock god leftovers.

3.5 out of 5


Farishta door.

3 out of 5


Polymnemonic scenario.

3 out of 5


Old story excavation.

3.5 out of 5


Gate Mission live Dyson sphere violence Chimp conflict.

4 out of 5


Other tuk-tuk, with spaceship.

3 out of 5


Preserver snuff conspiracy dinner end.

4 out of 5


Pastiche medley headliners.

3.5 out of 5


Chiphead disconnect.

3.5 out of 5


Station Dreamquest Wonderland abortion.

3.5 out of 5


Alien War colony bubble space romance secret orders telepathic dwarf diplomatic slaughter.

4.5 out of 5


Strip memory contract.

4.5 out of 5


Go Down among the dead men.

3.5 out of 5


Long trip pain.

3.5 out of 5


Genemod empathy nurtured.

4 out of 5


Ring Gap Into Madness.

3.5 out of 5


Big grubby zoo.

3 out of 5


Dragon ship discovery.

3.5 out of 5


Poor plant photosynthesis plan.

3.5 out of 5


Alien Graveyard Project.

4 out of 5


Queenfold deception Balance rescue.

4.5 out of 5


Lazarus. Like Lightning!

3 out of 5


Exoskinny trapped.

3.5 out of 5


Too much AI and uploading could be bad for lots of universes.

4 out of 5


Station Dreamquest Wonderland abortion.

3.5 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where Their Worm Dieth Not - James Maxey

Hero-villain death cycle.


3 out of 5

The Bookman - Lavie Tidhar

The Bookman is a novel that will certainly keep Win Scott Eckert busy adding to his crossover list.

The book shares some similarities with Kim Newman's Anno Dracula, but here you have the pommie land taken over by lizardmen, not vampires.

So, lots of historical types, and fictional historical types to be found running around in this fantasy. Less of a focus on spot the obscure, though. The main character shares a bit more with Silverlock perhaps than with the competent movers and shakers of the Diogenes Club, though (or Alan Moore's League of Extraodinary Gentlemen in another format). He has nowhere near their agency - and in fact is called 'Orphan'. Which of course is not a real name as one of the characters points out to him. Hence something of a deliberate cypher, with the setting and support meant to draw your interest.

Find the girl, avoid the lizardmen, don't get smashed by robots or blown up by mad scientists, all that sort of good stuff.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Starfishers - Glen Cook

Not as dour or as nasty as the first book - which perhaps a bit odd given this is a spy story for quite a bit of it, as the next generation looks to work out what is going on with the starfishers and the giant space beasts and those that prey on them.


3 out of 5

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fantasy and Science Fiction 691 - Gordon Van Gelder

A 2.86 average. Yuck. An ok black comedy by Swanwick and Gerrold was funny. The usual reviews etc.

FSF691 : ORFY - Richard Chwedyk
FSF691 : EATING AT THE END-OF-THE-WORLD CAFé - Dale Bailey
FSF691 : THE DOOR IN THE EARTH - Alexandra Duncan
FSF691 : THE LITEROMANCER - Ken Liu
FSF691 : UNCLE MOON IN RAINTREE HILLS - Fred Chappell
FSF691 : THE WINDOW OF TIME - Richard Matheson
FSF691 : HOW SEOSIRIS LOST THE FAVOR OF THE KING - James L. Cambias
FSF691 : BLIND SPOT - Rick Wilber and Nick DiChario
FSF691 : STEADFAST CASTLE - Michael Swanwick
FSF691 : F&SF MAILBAG - David Gerrold
FSF691 : ABOUT IT - Terry Bisson

Mini dinosaurs, Space Guys and a robot.

3.5 out of 5


Unsuited Tank name.

2 out of 5


Spy kids Taiwan.

3 out of 5


Mercy, Grammer.

2 out of 5


Blocked.

2 out of 5


Barge and book.

3 out of 5


Wild Thing, Chucker.

3 out of 5


House love cop torching.

3.5 out of 5


Robots, aliens and parallels write better, cheaper.

3.5 out of 5


Sasquath silent puzzle.

3 out of 5




2 out of 5

Orfy - Richard Chwedyk

Mini dinosaurs, Space Guys and a robot.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Literomancer - Ken Liu

Spy kids Taiwan.


3 out of 5

Uncle Moon In Raintree Hills - Fred Chappell

Mercy, Grammer.


2 out of 5

About It - Terry Bisson

Sasquatch silent puzzle.


3 out of 5

F&SF Mailbag - David Gerrold

Robots, aliens and parallels write better, cheaper.


3.5 out of 5

The Door In The Earth - Alexandra Duncan

Wall up mum.


3 out of 5

Steadfast Castle - Michael Swanwick

House love cop torching.


3.5 out of 5

Blind Spot - Rick Wilber and Nick Di Chario

Wild Thing, Chucker.


3 out of 5

How Seosiris Lost The Favor Of The King - James L. Cambias

Barge and book.


3 out of 5

The Window of Time - Richard Matheson

Blocked.


2 out of 5

Cleansed and Set In Gold - Matthew Sturges

Isn't it the Ghouls that usually eat the dead, Wildcard?


4 out of 5

Troika - Alastair Reynolds

Number of words : 26000
Percent of complex words : 9.7
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 11.5


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 8.5
Flesch : 70.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.3

PEOPLE

Dimitri Ivanov

A cosmonaut from the Tereshkova that met the Matryoshka. Institutionalised escapee.

Galenka Makarova

A fellow cosmonaut of Ivanov's.

Yakov Demin

A fellow cosmonaut of Ivanov's.

Doctor Georgi Kizim

The physician in charge of Ivanov.

Nesha Petrova

An elderly astronomer and mathematician who was involved with the space program. A specialist in stellar physics.

Gagarin

A dead First Soviet cosmonaut.

Gennadi

An activist. A journalist and a blogger, ex-astronomer. Petrova's dead husband.

Pilot

The martyr who volunteered to go back with the Matryoshka. A fusion of man and machine that eventually went mad.

Doctor Grechko

One of the agents sent to retrieve the escaped Ivanov.

Profokiev

A Russian composer.


PLACES

Zvezdniy Gorodnok

'Star City', a Second Soviet town based around the space program.

Baikonur

Soviet space centre.

Klushino

A small place near Smolensk, birthplace of Gagarin and Ivanov.

Trieste

A city in Italy where Petrova attended a conference.


VEHICLES

Tereshkova

A Second Soviet spacecraft.

Matryoshka

A giant space object from the future. It has four 'Shell' levels left. A cosmic time machine built around a string of neutron stars. Capable of manipulating wormholes.

The Progress

A robot probe operated by Galenka from the Tereshkova.

Mir

A Soviet space station.

Zil

Official transport of Second Soviet agents.

Soyuz

A Soviet landing craft.


TECHNOLOGY

VASIMIR

A type of spaceship engine. 'Variable specific impulse magnetic rocket.'

GLONASS

A cosmonaut tracking device, to find them when dead.


ORGANISATIONS

European Space Agency

Tried to penetrate the Matroyshka.

Second Soviet

Governing political body in Russia.


CONCEPTS

EVA

Extra-vehicular activity. Spacewalking.

Fourier analysis

Breaking down mathematical functions into smaller ones.


MEDIA

Troika

A composition of Profokiev's. 'Sleigh-ride'.


PLOT

Dimitri Ivanov escapes from where he has been insitutionalised, perhaps with the not-quite help of a Doctor. He goes to see an old astronomer to talk to her about his story. A woman that had told her superiors just what this Matryoshka might mean. He was one of the three cosmonauts sent to explore the Matryoshka that appeared. A giant spacefaring time machine with a message from the future. The stress of the mission drives one of the cosmonauts crazy, leaving Galenka and Dimitri to try and penetrate the Matryoshka by robot and personally.

The message and pilot they find at the heart is not what their masters will want to hear - that the Second Soviet and its insular austerity is responsible for causing the human race to almost be destroyed.

The pilot, on expiring and learning his mission has been completed had a small music box in his hand, which Dimitri takes. The authorities do not realise it is not his when they return.

However, it turns out that Ivanov isn't. He is in fact Doctor Kizim, which is why he has his coat. Ivanov has also been driven mad by the experience and the music, and is bedridden. However, the presence of these cosmonauts can infect their physicians with personality transfer, which also happened in Yakov's case. Still, the evidence of the music box shows Nesha she was right.


4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eating At The End-of-the-world Café - Dale Bailey

Unsuited Tank name.


2 out of 5

The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi

Posthuman Arsene Lupin on Mars.

So here you have a Finnish bloke doing his own homage to a famous French character while writing in English with greater skill than most native speaking writers can manage.

Not to mention his own spin on the planetary romance. Here's a habitable Mars, populated by weird beings and ancient superscience in places (even if the latter is of human origin and not millions of years old - although certainly the domain of scary immortals with godlike powers.) More smart matter and quantum missiles than heat guns, electro blasters and big strange machines.

So combine the flamboyant Gentleman Thief archetype with the planetary setting and it would be very hard not to like this book. The characters are addressed in the French manner at times, to keep with the overall Lupin feel. He mentions Leblanc an done of the novels by name, and takes a detective character from another that is mentioned to become an antagonist. To add to this twistily, the Thief's ex-girlfriend is a super powered vigilante known as The Gentleman. (The detective of the piece's girlfriend is a Valkyrie.)

However, even the best thieves sometimes get busted, and that is where you find le Flambeur at the start, in an AI-created prison. Others have use for his talents and assist him in getting the hell out, if he will agree to do a job for them. Plus be monitored by a hardarse and her spaceship.

This all leads back to Mars, and as the mystery to be solved unfold, including the regaining of memory, so does the sociopolitical and historical setting on the Red Planet come into play. In this information rich privacy focused (everyone has an interface to obscure what they look like and what they are doing) society everything is not as it seems. Which probably won't come as a surprise to those familiar with the Lupins of the world. Misdirection is the name of their game. So is taking down bad guys that are worse than they are. While avoiding the authorities, of course.

Really good.


4.5 out of 5

Diving Into the Wreck - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

This novel, or rather three novellas with its three distinct parts and origin is rather good. Having read the novellas before that make up the first two parts it seems the quality has been maintained with whatever changes the author has decided to put in. (No, I can't do a text diff for you because the ebook is in world's worst format - Topaz with its bastardised images etc., so not worth buying).

The protagonist is someone who specialises in spaceship detection and salvage, a dangerous business, as in space, it is easy to get yourself killed. When you have claim jumpers, space pirates and military conspiracies around, that just makes it worse.

So does ancient lost technology that no-one understands that can rip you into another dimension and out of reach of all rescue.

This translation of undersea diving to the coldness of space is handled with aplomb. The ancient lost technology here is not mysterious billion year dead alien superbeings either, it is actually from Earth - ships that set out without FTL drives, but did have actual working stealth technology. This is the element the particular expeditions in these three stories are centred on.

Can you lose this sort of thing if you have faster than light travel and communications? An interesting question. Space, of course, is really big, and that is used to make you believe that it could. Experiments/research etc. do indeed go missing in reality, so why not?

Along with the dangers of the environment, there is the human element. Greed, thrillseeking, backstabbing, conflicts in a high stress, tension filled and dangerous occupation. You learn early on that all the experienced dive leaders have lost people - that is, in this book not everyone is going to make it out alive.

Definitely recommended.


4 out of 5

Fantasy and Science Fiction 690 - Gordon Van Gelder

About the same as the last issue, at 3.29, but with two very good stories by Altabef and McMullen, plus an article on the hotness and the coldness, along with usual reviews and a Lucius Shepard film column which is always entertaining. As in, your Alice in Wonderland, it is the suck.

FSF690 : ADVANCES IN MODERN CHEMOTHERAPY - Michael Alexander
FSF690 : THE REVEL - John Langan
FSF690 : MISTER SWEETPANTS AND THE LIVING DEAD - Albert E. Cowdrey
FSF690 : PINING TO BE HUMAN - Richard Bowes
FSF690 : THE LOST ELEPHANTS OF KENYISHA - Ken Altabef
FSF690 : THE PRECEDENT - Sean McMullen
FSF690 : RECROSSING THE STYX - Ian R. MacLeod
FSF690 : BROTHERS OF THE RIVER - Rick Norwood
FSF690 : THE TALE OF NAMELESS CHAMELEON - Brenda Carre
FSF690 : FSF690 : EPIDAPHELES AND THE INADEQUATELY ENRAGED DEMON - Ramsey Shehadeh
FSF690 : INTRODUCTION TO JOYOUS COOKING 200TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION - Heather Lindsley

Terminal telepathy.

3 out of 5


Furry horror construction.

3.5 out of 5


Still coming.

3 out of 5


No draft Witch Boy.

2.5 out of 5


Bull kill haunt no future, human.

4 out of 5


I am become Death, hard act to follow, tippers.

4 out of 5


Dead minder trap.

3 out of 5


Dead minder trap.

3 out of 5


Sages and Swords.

3.5 out of 5


Disembowelebub Door.

3.5 out of 5


Food challenge history.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Introduction To Joyous Cooking 200th Anniversary Edition - Heather Lindsley

Food challenge history.


3 out of 5

The Lost Elephants Of Kenyisha - Ken Altabef

Bull kill haunt no future, human.


4 out of 5

Epidapheles and the Inadequately Enraged Demon - Ramsey Shehadeh

Disembowelebub Door.


3.5 out of 5

Pining To Be Human - Richard Bowes

No draft Witch Boy.


2.5 out of 5

Mister Sweetpants And The Living Dead - Albert E. Cowdrey

Still coming.


3 out of 5

The Tale Of Nameless Chameleon - Brenda Carre

Sages and Swords.


3.5 out of 5

The Revel - John Langan

Furry horror construction.


3.5 out of 5

Brothers Of the River - Rick Norwood

Dark Light brother race.


3 out of 5

Advances In Modern Chemotherapy - Michael Alexander

Terminal telepathy.


3 out of 5

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Invisible Death - Lin Carter

A Doc Savage homage. This particular superman is from the future with a mission to stop a rather nasty dystopian future happening. He recruits and reforms a bunch of reprobates to be his 'Omega Crew', but prefers to live a bit lower to the ground than Doc.

In fact, he even says at the start of the novel he deliberately populates it with people and locations from various pulp hero stories, and dedicates the book to Walter Gibson, author of The Shadow.

Zarkon meets at the Cobalt Club with some acquaintances - Lamont Cranston, Richard Wentworth, Theodore Brooks, Bruce Wayne, etc. That is, The Shadow, The Spider, Ham from Doc Savage, Batman.

This is the most interesting part, as the story isn't really any good. Carter is no Lester Dent, so the disguised Scooby Doo reveal is pretty dull.


2 out of 5

Amazonia - James Rollins

A class thriller.

Rollins' science fictional thriller style here draws you in effortlessly, and is a pleasure to read.

A young man searches for his father in the Amazon with a team of army rangers as part of a desperate search for a cure for a strange mutating regenerating disease.

Giant crocodiles, mutant jaguars (and a pet jaguar), naked headshrinkers, pirahna frogs and more. Plus evil French people.

Plus the violent lengths people will go to as part of the search for medical applications of rare botany.

Really good.


4 out of 5